Sunday, February 12, 2017

Homemade Bread!!

I made it successfully through the rest of the week after Tuesday's little misunderstanding. In addition to a full breakfast and lunch each day, I took an apple on Wednesday, mixed nuts on Thursday, and left pretty much immediately after a 2 pm meeting on Friday, which obviated the need for a snack. I left "early-ish" on Friday, so I could ride my bike home, clean up and still make it to drinks during Happy Hour with two lovely sailor-ladies from the office. It was wonderful to catch up with them -- seems like we've all been running separate ways for the last few weeks, made only better by being out with people so I could enjoy the Original Daiquiris and happy hour *cheese!*

I also left work at a reasonable hour on Wednesday. I drove that day, so I could go to the Army's Institute of Heraldry at Fort Belvoir. Super cool field trip. The Institute works with our Prospective Commanding Officers (PCOs) of pre-commission ships to design the ship's crest based on the namesake. Since we're pretty much cranking out six Fast Response Cutters (FRCs) and one National Security Cutter (NSC) per year, they're doing a lot of work for us. The Coast Guard's Chief Historian arranged the visit, and I got to tag along. This is the office that makes all the Presidential and Vice Presidential seals. They hand paint them; the workshop was part of the tour. They also designed the Coast Guard Cross, the Medal of Honor Flag, and all the Director of National Intelligence's awards, devices, flag, badges, medallion and seal. Truly rich experience.

But, with the Institute being at Fort Belvoir, I drove. And then was able to drive to JBAB's commissary after work. I stocked up on fruits, veggies, meat and milk. Even got two small tenderloin steaks for under $5 because they had to be sold that day. The check-out lady actually commented on how all my stuff was so fresh. I told her about my little experiment while she was ringing up the jalapenos. She said she'd miss cheese too much, especially if it was in jalapeno poppers. I totally understand that.

With my refrigerator fully restocked, the rest of the week was easy. Tenderloin steak and veggie hash for dinner, with leftovers for lunch. And finished up the last of the mac & cheese from last weekend. Still made some forays into using up some supplies that have been lingering in my cabinets for far too long. Tuna salad for dinner one night when I was just too tired for anything else. I need to come up for a plan for when I run out of crackers...

I tackled bread this weekend too. My last attempt failed miserably when I set the dough to proof on top of the gas fireplace in the living room. I went back a couple hours later to check on it, only to find a series of kitty footprints plunked across it. Lucy likes to sit on the stove because it's nice and warm...guess she didn't count on a slug of bread dough to have usurped her spot. Needless to say, the punching down of the dough at that inopportune moment did not help it rise. I ended up with a hard brick of wheat flour that the neighborhood squirrels feasted on for a few days.

Nevertheless, I persisted. And tried again. This time, I left the dough to proof in the oven with the light on while I went to roller derby boot camp (tryouts are in **two weeks!!**), came home and stuck it in the oven. And it turned out pretty damn good. Not stupendously wonderful -- the crust is hard but not crusty -- but definitely better than any other bread I've made before. So I'm calling it success. I used about half whole white wheat and half high-gluten flour, maybe a little heavier on the whole wheat. And I didn't completely trash the kitchen...so maybe a bigger success than I first thought.

My roommate asked me what I hoped to get out of this little project. Damn good question. I hemmed and hawed for a minute or two before I came up with the following answer: Simplify, use what I have and what I can do, eat healthy and save some money (though those last two are more secondary, downstream effects). But definitely simplify. And after I thought about it some more, there may be some giving myself permission to enjoy being at home, revel in my space, rather than feeling like I should be out socializing and playing extrovert. And if I learn to make bread or even queso fresco...so much the better!

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