Here in West Texas, the weather can be somewhat unpredictable and extreme at times – extremely hot, extremely cold, and sometimes in the middle. Yesterday meant a huge snow storm (for around here). We knew the storm had been coming – lots of it on the news – but still, I was surprised at how persistent the snow was. It snowed on and off (but mostly on) for all of the daylight hours of Sunday. As I do not have that much snow experience, I found it to be hypnotic when I gazed out of the window at the flakes falling from the leaden sky. There were a lot of really huge snowflakes floating around, and it was easy to fall into a reverie after a while if you weren’t careful. Perhaps you get used to this if you are exposed to snow a lot where you live – to me, it was fascinating.
This is what it looked like around tea time:
(I recognize that this small amount of snowfall is paltry compared to some places. It’s just exciting when it happens in a place where it doesn’t come much. This snow fall (and the accompanying ice) led to Monday’s school cancellations, the university closing for half the day, and numerous other delays. Lubbock tends to err on the side of caution about snow.)
So, whilst all this snow was falling from the sky, I read my book (shocker!), made bread (much more of a shocker), and made loads of beef stew. It was a good day to be in the kitchen. (If ever there is a good day to be in the kitchen, it’s a rare snowy winter day here in Texas.)
So, the bread:
After having been seduced by the gorgeous and enthusiastic writing of Jane Brocket’s “The Gentle Art of Domesticity”, I wanted to make bread to see if it was really that hard and complicated. I found a whole wheat bread recipe on allrecipes.com (great site, btw), and just followed all the instructions. I had read that it’s important to follow the directions to the “t” with baking, so didn’t do my usual “caution to the winds” style of cooking that I usually do (being approximate with measuring ingredients etc.). The only thing puzzling – all the bread recipes I found kept mentioning “bread flour”, but when I went to the grocery, there was no bread flour anywhere that I could see. “Bread flour”? Is this a special kind of flour? (I presume that it is.) Anyhoo, I just used normal whole wheat flour, and it seemed to work out ok…
The finished product (above). (Shiny because the recipe made a big point about brushing the crusts with melted butter right when the loaves came out of the oven to prevent a hard crust.) I thought the loaves would be taller (i.e. rise more), but perhaps that is what the elusive bread flour does.
The loaves tasted really good (especially warm from the oven and slathered with strawberry jam), and the kitchen smelled fantastic. I think someone should bottle that smell as an air freshener. Yum. So, this was my first experiment with the bread world (without using a bread machine which we had, never used and sold), and I quite enjoyed it. I don’t think making bread will become a regular habit, but this was the perfect day for it and I actually had all the ingredients and the time to do it. Good times.
(I also made two hundred gallons of beef stew which is perfect for snowy days and freezes well for future cold days.)
MONDAY UPDATE: This being Lubbock, Texas, most of the snow is now melting, it’s going to be a high of about 70 degrees, and the sky is bright blue. Odd weather. It was about five degrees yesterday (as the high when 32 is freezing).
Avi Puppy loved the snow as well. Muttley the Ancient One, not so much. Both cats, of course, bolted into the house as soon as the door was opened. They know a warm place when they see it.