Friday, November 03, 2006

pumpkin moon fun (blasphemous, please be warned)

I have been wanting to feature a guest for some baking fun and the other night complied with my wishes. This guest has been invited several times but has a very tight schedule so he did this one on a fill-in from a previous cancellation. You may know him from his other work as a carpenter, but some of the information lost with unknown gnostic texts revealed him to be a baker, with how do we say, that "special touch." Considering leavening agents are a more modern invention, it is my theory that the J-man must have been a sourdough master, so when he agreed to drop by for a guest appearance on such short notice, I was floored. I thought "holy s___! the big heavy himself!" The timing was a little weird, being Halloween and all, but also being El dia de los muertos, it seemed perfect. So I cleaned up the kitchen and tried to look like I've had it together lately, and fed our grape starter in anticipation of his preferences (rumor has it that JC actually prefers his sourdough on the sweet side, go figure).

When he arrived (a touch late, he complained that the URW coalition {ultra-right-wing angels} had recently passed legislation that cut into the saviors promptness, despite being designed to do precisely the opposite), he gave us his trademark greeting and we soon got down to work. Flour, starter, water, oil, salt. He likes it simple, and employed a gentle kneading technique (involving throat singing) that he admittedly picked up from some zen buddhists on his last trip to the bay area. I thought it was pretty cool that even he sees room for improvement, and that in the working with the dough of life, he is willing to learn from other master bakers. It only makes sense. Mankind was making bread long before there were ANY saviors or the like.

After 20 minutes of kneading (no toddlers at home, so J-man is used to taking his time), we put the dough in the oven to rise once, and then shaped them into baguettes. I asked his opinion on fennel versus anise as a topping and he said something like "split the dough and I am there" which indicated to me that our selection of spice in life is special for its similarity, not its differences, which to me also implied that if the meal in question is savory then you usually go with fennel, sweet........definately anise. This settled, we painted the loaves with melted soy garden and seeded one of the baguettes with sesame, fennel and celery seeds.

I slashed the loaves when we went to put them in the oven, closed the door and heard a strange buzzing come from somewhere inside his tunic (which seemed synthetic when I was close to him; do today's use of animal products disgust him? Is he vegan, right down to his clothing, I thought at the time) He put his elbow up to his mouth and mumbled something that sounded like "thanks Cynthia, I'll get right on it" then turned to me and said he had something important to go attend to. "What about baking our bread, our shared dough of life," I whined. He made for the door, flashed his departure greeting and was gone.

I was honored to have the sourdough tutorial, however brief it was. I turned for the oven door and saw something strange, or didn't see something that is. The oven was empty, save for a 425 degree baguette pan, one side lightly sprinkled with seeds. I was pissed. All that work, and all I get is a few lousy pictures of him coming and going. No warm, fresh bread and the intoxicating aromas that come with the baking. Wait, something was different when he left, besides his hair being pulled up from the work in the kitchen............I have the technology, let's investigate.

There they were. Baked (now how did he do THAT?) Looking great I might add, with a nice color and shape. I felt a smile break across my face as I thought about whoever was now enjoying them, probably under the impression that HE, not I actually had performed most of the labor involved in their creation. I laughed as we went trick or treating as planned, and scored plenty of nasty corn-syrup filled candy, that seems to be the norm for today.

When I awoke on Wednesday morning and went down to the kitchen, it looked like someone had been there. I looked at the bread board in front of our toaster in response to the lingering burnt smell. A morning-after note from the man himself, how pathetic. Have a good x-mas, cheee-yaw..........I BETTER, after that stunt he pulled last night. Now, what to do with this loaf?

Smoke some salmon, get a good cream cheese, and get on with it. Like granny always said: when life (read JESUS) gives you lemons, you can choose to make lemonade, or you can mope.

Or in this case, you can brew some coffee to go with that fish and cream cheese, and get to constructing yourself a killer breakfast to go with that loaf, brought to you by our lord, of sorts.......

1 comment:

Michael Procopio said...

D-man, glad I checked out your site. I'm even gladder you didn't fall back on that whole the-dough-must-rise-again metaphor. I will be annoying you with future bread questions.