Friday, May 23, 2008

Attempting to cook (and other disasters)

Today was our fourth day off track from school. The weather outside was very cold and rainy, and I decided that since the fighting was beginning to escalate, we needed an activity to build family unity.
I had this idea that we should make some bread. I had planned on making chili for dinner, and I thought that fresh bread be great with chili.
Now, just to preface this, I have never made bread before.



I remembered buying some yeast and wheat flour not too long ago, and so I got online and googled recipes for wheat bread.
Every recipe I found required honey.
We don't have any honey.
I suppose that I could have (in theory) gone to the store and bought some honey, but that would have required me to actually change into something other than my old comfy sweats and possibly comb my hair and put on some make up. Quite frankly, I just didn't have it in me to do those things.


Did you just call me lazy?

Hey! I'm about to make bread! Isn't that enough for you people?!?!

Anyway, I continue looking for a recipe, and find one that says that it's easy. It didn't require kneading.
I knew this was the one!
I took it into the kitchen, and asked the kids if they would like to make some bread today.

They cheered!

(well, okay, not really, but they did express some interest in the activity.)

CJ got out my mixer, Brielle, got out the brown sugar, and Aaron got out the flour. Isn't it so nice how my kids are always so eager to help?

The recipe called for both white and wheat flour, but alas, when I looked in the cannister of white flour, there was only about 1/2 cup left.
"No problem" I thought "I know there is a brand new bag of flour in the kitchen closet."

I went to the kitchen closet, and became very frustrated. It was a mess. Apparently, when I gave the children things to put away in the closet, instead of hearing me say "Please put this AWAY in the closet, and PLEASE be sure to put it on the shelf." They heard "Toss it in the closet." and later, "Toss it on the pile of stuff on the bottom of the closet." and "Oh, and if something tips over and slides off the pile, don't pick it up, just leave it there on the floor to be crushed beneath the next bag of canned food to be dumped on top of this pile!"
Which is really strange, because I'm pretty sure that I didn't say any of those things.

We had a (another) quick family meeting about the closet, and I might have yelled a bit very calmly expressed my desire that they re-organize the closet.


They quickly got the closet cleaned up, because they are just helpful that way after mom blows a gasket kindly requests their assistance, and we were able to find the new bag of white flour, which had been on the bottom shelf.

I opened the bag, and there were other things inside that were not flour.
Unfortunately, the flour had to go.

Now, I know at this point, somebody, somewhere is dying to tell me "Just sift it, those little critters will come right out, and they won't hurt you anyway."

I'm so sorry people. I. Just. Can't. Do. It.

The bag was brand new too!
The children suddenly made themselves scarce. I'm not sure if they were just tired of helping, or if they were sensing my growing frustration with the whole project. Not that I express my frustration by taking it out on innocent bystanders, because I don't. Really.

I decided that I would just use the wheat flour to make up for the missing white flour.

I got the rest of the ingredients together.

At this time I do need to mention something about yeast.

It scares me.

Mostly because, from what I hear, it is rather temperamental. Has to be mixed with warm water, not too hot or you'll kill it, not too cold, or it won't activate.................can't let it sit too long, or not long enough. Oh come on!
This might have been one of the reasons that I've never made bread before.

I finally get the first 5 ingredients mixed, just like the recipe said, then it got to raise.
In a warm place it said.

The house is kind of chilly, and it is taking forever to raise. Thinking that I was being clever, I turned on the oven to a very low temperature, and when it heated, I turned it off then sat the pans on top of the stove, where it was now warm.
I wait.
And wait.
And wait some more.
The dough has raised slightly.
I wait some more.
I look at the package of yeast to see if it says how long this will take.
I notice that the "best if used by" date is over a year ago.


It finally raised a bit, so I stirred in the other two ingredients, greased my pans, and poured the mixture into the pans.
Just as I was finished filling the pans, I realized that I hadn't put the rest of the flour in.

(insert G-rated cuss word of you choice)

It did look like the dough was a bit thin. But then again how was I to know, because seriously, I'VE NEVER MADE BREAD BEFORE!

Dump the stuff back in the mixing bowl, add the flour, wash, dry and re-grease the pans.

Now the dough is VERY stiff. The recipe said not to knead the dough, so I carefully scooped spoonfuls into the pans. I probably should have formed the bread into nicely shaped loaves, but at this point, I was SO finished with this project.
I then sat my pans filled with lumpy clumps of dough on top of the counter to raise.

The dough almost doubled in size, so I baked it.
I do need to say, that the house smelled divine!

When the timer dinged, I took the pans out of the oven.

Three loaves of the UGLIEST bread anyone has ever seen.
Seriously.............Butt ugly.
I thought about taking pictures, just so I could prove how ugly this bread really was, but I decided not to. I would have been way too embarrassed to post them anyway.
Yes, they really were that ugly!

But it smelled good! Just really scary looking.

As I have said before, the faint sound of the timer dinging will bring my children from anywhere in the house, and they descended upon the ugly loaves.

They loved it! They ate every bit of it! They acknowledged that it was rather funny looking, but went ahead and ate it!
This tells me one of two things;

If you put enough butter on something, it becomes edible.
If you don't feed your children for a while, they will eat anything.

It did taste pretty good, it was just quite heavy. And ugly.

