Vegan Dilly Casserole Bread (Uninvited House Guests And Camera Grief)

I don't know where to begin. Let me start with the camera first. I am now in the acceptance stage of grief, but I barely made it out of the denial stage. I denied my camera was broken an entire day until husband came home and I said, I think there's been a loss in the family. He said, You think. . . what's that supposed to mean? And I pointed to the keeper of my blogging "sanity"--my dead camera. He began immediate investigation--doing all the things I had done for an entire afternoon--turning on and off, peering into the card reader cavity, etc. Seemed hopeful at one point. Then he sighed, looked at me and said, Yep, it's dead. I had to leave the room at that point. 

To say I don't do well with change--change of ANY kind, is an understatement. I was devastated. I thought, I'll never take another food shot again. Vegan Thyme is OVER. I. Cannot. Go. On. Well. I am a lucky girl. Not only did I marry a scientist (a brilliant man!), but I happened to marry a former professional photographer who is always at the ready with a camera. We have spares. And thus, I was kindly gifted his Olympus digital camera and all is right with world. . . again. I have some adjusting to do yet. It's a much more advanced feature camera. (Dr. Thyme's opinion on photography is that it's not in the camera so much as it is the person taking the picture.) Let us hope so, because that camera and me shared a lot. A LOT. It could take my photos on its own--literally. It was an extension of me.  

Then there was "the incident" over the weekend. This old house of ours. God love it. Old houses are a favorite of mine. The charm. The history. The architecture you won't find in any new houses today. Then, there's the "other" old house stuff that accompanies a dwelling like ours. Unexpected things. (Nearly seventy-six years old, our house.)

Sunday, our Pyrenees began trembling and hiding in the bedroom closest on and off throughout the day. When I attempted to call her into the kitchen for a treat, or to urge her on with the promise of a walk, she wouldn't move. She'd stare at the door--desperately seeking some sort of assurance. Crept toward me--making it halfway into the kitchen, but then would turn the corner crawling back into her "safe" place: the closet (usually reserved for thunderstorms). Given it was sunny and in the sixites outside, I was concerned.

I thought about all the articles I'd read claiming that dogs are hyper-sensitive to human illness and attributed this new out-of-the-blue behavior to only one thing: my having a tumor. That's what it had to be. I have a tumor and she can no longer stand to be near me. She smells my sickness. I am dying. And so, I told husband, I think I might be sick. Remember that part about him being a scientist? You can imagine how my comment (with explanation) went over. 

So we watched our girl for the better part of one day, and into the next day, when breakfast time came, she ate her food in the kitchen, then. . . back to the closet she went, panting. Whatever it was that was bothering her--it was somewhere in the kitchen. So maybe I didn't have a tumor. It had to be something though. What? It must be a sound. So I began unplugging every single device in the immediate area to isolate the noise or sound she was hearing. Dogs have sound senstivity. I have sound sensitivity, too--so I hear things most people don't--some frequencies of sound feel like a drill in my ear. It drives my husband crazy sometimes, but it can have its plus side, too. I sat perfectly still in the middle of the kitchen. I waited. Then I heard it. A beep-beep. Or was it a squeak-squeak? I waited again. Then I heard it again. A squeak. Hmm. I moved the stool I was sitting on to a different area and sat perfectly still. Then, I heard it again. Okay, it was coming from a rafter area in the kitchen--up in the vaulted ceiling. A place only reachable by ladder. A dark place. So I went out to the garage, grabbed the ladder grabbed the flashlight. Set the ladder up. Crawled up the ladder to peer into the "dark" corner and that's when it happened. I saw a pair of eyes staring back at me and a sound came from me that I am certain was heard a mile away (maybe two) then fell backwards off the ladder, grabbed the phone and my laptop and RAN into the closet with our dogs and called husband. All the while stroking our girl's head, giving big hugs and saying, You are such a good girl!

Now I was shaking. I was more than shaking, I was having a paralyzing response to a fear that has been wired into me since childhood. (My grandmother had bats in her attack and let's just say I am prone to episodes regarding certain critters.) A fear that is so visceral I can barely speak. My heart rate rose, my breathing was short, I thought I might pass out. I was able to clear my head enough to call husband and speak in. . . babble to him. He said, What? What's the matter? More babble. I was incoherent. I was having a hysterical fit more or less. He said, I am coming home, just stay put. And he did. And he found me in the closet in the corner, huddled with the dogs. Shaking. 

