Hands on

Maybe it’s because my paid work never produces anything that I can hold in my hands at the end of the week. Or maybe it’s the time of year when there’s more daylight and more energy and it seems like there’s more time to do things. Or maybe it’s something else. Whatever the reason, I’ve been busy for the past few days doing things that result in a tangible something that I can taste, smell, or feel.

For starters, on Saturday, I made some bread. Back in April, on the (very fine) recommendation of my sister, I bought myself a copy of Peter Reinhart’s The Bread Baker’s Apprentice.

The Bread Baker’s Apprentice

And on Saturday night I started the dough for his recipe of pain a l’ancienne, a slow, cold proofing recipe for baguettes. We shaped and baked this bread on Sunday morning, and you can see pictures of the process in this slide show.

Our first try turned out very, um, delicious. The flavor was very complex and tasty, and the crust and crumb were just about exactly what we’d hoped for. I’m going to try this bread again later this week. The wonderful thing about this recipe is that you mix the dough the night before, and then just shape and bake the next morning. The results are tremendous, but the amount of work involved is really minimal. We hardly broke a sweat except for the parts that involved quickly opening and closing the oven door to add water or spray to create the steam. I can easily imagine making fresh baguettes for a brunch or dinner party and not have the bread be the entire meal.

Buoyed by that experience, I felt ready to tackle a sewing project with Hyla. She had recently noticed the cover of the latest Craft: magazine, which showed a set of darling little felt cats:

magazine Volume 03 cover

Hyla and I decided that a couple of these would make a nice birthday gift for a friend of hers who is also obsessed with cats and kittens. Hyla made me a shopping list

Shopping List

and I bought the stuff, and then we did a trial run last night by making one kitty. She’s named it “Picel”, which is pronounced as “pickle”.

Picel - Front

Picel - Back

On Sunday, I had also made some pie dough (from my current favorite recipe, from the Baking with Julia book), so yesterday afternoon (while glue was drying on Picel’s whiskers), I made an apple pie.

Of course, somewhere along the way, we have either lost or broken all of our pie dishes. I don’t know how it happened. I remember making an apple pie for Thanksgiving. Where did that pan go? Not to be found in our kitchen, that’s for sure. I had the dough all ready, and the apples cut and stewing in their sugar and spice. Hmmmm. How about a square baking pan?

And thus, the birth of the square pie, or, as we like to call it, squie:

Applie Squie

It tasted great, and the corners are excellent – a little extra flaky crust and all that gooey apple-ness.

What’s next? I’m not sure, but I’m thinking it will involve a bed or couch, a stack of books, and very little movement.


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