19 February 2015


Taken from the recipe first published by the New York Times. Adapted from Jim Lahey, Sullivan Street Bakery

I mixed everything yesterday at 4pm and let it sit all night. I must've put it into the oven at about 11am this morning, so it didn't sit the full 24 hours. Somewhere else I read to let it sit about 12-16 hours, which is what I did. And I didn't do the towels this time. I shaped the dough into a ball and let it spend its last two hours on a lightly-floured cutting board, and dropped it into the French oven that way. I have a 3.5 quart Le Creuset French oven, and it came out just fine. (I think the recipe calls for a 6 or 8 quart.) So easy and amazing! Bon appetit! 

(I removed the knob on the lid of the French oven and replaced it with a nub of aluminum foil, just to be safe.)

No Knead Bread Recipe

  • 3 cups all-purpose or bread flour, more for dusting
  • ¼ teaspoon instant yeast
  • 1 ¼ teaspoons salt
  • Cornmeal or wheat bran as needed
  1. In a large bowl combine flour, yeast and salt. Add 1 5/8 cups water, and stir until blended; dough will be shaggy and sticky. Cover bowl with plastic wrap. Let dough rest at least 12 hours, preferably about 18, at warm room temperature, about 70 degrees.
  2. Dough is ready when its surface is dotted with bubbles. Lightly flour a work surface and place dough on it; sprinkle it with a little more flour and fold it over on itself once or twice. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rest about 15 minutes.
  3. Using just enough flour to keep dough from sticking to work surface or to your fingers, gently and quickly shape dough into a ball. Generously coat a cotton towel (not terry cloth) with flour, wheat bran or cornmeal; put dough seam side down on towel and dust with more flour, bran or cornmeal. Cover with another cotton towel and let rise for about 2 hours. When it is ready, dough will be more than double in size and will not readily spring back when poked with a finger.
  4. At least a half-hour before dough is ready, heat oven to 450 degrees. Put a 6- to 8-quart heavy covered pot (cast iron, enamel, Pyrex or ceramic) in oven as it heats. When dough is ready, carefully remove pot from oven. Slide your hand under towel and turn dough over into pot, seam side up; it may look like a mess, but that is O.K. Shake pan once or twice if dough is unevenly distributed; it will straighten out as it bakes. Cover with lid and bake 30 minutes, then remove lid and bake another 15 to 30 minutes, until loaf is beautifully browned. Cool on a rack.

18 February 2015


I'm not sure if the moment for Nineties nostalgia has passed quite yet, but I'm going to keep it going in my little corner of the internet for just a little longer (i.e., as long as I want.) I've had to hear about the Sixties for most of my life, so a little love for the Nineties shouldn't hurt anybody (any more than, say, a Slap Bracelet would.)

Over the last few weeks I've gotten quite a few Nineties 'jolts' from unexpected places. Most of them came from '20th anniversary' something-or-others. Movie and CD re-releases, TV reunions, like Jimmy Fallon's SAVED BY THE BELL skit. The best came from Heidi when we were discussion something on Netflix that had been described as 'quirky.' She said, "...everything in the Nineties was 'quirky.'" And she's absolutely right. I mean, just look at Cake, which was basically OK Go before the internet created them like some kind of self-fulfilling prophecy/quirk Frankenstein, right?

And she's totally right. In a way, it felt like alternative culture had finally entered the mainstream, probably right around the time U2 did. With THE JOSHUA TREE they burst out of their little patch of real estate on alternative radio, paving the way for the moody surge that followed. (Remember when they were just a 'quirky' little band from Ireland? (So, maybe that descriptor doesn't hold up to bands originating in the Eighties.)) U2 recorded their next album, ACHTUNG BABY, in Germany (quirky) and shifted their influences from Americana to industrial/electronic dance (extra quirky.) That tour saw Bono adopt multiple persona (The Fly, Mirror Ball Man, MacPhisto) and prank-calling sex lines and local politicians from stage. (The White House would NOT take his calls.) The even quirkier PopMart tour came later in the Nineties. The electric spectacle included Golden Arch and giant lemon mirror ball set-pieces.

Between the fall of communism and the election of Bill Clinton, the stage had been set for a new wave of idealism to replace Eighties Gen X cynicism. Silent protests gave way to activism and social and political involvement on a much broader scale. The environmental movement swelled--Al Gore had just published EARTH IN THE BALANCE and 'tree sitting' became a thing. Rock the Vote got young people to the polls in greater numbers. In 1992, youth voter turnout was twenty percent higher than it had been in the previous twenty years, in in 1996, Rock the Vote registered over 500,000 new voters. 

Somewhere, I saw the definition of a bluesman as one who is a '...prisoner of hope.' And that's what the Nineties did to make. Take my Gen X cynicism and add two parts idealism, and you get what's described above. And I suppose that blind idealism has been the source of some of my happiest moments and greatest successes, both personally, professionally, and artistically. So I put this little playlist together to give me a little jolt of something I'm fighting to hang onto when the cynicism and sarcasm start to overwhelm the blue light of hope that fades in a dark corner of my mind. Hope it does something similar for you.