Thursday, March 23, 2017

A little more about bread

Thanks to my high school freshman, we might have had a step forward in our bread. He informed me Tuesday night that he had to do a short presentation in French I about some cultural aspect of France. He's known for a while now that he'd have to do this, of course....

He wanted to do some kind of food. So we went through all the things I knew how to do and we could put together  before Thursday morning.

He rejected Trader Joe's croissants (you get them in the freezer case, let them defrost and rise overnight and they're the closest I've found to fresh French croissants).

So we ended up with baguettes. Because I'm always about the baguettes.

We added a bit of sugar. Just a tablespoon-ish for the triple recipe (it was the last bit in the sugar bag, so I dumped the rest in). I've been avoiding adding sugar because authentic French bakers don't. But the bread ended up just a bit fluffier, so from now on I will.

We also brushed egg on the tops so they ended up browner and crunchier. Water in pans making it steamy and oven set at 450.

We made a triple recipe instead of a double one, so we'd have bread for supper. It didn't really fit in the mixer.

 The blob after rising. It's a lot of dough.

DS2 rolling the loaves out like playdoh.

Baguettes for school and a round loaf for us. Tops slashed even too deeply. Note the shiny egg. I left the round one in longer, but it still wasn't all the way cooked in the middle, so next time I'll lower the oven temp a bit and let it cook another 10 to 15 minutes instead of just 5.

Post baking, he cut 3 of the loaves in servings so he could share with his class. He took the 4th loaf as the demonstration baguette. I told him that if they needed more servings, he could be authentically French and tear it apart with his hands. RAWR!

His dad told him he should have got up at 3 a.m. to be able to take the bread in fresh from the oven and be even more authentic.

And then he asked what was important to French culture about bread. Well, they want it to be good bread. They have it at every meal, no matter what else is on the table. It's.... just what they have. Every day. (OK, not so much anymore maybe, but it's really importantly traditional.)

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Kids and their play dates

How long am I allowed to call my kids' hangouts with their friends "play dates"? Can I keep doing it as long as I have to drive them around for it to happen? Or, like today, talking to my friend, trying to figure out when our teens can hang out together?

Not this weekend, as it turns out.

When we have those friends over, it's all about the Nerf guns and PVC/pool noodle/duct tape swords and then some quiet time playing Settlers of Catan. If we're lucky, most of the loud times are outside. If it rains or they stay until after dark, it gets pretty loud in my house.

My nine year old daughter (how did she get to be nine?) is at a birthday party today and scheduled to stay (and spend the night!) after everyone else leaves. It's really quiet around here already and it's only early afternoon.

In the meantime, my middle child (who's fourteen) has once again produced the miracle of lunch. It was grilled cheese, but with slices of leftover turkey. Really delicious. He needs to work on his timing and sequencing while making a meal, though, because I ended up buttering half the bread and slicing the the cheese, then setting the table and getting out fruit and vegetables. Of course, if I would butt out entirely, he would have to step up even sooner. On the other hand, there are nights that I get the main course and maybe a carb-y side going and completely forget about fruits and vegetables until the last moment.

Maybe when a kid can cook for me, he no longer should have "play dates."

The main consideration, though was if I would let him have potato chips. I bought a big bag of store-brand chips on sale over a week ago and hadn't gotten around to having them as part of a meal....and these chips were making him insane with food lust. They taunted him each time he opened the Carb Cupboard (it holds all the bread, crackers, rice, cereal, sugar, cake mixes, etc.)

Someone needs to mow my front lawn. The tall parts right now are all foxtails, not even nice grass. My oldest (who's seventeen) did the much bigger, terraced, more complicated back yard last week, so I think middle boy should do the front. Since they're not busy with a play date or actually doing homework, I bet one of them could do it.

It's supposed to rain next week, so it will grow even more. Which is good, except for the mowing part.

Maybe if they can mow my lawn, its not a "play date."

And speaking of kids, this juvenile (she still has a fuzzy head) female turkey is wandering around alone these days. She definitely needs a play date. All the grown-ups are off making babies in the woods and she's lost her flock. Last weekend she (or another just like her) was with a crowd of females when the males were on full display and almost getting run over in the street. When they're acting macho, they don't want to step aside for anyone. At all. Not even an SUV.

Turkeys are pretty smart as far as birds go. Which means they're not exactly smart smart.

Like some teenagers I know. (*rim shot*)

The answer for me, is that I don't usually say "play date" out loud except when I am teasing my teens so they will roll my eyes at me, which is one of my favorite things (the lighthearted eyeroll is, anyway. Not so much the one where they are actually mocking me.). My nine year old is still fine with it, though.


Of course, I want you to read all my books, but the one with the most play date-like scenes is The Chevalier, in which Emmanuel, the youngest sibling and only twenty-five and unmarried, is dragged back into the family and exposed to the insanity that is a gathering of his nephews and their friends, all between ten and fifteen. Except the only girl, who's eight and has to keep up with all this crazy boy energy.

In other words, it's a bit like my house, only with swords and cards instead of Nerf guns and Settlers of Catan.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Blueberry Pi Day

So today is March 14th, which in the US way of writing dates, is 3.14.


As a family of nerds, my kids have known what Pi is from a young age. My nine year old can't calculate anything with it yet, as she hasn't started working with decimals, but she knows what it's for and the first few digits. My high school junior was watching a YouTube video yesterday about something complicated with 120-sided dice and co-primes and it averaging out to somewhere around Pi. Or something. Yes, dear.

But I know how to find circumference and area and the volume of a cylinder. I'd have to look up volume of a cone and sphere, though.

And I know how to make a pie!

Sometimes, I am organized and make a pie from scratch. Or almost from scratch. I almost always start with a pre-made crust. I'm not a huge fan of most types of pie crust, especially when I have to make it myself. Usually, I use the rolled up crust from the store and then I leave most of mine on my plate and give the crunchy outer part to whichever kid wants it. If I don't LIKE it, why would I consume those zillion calories?

Facebook informs me this is from four years ago. But this year, I have no canned pumpkin. I don't have extra apples. I don't have pie crust. the back of my cupboard...

Graham cracker crust is excellent, though too much trouble to make myself.

Note that it says 9" pie crust and not that it's a 9" pie plate.That's not how you really measure a pie plate. It isn't even quite 9 inches from one edge of the aluminum to the other.  And yes, I know what diameter is and how big nine inches are.

<Insert size joke>

Anyway, the can of blueberry pie filling (found dented on the clearance table at the back of the grocery store) only filled it about halfway.

<Insert insertion joke>

Go ahead and calculate the volume of the crust and of the tin. I'll wait here. Let me know if you actually care and I'll give you the measurements.

<Insert measurement joke>

I got out the container of blueberries from my freezer that's been in there since last summer, being used a handful at a time in pancakes, etc. I used about a cup of those and mixed them in.

I crumbled two stale graham crackers over the top. Hand crumbled, so it's mostly chunks.

I baked at 325 degrees for 30 minutes, just to make it settle and make the top crackers crunchy. I'm not sure this does anything and I should have baked hotter and for longer. My idea was to get the sugary stuff to cook and bind together, but I'm pretty sure I'm just messing around here. Besides, we're not going to eat it until tonight, so it's not going to still be warm then.

Oh shoot, tonight is registration night at the high school. We can have this after, though that's pushing into my youngest's bedtime. I also need to think about what we're having for supper this morning, because I don't think there are enough leftovers for Every Human For Him/Herself Night. Though they can have quesadillas and sandwiches. Maybe I'll make some bread.

And of course, nothing at all to do with Pi, but you should be reading my books.