Tuesday, February 5, 2013

learning to bake bread (italian.herb.and.olive.oil.crust.bread)

sunday morning, i woke up with a .... (holy immaculate cannoli!) stiff neck! ... first thing that came to mind was "great, i'm unemployed (fifth month now btw), broke and ... has a stiff neck!" - that morning was not great at all! i could not turn my head sideways nor could i bend my head downwards! simple activities like changing clothes, tying my hair into a pony tail, brushing my teeth, taking a nice warm bath, washing the dishes or picking up something from the floor was like torture. following typical home remedies, the iced-peas, the heated patches, the ointments and gentle neck massages those remedies helped - for a little while - and then the pain starts again. googling the web i stumbled on the website 3 Simple Ways to Heal a Stiff, Sore or Injured Neck it provided three different not-so-typical remedies, the second one, called acupressure, reminded me of my "gramma" we call her "lula" - she'd sit on any random time of day, massaging something in her hand - one time i asked her what she was doing, and she explained by giving me the same massage, (as a kid, i did not like massages), of course now, massages are like vacations!

anyway, after 75 minutes of intermittent acupressure and gently moving my head and neck "taddah!" i can completely bend my head downwards, and turn my head side-wards! i can rotate my shoulders and do my normal swimming-warm-ups! (though, there is still some ache and will keep on doing acupressure, till fully recovered) - meanwhile, i can now enjoy learning to bake!

after a chilly weekend, and a quick and good recovery from a stiff neck, i decided to learn how to bake bread!

i find baking (just like cleaning and cooking) therapeutic (yah, i know, doesn't sound right noh? but it works for me) - and by the way - i am learning all those things - i meant cooking and baking (cleaning i can do with my eyes closed) - but with cooking and baking (lets say) even with eyes both open, i'd still draw the pony's tail on its head (i meant, i need a couple more tries to get it right). i hope i understood the recipe correctly, i did put the dough in greased bowls (i had to use two, because i don't have a big bowl) and covered it with greased plastic and covered it with dish towels.

oookay, just to straighten things out - you need to bake this bread using a baking stone - myself (who does not really bake) does not have one ... sooo ... i used parchment paper ... on top of a rectangular roasting pan  (warning : do not follow this, unless you're like me, who really really does not have the baking equipment!) i baked the bread in the roasting pan in the middle layer of the oven, underneath (bottom layer), i put a bowl of 4oz water, this should somehow mimic the functionality/purpose of using a baking stone (maybe in about five to seven years of regular baking, i can explain this "technically", for now, it seemed to work).

also, it is important that i should note, to immediately remove the bread from the parchment paper after taking the bread off the oven. this is because, the parchment paper will stick to the bottom crust (mine almost did)

the bread (above) might look dry at first (then maybe that's because i've never baked bread before, so how should i know?) - but, after the bread bakes, remove it from the oven, and let it cool a couple of minutes, brush with more of the herb & olive oil mixture - and it should look golden and delicious! (mine did) - i got it right the first time! (i meant, first time i baked bread!) then again, i need a second opinion ... however, a cup of nice hot espresso and a slice of this warm toasty bread, was a definite on a chilly late afternoon.

(below) is how my bread turned out after a couple of minutes of cool-down and brush ups of that herb mixture. (of course, the herb mixture, you can choose your types of herbs, i added some rosemary and powdered garlic on mine)

tomorrow morning, i'll check how my bread is doing (i'm not gonna freeze it though), for now, here's another quote to share.

" i'm selfish, impatient and
a little insecure.
i make mistakes, i am 
out of control, and at times
hard to handle.
but, if you can't handle me
at my worst, 
then you sure as hell
don't deserve me at my best. "
- marilyn monroe