Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Spring Bake

Everyday takes figuring out all over again how to fucking live. - Calamity Jane on Deadwood.

One of the things I like least in life is retracing my steps. If you ever see me looking annoyed and acting impatient it is likely because I have had to do something over again. Be it drive back and forth between two points more than once in a day; or retype an email because my computer froze; or repeat directions five times in less than a minute because the little bastards aren't listening (that's a substitute teacher-specific example).

In fact, I will go far out of my way not to go back and forth, out and back, over the same road. The shortest distance between two points may be a straight line, but if I see that straight line more than once in a short period of time I will become apoplectic. As such, I always plan my trips as circles, going out on one road and coming back on another. That is, if I have to come back at all. My real preference would be to travel in one direction at all times, never circling back whence I came. One-way trips, in which I am propelled into some new unknown, with no reassuring promise of a return to the comforts or familiarity of home, get my blood flowing. Not that home is bad, or that I don't crave home just as much as all those points unknown. It's just that I get "itchy" when I think about making the return trip itself. Home as a destination, a place to rest my head, is great, but the road home bores the shit outta me.
Here's me as a baby. I needed something to break up this big block of words.

To be clear, I am speaking literally and figuratively. Very literally, I hate driving the same road twice in one day. Metaphorically, this applies to just about everything else in my life. As I said, I don't like doing things more than once in short order, especially if I feel I have already "gotten it." I am compelled by equal parts boredom and restless intellectual curiosity (OK... more boredom than curiosity) to keep trying new things. Sometimes, I even feel like the more I do something, the more I try to get better at something, the worse I actually get. I start to get too much in my head, over-thinking the thing, whatever it is, to death. If you think long, you think wrong. So much for self-analysis and self-improvement... clearly, attempting those things will just make me a worse person. Yep, I checked, that statement follows the logic of the one before it. It's all perfectly logical.

But, then again, after a day has passed, I'll probably be able to stomach seeing that same old road again or doing that same old thing again. Maybe I'll even be able to stand a little self-improvement. Like Jane says, each day becomes new again. Each day presents new problems to be reckoned with and provides new perspectives from which to fucking reckon.

I quote Calamity Jane because recently my Deadwood obsession has been rekindled. It was back over Thanksgiving 2009 when I watched the first 7 episodes in North Dakota with Danie and Jesse and Jesse's family. I mentioned in the blog at the time that the show became the melodramatic, curse-filled soundtrack to our trip. I had been dying to see the rest of the series, but until recently I hadn't had the chance. Finally, HBO on Demand made the whole series available to stream online, and over the last two weeks, my dad and I watched all 36 episodes. He was as immediately hooked as I was when I first saw it back in NoDak. There is just something about hearing the word "cocksucker" over and over again that makes grown men giggle. Between the musically vulgar language and the constant background din of an Old West camp, I think the sounds of the show really kind of hypnotized us. Once we started, we had to finish. We each sat in front of our respective computers and watched the cocksucker till our eyes bled.

Some things are like that. Some things you have to see through to the end, quickly and without stopping, if at all possible. Watching a show in this linear, one-way, non-stop fashion appeals to my always-moving-forward, anti-retracing-of-steps nature. With a similar compulsion, I am still working my way through the Tartine baking book. All the recipes sound so good, and Morty the Bread Starter is so strong and healthy, that I don't want to rest until I have made them all; and I don't much want to go back and do any of them over again until I've tried all the ones I haven't done.

So, last week I finally made the croissants I had been threatening to make since the beginning. It's a fairly laborious process of "laminating" butter and dough together, so I had to be committed. Turned out to be a fun day of beating butter and dough with a big stick. The smell reminded me of my professional baking days in San Francisco. I handled very many croissants in my time at that job (2 whole days). Anyway, how were my homemade ones? Well, they came out looking pretty pretty, but... they weren't as light and flaky as I would have liked. They were layered beautifully, but not flaky. So, I was a little disappointed on the first day. However, it turned out that their heavier, crustier nature was perfect for sandwiches the next few days. And when I say perfect, I mean just that. Amazing freaking awesome sandwiches.... no matter what you put on 'em. These rolls made everything delicious.
I could have popped open a can of Pillsbury crescent rolls and
accomplished this in significantly less time
"I like bread and I like butter, but I like bread with butter best."
Three Rolls and a Fistful of Butter, starring my dad
This week it's Spring Break, so I have some (more) free time on my hands. I already did one big batch of bread and plan on doing another. With the first, I did something I spent the first half of this blog saying I don't want to do. I repeated. But I had to return to rye bread since my friend Mitch is getting married next week and I am bringing bread offerings to all the Jews in Tampa. At least this time I was making a double batch, so that kept it interesting. Also, this time I put the caraway seeds inside the bread, as well as on top. It was insane! Ended up I made five loaves, each with a slightly different character. Those receiving these breads will get the one that I deem best suites them. Or the first bag I happen to grab, whichever.

At the same time I was making my ryes, my dad made a challah. Spring Bake 2011 was in full effect! There was no wet t-shirt contest, but we were waist deep in Jewish carbohydrates. I don't know what that means! 
Can you see the face of Old Man Rye? He's squinting.
Corned beef on rye, mit pickle
The biggest rye on the block
Inside the Baker's Bakery
Action shot: Challah getting beaten
I'm going to try making a polenta and rosemary infused loaf next. Why not! For now, I am going to go "take the air," as they say on Deadwood. I'm going to walk around the neighborhood sipping casually from a mug of coffee, sort of overseeing my territory. Inspired by Al Swearengen on Deadwood, I now love walking around outside with a mug of coffee (a regular ceramic mug, none of these fancy, citified mugs with leak-proof tops). I'm telling ya, it really makes one feel quite in control of one's domain; like the boss. 

And when I get back from my stroll I'll probably take some shots from the giant bottle of whiskey we bought. My dad and I cannot handle our liquor like cowboys and gentiles, but we sure like to pretend. 

And then, tomorrow, I'll figure it all out all over again...

No comments:

Post a Comment