A day in the life

whole wheat rollsThere are four gigantic bananas on our counter right now, we know not from whence they came. I was at yesterday’s farmer’s market, but of course there are no bananas for sale there. Kyle has been to three grocery stores in the last 24 hours, but is certain he did not pick up any bananas. The only clue is a sticker, the florescent likes of which we have never seen before. It alleges that the bananas hail from Mexico and are ORGANIC!!!

But the trio of exclamation points makes me suspicious.

whole wheat rolls
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Sometimes I wish that I could spend my days working as a Mt. Tam fire lookout. Especially if there were some magical way I could actually see the stars like that, “really and not through a camera but with my eyes,” as Jacob put it when I showed him the video today. See how that fog curls into Mill Valley? We have no fog right now; just this strange, hot, uneasy weather. In October it was unseasonable; as we slide into November, it’s a little scary.

But not scary in remotely the same way as hurricanes.

adaptation

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There was a time in my life when letting laundry sit until Saturday was OK, and did not mean the weekend disappeared under piles of toddler-sized oatmeal-crusted t-shirts. This was obviously pre-children. It was also, you know, before my laundry baskets were cursed, and cast out of Eden, and bade to go forth and multiply, and bore multitudes as plentiful as the stars. Which is what they have done.

There is no other explanation.

kiddos

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Kyle and Jacob took the tomato plants down yesterday. The poor garden, in its final days, has had a strange fit – perhaps because of all this hot weather? – and suddenly there is a carpet of radish sprouts. Seriously, a soft downy spring-green carpet. Only it is spread over scorch-cracked brown dirt under a cerulean fall sky. It makes my head spin. But Lucas, his beloved “MumMums” all gone for the year, has taken to eating the radish sprouts.

So it is good to let some things go to seed.

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Some Laurie Colwin, or do I brave the headlines on the New York Times front page? “Hoh-No Mama!” — ooops. Too late.

more kiddos

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What time is dinner when there is a time change? If your kids were up before 6, 5:00 makes a fine time for supper. If wooden toys are flying through the air and alligators are losing their heads, 4:30 is even better. Just make sure that if you’re having leftover bean chili your partner has time to run to the grocery store because he “forgot to get hotdogs.” (!!) Because, apparently, hot dogs are something one can forget. One who eats them anyway. I am proud to say that Jacob took one bite of beef anus beef ?? and said “I don’t think I like this. Is this food?” Lucas, on the other hand, ate every last bit that was offered, and then sucked the ketchup off his fingers.

This was before beginning his nightly dinner time chant of “NoooNooos! NoooNooos!”

my plant

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Jacob’s green monkey jammies are worn thin to the point of translucence at spots, the elastic at the waist a soft shred of its former snappiness. He wraps himself tightly in the fluffy blue towel, annoyed to find Batman undies waiting for him. “But I want to be Superman!” Lucas meanwhile gets happily into his bug PJs, jabbering about shower, water, mama, diaper, bear, choo choo! But when he spots the faded ball pajamas Jacob recently handed down, he clutches them. “Ball,” he whispers, eyes big, lip trembly. “JayJay Ball.”

Despite the PJ grumps, they go to bed easily and are asleep within moments.

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Kyle cleaned the kitchen, and the nighttime air is cool through the windows. I brace myself for the laundry room and it turns out to be not that bad. We are warm and dry, full of good food, thankful for our clean, cuddly, grumpy children.

We still don’t know where those bananas came from, though.

whole wheat rolls

Whole Wheat Rolls
Adapted from Whole-Wheat Bread Made with Hard Wheat Flour inBeard on Bread by James Beard (1979 edition)

An any-day, every-day kind of roll. Softly but robustly wheat-crumbed, crusty enough to hold up to chili (or even, ew, a hot dog) but also plays happily with almond butter and jam in a lunch-box setting. Egg sandwich-making is a good idea … so is toasting, and buttering. A little honey never hurt this roll, and it’s a knock out alongside a big bowl of vegetable soup.

The original recipe, from James Beard, makes 1 large free-form loaf or two regular loaves (in pans). I like rolls here because they freeze well and reheat individually on the fly, and also because rolls can be nice for company. Soup might not seem like a company meal, but add homemade rolls and your guests just might kiss you.

I used to make this recipe with all whole wheat flour. But I got some hard red winter wheat flour from Community Grains, and have been enjoying the blend of that with bread flour. Beard’s original recipe calls for 3 cups whole-wheat and 2 cups hard-wheat, which would make for a coarser crumb than the one you see here (though no doubt very tasty). He also calls for melted butter (I use oil here) and an egg wash (I omit this). I started making the bread this way because I was short on butter, but found it delicious and have not looked back. An egg wash would add luster and crackle to the crust, but omitting it means you have a vegan version that works for most anyone who might be coming to dinner.

This is also a great bread for using up any “bonus” flour you might have around – that last bit of rye or buckwheat or spelt or whatever. I have replaced up to one entire cup of whole wheat flour and had good results.

2 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
2 cups warm water (100 degrees F, approximately)
1/4 cup grapeseed oil
2 tablespoons molasses (or honey)
1 tablespoon salt
2 cups whole wheat flour
2 cups hard wheat flour (such as this one)
1 cup bread flour (or all purpose flour) plus more for kneading
Graham flour, for dusting rolls and baking sheets

Dissolve yeast and sugar in 1/2 cup of the warm water in a large mixing bowl. Let proof. Stir the oil, salt and molasses into the remaining 1 1/2 cups of warm water. Add this mixture to the yeast mixture and stir with a wooden spoon. Add the whole wheat flour, one cup at a time, stirring well after each addition. Add the hard wheat flour and then the bread flour the same way. Once the dough is looking stiff and sticky, take it out of the bowl. Knead it on a counter or board covered with about 1/2 cup additional flour (I use bread flour, but you could use any of them). Knead 10 minutes or until the dough is smooth and pliable (Beard warns that it may “retain a bit of stickiness, as do most doughs made with dark-wheat flours”). Make into a ball and put into an oiled bowl. Cover with a dishtowel and let rise until doubled, 1 hour or possibly longer.

Punch down the dough, and divide. To make 12 rolls, I divide it first in half. Then divide each half in two (you now have four pieces). Then take each of those pieces and divide into three parts (you now have twelve pieces of dough). You can use a scale to make them exact, but I find that fairly close is good enough. Roll the dough pieces into balls, and set them on two parchment lined baking sheets dusted with graham flour.

Cover and let rise again until they have again approximately doubled in size. Preheat your oven to 425 F while they are rising. Dust them lightly with graham flour, then cut an X into the top of each roll with a sharp knife.

Bake at 425 F for ten minutes, then turn heat down to 375 F and bake for fifteen more minutes, or until the rolls are nice and brown and sound hollow when you tap on them.

6 thoughts on “A day in the life

    • If I were a betting person, I would be on Lucas too. It is totally not beyond him to joyride the car in search of bananas. But since he is usually an accomplice, I might also put money on Daddy (suffering memory loss? Exhaustion? We may never know).

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