Notes From A Nester: The Slow Rise Feb10

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Notes From A Nester: The Slow Rise


a blogumn by Debra Barlow

Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about slowness.  Maybe it’s brought on by the hectic pace of my life, the years rolling by faster and faster, work and goals that pile up but never seem to get fulfilled or the economy causing every increasing anxiety, my mind has been drifting toward slow things.  I long, some days, for a slower pace of life.  An idyllic country life.  But the reality is I live in one of the largest cities in America and life is anything but slow.  So, I’ve decided to take slow where I can find it.

One thing that really intrigues me is slow food.  Or at least my interpretation of it.  Strictly speaking, slow food is a movement that encourages people to look to regional, organic produce, traditional foods and biodiversity. The actual slow food organization’s anti-globalization views are a little too leftist for my taste, but their ideas about slowing things down and learning more about the food you eat and paying attention to where it comes from really appeals to me.  In my interpretation, it’s more about returning to the roots of the foods we consume and finding ways to make your own as opposed to the fast, conveniently packaged versions at the supermarket.

I’ve already talked about making your own pasta.  It’s a staple of my diet and knowing that I can make it at home makes me feel like I have more control.  So it was only a matter of time before I conquered another staple – bread.

yeastAs I think I’ve mentioned, I have a great fear of yeast. It smells weird and it’s strange to me to be cooking with a living organism.  There’s just something gross about it.  But I love the resulting bread, so I put my fears aside and made my first loaf.  I’m not sure if the yeast was bad or the water was too hot, but I could not get the yeast to proof (i.e. get creamy and foamy, apparently a desirable quality in yeast). But I forged ahead and the bread rose and was baked and tasted…okay.     I’d never had that bread before, it was just a recipe I found online, so with no basis for comparison I did what any great cook would do and blamed the recipe.

With the next batch I had no excuse.  It was my mother-in-law’s white bread recipe, which I had eaten with gusto many times at her house.  This time the yeast frothed and proofed and I thought, ‘hoorah!  I’ve cracked it!’  Then I mixed it with the hot milk and killed every last bit of it.  I forged ahead with the bread and I can only say I wish I had pictures to share.  It was a comedy of errors that consisted of me trying desperately to knead a sticky, gloppy mess of bread dough.    I kept adding flour and finally had something that resembled the right consistency. I baked it and it tasted…okay.  This time I couldn’t blame the recipe, instead it rests squarely on my shoulders.  But I haven’t given up on bread – I’m committed to figuring this yeast thing out.  And no bread makers for me, that’s too fast.

Next up on my quest to slow things down:  homemade cheese.

. photo credit: romanlily