Adventures in Breadmaking – Ciabatta bread

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Over the holidays, I got on a breadmaking kick that yielded some experimentation into more difficult breads. I’m a big fan of chewy ciabatta rolls, so when I found a few feasible recipes, I figured I would give them a try.

The recipe I used calls for an overnight preparation called Biga. Biga is essentially a yeast starter for bread. We used to do these for batches of beer, only malt extract instead of flour. It apparently improves the flavor of the rolls, as well as giving it a more complex  and chewy character.

Ciabatta Rolls:

  • 4 cups flour
  • 2 cups (plus 2 tablespoons) water
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • Biga

Dissolve the biga into the water and break it up with your fingers to form a slurry. Add all the flour and salt. Stir until dough becomes thick and wet. Let rest for 10-20 minutes. Knead the dough until it takes on a smooth and glossy shine. Cover the bowl and let the dough rise for 2-3 hours in at room temperature, until tripled in bulk.

Dust a working surface with flour and scrape the dough out of the bowl onto it. Dust the dough lightly with flour. Using a pizza cutter, divide the dough into a roll sized pieces (about 16-18 depending on size).

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Preheat the oven to 350 degrees (F). Let rolls rise uncovered for 30-40 minutes. Bake for 20-30 minutes until puffed and golden brown. IMG_0565.JPG

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Adventures in Breadmaking – Biga

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I had seen a yeast starter or Biga recommended for certain bread recipes as I pursue my love of carbohydrates. I’m finding that it makes a big difference in my breads by doing this simple starter ahead of time. Simply place the following ingredients in a starter jar, mason jar is great for this.

  • 1/2 cup warm water
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 packet dry bread yeast

Combine into a paste, and allow to sit in a warm dry place overnight. I stick mine in the microwave to avoid contamination or nosy kitties.

Adventures in Bread-Making – Focaccia bread

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I’m obsessed with making bread now that the weather is crappy. Here’s a quick and easy recipe to make yummy herbed focaccia bread! IMG_0492.JPG

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Ingredients
1 packet rapid-rising dry yeast
1 cup warm water
2 tablespoons sugar
3 1/2 to 4 cups flour
1 tablespoon coarse salt
1/4 cup olive oil
1 tablespoon italian seasoning

Proof the yeast by combining it with the warm water and sugar. Stir gently to dissolve. Let stand until foam appears. Add the flour and italian seasoning to the bowl. Dissolve salt in 2 tablespoons of water and add it to the mixture. Pour in 1/4 cup olive oil. When the dough starts to come together, mix until the dough is smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes, adding flour as needed.

Turn the dough out onto a work surface and fold over itself a few times. Form the dough into a round and place in an oiled bowl, turn to coat the entire ball with oil so it doesn’t form a skin. Cover with plastic wrap or damp towel and let rise in a warm place until doubled in size, about 45 minutes.

Coat a square pan with a little olive oil. Turn the dough out into the pan and flatten. Bake at 400 degrees for 15-20 minutes or until golden brown.

The evolving backbone

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I posted last week about my issue with my current therapy and had made the decision to end things. My post about this coincided with another article that shook me to my core.

My stomach was in knots the entire day, weeks of planning leading up to the inevitable moment. I had made a promise to myself, and I was definitely going to keep it. I arrived for my appointment to find that the previous session was already concluded. My therapist was waiting for me.

My tone was different, stern, parental, and unfriendly. I addressed immediately that something happened in our previous session that made me feel really uncomfortable. That it had “wrecked me” and that it was something that continued to bother me in the weeks that followed.

I gave exact description of statement without any change in my tone, as much I wanted to be rude or mean, I was calm, but tears flowed silently anyway. He recalled the phrase right away. He admitted fault, which was nice, and he respected the complaint. He didn’t mansplain or diminish how it affected me.

Of course he did apologize but I remained firm, that due to the body image work I needed to be doing could no longer be done here. He was, I think, more surprised that I wanted to end therapy over it, than the fact that I was upset at all. He didn’t try to change my mind, respecting my wishes, and bid me good luck finding a new therapist.

We kept up somewhat end of therapy chat, how much progress we made, the overall improvements, and the benefit of a more mentally aware life. He did comment once more on my appearance once again using words that made me uncomfortable. I interrupted him as soon as I realized what he was saying. I knew then that I’d made the right decision.

I got tears as I bid the doggies goodbye. The older one would probably be put down soon, and the newer dog would be on her own. I gave each one a kiss on their heads, told them to be good, and left. “See you around!” I called over my shoulder as I tried to fight back tears, out into the frigid night. I knew I had chosen correctly, and standing up for myself was and always will be the right call.

Something important

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I have to do something today that I’ve been dreading for a while. Before the holidays, I had an unfortunate experience during my therapy session that left me shaken. My therapist hit on me.

I wish I could say this is the first time an older, white male in a position of authority made me feel uncomfortable. But as a female, this is unfortunately part of the human experience. Of all the places I’ve been made to feel this way, the last place I’d ever expected it would have happened is during therapy.

Yet, there it happened, a man I’d paid for years of counseling, who’d been my therapist through my pregnancy, and before it. A man who’d held my infant son in his arms while I cried, made me feel in that singular moment that none of the growth was now valid. Because in his comment, I could see his true view, I was only there for his enjoyment.

I delayed this appointment for more than a month, scavenging and scouring every drop of courage from the hidden recesses of my being. And, yeah, I guess I could have just cancelled and not gone anymore, but something in me was broken in that moment. Something that needed to be spoken to, something that needed to be validated.

So, not long after this post goes live, I’ll be in the waiting room of his office, mustering the wording again and again, trying to find my atrophied backbone and learning to use it.

On the importance of play dates

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We were invited to our very first non-family children’s birthday party over the weekend. Our son has a best friend in his daycare class and although his parents are perfectly nice people, it is evident that our interest in them (and vice versa) would simply not exist without our children factoring into our interactions. I’m not saying I wouldn’t be friends with these folks under normal circumstances, but our paths would never have crossed if our children weren’t part of the equation.

I feel inferior to them whenever we hang out. The mother is vegetarian, a discipline I could never have enough self-restraint to truly maintain for any length of time. They talk about feeding their child food that even I would never touch, kale, tofu, quinoa, while I’m struggling to break my child from his daily persistence to overcome his fruit snack addiction. (It’s not that bad, he can quit anytime he wants, so he says…)

So, we took a deep breath and embraced the adulting and showed up at the birthday party, hoping there would be alcohol and vaccinating parents among us. Fortunately, their friends were absolutely lovely people. The mother of two of the older children straight-up fan-girled with me over Neil Degrasse Tyson and we bonded instantly. The husband, as it turns out, is another homebrewer, and a very like-minded privacy fanatic. We had some mutual acquaintances, which living in such a small state is not such a shock. We had a great time, and the next day, we had a text from the bestie’s mother asking for another get together (for adults and kids) since their friends seemed to like us as much as we liked them. My heart soared as she asked my advice on a melatonin cough syrup that was helping our son get through some rough, separation anxiety ridden nights. I felt like an honest-to-goodness grown up! Yay me!!

A word of advice to new parents or people considering having children. Learn to love your children’s friends, and particularly their parents. You’re past the part of your life where you can pick and choose your company. Your kid will befriend some weirdos, for sure, but as long as they are safe and trustworthy, try your best to embrace them and their kooky parents. It lets your child become their own judge of character and gets you out of your head. We all celebrate our children differently and I always enjoy finding ways of opening up my heart. I’m so glad to get the somewhat uncomfortable invitation because I’ve got 18 more years of this experience ahead of me. The more practice we get the better.

 

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