I was up like a shot at 6:30am when Ellie came over and aggressively nudged my "dead arm" into a position that it couldn't really go into. Rather than chastise her and try to get her to go back to sleep, I just got up. We went for a nice walk, and then I fed her and coffeed myself.
Right now, I'm sitting at the kitchen table consulting many books about many things.
My dad has amazingly gotten me three different books which seem to be of the utmost importance right now. Mel Bartholomew's All New Square Foot Gardening, Peter Reinhart's Artisan Breads Every Day, and Cook's Illustrated's The Complete Book of Pasta and Noodles.
This weekend, I start my seeds for the garden. It's been a while since I even thought about the garden, as evidenced by the fact that we never broke it down, never cleared it and never refurbished the soil. All bad moves. I'll definitely need to re-up the soil when it comes time. In the mean time, however, I need to figure out what needs to be started now and get on it. I can't wait. Dad bought me the square food gardening book a few years ago, and I thought I'd just review it to make sure that I'm on the right page and am truly maximizing the space I have.
As I mentioned before, Dad and I are baking our way through Peter Reinhart's cookbook. We started with the Pain à l'Ancienne Rustic Bread, which you can see below. I had some trouble with it - in that, I had to let it rise out for about an hour longer than recommended in the book. The end result, well...much rising, large air bubbles and a lot of dough. I made three small ciabatta loaves, which have been delicious thus far. Recommendations from a friend for next time: split the dough into two bowls before the rise. That way, you can pull them out on different days to bake. I don't know why I didn't think of that myself, but as it was rising, I thought, "What in the world am I going to do with so much bread?" The answer: eat it!
For our next feat, we will be doing the wheat sheaf baguette. I'm thrilled. It's a beautiful loaf, and it looks so professional. Here's hoping I do it right. I've got a potluck on Monday night and I'm hoping to have time to bake it and take it with me.
As for the Cook's Illustrated Pasta book, Dad got me a pasta maker and that cookbook. I got the pasta maker a while ago, but I got the cookbook just this past week - along with a pasta drying rack! I've already made lasagna noodles and fettuccine with the pasta maker - both were outstanding. I used whole wheat flour and found that I liked the heartiness of it. I can't wait to delve into the book and figure out what recipe I'll do first!