Monday, March 17, 2008
Hats Off to the Little Red Hen, What a Woman!
I love 'kicks', and I think it's genetic. The proof is that my daughter, Sarah, loves them more than me, so obviously it's bad genes happily passed down the family tree. When Sarah started talking about Super Foods, I knew any subject that started with capital letters was a prime candidate for going overboard. Where's the plank, let me on the boat! I've done 'kicks' of just about everything you can think of, and cooking hasn't been spared, but this one seemed better for our overall family health than the 'make homemade ice cream which costs way more and is twice as fattening than Hagen Daas purchased at 9 p.m. at the grocery'. So I was game. I'm always game.

As I walked into Barnes and Noble to buy a book on Super Foods, Sarah phoned me, telling me I might as well go ahead and pick up another book, called Artisan Breads in 5 Minutes a Day, because it would save me a trip later, after I heard all about it. So $73.00 later, which did include renewing my membership so I can save all sorts of money at the bookstore, I drove away excited as heck about my three new books, two Super Foods and one Cool Bread Book to go with Super Foods. Where's the kitchen? Let me at it!

It took me two days to get around to making the starter for the bread. I had to warm the oven with the pizza stone and a broiler pan of hot water in it, at 450 degrees. When the fire alarm went off, DH ran up the stairs to see what on earth the Little Missus might be up to, and there I was standing waving the back door open and closed to get the smoke out. A more familiar scene than I like to admit to. So he decided to be helpful and open the front door and set it to stay that way. After we got the smoke alarm to shut off, (and good night don't they always take forever to stop!), I look up and the puppy is in the front yard, happily lopping toward the street and an oncoming car. So I present myself to the entire neighborhood with tons of class by running out in the yard screaming my head off for DH to come and H.E.L.P. M.E. get the dog, before he runs to his death. At least nobody came outside, I'm sure they were all standing behind their drapes watching to see if one of us was going to stab the other, and make tomorrow's front page.

When he comes back into the house, and the kitchen, he quietly asks what on earth am I doing? As if it should be completely obvious, I tell him, "I'm baking bread." I can only imagine what he was thinking. Dear God, thank you for a DH who can keep his thoughts to himself, as it has likely saved our marriage many times over.

Back to the kick/project - even though they suggested I let the dough (sludge) sit in the fridge at least 3 hours, or better yet, a day or so, I couldn't wait any longer, so I followed the directions, which was to cut off a grapefruit size hunk of it and shape it onto a pizza pan. Right. The glob of goo oozed out onto the pan, looking more like a funnel cake at the fair, but I figured it'd do it's thing in the oven. Not so much. It WAS a pretty color, the 1/2" tall 'loaf' (and I use that term loosely) looked like something you'd see in the streets of a tucked away village in Italy, being sold by toothless women with cloth wrapped around their heads. It was not exactly the look I was going for. For me or the bread.

Out of the oven, I sliced a piece of it to see if it could be used as bread with dipping oil. The top layer was wet and ucky, so I took it out onto the patio and the birds and squirrels have been enjoying it for days. Apparently they don't really care if their bread has any yeast action going on.

So today was attempt #2 and I was convinced since I'd left the dough in the fridge as directed, the bread gods would smile on me. Not so much. The dough did have shape to it, but Sarah had told me not to worry, just throw it in a loaf pan and it'll hold it's shape better. So I did that. I also tested the yeast which is only two years old, and after very few bubbles appeared it is now living at the bottom of the trash can. There were a few bubbles, and my expectations were low, but I figured I may as well give it a try. So I warm the oven, place the bread in the loaf pan with a pretty green spring towel over it to let it rise. When the timer went offf twenty minutes later, I turned the oven to 450 to let it warm up.

Five minutes later, with smoke pouring out of the oven, I open it to see that the green towel is now burned a nice toasty color, the bread is just sitting there in shock I guess. I pull off the burned up towel, honestly thankful there are no flames in the oven, because I can't even imagine having to call DH and tell him I've done it again. I figure I may as well continue the test, and bake the stupid bread. Thirty minutes later it came out, the same size it went in. I don't know if the yeast was just exhausted or the bread had a breakdown from trying to rise at 450 degrees.

So I don't know about this current kick. I've purchased new yeast, made a new starter batch and will give it another shot. Whether I can actually make the dough, chill the dough, shape the dough, let the dough rise, and then bake it in the oven at the right time for the right amount of time without burning the house down or killing the dog, I'm not at all convinced. I do know what my birds and squirrels are eating for dinner, again, and I have a new-found respect for the Little Red Hen. Maybe she could make better use of my Barnes and Noble membership card. I don't remember a single part of that story that said anything about almost killing another animal or burning the place to the ground.


  posted at 4:43 PM

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    Girl Raised in the South

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