Oh yeah, my champagne problems – just as I was getting ready to wrangle a bread dough into the oven, my power went out. It’s a gas oven, but the starter is electric, and no, you can’t just turn the knob and hold a match at arm’s length, it has to be hooked up to the juice.
Day after Easter, I tried not to lose my temper. I called the 1-800 number on my PG&E bill to see if this was just a dead squirrel strapped across a couple of wires or something bigger.
After I fielded the automated operator, a lady answered, “This is Audrey in Sacramento…” I told her my power was out, gave my address, yadda yadda, she said it was a big outage – “7,000 people are without power…” It was 8:30 when I called, she theorized power would not be on before 11am, and asked if I wanted phone updates. I assume the two and a half hour delay is the two and a half hours it takes the technician to throw his stuff in his truck and drive to Chico from Sacramento. I knew I would get an update about 11:30 telling me there would be at least a few more hours delay. And that’s what I got – the new time was 1pm.
We’d been getting updates from tenants and friends as well – Mark had his scanner on, and listened to Chico fire discussing how they could get some folks out of a stuck elevator at Chico State. He called to tell us he’d heard “something blew up at Table Mountain.” Hmmm. My husband checked in with Ch 12 on his cell phone – their website said 76,000 – really, 76,000 – people in Butte County were without power.
At this point I’m not only worried about my bread dough and my groceries sitting in my fridge and freezer but about my two tenants who work from their computers at home. And then we got another phone call – oh yeah, there’s my tenants who are on a well with an electric pump! Luckily they all drink bottled water, but we would have to deliver some buckets of water for their toilets if the power didn’t come on soon.
I wasn’t about to let my bread fizzle – my husband helped me start the bbq. We’d done it on the grill once before and I’d been meaning to get back to that before the Summer heat set in. I got out my bread stone and a pan for water. Once we got the charcoal going good we spread it apart and set the pan down in there and poured in some water. I put a piece of foil under the stone to keep it from getting gritty and sooty, and we shut the lid. I puttered around the yard, pulling weeds and throwing a ball for the dogs while the thermometer climbed quickly to 250 degrees.
I bake the bread inside at 450 degrees, but didn’t think I’d laid on enough charcoal to get there, so I went ahead and put the bread in at this point. I knew it would get a little hotter, and I knew the bread would bake eventually. I noted the time and went off to pull weeds for a half hour, leave it alone.
I checked the temperature after a half hour, it had actually increased to about 275, and was holding fast. I knew it would take longer than the usual 40 minutes to bake the bread, so I just tried to stay busy with yard work so as not to pester it. I felt confident it would not burn, that’s for sure. I went to my tenant’s yard and pulled weeds, watered the fruit trees, watched a group of scrub jays fight with a couple of stellar jays who’ve been hanging around my yard for a couple of months now. I managed to get all my outside chores done while I ran back and forth to check the barbie.
After an hour, the temperature had dropped back to 250, so I thought I better take a look. I couldn’t believe how beautiful it was.
It was nice and brown but still a bit soft on top, so I left it for about another 10 minutes. By that time the charcoals were cooling off pretty fast. I picked the loaf up and it felt a little soft on top, but the bottom was hard and crunchy brown. When I rapped on the bottom with my knuckles, it sounded like a hollow log, so I decided to call it a wrap. I took it in the house and let it cool on a rack, finish cooking itself.
You know, as soon as I got that loaf upstairs, the power came back on. Ha ha ha. But hey, I know I will not have to depend on my gas oven to make bread anymore. We let it cool, afraid it would be a little doughy inside – turned out perfect. Tastes like bbq chicken, a little – I was in such a hurry to get it on there I didn’t clean last night’s chicken off the grill. Next time I’ll give the grill a good cleaning and load on a little more charcoal, let you know how that goes.