Saturday, 23 January 2010
I dreamed a dream . . .
When you were a child, did you ever take a magnifying glass and play with it? I can remember one time several friends and I had one and we used it to catch paper alight simply by allowing the sun to shine down through the glass and onto a spot on the paper . . . it took quite a while, but, with perseverance and diligence, it did happen eventually.
In one of the laboratories in Washington, DC, there is a great sun glass that measures three feet across. Very much like the "Burning" glass that we used as children, except that it is much, much larger. This great glass gathers the rays of the sun that strike it's flat surface and focuses them in a single point in space, just a few feet below. That single spot is hotter than a blow torch. It will melt through a steel plate as easily as a red-hot needle burns through paper. This terrific heat cannot be measured, for it melts through all instruments. It is just three feet of ordinary sunshine, concentrated on a single point.
Scattered . . . these rays are hardly felt, perhaps they are pleasantly warm, but concentrated . . . they meld adamant.
This same principle applies to human endeavors. Scattered . . . a person's energies do not seem to amount to much. Once focused on the task at hand, seemingly tremendous difficulties melt like snow on a hot surface.
We recently purchased the Susan Boyle Album, I Dreamed a Dream. Oh, it is so very lovely. Her voice, crystal clear and so very touching . . . it pierces my heart in a very special way. Some of her songs even moved me to tears. I think that's because Susan Boyle represents that little voice in each of us that hopes and dares to be something other than what we are . . . that longs to stretch beyond the boundaries that we have set about ourselves, and to say that if we dream it . . . we can do it. Susan Boyle had a dream . . . to be a world class singer.
At first glance, the powers that be thought . . . never . . . she just didn't fit the image that they had of a world class singer. But Susan Boyle had a dream and she never lost sight of her goal. She pursued it in the face of all the naysayers, and she struck a chord in each of us. She touched the hearts of the world, with her belief in herself and her talent . . . pure raw talent. She focused all her energy on that one thing that she wanted more than anything else and, lo and behold, the impossible has happened. She is a world class singer.
Sometimes I get a bit down about my own talents. In particular my artwork. It doesn't seem to get that much attention really. I have a dream that, one day I will be able to make a comfortable living by doing what I love most, and that is creating with my pencil and pens and colours, beautiful pictures that people will want to see and to own for themselves.
Sometimes I stop believing in that dream and then I have to kick myself and tell myself, that, just like Susan Boyle . . . I must never let go of my dream. I must believe in myself, otherwise I cannot expect anyone else to believe in me. That if three feet of sunshine, when concentrated, can burn through anything . . . if I focus on my talents and believe in myself, I can one day be, what I dream myself to be . . .
I'd like to share a lovely tea bread with you today. I just love tea breads. They're not quite cake. They're not quite bread. They're usually quite scrumptious and they're very handy to keep in the freezer to drag out when unexpected company drops by. I can remember my mother having tea parties when I was very young and one of the things she always served was thinly sliced tea breads, spread with butter. Oh how good they tasted. This recipe today is one of my particular favourites. I think you will enjoy it as well, spread with butter or not, it is delicious!
*Almond Glazed Poppy Seed Bread*
Makes 2 loaves
This is an excellent sweet bread with rich flavours and a tangy orange sugar glaze. Delicious!
3 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
3 large eggs
1 1/2 cups milk
1/2 cup butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup cooking oil
2 1/4 cups white sugar
1 1/2 TBS poppy seeds
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 tsp almond extract
1 1/2 tsp butter flavouring
For the almond glaze:
1/2 tsp almond extract
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/4 cup fresh orange juice
3/4 cup fine white sugar
Pre-heat the oven to 180*C/350*F. Butter and flour 2 medium/large loaf tins. Set aside.
COmbine all the ingredients for the bread in a large bowl. Beat well with an electric mixer for 2 minutes. Divide into the two prepared loaf tins. Bake for about 1 hour, but start checking after 45 minutes. The loaves are done when they are well risen and brown, and the top springs back when lightly touched. Also a toothpick inserted in the centre comes out clean.
Allow to cool in pans for 10 minutes before removing from the pans to cool on a wire rack. Glaze with the glaze whilst still warm, spooning it generously over the tops. Once cooled completely, wrap in foil to store or freeze.
To make the glaze, combine all the glaze ingredients in a small bowl and whisk well together until the sugar has dissolved.
Over on The English Kitchen today . . . Spicy Pork Burgers with Honey Mustard Onions.