Tribute to the Queen of All Daring Bakers, Lis.

Russian Braided Bread

The past two days, I’ve spent quite a bit of time remembering much of what I enjoyed most about blogging — the community, the camaraderie.  I know it’s been three months since I’ve written here, but often, things change.  Sadly, sometimes they change forever.

Dough for Russian Braided Bread

Two days ago, I learned that Lis, a woman I swear was my alter ego separated from me at birth, passed away unexpectedly.  I received the message just as I was settling in to write that morning, and then nothing has quite been the same since.

Dough for Russian Braided Bread

I met Lis when I discovered the Daring Bakers early in 2007 not too long after I started writing here.  She was one of the co-founders of the group which had been secretly whipping up one recipe challenge after another each month before revealing them all on the same day.  It was great fun while it lasted for me, and many of the former members have mentioned that the group simply became too large, and what drew us to it in the beginning  began to fade.    Fortunately, after many years of participation, Lis and I became friends.  I even flew out to Ohio to spend a few days with her and help cook for her wedding.

Sundried Tomato Pesto Russian Braided Bread

I can think of so many things to say, yet nothing at all appropriate ends up on this page.  And I know she would understand.  At some point, there is no eloquent way to do someone justice and I find myself wanting to give up.  I know she would say, “Big fakkin’ deal!”

Russian Braided Bread

She made me laugh so hard I cried.  I loved her epic emails — one in particular about a cake lady.  The phone calls that went on forever. I can hear the tone of her voice right now and maybe that, more than anything made our conversations more hilarious. She could just let it rip. Her vocabulary was such that a dictionary website should be created in her honor, putting the Urban Dictionary completely to shame.  If there could be anyone as meticulous with Excel spreadsheets as Lis, they would reign supreme, and I know people who understand that talent. Cotton socks will forever make me think of her.

Russian Braided Bread

Do cotton socks still exist?  I have memories of them on school days when I least wanted to wear them, creeping down beneath the heel of my shoe, causing me to tug at them  to restore order and make them appear as if they were perfect, lined up, ankle height.  Yet walking a few minutes caused them to slide back down beneath the back of my shoe, step by step, edging toward my heel and instep. I truly hated them.

Russian Braided Bread

But if cotton socks are still made, I will find them and buy a pair.  And every time I put them on, I will think of Lis who always blessed everyone’s  cotton socks.   I’ve been thinking of sending a balloon with a giant heart painted on it and cotton socks attached into the stratosphere.  I imagine someone on a flight to Italy will see it from the small window of a plane and wonder.

Russian Braided Bread

She loved Fall best, going all out to decorate her house for Halloween, could make a near disaster of a recipe an occasion for hysterical laughter and wads of Kleenex, and spent an incredible amount of time turning something most will never completely understand into something awesome —  the Daring Kitchen.  Years and months, long hours, it was a big job in addition to her full-time day job.  She had a huge heart, made people feel welcome, and never expected credit for any of it.

I will miss her.

Russian Braided Bread with Sun Dried Tomato Pesto

The recipe for this beautiful Russian Braided Bread was adapted from one I found at Barbara Bakes.  Her recipe and step-by-step directions are excellent.  The only difference is I used sun-dried tomato pesto.  I chose this recipe because it makes me think of the day Lis and several others made these Garlic Knots with Rosemary.

Good memories, those.  Maybe I’ll attach a garlic knot to that balloon instead of socks.  She’d think that was hilarious.


36 thoughts on “Tribute to the Queen of All Daring Bakers, Lis.

  1. What a lovely tribute to her and to the early days of blogging when it seemed so much simpler. I’m really thinking about those days when our enthusiasm for cooking was the one thing that drew us all together.

  2. What a lovely tribute! I think those early days of community through blogging and the friends I’ve made are what keep me going even though there have been times in recent months I’ve felt like just stopping… but, then I just can’t cut it out completely because there is such joy in sharing food with those friends you’ve met through the on-line world.

  3. Thousands of us got to know Lis online, you were very lucky to have such a wonderful bond with her. This is a beautiful tribute to her, a great recipe to remember her by. Thank you for organizing the Tribute event.

  4. This totally brought me back to the early years we had at the daring bakers and all the fun we had, and I think Lis was a huge part of that, bless her cotton socks (I had forgotten that phrase but it’s so very her!).
    Though I’ve been away from blogging and hadn’t kept in touch, it was a true shock to hear the news. We had many laughs together and I’ll always remember her as a very kind, giving and hilarious woman. I hope her beloved pups are ok and I think a donation to the humane society is truly fitting since she loved all animals.
    She’ll be missed.

