Winning the Lottery and Whole Wheat Soda Bread with Cherries
Pay off the mortgage.
Buy a farm in Vermont.
Invest in finding a cure for Raynaud’s Syndrome.
Do more to end world hunger.
Buy a motorcycle and invent a riding suit made from the same material used to make “the little black box” on airplanes.
Pay Chip Foose of Overhaulin’ fame to turn our ’87 Ram Charger (a.k.a. Big Blue) into a living room on wheels.
Pay off my nieces’s mortgages.
That’s a smattering of the things Greg and I plan to do when we win the lottery. How we’ll spend our winnings is a topic of frequent debate on long runs, longer car rides, and romantic dinners for two when we pay someone else to do the cooking. The lists are never the same though paying off the mortgage and restoring Big Blue make it on every one. Sometimes we give a lot of our winnings to our families. Other times we give it to strangers. Sometimes the farm in Vermont is a ranch in Montana instead.
Squandering millions of dollars that we don’t have is a fun way for us to pass the time. Ironically, we talk about winning more frequently than we actually play the lottery. (Yes, I know, “you have to play to win.”) We’re not big gamblers, just big dreamers, and this dreaming out loud helps us align and calibrate our values and our goals, especially the big ones. When it comes right down to it, we’re pretty content with what we have, right here, right now, which is a good thing because Greg read that our chance of being killed (or killing someone else) on our drive to the store to purchase our Mega Millions ticket is nearly six times greater than the chance that we will win the jackpot.
What if instead of winning the lottery (or dying a horrible death on your way to buy your ticket), you woke up to find $10,000 and a note relieving you of all obligations for the next seven days? The kids will be taken care of. So will your mother-in-law. All your professional duties have been temporarily suspended without affecting your pay and vacation day allotment. What then?
To my surprise, when it comes to spending fictitious money, it’s easier to spend millions of dollars than it is to spend what amounts to our annual property taxes. Harder still is deciding what to do with the days. Time seldom, if ever, factors into our lottery talks though there is an unspoken assumption that the living will be easy. Of course tending to our thousand acre Montana ranch while we’re curing cancer is likely to present some time management challenges. This must be what is meant by “high class problems.” But we’re not talking about the rest of your life. It’s just next week.
Should I stay or go? If I make it a “staycation”, I could use the money to buy lottery tickets (I’d walk to the store to purchase them.), and pass the days with Under the Tuscan Sun and Master and Commander on repeat.
Or I could sign up for the Regional French Desserts course at the French Pastry Institute, and spend my evenings enjoying over the top dinners in Chicago: Moto, El Ideas, Goosefoot, Schwa, North Pond, Black Bird, Gibsons. Whatever money is left will go the blind Latin guitarist that frequently serenades me at a redline stop in the Loop.
Maybe instead of blowing it all at once, I should consider gifts that keep on giving. I can get an eighty-pound wheel of Parmesan delivered to my front door for $1,250. A wheel of my favorite Pleasant Ridge Reserve is $220. Then I’ll need some wine to drink with my cheese. A few cases of Pride Mountain cabernet and Elyse Le Corbeau should do the trick. This option also leaves plenty of time for working through my mountain of “must read” books.
It’s more likely that I’ll hit the road leaving little to show for the money when the seven days are over. Tooling and drooling around Old Madrid, breaking up the day with stops for sherry and creamy croquettes would be hard to beat. Replenishing my vitamin D and sipping mai tais on the shores of Maui would be almost as lovely.
I considered taking Greg on my adventures, but he’s got a different agenda in mind: he plans to spend the $10,000 to hire someone to finish the interior trim while he’s hiking the Wind River Range, alone. Well, at least we can agree on the big stuff.
How would you spend $10,000 dollars and seven unfettered days?
Whole Wheat Soda Bread with Tart Cherries
I go on a soda bread binge at least once a year. And why not? It’s fast. It’s versatile. It goes with butter. It goes with cheese. And it’s perfect for breakfast with a generous slathering of peanut butter. This isn’t the sweet variety soda bread found across the U.S. that is anything but Irish. (Traditional, “authentic” Irish Soda bread is made using just four ingredients: flour, baking soda, buttermilk, and salt.) If you prefer the sweet variety, you might enjoy this one at SmittenKitchen.com.
4 cups white whole wheat flour, plus a few teaspoons for dusting
2 tablespoons millet (optional)
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
1 cup dried tart cherries
1 2/3 cups plain yogurt
1/4 cup milk or water
2 tablespoons honey
- Preheat oven to 375°F. Coat a baking sheet or dish with olive oil and lightly dust it with flour, or line it with parchment paper.
- In a large mixing bowl whisk together the flour, millet if using, baking soda, and salt. Stir in the cherries.
- In a separate bowl whisk together the yogurt, milk or water, honey, and egg.
- Add the wet ingredients to the dry. Mix until the dough is too stiff to stir. Use your hands to bring it together in the bowl. Add additional milk or water one teaspoon at a time if it’s too dry. You want a stiff, slightly tacky ball.
- Turn dough onto a lightly floured board and shape into a round loaf. (Don’t over-knead the dough. Too much kneading will produce a tough bread.).
- Transfer the loaf to the prepared baking sheet. Use a sharp knife to make deep slashes across the top of the loaf, 4-6 cuts about half way through.
- Bake for 40-45 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean. When you tap the loaf, it will sound hollow.