The ironic part of the day was that I ended up having to change out of my comfy sweats and go to the store anyway, because (remember that chili I was making for dinner?)
We were out of meat.
And beans.

While I was there, I bought more flour and yeast, because the kids said that "we" should try it again tomorrow.

"We'll" see.


Hey It's Di said...

WOW! I'm impressed! I can't bring myself to the bread making thing yet. . . ever. You wouldn't have to worry about ugly food with me! I am all about the taste:D

Laura said...

I was killing myself laughing...that happens at our house ALL the time.

We also made bread yesterday - my kids are always so giddy when the buzzer goes! I have a bread maker and LOVE it! With the cost of bread jumping from $3.49 to $5.49 I have decided to make more of it - so, bought a HUGE bag of flour at Costco and will be trying to bake more!

thanks for sharing.

b. said... are too funny!

This was so well written, have you been at my house during bread making attempts?
We could be twins.
Including the not-yelling and gasket blowing!

So funny!

Jo said...

You are funny! And you are a good blogger to allow your humiliation to be laughed at. Don't be afraid, yeast isn't that tempermental. Look at it this way, as long as you get it between not cold and not hot, it grows quite nicely! I wish I could have seen pics. If you make anymore ugly bread, you have to include pics. And P.S. sugar works just fine. white sugar even.

Maraiya said...

Okay, seriously?! You can make all those amazing Christmas goodies but no bread?! Astounding! :) I can make bread but I have totally copped out on Christmas goodies for, oh, the last 14 years (ever since I left home and had to be the little red hen instead of chick #2). I have, however, made bread. I'm quite good at it. Come on over and I will show you how! Oh, or you can just do what I did and discover the local bread outlet where you can buy fabulous loaves of bread for $1 and never bake again. Yeah, I like that solution.

Leah said...

If a person could survive on nothing but bread, I'd be GOLDEN. I'm SUCH a bread person. YUM YUM YUM. I wish you'd taken pictures to post anyway. I mean, if you can write about it, you can show it! And who's to say there aren't others of us out there with cooking disaster stories of our own? LOL You're not alone!

I'm glad that after all the effort, it was edible!

utmomof5 said...

You have such ambition to make bread with your kids!!! I try to do that kind of stuff with my kids and it just causes mmore tension and frustration than before.

The timer in my house will also bring the children home from the neighbors houses -- in fact sometimes they bring the neighbors with them.

Thanks for the great story -- I amnot very good at makingbread either!! :)

Marilyn said...

Ok-seriously LOL here. You need to go spend some $$ and get a Bosch and a grinder and you'll whip up that bread in no time...(LOL again) At least the kids ate it-when they get to be teenagers they don't like anything unless it comes in a paper bag or cardboard box.....

Elizabeth said...

Loved that post. I too have made some very ugly bread...but some of mine weren't even edible. Glad you "had fun with the kids" and you even got the kitchen closet cleaned out!
Blessings, EJT

Holly said...

I wish I could have seen the ugly bread. I make ugly food too. Pretty good, but ugly. I haven't tried bread yet, but I'm sure it wouldn't be as entertaining as yours. :)

Amber said...

Good job with the bread making! I just got a bread maker as a 'belated sorry I didn't get you anything for mother's day' present. We'll be trying it out soon- I hear you can whisper to it at night that you'd like bread in the morning and it magically appears. We'll see.

Jessica G. said...

Jill, I love you! My keyboard, however, does not feel the same, as it is quite tired of having various beverages spewed on it, since I insist on sipping while reading your blog, and then laugh too much. So no love there.

But I've made a few ugly loaves of bread, too. I made a cherry vanilla bread, using freshly picked black cherries. Turned the dough gray. Looked very moldy fresh from the oven.

Bonnie said...

I am laughing too. Mostly because you write so well. I am going to e-mail you my phone number and you can call and I will help with what I can. Let me preface by saying I am not a perfect bread maker but I can get the job done.
Next time you buy flour put it in the freezer for 48 hours and then it won't be full of wevil. It sometimes gets in there in the factory. Freezing it stops it from propigating.
The gasket blowing, things I didn't say but, apparently they heard thing happens here too.

b. said...

I'm getting a bosch.

I heard that it magically makes your bread for perfect loaves.

Jo said...

I could be bribed, with say... a free lunch? to come give you a bread baking lesson!

Jo said...

OR, it isn't as much fun, but you could pop down a couple of hundred bucks for a wonderful breadmaker like ours and have it do it every time!

Roll'in with the Rowley's said...

I have a breadmaker you should have called. I even have the mix!

bridget said...

Hilarious! I just rolled on over to your blog after reading "Navel Gazing."

I second the previous comment about the Zojirushi. Bread, pizza dough, even raisin bread come out great.

Lucy said...

I have had so many times like this trying to make bread. I can't do it. I just can't do the bread thing. Gave up years ago. Oh..I learned this when I moved to Arizona years ago and the weavils were taking over my life. Keep flour in the freezer. They won't touch it.

Jen said...

I just love it when you cross things out. It's nice to know how things really go down, because they are so familiar...

Threeundertwo said...

You are so funny!

Canadian flake said...

holy cow..I sat here waiting for something to happen...I expected there to be mice in the flour or the yeast to blow up on

Thanks for sharing, a great story it was.