Sunday, November 14, 2010

Our Daily Bread

Is baked every Sunday by yours truly. We registered for a beautiful metal "bread couche," if you will, from Williams Sonoma and got it with a gift card shortly after we got back from Spain. Everything was changing at that point so my ambition of homemade bread was put off for a few weeks, but I am proud to say that it is week two of fresh and delicious bread not from the store!

Last week, I started simple with the crusty french bread recipe that came with the pan and it was successful! It tasted just like the french bread from a bakery and so I was pleased, regardless of it's slightly odd appearance... The proofing process was a time of growth and learning for me: there is no "warm area" in our apartment. It is all cold-a fact that we like most of the time, but does not make for conducive bread rising conditions. I found that if you run the microwave empty for about 30 seconds, it makes a great "hot box" for a couple of hours, but by this point, the bread had already suffered slightly. It didn't help that I was distracted by pizza dough making and marinara cooking, but it all turned out great in the end!

This week, I started a dinner of baked potato soup to cooking in the crock pot and then took to the interwebs to find a new bread recipe. Tripp and I saw something about pretzels earlier on tv and since I rejected his suggestion to bake both the weeks bread AND pretzels tonight, I settled on pretzel bread. Easy enough- the normal bread process, except you add a baking soda bath after the last proof and baking. I don't mind the extra step, mostly because I enjoy entertainment of the fizzing and bubbling when you add the baking soda to the boiling water :)
They turned out beautifully, if I do say so myself. They look like the Snyder's Brand Pretzel Nuggets. Really, really big pretzel nuggets.

Once cooled, one loaf is bagged and stored in the bread box and the other is bagged and frozen to help preserve it. My original intent was to bake off two loaves to last us two weeks, but during both trials, I've ended up with fairly small loaves. Either I'll be content with that (it's not like I don't have time on Sundays) or if life gets crazier, I might double the recipes, make larger loaves, and only bake every other week? We'll have to play it by ear, but I'm liking the bread every week for now. It's cathartic and peaceful. Helps me wind down before starting another week of work.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Big Changes, Big Joy

Since the wedding, just over a month ago (which was the most perfect and wonderful day of my life), I have read three whole books and am working on the fourth. I have to note that the three books were all read from start to finish on our honeymoon in Spain!

These are the books I've read as a married lady:
Emotional Survival for Law Enforcement by Kevin M Gilmartin Ph.D.
- Dr. Gilmartin is not a writer by any means and frankly, his editor needs to be replaced for the number of times I noted spelling (yeah, laugh Michelle) and grammar mistakes. Other than that, it was a very insightful read. Dr. Gilmartin's Ph.D. is in clinical psychology but once he acquired that degree, he became a career deputy sheriff. He writes with much humor and much of the book is redundant, but I think perhaps if a law enforcement individual who was already doing poorly at emotional survival for the job, maybe that would be exactly what is needed to drive the point home. I was nice for me to read and understand what Tripp will, and to a certain extent already does, experience and feel on the job. Honestly, though, I think that the book applies to most everyone, law enforcement or not, in saying that everyday you have choices and in order to stay healthy, you have to make the decision to be actively involved in your life. You don't come home and veg after work when you should come home and interact with your family. You make your physical health a priority along with your mental health and you work at it rather than expecting it to take care of itself. Would I recommend it to just anyone? Not necessarily, but it is a decent read and especially important information for law enforcement to know in order to avoid the traps that lie in their lives.

The Invisible Wall by Harry Bernstein
-This book changed my life. I have always had a strange passion for reading books from the eras surrounding and including the World Wars. To read about the drastic changes and how quickly it all came about. I'll read fiction, non fiction, biographical... So long as it details how American men took up arms and fought, how American women left the home and joined the work force to support the troops and feed their families, how any part of Europe was completely transformed, how dreadful the concentration camps were and the experiences people had there. I feel like it is such an important period of time and reading about it makes me feel a part of it, makes me feel like I have a direct tie to the tragedies and the triumphs. It makes it personal-- I have to care and I have to remember. But this book, more than any other completely changed my perspective. Much of the other reading has been so dark and awful; the characters are completely tragic through and through. Mr. Bernstein wrote about the terrible things he saw and experienced as a Jewish boy in England during the early 1900's but there was a strange lightness to it, an innocence. Thing around him were miserable, but still he found joy. Even as an adult, he never let those experiences own who he is-- they will always be with him, but never will they take over him. Incredible.

The Deaf Sentence by David Lodge
-It was a funny book, but not my favorite type of read. I know that all good stories have some sort of scandal, however there's some types of scandal I don't really care to read about... Nevertheless, this book was amusing and resolved well; I laughed so many times at it's ridiculousness and even more at all of the blunders the main character makes in coping with his hearing loss (humorous mostly because of personal family experiences, partially because of the style of writing). Funny, interesting, good for a once through while lying on a fabulous beach in the Canary Islands.

My current book:
The Almost Moon by Alice Sebold
-This book is weird. And before anyone says anything, know that I have read and enjoyed reading Lucky and the Lovely Bones also by Alice Sebold. I know that she has a dark and jaded past, I know that it comes through heavily in her writing, but The Almost Moon- weird. It's just a bit too much for me at times. It contains the same core elements at the others (death, sex, awkwardness) but this one is way heavier than any of the other ones. I mean I was expecting and looking forward to a good Sebold book with all of its cold and creepiness. I've read one about every other fall for the past five years- they're perfect for being cuddled under the weight of a blanket or heavy coat, and even better if you can fit a scarf into the equation. But this one is weird. I'm going to keep on trying, hoping for some resolution, but I might just have to go back to the Lovely Bones instead... This one is really intense...

Out of the books and into the real world: life is great!
I love my husband; Grady is the most wonderful man and I am blessed for a husband as wonderful as him.
I love that I have a new job to start tomorrow morning (Wednesday, November 3)! I'll be working at Aprima doing data entry. Seated, non customer relations, part time- all of my needs met! God is soo good!