Nuthin’ to do But Blog?

Well… not really. Lots to do. We live on a boat people! Maintenance, more maintenance. Gotta keep the beast from sinking don’t cha know. But then there is caulking, varnishing, greasing the anchor windlass, splicing the new anchor rode to the old chain, fixing a little bug (not a virus!!!) in the small radar so it can track targets better… It is endless, but does not share the tedium of mowing the lawn or weeding. Both grass and weeds grow really fast…

And then there is baking bread. Now, I’ve baked a loaf or two in my time in the kitchen. Beer bread. That’s right folks. You can drink beer and you can also make bread with it. It is exceedingly easy and quite tasty. When we pulled into the Comox marina, in Comox of all places, the warfingers (thats Canadian for peeps that work in marinas) were so happy to see Yanks that they brought Les and I both a nice cold Budwiser beer. Well now, well now… how nice a gesture is that. One of the best. With the slight exception that I do not drink Budweiser. Some have referred to it as camel’s piss. Now I wouldn’t go that far mind you, but I do prefer a nice hoppy craft IPA, and there are thousands of them to choose from up here. My wine / beer cabinet contained some very nice ones so I put the Buds in the back with the intention that I would meet someone craving a weakly flavored beer. Maybe a Yank like me, but not like me in that Bud was their beer of choice, something I can’t imagine. Anyway, I never did, so…

I made beer bread and used the Bud. The first loaf was pure white bread flour and the second was whole wheat bread flour. Each loaf was just fine and the nuttiness of the whole wheat was really good, especially the next morning with butter and peanut butter slathered on.

Well… I finally gave in. Beer bread is one thing. Real bread… it’s in another category altogether. And… I’d never baked a loaf in my life. And then, Covid-19 came into play. When I went to the closest store last week to buy a bunch of rice and other staples, the flour row looked a bit sparse, but there they were: two 2.5 Kg bags of white bread flour and two 2.5 KG bags of whole wheat bread flour. I snagged all four for my cruising larder. Good intentions and all… Hoarding? Hardly! I’m going cruising!

The flour sat there for a day or two, then came the craving. Fresh baked bread. After searching for a good recipe I picked one for “artisan” bread. There’s nothing special about the “artisan” part, except you don’t need to have bread pans to bake it. I don’t have any and will not go to the store to find some. Social distancing is a perfectly good reason to not spend the money and then find a place to store the damn things. So… I proofed the yeast, added the requisite sugar, salt, and warm water to the bowl… serially added about 5 cups of flour to the mess while stirring and prodding it into a dough… dumped it all out onto a floured surface (that would be my cleaned and disinfected countertop), kneaded it into submission as described, and plopped the resulting dough ball back into the bowl. I draped a damp towel over it’s soon to rise head, and let it rise for 2 hours back in our enclosed cockpit that gathers and stores the suns rays, providing a nice warm environment even when it is cold outside (and not raining).

Whew… it doubled in size! Just like it was supposed to. So, I punched it down (a soft punch mind you) kneaded it a bit, cut it in half and formed 2 “artisan” loafs. Let them sit there and think about it all, and made a few little slices on their little tops, popped em in the oven. After a bit, the whole boat smelled like fresh baked bread… well, because the oven was emitting baking bread aromas… and after 35 minutes, this is what came out of the oven:

2 nice artisan loafs of bread.

OMG! Imagine that. Fresh baked bread. Lockdown and social distancing intact. What new thing can you do while you are in lock-down?

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