Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Cure for what Ails Me? Bread-baking and Kimchi-makng

My last post evinced a determination to stay still for a moment; that determination has been significantly aided by something nasty of the Upper Respiratory variety. That the Universe insists I stay put is underlined by a weather system in which freezing temperatures continue to follow days of wet snow so that sidewalks are dangerously icy. We're currently "enjoying" temperatures that dip to minus 8 (Celsius) at night and tease us by hovering just above during the day. The clear blue skies, sunshine intensifying the brilliant white contrast from the local ski hills, would all be very inviting, quite comfortable with the right winter gear, but those treacherous sidewalks might keep me inside even if I were feeling well. And next up? Snow or rain this weekend.

As it is, I'm enjoying the blue skies, sunshine, and snow-covered mountains through the windows from my couch, not far from my Oil of Oregano drops and my Ginger Tea (do these work? Not convinced about the former, but the latter does seem to open airways and soothe my throat).

You might suspect that I get a bit restless after too long on the couch, and you'd be right (although Tana French's latest mystery The Trespasser pinned me there for several contented hours). Still, the myriad indoor adventures I've got up to have been of the simple, slow, domestic variety, nurturing and perhaps even healing, I sense.

Bread-baking, for example. Not the complicated artisan-style bread-baking Pater's taken up in the last few years, nor even My Mother's Bread as I used to make it for years, beating the first liquid-flour mixture 'til it "sheets" before adding more flour and then kneading. And kneading. And, yep, more kneading. Punching down. Shaping into loaves. Etc.... Nope, this bread is made in oven-proof bowls (although I used a 1-litre LeCreuset casserole dish for one, and then filled two 1/2-litre Pyrex measuring cups for two small loaves).  It requires perhaps ten minutes hands-on, and if you're sprinkling yeast onto your sugared water at 2:15 p.m., you'll have fresh bread to go with your soup at 5.  Good-tasting bread, if not the prettiest. . .

I posted this photo yesterday on Instagram and got a few requests for the recipe. Since the recipe's not mine, I'll just direct you to this website with its very clear (nearly exhaustive!) instructions.

What else did I get up from the couch for? Well, there was my first batch of kimchi in our new home.
Not quite so easy to banish the raucously pungent aromas of fermenting cabbage to a little-used room here, as it was in our old home, nor can we put it outside in the frosty air. Worth it, though, to be able to make kimchi chahan again (No, I couldn't wait for fermentation, but "stole" a cup within a few hours of putting the kimchi into the jar).

And before I used the last of the turkey in the Kimchi Chahan, I made a Turkey Pot Pie and a second big pot of soup. The last several years have seen Pater take over most of the kitchen duties here, and although I'll be very careful about messing too much with that goodness, I'm enjoying feeling my way back to some chopping, mixing, whisking, and sautéing on my own terms.

Also keeping me occupied while I'm grounded by (poor) health and weather? Sweater-knitting, card-writing, and bird-watching (we put up two feeders and have been delighted by visitors, although those house sparrows will have to be made to feel much less welcome somehow, eventually...)

Right now, however, this Nasty Bug is lowering my eyelids, and I'm back on the couch, debating a move to my bed. Hope you haven't caught it yet. Take care....



33 comments:

  1. Thank you for the recipe link Frances!
    I love the smell of fresh bread as it bakes in the oven...might try this today!

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    1. Let me know how it turns out -- we like it here.

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  2. It was -30C when I caught the bus to my French class this morning. A light wind of 12 km/h brought that down to -40. I thought this little weather report would be fun to share ;-)

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    1. Yes, but we're all wimps at the Coast, not made of your sterner prairie stuff. ;-)

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    2. Georgia,I could not imagine it at all-we are supposed to have -10°C to -20°C with strong wind ("bura")on the coast and it could be problematic for our cars and plumbing system-you are really a tough lady! It would be interesting to have an outfit post from you
      Dottoressa

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    3. Where do you live, Georgia? You remind me of my (Canadian) father's stories about riding (on horseback) in -40° F weather across the Alberta prairie well east of Edmonton.

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  3. I've been making that bread since you posted about it a couple of years ago! I bought two small pyrex bowls to bake it in. It is great bread!

    I've been fascinated by kimchi and may start making it when my life settles down. I'm moving about 200 miles away at the end of this month, into a rental. Will look for a house to buy in the spring, so another move is looming.

    I hope you feel better! I love Tana French and have The Trespasser audiobook on my phone, but haven't been able to focus enough to listen to it.

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    1. I want to buy pyrex bowls for my next batch as well -- reading that website reminds me of the sweet little set I got as a shower gift but either culled or broke 15 or 25 years into our marriage....Collectibles now, who'd have thought.
      Big moves ahead for you, and some hard work, but sounds as if you're emerging into some light, establishing some firm ground. Bon courage!

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  4. Hope you're feeling better soon, and that the weather turns more conducive to getting out a bit! Still, you seem to be making good use of your inside time! I've been feeling the pull to try a few new dishes, even if I don't want to feel obligated to cook. Sharon Santoni's recipe for lentils with poached eggs has me intrigued. I had this dish a couple of times in Paris and enjoyed it mightily.

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    1. I bookmarked that recipe as well -- and Elizabeth Minchilli had a good one for pasta, cabbage and gorgonzola...

