ingenuity

I’m housebound today because the hubs has my car. His is out of commission with a flat tire (which he discovered just as he was leaving for work this morning and had no time to change). I had planned to go to the grocery today to pick up a couple of things, most important of which is pita bread. We’re having mini chicken pizzas tonight, which I make on pitas. But they don’t always have them in stock at my grocery, including earlier this week when I did the shopping. So what to do? Make homemade pitas from scratch, of course!

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In my last post I mentioned my go to bread bible: Bernard Clayton’s New Complete Book of Breads which just so happens to have a recipe for pitas. They’re actually quicker and easier to make than I’d expected No long proofing times, nothing in them that I don’t always keep on hand. And they’re good!

bagel

At the request of one of my friends, I documented my bagel-making process and am including my recipe. The recipe has been adapted over time from Bernard Clayton’s New Complete Book of Breads, which is an excellent resource for breads of practically any type. My recipe makes about two dozen garlic bagels (and they are very garlicky!) but you can make whatever kind you like by omitting or replacing the garlic powder and minced garlic. You could replace the garlic powder with cocoa and increase the sugar slightly for a sweeter morning treat. You could scrap the garlic powder and top with sesame seeds, poppy seeds, rosemary, whatever!

To start:

1ingredients8 cups bread or all-purpose flour + extra for kneading
1/3 c sugar
2 Tbsp salt
1 Tbsp garlic powder
2 scant Tbsp yeast
3 cups hot water
4-5 cloves garlic
1 egg

also:
approx 2 qts water for boiling
1 Tbsp sugar
nonstick spray or parchment paper
plastic wrap

Begin with the 3 cups hot water. I put it in a bowl and heat in the microwave until quite warm, but not boiling. Stir into this the yeast, breaking up any clumps. Let it sit a few minutes and the yeast will activate.

2yeastIn the meantime, mix together the dry ingredients: 7 cups of flour (save the rest to add in as you knead the dough), sugar, salt, garlic powder.

Once you have that together, mix in the water/yeast mixture. Before I got my stand mixer I did it all by hand, and used a big wooden spoon for the initial mixing. With a stand mixer use your paddle attachment. Either way, mix until you’ve got a big wet ball of dough, then add a bit of the remaining flour (half a cup or so) and get ready to knead.

3doughIf you’re doing this by hand, turn out onto a floured surface and knead about 10 minutes. If you’re using a mixer, switch to the dough hook attachment, and knead on low speed, stopping a couple of times to scrape down the sides of the bowl.

As you knead the dough should become firm and no longer sticky. Add more flour as needed. I usually end up using about 8 cups total, maybe a hair more.

4kneadedWhen you are finished kneading, form the dough into a ball, get a big clean bowl, and oil the sides. Plop the ball of dough down in there & turn to coat. Cover the bowl with a towel or plastic wrap and put in a warm place to rise for about an hour.

5risingBefore you go watch TV, create your workflow for later. You’ll start with a flat surface to work your dough into bagels. Next to that should be your stove top. You’ll want to fill a medium saucepan about halfway with water, and put in a tablespoon of sugar. You’ll boil this later, but it’s way to early to turn on the heat now. On the other side of the stove, you’ll want a plate or tray covered with paper towels where you’ll put the bagels after you get them out of the water. Next to that, put your minced garlic, and you’ll also put some egg wash (you’ll make this a little later, but just leave room for a cup, and a small basting brush. Finally, your baking sheet(s) which you’ll spray with a little nonstick spray, or cover with parchment paper. Now that you’re all prepped, have a little break.

When the hour is up, turn on the oven to 425°F, and put the saucepan on a burner and turn it to medium heat. You want it to gently simmer, but not boil. There should just be a few  bubbles coming to the surface, if there are lots of big bubbles, dial it back.

Anyway, back to the dough. Uncover it, and punch it down a little with your fingers, then turn it out onto a floured work surface. Use a knife or dough scraper to cut off small portions of dough, about 2-3 ounces and form into little balls. They need to rest for about 8-10 minutes.

6ballsWhile you’re waiting for that, get out an egg and separate the white into a small dish or cup, add a little water and mix up. This is the egg wash you’ll use on the bagels to help make them extra shiny and help the garlic adhere.

Once the little balls of dough are rested, it’s time to form the bagel shape. Roll the ball between your palms until the dough makes a long snake. Wrap the snake around your hand and overlap the ends, then roll the ends between your palms to seal them together. Then lay it back down to rest again and move onto the next.

7bagelsOnce you’re all done, start with the first two or three bagels, and plop them down in the simmering water. Don’t let them get too crowded, just do two or three at a time. They may sink at first, but they should float back up pretty quickly.

