Thursday, February 25, 2010

Resolutions, Month Two

February is almost over, which means the second month of my resolutions is also coming to a close and I’m going to give myself a big pat on the back for this month.

For the first time ever, I made bread. Me. Fresh, hot, right-out-of-the-oven bread. You probably don’t realize how this changes my life. If I were stuck on a deserted island, I would want to live off of bread. Bread and cheese. And wine. Or at least whiskey. But the bread is a must. And the cheese. Bread and cheese complete me.

I was a little worried in the beginning. I saw a couple of recipes online that looked easy enough, but I obviously didn’t read through them carefully. Mostly I ignored the part about needing a stand mixer. Like the pink Kitchenaid artisan model that I am coveting (that I registered for). I foolishly thought that a hand mixer on a low speed would be good enough. No. Not even close. I ended up covered in flour and threw the whole thing away in frustration. Seven cups of flour in the trash.

Then I discovered recipes that can be started in the bread machine, which has a handy little Dough setting. For an hour and a half the bread machine works while I sip wine, make another meal, do laundry, whatever. It’s pretty genius, actually.

The first recipe I tried was for ciabatta bread. I added roasted garlic to the ingredients I put in the bread machine and couldn’t have been more thrilled. I had fresh, hot bread with the perfect crust. Seriously perfect. My 13 year old fought me for the last piece. Until I threatened to cut her. Not really. But I kinda did mean it.

Last night I tried a focaccia. The dough came out of the bread machine as light as air and floaty as a cloud. (Spell check doesn’t seem to like floaty, but it’s a word. I know because I’m using it.) It baked down a bit and wasn’t as light as I expected, but I sliced some up today with the girls at work and it was wonderful. It went perfectly with some mortadella salami and Havarti. Lunch goodness.

Success #1. Check.

I hadn’t planned on attempting the barbecue until summer. However, I was craving a steak on Valentine’s Day and, not having a man around that evening, decided to try it myself. I was not disappointed. I was rewarded with a perfectly seasoned, perfectly juicy, tender piece of meat heaven. It was done exactly the way I like it. And I’m picky.

What was even better – combining the two! I had thin slices of leftover steak on my bread for lunch the next day. Along with some smoked gouda, tomatoes, pepperoncinis and mayonnaise. It was like having my own little deli, only better.

Success #2. Check check.

Marching on to March………


L. Ottaviano said...

You're making me drool...mortadella...smoked gouda...all my favorites. Nothing quite like a homemade bread, and yet so few make it. I mean, almost everyone has the raw materials on hand (maybe yeast is the limiting reagent?). I have yet to make a good "slicing" loaf for sandwiches, but focaccia is a nice rustic substitute. Way to go on the March resolutions!

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