Monday, September 17, 2012

Challah Debut, you can, too.

I have never baked bread in my life.

Biscuits? Yes.  Cookies and cakes? Of course. But, baking bread was off-putting.

My first challahs-braided and round, for the Jewish New Year

My husband changed my thinking on this and not because of anything he said. As we all know, actions do often shout louder than words.

In the past few months, he'd been baking breads for fun. He wanted to try it and began watching Julia Child's teaching videos to learn how. He got the CDs from our town's library. The videos (on CDs) looked old and wrinkled; yet Julia's knowledge, which she imparts heartily, is brilliant and timeless.

It's Master Chef Child's hands-on guidance, her detailed demonstrations that raised my husband's ability to bake bread. By employing her methods, his breads reached new levels of tenderness and texture.

Learning by watching and doing--this is a great way to begin in the kitchen, especially if you're like me--not eager to cook or bake, and daunted by anything that requires more than two steps.  It's one thing to read recipes and try to follow them, but I find that many recipes forgo subtle but important instructions and methods that truly make a difference between a mediocre and memorable outcome. So, get thee to your local library and order up some Julia Child tapes.

Here's a kneading tip that my husband offered--direct from Ms. Child's baking bread tape:

"Don't knead with two hands," he said. "Use one hand for kneading, and use a utensil like a stiff spatula in your other hand to scrape the sticky dough off the kneading board."

Julia used a metal paint scraper. Oh, how I love this woman who went to the hardware store for a kitchen utensil.

I tried this method and it really worked and made kneading less sticky and unwieldy. I actually felt in control. I can do this!

Tip #2 - He also encouraged me to let the bread rest more often than the recipe I was using called for. He said: Julie taught him that. These are two examples of tips that are not included in the recipe I followed (linked below).

Listen. If I can manage this recipe, so can you. Here's a link to the recipe I tried--which I chose because it calls for honey instead of sugar. (Thanks, hubbie, and thank you, Ms. Julie Child.)  Have fun.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

L'Shana Tova (Happy New Year)!

It's a new moon this weekend. And the Jewish New Year is upon us. Wishing you all a sense of renewal, and good beginnings (leave that weary, old stuff behind). 

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Remembrance, September 11

How can we, as a human race, find ways to communicate our differences without this banal, perverse wreckage of human lives? How can we learn to step into other worlds without destroying them?