I am out of beer.
Okay, I’m not. Not really. I have at least a case of beer out in the garage as I type this. That’s another reason I like winter — I can store my beer in the garage and it gets nice and chilled without taking up any room in my fridge.
Maybe one day I’ll get me a beer fridge because lord knows I haven’t got room in my kitchen fridge for beer. I’m fickle; I don’t want the same beer night after night, so I usually have a fair amount of beer on hand just for variety’s sake. And all that fresh produce and the multitude of condiments I need for my recipes take up a fair amount of room in my kitchen fridge.
Anyhow, it’s left me drinking a Winter Ale from the Newport Storm brewery, right here on the island. Their website describes the Winter Ale as: “A full bodied, dark porter with a profound toasted flavor balanced with ample hopping. Dedicated to the Blizzard of 1978, this porter is perfect for a winter day. A hint of roasted chocolate and a spicy aftertaste warm the soul of this brew.” The first couple of sips tasted really… strange. Too bitter and strong by half, but now I’m halfway through and it’s really not bad. And it really is warming going down, the perfect beer after a day full of snow.
Did I mention it snowed today? I’m not sure how much we got, probably not more than two or three inches. Maybe four? I don’t know. I don’t watch the local news anymore, and I don’t really know where to get local snowfall totals. I stayed inside the whole day, with the exception of heading out to my friend’s to borrow a movie. I made the mistake of heading out yesterday, you see. While Target was open, my favorite wine and food emporium and source of many of my craft beers was not. Hence the distinct lack of beer in my life.
Damn the holiday anyhow.
Oh well. I will live. Beer is not a necessity in my life, but it is a lovely addition.
Other lovely additions to my life include fresh bread. Homemade fresh bread, no less. I’ve been jonesing to make some bread of my own for the last few days, and when my friend (from whom I borrowed the movie) said she was off to the commissary, I begged her to pick me up some flour, as I am almost out of white flour. I have scads and scads and scads of whole wheat and white whole wheat flour, the latter because my dear husband bought it when I asked for regular whole wheat flour, but I am nearly out of white flour. The last bread I made was some Irish soda bread for New Year’s Eve, but it turned out…. not quite right. The recipe insisted I could swap out half the flour for whole wheat, but alas, the dough was really, really dense. It didn’t even cook all the way through, though it was still delicious.
No more substituting whole wheat for regular flour for me! Not till I get the hang of this bread-making thing, anyhow. Or until I make a recipe first, as written.
My friend brought me a five-pound bag of bread flour, instead of all-purpose, since I had mentioned that I was making bread. Apparently the commissary was completely out of all-purpose flour, both white and unbleached. It snowed today, after all, and even the least amount is reason to buy up all the bread and flour and sugar and milk and tortilla chips in stock at the commissary. You’d think we were living in the south where it never snows, and not southern New England.
It was a good thing too, that she brought me the bread flour. I looked for a recipe in Bittman’s How to Cook Everything for a good yeast bread recipe, but was sorely disappointed. The “easiest and best French bread” was going to take, at minimum, three hours, though if you read the recipe it would take far longer. It was already 4:30 by the time I got my flour; I didn’t want to wait three or six hours for fresh bread. Fortunately the bread flour bag featured a recipe for so-called Hearth Bread which called for nothing more than bread flour, a wee bit of whole wheat flour (but it was in the recipe!), salt, water, and a wee bit of honey. How much easier could it be? And let me tell you, it turned out quite deliciously. I love how you can mix these few simple things together, knead it till it’s smooth, and let it rest and rise till voila — you end up with soft, fluffy, yeasty dough that turns into a crusty loaf of deliciousness in the oven.
I swear it’s magic.
The loaf I made tonight did all its rising before it went into the oven and seemed to deflate a bit as it baked, which made me a wee bit sad. But it’s still amazingly yummy. Tomorrow I make another loaf for my friend who bought me the flour. Seems to be a reasonable exchange, yes?
Tomorrow — BREAD. And maybe some football. And possibly a beer. Yessss.
(PS — I cleared out my feed reader this morning by clicking Mark All As Read. I couldn’t stomach the thought of wading through 150+ blog posts. Hence, I am woefully ignorant of whatever may have happened in your life over the last week or two. Please forgive me.)