I mentioned that I spent a day at Girl's Camp at Zion's National Park this week. Somehow I managed to arrive just late enough to miss the five mile hike, which I regret since I could use a good, cleansing trudge up a mountain. But perhaps it was fortuitous; the five mile hike, as it turns out was a five miles UP kind of hike followed by a five miles DOWN kind of hike, with steep cliffs, sharp switchbacks, and oodles of strenuous teenage exertion. The poor girls hiked all day on apples and fruit snacks, since it was assumed that a piddly five mile hike that started at 7:30 AM would land them back in time for lunch. (Lunch didn't happen until 4.) Even though most of the girls were bone-tired, we moved forward with the evening's activities: rapelling, hot-tubbing, card games, bonfire testimony meeting, and snipe hunting. I'd forgotten how fun girl's camp is, even now, at thirty something. Especially at night, after the bearing of souls and secrets, when everyone is sitting around nibbling on hot tamales and plotting a little mayhem. It took me right back to the good ol' days of girl's camp with my own gang of buddies (Heidi, Tricia, Julie, Carry, and my sister Michelle.) Our favorite form of harmless torture we called "measuring for coffins," a rite of passage for the newest camp members, girls and leaders alike. The unsuspecting victim would somberly enter the cabin, where we would perform a mock measuring ritual with an old measuring tape. For the last measurement, the leg seam, the victim would have to lie down and put their leg into the air, at which point we would pour a cup of mountain-cold water right down into their pant leg. I was always amazed at how much one little cup of water could thoroughly soak the unsuspecting girl. It's a pretty harmless prank, with no lasting consequences. (Michelle and I actually performed the ceremony on her future mother-in-law; who knew?) Most people were pretty good sports about the whole affair, and after the initiation process would go on to become certified coffin measurers themselves. But one girl would have nothing to do with it and ran out of the cabin in a bit of a terror. I don't remember it at all, but later it would come back to bite me. Years later, after returning from a mission in South America, I moved into a college apartment with my little sister Heidi and some of her younger-than-me-by-a-couple-of-years friends. And one was this girl, Michal, who promptly became one of my best friends for life, after she realized that I was completely harmless and only measure for coffins as a side hobby at girl's camp. Who knew that the little frightened twelve year old would later be the kind and clever friend that completed crossword puzzles obsessively with me, would run into the November night to jump in the first snowstorm of the season, would make me die of laughter by dancing with a gigantic Mexican sombrero on her head, would stay up all night talking and listening away? Even though we are miles apart, Michal keeps a blog so I can still enjoy her wise and hilarious musings on life, motherhood (due with baby #5 in a few weeks), and this fantastic whole wheat bread. It's an amazing recipe, one that I could easily make on a weekly basis, especially considering that we (including visiting cousins) managed to polish off all four loaves in about a day. I wish I could make the bread with Michal, or at least watch her dance around in her sombrero someday soon, or at the very least.... finally get her measured for her coffin. Who knows, maybe our charges will end up at camp together some day, and the next generation can finish the job.
Michal's Mom's Whole Wheat Bread
3 cups warm water
1/2 cup vegetable or canola oil
1/2 cup honey
scant Tablespoon coarse kosher salt or 1/2 t. fine salt
6 cups whole wheat flour
3/4 cup very warm water
3 Tablespoons yeast
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
2 cups whole wheat flour
2 cups white, all-purpose flourMix on low or medium to incorporate, then on high for 10 minutes, or until dough is smooth and elastic.Turn out into bowl sprayed with cooking spray and allow to rise in a warm place for 25 minutes. Turn dough out onto a very lightly floured surface and separate into four loaves. Shape loaves and place in greased loaf pans. Allow to rise for 25 minutes more.Bake in 350 oven for 25-30 minutes, until bread is golden brown. Remove from oven and from pans immediately. Rub or brush tops of the loaves with butter. Allow to cool on wire cooling rack. Freeze what you're not going to use today or tomorrow.