Tuesday, February 21, 2012


The bread is done, and it is perfect.

If you'll recall, I introduced my pre-ferment here, and the recipe may be found here. There is something about doing things the 'difficult' or 'long' way that makes them more special, isn't there? This bread could taste just like something from a bread machine, but I love it so much more because I started it on a Sunday, thought about and worked on it all day Monday, and pulled it out of the oven Monday evening. Of course it gives me more pleasure than a bread-machine loaf might.

I could never make my process look so beautiful as this movie, so you may watch it here to get into the proper bread-making spirit.

the art of making bread from tiger in a jar on Vimeo.

There, are you feeling the bread-making spirit? You want to go make a loaf now too, don't you?

Here are my finished loaves. They are beautiful and perfect. I love them.

I need to bake bread more often.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Too many onions = a crazy pizza

I bought a five-pound bag of onions. I'm really not sure why. I only use onions on occasion, and even then I only use about half an onion at a time. I had no need for seven organic onions that would sit in my warm kitchen and spoil before I needed to use them.

Rather than watch them all slowly perish, I decided to try out a recipe for onion tart in the Healthy Hedonist (I love this cookbook).

A bit of dough, some onions, green peppers, olives, and goat cheese. Made for a pretty lovely dinner. I only ate one piece, so I cut the pizza into pieces, froze them individually, and then stacked them in a plastic bag in the freezer. Now I can just pull a piece out and heat it in the toaster oven whenever I need a quick dinner. Yum!

The goat cheese makes the meal.... which is true in many, many instances.

I am thankful to live so close to Florida. Strawberries have been on sale for a week or so!

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Artisan-Style French Bread (and a new rain jacket!)

Remember when I said I would be making soap tomorrow? Well, I've decided to put it off. I really want to use Smart Soapmaking by Anne Watson as a guide, but I can't find it in any local bookstores. I'll have to order it online, so I'll make it next weekend instead.

I completed the first step of a new bread recipe today. The artisan-style french bread requires that you make a pre-ferment mixture that sits for 8-24 hours, and I'm excited to see how it comes out. The recipe came from my cookbook, but I found it online and am glad I can share the recipe with you here. The pre-ferment is sitting on top of my fridge now, and I can't wait to pull it out tomorrow to finish making it. Homemade bread is one of my favorite things, and I ought to make it more often. For some reason I always imagine that it is more difficult and time-consuming than it actually is.

This was my first cookbook (thanks Mom!) and is still my favorite. Lots of good, basic recipes.

Pre-ferment mixture

Sitting on the fridge, waiting until tomorrow

And, I got a new rain jacket! The weatherproofing wore off in my old jacket, so a replacement was in order. I got this beautiful Patagonia jacket on clearance at REI last week, and it came in handy on this rainy Sunday. {It is a Patagonia Women's Torrentshell Trench Coat, if you are curious.}

I wanted to keep myself out of this post, but you can't really see how cute the jacket is when it is on a hanger.

I am in love with it - swoon!

What is your favorite bread recipe? I'm always looking for a new one to try out.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Big Goals, Small Steps

When I was young, I went through a horse phase (don't all little girls go through a horse phase?). I thought of little else, talked of little else, and read about little else. Horses, horses, horses.

My parents, being the sly devils that they were, decided that it was the perfect time to introduce me to the concept of the allowance. Four dollars per week for doing all of the laundry in the house (there were five of us). Naturally, I pounced on this huge sum of money, certain that my saving and my thrifty nature would bring a horse to the backyard in no time. Sorting, washing and folding in the dark, musty cellar was pleasant, even thrilling. I was happy. I imagined the money quickly multiplying in my bank account empty coffee can. Nothing could have brought me down from the cloud I was on. I practically danced with enthusiasm for the black thoroughbred (naturally) that would soon be mine.

And then, one day, I decided to figure out how long it would be until my horse would be mine. I sat down with a paper and a pencil and figured.

I added. I multiplied. I learned the cold hard truth: at four dollars a week, my horse would be mine when I was 22.

Twenty-two?!? ANCIENT!!!!

Though I still sorted, washed and folded, doing the laundry no longer held any pleasure for me. I wasn't working towards a goal, I was toiling without a goal. Unless I got a second job [which seemed very plausible to me at the time, even though I was probably ten], the horse would never be.

It was really quite devastating.

I no longer dream of owning a horse - though they are beautiful and enjoyable to watch in the fields - but I do have dreams. Dreams that seem unattainable and out of reach. Sometimes its like I'm ten again, figuring and multiplying and looking down at a number - an age - that seems dreadfully far away.

I hang pictures of sheep on my wall, I read farm blogs, I imagine what it will be like to live on a farm. The farm is in my brain. I see the vegetables, the bees, the sheep, the wool, the chickens, the eggs, and perhaps a pig or two (but oh! mostly it is just of the sheep that I dream...). I imagine the baby clothes I will sew and the tiny things I will knit. I read animal care books for fun. Tom has accompanied me to tractor supply stores just so I could look at the feed and the books and the people and the tools and the supplies that I have no earthly idea how to use. I stalk farms for sale in Northern Virginia like it's going out of style.

A painting I bought in Galway, Ireland
And this dream has been mine - growing and expanding and evolving - for years. For some unearthly, silly and completely maddening reason, I am waiting. For what, I cannot say.

I think some part of me expects that this farm is just going to jump into my lap while I'm looking the other direction.

Some part of me is still looking down at that impossible age on a piece of paper, that time in the distance when my dream may materialize. I can't enjoy the dark and musty cellar, because I've just realized that the dream will never be.

You know what this 29 year-old would tell my ten year-old self? Girl, you just keep on working. If a little bit of math is going to spoil your dreams, you've got a hard road ahead (just wait until you have to take calculus in college....twice). You keep on putting those dollars in the jar. When you've got ten dollars buy a book on how to care for a horse. When you've got more buy a riding lesson. Volunteer at a barn. Clean stalls. Make friends with the neighbors. Ask if you can ride their horse. We don't reach these big goals all at once, we get them piecemeal. We fight for them, we give something else up, and we claw our way through a whole lot of not-dream before we reach that dream.

And I think my ten year old self would tell this 29 year-old girl here: Self, don't lose sight of the dream. Sometimes the magic you feel in your heart is better than the dream, anyway. Sometimes dreaming about the horse is better than the horse. If you want a sheep farm, and if you're saving for a sheep farm, toiling at work all day isn't so bad.

So, here it is. Small steps are the name of the game from here on out. I'm making soap on Monday (a task that has always frightened me). I'm going to make sure that my new apartment in DC has a small patio or a balcony or a shared yard or a south-facing window that will support a couple of tomato plants, a worm bin and some herbs. I'm going to start looking at seed catalogs. I won't let my sewing machine get dusty. I won't let my knitting needles stay still. I'm going to stop dreaming and start doing. I'm going to keep the magic in my heart, and listen to where it leads.

Today is the day. I am carpe-ing this diem. Tiny steps, baby steps, and when the time is right - some really big leaps too.

Life - I am struggling to realize as I enter my third decade - is ever so short. It's just a blink, really. You and I and the entire lot of us better just get moving, set off in that dark and uncharted direction, and bite off more than we can ever chew.

PS. I must give credit where credit is due. I was much inspired today by this post on coldantlerfarm. And this little video of hers sealed the deal.

Thank you to my amazing parents for this perfect birthday gift. It is as if someone jumped into my heart and took a picture of what they saw there. My heart jumps when I see it. Thank you.
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...