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The Philosophy of Juice & Crackers
30 December 2014
Today I harkened back to my "barefoot and pregnant" days in Oakland, 40+ years ago, when I let my hair grow down my back, went braless and barefoot, and baked all of our bread, the old fashioned way, doing it all by hand.
(I always was irritated with the soap opera, Days of our Lives -- I watched soap operas in those days. The matriarch of the family was always in the kitchen kneading bread dough and in all the years I watched that show, the actress never ever learned how to knead dough. She always looked like she hated touching whatever the substance was that she was supposed to be kneading.)
Later I got my wonderful Kitchen Aid mixer with the fantabulous dough hook and still made the bread by hand, but the Kitchen Aid took care of the heavy kneading for me.
Later still, I got a bread machine and making bread became a simple process of dumping stuff into a container, pressing a button, and 4 hours later you had a perfectly baked loaf of home made bread.
Today Jeri and Phil were catching a plane back to Boston and Walt offered to drive them to the Walnut Creek BART station, where they could get on a BART train which would take them to the airport.
As it turned out, traffic was light and so Walt drove them all the way in to the airport and then, while he was in the neighborhood, he decided to go wander around downtown and have lunch at O'Doul's pub.
Stuck at home ("stranded" again), but now beginning to run low on supplies. Bread, for one thing. So I decided I would make bread. Buttermilk cheese bread, using up the buttermilk I bought for Christmas baking.
I dumped all the ingredients into the bread maker and it started mixing. But then it didn't sound right and I discovered it wasn't mixing. I unplugged it, checked all the connections and started it again. Again, it wasn't mixing, but when I stirred it it started up and then stopped again a couple of times. Obviously it was not going to mix, much less bake my bread.
So I empted everything into the bowl of the Kitchen Aid mixer, but I couldn't find the dough hook. While I was in Iowa, Walt decided he would clear off the perpetually cluttered counter and when I got home, it was pristine. But he had packed everything into boxes in the living room and I feared the dough hook was there, but didn't know exactly where.
There was nothing for it. I dumped the whole mess out onto the bread board and started kneading. I couldn't figure out if the mixture had the right consistency but my kneading fingers remembered the drill and I kneaded until I thought it was the right elasticity and set it to rising.
It didn't do much in the first hour, but I kneaded it again, turned the oven on to low and let it rise on top of the oven, in the warm air coming from the oven below.
This time it did seem to rise a bit, so undaunted I shaped it into a loaf and let it rise a third time, when it did actually assume the proportions of a real loaf of bread.
It cooked beautifully, and while I thought it was going to be dense because of all of my seemingly ineffective ministrations, the darn thing actually came out one of the better shaped/tasting breads I've made in awhile.
The bread machine seems to be mixing thin mixtures of flour and water all right now, so I'll try it again, but in the meantime we do have bread for breakfast (though no butter...I wonder if I have some cream around here that I can churn....)
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