Sunday, November 2, 2014

Jazz for an Autumn Night

Although it was a blustery afternoon/evening, we decided to go to the Hollywood Arts Park anyway.  My spouse had friends from his music theory class who play in the Broward College Jazz Ensemble, and they were giving a concert at the Arts Park last night.

We debated whether to walk or ride our bikes.  I even suggested driving, but it's less than a mile to the park, so we nixed that one.  We don't have lights for our bikes or reflective clothing/gear, but we do have hurricane supplies!  So, holding our 2 small lanterns, one of which flashes, off we rode.

I won't lie--it was chilly at the Arts Park.  But the music was great, and I love a free concert at the park.  I felt bad for the jazz ensemble though.  At points, the wind howled so fiercely that their music blew off their stands--even though their music was clipped to the music stands.  And the director had thought that we'd be having our normal, warm weather, so they were all in short sleeve polo shirts.

But they were good sports, and we in the audience tried to make up in enthusiasm what we lacked in numbers.  The Ensemble would have had more of an audience, I'm sure, if we hadn't had the cold front come through.

At one point, I reflected that I used to backpack in much colder temperatures.  When did I turn into such a wimp? 

And I also thought back to a much earlier time, when we travelled once a year to Jacksonville for the Jazz Festival.  At the time, it was free and huge.  We got to see some famous names perform, as well as student groups.  It was a gated venue, so we wouldn't have had the strange homeless man wandering through, like we did last night.

I thought about what different people we are, in so many ways.  In that group of friends who used to go to the Jacksonville Jazz Festival, we've had a major divorce, to go along with the aches and pains of midlife descending to old age.  One of us still has the job he had then.  The rest of us have had a wide variety of jobs. 

It seems like a different time, with different people, and yet, some things remain.  I reflected on this fact, as I watched my spouse keep time with his foot.  I was married to him then, and I'm married to him now.  May we have many more decades together.  May they be healthy decades!

At the end, I was glad we rode our bikes.  I was ready to come in out of the chill.  We got home and had hot apple cider.  It was perfect.  I may have a mug again tonight.

That's after we grill the chicken that's been marinating in apple cider for 24 hours.  And that lunch will come after my breakfast of Pan de Muerto.  It was a delicious bread and fairly easy.  I haven't had anise seeds in the house for years--so fragrant!

In case you have free time this afternoon, I'm posting the recipe below.  It's not to late to celebrate the Day of the Dead!  And if you're in the mood for a photo meditation, please see this post on my theology blog.

Pan de Muerto, “Bread of the Dead"

From Adapted by David Eck


1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup water
5 1/2 cups flour
2 packages dry yeast
1 tsp. salt
1 T. whole anise seed
2 T grated orange zest
1/2 cup sugar
4 eggs

In a saucepan over medium flame, heat the butter, milk and water until very warm but not boiling. [100-110 F degrees]

Meanwhile, measure out 1 1/2 cups flour and set the rest aside. In a large mixing bowl, combine the 1 1/2 cups of flour, yeast, salt, anise seed, orange zest and sugar. Beat the warm liquid until well combined. Add the eggs and beat in another 1 cup of flour. Continue adding more flour until dough is soft but not sticky. Knead on lightly floured board for 10 minutes until smooth and elastic.

Lightly grease a bowl and place dough in it, cover with plastic wrap and let rise in warm place until doubled in bulk, about 1 1/2 hours. Punch dough down and shape into 4 loaves resembling skulls, skeletons or round loaves with “bones” placed ornamentally around the top if desired. Let these loaves rise for 1 hour.

Bake in a preheated 350 F degree oven for 20-25 minutes until golden brown. Remove from oven, let cool and paint on glaze.

Bring 1/2 cup sugar and 1/3 cup orange juice to a boil for 2 minutes, then apply to bread with a pastry brush. If desired, sprinkle on colored or regular sugar while glaze is still damp.

You can buy anise seed in the bulk spice section of Fresh Market. It’s very reasonably priced there. You can use rapid rise yeast in this recipe which may cut down on the rising time. Keep an eye on it. You can also make this recipe in a mixer with a dough hook.

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