The rest of it is a bit of a blur as I was nursed back to reality and husband made sure I was okay after he "took care" of the matter. I was still a bit shaken up. And would remain so throughout the rest of the day until evening time came and we huddled around the TV, ate dinner and by eight or so, found I was fast asleep in the chair. Apparently he realized this after discussing the virtues of a new series we began watching, fittingly enough entitled: Awake. And discovered I was not, awake, that is. My ultimate stress reliever: sleep. 

So am feeling a bit better this morning. It's an overcast day with predictions of the possibility of "severe" weather this evening. Oh great. Spring is coming sooner than is expected here. Nothing good can come of this warmer-than-usual winter. I am still a little shaken up from all the hoo-haa of late. So I decided today would be set aside for taking it easy. Some knitting. Some blogging. Some baking. Some guitar practice. Then dinner. Some Idol, later. (Though I kinda want to watch that PBS show on the Amish tonight--so we might have to miss some Idol. I love the Amish. My mom loved the Amish.)  

Meantime, during the weekend, I made this wonderful bread. Dilly bread. You've probably heard of it. If not, your mother has. It was really popular in the fifties and sixties. A bread usually made with cottege cheese (ew). Well, I had to make this bread twice to get it right for a vegan version. Unfortunately all the photos of my dough-mixing and beautiful cassorole-baked-finished bread were lost in the camera saga. But trust me, this bread turned out amazing. It has a familiar sweet finish, but just enough savory with the addition of dehydrated onions and dill in it to make it one of our top ten breads to have with dinner list. The one thing that you will NOT need to do is knead the bread dough. (No pun intended.) It's made with yeast, but you will not do as you usually would with a yeast bread. You simply mix it well for about ten minutes--it's a fairly wet dough. Let it rise in the bowl for the first hour, give it a good twenty or so turns with a spoon, then transfer the dough to a round casserole pan, let it rise a second time--until the dough comes over the top of the casserole dish, then bake. It is a beautiful AND delicious bread. It would make a wonderful breakfast toast. For dinner, I cut out wedges--like pie and served it slathered in vegan margerine. In honor of our old house and all that comes with living in an old home: I share this vegan-ized, old recipe.

Vegan Dilly Casserole Bread

1/2 cup vegan sour cream
1/2 cup warm water
2 tablespoons sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons dried minced onion
1 1/2 tablespoon dried dillweed
1 teaspoon table salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
a pinch of tumeric (*which is optional, but added a nice yellow hue to the dough)
3 teaspoons Ener-G Egg replacer mixed with 6 tablespoons water
2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast or bread machine yeast
2-2 1/2 cups bread flour or unbleached all-purpose flour (or more--depending upon the humidity in the air, I used 2 1/4 cups of flour)

You will need a round casserole to bake this bread--or you could use a regular loaf pan. Spray the pan with non-stick cooking spray. But just be prepared for the dough, upon the second rise, to come over the top of the loaf pan--so spray the top of the dough with a little non-stick spray to keep the plastic from sticking to it when you remove it after the second rise just before baking it. To make the dough: mix everything but the flour together in a medium mixing bowl. With a large spoon or in the bowl of stand mixer, begin adding the flour--a half cup at a time--up to two cups. You will need to assess the dough as you work with it. It is not going to be a firm dough ball and you will NOT have to knead this dough. After mixing in the two cups of flour--the dough will come together and pull from the sides of the mixing bowl, but will stick to the bottom of the bowl.  More like a really thick ball of dough. Cover with plastic wrap for 45 minutes. After this first rise, take a big spoon and stir down the dough with about twenty turns (this is what Bernard Clayton suggests, and I found this to be just about right--about twenty turns). The dough will deflate--then pour the newly mixed dough into your casserole or bread pan. Spray the top of the dough, and cover lightly with plastic wrap. Place in a warm spot and allow dough to rise a second time for another 45 minutes. Twenty minutes before the end of the second rise, preheat the oven to 350. When the second rising time is up, carefully remove the plastic wrap (try not to deflate the dough too much), place in oven and bake for 40-45 minutes. Until the top of the dough is a nice golden brown. Remove from oven. Allow to cool in pan ten minutes, then turn the dough out onto a cooling wrack. We cut into our bread while it was still warm and it deflated it a bit--but that's only because the dough is really very light and fluffy and chewy. And delish! Serve warm with vegan margerine! Yum!  



