Saturday, September 23, 2006


Recipe #2

Today is my Mom's birthday. Last year, she taught me to bake bread, and it changed the way I think about teaching, academic writing and trial work. In short, the best way to ruin bread is to rush it-- there are times during the baking process that you have to wait for the yeast to rise. I've found that this is the perfect analogy for the need to not write by just putting pen to paper-- it is crucial to let the ideas form and rise on their own through periods of contemplation as you create your thoughts. If you rush it, the ideas do not rise to where they ought to be. I've heard ministers (such as my co-teacher Hulitt Gloer) refer to this period of thinking about things before writing as the "brooding" period, and I think that is just the right term.

If you walk by my office and I am lying on the couch, very often that is what I am doing.

How to Bake Bread, The Mrs. Osler Way!

Needed: 2 bread pans
Wire racks
Mixing bowls
Flour sifter


Step one: Mix ingredients
--Measure half-cup WARM (not hot) water into mixing bowl
--Stir in 2 packs of dry yeast (package = 2.25 teaspoons)
--Then, add 1.75 cups of warm water
--Mix in 3 tablespoons sugar
--Mix in 1 tablespoon salt and 2 tablespoons melted butter
--Mix in 4 cups of SIFTED flour
-- beat with a spoon until it falls off in sheets
--Mix in 3 more cups of sifted flour until the dough cleans the bowl
--Dump it out and let it rest for ten minutes.

Step Two: Kneading
--Knead the dough by shoving with heel of hands, fold in, turn one quarter, repeat for ten minutes
-- Round up in greased bowl, then flip over, cover with cloth
-- Then, let it rise in a warm place for about one hour (ready when two fingers pressed in leave an indentation)

Step Three: Punching it
--Punch in the middle down to the bottom
--Flip it over.
--Cover it, and let it rise for another half hour.

Step Four: Dividing the loaves
--Divide into two loaves. Round up into cylindrical shape.
--Cover for ten minutes.

Step Five: Shaping
--Flatten into an oblong shape with knuckles.
--Fold in half lengthwise.
--Flatten out again.
--Fold into thirds (by long axis), pressing out air each time with heels of hands.
--Then, fold into third the other way, sealing with hands.
--Roll back and forth over seam. Seal the ends with edge of hand.
--Place in greased baking pans.
--Cover, let stand 45 minutes…

Step Six: Baking
--Grease the tops of the loaves (lightly).
--Bake at 425 for 25-30 minutes.
--Cool on wire racks.

I think the best way for us to learn about this "brooding method" would probably be for you to bring us in a lot of this homemade bread in PR. You would get a lot of time to contemplate if you made bread for all 90 of us, and we would be happy to do you the favor of eating it so that we could learn - would that fit into engagement? But don't forget the butter. Butter is very important in client engagement - why don't we have a case on that?
Butter. And cinnamon. Yum.
Our moms have the same birthday...might we actually be long lost siblings?! If so, how come my mom never baked me bread? I'm going to need to talk to her about that.
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