Seriously, I have no motivation at all. I'm trying to do an edit on the Scrooge book which has been re-titled, but my decision not to enter it into the Amazon Breakthrough Novel contest (It wasn't really feeling finished, and there was a good chance that it didn't fit the requirements anyway.) has slowed me down a lot. Still, I like where it's going now, so that's the most important thing.
I made chocolate bread over the weekend from a recipe by David Lebovitz. Now I think he's absolutely tops when it comes to baking, but I wasn't impressed with the result of this endeavor. The bread took forever to rise, and even then it didn't get very high. The result was a surprisingly light loaf which had a texture that was something between bread and an over-cooked cake or brownie. And it was much too sweet with hunks of chocolate floating in it. The latter isn't entirely Lebovitz's fault; he did say not to use chocolate chips, but they're what I had, so they got used.
My baking guru, Jeannelle, told me not to put the chocolate in until after the second rise because the sugar robs yeast of its will to live. If I absolutely had to add it to the dough while kneading, she suggested starting with a poolish, which is something I'd wanted to try anyway, and since my original inspiration was Zingerman's chocolate-cherry bread, which appears to be sourdough-based, it makes sense to consider something like a poolish in this context.
The housemate and I made a chocolate cake from one of the mixes I had in the pantry. We added chocolate nibs, chocolate extract and candied orange peel, and the result was a wonderful cake with a lot of flavor. Mixes have their uses. I may actually pull out the wheat bread mix I have in the pantry and whip it up this afternoon. Or not. I'm really quite happy just sitting here at the desk and my heart tells me I'd be even happier stretched out on the couch watching a movie.
We went shopping on Saturday in spite of the snow since we'd planned to take her sister up to The Spice House in Evanston and then go to lunch at Smak-Tak, a little Polish place near our house. It was too crappy out to even consider anywhere with street parking, so her sister bowed out, and we took the rental car on down to Mariano's on Western and Roscoe, a lovely supermarket which is the brain-child of Bob Mariano, ICEO of Wisconsin-based Roundy's and former CEO of Dominick's a Chicago-based, (formerly) family-owned supermarket chain that was bought out by Safeway and utterly ruined. (Chicagoans are pretty unforgiving about stuff like that. Count me as one who will never set foot in Macy's after they changed the name of Marshall Field's on State Street.) For those of you old enough to recall Dominick's before the Safeway debacle, it was Bob Mariano who was responsible for the Fresh Store concept which Safeway shut it down.
It was rough holding to my pledge not to buy anything but fresh things that I'd use up quickly, and in fact I ended up buying a couple of non-fresh items: V8, lemon juice (I use a lot of it.) and tuna. But nothing frozen, nothing prepared -- not even from their excellent deli -- except a rotisserie chicken which I needed to make stock, and which we're both eating. I was proud of myself. I still spent $85, but that included a bottle of wine because, dude, wine... However what I got will help me get through another couple of weeks without ordering anything but maybe some milk and butter.
I got some bread flour while we were out, and the loaf of millet bread I made with it was spectacularly good. I used the King Arthur Flour basic white sandwich loaf recipe and just added about half a cup of millet during the knead. The loaf had loft, beautiful crumb and crust, and a fantastic flavor. The millet gave it just a bit of crunch and a little bit of a toasty flavor. It was easily the best loaf yet.
So here's what's on the agenda for this week, if not today:
- I have decided to clean out my cabinets and move everything to the open shelves near the door. It will give me a clear view of what I have, and force me to make informed decisions about what I need rather than wild guesses. It'll also be a better use of the space I have.
- I'm going to try making homemade Greek yogurt.
- I'm going to make cheddar-mac salad
- More cucumbers in sour cream because they are good noms.
- More bread.
- Clean out the fridge.
- Change over the shelves, wash all the dishes on them, and put them away in the cabinets which have been similarly cleared and wiped down.