Saturday, March 24, 2007

This and That

Now that Spring has officially sprung, it seems fittin' and proper to feature a photo of this spring blooming hedge plant, known variously as English laurel or Cherry laurel or simply flowering laurel. When the plant is in full bloom, it looks to be covered with about a kajillion fat, frothy lace candles.

Around here, should one keep it clipped and trimmed, the laurel makes fantastic hedges although, in some parts of the northwest, it's considered an invasive plant. I've not seen evidence of "suckering" tendencies in this area but I do know the laurel turns into a tall fat tree if left untrimmed. I know of at least two homes around here that used to have quite nice laurel hedges until the trimming amenity was neglected. They now have quite nice laurel trees that rise triumphantly above roof level of the houses.

This seems a good time to cover a couple of questions about bread that have come in, either from the Comments link or in private mail. I always give you recipes as whupped out on the dough cycle of my bread machine. I have been asked whether bread machine recipes can be converted to stand mixer and/or to old-fashioned hand mixing. Yes. Absolutely. Perhaps the easiest way to get a handle on the differences is to pull up Google and type in something like "convert bread machine recipe" and browse the links that show up. Basically, it pretty much comes down to the order in which you mix ingredients.

Sometimes I mention the addition of Vital Wheat Gluten in my recipes. This is an optional ingredient but I've learned to love it. Keep it in a container in the freezer. You can usually find it at the supermarket in the flour section. If you're making bread with all white flour, you don't really need it. Vital Wheat Gluten makes a huge difference, however, in the rising and the lightness of texture if you're using any kind of whole grain flour. For more info on this and other bread dough additions, go here and scroll down the page.

Hmmm. Well, now -- what's happened here is all this talk about the venerated Staff of Life has got my tummy perking up and asking, "What's for lunch?" Oh dear. I'll have to think on that. Excuse me while I mentally mull over the assorted contents of shelf and cupboard, preparatory to mindlessly mauling selected items into edible form. We have to keep our respective tummies happy or they will simply drive us mad. And some of us don't have far to go.


bb said...

Almost all mad by now. Wanting to bake bread now. :-)

Mage said...

I have to confess that I gave the bread machine away, and I have carpal tunnel syndrome. Yes, I used to make some simply wonderful braided loaves....ah well.