8boiling Let them boil about 30 seconds, then flip them and boil another 30 seconds. Remove them to your paper towels and let them drain off while you start the next set.

Once the bagel has drained and cooled for a minute or two, brush the top with egg wash, then sprinkle on a bit of the garlic. Then it goes on the baking sheet. The bagels shouldn’t puff up very much while baking, so they can be relatively close together, but don’t crowd them or let them touch each other. Continue in this pattern: boil, cool/drain, egg wash, garlic, tray until you’ve worked through all the bagels, then bake for 25 minutes, or until golden brown on top. The garlic will be crispy and brown on the edges.

9finishedLet them cool completely before storing. Since there are no preservatives, they’ll only last a few days before they get stale, so your best bet is to freeze any you won’t use right away.

backwards

So Zooey is technically mobile.

Just not in the direction she intended. She’s trying so hard, and she gets so mad when it all goes wrong. I feel bad laughing at her. But I still do. This way she’ll have something to tell her therapist in twenty years.

occupational hazard

There’s a lot about having a baby you have to find out about on your own. Even if someone tells you about it, you don’t believe it until it happens.

For example, before the baby was born, I remember saying something to my mom about how long I thought my supply of diapers would last. I think I said something to the effect that I was estimating 10 or so diapers a day, which at the time I thought was generous. My mom kind of laughed and shrugged, because yeah, it songs like a good estimate, but it is wrong-o. I realized that about a week into the game when, in the course of about fifteen minutes, we went through three diapers (and a change of outfit).

One of the other things I’d been told, but didn’t really understand until recently was how much damage a baby can do to your person. I had heard stories about the occupational hazards of kids, but I didn’t really think I was looking at major bodily harm until Zooey became a toddler and got faster and more agile.

This was a mistake. This week I’ve already sported a bloody nose and a pretty sizeable bruise. I’ve also had two fat lips recently from getting headbutted in the mouth. Oh, and I regularly get punched in the throat.

What I’m saying, I guess, is that I think my sweet little baby girl might have a future as a MMA fighter.

6 months

Zooey is now 6 months old. Half a year and what seems like an entire lifetime ago, I woke up on a Saturday morning, immensely pregnant and uncomfortable. I waddled into the bathroom, where I realized my water had broken.

Thirty hours later, after miles of walking, a bunch of pitocin, a sleepless night, a long, hot shower, and just a little screaming, I was finally delivered of a pink little creature with dark hair and gorgeous eyes. She totally changed everything.

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She still is. At six months she can change from day to day. Her father recently remarked that it seemed like she’d grown, literally, overnight. This happens both in physical and mental development. Sometimes it’s like a switch goes in and she just “gets it.”

It’s great to watch, but adding so much new stuff can be hard. I think what makes her so grumpy lately is the fact that she wants more out of herself. She wants to crawl, but can’t figure out the mechanics. She wants to tell me something, but all she knows how to do is shout vowel sounds and wave her hands around. I try to understand what she’s getting at, but usually I just end up getting hit in the face.

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Looking back, it seems we’ve come so far, so fast. She’s gone from a helpless little newborn to a little lady with a full personality. The best part, though, is we’re only getting started.

bedtime

I now present to you a play in one act. I call it Bedtime: or Why Babies Are Jerks.

scene: a suburban bedroom. Night.

me: I brush my teeth, wash face, etc. etc. I lie down & read for a bit, as is my habit.

baby, as seen on video monitor: conked out. doesn’t even move.

me: time for sleep. I turn out my light, settle into bed. so happy.

baby: dead to the world.

me: close my eyes….

baby: omfg! time to freak out.

me: get up, watch baby on monitor for a few seconds. is she really awake? will she settle herself back down?

baby: ha ha, no. come get me, I am losing my shit!

me: damn. ok, I’m up. I grab the monitor to use as a light, cross the room and put my hand on the door.

baby: wait, I’m ok now. totally sleeping again

me: is she really sleeping? or just working up a big scream? I’ll stand here at the door for a couple minutes to make sure.

baby: zzzzzz

me: turn back, keeping an eye on monitor. plug it back in,  lie back down. glance again at monitor. get comfortable, glance again at monitor, close eyes.

baby: totally passed out.

me: open eyes, peek at monitor, close eyes again. sigh peacefully.

baby: 3…2…1…wide awake! I am super angry.

me: also wide awake. ugh. grab monitor, leave bedroom, go to baby’s room. give her pacifier.

baby: that’s all i needed. thanks! zzzz

me: double ugh.

(now playing three to five nights a week at my house, or at a baby’s house near you.)