(sometimes withershins, widershins or widderschynnes) means to take a course opposite that of the sun, going counterclock-wise, lefthandwise, or to circle an object, by always keeping it on the left. It also means "in a direction opposite to the usual," which is how I choose to take it in using it as the title of this blog. We're all in the same world finding our own way.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Hello Pacific Ocean

Scenic route 101. That is all.

Over the bridge and I-5 south

We've been on the road for almost 8 hours now. Almost to the Oregon/California border. At five we're going to find somewhere to stop and rest, not so much for ourselves, but so Skyler's lovable clunker of a car can cool down before we finish our journey south. The opportunity to nap will be nice and if the weather is permitting, we'll be able to watch the sunrise. All signs seem to point to clouds and rain. I should have expected this and brought my waterproof jacket with me. Ah well, c'est la vie. I'm a Washingtonian, a little sky water won't kill me.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Spring break

I currently find myself in a car with friends Skyler and Riley driving south on I-5. We're headed to the Bay area. This is my first major spring break excursion since starting college, though it was astoundingly unplanned on my part, made the decision to leave approximately 24 hours ago. No regrets. I'll be blogging through my phone since I'm taking this trip sans-computer. All the pictures I take will follow once I'm returned to the land of internet access (B'ham). But in the meantime, here's to good friends, spontaneity, northern California and long hours in a car. ^_^

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Saturday, March 12, 2011

French Bead

So my friend Cara texted me earlier asking for the amazing delicious bread recipe I use so I figured I might as well share with more than just her. Simple french bread has become my go-to potluck contribution because it's not as hard as one might think and it's pretty cheap to boot.

There's something impressive about making a staple like bread from scratch that a lot of people really appreciate. It's tasty, it's useful, why not know how to make it?

The recipe I give below is inexact at best, but that's generally my philosophy with cooking. You improvise with what's available and play around with tastes depending on what you like. Even if it doesn't turn out perfectly, you know better for next time, which for someone not formally trained in the kitchen is the most rewarding way through the learning curve.

If you want spiced bread you can add things like rosemary or sage directly to the dough. Or I've successfully added whole cloves of garlic right before rolling the halves into tubes to make this into garlic bread.

I'll edit this post after finals to add some pictures of my handiwork (like a true culinary blogger!)

In all honesty, I'm just using this recipe http://allrecipes.com/recipe/french-bread/Detail.aspx following some of the suggestions from the comments and using what I've learned from friends. And even then I don't actually measure exactly most of the time anyways. A tablespoon is usually pretty close to a generous sprinkling straight from the can or a small palmful.


So reduce the initial flour to 5 cups, though have a 6th cup ready if it's too sticky as you try to knead and as you're rolling it out.
2 packages of yeast or about 1 1/2 tablespoons
~2 teaspoons salt
~tablespoon butter or suitable vegan substitute (mostly for flavor)
2 cups warm water (hot from the tap is good enough)
1 tablespoon cornmeal
a couple tablespoons sugar


Remove rings and bracelets unless you don't mind them covered in flour/dough!

Mix the yeast with the sugar and water and let sit for about ten minutes until it looks naturally frothy.

In a large bowl mix the salt, butter and flour together, stir in the water until it resembles dough.

If the dough is super sticky add a little bit of that extra flour. you want it to be moist and malleable, but not super tough to work with. I think a good rule of thumb is you want it to stick to itself, but not to you.

Once you have a dough that you can sort of form into a ball, dump onto a lightly floured surface.

Knead for about 8-10 minutes though I generally just knead for about three kickass songs. You want this to be "smooth and elastic."

Place the dough in a bowl lightly greased with olive oil, cover and let rise somewhere warm until about doubled. About an hour or two (watch a movie maybe?)

Punch the dough down and split in two. I never actually let the dough rest for 10 minutes after, but it probably wouldn't hurt if you do.

With a lightly floured rolling pin or something similar on a lightly floured surface, roll out each half of the dough into a large rectangle. The long (or short, I guess it doesn't matter) side should be just a little shorter than your baking sheet. Roll the flat from this side. Seal the outer edge with water and kind of squeeze the ends into a bread-like taper. These should be about as big around as a roll of wrapping paper or something similar.

At this step I usually also add a second kneading to the dough, rolling it out halfway then tri-folding (like you would a pamphlet) the flats and re-rolling out the rest of the way

Sprinkle the cornmeal on your baking sheet and place your two loaves seam side down. This prevents the bread from sticking.

With a sharp knife, make four diagonal slashes on each loaf. Cover with a damp cloth/paper towel and let rise until doubled (depending on how warm it is, half an hour to an hour)

Preheat the oven to 375*F placing a small/medium bake-proof bowl filled with water on the lowest rack (The steam from this makes the crust chewy and great without having to deal with brushing the loaves).

Bake the loaves for 35-40 minutes or until crust is golden brown.

Cool and enjoy!