You’ve got to know where your towel is.
Towels are important, in life.
“A towel, it says, is about the most massively useful thing an interstellar hitchhiker can have. Partly it has great practical value – you can wrap it around you for warmth as you bound across the cold moons of Jaglan Beta; you can lie on it on the brilliant marble-sanded beaches of Santraginus V, inhaling the heady sea vapours; you can sleep under it beneath the stars which shine so redly on the desert world of Kakrafoon; use it to sail a mini raft down the slow heavy river Moth; wet it for use in hand-to- hand-combat; wrap it round your head to ward off noxious fumes or to avoid the gaze of the Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal (a mindboggingly stupid animal, it assumes that if you can’t see it, it can’t see you – daft as a bush, but very ravenous); you can wave your towel in emergencies as a distress signal, and of course dry yourself off with it if it still seems to be clean enough.
More importantly, a towel has immense psychological value. For some reason, if a strag (strag: non-hitch hiker) discovers that a hitch hiker has his towel with him, he will automatically assume that he is also in possession of a toothbrush, face flannel, soap, tin of biscuits, flask, compass, map, ball of string, gnat spray, wet weather gear, space suit etc., etc. Furthermore, the strag will then happily lend the hitch hiker any of these or a dozen other items that the hitch hiker might accidentally have “lost”. What the strag will think is that any man who can hitch the length and breadth of the galaxy, rough it, slum it, struggle against terrible odds, win through, and still knows where his towel is is clearly a man to be reckoned with.”
The most ridiculous thing happened to me last week, which is why I now need a towel around my neck at all times. My alarm went off at 6.30 am (yes, it’s a ridiculous hour of the morning. I’m experimenting with running. It was going well, until) I went to turn it off and somehow injured my neck. Read the rest of this entry »
Last night*, we watched Midnight in Paris, ate cheese and baguettes and sipped on alcoholic beverages. Last night, a vision of a fromagerie was born, where artisan cheeses would be served to customers who love food as much as we do. Last night, a storm was born and raged for a short while. Read the rest of this entry »
On Sunday, I went to the farmer’s market, baked bread, planted seeds to start a veggie garden and made chocolate yogurt muffins. It was a pretty productive day all around, except for the fact that I did not work on the essay that is due this Friday that I specifically stayed home to do. Ah well.
So this post will be pretty photo heavy. But they’re pretty! Look:
I didn’t write this yesterday because I was having a bit of a hard time finding words. My brain’s been a bit muddled up recently; I’ve been busy and stressed and I just can’t wait till uni’s over and I have a break.
In the meantime, I take time out from not studying to go to farmer’s markets and gobble up the amazing produce and products they have on offer. I start a garden. I run. I read. And I spend more time than I should on the internet.
I also have been spending time with some amazing friends recently and it’s been so good to catch up with people and really feel supported and loved. Sometimes, although I live in a house with a lot of people, it gets lonely and I start to descend into a bit of a funk.
Sometimes it’s worse than others, sometimes it lasts longer than others, sometimes I don’t admit it to myself and sometimes I do. Sometimes I’m a little bummed out for no reason, other times I’m a lot bummed out for no particular reason.
Sometimes there is a reason. It doesn’t really matter; what matters is that I push through, that there is light at the end of the road, that there is chocolate cake and homemade bread and good friends to laugh and hang out with.
And so, to bread!
As I’ve mentioned before, bread is an amazing food to make yourself. It really brings you to the essence of food – this most basic of sustenances is such a miracle to behold. I’m serious.
This bread I adapted from Jamie Oliver’s The Naked Chef and while it’s not bad, I probably preferred the peasant loaf I made a little while ago. Still, I’m not really one of those people who will stick to one amazing recipe – I have to try them all!
This is better, I think, than bread you make in a bread machine. For starters, you get to get your hands dirty. Secondly, the texture is much nicer .
I had this with roasted tomato jam from jam lady jam and sharp cheddar cheese. It was divine. If you are in Healsville or about the area, you have to find jam lady jam or handmade in Healsville products. They are amazing.
This has been a kinda jumpy-aroundy post again and I do apologise for my erratic thought patterns and complete randomness. I hope to be much more organised in the future (namely, when uni has finished) although I’m not promising anything.
Adapted from Jamie Oliver’s The Naked Chef
325ml tepid water
10g active dry yeast
250g bread flour
250g plain flour
Whisk together sugar, yeast and water. Set aside.
Whisk together salt and flours in a large bowl. Make a well in the middle and pour in wet ingredients. Stir together using a wooden spoon or your hands. When incorporated, flour your bench and dump dough on it. Knead for 5-10 minutes, then form into a ball.
Lightly brush oil all over your large bowl and place your ball of dough in and lightly brush oil over it so it’s covered. Cover the bowl with glad wrap or a damp tea towel and leave in a warm spot to rise for about an hour to an hour and a half.
Gently deflate and knead another minute or so. Shape into the type of loaf you want and sprinkle polenta over your baking tray (or the bottom of your loaf tin) and place dough on the tray. Let rise till doubled, about another hour. You can preheat your oven now to about 225 degrees celsius.
