So as of this past Wednesday, I have three weeks left on my work contract. And six weeks until I have my surgery to fix that brain thing of mine, for those of you playing along at home.
And I’d be lying if I said all of it wasn’t starting to affect me just a little bit. Okay, a lot. I’m exhausted, tired, and more than a little bit cranky, in constant need of a cup of tea and a long nap. I went through something very similar right before my cancer surgery last year. It’s a combination of the anticipation (if it can be called that), a good old-fashioned case of the jitters (Brain surgery! Eep!) and keeping overly busy to avoid dealing with both of them.
Clearly, I’m very well-versed in avoidance techniques.
In three weeks the work will be over and it’ll be Thanksgiving and then I’ll have some time to catch my breath. I’ll finish up my accounting class and get some knitting in. I’ll fill up the freezer with soups and stews and pasta sauce and some lasagna so my wonderful P won’t have to worry about cooking anything while I’m on the mend.
Man and woman can’t live on pizza alone. I’m not saying it’s a bad idea, you understand.
But if I’ve learned anything from the whole cancer recovery experience, it’s that it’s much, much better to be over prepared than under-prepared. Especially when one half of the couple is snoozing away on the couch, drooling into her mug of Darjeeling, stomach growling. And the other half hates to cook.
Of course, I’m also stocking up on yarn for the afghan, since the plan is to get as much crocheting in as possible. I’m not counting on getting a whole afghan done, but hey, you never know.
I’ll have things to read, but I’m not sure if I’ll want to get a jump on my spring semester reading or not. Macroeconomics doesn’t exactly sound like a lightweight subject, so I think I’ll stick to something that I don’t have to think about. A co-worker gave me a whole box full of knitting books and patterns and magazines she no longer wants.
Which will be absolutely perfect, especially if all I feel like doing is looking at the pretty pictures.
Last weekend I made a loaf (okay, two small loaves) of three grain bread. I put the pictures out on the Intertubes and my Twitter friend Roy asked me for the recipe. So I sent the poor guy over here on a wild goose chase because I was pretty sure that I’d shared it at one point last year and was really surprised to discover that nope, I hadn’t. And then I remembered (or conveniently…forgot) that this time last year I was still on the semi-liquid diet and wasn’t able to eat anything that wasn’t tapioca pudding or instant breakfast.
Anyways, I’m making up for lost time this year. This comes from “Love Soup” and is one of those great wet-dough-no-knead-technique bread recipes which are pretty perfect to start with if you’re new to baking bread. There’s a lot of liquid and a whole lot of yeast and what you end up with is a very heavy, wet dough that, ta-daah!, doesn’t have to be kneaded. At all. You just mix it and let it rise. Then you shape it and let it rise again. You bake it and you have bread.
See? That’s about as easy as it gets.
This is a very rustic loaf of bread; it’s not fine-grained and it’s even a bit crumbly. But it’s delicious.
Three Grain Bread for Roy
- 1 ½ cups very warm water (about 100° F or so; it should feel like very warm bathwater)
- ¼ cup honey
- 2 tsp. salt
- 1 Tbsp dry active yeast (do not use fast-rising yeast)
- 3 cups whole wheat flour
- ½ cup rye flour
- 2 Tbsp cornmeal, plus more for the baking sheet
- 2 Tbsp neutral-tasting oil (I use sunflower)
- In a large bowl, whisk together the water, honey, salt and the yeast. Let it sit until the yeast dissolves and gets foamy, about 10 to 15 minutes or so. If the mixture doesn’t get foamy, you’ll have to start over.
- In a smaller bowl, whisk together the flours and the cornmeal to mix them.
- Whisk in half of the flour mixture into the yeast mixture and give it a really good stir until it’s all dissolved. Whisk in the oil. Now, with a good, heavy wooden or hotel spoon, add the rest of the flour mixture. It’s going to be heavy and thick and really tough to stir. Keep at it until it’s all mixed.
- Now put a towel over it and let it rise until it’s doubled and collapses on itself. This will take a good couple of hours, so just be patient. Go and knit something or make some soup. The bread doesn’t need you right now.
- When it’s ready to be shaped, preheat your oven to 375° F. Take some cornmeal and cover the bottom of a baking sheet with it. Not a lot; you don’t want it to burn. Just enough so the bread doesn’t stick to the bottom. It’ll give you a nice, crunchy crust.
- Now, wet your hands and take the dough out of the bowl. Very quickly (it’s going to be very, very sticky) shape it into a ball. Place it, seam side down, on the baking sheet. Flatten it just a bit and cover it. Let it rise again until it’s about doubled.
- The recipe says that you should put a roasted pan of water in right about now to make the oven all steamy and to help create a crust. Since I always manage to spill the water all over the place, I never do this but you can if you like.
- When your loaf has risen, put it in the oven and let it bake for about an hour. You know your oven better than anyone, so you’ll have to adjust the time accordingly. I like to turn the bread around about halfway through just so it bakes evenly.
- About 5 minutes before your timer goes off (you are timing this, right?), take it out and off the baking sheet. Tap the bottom and see if it sounds hollow. If it does, it’s done. If not, give it another few minutes and then place it on a baking rack to cool. I like to take it out a few minutes short of when I think it’ll be done so it doesn’t overbake. Don’t forget, it’s still baking when it first comes out of the oven.
- Let it cool a bit and dig in. This also freezes really well. Just let it cool completely, put it in a freezer bag, get all the air out of it and toss it in there.