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    aditus
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Our Christmas Cookbook - 21. Christmas Bread

Christmas bread

“You’re staring. Again.” Leonie passed Charani a mug with steaming hot cocoa.

“Am not.” He took it quickly with both hands, pretending to watch the little boy ringing the brass bell on the fire truck.

“You so are, but if you think I’m playing the ‘do too’ game with you, think again. All I’m saying is today is the last day. Tomorrow the Christmas fair is over. Loris and his brothers will have packed up their stall, and you’ll have to wait another year. Unless you want to go and visit him at their bakery, which is somewhere in the Ruhr area I heard. And while you tinker with the carousel and work your ‘rest of the year job’, you’ll be thinking about missed chances until—” And his dark-haired friend began to sing:

‘It's Christmas! (Again)

The angels are singing

And I know the reason,

the Savior is born…’

Ignoring his silly friend, Charani risked one last longing glance at the stall opposite his carousel, before he quickly averted his eyes again and sipped the cocoa. Loris was only wearing a white t-shirt over black and white, small checkered baker’s pants today, despite the cold. The heat coming from the ovens was apparently enough to stay warm. His white skullcap sat jauntily on his red locks while he kneaded dough and formed bread and rolls. Handling the baker’s peel expertly, he transferred two loaves to the oven. After closing the door, he immediately began to sign with his brothers again.

Shit, he was looking again.

Charani had watched some YouTube videos for what felt like a thousand times so he could ask Loris out for coffee using his preferred language. After a while though, he had declared defeat. He would embarrass himself, or even worse, offend Loris with his clumsy attempts at signing. Of course, Leonie had caught on to what held him back, and she told him he was being stupid. As if he didn’t know this. Loris could lip read, even though he didn’t talk with the customers a lot. The brothers had a strict division of tasks at their stall. Loris made the bread, being quite the showman doing that. His brothers made the tarte flambée, as it required asking for the customers' preferences: bacon, goat cheese, or vegan.

Loris watched Charani chatting animatedly with the owner of the stall that sold mulled wine and other kinds of hot beverages. When Leonie caught him looking at Charani, she lifted her eyebrows before grabbing her friend’s arm possessively, to pull the man closer, whispering something, her lips pressed against his ear. Was he imagining it or was she challenging him? Taking another portion of dough, he threw it on the floured counter before him with a little too much force and began to knead in pecan nuts.

When he looked up again, he saw a little girl wearing a pink scarf and a tiara tugging at Charani’s sleeve. Loris smirked when he dismissed Leonie to accept the girl's ticket. Bending down, he pointed to the carousel’s glimmering pink carriage.

The baker laughed when she shook her head violently and ran towards the sleek red racing car.

Grinning, Charani gave the proud father a thumbs up before he helped her climb in.

A few minutes later, Loris caught Charani watching him back. He couldn’t help flexing his muscles while forming a loaf of Christmas bread. Noticing this, his brother rolled his eyes. Embarrassed, Loris flipped him off.

The rest of the day Loris watched Charani flitting about in his brightly colored clothes, laughing, joking, flirting, always talking. One time the tall, wiry man lifted an elderly lady onto one of their prancing white horses with ease, and was promptly rewarded with her radiant smile. Loris was strangely proud of him.

 

When he saw him laughing heartily, he tried to imagine how the man’s voice sounded. He’d even asked his brother. After griping at him that he would know this if he’d use his external processor, Andrin had relented and told him Charani’s voice was warm and dark. He even used the word ‘sexy’.

After some jarring experiences that had him coming home crying from school, his parents had decided Loris had to become normal, and he had been fitted with cochlear implants so he could learn to speak and communicate ‘like everyone else.’

Since he’d been a teenager though, he’d hated having something surgically implanted in his head. He’d begun to reject the device. One day he’d announced him being Deaf was the same as him being gay. He was born this way, it was just him. He would never be normal. He’d even asked his parents if a device existed that would make him heterosexual, would they have had that implanted in his head too.

Today, he knew they had meant well, even if their choice of words could have been better. After that day Loris had had several heated discussions with his family. His hearing sister deemed him egotistical, elitist, and stupid. Especially for someone who had to communicate with customers, as he wanted to work in the family business. Therapy had helped him find a compromise. Today the implant was a mere tool that helped him access the ‘hearing world’ if needed, without losing his identity.

He could talk with his voice but avoided it. He still preferred to sign.

Seeing Charani in action the the last few days, how much he enjoyed communicating with people—

made Loris realize he was missing out on an important aspect of Charani’s life. Charani didn’t know sign. Would he really expect the man to learn a whole new language just to communicate with him? He had the means to understand Charani. Why would he not want to experience every aspect of the man?

Whatever... He was building castles in the air anyway, wishing to be with Charani. Imagining him learning to sign and teaching the man his language.

As if his thoughts had conjured him, Charani stood in front of him, holding a tray with two sugar-rimmed glasses decorated with a sprig of rosemary. He turned his face so Loris could see his lips. “Merry Christmas.”

Without thinking, he signed, It’s my favorite.

