According to our friends at Merriam-Webster fallow means: usually cultivated land that is allowed to lie idle during the growing season
On the kitchen counter is the batch of cinnamon rolls I baked this morning. I make cinnamon rolls once, maybe twice a year, enjoying both the process of making and the decadent delight of sampling these nearly hand size sweet treats.
The process of making cinnamon rolls starts days before making sure I have all the right ingredients in the house
flour – check
salted butter – check
cinnamon – check
molasses – check
sugar – check
milk – check
eggs – check
spices – check
are all the bowls clean – probably
sheet pans ready – always
good weather – unpredictable
When I’m ready to bake the King Arthur Flour Cookbook comes out, almost dropping open to the page, where I’ve written notes for how I modify the sweet dough recipe, including the third slow rise in the refrigerator overnight. This year I used milk and powdered milk (mixed in with the dry ingredients) for a bit of added richness. The eggs this year are large rather than extra large, not to worry I made 2 batches of dough at the same time so this was easy. Shortly after moving into this house we picked up a kitchen scale and I’ve started weighing some of the ingredients. I approached mixing the wet and dry ingredients together in a slightly different way this year as the big mixing bowl is serving duty as a receptacle for broth. After getting both the wet and dry ingredients mixed with their various components I poured the wet over the dry rather than the dry into the wet. Okay not such a big deal however what did make a big difference was the weighing of the flour as the dough ended up being a bit wetter allowing me to add more as I kneaded the dough. One thing I loved with this batch of dough was the addition of cardamom, oh goodness this just adds a bit of a citrusy note that fragrances the whole kitchen.
Proof one – while waiting for the dough to do its thing I worked on writing this blog post. Ultimately starting over this morning. One of the batches rose in a stainless steel pot, which will now and forever be the pot to raise dough. It’s also here where I made brown sugar and added cinnamon, all spice, cardamom, ginger, cloves and nutmeg for the filling.
Proof two – this one took a while. Dough is one of the places where patience is needed and sometimes mine is limited. The need to make dinner and spend some time with my guy helped this one, a lot. After this proof I roll the dough out into the rectangle. The next batch will get a ten to fifteen minute rest between kneading and rolling out the dough. This will permit me to roll it a bit thinner, this is key to both more cinnamon rolls and ones that are not as big or bigger than my hand.
Proof three – once the cinnamon rolls are on the baking sheet I cover them and pop them into the refrigerator overnight. When I get up in the morning they are fully risen, but not over, and ready to pop into a cold oven to remove the chill and bake.
Baking. This is always the most delightful part because the fragrance of the warm spices fill the air causing salivation and making it slightly difficult to concentrate on the prayer time.
Once these were fully baked, the kitchen tidied I headed first to drop one off with a friend and then batch one to the ladies at the gym. I do know they enjoyed the cinnamon rolls. Monday afternoon I made a decision for my time on the elliptical for the balance of December, I will only do 30 minutes because the thoughts in my head as I try to get over 4 miles in that hour are not great. I love that I’m challenging myself and I’m proud of the progress I’ve made since joining the rec center to use the gym in late April, early May. This has been good in so many ways. I am once again comfortable in pants and can wear shirts I haven’t worn in ages. This is good and I can see how this can easily become disordered and unhealthy. When I started in April I could barely do a mile in 30 minutes. The first picture I took was just over 2 k steps in 39 minutes mid June. I was pretty excited about this as well I should be. It is just as hard to slow down to let the body recover as it is to get to over 4 miles in an hour.
This morning as I started rewriting this post in my head knowing I needed to scrap what I’d already written as while it fit it wasn’t quite right. After moving here to Texas my Sweetie and I lived in a hotel room, with 2 double beds, teensy bathroom and kitchenette from mid April through the end of August, early September. I think by far it is the most confined space where we ever lived and yet, like in so many other situations we managed.
As I’m getting to the car I realized it is there in that hotel space where this fallow time really set in for me. My Sweetie moved to Texas in Feb 2020, I didn’t move until Easter week (April), this was an incredibly full and challenging time. After arriving here there was a flurry of activity preceding the book pub date and trying to get ready for The Quilt Show. Around this time I started reading a lot, in part because I could, in part to get out of the hotel and in part because I was thirsty or hungry, you pick. It’d been a long time since I’d had the time to read in depth and earnest and this time is valuable. Over the last couple of years I’ve read St. Francis de Sales, a good bit of St. Teresa of Avila (St. John of the Cross is now on my reading list) and probably 10 – 12 other faith related books. I’m still working through the Introduction to the Devout Life and St. Teresa’s works as they are rich and deep and require a bit more attention. I’m not saying this to brag, no, I’m saying this because my soul was thirsty. I’ve started journaling again, and there are two, one specifically for the Spiritual Exercises and the other for less specific stuff oh and then there’s the Spiritual Direction journal.
Part of the difficult part of the last couple of years has been watching all my quilt friends adjust quickly and really do well during 2020 and 2021. I’ve struggled to quilt. Reading and some writing has taken precedence. I’m good with that. I’ve had ideas! I like ideas. Ideas are good. I love ideas. I love spitballing with friends and other creatives.
So this morning as I approached the car and had that OH moment. I was delighted to realize that while this time has been fallow, I understood what was actually happening, life is coming back into a good for me order that nourishes my entire being.
Better food choices, understanding more fully what moderation means and looks like
Exercise is good, and herein moderation is good and fruitful
Reading voraciously is good and at the same time
Pondering is necessary so slowing down and thinking and
Reviewing is key to understanding where I’ve been and where I desire to go
Spiritual Direction, regular Confession and the Spiritual Exercises are teaching how to review and reflect and ponder in a new way, at a new to me depth. And this is showing me that it’s time to evaluate what I’m doing with quilting and what I want to do in 2023 in terms of changing up my quilting. I. Want. To. Quilt. And I want to quilt.
This fallow time has been difficult as there are so many things I wanted to do to continue growing my business, however this OH moment showed me with great clarity that I NEEDED this time to rest, recharge, reorient, and grow into who I am by remembering deeply Whose I am. And if that doesn’t sound like a trite meme I’m not sure what does, there ya have it though. This OH moment also filled me with deep gratitude for the rest because it was needed in so many ways.
I’d love to come up with five easy steps for you to rest and renew and restore and all that. If the Lord brings you to the desert place or permits you to go fallow for a year or two, go with it. Next week I’ll share with you the journal entry from one of the Spiritual Exercises. It’s not great writing however it will share where some of todays blog post comes from.
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