When dough has risen, slash a few cuts in the top with a sharp knife and place in oven for about half an hour. To check if it’s ready, when it’s deep golden brown, tap the bottom of the loaf and if it sounds hollow, it’s ready. Let cool for about twenty minutes before
ripping into it with your bare hands like a heathen slicing into it and scarfing it down.
I know! Three posts in three days! What is going on?!?! Don’t get used to it, I still have two essays to finish. Ok, one to finish, one to write. This is not going to be a regular thing.
Until after I hand my essays in and do my speeches.
Ok, so after I finished writing the homemade nutella post, I went into the already-dark kitchen (it’s only nine fifteen, people! I’m used to going to bed before you guys!) and did a little after dark baking.
Yes, it is a bit of a habit of mine to bake/cook late at night. I get restless, I get procrastination-y, I get the munchies. You understand.
I wanted to bake crusty bread to serve with dinner – I’m not sure if I’ve mentioned but at my house, we take it in turns to make dinner for everyone who happens to be home for dinner that night during the week. Every few weeks we have a night off because there’s six of us and only five weeknights (I can do maths!) and this week, I made white bean and spinach stew. (It was delicious, by the way. Yes, I will be posting. No, I’m not sure when.)
So I had to start tonight because I have uni tomorrow so I don’t have time to let the bread rise during the day, I have to let it rise in the refrigerator overnight (by the way, refrigerator, WHERE IS YOUR D?) Oh, hey, check out this awesome thigamabob:
I’m aware it’s a bowl with a lid. Guys, it’s a BOWLwith a LID. No need to get glad wrap out every time you want to let dough rise! Just pop the lid on! Magic.
It’s pretty easy to make crusty peasant style bread. Stir the flour, water, salt, yeast together. Let it rise. Bake it. Eat it. Easy.
After I put it in the fridge, because I am becoming increasingly unable to leave a dirty kitchen… I was going to say overnight but really, at all – I cleaned the kitchen and then put the dishwasher on (three cheers for dishwashers!) and then came and wrote this.
This actually reminds me of when I went to Surrender. I’m pretty sure I mentioned it… oh, yeah, that was a hectic few weeks back there. Surrender was amazing. While I was there, I did a bread workshop.
Now, it may seem a little weird to have a bread workshop at a Christian social justice gathering, but this was all about getting more in touch with God, with the earth, the things you eat, what sustains you. What brings us together. We come together to break bread, drink wine, share stories, give and receive love. Bread is powerful. Bread has been around almost since people have been around. Bread is so life-giving. Bread’s pretty dang awesome.
Get your hands dirty. Make some bread.
Adapted from girl versus dough
I quartered the recipe and I’ll give you the measurements I used next to the measurements you’ll need for the full four loaves. They’ll be pretty small if you want to do it that way but one was enough for seven people to have one slice, so it was perfect for our dinner.
3 cups (3/4 cup) lukewarm water (about body temperature)
1 1/2 tbsp (3/8 tsp… that was why it didn’t rise so much.. should be 3/8 TBSP…ah well) active dry yeast
1 1/2 (3/8) tbsp coarse salt
6 1/2 cups (1 4/5 cups) bread flour
Put all the ingredients in a bowl and mix together with a wooden spoon until it’s all coming together. Dust flour over the top and lightly knead until you have a slightly sticky ball of dough. Grease a bowl (the same one you mixed it in if you want to save on dishes) dump the dough in, cover with glad wrap and let rise two hours (or overnight in the fridge).
If you made the full amount, split it into four separate balls. Dust each with flour again, and turn the dough around in your hands, tucking it under as you go, until it’s a smooth and elastic ball. Sprinkle polenta over a baking sheet and place the dough (evenly spread if you’re making more than one) on top, and let sit for about 40 minutes.
At about the 20 minute mark, preheat your oven to 230ºCelsius. Slash a sharp knife through the top of your loaves a few times, and place your baking tray on a top rack (when it’s done sitting:) and put a deep dish half full of hot water underneath it. Bake about half an hour.
When it’s done, it’ll be a lovely deep brown colour. Take it out of the oven and let it cool before slicing and serving. I didn’t let mine cool very much. I like hot-out-of-the-oven bread. Dip some in your homemade nutella.
One of the things that was really difficult for me this week was that in living below the line, I was doing probably as much harm as good. Sure, I’m raising money for ant-poverty initiatives, for education to help people get out of the cycle of poverty, something better than just throwing money at the problem and thinking that’s my bit done. This is a way to help change my outlook on life so that I think about my actions and how in every way I can do better, in every way I can act righteously (more on that later). It’s made me think and it’s made others think. I’ve had some really interesting discussions regarding whether people can buy me food (no) does this mean it’s ok for me to steal (no) does free food, such as from food vans, count (yes) can I use the veggies from my garden (unsure, but we’ll say no just in case) and it all basically revolves around the fact that I’m not just doing this because I have to, it’s a choice to raise awareness for myself and others.
These are all good things that happen because of this initiative. But to live on less than two dollars a day in Australia, I’m supporting organisations I don’t like or want to support. I’m buying unethical produce.
