Sunday, February 22, 2009

making bread at night

Since moving to this house, our priorities and lifestyle have changed. We had always talked about having a kitchen garden, but I, at least, had never really gardened and didn't know anything at all about the work involved in cultivating a successful patch of land that brought forth food. We had planted tomatoes, peppers and eggplants in wine barrels, stuck in sunny spots on the driveway or along the side of the house in other living situations and I felt like nothing but a frustrated gardener: "Give me some dirt! All I want is a small patch of earth that I can run my fingers through and coax life from." Well, we got it. We've got almost half an acre under us and although only a small part of that is devoted entirely to food and of that most lies fallow in the winter, the work is ever present. Only in the dead of January is there not a weekend when we ought to be doing something in the garden.

This is what I have learned: gardening for me is full of "oughts". If I'm not presently doing something I ought to be doing I have guilt and when I'm at a task I find more enjoyable than another I wonder if I really ought to be doing that one instead of this one I find myself doing and if I've just completely worked hard all day at the height of summer than I'm sure to have missed something I ought to have done and tomorrow will be too late. Today, thank heavens, it is raining because I ought to be working at what defined my day yesterday: weeding. Between weeding and grocery shopping, little else got done yesterday, which is why, at 10 pm last night, I was waiting for my bread to do its second proofing so I could bake the damn thing already. Finally, it was ready--over ready, in fact. I had gotten lost in Kelsey's Brother Juniper bread book and a fine gin and tonic and slice of Della Fattoria semolina bread. This is what 10 pm looked like at my house last night:

The bread (Oat Bran Bread, from the monk's bread book) was delicious. Absolutely wonderful. I cut the recipe in half because it was my first time with this one and I didn't want two loaves of sub-par bread but next time I'll definitely make the full two.

I was so absorbed in the chapter about Struan that tears came to my eyes (may have had something to do with the G&T. It was...strong) and I decided to cook some brown rice for the bread-and-chocolate recipe which uses Struan as the base (I'll update upon completion of that project) but my loaf rose precariously over the brim of the loaf pan. Kelsey has had this book since the dawn of time but I had never thought to use its recipes because, truthfully, the Brother Juniper bread I used to buy at the store was always a little on the dry side. This loaf, however, completely won me over. It's beautiful. It's delicious. It's light enough for the kids to enjoy it and has enough oat and wheat bran for Kelsey and I to acknowledge its goodness.

Oh, my GOD, I know, my oven is awful and disgusting, but this is the only picture I had the presence of mind to take of this glorious loaf.

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