  1. Ugh! Sorry about your house guest. We just found a mouse at work. Disgusting. The bread looks great though!

  2. Seriously ugh! And thank you! I am sure there is a therapy session needed in here somewhere. But we did love this bread.

  3. Eek, how scary!

    Did the Amish special talk about how they run the cruelest puppy mills in the country? My cocker girl Sally came from an Amish mill, and you wouldn't imagine the horrible shape she was in, so sad :(

  4. Oh, Kelly! You know I mean this in the nicest way possible, and I know it was traumatic at the time, but your story about the house "guest" made me laugh. :) Believe me, I would have fallen off the ladder and hidden in the closet too, but your delivery of the story makes it sound just hilarious! I'm glad you survived the ordeal and I'm so sorry about your camera...I've been there too. Not fun. I hope you develop a wonderful new relationship with your next camera. Oh, and the bread sounds fabulous!

  5. Hey! TWV--we watched the special and were pleased with how PBS managed to portray the Amish: isolated, different, free to practice their own religion, have same issues most of the rest of society has, etc. However, they missed the mark on the dog issue as I am well aware of their "pracitices" with breeding. I am a HUGE cocker spaniel fan, HUGE! My very first baby girl was a blonde cocker. I loved her to death. So glad to hear your girl has a new lease on life--you are great to bring her into your life! And, yes, eck! Thanks for your note!

    Hi Jeanne! Oh, Jeanne. . . I know you do, sweetie, I know you do! Looking back on this, perhaps I should have chilled out a bit longer before going into this "blog sharing" (my mini War And Peace version). But it was all relevant to the entire trauma that hit me--fear and I are not a good mix, to say the least. Your note had me in stitches, too--thank you!

  6. Nice looking recipe! I've had this before, but it's been years. Good stuff.

    Too bad about your camera - but your husband is right: it's always about the photographer, not the camera (well, you need good light first; then it's about the photographer. But having a nice camera is also, well, nice!

    Over the years we've had the occasional mouse. Our cats would stare transfixed at the spot where the sound was coming from. Eventually they'd either scare them away - the usual outcome - or occasionally catch the little intruder and "play" with it. No mouse should have to endure that kind of "play!" Fun post - thanks.

  7. OK now, this is really creepy. About 3 weeks ago one of my dogs went into full fireworks phobia mode for no apparent reason. It was snowing that night so I couldn't imagine anyone shooting off fireworks nor was I hearing any. She paced from room to room for 3 nights straight. She would stand in a dog bed then leave and pace again. Over a period of 2 weeks she gradually improved and is now her old self again. I never did figure out what the problem was but I kept thinking she was hearing something I could not hear. Strange how we are almost 1,000 miles apart and our dogs were doing the same things. Couldn't have been a mouse, though, since this particular dog is, well, a mouser. She would have gladly come over and taken care of your situation for you.


  8. So appreciate these notes! Kitchen Riff, I have seen many recipes for this bread, was too intimidated to try veganizing. It now has earned "most loved dinner bread statis". Fyi-- my first attempt was horrendous. My dog is such a baby at heart--she'd never lived in house her first year. The mice terror she suffered living on "the farm" where she was rescued from, I can only imagine. She is no better in storms either.

    Daniela--That is so, so STRANGE! I have seriously read about their uncanny ability to smell and/or hear things beyond our ability. Given my own sensitivity to sound, that's the only conclusion I could draw. (Well after hubby rolled his eyes on the tumor I thought I had.) That is really a strange coincidence for sure--both dogs going thru this behavior. Wow.

  9. Oh lady! Sometimes I can be waaay to literal (and perhaps gullible) and when I read "I have a tumor," I was about to lee it, thinking that I really had been away too long! Needless to say it made the rest of your post quite amusing. not to laug at you, but what a relief to know you have. Mouse and not a tumor! (and yes, I could be losing my mind...).l

    We have a mouse right now that seems to outsmart our live trap. Bah!

  10. Hi Cassie! You are so funny--thank you for taking the time to write! And I am in the same camp with you in "gullible" category. Good to hear from you!


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