Suddenly Andrin stood beside him and translated for him.

“I know, Leonie told me”, Charani answered,

Loris frantically searched his workspace, until he spotted the braided Christmas bread he’d gift-wrapped just in case. He gave it to Charani with trembling hands and whispered, “Merry Christmas.”

Charani took it, a brilliant smile on his face. Hesitating briefly, he fished a card with his number from his jacket’s pocket. And after putting the bread on the counter, he haltingly signed, Text me?

 

Loris’ Christmas Bread

Ingredients

2 ¼ tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp ground ginger

¼ tsp, ground cloves

¼ tsp ground nutmeg

½ tsp salt

3 tbs brown sugar

¼ cup oat bran

2 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 cup chopped pecan nuts

1/2 cup water

4 tbs milk

2 tbs butter

 

Preheat oven to 350°F (175°C).

Heat milk and butter together in a microwave or saucepan until temperature reaches 110°F or 45°C (warm to the touch). Add the yeast and let stand for 10 minutes, until frothy on top.

While yeast is activating, combine flour, oat bran, sugar and salt and spices in a separate bowl.

Create a well in the center of the flour. Add the yeast mixture into the well. Mix into the flour until combined.

Knead by hand for 10-12 minutes until dough is soft and elastic. If the dough is too dry: warm up the extra milk, create a well in the dough and add in half of the milk. Knead and if you still feel it's still too dry, add in the remaining amount of milk.

When dough is ready, divide it into 3 pieces. Lightly flour a clean work surface and braid the dough. Bake 20 minutes or until lightly browned and golden.

What about a freshly baked bread on Christmas morning?

Is there something special you serve/love to eat on Christmas morning?

Copyright © 2019 Valkyrie, aditus, Cole Matthews; All Rights Reserved.

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The bread looks tasty, but a little intimidating. (And the recipe refers to ‘extra milk’ that isn’t listed and lists water that doesn’t seem to be used.)
;–)

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8 minutes ago, droughtquake said:

The bread looks tasty, but a little intimidating. (And the recipe refers to ‘extra milk’ that isn’t listed and lists water that doesn’t seem to be used.)
;–)

Um....extra milk is just that. extra. Usually I have some in the fridge when I make bread.

Aaand. Yup, You're right. It should be Heat milk, water and butter together in a microwave or saucepan until temperature reaches 110°F or 45°C (warm to the touch). Sorry. :)

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I’ve seen several movies that dealt with hearing impaired LGBTQ+s dating hearing individuals. In a short, two high school cross-country athletes communicate by writing on dew-coated car windows during their early morning run. Another movie showed the difficulties of navigating in the other’s world, including parties.
;–)

When I worked in a computer store, we communicated with hearing impaired customers on laptops. It always surprised me when they’d ask me to print out the incomplete sentences and half-answers that we’d typed out. MacOS can optionally indicate alerts with an on-screen flash.
;–)
 

I’ve been unsuccessful at learning three different verbal languages. I cannot imagine I’d be any more successful with a sign language. I’ve thought about it though, just as I’ve contemplated learning Danish so I could understand Timothy M’s dialogs without waiting for the translations that follow.
;–)

Edited by droughtquake
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6 minutes ago, droughtquake said:

I’ve been unsuccessful at learning three different verbal languages.

Being European, I would be lost with only one language, especially as my mother's and/or father's languages aren't  widely used.

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1 hour ago, aditus said:

Being European, I would be lost with only one language, especially as my mother's and/or father's languages aren't  widely used.

Due to racism and history, especially the virulent anti-Asian sentiment before and after WWII in the California, my parents did not want us to learn the language my grandparents spoke.

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7 minutes ago, droughtquake said:

Due to racism and history, especially the virulent anti-Asian sentiment before and after WWII in the California, my parents did not want us to learn the language my grandparents spoke.

Having German ancestors  wasn't exactly popular either, I guess.

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11 minutes ago, aditus said:

Having German ancestors  wasn't exactly popular either, I guess.

But German- and Italian-Americans blended in after a generation or two, especially if they ‘Americanized’ their names. And during WWII, only a tiny percentage of German and Italian resident aliens were imprisoned in Internment Camps. There was no widespread roundup of entire families including American citizen children. There was an obvious racist intent behind the differing treatment. Even as they formulated the plans, the US government knew that the effort was unnecessary. It was only one of a series of racist actions against Asian and Asian-Americans that continued on long after WWII and the Vietnam Wars ended.

The unequal treatment of all non-European immigrants and their descendants, as well as Native Americans, is evident in many things.

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I loved this story.  I found it quite realistic and endearing.  I'd love to read more about these two :) 

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31 minutes ago, droughtquake said:

The unequal treatment of all non-European immigrants and their descendants, as well as Native Americans, is evident in many things.

Let's not talk about what's  currently happening on your side and my side of the pond. Otherwise my mood would tank and a Mod would have to  delete stuff.  Totally unnecessary. Wrong place and all...

Edited by aditus
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6 minutes ago, Valkyrie said:

I loved this story.  I found it quite realistic and endearing.  I'd love to read more about these two :) 

Uh-oh.

