Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Playing, Barbeque, and Baking Happiness

Yesterday was glorious. By 10am, we'd hit 60 (and when our little shaded spot here hits 60 that early, you know the rest of the world is having a nice warm day). So I threw some beef ribs in a marinade (prep for dinner - go me!), fed the children, and off we ran to Pine Lake Park. We spent 6 lovely hours there (wow, the 6 hour theme! That must be my kids' wide-barrel attention span or something). The kids spent entirely too much time quizzing the people on the dock about all things fishing-related (except for the older couple from Belarus who couldn't understand the kids too well, they all seemed happy with the curious kids).
We ended up meeting the neighbor kids there entirely by accident in the last hour we were there. This could not have thrilled the little buggers more...but there were 8 kids altogether and I'm afraid they descended back upon the playground, newly excited, like a plague of overlarge locusts. When the neighbor family had to take a bathroom break, I seized the opportunity afforded by the temporary friendlessness of my children, gathered up my (thank GOD it's only three) little monsters and ran for it.
The park was entirely too pretty yesterday. So was our own "yard," though. When Fran came home I set him to the grilling and the kid-supervising, and worked on my own half-finished baking projects. And cleaning projects. Because thanks to Toddlerness, the house smelled like fennel. A lot of fennel. Underfoot, it crushes a little like dried lavender - not in that it smells at all the same, but in that as you step on it and grind it into the carpet it creates a smell-aura. Added to the heat of the day finally catching up with my (very insulated) house, it was actually pretty hot. Pretty hot plus fennel-mess. Ew.
Anywho, they played outside and barbequed ribs and I did all my baking (and a goodish volume of school reading and carpet vacuuming), until Fran poked his head in the door "hey Niki?" "yeah?" "is it really 8:10?" "errr...YES! Yikes!" "Ok, we're coming in!" And this is when I admit to rambling a bit so that the pictures fit into the blog better. I'm tired of rambling now and hopefully have filled enough space for it not to look funky on your screen. So I'll talk about bread now.

Last week I did an experiment, making a dough with half white/half whole wheat flour...and then leaving it to rise until it collapsed. I wanted to see just how far I could push it, you know? At the end of the experiment (it collapsed between 4 and 5 hours) I had some yummy, but very dense, sourdough bread. So yesterday I made the same recipe, this time with maximum rise in mind. It worked! I mean, not that you can really tell in the picture or anything. But it is light and fluffy and wonderful inside. Just like my previous attempts at whole wheat/blended bread haven't been. We ate it with soft cheese, along with our (very messy) barbeque ribs.

I also made angel food cake. I lacked quite a few necessary implements, though. No beaters (not even hand-cranked ones!), no sifter, no tube pan. No "cake flour." Thank goodness for healthy local chickens making healthy eggs with hard-to-break yolks, because my first egg separation ever came off perfectly. The cake was a little too dense, as I simply didn't have any more whisking in me by the time I got to "ok it's kind of making a peak," but it was of recognizeable taste and texture and was excellent with strawberries and ice cream. And yes, that is a picture of the inside of my oven.

By the time we had eaten barbeque ribs, bread with cheese, peas, and then our strawberry "shortcake" kinda thing, it was 10. At 10:30 I read stories to the kids. And now at 8:30 this morning, it is looking like another glorious day and the big ones are still sleeping. On the list for today? Laundry, a decidedly indoor task. Damn.


~L~ said...

Perfect blog entry.


This is the sort of day we imagine when we sell ourselves on SAHM.

I need more info than "and kept the perfect rise in mind." What did you DO with that information that changed your outcome?

Niki said...

I kind of remembered what the dough looked like in the bowl before it collapsed. I beat it down once, at about 45 minutes, and then waited for it to get to it's maximum size (about 2h but I think it depends on many things, I think watching is better than timing) before kneading in the herbs and putting it in the pans. I then let it rise a bit MORE (about 30 min) before baking.

Aimee said...

oh the glory, oh the humanity! i love that this post doesn't mention homework!

kisses to you, beautiful one!

Cambria Esta said...

Nope yesterday the rest of the world.. Ok here in germany was cold wet and rainy!