Live Well
bread-and-the-art-of-perseverance
May 2016

Bread and the Art of Perseverance

I am by nature an impatient person…it can be a good trait at times but, mostly, it’s something I try to get over. If my brief horseback riding career has taught me anything it’s the art of patience and perseverance. The only way to improve is with hours in the saddle, falling off and getting right back on, and doing drills and exercises over and over again (and coming back the next day only to find that what you mastered the previous day is useless because your horse is in a different mood). So, I am slowly learning patience and perseverance…the hard way.

I am finding that this is serving me well as I try my hand at baking bread. After watching Michael Pollan bake a beautiful loaf of bread on the Netflix documentary “Cooked” (which I highly recommend watching, by the way), I got the bug to start making my own bread. I had done this before but never with great success: my attempt at making the Sullivan Street Bakery No-Knead Bread was always a near-disaster – the bread was barely an inch high and so dense you could use it as a paperweight; I also tried Michael Pollan’s bread recipe when I read his book “Cooked” but that didn’t turn out quite right and then someone threw out the starter that I had spent weeks cultivating so I gave up. This time, I decided to pursue my bread-making until I finally got it right. I pulled up a recipe (the one Sam Sifton wrote about in the New York Times – check out the link here) and started on my starter. I followed the recipe to the last letter but my starter didn’t really work because when I used it in the place of the yeast in the No-Knead Bread recipe, my bread still looked like a dense pancake. I decided to go back to the version that Michael Pollan referred to in his book (this recipe can be found here). This one took a while. A couple of days on the initial starter, followed by a week on the main starter, followed by another two days to finish everything off (the upside is that at the end you are left with a starter that needs to be fed on a regular basis from which you can just keep baking one loaf after another). Finally, after endless hours watching the starter bubble, the bread rise, and three failed loaves, I finally got it right. And it was so delicious!

Anyhow, the point of all this is not to say that I finally got a good loaf of bread. The point is to say that all good things take time and nurturing. Whether it’s a loaf of bread, a cake, a garden, a riding career, it all takes time and dedication and perseverance. It also requires that we slow down to take stock of where we are at any given point. With my loaf of bread, I had to be mindful of the state of my starter on a daily basis – was it showing signs of activity? If not, did I need to move it to a cooler or warmer spot? I began to enjoy my daily interaction with my starter to see how it was faring. Mostly, though, I enjoyed the challenge and was thrilled when my efforts finally paid off!

dotted-line
READ PAST ARTICLES
qotm-2016-05

Cook Well
ramps

Ramp and Pea Soup

To me, there is no vegetable that says Spring more than ramps. I love this Ramp and Pea soup, which can be eaten hot or cold, because it is rich and warming yet also fresh and Spring-y at the same time.

Serves 6

1lb. ramps
2 Vidalia onion, cut into 8 wedges
4 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup dry white wine
6 cups vegetable or chicken stock
1lb. fresh or frozen peas
Sea salt and freshly-ground black pepper
1/2 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  1. 1. Thinly slice ramps, keeping green tops and bulbs separate.
  2. 2. Melt butter in a medium pot. Saute ramp bulbs and onion until translucent. Add wine and broth and bring to a boil. Let boil for 3-4 minutes so that alcohol from the wine can boil off. Simmer 20 minutes.
  3. 3. Add ramp greens and peas and simmer an additional 5-10 minutes. Season soup with salt and freshly-ground black pepper. Let soup cool.
  4. 4. When soup is cool, puree in a blender until smooth. Return soup to pot and re-heat to a simmer. Add cheese and butter and serve.

dotted-line

Worhtwhile

farm-visits

Visit to Rolling Stone Sheep Farm and Gilbertie’s Herb Gardens

I recently had the opportunity to visit two Connecticut farms with a friend who owns a company called Connecticut Farm Fresh Express, a farm-to-door food delivery service (for those of you who live in Connecticut, I highly recommend the service – check out www.ctfarmfreshstore.com).

First we visited Rolling Stone Sheep Farm in the hills of New Milford, Connecticut (www.rollingstonesheepfarm.com). Frank McEneaney raises sustainable, 100% grass-fed lamb. He also has two llamas who guard the flock of lambs and help ward of predators. Then we visited Gilbertie’s Herb Gardens in Easton, Connecticut (www.petiteedibles.com). Gilbertie’s started out 50 years ago as an herb farm and recently started to grow organic small edible greens. CHECK OUT MY PICTURES…