  5. Gorgeous and so beautifully written, Kelly. Just think, it was Lis (and Ivonne) who brought us all together with her energy and hilarity. Lots of love to you, sweetie. xo

  6. Kelly I made the garlic knots — that was when John had me in the bakers group also. This did bring a tear to my eye. You put in word what we all remember about Lisa. What a great loss we all have had with her passing. Has been a hard few days at our house.

  7. Lovely post Kelly. Lis was a pillar of the food blogging community, and welcomed me into the Daring Bakers way back when. At the time I think there were only about 20 of us, and I really know nothing about baking beyond cupcakes and cookies, but she always took the time to answer my silly questions. She will be greatly missed.

  8. I started reading this while at the doctor’s office this morning, and when I tried to reply I dripped tears all over the screen and messed up sending it. Lis was something else, and you were very fortunate to have known her. And she would have loved this bread! Miss you.

  9. I know what Lis would say about this gorgeous braid ” Sun Dried Tomato Pesto..SLURRRP!” What an amazing tribute, Kelly, and thank you for pulling this all together so we could celebrate her life in between the tears (nope..they haven’t stopped yet).

  10. Your post about Lis is so beautifully written and thanks for sharing your personal memories of her with us. You were indeed lucky to have her as such a good friend, and she will be with you in her memories.
    It will seem strange to do a DB challenge without her familiar introductions…..

  11. Oh Kelly, how you make me laugh and cry at the same time. I love that about you!
    Maybe we should start a new group- the Fakkin’ Fearless Flyers. 😉

  12. I’m so sorry for your loss. This post brought up such good memories of Daring Bakers. It was such a great experience for me and this is beautiful tribute.

  13. A great tribute to a very funny lady. You were lucky to get to know her so well, although I think she was so welcoming that everyone felt close to her. She was one of a kind and I think she would be delighted with your bread. A great loss to have her gone, but the Daring Kitchen is a true legacy, the product of a hell of a lot of work by her. Bake on!

  14. marvellous tribute…..feel i knew liz very well….if you want 100%cotton socks and are uk based they [maybe german made] john lewis [via their email], had them last week… i wear mine i’ll think fondly of your super cooks who blogg

  15. I am up at “dawns crack” reading tributes and finding it encouraging that the blogging world is still alive and well. The blogging community has lost a very special lady. We all learned so much with a sense of style, humility and humour,and ALWAYS laughter and fun. Some of us may no longer be Daring Bakers but we are still those fledgling bloggers in spirit who rose to every challenge. Thank you Lis.X0X0X0X0

  16. Kelly, my dear daughter, I read the whole thing and even all the replies. You made me feel like I knew Lis. I am sad along with you and all the blogging friends of Lis. Beautiful. I am so PROUD of you!!

  17. Thank you Kelly for keeping us all informed and then manage to bake and write a tribute worthy of the Daring Baker mama. I will always remember the fun, and teamspirit of those first years. So much fun.

  18. I was just talking to someone yesterday about how much blogging has changed since I started almost five years ago now and even though I wasn’t there at the BEGINNING beginning, it is still a totally different thing than it once was. Some things better, some things worse, although I do feel like the community was much closer knit then. Anyway, this is a beautiful loaf for a beautiful tribute to a beautiful person.

  19. Oh, KellyPea.

    I am so terribly sorry for your loss. My whole heart goes out to you.

    What a beautiful tribute to your friend, Lis. And I really think you SHOULD send a balloon with a giant heart painted on it and cotton socks attached into the stratosphere. 

  20. G’day! Love your Russian bread, it will now be on my list to do!
    It is bittersweet as am enjoying reading all the tributes, shared one, but feel sad and glad at the same time …lovely tribute too!
    Cheers! Joanne

  21. Kelly, I sure do miss you. Each year, before the holidays, I pull out my tattered copies from The Twelve Days of Cookies. The Pistachio Cranberry Icebox and Sugared Lemon Sandwich are 2 of my family’s favorites. Just want to tell you how very much I have enjoyed your food blog over the years. And to say ,”Have a wonderful 2014.”

    1. Sharon, it’s so good to hear from you and this tugged at my heart! I thought I’d treat myself to some writing here in celebration of the new year and what a lovely surprise to find your comment. I hope you’re well and that the coming year is one full of wonderful people and good times!

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