The comforts of home

When I heard the other day that Punxutawney Phil had made his prediction of six more weeks of Winter, I was relieved. We got the short end of the stick this year, and I’m hoping Winter will give us another look over while she has the chance. 

As if on cue, it has got cold again.  I had actually dug out short pants and tank tops, it was so nice around the yard during the day. But, I didn’t put my snuggies away, that’s for sure. I grew up around here, I remember these Januaries, and the stormy Februaries and Marches that followed along, bringing flu and ear infections. One year the weather was so warm in January a friend of ours went nuts planting tomatoes. They grew like crazy, got knee high and flowered.  On a bright April morning he went out to find a late frost had turned his plants to mush.  One March after everybody thought the weather had passed, a storm moved into Glenn County un-announced, with hail and lightening, and my cousin looked out his back window just in time to see his barn take flight and blow into a thousand pieces over his back pasture.  We’ve had Junes around here where it seemed God had gone on vacation and forgotten to turn off the sprinkler.  You can’t count on the months or the seasons here to tell you what is going to happen, you have to watch the skies and listen to your bones. You might get the heads-up from Kris Kuyper just as a dumper is moving in on your laundry line. 

Lately, after a burst of outdoor clean-up and preliminary gardening,  I’ve been finding myself comfortable again inside the house.

This is a batch of dough just ready for "punching down." It looks so solid, but it's really a big balloon.

This is a batch of dough just ready for “punching down.” It looks so solid, but it’s really a big balloon.

Since I’ve figured out the secret of sourdough, I’ve been making a lot more bread, almost every other day. I keep a batch of starter in a yogurt container in the fridge, I take what I need to make a new loaf, then feed the starter with warm milk and flour, and leave it on the counter overnight before returning it to the fridge. I find it just keeps getting bubblier, richer smelling, and more excitable as it goes along. Every loaf seems like the best loaf ever.

This loaf just about exploded on me. I sliced it down the middle before I put it in the oven, and the middle just rose up out of there like The Alien.

This loaf just about exploded on me. I sliced it down the middle before I put it in the oven, and the middle just rose up out of there like The Alien.

Every loaf turns out so different looking, but still the same fabulous bread inside. The crust is crispy at first – it crackles and snaps loudly as it cools –  then turns rubbery and chewy. The bread inside is elastic and soft, and tastes, well, like BREAD. Store bread is almost always so flat, tasteless. Homemade bread is a meal in itself. But it’s nice to dress it up a little. 

As soon as the bread is cool enough to cut we give it the PBJ test.

As soon as the bread is cool enough to cut we give it the PBJ test.

 

For me, the real test is, can you slice it thin enough to make a good turkey sandwich? Yes. With lettuce from my little hothouse garden.

For me, the real test is, can you slice it thin enough to make a good turkey sandwich? Yes. With lettuce from my little hothouse garden.

 

The other day we decided to make a sourdough pizza crust. It was really thick, bready, chewy and rubbery.

We had a piece of BBQ chicken left over from the night before, added some pineapple, and made this delicious chewy pizza.

We had a piece of BBQ chicken left over from the night before, added some pineapple, and made this delicious chewy pizza.

 

The last few months I’ve been pressing myself to get out of my “comfort zone.” I’m starting to wonder, why? I realize, I was responding to the external pressure to be social. Sometimes it’s good to let others push you a little, get you moving when you might be stalled. But, I find it’s good to go home and listen to your internal voice once in a while.  Like John Redcorn said, sometimes the herd can protect you, sometimes the herd can trample you.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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