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3 minutes ago, aditus said:

Uh-oh.

How many new series have all of you inadvertently created with this anthology?
;–)

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I want more of these guys please write more about them.

We were taught in school how to sign, but just like my Japanese class I skipped a lot of classes and learned very few words. I can say goodbye in Japanese and sign “bullshit” and that’s just about it lol.

The funny thing was I was given an award at the end of the year for being  the “Best in Japanese” in class. I was so confused as to how they thought I was deserving of that award but I accepted it anyway lol.

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9 minutes ago, nix said:

I can say goodbye in Japanese and sign “bullshit” and that’s just about it lol.

These are very important words.:P

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7 minutes ago, aditus said:

These are very important words.:P

Well. You’re not wrong haha.

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7 hours ago, droughtquake said:

 

I’ve been unsuccessful at learning three different verbal languages. I cannot imagine I’d be any more successful with a sign language. I’ve thought about it though, just as I’ve contemplated learning Danish so I could understand Timothy M’s dialogs without waiting for the translations that follow.
;–)

Sign Language is actually a much easier language to learn.  You don’t have to memorize a foreign vocabulary because the signs are conceptual.  A ‘phone’ is a ‘phone’ everywhere, as is ‘boy,’ ‘girl,’ ‘love,’ and every other word.  The thing that is tricky to learn is the syntax.  American Sign Language is different from Signed English, for example.  Otherwise, wherever you are in the world, you can communicate.

I loved this story.  I thought it was very sweet.

 

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I love the recipe. I love the story. I have a student with an implant who is both glad of it, but may be having some if the same thoughts as you describe. But toward the end, something appeared in my eye, requiring a tissue. And maybe hot chocolate, just because. Thank you! 

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My mother always made Mohnstriezel (German poppy seed roll ). I loving the stories and recipes. 
Thank you and Merry Christmas. 

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16 hours ago, droughtquake said:

I’ve seen several movies that dealt with hearing impaired LGBTQ+s dating hearing individuals. In a short, two high school cross-country athletes communicate by writing on dew-coated car windows during their early morning run. Another movie showed the difficulties of navigating in the other’s world, including parties.

What were those movies called?   :)

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I love bread. I could live off a diet of bread, butter, and potatoes, if need be. One can never have too many recipes for bread, in my opinion.   :)

On Christmas Day, we usually take a break from opening presents around 10:00, and make Quiche Lorraine and Monkey Bread for brunch. Then we resume the unwrapping of boxes and bags, the untying of ribbons and bows, etc.   :D

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28 minutes ago, Page Scrawler said:

What were those movies called?   :)

It’ll take me a while to locate the titles. I’ll try to remember to look later.
;–)

One was Running Without Sound.

Edited by droughtquake
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11 minutes ago, Page Scrawler said:

I love bread. I could live off a diet of bread, butter, and potatoes, if need be.   :)

Me too, only substitute rice for the potatoes.
;–)

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I’m really enjoying this series of mostly sweet little tales. The recipe mentions yeast but there’s no mention of it in the list of ingredients. Please correct that? I rarely bake with wheat since going gluten free a dozen or so years ago, but this sounds like something I’d create for neighbors who rarely eat breads nor sweets, but who’d appreciate it as a Holiday treat.

I’ve been wishing I had more talent as a writer... in part to pass on a family recipe if/when I locate it again.

As a child my parents made my great grandmother’s “French Christmas Cake “ in small tube or loaf cake pans which were given as gifts to favored family friends. I’m uncertain I still have the recipe but if it can be located, at some point I’ll pass it on... it had something like a pound of currants (preferably white ones), a whole bottle of lemon extract, and a lot of nuts. Being a Southern family we always used pecans.  Texture was like a pound cake, before it was wrapped in cheesecloth soaked with whiskey (probably Bourbon). Best baked at least 1-2 weeks ahead and aged in a cake box or wrapped in foil, it helped make those childhood Christmas seasons a very special time for all of us, Mom also called it ‘Lemon Nut-loaf’ but it was Dad’s grandmother’s favorite Holiday baked treat... and she was the very best baker I’ve ever known.

with sincere gratitude to those who create this site and especially the writers who have created so many magical tales and wondrous adventures in this world ... and many richly-imagined others.

my warmest regards to each and every one of you,

”May you experience the Richest Blessings Life has to offer.”

GP

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1 hour ago, GeoffreyP said:

The recipe mentions yeast but there’s no mention of it in the list of ingredients. Please correct that?

Of course. I apologize. When I translated the recipe  I forgot the yeast : 1 ½ tsp dry yeast.

I never tried to bake  this bread with gluten free flour. Maybe  it's worth a try?

Thank you for your comment and telling us about the “French Christmas Cake “, Geoffrey. If you are able to locate the recipe sometime, I'd be very interested. :)

Merry Christmas from Germany.

~A.

 

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19 hours ago, chris191070 said:

Awesome chapter and recipe 

Thank you, chris. I'm glad you enjoyed this chapter. :)

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