Door Number Three

Two loaves of no-knead sourdough

Mixed: 10:30 pm

Molded: 10 am next day

Baked: 1:40 pm

First, I love the rain. I love overcast days. I love the fog. And the snow. Even hail. We get so little inclement weather here, so anything outside of sunshine and 70 degrees is lovely, and, to me, it beckons adventure.

I love adventure 🙂

I also love to be cozy. Funny how we can love so many things–even things that seem to be opposite one another.

This homeschooling year, Tuesdays are very light teaching days for me. We leave big blocks of time open for heading to the library, or driving to another town to see an exhibit, or for long stretches of research, reading or writing. So… just yesterday, Tuesday, my daughter (the homeschooling one) was deep into books on stress, taking notes for a science paper. Feeling, seeing, smelling the rainy weather, I just knew I had to bake and share some bread. With no teaching to do, John Ronan and I had the whole afternoon free.

By midday, dough that I’d mixed the night before was on its second rise. The little one and I were looking at a blog posting together; he was in a snuggly mood. The author of that blog had written about crafty winter projects. With the munchkin in my lap, we scrolled through the pictures, read the text and out came a grand proclamation, “Mama! Let’s make a Teddy Bear!”

Feeling adventurous (since I’ve never made a Teddy Bear or anything like it) I said, “Well, yes! Let’s make a Teddy Bear.”

Ten minutes later we had downloaded instructions to the funniest little Easter Birdy. I braved the garage and hefted out the sewing storage box, and then hefted out the sewing machine too. I turned on the oven (since the dough was just about finished rising) and…

We started to sew!

She took four happy hours to make. John Ronan followed every step and cheered me on. Just LOVE that boy. And the Easter Birdy had a very eventful afternoon playing on the rocks and swinging next door; she even got to go to preschool today in John Ronan’s ducky lunchbox.

But back to the oven–an oven who was having another off day. BAD oven. It seems the bottom element isn’t heating, except when it feels like it, so when I should have been baking bread at noon, I was finally putting the dough into the right sort of heat 1 hour and 40 minutes later. I’m sure you want to hear all the details…

  • Convection still works so we heated the oven that way. The convection heating element is behind the fan, behind the very back of the oven. The Oven Guy, Jerry, taught me that this week.
  • No-knead bread is very forgiving. You just can’t seem to completely mess it up. This bread had way overproofed (seems to be a habit of mine this week) yet, I tell you, that sourdough was still quite tasty…
  • I burned the top of the bread. Baking on convection will do that. I’m not a convection oven fan. I always think, Now, why would you want to bake something in the very windy, drying heat of the Sahara Desert? I’d prefer to bake behind a protected and heat-radiating rock face on a Greek island…
  • Thankfully, the sourdough that came out of the green pot was less charred looking. I set that loaf aside for the giving…

Fast forward to 5 pm. Cleaned up the scraps from our sewing day. Then…

Knocked on the blue screen door to our right, the loaf of sourdough wrapped in brown paper and tucked under my arm. Nobody home.

Knocked on the bright red door on the corner. No answer.

Knocked on the green door where they grow exotic everything in the front yard. Two year-old Owen answered. Then he knocked down two pumpkins that were sitting on their porch wall. I handed over the sourdough to a very thankful mommy, who then had to run after Owen because he had escaped out to the side yard. I celebrated, on my way home, the meeting of two new neighbors.

What a day. Lots of rain.

Three doors.

Two loaves of sourdough.

And one Easter Birdy.

Overproofed

24 dinner rolls, two loaves of no-knead, and a lenten cake

Needed an oven schedule for all the various bready things

Gave to the Kings–a whole house full of them

It was in a bakery in Saint Louis, many years ago, when I was accidentally locked in a commercial proof box. I had rolled a full rack of bread that needed rising into the large metal box. It was a walk-in space, large enough to house several six-foot racks. The heavy door that seals the space, holding  in the heat and moisture, slowly swung shut behind me. The emergency lock that lets you out from the inside had rusted to little bits of useless frustration. I was stuck. It was way over a hundred degrees inside and the humidity at 100 percent.

If you know me, you also know that I have a tendency to faint when it’s too hot. I have several very dramatic fainting stories that I drag out now and again to amuse friends. As I knocked on that door to be rescued from the heat of the proof box, as I waited and tried to push back the panic, it was hard not to imagine fainting and being found the next morning in a heap by the door. The headlines that wooshed through my mind were zingers:

Baker’s Daughter Overproofed.

Proofing Proves Fatal.

Risen, but Dead.

Someone finally heard my screams and pounding. I was shaken, and indeed overproofed when I emerged. I took the rest of the day off. Odd though it may seem, I’ve never had any desire to return to Saint Louis. Ever.

For the last several days I’ve been feeling a bit bewildered and… overproofed. One event has tag-teamed the next, and though all of them have been worth while, worth working for, (like our wonderful evening with Frederica Mathewes-Green!) I haven’t baked much–and my kids are yelling, Mom, where’s the bread? With the panic of Saint Louis in the back of my mind, I have tried not to get to the deadly kind of headliner stage.

Instead…

House Blessing Saves the Day

Last night we had a fun gathering with some old and some new friends as our house was blessed for the new year. We marched around our home, out to the offices, to the garage, opening every door, holy water flying everywhere, singing all the while. The sharing of the event was just what I needed to pull me out of my little, hot and humid hole. I’m breathing in the feel of a new start–of a holy dwelling, of the prayers still lingering in the air.

So hopefully my kids will forgive me for living a bread-less existence, and get back to eating their pbj’s on the few leftover rolls from the party.

Amazing what a dose of song and holy water and close friends can do…