Sunday, September 03, 2006

Hide the stash!!!

OK, well, at least some of it.

My mother-in-law is headed here this afternoon, staying until tomorrow afternoon. She wants me to help her get started on knitting. She has needles, but no yarn, which means we'll need to raid my stash.

Now, as I think I've mentioned, I'm making socks for several family members for Christmas (hence all the crazy sock knitting). No one in the family knows I have even figured out how to knit socks, and I want to keep it that way until Christmas. So, I need to hide all the sock yarn, all the knitted socks (all 2 1/2 of them), and all the sock patterns. The yarn is all in bags, ready to go in my closet, unfortunately there are socks, socks in progress, and patterns all over the house. I can only hope I get them all in the next few hours.

Meanwhile, I may start a new project (for me!) today, just for fun.

Since we have a lot going on today, I'm making Shepherd's Bread for this week. This is an old family recipe. It's one of my favorites, because it only needs to rise once, it goes into a cold oven, there are no specialty ingredients, and - oh yeah - it's delicious. It's also incredibly easy. I taught a bread-baking class at my MIL's church a couple years ago, and this was one of the recipes. I even got two 12-year-old boys to successfully make this bread. So if you're scared of bread, give this one a try. This recipe is very inexact and very very forgiving. You can over or under-flour it and it will still turn out great. But don't forget the salt - I did that once...bad idea.

Shepherd's Bread (makes 2 loaves)

1 package yeast (or 1 Tbsp, if you have your yeast in bulk like I do)
2 cups warm water
1 heaping Tbsp salt
1 Tbsp sugar
6-7 cups flour
cornmeal (for sprinkling)

Pour the warm water into a bowl. Mix in the yeast and sugar; wait 5 or 10 minutes until it gets frothy. Then add the salt, and gradually add the flour, mixing until it starts to form a ball. Turn the dough out onto a floured surfact, and knead for 3-5 minutes. If you're bread-experienced, you'll know when it's ready; if not, just go by the time and you should be fine.

Once the kneading is done, grease a bowl or other deep container (you could use a cooking pot if you had to) and put the dough in. Cover with plastic wrap or a damp towel. (I actually use a dough rising bucket with a lid, but I realize most people don't have that.) Let it rise until it doubles, which will probably take 45 minutes to an hour, depending on the temperature of your kitchen and the enthusiasm of your yeast.

Take a baking sheet and sprinkle it liberally with cornmeal. Cut the dough in half, shape into balls, and place on the baking sheet. (If you have a baking stone, you can put the dough on a pizza peel at this point instead of using a baking sheet.) Let the loaves sit for 5 minutes or so. While you are waiting, get some water boiling (a cup or so is fine).

When the loaves are ready, slash an "X" on the top of each and put them in the cold oven. Pour the boiling water into a pie pan or skillet and put on the bottom rack or floor of the oven. Shut the door and turn the oven to 400 degrees. Bake for 40-45 minutes.

This is good for sandwiches, but is at its absolute best about 5-10 minutes after removing from the oven. Just rip a piece off (no knife necessary), slather it with butter, and eat.

Usually when I make this, C wonders why I ever bother to make any other kind of bread. Or any other food, for that matter.

If you try it, let me know how it worked!

(edit: added photos. now I am off to get as much work done on the green sock as I can before my MIL gets here!)

1 comment:

Sting said...

Yum, that looks delicious. Can't get much easier than that- I'll have to give it a go this week.