Sometime in the spring
It's suddenly hot, summery, and dry. It's pollen season-- not little bright dabs of pollen on a bee's leg, but pine and oak pollen that you practically have to shovel out of the driveway. Yellow cars, yellow pavement, and when I dusted today [having written impolite words on all the tables] the cloth was yellow. This is compounded by drywall dust, since we're finishing off that room over the garage. Teams of Mr Aredondo's cousins and in-laws have been slapping joint compound and sanding seams like dervishes. They are incredibly fast, very good, and speak almost no English, so we communicate by gestures and head-nodding. The dogs are very unhappy about these invasions. They've been ultra protective since I've been stuck at home with The Great Broken Toe, and every time a short stocky workman comes to the door they go nuts. Kind of embarrassing.
The room looks great, with the drywall up and a new window in the gable end-- like an attic, but a cozy one. I want to keep it light, airy, with a tree-house vibe, but contemporary. Phil doesn't share my fondness for spare, streamlined modern stuff, but one room of it that isn't used much won't trouble him.
Thursday, March 25, 2010
Not sure how it got to be March. Our daffys are all coming out at once, leaves popping on the trees, and the dogs are sneezing and rubbing their ears so it's spring for sure. I'm laid up with a busted toe, thanks to a spectacular and graceless fall in the shower. At least I had finished the shower so was clean when I went to urgent care and then the orthopedic guy. Did you know that doctors refer to one's footal digits as the "great and lesser toes'? This here is a right-hand great toe, it's pretty well crunched, and that means no driving for a couple of weeks and wearing das boot all day and to sleep in. Ha-ha. Just very happy it wasn't a leg.
On the upside I am knitting the following:
---Second small pink sweater, this one for Cate who thought the first one [see pic], for grand-bebe#2, was hers-- I just need to block the little one & get snap tape for the closure;
---top-down raglan in cotton for me;
---top-down raglan in cotton for me;
---couple of crocheted blankets; and I might finish some UFOs.
Waiting in the wings are a ruffled scarf and a lace cardi. So there will be lots to do while the Great Toe heals.
Made raisin bread tonight with the no-knead bread recipe that has made the rounds for a few years. It has been published in New York Times and by Mark Bittman among others. This bread is as easy as falling off a wall, and amazingly flexible.
My current version:
Mix three cups flour (I use 1 C whole wheat to 2C bread flour, and add a little wheat gluten or wheat germ or ground oatmeal) with a teaspoon of sugar and 1.75 tsp salt. Dissolve 1/2 tsp instant yeast, or really any dry yeast, in one cup warm water; throw into the bowl with the flour, then add another 5/8 C warm water (use it to rinse what you dissolved the yeast in.) ---for a total of 1 5/8 cup water. You may need a little more if the flour is very dry.
Mix all this together into a wettish, rough dough. That's it. Put the bowl in a warm place, covered with a dishtowel, for at least a few hours. When it has risen about double, stir it down and let it rise again for a few hours. Before it climbs out of the bowl, stir it down again and turn it out onto a floured surface. A good-sized cookie sheet with a rim works great and contains the mess. Cover the soft, floppy dough with a light layer of flour and fold it over gently a few times. Make it into a nice neat mound and let it sit while you heat your oven to 450 degrees. Yes, that hot. Put a cast iron dutch oven, or an oven proof pot with a tight lid, into the oven to heat as well. When the oven reaches temp, plop the dough into the heated pot (be careful of your fingers!) and cover. Bake 30 minutes, turn down to 400 degrees and take off the cover, and bake another 20 or so minutes until loaf is golden brown and sounds hollow when you rap on the bottom. Butter liberally and stuff yourself.
This bread has a thick, chewy crust and is moist inside. It's best eaten in two days. The texture depends on the flour you use. I've added Parmesan cheese and herbs; raisins soaked in Marsala; and various grain additions. I've raised it overnight, or for only a few hours. Basically I've abused the recipe every which way and the only loaf I didn't like was the one where I added a cup of soy flour in an effort to increase the protein content--- resulting in a very, very odd object that got composted.
I will say that I have a distinct advantage when it comes to keeping yeasties happy, because my oven has a "proof" setting that holds at exactly 100 degrees and they love it. As they say, your results may differ. But definitely give this a try. Googling "no-knead bread" will turn up lots of info.