The yeast also rises

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A few weeks back I successfully made a baked brie. It was probably the easiest thing I’d ever prepared. You take a tube of Pillsbury dough, open it without punching out your eye, smoosh the dough flat, put the brie on top, fold the dough till you’ve got a brie cocoon, and then put it in the slow cooker on high for two or three hours.

It was delicious. I’d like to pretend it was willpower that stopped me from eating the whole thing then and there, but honestly it was because I burned my mouth and decided on the spot to explore the virtues of cold leftover brie. Cold leftover brie, I determined the next day, is very virtuous. Scalding hot or cold, it is a tasty and simple dish, one that I made again a few days later in Durham. (More on that later.)

But then I read Michael Pollan’s Food Rules and got to feeling all guilty about the processed crap I regularly ingest, so figured I’d try making my own dough from scratch next time around. More time-consuming, and perhaps more expensive, but I’d be able to walk about being all smug about the superior quality of my diet.

I made the dough. I followed the directions as best I could, but I wasn’t sure if I got the temperatures right. The recipe explained that the milk and the water should both be 110 degrees, so I warmed them till they reached, in my estimation, the heat of a very hot day.

Then result was not inedible, I’ll give myself that much.

Since the dough did not actually rise, I suppose I probably killed off the wee yeasties, which naturally I felt terrible about. For penance I made myself eat the bread, which would be more properly be described as lembas.

I’ll be trying again soon. The intelligent thing would be to get a thermometer, but I couldn’t find one in the grocery store. Or rather, I found a meat thermometer, but I wasn’t sure if it would work well for liquids. In a fit of inspiration I tried the drug store, which had thermometers aplenty, but none of them went much above 105 degrees, presumably because at that point death in humans is imminent.

My other food adventure recently involved the consumption of “a type of edible offal from the stomachs  of various farm animals”, more commonly known as tripe, though I don’t think I would have been so quick to order it from the menu at the Vietnamese place if I’d understood what tripe actually is. Truly I thought I’d been served the wrong dish, when I spied the squid-looking mass in my pho.

I was at the Vietnamese place to catch up with a fellow library school student who’d recently moved to the area. Though he graduated with his MLS at the same time I did, five years ago, he’s already served as a library director, which is frankly obnoxious. This did not however prevent me from asking him to look over my resume. I’ve applied for two jobs in far-flung places, and I’m waiting to see what comes of them, but I’ve decided to make an already-difficult job search exponentially more difficult by limiting any future job applications to North Carolina.

I was already aware that I missed NC. I can’t quite call it my home state, since I didn’t move there till I was seven, but it feels like home—and when I visited this past weekend, I was reminded of how very much I enoyed living there. I went down there to attend the college graduation of the daughter of a woman I’d volunteered with back when I lived in Chapel Hill, and along the way I looked up some friends in the Durham area.

I had a lovely time. It wasn’t just that I was happy over the weekend; it’s that I remembered how much happier I was during the time I lived in NC—first in Weaverville, then Greensboro, then Chapel Hill. Some of that happiness was due to being in school, that fleeting phase of life during which optimism about the future clouds your thinking. But some of that happiness came from the state itself. North Carolina is a good match for me. It does not have the cold weather I prefer, and about two-thirds of the state is bereft of mountains, but even in the warmer flat parts I feel more at home than I ever have since moving away.

So I’m still going to see what, if anything, comes of my job applications elsewhere, but I am not exactly holding my breath; I seem to recall applying for nearly forty jobs before I got a bite, when I first started looking after library school, and this time around the economy stinks. I appreciate that we’re slowly starting to recover, but since libraries are usually funded my state governments, it takes a long while for job opportunities to recover. At least I’m a much better candidate now than I was five years ago. I might have a chance at distinguishing myself from the other graduates of the three-countem-three library schools in the state.

And now I’m going to continue reading Horns. I lost interest after a few chapters of Joe Hill’s debut Heart-Shaped Box, but the reviews of this second novel were so good that I decided to give it a try. He’s still not his dad (though gosh if he doesn’t look like him), but the first third has been really good. If I show up to work all bleary-eyed on Monday it’s because I stayed up too late reading.

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3 responses »

  1. Use a candy thermometer to measure temperature of liquids. Do you have one with your candle making supplies? Don’t use THAT one, as it isn’t wise to mix candle wax and edibles, but that is what it looks like.

    Reply
  2. eelemosenary archivist

    "Better comestible than combustible"! Sounds like fodder for thought; exotic by 21st Century US kitchen-standards, but owing much to Lord Kitchener’s influence in spicing up bland Brit diets. Home cooked viands are indeed nicer(but Tripe?!}. Rather thought you’d dropped off line for awhile, but pleased it was a Homeward Angel-ish Carolina hiatus. Remember those Leonine guardians of the NYPL Main entrance, Fortitude(on the left?),Patience on the opposite side. Keep on readin’ and cookin’, Jess.. out-4-now, regards EA

    Reply

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