Thursday, April 19, 2012

Pretty, Happy, Funny, Real: Bread, a Birthday, and Beautiful Boys (see what I did there?)

round button chicken
Capturing the context of contentment in everyday life ~ Every Thursday at Like Mother Like Daughter
Two weeks ago, I realized a long-term dream and made bread.  Sure, I'd done it for a project back in the third grade and then again for with Redheaded Snippet for her project when she was in the third grade, but I have for a while now wanted to get into the practice of making bread for my family.  I guess it's taken nearly 40 years for me to make a connection between something homemade tasting so much better than its mass-produced facsimile and the fact that it's so much better for you!

I've been making scones and biscuits for a while now and have made advances in the art of pie crusts, but bread has always been rather intimidating to me.  And then I came across a recipe that made me sit up and take notice.  Here was a bread I could make!

I won't tell you where I got it.  If you read my blog or know me at all, you know exactly where I got it from.  I tried it for the first time in order to make Vigil Meat Pies (NOW do you know?).  Sadly, the endeavor did not go well.  Which is probably why the pies were not a hit.  Plus, I had forgotten the obvious and simple fact that the recipe given was meant to produce enough food for at least nine people and I am feeding only four (NOW??  So many hints)!  Which meant there was a LOT of dough and browned meat rolling around my kitchen.  Which was frustrating when there was so much left to be done for Easter.


Anyway, undaunted and realizing my mistake of somehow copying down "a few drops of water" when it was supposed to be, in fact, "a few cups", I set forth again the following week!  This time, I think there was too much water.  Sigh.  This is what happens when knucklehead me tries to follow a recipe that says, "Add enough water so the dough is loose but not runny."  I think of runny as pancake batter.  It didn't look like pancake batter so I supposed I didn't need that extra cup of flour (the recipe says 7-8 after all).

"It came from the mixer!"

I made quite the mess.  I don't think you can see it, but that darn dough rose up in indignation and wrapped itself around the entire spinning mechanism on the mixer, rendering it completely useless!  I had no choice but to go in there with my hands to pry it all off.  At one point I looked like the Swamp Monster.  Only covered in sticky dough instead of swamp goo.


But somehow, SOMEHOW, after much mental swearing, I managed to produce what looked, at least to me, to be a decent ball of dough!  Ta-da!  Now, I had learned a little from my mistake on Easter weekend and planned ahead this time.  I decided to divide the dough into six equal parts and make two larger pizza crusts and four loaves of Italian bread.

Can't esplain it but it makes me Happy

Can you believe I had forgotten about my great-grandmother's pastry cloth in the back of a kitchen drawer?  Usually, I just flour the island surface and roll my dough out right there, but that gets quite messy and I'd had enough bread-related mess for one month!

As does this
I made one cheese pizza (for the kids) and a white pizza with black olives for The Viking and me.  They disappeared so fast there wasn't time for a photo.  I don't know about you, but we rarely sit down for pizza.  It seems to be a meal best eaten while standing around the kitchen island.  But I did manage a photo of the loaves of bread!  There was only a small heel left at the end of the week (Calvin's appetite--and my grocery budget--has nearly tripled lately)!


I've found that homemade bread (even when made a wee bit incorrectly) makes lovely toast that goes very well with Greek yogurt mixed with raw honey and fresh strawberries for breakfast!  I felt so wholesome and accomplished until The Viking called me a hippie.  Harrumph!  He can go have a doughnut!


We interrupt this bread bash to announce that we are now a two-sport family.  Calvin just started recreational soccer and it seems The Viking and I have just the right genetic make-up to produce offensive players.  Calvin scored two out of three goals, leading his team to the win in their first game!  Must be those big feet...

Funny?  Funny looking for sure!  And Real...
Looks kind of...brainy
But back to bread for a moment.  And I have a question.  My recipe says I can leave the dough in an oiled bowl in the fridge for a few days until I'm ready to roll it out.  So, last night, I mixed up a batch and, this time, I followed the directions well and everything went beautifully!  Being completely inexperienced, I wasn't sure about whether to cover it or not--will covering it encourage it to sour or grow mold or will leaving it uncovered give it cause to dry out?  I hemmed and hawed but finally decided to cover it with plastic wrap.  This seemed to be not a good thing because when I came back to the fridge later, the stuff had puffed up, blown a hole in the plastic wrap and was oozing out of the top like a most disgusting thing!  So I hastily uncovered it and put it back!  Then later, The Viking went to the fridge and saw it puffed up again!

His reaction was actually rather funny.  He began talking as if he were the dough: "I will overtake you all!  I will inhabit this entire fridge!  Hear that, bacon?  Stop touching me!  I am going to destroy you!"  And then when I moaned that it probably should be punched down, Calvin took me literally (very Amelia Bedelia of him) and punched his fist right into the center of the dough before I could stop him.  And now it has a fine crust on top and looks all weird.  At least to me.  Look at that photo and see what you think.

So, what did I do wrong?  The recipe said nothing about punching down and kneading and letting it rise again but that's what it seemed to want.  I'd really like to get all the kinks ironed out of this!


Finally the Birthday and the other Beautiful Boy: we celebrated my nephew's fourth birthday this week!  And Calvin had to celebrate in style...


Little Man was all, "Me, too!  Me, too!" so Calvin helped him out.  His head is too small for three so two had to do.  Incidentally, despite its famously smallish size, The Viking has been known to fit five party hats on his head at one time.  So who needs a lampshade?  And, yes, this is a frequent occurrence at our family parties.

Happy, Funny, Real, and, okay, Pretty
I requested, "Good faces," and they supplied these!
Despite the seven years between them, Calvin and Little Man are the strongest of allies and becoming fast friends.  They're the only boys among the cousins, after all!  It's them against four girls, they have to stick together!  I think they're going to make things very interesting in our family as they grow older...

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