Many Thanks

Pida bread

 

There are so many blessing for which to be thankful on this day I hardly know where to begin so I’ll start small.  My new-ish Breville mixer is such a step up from the new generation of Kitchenaid stand mixers that I’m actually thankful my previous mixer bit the dust so I could find this gem.  It powers through even whole wheat dough, although today I’m just making Pida Bread from my 2-2-2 Good Bread recipe:

  • 2 cups All-Purpose Bread Flour
  • 2 cups Bread Flour
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 Tablespoons sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons cold butter
  • 2 teaspoons dried yeast
  • 1 1/2 cups water, divided

First, notice only one ingredient is not 2 of some standard measurement:  the water.  Now on to the method:

In 1/2 cup warm water, dissolve the yeast.  Measure out 1 cup of room temperature water in another pitcher and set aside.

Combine the dry ingredients in mixer bowl and stir well.  Drop in the butter in small chips.

With the dough hook installed and the mixer running at the recommended setting for kneading bread, slowly pour in the liquids.  Knead for a maximum of 10 minutes in the machine.  Once the dough is formed and starting to become elastic at about 5-8 minutes, I like to take it out and finish the last bit of kneading on my bread board because I have never outgrown the joy of playing with dough.  When the dough is smooth and elastic, form into a ball.  Oil your rising bowl, place your ball top down first to pick up a little of the oil and then turn it upright and cover lightly with a damp kitchen towel.  Allow to rise in a warm spot for about 90 minutes.

Divide and shape.  If making baguettes, I shape 2 of them directly as the shaping into the baguette form adequately deflates the dough. I then place them on a baking sheet dredged with cornmeal and then sprinkle more cornmeal on top.  Next, cover with waxed paper or the kitchen towel again and let rise for 30-40 minutes.  Slash just before placing in oven to allow a good oven spring.

If making pida rounds, I divide the dough, round each half into a ball, gently press flat into a circle to deflate and round it up into a ball again, then let rest for 10 minutes to soften as the rounding and deflating energizes the gluten and it will fight the final shaping unless you let it rest.  After the 10 minute rest, I take each ball and press into a well-greased 9-inch cake pan.  Make the traditional pattern of slices on the top with a sharp knife.  Brush with milk and then sprinkle with sesame seeds.  Cover and let rise for 30-40 minutes.

Bake either style of bread in a pre-heated oven at 400 degrees for 20-25 minutes.

For easiest slicing and a crustier crust in either style, allow to cool and then reheat in a 350 degree oven for 10-15 minutes, but also delicious sliced immediately and always slathered with butter!  I also have it on good authority that the baguettes make nice French Toast.  It makes sense since if there is any left over, it gets stale overnight and stale bread makes the best French Toast.

Most of all, I am thankful for all the wonderful people in my life with whom I love to break bread.  Many thanks and love to you all, wherever you find yourself today.

 

The perfect dog

Doesn’t bark, doesn’t bite, doesn’t jump on people, doesn’t dig, doesn’t attract foxtails, doesn’t need to be boarded when we travel or walked daily.

Also won’t come when you call or seem to know when you need a silent friend to lay at your feet the way a real live Springer Spaniel surely would, always did.

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Hello Lamppost

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Ever since I read an article claiming that every one of Paul Simon’s songs was nothing more or less than an anthem to drug use if you parsed the lyrics correctly I have assumed that Paul was tripping on something other than cobblestones when he saw flowers growing out of a lamppost while he was feeling so groovy.

On Bainbridge Island, you can be stone cold sober and watch flowers growing from lampposts and feel groovy on the longest day of the year.

Ba-da-da-DA-da-DA-da, Feelin’ Groovy!

Right tools for the job

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There is a special place in my heart for the clerk at our local kitchen specialty shop who gave me, yes GAVE me this little black scraper tool for removing stubborn stickers from things. I asked her if I could buy one when I saw her using it to remove a sticker before wrapping a gift for me and she said to her knowledge you couldn’t buy these handy little tools, but they had plenty since they came along free with some product they ordered for their business. (Presumably those dratted price stickers they put on everything that you can’t remove without this handy tool!)

Sometimes, well okay, ALWAYS after you have used the handy scraper to remove all the paper from the sticker there is glue residue left behind. That’s where the peanut butter comes in. If the item is not going to be used in the kitchen, I use Goo Gone or some other solvent product, but for food prep or serving items, I don’t want to use solvents. They are not welcome in my kitchen. So a little peanut butter on a paper towel works like a charm. Rub that glue residue and watch it dissolve and disappear. Yes, you now have a greasy smear of peanut butter on your glass (in this case), but a clean paper towel easily gets most of that off and a trip through the dishwasher finishes the job. You will never know there was a stubborn sticker there.

Before I learned this trick I had some cups that retained a gummy residue in perpetuity, no matter how long I soaked them in sudsy water or how many times I sent them through the dishwasher.

Comma love

Most people who misuse punctuation marks these days choose to abuse apostrophes. You may have noticed the alarming explosion of misplaced apostrophes currently plaguing all forms writing.

Personally, I prefer to err on the side of commas. I think it’s because commas help me to slow down, give pause, consider: not a full stop, not an exclamation, just a pause for breath. That’s what a comma can do. However I am going to make an effort to use them more judiciously in future and I just removed one from this sentence.

Well begun is half done. Now about those parentheticals…

Gifts

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As I was stirring the filling for Pumpkin Pie this morning, I noted how many of the things I was using had been gifts from loved ones. For instance, the spoon I always use for this task was a wedding gift some thirty-odd years ago from a dear friend, who is still a dear friend to us.

Each time I bake this kind of pie I think of our friend with fondness as I dig in my utensil drawer for this homely wooden utensil with the hole in the center and burn mark on the handle that still does the best job of combining the viscous filling ingredients of this pie filling.

The spoon is showing its age, as we are, but still gets the job done, as we try to do. Over the years of use, its edges have softened so it fits better and better into the curve of the bowl to quickly find each remnant of un-amalgamated pumpkin and gently incorporate it without whipping in bubbles, anathema to Pumpkin Pie filling.

There’s a marriage metaphor in there, somewhere, but mostly gratitude for the many beautiful and useful gifts we’ve been given over the years and the dear people who gave them.

Hello world!

Fall Color

Perversely, I always feel ready for new beginnings in the fall rather than the spring, probably because I am still in synch with the old standard academic calendar beginning in the fall more than the Gregorian calendar with January as the beginning of the year or nature’s cycle of beginnings in the spring and endings in the fall.  Many thanks to Christina for helping me to set up my blog and website. Now is as good a time as any, let’s begin!