I felt very Bridget Jones today, but not in a good way that might suggest I look at all like Renee Zellweger or might be able to frolic through rainy streets in my underpants and sneakers without looking like I have to pull my nylons up (while not wearing any). Can I have a do-over?
And remember my mention of far too many bread products consumed over the weekend? I haven’t even slowed down a little bit. How quickly we forget. Or maybe just don’t even care. At least I can say it’s all in the name of research.
My 11 year old niece Emily came over today. When she comes to stay for the day, we always make bagels. Today we broke with tradition and made pretzels and pretzel rolls. Which, like bagels, are nowhere near as complicated as they sound. Honest. The dough is simple to mix and then take turns kneading, and was covered for an hour while she went off to read her book and I to the computer before we converged again in the kitchen to shape them, then boil in water heavily spiked with baking soda, sprinkle with coarse salt, and bake.
The Rustic Sourdough Bakery on 17th Ave. SW sells chewy little mahogany rolls sprinkled in coarse salt on Saturdays – they are like the very biggest, softest, chewiest part of a baked pretzel, with none of the scraggly bits. I adore them. While flipping through Tastespotting the other day I immediately zeroed in on some of the same. While most recipes are filed away in my to-make yellow milk crate (seriously, it’s brimming with torn out magazine pages and notes), this got front-of-the-line treatment.
They came close to the ones from Rustic Sourdough, but didn’t quite hit the mark. (I blame myself, and the day, although perhaps I shouldn’t compare my first try with a bakery that has been making them for decades.) I think I need to give them another go, paying closer attention to the order of things this time (I missed the cutting of the crosses, for one, which is what makes them so especially pretty) and trusting the baking soda:water ratio Sarah gives. (I was afraid they might taste metallic. They don’t.) They are chewy, and lovely, but more practice is in order. Maybe not anytime soon.
So after I downed two pretzels straight from the oven and had a minor panic attack (not over the pretzels – panic attacks burn calories though, right? my heart rate was up about as high as the elliptical trainer gets it) the doorbell rang. It was Aviv, whom I had forgotten was delivering a loaf of his hand-made bread today. I can’t wait to tell you this story.
So Aviv bakes bread. He is practicing the art of artisanal bread baking in the hopes of one day opening his own bakery. In order to practice his craft and further his endeavor to raise money for CODE, a Canadian organization that builds and supports schools and libraries across Africa, he started baking organic loaves and delivering them on his bike (he has a little covered trailer) around downtown Calgary every Monday (his day off). He started off baking 10 loaves a day, and selling them for $6 apiece. Now he has use of a larger oven space (although he still does all the kneading by hand), and today he delivered 50 loaves of delicious caraway-specked light rye, along with small pots of smoked salmon pate made by his friend, Chef Michael Saucy. Mighty cool, don’t you think?
Of course it was last week that I answered his email-out saying yes, I’ll take a loaf, and of course by this afternoon I completely forgot. So I opened the door, all full of pretzels, to a new, fresh, spectacularly beautiful loaf of bread. One guess what I had for dinner.
So now I am attempting a bread detox. Just as soon as I finish Aviv’s light rye.
One Year Ago: Coffee-rubbed Bison Steaks, Ichiban Salad, Smashed Potatoes and Passionfruit Pavlova