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Al Young Studios Newsroom

Memorial Day and summer picnics


Photographs by Elspeth Young
" Putting down her pail, Emily thinned out the too lavish lilies of the valley.  She raked the dead leaves, clipped the long grass, and dug a hole on each mound, into which she sank an empty jar.  Taking her pail, she went to a nearby pump for water.  She filled the jars and inserted the still dewy bouquets."  Emily of Deep Valley

There are few books that capture the essence of Decoration Day (now Memorial Day) as endearingly as Maud Hart Lovelace's Emily of Deep Valley, which commences and ends with the sweet small town celebrations of the holiday.  We loved creating the issue of the journal surrounding it, and also delight in returning to the book around Memorial Day to sense that same nostalgia, even while we work away at the upcoming issue of Charles Dickens' Our Mutual Friend.

But whether the festivities include a rainy day re-read of Emily, or a sunny picnic near the bandstand at the park, the following recipe for delectable "Barley Twists" breadsticks will make either tradition more memorable. The barley flour adds a satisfying richness that may make it a favorite, even without a holiday.  We offer up the recipe a bit early so there's time to make a batch, watch them disappear, and make another batch in time for the family picnic.

 Barley Twists  
by Nancy Young

1¼ cups warm water
2 ½ teaspoons dried yeast
1 teaspoon sugar (optional)
1 cup barley flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1-1½ cups unbleached flour
½ cup olive or canola oil
2 teaspoons salt

Additional Olive Oil and Sea Salt

Place warm water in the bowl of a heavy duty mixer and stir in yeast and sugar, if using.  When yeast is proofed add the barley, whole wheat and 1 cup of the unbleached flour.  Using the paddle attachment, stir the flours in lightly and add the oil, salt and enough additional unbleached flour to make a soft dough.  Allow to rise until doubled—about an hour.
Divide dough into 2-ounce sections and roll the dough into long strands about the width of a pencil.  Cut into two pieces to create long barley twists or four to make short ones. (Those shown, left, are of the long persuasion.)  Place two strands side by side and overlap repeatedly to create twists.  Place on parchment or silicone lined baking sheets about one inch apart, and preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Allow twists to rise until about doubled, about 20 to 30 minutes.  Brush with oil and sprinkle lightly with the sea salt.  Bake until lightly golden brown—about 15 to 20 minutes.  Cool on wire racks.  Recipe makes about 22 long twists or 44 short ones.

Tags: Vol. 4 No. 4, 2012, Bread making, Holidays, Recipes by Nancy Young

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