kitchen storage and washer

Don’t make this about the rain

That’s not really a title inasmuch as a little note to myself to not whine about the rain. That’d make me the typical American tourist, right? So, I will not write about biking 4 miles uphill (both ways) through the cold wind to get to a job interview that I was late for and riding home, slaughtered by an angry rain that left me with water pouring out of my shoes. Nope, won’t do it.

I will write about my second attempt at pizza, because it went better than the first, even though once again the dough lacked sugar for the yeast to gobble up. But this time the recipe came from an expert in all things dough, Jim Lahey, and his no-knead crust truly is worth the hype. It’s hard to improve upon genius, but here are some tips that work for me, including two new ones:

1. Bring your dough to room temp. at least an hour before go-time. You’ll want to makesure it’s not sticky, so get your hands dirty (with flour). And if you can avoid turning your kitchen into a floury mess within the next five minutes, tell me your secret.

2. Handle the dough gently (to avoid hurting its feelings). Meaning, don’t roll it into oblivion with a bowling pin, just gently lift and stretch from the corners. I don’t have a pizza stone, so I baked on parchment+a baking sheer.

3. Throw pan with dough in oven as it preheats, maybe 3-4 minutes or so. Watch it carefully. You just want it to get a little firm, not bake. This helps avoid a soggy crust, as does this next tip:

4. Top partially-baked crust with thin layer of olive oil, then your sauce and toppings. A random Internet commenter argues that this prevents the sauce from soaking into the base, preserving that crispy crust. It sounds plausible.

5. Never trust bake times. Since it’s baked in a hot-as-possible oven, pizza can go from underdone to burnt fairly quickly. Just watch it like a hawk, which you’ll be doing anyway, because there’s something magical about seeing your creation spring to life in the oven.

If anyone makes this and wants to wax poetic about pizza, please report back! No, seriously. It can’t be just me.

I wasn’t planning to ramble about pizza, though. I was going to offer a lighter topic than the last post, heavy in statistics and journal citations, so here’s an enlightening list of some cultural differences that are on my mind this week. Now I am being that obnoxious American tourist. But my aim is to admit the wrong of my ways, because the differences I’ve noticed are all positive.

1. People don’t wear a lot of clothes here. Wait, that sounded wrong. I’ll explain by giving you a glimpse into our home: a washing machine that looks like it belongs in a dollhouse, and already too many drying racks. We have to be picky about what to wash (do we want to wear it again soon?), when (things take a while to dry– when do we need this sweater or towel or pair of jeans?), and how often (one load needs to finish drying so the next one can be hung up). I think this type of setup is common in these little houses/apartments, and Europeans (gross generalization, I know) just don’t have extensive wardrobes.

kitchen storage and washer
teeny-tiny washing machine

Basically, I should have packed 1/6 the amount of clothes that I did, because that’s how much I actually wear. When something is dry, I’ll most likely wear it again, rather than dig for that other shirt or pair of socks.

Okay, I have a cat on my lap, telling me to put down the laptop and put up my feet. Because it’s Friday. And all I want to do is watch Homeland, and eventually pass out at an embarrassingly early bedtime. You’ll have to wait for the continuation of this list ’til tomorrow. Or Monday. My blogging habits are sporadic at best, and I’m not going to apologize for it.

Have a nice weekend!


4 thoughts on “Don’t make this about the rain”

  1. Dear Wet One, I hope you have dried out by now and I hope your ride thru the liquid sunshine was worth it. I feel guilt having a dryer..if it makes you feel better I love hanging laundry outside whenever I can….guess you would to if you had somewhere to hang it.
    Some day, these days will be a memory when things have gotten better, and they will. I remember John’s great Aunt Sophie Boas telling us when she first married they lived in a house without running water and a baby on the way.
    What a nightmare in todays standards. I pray daily you find a job within at least cycling distance if not walking distance..I’ve threatened to take the statue of the Blessed Virgin and hide her telling God if he wants to see his mother again HE will get you a job!!!
    Aunt Nancy

  2. Clea, don’t feel pressured to rite your blogs. Just do it whenever you feel like it. It should be fun for you to write as it is fun for us to read it!!!
    I’m sorry you got so soaking wet–how miserable. Reminds me when I was a student at Millersville (without a car) and I had to go from Roddy Science Center to Lyte Auditorium for my music class in a rather short amount of time. And a sudden storm came up but I didn’t want to miss music class so I trekked on up. When I got there everyone else was in their seats and the music prof, Miss Romig, a lovely and gracious person, saw me straggle in soaking wet and she MADE me, in front of everyone, go to the ladies room to dry myself off with paper towels, especially my hair (which was long at the time). She meant well, but I was so embarrassed! Some memories of rain are not so pleasant!
    Very interesting news about pizza dough. My grandmother always rubbed her balls of dough (for pizza and bread) with some olive oil so that the dough didn’t get dried out while rising. I’m sure that enhanced the taste; we all loved her bread and pizza! I think John remembers.
    Maybe the British don’t have the same standards of cleanliness and don’t do laundry as often????
    Always enjoy your blogs, and you can complain about the rain; I enjoy hearing everything about your “new world.”

  3. And, oh yes, Clea, my grandmother did punch her dough a bit; it was nice punches, not vicious ones, but I remember her saying that you punch the dough!!

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