This weekend we went to the National Maple Syrup festival. We had a great time running into a friend, seeing how they made maple syrup and sugar in ancient times and how they boil it down now. It was a cute little Indiana small town and an even cuter little farm. We treated ourselves to a pancake lunch with fresh, Grade B maple syrup (a lot of it) on top and some Grade A maple syrup to take home (after we finally discovered the difference between the grades – one isn’t better than the other. Grade A is sweeter and comes early in the season. Grade B is a little stronger and comes from the sap that runs later.).
You may or may not see the syrup make an appearance here. I usually ration our good stuff from Pulaski, so I can’t imagine I’ll be much more forthcoming with this stuff. We also spent a lot of time waiting in line for the bus, but I had good company so it was ok.
Perhaps the highlight of the day, though, was a demonstration by a King Arthur Flour educator on yeast dough basics. She told us a lot about the employee run company in Vermont and we were quite impressed. I always like to see smaller companies with good values, and am more likely to support them even if the cost is just a bit higher. She walked us and the class through how to make some cinnamon rolls, with tips here and there. Chris probably mostly knew all of it, but quite a lot of it was new to me. The best part was that she asked Chris to be her assistant. Armed with a new King Arthur Flour hat (which he proceeded to wear the rest of the weekend), he used his ‘burley man strength’ (her words) to help make some dough. He even got a few pointers on his kneading technique. I highly recommend stopping by if they end up in your area.
Armed with my new found knowledge, encouragement, yeast and dough scraper from the class (and my husband the bread baker on call), I set out to make some homemade English muffins. I proofed the yeast, substituted 2 cups of whole wheat flour and let it soak in the proofed yeast like the teacher suggested, and kneaded with a light hand. I cut them out and waited for them to rise. And waited for them to rise some more. They never really did, but we decided to call defeat and cook them anyway. They ended up small and gummy, neither of which are characteristics I wanted for my English muffins.
Needless to say I was a bit disappointed. There’s nothing worse than having your high ‘I might-be-a-somewhat-bread-baker’ hopes dashed AND spending the entire afternoon in the kitchen with nothing to show for it. But I will not give up! I’ve had success with the bread machine and I’m ready to move on to the real stuff. The King Arthur Flour lady and my husband have assured me I can do it! You’ll just have to stand by and wait (perhaps a while) for the results.
Here’s everything we have planned for this week, though there might be some shuffling here or there.
- Veggie bagel sandwiches – This is one of our favorite things. We even splurged on good bagels from the best local place. We toast the bagels, top with cream cheese and scallions, avocado, red pepper, cucumber, sprouts and cheese. More of a summer thing, but surely it’s right around the corner anyway. Right?
- Breakfast sandwiches and home fries
- Cauliflower, chickpea and potato curry
- Corned beef, cabbage and potatoes in the crock pot (Happy St. Patrick’s Day!)
- Reubens on pumpernickel bagels – we’ll use the leftover corned beef. yum!
- Date night at a local gourmet restaurant that’s offering a buy one get one entree special while the students are gone. I’m excited to splurge, even if it’s only a half splurge! (c: