Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Bath Head, Feet, and Bread

I think Don King could learn a thing or two. (As perhaps I could about my camera. I don't know why that picture is grainy.)

Oh, and we have discovered our feet. Haven't quite figured out how to gnaw on them yet, but it can't be far off. (Look at those chunky thighs! I can't wait to show them off at his next appointment. See, I AM feeding him!)

I've been making bread lately. Mostly traditional whole wheat loaves with a little wheat bran thrown in for texture, but I've also been experimenting with no-knead bread. The whole wheat loaves have been coming out consistently tasty, but I'd like a little more loft to the loaf; I have short little pieces of bread when I slice. The no-knead has always been delicious, but I can't quite get the second rise to work correctly. I experimented a little with the batch I made today, so I'll let it sit in the fridge overnight and make a loaf tomorrow to see if it made any difference.

More importantly, I promised myself that I am not going to go bonkers with the bread. I have a bad habit of figuring out something new, deciding that this is the best new thing EVAH, and burning myself out in a while. So usually, this is how it would go:

I can bake bread! And it tastes good! Oh my goodness! I will bake bread every day. My family will eat only homebaked whole grain nutritiony goodness that has been formed with my loving hands. Commercial bread will never cross the threshold of this house again. Never, I say! Would you like me to list the advantages of homemade bread for you? Here you go. (I'll spare you the lecture. People who see me in person regularly are unfortunately not so lucky.) I am so excited about baking bread for my family! La la la la la. (Sung with dough on the hands and flour on the shirt.)

Then I would get busy one week and not have time to bake bread, and this would happen:

I am a terrible mother. I am a terrible wife. I can't even manage to bake bread for my family. *sob* What is wrong with me? Why am I such a mess? Why can't I get anything right? Why can't I accomplish a simple task like baking a loaf of bread?

Repeat a couple of times, and soon the decision comes that baking bread is causing me too much stress and I am clearly not good at it anyway, and so I am giving it up. We will buy our bread.

(Also, I suspect that the perpetual student that lives inside me gets really engaged while I'm learning about something and perfecting the process, and then gets bored once I've figured it out. "Another flaw in the human character is that everybody wants to build and nobody wants to do maintenance." - Kurt Vonnegut)

All of that is what I am trying hard NOT to do this time around. I told Paul, who really likes the bread and seemed to get just ever-so-slightly panicky today when there was just a crust left, that I will keep up with baking bread whenever I can, but I am not going to have a heart attack about it if I can't. I have a couple of loaves of our favorite store-bought in the freezer, and they'll get pulled out as necessary and used occasionally anyway for rotation. I am trying very hard to change my ways.

In fact, I am so enamored of my new way of approaching projects that I am sure I will never go back to the old way. Did you hear me? I am a changed woman! I am so excited about my new way of doing things and how I'm never going back, and I'd like to tell you about how it's changed my life. Are you ready? Are you excited to hear about my new ...

See? I have to watch myself every minute.


Pauly Z said...

Sweetie; you aught to be a writer!

MrsVJW said...

Ooooh... the No-Knead bread from the NYT article a couple years back?? I need to try that, now that I have the Le Creuset.

I've learned I'm such better when I simply vow to do that kind of stuff "more", and not "from now on." Yes, I love my own homemade stocks and will make them when I can, but cracking open some Kitchen Basics is not going to ruin anyone's day.

Just keep telling youself... good bread from your freezer stash is at least better than giving your family Wonder bread.

Chiot's Run said...

I also bake all my own bread (haven't purchase any store bought bakery item in over 4 years). I know how you feel though, at times I'm a crazy baker, worried that I won't have time to bake the hot dog rolls for the cookout I'm heading to - OH NO.

I have found that when I'm energetic and feel like baking, I try to make a few batches and keep them in the freezer, then I always have homemade in a pinch, you can freeze just the dough as well, which makes it much quicker.

You should check out Peter Reinhart's Whole Grain Breads: New Techniques, Extraordinary Flavor, he has great techniques for making the perfect whole grain bread. MMMMMM, I love his recipes (I have his regular Bread Baker's Apprentice book that I always use for my white flour recipes).

Beeps said...

Nice hair! Do you suppose that Don King's mama could have ever imagined he was this cute?

6stinkyfeet said...

You're a good mommy! I should kick my fear of the "carb count" being off and bake bread too. I'm sure I can get it figured close enough to keep Orin's sugar in line. Homemade bread is so much healthier and tastier and smell-goodier. YUM!! You inspire me!

Alan said...

I'm just fixing myself to write a "letter to the choir" about New Year's wishes, and about the artificial nature of New Year, and ... this spirit of casting off the old and taking on the new, perfect thing is exactly a great inspiration to me. Thanks. It's a nice piece of writing work. Wih-shmeluck, eh? With my writing.

Oh, and Happy New Year, and happy Mary Lou's birthday. Is she not a wonder?