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  5. Hi Frances, hope you are feeling better soon. I haven't made bread in a very long time and husband and I are aiming to clean up our diet anyway, but I'll certainly bookmark the link.

    I bought some kimchi a while ago but I'm afraid I was no match for it. Shame, it's supposed to have health benefits, like sauerkraut (something else I'm not too keen on). Oh well.

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    1. It's not for everyone, the kimchi, and if you already don't like sauerkraut. . .Kimchi's just the cabbage with a bunch of spices, basically. But I do think it's got healthy benefits -- any of the fermented stuff puts good bacteria in the gut, right?

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  6. Hope you are feeling well very soon. We are spending this week doing more cleaning and clearing out. It is a never-ending task but one which feels so restorative once I give myself over to it. Comgrats on the kimchi. I have been wanting to make a batch. Our last little ones left yesterday so the house is cleaner but also so quiet.

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    1. It is restorative, isn't it, making some kind of order, reducing the clutter.
      The kimchi-making is a bit meditative for me, like the bread-making and the knitting, really. . . . Enjoy the quiet, even as you miss those little ones...

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  7. Sometimes a little couch time--for me it would be nesting in bed time--is just the thing for a cure. I find that I either give in at the beginning with the reward of a quick recovery, or endure a long, drawn-out siege. So couch/bed rest it is!

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    1. You make a good point. Fighting off the rest generally just prolongs the sick days. I'm having a tough time sleeping during the day (the stuffiness and the cough), but I've slowed down considerably and I'm not going out. Crossing my fingers that will do the trick.

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  8. As you know, I did catch it and I sympathize with you. My energy is still low, but I'm coping with being back in the classroom remarkably well, although nothing happens in the evening. Your gentle domesticity sounds very soothing. Hope you soon feel much better, but do take the time you need to recuperate.

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    1. I get the impression you really thrive in your classroom, Lorrie, and that even when it drains you, you love it. This must help you to get through the day even when your batteries are not completely recharged after your illness. Still, I'm glad to hear you take it easy in the evening, and hope you can have a very slow weekend. Take care.

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  9. So sorry to hear about your illness-hope that you'll wake up today healthy (it's my morning-so,it is evening for you) ,but take it easy for a couple of days
    Bookmarked the recipe
    Birdwatching,ahem? Would next be mistery writing :-)?
    Take care
    Dottoressa

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    1. Still sick, feeling a bit sorry for myself -- haven't had a cold like this in years! At least it's making me slow down.
      As for mystery writing, I don't think so! ;-)

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  10. I hope that you are feeling better by the time you read this, Frances. You accomplish more when you are ill than I do when I am well. Do take it easy, in your own way, so that you recover thoroughly. Best wishes, Leslie

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    1. This bug is forcing me to slow right down, Leslie. Thanks for the good wishes.

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  11. I hope you get well soon. You still do so much, even when sick.

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  12. I'm a bi-ig believer in giving the man his space in the kitchen. When Hubby's cooking... all's right with the world! I also love the idea of hunkering down with a good book and the smell of bread baking when the weather gets nasty. Gosh... I sound downright lazy.
    Hope you feel even better soon, Frances.

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    1. Lazy is relative, right? And it's so much more acceptable when it goes by other names -- like "recharging," for example...

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  13. Bugs mean you need to slow down. Bread making is the perfect antidote since you cannot hurry it. Plus, it is cold. We are meant to hunker...fires, hot drinks, good books and lots of dozing. Celebrate the mammalian, mater!

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    1. I'd doze so much better WITHOUT a cold, honestly. And perhaps should have done more of that in order to avoid the cough and sore throat that's keeping me from sleep now. I take your point ;-)

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  14. The only bread I sometimes bake is what would translate as a "yeast braid", made with milk and butter and slightly sweet. It adds some glamour to a sunday breakfast, but it neads a lot of kneading, and in general the kitchen ends up covered in flour. So next time I am going to try your wonderful recipe.
    We are getting some very cold wind, straigt down from the North Pole. Luckily I got my Oleander-in-a-bucket inside last night before the temperature went down below -10C. But there is no snow to compensate for the freezing.
    Keep warm and get well soon.

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    1. You will be surprised how easy this bread is to make.... and the smell of bread in a kitchen is an added layer of comfort in cold weather (so glad you got your landlord sorted and have heat and light again!)

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  15. Oh I do hope you recover soon. I caught this nasty upper respiratory thing just about Christmas, then I did too much both on the festive day itself, when I wasn't feeling too bad (yet) and the days immediately following, despite my best efforts. I spent the New Year's weekend recumbent and although I am up and about now, I still need ample rest when home.

    On the other hand, bread and kimchi, home comforts epitomized for some of us.

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    1. It's an awful bug, if it's the same one, and I'm being really careful about rushing into too much now that I'm feeling a bit better.
      I so enjoyed watching your kimchi experiments, so methodical and questing. My own efforts are more slapdash, but it's fun and tasty nonetheless. Forgiving. ;-)

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  16. Thanks for the bread recipe Frances, I will also bookmark it and try it asap. I hope that you're feeling much better now.
    Things have been a little hectic around here as our youngest son was married on the weekend. Much fun and celebration:)
    Cerena

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    1. I'm getting better, yes. What excitement, celebrating a wedding -- lovely way to get the year going!

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