Monday, April 27, 2009

Where'd he learn that?

After listening to Munchkin make fire engine siren sounds for over and hour, Scott held out his hand and said, "This is an imaginary cork," and he pretended to put it in Munchkin's mouth.

Munchkin reached his hand to his mouth and said, "I took it out!"

Scott waved his hand around and said, "I'm putting Gorilla Glue on it."

Munchkin reached his hand up again and said, "I have solvent!"

Saturday, April 25, 2009

The goal

Last weekend, Scott and I enjoyed a nice time away while Muchkin stayed with his grandparents. Before we left, Munchkin announced, "I'm going to wear out Grandpa in just one day! Then I'm going to wear out Grandma!"

When we returned, we asked Grandpa if Munchkin had succeeded. He answered, "He sure tried."

Back at home, we asked Munchkin the same question. He said sadly, "No, it took two days."

Monday, April 20, 2009

Book Review: Fix-It Duck

It's been too long since I've posted a book review, so I wanted to tell about our newest favorite kids' book around here. Munchkin picked up a copy of Fix-It Duck by Jez Alborough from a display at our local library and it has delighted the whole family. (Maybe that's because Fix-It Duck reminds us so much of Munchkin!)

Jez Alborough's illustrations are clever and colorful, his verse is fun and the duck is lovable. What a find!

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Bread

Back in February I had the pleasure of taking a 2-day class in artisan bread making. I can’t believe it’s taken me until now to write about it, but life has been busy. :) Anyway, the class was fascinating.

My hope was that the class would cover sourdough since that’s my first love in bread, but instead it covered five varieties of artisan bread, all requiring a long first rise. We made up the "bigas" (a really fancy word for flour, yeast and water) at the Friday evening session, and then Saturday morning we turned them into bread, baking everything before the class was over that afternoon.

The instructor was a stickler for details, carefully measuring all ingredients by weight and using a timer for mixing times and rises. Frankly, she was too picky for my taste and so I got a real kick out of what happened to one of the other teams. The instructor sent home a biga with a member of each team and threatened them with certain doom if they didn’t refrigerate it promptly at 9:30pm and then take it out of the fridge by 6:00am. The next morning, everyone brought back their bigas and they all looked about the same except for one. A sheepish-looking lady had forgotten to put hers in the refrigerator at all, and her biga was so large and puffy that she couldn’t hide what she had done. The instructor tsk-tsked, but it was too late. Success was futile – the bread would collapse. A member of my group whispered to the mortified student that she should just punch it down a little. When we baked the bread, no one could tell the difference between hers and the rest.

I recognize the importance of exactness in the baking of bread – probably – but it doesn’t fit my personality. I’d rather work by feel or estimate, and since I’ve never had a loaf fail I don’t see a problem with my approach. Out of the five recipes we used in class, I found one that suits my style perfectly. It’s called a boule and I’ve now made it several times to rave reviews.

The friend who took the class with me purchased a fancy mixer and a beautiful large baking stone, which I’ve priced out at kitchen stores for about $40. With them, she bakes fantastic bread. When I use a mixer, I use one that used to belong to my husband’s late grandmother (the thing outlived her!). I drooled over the expensive baking stones in the kitchen store and then I went to the local hardware store and bought an unglazed stone tile for $3.79. I could have purchased it for $2.49, but I wanted the pretty one.

The class was worth it for a lot of good tips and I’ll probably never walk through the bakery stands at the farmers’ market and look at the bread the same way ever again. Now, I see loaves of artisan bread and think, "I could make that!" I’ve put in a hint for the bread baking book that the boule recipe came from for my birthday, and a co-worker of my husband’s has offered me some sourdough starter. I think with the book and the starter I can adapt what I learned in the class to the baking of sourdough bread. I can hardly wait!

Friday, April 10, 2009

Drumroll, please...

Scott has finished the cover for my soon-to-be-published book, The Purple Elephant. Check it out on The Purple Elephant website!

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Market Day

Earlier this winter, I discovered a tiny farmers' market nestled behind a local bakery. It's probably going away soon when our larger market opens for the season, and I'll miss it because this tiny market is just my speed.

Last Saturday was rare in that I didn't really need to buy anything that is sold at the market, but I was out and about with my husband, who had never been there, and my son, who begged to go say "hi" to the "egg lady" who knitted him a hat. We were in the neighborhood, so we dropped by.

The "egg lady" recognized us at once, and didn't seem to mind a bit that we didn't need any eggs. Instead, she entertained us with stories about her mischievious geese who sit on duck eggs (or was it ducks who sit on goose eggs) and she gave Munchkin a pretty postcard while explaining that the lovely duck whose photograph is on the card is a real pain in the you-know-what. We left her booth smiling.

Another farmer I know isn't there anymore since she ran out of apples two weeks ago, so we bought apples from a different farmer who appeared to be totally delighted to sell to us. (Some of the apples turned out to be pretty mealy -- maybe she was glad to get rid of them!) We've been so spoiled by the great tasting apples from the sold-out farmer that we're joining her CSA when it opens for the season and if it turns out she needs me, I'm going to host a CSA pick-up location.

I love eating local.