Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Making grandmothers proud!

I'm sure you all know the cliche, and hopefully have experienced it as many times as I have: walking into your grandparent's house, getting the round of hugs, noticing all the familiar knickknacks on the shelves, the embarrassing pictures of you and your siblings on the walls next to pictures of obscure relatives you may or may not have even met...then all of sudden, the scent hits you. You know it well, and it draws you into the quaint kitchen where your grandmother has made so many family meals over the years...the wonderful smell of fresh homemade bread. Anybody who knows me knows that I grew up LIVING for that moment. Nothing else quite like it, is there? And yet, it's becoming a bit of a rarity. After all, who has the time to spend 4 or 5 hours tending to the kitchen these days? Well, I'm here to buck the trend and make grandmothers everywhere proud!

Giving credit where it's due, Jenn's best friend Beth gave me the idea for this one, and it was a no-brainer for me. I'm always open to suggestions(in fact, I encourage them!), and this was one I absolutely couldn't refuse. So, I asked Jenn for her Namie's recipe for homemade rolls, we picked up the ingredients, and off I went! I know this probably goes without saying, but I had zero experience doing this kind of thing. The closest was my chocolate chip banana bread(check out the archives from last March), but this is a different kind of beast.

Anyway, it appears that I still have difficulty with the most elementary of cooking tasks, because when the recipe called for "1 1/2 cups of boiling water", I poured exactly 1 1/2 cups of water into the kettle and stood there with what I imagine was a very vacant look on my face. When Jenn came into the kitchen I told her what I did, and she casually remarked the blatantly obvious fact that I missed: naturally, when water turns to steam, it leaves behind a smaller volume of water than what you start with. Universe: 1, Adam: 0.

After that was sorted out, I poured some yeast into a measuring cup with water and vigorously stirred it, and waited for it to rise..which never happened. So I called her in again, stood there with that same damn vacant look on my face, only to be informed that yeast needs to be left alone for 10 minutes in order to rise, THEN must be stirred. Universe: 2, Adam: 0.

Once I had that under control and added the flour things started to look up for me. I thrashed and pounded on that dough, taking out all my aggression towards the universe on that pile of soon-to-be bread. For 20 minutes, the beating continued, and when I heard all the little yeast-ies begging for mercy, I stopped and let them puff up for a while. The recipe called for the oven to be on 350, but you must know, our oven is a piece of junk. Seriously. If(when) I eventually blame a failed project on the oven, rest assured that statement will be at least 60% true. Maybe. Ok, 40%.

So, yeah, into the oven it went, and I waited with crossed fingers, hoping that if I could succeed in any one recipe, it would be this one. And by gum, I did it! This is easily the most pride I've felt in anything I've ever cooked. Take a look, if you will, at my ultimate culinary achievement thus far!