Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Carb-O-Rama


Bread.

I wish I could quit you.


But I can't. So I will make delicious bread, like this rustic loaf that will astonish you with it's perfect texture; chewy inside and a crispy crust.


And guess what? It's so easy a monkey could do it. For example, I have made it numerous times and it ALWAYS turns out. No kidding.


The only downfall is you need to begin making it the day before you need it. And you need a Dutch oven or pot with fitted lid that can go into a 450 degree oven.


So if you NEED bread NOW, you will have better chances with your bread machine or a quick trip to Safeway.

Although I have read about this super-easy no-knead bread for a few years, I had never made it until now. Maybe because I was enjoying my easy bake oven bread machine so much.


I got the recipe from The Steamy Kitchen, although there are hundreds of websites out there with this recipe, or one kinda like it. If you click on the link, you will be able to see pictures of this bread being created, step by step.


So, go on now. Make your family proud, happy and full. Make your house smell like fresh baking bread and cover up the scent of decomposing squirrel in your closet. But maybe that's just me.


Rustic, No-Knead Bread


So, let’s start. 3 cups of bread flour in a big bowl.


secret: I sometimes use 1/2c whole wheat flour + 2 1/2c bread flour. This is amazing!

1/4 teaspoon of instant yeast:


3/4 Tablespoon Kosher salt.


Add 1-1/2 cups of lukewarm water.


Stir vigorously with a wooden spoon until everything is mixed together. Not too much, though!


Wrap up the no knead bread dough with plastic wrap. I just cover it in the bowl I mixed it in and leave it on the counter.


Give it a kiss good night and let the no knead bread dough sleep for 12-20 hours on counter or in a nice, warm, cozy place.


Next day:
Dump out on floured surface
Wet your hands. This will prevent the very sticky dough from sticking to your hands. If you find dough sticking to your hands, wet again. With wet hands, grab the dough and fold over all ends towards the middle. Turn dough blob over so that you get a nice, smooth, tight surface. Try to tuck the dough ends under to get that taut surface.
Gently move dough onto a floured towel.

Cover. Let nap for 2 hours. It should puff up nicely and double in size.


secret: When I run out of time, I sometimes let it sit only for 1 hour! If you let it nap in a tall, narrow bowl the dough rises nice and tall, about 6″ high.

If you leave it out on the counter – that is fine too, the dough will rise up and also out….making a flatter No Knead Bread loaf, about 3″-4″ high.They will both taste the same, just looks a little different.


A half hour before the nap ends, slip covered pot into your oven. Crank up the heat to 450F. Let it pre-heat for 30 minutes or longer.


After pre-heating, remove the hot pot from oven. Now plop this wobbly dough into the hot pot. Doesn’t matter how it lands – actually, the messier it lands, the more “rustic” it looks. Shake pot a bit to even out the dough.

Cover and put back into the oven. Bake covered for 30 minutes. Photo below is peeking through oven door after 30 minutes. Then uncover and bake further for 15-20 minutes. To check – you can either tap the bread (should sound low, hollow, like a drum) or take its temperature (should be 210F in middle).

That's it! You will be rewarded with a thin, crunchy brown crust, large, open holes. The bread is slightly chewy, flavorful and perfect texture.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Them dogs don't hunt

But certainly not from lack of trying.

This morning I decided to start running again because a) my hamstring tendon just barely hurt, and b) the Black Death-sinus infection-fork in the ear thing I have going on might possibly be loosening it's iron grip.

So I headed up the trail with the three bullies. I was in front and saw the coyote just before they did. It was just a few yards up the trail. How weird that it was a mostly black with maybe a little dark brown. Maybe it is a sign, and black is the new gray this fall, but I had never seen one that color before.

Neither had the dogs, apparently. They rushed the coyote so they could get a closer look and commend him on his cutting edge fashion sense. Or eat him for breakfast. Not sure.

But it turned and did that peculiar skippy-hop run that they have going on, and disappeared into the woods. All three bullies crashed in after it. No stealth involved.

I waited on the trail and listened for a few moments before doing what any red-blooded, mountain dwelling, hunter's wife would; I began yip-yipping, whoop-whooping to call it in.

I don't mean to brag here, but my husband is both proud and a little envious of my coyote calling skillz.

He has seen me call coyotes in (actually I think they are coming closer to see what kind of lunatic is making all that racket, but, whatever. They come in.) and has lavished me with praise. Varmint calling ability is clearly Rod's love language.

A few moments later, the dark coyote popped back on the trail, looking around see who had been trying to have a convo with him. When he saw it was just me, he turned and did his little hoppy-skippy run in the opposite direction.

Meanwhile, our brave hunters were making the biggest ruckus our woods have witnessed in a long while. When they finally burst from the trees, mouths wide and panting happily, the coyote was gone. They were so two thousand late.

But from the simple looks on their grinning, slobbering faces, they had forgotten what they had been chasing anyway.

Nope. These dogs can't hunt. They can't even find a squirrel in my closet. We'll be working on that today.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Open letter to Mr.Squirrel

Dear Mr. Squirrel,
Let me start my apologizing.
I'm sorry if I screamed and scared you when you ran, uninvited, into my house. You just startled me with your speed and your chattering. And let's face it; you ARE a rodent.
I'm sure you'll have noticed that our dogs, although large, are not great hunting dogs. I do believe this is why you are extending your stay with us.
To be honest, I kinda thought you had left sometime yesterday when I left each and every door and window open so it would be easy and convenient for you.

There are a couple issues that I need to bring up.
Last night, I heard you rustling around in the books on the floor by my nightstand. I'm sure you thought you were being quiet and unobtrusive and didn't hear me wake up. Probably because I wasn't making any noise because I had pretty much stopped breathing.
When Rod turned on his lamp, we saw you run like a rat out of *ell, (excuse the expression) straight into the closet. First of all, I don't think I would scream like that if you would just walk slowly and sedately across the floor, rather than darting around like a tweaking chipmunk on amphetamines. Seriously, If you would step carefully, I would try to use my inside voice.

You ran directly into MY side of the closet. Let me clarify. MY side of the closet where my new Steve Madden lace up, mid calf boots reside. I'm not sure if you thought that would make a cozy place to nap, or a safe spot to store up some walnuts for the winter, or just a place to curl up and do some reading, but let me be clear, Mr. Squirrel. Those boots will not fit you and I do not want to find you or remnants of your stay in the boots. Nor do I want to find the leather more distressed than is usual.
With that said, I do believe your stay with us has reached it's conclusion. Again, I do apologize for the random screaming.
The doors and windows are open. Please leave.
Thank you.

And that's all I have to say about that.
 
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