Thursday, February 2, 2012

Today was full of the sort of self-directed busyness that I absolutely love. I had to work this morning, but the afternoon was mine.

My yogurt was somewhat successful. Two of the Five jars didn't really set at all and the others set but didn't get that lovely tangy flavor (maybe that'll happen with time?), but it was my first attempt so I'm counting it as a win. I drained the whey off the yogurt, brought it to a slow boil, added a little vinegar and salt, and ended up with about 1/3 c of ricotta cheese.

Then I used the whey left over from the cheese to make some "kitchen sink" bread. That turned out pretty well. I decided to take a minimal kneading freeform approach to the bread, making a really moist dough and then dusting loaves with flour before baking to get a nice crust. I pretty much threw in just about every grain at my disposal:

3c whey
1.5 T yeast
1.5 T salt
1.5 c rolled oats
approx 1.5 c leftover porridge (brown rice, red rice, quinoa, wheat berries, cinnamon)
approx. 3 c rye flour
enough all-purpose flour to get a fairly sticky, but not at all runny dough.

Mix it up, let it rise someplace warm for about an hour, shape it into loaves by hand, put loaves on cookie sheets that have been sprinkled w/ cornmeal. Preheat oven to 450, and let the loaves rest for their second rise (30 min)

Dust loaves w/ flour, score, and throw them in the oven. Toss maybe 5 or 6 ice-cubes in the oven as well, to make steam (which promotes a good crust, though I have yet to look into the science behind that). Bake in 450 degree oven for 30 min.

If you start to smell smoke, don't worry too much. Just check on the bread and make sure nothing's on fire. If you accidentally get flour on the baking sheet when dusting the loaves, the flour will sometimes start to smoke (mine did tonight). Nothing is ruined, it just means you'll have a bit more cleanup when all's said and done.

And honestly, what's a kitchen for if not making messes? Kitchen counters and floors are generally smooth for a reason, you know. So they'll be easier to clean. No sense getting upset about making a mess in a room that was made to get messy.

You cook, you have fun. You work and work and work on the food, throwing lids and utensils wherever they'll fit in your rush to get what needs to happen done in the second it needs to happen. You try, and often fail, to time things to your best advantage. You leave ineffable gunk on the counter, splatters of red and yellow on the stove top, flour dust all down your front, and a nightmare sink full of dishes.

Then there's an ebb in the chaos, everything is happening as it should and nothing needs your immediate attention, but you can't leave the room either. You find yourself bored with this seemingly sudden moment of inactivity. In that moment, washing a sink full of dirty dishes starts sounding pretty good... especially when you remember that you'll be needing that sink clear in 5 minutes, to drain the pasta. Don't worry about making a mess, and then use those boring moments to stay on top of things. You often end up with a kitchen that's cleaner than it was at the start of the project.

So that was my day. Self inflicted chaos, and a damn good time. I got to take secret pleasure in the look of horror on my roommates' faces when I asked if they wanted to try my yogurt (the four of us all have very different diets), and I'm ending the day with a mostly clean kitchen. All is good :)

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