Girl Versus Dough

sifted words — haters gonna hate

When I was little, I hadn’t a care in the world. I’d frolic around in sprinklers and on swing sets, and the biggest event of my day was making sure I pedaled my Tonka three-wheeler fast enough to make it home in time for dinner.

My favorite place to be was at my neighbors’ house. I was there often — my two best friends, a brother and a sister, lived over there, so why would I be anywhere else? Plus, they had cool toys to play with that were way more fun than playing alone with the Barbies I had strewn across my bedroom floor.

There was one toy at my neighbors’ house, however, that I hated. It was a video game, actually, called “Sesame Street 1-2-3” or something like that. One of the settings brought you to outer space, where Grover, dressed in an astronaut’s uniform, would float in the air over a series of numbers. There also was a face in the moon. Whenever you got a math problem right, the moon face would shake its head in delight and make a happy noise. But when you didn’t get the problem right, well, all hell broke loose for me. The face would frown, and the sound the game made in response to the mistake was a fiercely negative — and for some reason, frightening — sound for me to hear in my young age.

Every time I heard that sound, I’d scream and run out of the room, tears streaming down between the tiny fingers that covered my face.

cheesy garlic knots

Cheesy Garlic Knots

I’ve had to make a lot of grownup decisions lately.

Like, deciding that I can’t eat cookies and cake and chocolate peanut butter swirl bread three times a day, every day. Well, I could, but I probably wouldn’t like it after a while.

Or deciding to watch my husband’s intramural basketball game in a gym that smelled like 100 smelly, sweaty guys (because there were about 100 smelly, sweaty guys there) watching a sport I know nothing about, when I could have been watching “The Bachelor” at home. But it was important to him to have me there, and therefore, the decision was easy to make.

swedish knäckebröd

Swedish Knackebrod

I’ve had a thing for crackers ever since I made those Blue Cheese & Walnut Crackers, along with my love letter to Ina Garten. There were those, and then, these flat breadsticks. Then this (these?) knäckebröd, which I made because I love those Wasa rye crisps from the grocery store, but mostly because I love the word “knäckebröd.”

(Which means “break bread,” for those sans Swedes in their families.)

chocolate peanut butter swirl bread

chocolate peanut butter swirl bread on cooling rack

I’m not a huge proponent of Valentine’s Day. It’s never been one of my favorite holidays. I’m not going to rattle off a spiel on how bitter I am about how our culture fuels an irrational need for us to spend millions of dollars each year on a single day to prove our love to others, blah blah blah… It’s just that if I could choose tomorrow to be any holiday, I’d choose Christmas, or my birthday, over Valentine’s Day.

Yes, my birthday is a holiday. Enough on that.

loaded baked potato bread

loaded baked potato bread slices on cutting board

Lately, I’ve been a bit frustrated with baking bread. You see, homemade bread is a finicky thing. You have to be sure the yeast is alive, that the flour is properly weighed and that you don’t knead the dough too little, or too much.

It has to be smooth and elastic, but not sticky nor crumbly. If you don’t let it rise long enough, the flavors won’t develop and if you let it rise too much, well… I don’t know what, but I’ve heard it’s not good.

That said, part of the reason I started baking bread in the first place was to learn about these idiosyncracies — to find out, in short, what makes bread tick.

sifted words — tablespoon recap

English Muffins

Greetings, dear friends —

I apologize for a delay in recipe posting. I’ve been in a coma for a few days after eating my weight in bourbon bacon pancakes. You understand.

I also took a mini break from my daily obligations to visit my dear friend Ashley (see above) in her homeland. Which used to be my homeland. Which is really still only four hours away, barely far enough to consider it a “homeland,” but still far enough away that I have enough time to completely lose my voice upon arrival after all the loud, obnoxious singing I’ve just done in my car. True story.