Wednesday, December 26, 2012

That's How I Believe

'I suppose they try and make you believe an awful lot of nonsense?'
'Is it nonsense?  I wish it were.  It sometimes sounds terribly sensible to me.'
'But, my dear Sebastian, you can't seriously believe it all.'
'Can't I?'
'I mean about Christmas and the star and the three kings and the ox and the ass.'
'Oh yes, I believe that. It's a lovely idea.'
'But you can't believe things because they are a lovely idea.'
'But I do.  That's how I believe.'

-- Evelyn Waugh, Brideshead Revisited

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Two Birthdays -- One for me, One for him

Leo has been running around these days singing 'Hey!  Ho!'  And he has been feeling rather pleased with his little self because of it.  Whereas I, in turn, have been running around singing back to him (and his big sister) this:

I belong to you
You belong to me
You're my sweetheart!

Friday, December 7, 2012

Hands and Face Bread

This is made entirely by hand.  And if you put enough warm melty butter and a great big splodge of raspberry jam on top, it will also get all over your face.  Tis a lovely thing.  (Yes, much sighing is definitely in order.)

Oatmeal Molasses Bread
3/4 cup rolled oats
1/4 cup steel-cut oats
2 cups boiling water
2 tablespoons melted butter
1/2 cup, plus 2 tablespoons molasses (I like blackstrap best)
2 teaspoons salt
1 tablespoon dry yeast
1/2 cup lukewarm water
5 1/2 cups bread flour (I usually use Whole Foods All-Purpose and it works perfectly.  But I like to live dangerously.  In fact, sometimes I even like to use all steel-cut oats, and this is not because I am a lazy git who doesn't feel like going to the store for regular old-fashioned rolled oats.  I swear.)

Combine the oats in a bowl and pour the hot water over the top.  Let sit for one hour.  Stir in melted butter, salt, and molasses.

In a separate bowl, combine the water (heated to 110-115 degree F) and yeast.  Stir in 2 tablespoons molasses and let the mixture sit for ten minutes.  It should look nice and frothy-ish when you go to use it.  Add this to the oats.  Then mix in the flour.  (Pay attention to the stickiness of the dough -- not too sticky, not too dry.)

Knead the dough for about ten minutes.  Then place it in a buttered bowl with a wet cloth on top.  Let rise in a warm place for two hours, until doubled in size.  Punch down the dough and shape it into two loaves.  Plonk them in buttered bread pans and let sit again until doubled in size.  Roughly thirty minutes or so.

Preheat the oven to 425 F.  Place in the oven for ten minutes.  Then turn the oven to 350 F.  Bake for another 35 minutes.  They should sound nice and hollow when tapped.

Cool on racks for a few and then pop out of the tins and let cool completely.

(Usually we eat one loaf right away. And I tuck the other away in the freezer to be pulled out when my hands and face are feeling a bit too tidy, and I could use a smile during the breakfast hour.) 

Recipe from: With a Measure of Grace. By Blake Spalding and Jennifer Castle.  Provecho Press, 2004.)