Sunday, March 1, 2015

A loaf of bread, a jug of wine, a thou or two

My bread-making phase lasted a couple of years. A purist, I used no mixer or bread machine, but got up to my elbows in dough and the kneading process, flour dust everywhere; measuring cups, proofing, lots of sticky bowls.

Most of the recipes I snagged from the internet, a hundred or more. A sound piece of advice: the dough is ready for oven when it has the same consistency as your earlobe -- plump and smooth.

I made white, rye, wheat; Austrian, Swiss, Italian; and experimented with all sorts of additions, with varying degrees of success -- olives, rosemary, capers, garlic, cheese. Truffle oil on top, anchovies inside. Square loaves, round loaves, twists, rolls.

Sometimes I took my eye off the ball, and the bloody thing didn't rise at all. But the best ones were lively; doughs so feisty, they sat up and talked back, and practically marched on their own yeasty legs to the oven.

I wasn't particularly hungry for bread; most (the edible ones) went to friends. So it was the journey, you know? Not unrelated to hiking. Effort requiring no explanation; effort, for effort's sake.

The high note, the pinnacle of my bread-making career, an olive bread, dense yet light (how is that possible?) so good my guests swooned. And then, that was that. It wasn't surprising that I stopped. The surprising thing was that I had started at all. Like when you fall out of love with someone. In retrospect, the real mystery lies in what seemed attractive about the whole enterprise to begin with.

Here's my recipe for No-Knead Bread, which I do make. The result is somewhere between what you can get at a good bakery and that which requires real work.

Invite a few people. This bread is only good for one day.

3 cups flour
1 Tablespoon salt
1/3 tsp rapid-rise yeast
1-1/2 cups water
Olive oil

Smear olive oil in a good-sized bowl. Add dry ingreds, and mix them together. Add water and and combine with bare hands until you get a mess. Cover w/plastic wrap and terry towel. Leave it to rise for 18 hours. Punch it down using an extra dusting of flour and wet hands, form into a ball. Let rise for another two hours. Heat a dutch oven at 450 degrees for 20 minutes. Toss the ball in, cover, and bake for 30 minutes.

Remove lid, pour a little olive oil on top, and bake for another 20 minutes. Cool on rack.

Open the wine and cue the music.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

A tale of two cities

...and one unincorporated town.

Sierra Madre

La Canada-Flintridge


A couple of years ago, I remember the County fined Altadena-indie-shop owners for putting out sandwich signs advertising craft stores and cafe menus. And charged other small businesses through the nose for CUP's and such.

You'd think the County would promote something quaint, charming, inviting. Support the indie-owners who in turn support others in the community for what they grow, sew, create, and sell.

But now I get it. Lice Matters.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Update on Big Bro

He's still alive and well. Shows up for food and water; he purrs, I stroke. We meet daily, on the front porch. And he brings me presents. I think he fancies himself a lizard-whisperer.

I don't want to hurt his feelings by saying the gifts are both totally inappropriate, and no longer listening.

Friday, February 13, 2015

Shades of grey area

I never read Fifty Shades of Grey because it didn't sound like my cup of whatever. But here's what I won't do: Berate or shame anyone who enjoys this particular fantasy.

Because what we find erotic is so beyond our control; to change a sexual fantasy would be about as successful as trying to guide a night time dream. You'd never fall asleep. The whole thing is so singular, and only occasionally couples, successfully.

When someone doesn't wade in your pool of primordial ooze, well, it seems funny at best, and at worst...I had this boyfriend once, and thought I was falling in love. And he said, "Let's tell each other our sexual fantasies." And I said, giggle-giggle, "You go first."

When he finished his wish-list, I grabbed the car keys and said something to the effect of, "Don't you ever touch me again, you fucking pervert."

I suspect that sex is tied to the way we shot out of the womb, got the bum wiped, and blinked our way into the reality.

And then, later, lessons learned, taught by questionable teachers.