Musing with Max

Musing with Max

June 15, 2011

Julia et moi

Being unemployed I have a tremendous amount of time on my hands. In fact I find the best thing about it is how time passes so slowly; the days don't just fly by like they normally due and then we find ourselves saying "wow, where did the week go?". This also has it's drawbacks, since I don't have a job or many foreseeable prospects in this crappy job market I can't really enjoy all that slow moving time as much as I'd like to. I find myself worrying a lot, which takes up a lot of time. I also find myself looking for things to do, namely all those things I've always been wanting to do when I'm at work and wish I could do if I had more time. Yes, this is quite the conundrum. So being that it's Summer, I thought I would spend more time out in the garden but the truth is the garden pretty much takes care of itself; I do most of the needed planting in mid May and then it just sort of grows and blooms and so forth. The only work needed is the occasional weeding and trimming which doesn't take up that much time and the weather has been kind of all over the place, too hot to be outside, too rainy to be outside or I'm to "worrying" to be outside being frivolously gardening. Since my real favorite thing to do is cook I decided the best way to pass the time is baking. But then it occurred to me that if I bake every day in about a week we won't fit through the door; unless of course I bake bread. I love baking bread, I love the process, the kneading, the rising, the punching, the second rising...Most of the breads that I've baked in the past are focaccia, English muffins and a yummy braided olive bread that we'll talk about some other time, on occasion I've made challah. So I decided it was high time I made the ultimate of breads, the french baguette. And that's where Julia comes in. As most people of my generation the first cooking show I ever watched was  The French Chef with Julia Child.  This was way before the Food Network came along and the term celebrity chef and all those idiots who wear the title. Julia, first and foremost, was a cook (I'll also give kudos here to two other "cooks" from PBS: Pierre Franey and Jacques Pepin ), celebrity was not in her vocabulary. And what a great cook, also a bit of a kook, she was. As a lot of people learned from the movie Julie and Julia she specialized in French cooking so where else could I possibly turn that to that book
Mastering the Art of French Cooking. There are two of these, volumes 1 and 2, and I have owned them for close to twenty years. I am embarrassed to say that I have NEVER EVER made one single thing out of either book. While I adored watching Julia and sometimes emulating her, her recipes in these books are daunting. She explains and explains and explains, and what she's explaining a lot is French cooking technique; a tad overwhelming to say the least. My hat goes off to this Julie person for attempting to make all the recipes, she clearly had more time then me. However I plunged in and seven hours later I had made two very decent French baguettes. I will not copy the recipe for two reasons, one I may get sued by a big powerful publisher for copyright infringement and two, it's six pages long (see what I mean?) I will post pictures instead:

The dough, ready for it's first rising:
the shaped baguettes, ready for it's third rising before going in the oven
The baguettes just out of the oven

The baguettes cooling

The Max waiting for a piece of bread, his absolute favorite food in the whole wide world  
I think I'll try Brioche next.
Bon appetit!

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