Okay, so my plan had been to post my newest Cookbook Project item each week on Friday. Two weeks in and I'm already posting a day late. I have a good excuse, though!
I got pretty sick yesterday.
Really, really, really sick.
I woke up with a sore throat, which made sense, honestly; one of my coworkers had been battling something that involved a sore throat and random respiratory weirdness, and Audra had picked up her latest cold as well. So I just shrugged it off and went to work. I had these really deep bone-aches; I couldn't sit still or my leg-bones began to hurt, deep down.
Around noon, I realized my throat was really, really hurting. The bone-aches were way, way worse. I drank nothing but herbal teas designed just for this (I swear by the Traditional Medicinals Seasonal Sampler Pack, Throat Coat especially) all day and that was the only thing that kept it bearable, and even that soon failed me. I felt listless; I looked glassy-eyed.
Eventually I was able to leave, picked Audra up from day care, came home and checked my own temperature - 102 degrees.
"Oh, great," I said out loud to myself. I settled in to feed the baby, who promptly spit up all over both of us after just a couple of ounces and managed to get some in her own eye somehow, and we cried together while I changed and redressed her. Then she napped for a bit. She woke up hungry - which made sense considering how much she'd spit up. She ate a couple more ounces, then spit up on just me. That time I took a bath and she played happily in her chair next to me. Then we napped together again. One more time, she made hungry signals, and one more time she spit up on herself. That time she got a bath, I cried some more, then we curled up together on the couch and settled in with gritted teeth to watch Friends on Netflix and wait for Jason to come home.
Jason brought delicious broth-y soup and took over baby time, covered me in blankets and let me just chill and relax and try to pull myself together. I made a whiskey-heavy hot toddy, which is my favorite cold remedy (and works like a charm, I promise). After a while I finally warmed back up. I took a half-dose of Tylenol before bed, went to sleep, and woke up with only a dull ache in my throat and no bone-aches at all.
Now you know why I'm a day late on posting about this week's project, which I am actually pretty proud of. And those of you who do not have children have probably been entirely scared off of ever, ever having one.
I MADE BREAD.
I was pretty excited about this. The recipe for Farmhouse White Bread in the Farmers' Cookbook is great. It's simple, just a few ingredients, and the recipe itself is written out really well so you know exactly what you're doing. It's probably only an hour altogether of actual work, but counting all those times to let things rise it definitely took me about four hours.
Ingredients - Amounts Omitted
Whey, or water with milk
See? Easy, right? It barely made a dent in our grocery budget. Everything but yeast and bread flour we keep as basic staples anyway. For something like six dollars altogether, I have the ability to bake six loaves of bread. Delicious, delicious bread.
Honestly, this was just absurdly easy. I don't even know why I was so worried about it. I did not have 'whey', so I did the milk-and-water mix. Mixing the yeast and flour was easy, then I just had to wait for it to start doing its thing. Then more flour, which I moved into a mixing bowl to put together. I actually think I made a mistake here - I should have put it in a warm mixing bowl when it was just water, milk, and yeast and THEN added the first two cups of flour. Moving it from a cooking pot into a mixing bowl when I did definitely created a bigger mess.
Then again, I make a pretty big mess every time I touch anything remotely resembling cooking utensils, so it's not like I was surprised.
I took the advice the author gives in the book and went ahead and just did the first round of kneading in the giant mixing bowl. Normally, you're advised to take a wet dishcloth and lay it over. I didn't want to risk it getting stuck to the lump of bread-to-be while it rose, so instead I put it inside the oven with a bowl of hot, steamy water and closed the door and left it alone for an hour.
I took it out when it had roughly doubled in size.
Then I floured up a my cutting board, and I started punching.
Bread is awesome because it doubles as stress relief during the kneading process. I shaped it into two loaf-shaped blobs, which I transferred into bread-pans I had sprayed with Pam, because I spray everything with Pam. (the book suggests buttering them. Pam is easier, I'm lazy). Then back into the oven for another hour, until they doubled again.
At which point I pulled 'em out, preheated the oven, stuck 'em back in, and baked 'em for something like thirty or forty minutes.
They came out absolutely beautiful. One did not rise quite so much as the other and so was a bit more dense and chewy (and, as you can see in the close-up shot above, had some obvious bubbles in the crust), but they both tasted lovely. Big thick slices immediately went into our curried chickpea soup we had for dinner that night but we also ate them alongside eggs with breakfast and I am excited to make more bread and try them as ends of a sandwich.
I've never made my own bread before!
I am just irrationally proud of myself.
Look at me, I mastered a skill that my foremothers did every single day of their lives and probably knew how to do when they were three!
P.S. the links to Amazon in this post are affiliate links - if you click through and purchase after reading this post, I may receive a small commission in return. All commission monies will go towards either the redesign/domain name buyout of this site, or... a lot of new books for Katie. Either way, everyone wins, right?
Please. I want new books.
I waaaaaaaant them.