See, to afford enough food to feed myself for this week, I had to buy no-name brands. Flour, butter, pasta. Sure, I got my fresh food from the fruit and veggie market, but only because it was on special – in the discounted section. I was lucky in that way. But what home brands do, the brands like coles smart buy or Woolworths home brand or Black & Gold, they lower their prices, get monopoly over the market, then when it’s all theirs, they’ll jack up their prices so they get more and more money, while conning the producer out of what’s theirs.
And that’s just a part of it. So while I love what Live Below the Line are doing in terms of awareness and projects, it kinda sucks in this sense.
I don’t know what the answer is. We do what we can, and we let God take care of the rest. Although I have to say, what we can do is much more than we give ourselves credit for. We make so many excuses but we could be doing so much more for those less fortunate than ourselves.
I mentioned in my earlier post today about the fact that I have lots of food and everyone, while it’s lovely that they’re taking notice and caring about whether or not I’ll faint, doesn’t really get it. I feel like I’m cheating a little, because I really do have enough food. That said, it’s less than what I’m used to and I have to ask myself, how much of the time do I eat just because I feel like it and how much because I’m actually hungry? I’m not saying that eating is bad – I love food, and I love eating. I often eat too much just because it all tastes so good. But we complain (and by we I mean me) about the lack of this or the fact that we have to have our second-favourite flavour milkshake or whatever, and we’re just covering up the fact that we’re spoilt, western brats.
But we do what we can. And we’re all working on our personal issues and hang-ups. No one is perfect; we just strive to follow Jesus as closely as we can.
Adapted from Julie Goodwin’s LBL recipe
300g plain flour
Sift the flour in a bowl and make a well in the middle. Melt 20g of the butter and place in the well, and add water (not too much). Stir, adding more water if needed, until it’s shaggy and mostly stuck in clumps. Knead until it forms a smooth ball.
Melt the rest of the butter in a frying pan over medium heat. Take a small piece of dough and stretch it out (you can roll in if you want it to end up a little prettier) until it’s fairly thin, and fry in the butter. Repeat with the rest of the dough (you can fry several flatbreads at a time).
Dip in your soup and imagine a better world. It can happen!
These are actually titled ‘Dulce de Leche Brioche Rolls’ but as it’s kind of a mouthful and also, no one I know knows what dulche de leche is or even brioche… I know, it’s tragic. I’m moving towards an education, however, which started with these.
Which are amazing.
Dulce de leche, for those of you who are fifty seven words into this post and still don’t know and are wondering why someone’s been holding out on you your whole life, is caramelised milk which comes traditionally from Argentina. There is a recipe for homemade dulce de leche here. I went the lazy route. Brioche is a sweet French breakfast bread; you can halve the dough for the rolls and make a loaf of it if you want.
Dulce de Leche Brioche Rolls
1/3 cup warm water (105°F to 115°F)
1/3 cup warm milk (105°F to 115°F)
2 envelopes instant yeast
3 3/4 cups plain flour
3 large eggs
1/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 cups (375 grams) salted butter (I use salted and I don’t add salt. Feel free to do what you please here), cut into 12 pieces, room temperature
1 egg, beaten to blend with 1 tablespoon water (for glaze)
Place 1/3 cup warm water, warm milk, and yeast in bowl of standing heavy-duty mixer; stir until yeast dissolves. Fit mixer with dough hook. Add flour and salt to bowl; mix on low speed just until flour is moistened, about 10 seconds. Scrape sides and bottom of bowl.
Beat in 3 eggs on low speed, then add sugar. Increase speed to medium and beat until dough comes together, about 3 minutes. Reduce speed to low. Add butter, 1 piece at a time, beating until each piece is almost incorporated before adding next (dough will be soft and batter-like). Increase speed to medium-high and beat until dough pulls away from sides of bowl, about 7 minutes.
Cover bowl with plastic wrap. Let dough rise at room temperature until almost doubled in volume, about 1 hour. Lift up dough around edges and allow dough to fall and deflate in bowl.
Cover bowl with plastic and chill until dough stops rising, lifting up dough around edges and allowing dough to fall and deflate in bowl every 30 minutes, about 2 hours total. Cover bowl with plastic and refrigerate an hour.
Take the dough out of the fridge and divide in half. Roll out the dough to a 14×9 inch rectangle. Spread 1/3 cup softened cream cheese, leaving a 1 inch border. Spread the Dulce de Leche on top, it is messy, it will spread but hey! it’s good. Roll into a log and cut into 12 pieces. Place them in a buttered 9 inch round pan, cover and refrigerate until the next morning. The dough will rise slowly overnight.
In the morning, bake at 350 for 20-25 minutes.
Repeat with the other half or make a brioche loaf.
The lazy method of making dulce de leche: Take a can of condensed milk and place in a large saucepan. Cover with water and 3-4 hours. If you put it in at about the same time you start making the rolls, it’ll be about done by the time you have to use it, and it’s the exact amount you need for the amount of dough you have here. I suspect that the homemade version is better; but that’s a story for another post.