April 13, 2011

Blueberry Bagels

I had my first experience with culture shock when I moved to Arkansas. The humidity was the least of it...
I vividly remember my first visit to Walmart. Outside the store was a display of metal structures that reminded me of an Alaskan food cache. Long stilt-like legs, a one-man shelter, and a fancy-smancy ladder. The sign read "Deer Stand." What on earth? (I later discovered that these deer stands are a common sight along the back roads of Arkansas. Rather than hike through dense undergrowth in search of deer, Arkie hunters merely climb up into their comfy little deer stand and wait for the deer to walk within firing range. I also found out that hunting season is such a big deal around here that all the local schools shut down for a week so the kids can get out in the deer stands with their parents...Definitely not the norm in the Northwest!)
Deer stands lost their novelty quickly, but the one thing I could never seem to get used to was the accent.
"Ya'll aren't from heah huh?" They would say to me with a knowing smile. I would just wonder why they always said, "you all" when I was the only one they were referring to... That is, until I finally figured out that "ya'll" can be used as both the singular and plural form of "you."

Most disconcerting was the fact that even though I was the one who knew and practiced the correct pronunciation of words, I was perceived as an oddball. I would ask for someone in the kitchen to bring me a bag of potatoes, and they would look at me funny and laugh.
"You mean a bag."
No. Bag. Rhymes with leg. Not Chad.
My classmates commonly referred to our Agriculture class as "Ag." But whenever I tried to say anything about "Ag" class, laughter would erupt, and someone would be sure to quip, "We don't have no EGG class around here."
Eventually, imperceptibly, I gave in to the pressure. My long "A" morphed into the short "a", and pretty soon I sounded just like everybody else. Bag, rag, tag...
After two years, I even started saying, "Ya'll."
If you heard me canvassing someone in Arkansas, you could almost believe that I was one of the locals. I can slur right along with the best of them. In fact, in a recent canvassing program a new student asked me, after leaving a door, "So have you lived in Arkansas all your life?"
Uhm. Not exactly!
"Well you sure could have fooled me," he says. "You sound like you've been working on that Arkie accent for years."
Thanks, Jacob. I appreciate the compliment... :-S

But apparently, in my attempt to fit in I was a little too zealous. In the Northwest we use the long A every time  we say the "ag" syllable, so naturally I assumed that Southerners use the short a the same way.
Not so.
They (we?) say, flag, sag, and magazine and virtually every other "ag" word with the short a, but NOT bagel. Oh, no. Bagels are bAgels.
I learned that the hard way, AFTER I had already formed my short a habit.
Bagel. Rhymes with Chad.

Once again, I endured the good natured laughter of my friends.
"What are you trying to do? Sound like a sheep? Baaa. Baaaaaagel."

Conforming to peer pressure just isn't worth it....

When it all comes down at the end of the day, it doesn't count how well I can imitate what I hear around me, what really matters is how well I know and follow the rules of the book.
Rich spiritual significance to ponder there.... 

I saw this bagel recipe on 17andbaking, and loved it from the first time I tried it. I simply modified the recipe by adding a cup of frozen blueberries to the dough while I was mixing it. They're awful good whether you choose to call them bAgels or baaaagels. :-)

Photos courtesy of sdoe photography. (:-P) Thank you Sarah, your talents are beautiful.

Basic Bagels
Ultimate Bread
Makes 8 bagels
2 tsp dry yeast
1 1/2 tbsp sugar
1 1/4 cups (300 ml) warm water
3 1/2 cups (500 g) unbleached flour, plus extra for kneading
1 1/2 tsp salt
Sprinkle the yeast and sugar into 1/2 cup of the water in a small bowl. Leave for 5 minutes and then stir to dissolve. In a large bowl, mix the flour and salt together. Form a well in the center and pour in the dissolved yeast.
Pour half of the remaining water into the well. Mix in the flour and stir in the reserved water as needed, forming a firm and moist dough. Turn out onto a floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes. Gradually work in as much additional flour as possible while comfortably kneading to form a stiff and firm dough.
Put the dough in a lightly oiled bowl, turning the dough to coat it. Cover with a towel and let rise for 1 hour or until doubled in size. Punch down and let the dough rest 10 minutes.
Divide the dough into 8 pieces. Shape each piece into a ball – cup between your hands and press the bottoms together between your palms. Press down to get rid of air bubbles and roll the dough between your palm and the work surface to form a smooth ball. Coat a finger in flour and press it through each ball to form a ring.
Work the rest of your fingers into the hole, stretching the ring and widening the hole to about 1/3 of the bagel’s diameter. Place the bagels on a lightly oiled baking sheet and cover with a damp towel. Let rest for 10 minutes and preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.
Bring a large pan of water to a boil and then reduce to a simmer. Use a perforated skimmer to lowel the bagels into the water in batches of 2-3. Boil, uncovered, until they rise to the surface, about 1 minute. Turn them over once. Then remove from the pan, letting the water drain, and transfer to a lightly oiled baking sheet. Bake 20 minutes, until golden, and cool on a wire rack.


  1. Oh, that is so funny! I would have never thought there was a difference between saying "baa-g" or "bayg" because our family (we've lived in the northwest our whole lives) uses the hard and soft a's interchangeably!
    Thanks for sharing, it put a smile on my face, and a laugh in my heart! :-)

  2. That's so interesting! What part of the NW do you live in btw? I bet we have a bunch of mutual friends... :-)

  3. *laughing* I bet we do... But I'm not exactly sure how to answer properly on the internet. Do you have any ideas? I'll post another comment when I think of a good way.

  4. you could always drop me an email! livinghigher@gmail.com :-)

  5. Ah, yes! I'll do that! :-) BTW, I love the new background!