Tuesday Takeout

So, last night this happened:Image 10-28-13 at 11.14 PM

I apologize for the wacky angle of the picture.  I was distraught.  I’m pretty sure my neighbors caught a glimpse of me trying to take a picture of smoking garlic sticks and thought, “My goodness.  It’s a good thing that woman doesn’t drink.  She’s loco.”

They were just supposed to be some yummy garlic bread toasts to eat with our pasta. That’s all.  No big thing.

Or so I thought.

My toasts were toast.  Within three minutes the kitchen was filled with smoke and my two wee ones were running around like little birdies peeping, “Ders smoke!  Is der fire? Where’s da fire?  Da smoke?  Did you know it’s smoking in here?  Mommah?  Is there gonna be a hoooge big fire? When? When will da fire come?  WHERE ARE DA FIRE POLICE? Can I put it out? Can I?  Can I? Mommah?  Mommy?  Motherrrrrr?”

All the while, Momsie is grimly muttering and stalking outside via her bomb squad walk (pan in front, held far away, lots of grim looks and suspenseful music).  The smoking bread bits hit the cool air, and Momsie wishes that just once she could broil something without it becoming a Public Safety Announcement.

Grim, black charcoal squares on the back stoop.  Ta da.  And my best Italian clam linguine waiting on the stovetop, all pouty and forlorn, with no bread.  It’s un American, I tell you.

So, my thoughts for Takeout were to show you how I can actually BAKE bread.  In fact, I do bake bread nearly three times a week, for various meals and such.  I CAN!

I just have no actual film footage of this bread. You’ll have to take my word on it.

I burn stuff! All the time! But gosh darn it, people like me.

Here’s the breakdown of Easy Breadsticks that Actually Can Be Made in About a Half An Hour.  For Reals.

       I.  Ingredients:
1 healthy tablespoon of yeast (I buy mine in bulk, but this is about the equivalent of one packet)
1 tablespoon sugar or honey
1 cup milk (you can also use water if you wish, but milk makes the bread more smooshie and soft, or delicate) warmed on the stove or in microwave to “just steaming” – like your hottest tap water from the faucet.

olive oil – the good stuff

3-ish cups flour (I use part whole wheat, part unbleached)

1 teaspoon salt

powdered garlic, oregano, parsley flakes, onion, dill… whatever floats your breadstick boat

All this will take about 30 minutes unless you also want to do a second rise.  Tack on an extra thirty for that, but it’s optional.  I always start this up at about 4 pm, when I have cracked open my daily Diet Coke and am on third shift (morning and lunch over, now on to the dinner hour).

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Glug some of the olive oil in 9×13 pan and put in oven so oil heats up. Be careful not to let it burn!  This will make for a nice golden crust on the breadsticks, but you can certainly skip this step.  In fact, if you are like me, maybe you should skip this step.  (If you really wanna go whole hog, use butter.  REAL butter.  Just throw in 3 tablespoons or so and let it melt.  That’s whole hog.  The olive oil? Still totally delicious.  Three-quarters hog.)

2.  Mix yeast and sugar in bowl and gradually whisk in warmed milk .  Allow yeast to bloom for about ten minutes.  Then,  with your favorite wooden spoon, stir in flour, salt, and about 3 tablespoons (I just put in three good glugs) of olive oil.  Sprinkle in whatever spices/herbs you wish.  If you are feeling all purist, skip them.  The bread stands alone.  Keep stirring energetically until dough forms and leaves sides of bowl.   This is the part where I usually add a bit more flour (if sticky) or a bit more milk, as needed.

3. Knead 5-6 times in bowl.  I KNOW!!  Just knead it RIGHT in the bowl!  I just use my right hand – keeping left all nice and clean to aid emergency toddlers or to, you know, check Facebook.  Glug a bit more olive oil on that baby, pat it all down (it is so cute at this point) and cover with a towel.  Leave alone  in a warm place for about 20 minutes.  Go clean up.  Go check out Pinterest and feel inadequate.  Go play with your childrens.

4. Lay the now somewhat risen and more pliable dough down in the pan and gently smush it all out to the sides (takes a bit of smooshing, but the dough feels awesome.  Just like a baby’s bottom.  That’s kinda weird, but you get it.)  Take a pizza cutter or serrated knife and cut vertically through the dough, creating the bread sticks.  Allow to rise if you have time.  If not, that’s OK!  Pop it in oven and bake for about 20 minutes.  PLEASE CHECK ’em at 15 minutes or so.

So, all that took about thirty minutes.  My charred garlic toasts?  About 10.  Would the extra 20 minutes have been worth it?  I think so.

I will tell you this: my homemade bread baking endeavors have been a gradual work in progress.  My first attempts were spot on and fabulous because, well, I didn’t have children.  As the wee  ones came along and blew everything out of the water, my bread and my cookies, and my garlic toasts, and basically anything I have to stick in or on the oven have failed many times.  It’s ok.  I set ’em in timeout; I usually mutter a few “God bless Americas” and call it good.  But as I keep baking and kneading and stirring and trying, my efforts have consistently improved.  Just wait ’till I show you my homemade pizza.  Da Bomb.

Finito.  Ciao.

Image 10-28-13 at 10.47 PM

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