Thursday, December 20, 2007

I rise; therefore I am.

The baking/cooking mojo is coming back. Finally. I thought that I would do a lot of fooding when I retired. Not. 10 months after I retired, I'm finally starting to cook again. I think I got inspired during my Minneapolis visit. Maybe it was helping out DD make supper that kicked my butt into gear. Whatever it was, I've made nice suppers every day since I came home.

Before you get excited and say: "Whoa, this woman is making gourmet meals every night", relax. I've made allowances for leftovers. I'm not totally nuts.

So Sunday I made this delicious chicken with avocado dish. Monday it was pasta e fagioli. Tuesday we had the leftovers. And yesterday, I made this amazing meatloaf dish in the crockpot. I'm not from the canned mushroom school of cooking; I like from-scratch food. So this meatloaf recipe has no weird stuff in it except for ketchup, and that's sort of normal food.

Here's the recipe in a nutshell: 3 russet potatoes, peeled and cut up into 1" pieces and then mixed with some olive oil on the bottom of the pot. Make a nice meatloaf mixture and pat it on top of the potatoes. Top the meatloaf with whatever you like. Put lid on, turn on to high, and let cook for about an hour. Then turn heat to low, and cook forever. Wander into the kitchen now and then to smell the deliciousness of this dish. Serve and sigh contentedly. I got the recipe from Beth Hensperger's Not your mother's slow cooker recipes. (No caps on the title because librarians capitalize first word only.) Moist, almost like a meaty bread pudding. And I hate meatloaf. Not any more.

So, what's with this rising thing? I love to bake bread. I started out doing all my kneading from scratch. This was about 30 years ago. (Hey, I'm an old broad.). So then I bought a Kitchen Aid, the big one, and kneaded in that. Then I got a Cuisinart and used that for kneading. Notice the progression here: kneading is very hard on my hands. Then, about 6-7 years ago, after I said that a bread machine was the last thing I ever wanted, Hubbo convinced me to try one. OK, I baked a couple of loaves in it. Eh. Where's the gorgeous crust? the shaping? the patting the thing? the slashing the loaf with my lame? No fun at all. But, does that machine knead. Much better than I ever could do. So now I use it to knead and do my first rise. Then I get onto the meat of the matter: I shape, roll out and fill if I want, rise, slash, spray with water if I want, bake in oven. Go wild over the smell. You get the picture.

I used to bake a couple of loaves every week while I was working. So I retired and have baked bread exactly 5 times since. But the mojo is coming back. Tomorrow I'm going to make up a starter, and off I go into baking heaven. I've been using a biga to add flavor, but Daniel Leader has a new book out, and in it he has a small starter that I want to try. Takes about 10 days to get it going. Levain, biga, sourdough starters all those variations on a theme, add terrific flavor and oomph to the bread. So a nice long rise to aid in that flavor, and I'm baking again.

Now if I can get that gym thing going again... Well, one thing at a time.

Roundabout Socks seems to be a hit. Lots of people messaged me in Ravelry, and on my email. It makes me want to post another pattern. Not yet, though, I started one, and I don't like it. So I'm busily playing with ideas. Eventually I'll post another one.

I'm writing this at 4:18 in the morning. But I can sleep late if I want. Be jealous all you young working chippies. Ah the joys of retirement.


MamaMay said...

Oh I love fresh made bread. So nice and yummy. I make bread (fully machine) every day or so. I need to try that crock pot recipe! It is so hard to find recipes that don't call for caned soup.

Ruth said...

It really is an awesome recipe, and brainless to do. and none of that canned soup!

MamaMay said...

I will most likely make it post birth (4.5 or so months along right now) I have a feeling that I will be swamped with that and need a few hundred crock pot meals that can be stored well.

Anonymous said...

Question about your meatloaf recipe. Are the potatoes greasy from the draining greasy of the meatloaf?

Your sock yarns are beautiful.


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