Saturday, March 26, 2011

Martha made me do it.

I always buy Martha Stewart Living when I see a new one at the supermarket. I bought the January issue when it was on the newsstand and then promptly put it in the bathroom with the rest of the unread magazines. I barely looked at it for more than two months. And then one day in early March the kids were driving me batty with demands. So, I retreated to the bathroom and claimed through the locked door that I had a tummy ache and to please leave Mommy alone for a few minutes. Then, I had a seat and grabbed the nearest magazine, which happened to be January's Martha. I flipped it open and landed on an article about Chad Robertson, owner of Tartine Bakery in San Francisco. Robertson explained his love of bread and how his sourdough has come to be known as the best bread in America today. And then he divulged secrets for how I could make bread as good as his, in my own home.

The magazine is now semi-permanently affixed to the refrigerator.
I've always loved to experiment in the kitchen, to make the same dish or dessert again and again until it seemed as perfect as it could be. My parents recall with amusement my teenage obsession with lemon meringue pie. Making the lemon custard from scratch was so authentic, since the diner pies I'd eaten were obviously filled from a tin can. I absolutely loved the process of whipping snotty egg whites into a thick fluffy cloud. I relished the artistry of swirling the peaks just right and then browning them to a perfect golden brown. I made lemon meringue pie probably fifteen times one Spring, trying to get the custard just right so it didn't flood the pie plate when cutting that first slice. My dad, a sweet tooth, was at first thrilled with my new endeavor because it meant there was always a treat in the house. But even he got sick of eating it after a while. To this day, he can't even look at a lemon meringue pie without reminding the whole family about "that time when Elissa made lemon meringue pie every week for three months."
Look, it's smiling at you.
Phases of the loaf.
Sourdough bread is made not with the commercial yeast you see sold in little packets at the grocery store, but with a "starter," or a culture of flour, water and wild yeasts that can be captured from the air around us, as well as from foods such as wheat and grapes, among other things. I think that's freakin' amazing. From the article in Living I learned how to make a sourdough starter of my own. That day, upon leaving my self-imposed time-out in the bathroom, I mixed up a starter and put it in the cupboard. I'm now baking beautiful loaves of sourdough bread that look, and I suspect taste, just as good as Chad's sourdough at Tartine. And tonight, after I took two fresh loaves out of the oven, I took the leftover bread ends from last week's loaves and cut them into cubes and made a bread pudding. Just a few minutes ago I took the pudding out of the oven and thought, "Oh my God, what is this glorious thing I just created?" It tastes absolutely divine. And then hubby walked in and said, "Mmm, that looks really good. What is it?" And I said, "I think I'm going to start a blog."

I thought bread pudding was gross. Til tonight.
So, I guess I've been inspired. I've started this blog to document my adventures in breadbaking, cooking, mothering, wife-ering, hobbying, and whatever else gets my juices flowing. Bloggerbid is a play on my last name. I like to cook and bake, I've established that. But I also like to take pictures, plant gardens, knit and sew, decorate, pet my dog, feed my fish, hang out with my kids, husband, family and friends. I'm a Jersey housewife but not like those twits from the TV show, though I do live in the same town as one of them. I have three children. Two boys ages 7 and 5, and a daughter who'll soon be 4. I have a husband who I adore, but who also has been unemployed for exactly one year today. The last 365 days have been the worst and in some ways the best of our lives. The next six months and beyond should be blogworthy, as many changes are about to take place. Hopefully changes for the better, but maybe not. So I'll document it here, and hopefully you'll find it interesting.

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