Now is as good a time as any to explain my love for Friday nights here at the Holon. Every Friday night is Shabbat, starting at Sundown on Friday until Sundown on Saturday. Because things are so slow in the winter, I don't find myself counting down the days until Saturday, but I do look forward to Friday night dinners. Theo and Max always come over and Albert and Georgette generally stop by. The food is extra special and we all sit down and spend time together. Theo, Oliver, Max and The Logger play music and Guv usually sings along and drums. Talula loves to dance. I'm not always the most active participant, but that's just my nature. I love to sit in a room full of people and enjoy what goes on around me. Fridays are late nights around here and there's a lot to enjoy for the evening.
For the last few weekends there have been cyber creeps in the house, which means we can not use the dinning room and we eat in the kitchen. This is usually a kind of cramped thing with some people eating standing up, or in the big comfy chair in the corner, but last night Oliver had the idea to pull the wooden counter top away from the stove and make a dinner table we could all sit around. It worked perfectly and we could all sit down and look at one another while we talked. Mostly about Obama and a little about the environment vs. gay rights, which sounds like a ridiculous topic, because it is. Theo's argument was that the state of the environment is more time sensitive than gay rights. Oliver's input was that the people who argue against gay rights are the people least affected by it. I said that the argument of who can marry who is such a stupid topic to begin with that I couldn't believe anyone would put effort into it, especially while there were pressing issues like global climate change hanging over us. This was something everyone could agree with. However, the argument does exist and I feel very strongly that we can not take care of the planet if we can't even take care of each other. How can I say that it's more important to buy a hybrid car than for someone to be able to openly display affection and marry the person they want to grow old with? Just because one is more time sensitive does not mean that it is more important. I don't think I expressed this very well last night, but I don't think that anyone was arguing against this point, just saying that it was so stupid that such prejudice even exists when the world as we know it may not be here in twenty years.
Getting back to the Friday night Shabbat dinner, I've been thinking it might be fun to put up a recipe or maybe a bit about what we've been eating. Generally when I am in charge of my own meals and no one else is eating them I don't eat unhealthy, but I do eat lazy. Since being here, I've found that it's still easy to eat lazy, but also really well. Many of our meals do not take a serious amount of effort or prior planning, but we still eat like we live on a farm(...). Last night was home made seitan (which does take effort and planning, or you can just buy it for an outrageous price) with mushrooms, carrots, sunflower seeds and soy sauce; follards (Which is what Bonnie and Oliver call their fake collards: the greens of broccoli, which are not generally eaten, but yummy nonetheless) sautéed with garlic; everything served over rice. I made some oh-my-god easy bread and Theo brought over some home-made nut butter, mayonnaise, and horseradish (which was so amazingly strong I wanted to die, but in a good way). Guv was kind enough to do the bread blessing twice and Talula did not break anything all night. Success!
oh-my-god easy bread (also known as Simple Crusty Bread) recipe:
1 1/2 tablespoons yeast
1 1/2 tablespoons kosher salt
6 1/2 cups unbleached, all-purpose flour, more for dusting dough
1. In a large bowl or plastic container, mix yeast and salt into 3
cups lukewarm water (about 100 degrees). Stir in flour, mixing until
there are no dry patches. When using white flour I find I usually have to add a little more in when mixing. Dough will be quite loose. Cover, but not
with an airtight lid. Let dough rise at room temperature 2 hours (or
up to 5 hours).
2. Bake at this point or refrigerate, covered, for as long as two
weeks. When ready to bake, sprinkle a little flour on dough and cut
off a grapefruit-size piece with serrated knife. Turn dough in hands
to lightly stretch surface, creating a rounded top and a lumpy bottom.
Put dough on pizza peel (or a cookie sheet)sprinkled with cornmeal; let rest 40 minutes.
Repeat with remaining dough or refrigerate it.
3. Place broiler pan on bottom of oven. Place baking stone on middle
rack and turn oven to 450 degrees; heat stone at that temperature for
20 minutes. If you don't have a stone, don't worry about it. I've tried it with and without and it makes no difference at all.
4. Dust dough with flour, slash top with serrated or very sharp knife
three times. Slide onto stone. Pour one cup hot water into broiler pan
and shut oven quickly to trap steam. Bake until well browned, about 20-30
minutes. Cool completely.
Yield: 4 loaves.
You don't really need cornmeal or a baking stone, I just use a cookie sheet and extra flour.
This recipe is very skeletal and easy to change for different kinds of bread. I made a few loaves with half whole-wheat flour half white flour and put raisins in it. I thought it came out pretty yummy. I'm curious to try one with rosemary and olive oil.