Friday, November 13, 2009

Two Excellent Bread Recipes

I had a couple of great bread making success recently - easy recipes with delicious results.  Aren't those the best?  I found both recipes in a quest for a rustic, crunchy, chewy bread.  One is apparently a now-famous New York Times recipe that is so incredibly easy that I highly recommend it as a confidence boost if you're having a crap day (only plan ahead a little - it's easy, but it has to laze about a while before baking).  The other recipe made these lovely loaves.

Aaaaaand, I can't find the recipe.  Ugh.  (internal dialog: It's call "favorites," bone-head.  Use it! )  Anyway, I've searched like a crazy person to find the stupid recipe again, but all in vain.  And I'm a professional searcher!  Apparently the history setting on our I.E. is on one day.  Well, I am geekily proud of these loaves so I'll just post another pretty picture of them, then get onto the recipe I am smart enough to remember.

And for the easy peasy, re-dunculous delicious one!  Get this:  it's no knead!  You truly dump the ingredients together, stir, then as Alton Brown is always saying you, "walk away."  Let the yeast do its thang, and then throw it in the oven.  It starts out very sticky, shaggy goopy.

Then after about four hours it looks even weirder.

After the big nap it gets to take, you preheat your oven, and a dutch oven or large covered casserole dish for 30 minutes.  During that 30 minutes, you knock down the dough a little and let it rest again (this is the most lazy-ass dough I've ever met, but I can't argue with the results).  Finally!  You take out your raging hot dutch oven, slide the dough in, then bake covered for 30 minutes, then un-covered for 15 more.  While you're going crazy for buttery, yummy bread smells, it's browning like it's on vacation.  When it's all said and done you get this!

 Crunchy, chewy on the outside, spongy soft on the inside.  So amazingly right with butter.  You have to try this.  Four simple ingredients and one perfect bread!

Sunday, November 8, 2009


Several weeks back, in early October, T and I took a drive up north to visit Malabar Farm. I've wanted to visit for years, but PBS played their special on Louis Bromfield's life, and T got the urge, too. Louis Bromfield was on Ohio -born Pulitzer prize winning author. After living in France for ten years, he decided to move back to Ohio and bought a farm sight unseen in the Mansfield area, in 1938. As it turns out, the land was in ruins, and so Bromfield began his career as a soil conservationist in order to turn around his farm. He became known as an expert on the subject - hot on many people's minds, since poor farming practices helped contribute to the devastating dust bowl situation. He published several books on agriculture and the farm was turned into a state park after his death.

It was an outrageously gorgeous, crisp day when we visited. Not a lot was happening around the place that day, but there were hay rides. So, we walked around, checked out the animals and the buildings and caught a hay ride before grabbing lunch at the Malabar Farm Restaurant.

In the "petting farm" barn there were Clydesdale and pony, calves, rabbits and these hilarious turkeys. This one had zero fear of us, and very much wanted to know what we were up to. Outside were more cattle, a few sheep and these very serene looking goats.

Right next to the goats and sheep was the poultry house - that sign is the coolest, right?! If I ever have chickens, I will for sures be replicating this. The chicken were the highlight of the trip for me. They started checking us out, then gradually all wandered over. And when I say "all" I'm talking 30-40 chickens and couple of big turkeys. All making that back of the throat growly thing chickens do. We finally realized you could buy feed from a machine and then the party began! Those hens have laser like precision when it comes to grub, let me tell you. At first it was a little freaky having them peck away at my hand, but I finally realized it doesn't hurt, and they aren't about to miss the last little bit of grain.

The family house was right next to the barns and other out buildings. It truly looked out upon the chickens - which I can understand, they're so darn entertaining! We missed the house tours that day, but we did peek in through windows and saw the dining room/conservatory where Lauren Becall and Humphrey Bogart were married. They even have a replica of the wedding cake set up.

After walking around some more, we took our hayride. Not too exciting, but still beautiful. There was an obligatory tool-y guy trying to set up his new fancy phone the whole time, but also regular people out to enjoy a lovely day. The land really is gorgeous.

After the hayride, we made our way through lunch at the nearby restaurant. While the food was good - especially the bread - the service was incredibly slow, and our server's shift ended during our meal, so getting the check was a pretty long process. Once we got ourselves the heck outta that restaurant, we poked around the neighboring spring and veggie stand. The spring water really was amazingly good. I'm really actually sad we don't get it out of our tap!

It was a nice ride and a fun trip. I left with a drop spindle and roving, and of course, I'm now hooked on spinning. Looks like I'll finally have to start processing that alpaca fleece sitting upstairs! I think the next time we go up that way I want to hit Lehmans and see the Mansfield Reformatory.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Pumpkin time!

Well, Halloween is officially over, but I'm just now getting around to putting up a couple of pictures of my Jack-o-lantern this year. I'm such a lover of pumpkins in all their permutations - un-carved, carved, pie, bread, seeds. All of it is pretty great to me. They can be so lovely....

and so demented rabid vampire-y! Every time I look at this guy I can hear the blaaaeerruurrrgh sound he would make if he really wanted to take a bite out of your ankles.

(Somehow, you can see the hurt indignation of knowing a squirrel has gnawed off some of your eye socket.)