Girl Versus Dough

watermelon lime granitas

Watermelon Lime Granitas

To quote Charles Dickens, only one phrase can describe my week and the week preceding: It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.

It was the best of times being on vacation, relaxing in hammocks and digging into good books and Door County cherry pies. It was the worst of times “relaxing” in the 95-degree heat and then, two days later, in the 45-degree… heat. Or not.

sifted words — tablespoon, revisited

Raspberry Mascarpone Pizza

My friends, it is officially summer. I know for some of you that might be stating the obvious, but for me, I feel as though I went to sleep one night in the winter and woke up to a hot, summer morning. Springtime had a fleeting presence, one dotted with subzero temperatures, a few rain/hail showers and a smattering of tornado warnings. And then, it was gone.

But I’m not complaining. I love summer. And to celebrate, Elliott and I are making a getaway this week to sleep under the stars, roast hot dogs over a fire, get our shoes muddy on trails, walk down sidewalks with ice cream melting over our fingers and eat in restaurants with goats on the roof. It will be lovely.

rhubarb apple bread

rhubarb apple bread on cooling rack

It was one of those weeks. I’m sure you know the kind — when nothing works, nothing goes the way you want it to go, everything falls apart and can’t be put back together again. Or, at least it seems that way.

I tend to fall into a state of mild panic when things are no longer routine. If I am not completely aware of what I will be doing next, I have a bit of trouble coping. I need to know that when I put one foot in front of the other, they will both land on solid ground. I’m all for spontaneity in some cases, sure. Throw a pleasant surprise at me every now and then, and I’m perfectly happy. But throw a random curveball at me when I was ready to swing at a fastball? Let’s just say it’s not always pretty.

fast french baguette

baguette loaves on baking sheet

I hear it all the time — “I can’t make bread, it’s too hard,” “I don’t have the patience to make bread,” “There’s no way I could make that!”

Poppycock. Hogwash. All of it.

I remember myself almost two years ago thinking the very same things. There’s no way I can make bread at home! Me? By myself? With my hands? No bread machine? Pssh, please.

Then, when I realized there were actually cookbooks out there dedicated solely to baking bread at home, I knew that indeed, it was possible. So, I tried it.

And I tried it again. And again, and again, and… well, you understand. And eventually, it worked. I made homemade bread, and it was possible, and it wasn’t that hard, and I did have the time for it.

spanakopita

There have been a lot of changes around here, lately.

First, there’s the fact that winter immediately skipped over spring and handed the baton over to summer (Hello, 90-degree heat wave! My perspiring armpits salute you.) Then, there’s the fact that I recently turned 24 and don’t feel a day over 40. There’s also the fact that Elliott just finished his last test of the first half of grad school, wiping off a good deal of blood (literally), sweat and tears (or, in his more masculine case, a good deal of frustrated teeth-clenching) away from a well-worn year.

There’s also the fact that I’ve decided, on this here Girl Versus Dough blog, to change things up a bit. You see, since its inception, GVD has been a haven for bread recipes attempted (read: Attacked) by me, so that I might do the grunt work for you and present you with the final result: Much more manageable (and less stressful) bread recipes. But though you might guess all we eat around here is bread, all day, every day, that’s not the case. My freezer, busting at the seams with half-eaten, foil-wrapped loaves from oh, two months? Eight months? ago can attest to that. No, indeed, we do eat more than bread.

green tea mini loaves

Green Tea Mini Loaves

I almost didn’t share this post with you.

I almost didn’t share it because the recipe I made didn’t turn out as visually appealing as I’d hoped. Delicious, yes, but visually? Oh dear me.

But this blog isn’t about all the successful recipes I’ve made. It’s about the good, the bad and the not-so-good-looking.

For as long as I can remember, I’ve had a problem with perfection. The problem is that I want to achieve perfection — beautiful, successful, undeniable, unachievable perfection. It started with grades in middle school and high school. I was bound and determined to get straight As every semester, and if I got anything lower than that on a single test, I’d run home bawling. True story (unfortunately).

Then, as I feel it happens with most girls, it transitioned to physical appearance. I would spend hours — no joke, hours — each morning tweaking the tiniest strands of hair on my head until my coif was absolutely even, voluminous and shiny. If even an eyelash was out of the way, if a hemline was uneven, if my jeans were starting to get stringy at the ankles, I’d painstakingly rectify any situation until I felt, well, perfect. But I never, ever, really did feel completely and utterly perfect.