Friday, October 23, 2009

Baking Bread, Means Dad is Home

view from the place I stayed for the Netroots Convention

Apropos of Nuthin

I'll start off with some quick impressions of the NetRoots...

  • I would rather spend three days on a train than three hours in another fucking airport.
  • Sarah Robinson is charming, smart, and damned cute.
  • Ian Welsh is a witty, whip smart, engaging man.
  • Sir Charles, Litbrit, and Stephen Suh from Cogitamus are great people to share a wonderful view with.
  • I kept walking into rooms full of people, all of them focused intently on their laptops.
  • Next year's convention is in Vegas, that's MY fucking town yo.
Now, on to bread baking. I have been able to spend the last few days with my new doctor daughter, my son, my daughter's two fellow interns, and a whole host of family and Arizona friends who took the time to drop in on us.

When I became a single parent things didn't start out all that smoothly. I had three young, scared kids. All they really knew for sure was that through no fault of their own the adults had turned their lives upside down. For all that they were concerned, I was this dude who showed up every three or four months to yell at their Mom for a couple of weeks before taking off again.

When I took (or had it forced upon me by the court) custody, I made some very drastic changes in my life. First off, I was clean and sober for the first time since second grade. I decided that I would concentrate on providing some kind of reasonable facsimile of a home and family life for the kids. I quit touring altogether. Instead I scuffled and scrambled for studio and jingle gigs. At first money was very, very tight. As I began to understand the game better, things got better. Instead of schlepping from studio to studio I began to record my stuff right there at home.

I tried to keep things like fresh homemade breads available. One of the things I remember best, and loved the most was when I would gather my kids from the school bus stop and see the looks on their faces when they would come into the house and smell fresh bread, or pie, or cookies, or what ever stuff I had made for them. My new doctor says that those smells are what convinced her that things had really changed for them. That I meant what I said when I told them that I was going to stay home, maybe even learn how to be a parent or some square shit like that.

It's been a real joy to watch Dr. Ga'age Biitsahkesh walk into the house, smell the fresh bread, and get that same satisfied, joyful look on her face.

This is my favorite white bread recipe. I think I found it in one of Julia Child's books, but can't really remember. It makes great sandwiches, killer french toast, and is one of the best all around breads I make.


7 cups bread or all purpose flour
2 1/2 cups warm water
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2 tablespoons yeast
1/2 cup softened unsalted butter

Dissolve the yeast and sugar in the warm water. Place in the bowl of a stand mixer with a dough hook and let stand for ten minutes, or until creamy.

Mix, on lowest setting, 3 cups of the flour and the salt until smooth. Add in the remaining 4 cups of flour and mix until dough is smooth and elastic.

Add in the softened butter. At first in the mixing stage the dough ball might fragment and fall apart. Keep mixing and it will come together beautifully.

Turn out onto a floured hard surface and knead the living shit out of it for at least ten minutes. If your arms fall off after five minutes, duct tape or staple them back on and get back at it. It's the kneading that distributes the gluten and determines whether or not your bread as a nice even consistency.

Place kneaded dough in a large bowl that has been liberally buttered. Turn the dough ball so that it is completely coated with the butter. Cover with a cloth and put in a warm place (not less than 90° and not more than 100°) for an hour, or until doubled in size.

Punch down the risen dough, shape into two loaves. Place the shaped dough into two buttered loaf pans and let it rise, covered, for another forty five minutes.

Bake at 375° for thirty five minutes. Cool on a rack until you can handle the bread without raising blisters. Rub the outside of the loaves with more softened butter and allow to cool on the racks completely.

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The vacuum sealer thingie fucks your fresh bread all up. I thought it would be a great idea to put some bread up for the kids to enjoy when I'm gone...oops.

As a parting thought, I've been listening to the folks on TV and in Washington talk on and on about health care. Except they aren't talking about getting folks into doctors and hospitals, they're talking about insurance.

We asked for health care, they're talking about insurance.

I don't think they understood what we said.