Saturday, March 22, 2008


Yay! Spring is here! But it is so dull and boring outside.

We don't have snow but it is too cold and windy for gardening and the ground is soggy. Wehave had so much rain. In a week or so I am going to go and buy pansies to set out. I bought some dahlia bulbs because I found some nice ones but it is way too early to put them out. My daffodils are just barely breaking through the ground.

I am in a knitting slump. I haven't picked up needles all week and I just don't care. My hat just sits. My Wild Apple just sits. This is what happens to me when I have too many things in the works. That is why I stick to one or two things at a time. I am going to force myself to finish the hat this weekend.

Today I hope to go to the bead store and find the rest of my bead necklace - to go with the Sheila Ernest giant bead.

Last weekend I baked bread after a long time. I had used recipes from the Vegetarian Epicure and Laurel's Kitchen but the crust was too hard or too soft. I couldn't even slice one loaf. Then I saw this recipe from the owner of a bakery in NYC (you may have to register to see it but you can provide invalid info). I thought "why not? I'm as smart as the average 8 year old, in fact I was an average 8 year old once"
There is my first attempt! It looked like bread and it rang hollow like good bread. A bit misshapen but not bad. The inside wasn't too bad either. It had holes. It looked like bread. It was a bit under done - you can see a damp spot on the upper right. But it was slice-able and really really tasty. I made a few mistakes. I kept the yeast too warm over the long rise so water condensed on the inside of the plastic wrap and made the dough too sticky. That is why the loaf was misshapen. Secondly, it didn't rise as much as it should have because the yeast was tired. Lastly, I took it out too soon - hence the damp spots.

But the crust was all crackly and and inside all soft and it tasted heavenly. I normally only like bread the day it is baked. Otherwise I only like it toasted. But I ate a couple of slices on Wednesday - 3 days after baking - and they were chewy and lovely.

Here's the second loaf that I made this morning. Doesn't that look professional?The inside still needs a tad more cooking. It wasn't damp any more but just a little underdone. I think next time it will bake covered for 35 mins or so and then uncovered for browning for the 20 mins I did today. If I bake it any longer uncovered, it will burn. It has a nice brown color on it already. Here's the inside. All lovely and airy.

Looking at the books I cited above brought me back to a different time in my life. When I was younger, I wanted to grow my own food organically, process it all myself, and live on it all year. I had a 20x30 foot organic vegetable garden, I canned and froze all my vegetables, tried to bake bread, cooked everything from scratch and wore myself out. I had a full-time job and young kids and it was too much. I gave up on the gardening and found short-cuts in the cooking. I still cook almost all our food at home but I use short-cuts in techniques and in ingredients. I get my vegetables from a CSA farm in the summer and freeze as much as I can for later. But I focus on enjoying the produce while it is fresh and seasonal and that is all that counts.

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