Measuring

Most bread baking books will tell you how important it is to get your measurements right. They will recommend weighing your ingredients, instead of using measuring cups. Here’s what Daniel Leader and Judith Blahnik say in their book Bread Alone:

A scale is vital. I like the ultra-precise Pelouze Balance Beam, but home bakers will do fine with a small spring scale. Bakers are incredibly precise about their ingredients. They weigh everything. It’s more reliable and specific than a measuring cup…

Well, I have to admit that I have yet to invest in a Pelouze Balance Beam scale. 🙂 It’s true, though, with so many environmental variables surrounding the baking of bread in a home kitchen, it helps to have consistency at least in your ingredients and measurements. One trick I’ve developed comes with the measuring of salt and yeast.

I’ve converted old baking powder containers into spice and salt containers.

This allows me to get fairly accurate measurements from one batch of bread to the next so that I know how to better make adjustments. I’ve converted some other spices to these containers, too. Spices that are potent and whose quantities need to be monitored carefully.

Plus, the wide mouths allow little bakers easy access to the ingredients.

And there’s no way to measure my delight when little–or big helpers–join me when I’m baking.

Nope, no scale, Pelouze or not,

that measures delight…

Tuna for a Cracker

Olive Oil Crackers

Yes, I bake, but my husband is a fabulous fellow in the kitchen, someone who dances between the spice cabinet and the pantry, music blaring, wooden spoons dipping in and out of delicious sauces. He does all of the evening cooking around here, and I’m noticing that John Ronan is becoming something of a miniature version of my husband. They are often found together at 5pm, both clad in aprons, concocting dishes for dinner. I wasn’t surprised the other day when I came in from working in the garden and the little one had emptied the bottom half of the spice cabinet onto the island.

“I want to make something,” he announced with a broad grin. “With all of these!!!”

I don’t typically like disorderly clutter, but after three kids you learn that most piles have a lot to do with learning. After a deep breath, I racked my brain, trying to think of something we could make with that odd assortment of sesame seeds, sea salt, chili pepper, dried herbs, garlic, etc… Thankfully the light bulb flickered on. I had an olive oil cracker recipe that I’d wanted to try for a while, so I got to mixing, and voila!

CRACKERS! (By the way, that one with all the chili pepper on it was HOT!)

For toppings we used: sea salt, sesame and poppy seeds, garlic powder, piment d’Espelette (that’s the hot chili peppper) herbes de Provence, Italian herb mix and shaved parmesan. (Notice the three burnt crackers. I’m well known for burning things…)

The story only gets better. I really couldn’t imagine who we could share these trial by error crackers with–but then, our neighbor, Steve showed up on our porch, holding a raw filet of tuna that had just been caught in the channel. Steve’s the sort of mellow fellow who shows up on your doorstep with raw fish–AND who is willing to try anything made by the hands of a four-year-old. “Have a cracker!” I told Steve as he presented us his catch.

He ate a cracker dusted with sea salt.

And we had delicious fresh tuna for dinner.

Thanks, Steve!