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Archive for February, 2010

I have been really bad with bread blogs lately, so I’m going to consolidate the next two into one short summary. I made the light wheat bread quite a while ago, and it came out well. Below are the ingredients used in the formula.

Then—surprise!–I mixed everything together. Well, technically, my mixer did most of the work.

The interesting part about this day was that I got a call from the Kinnelon library, asking me if I could come in for an impromptu interview. I was thrilled to get a call about the job, but it would mean I’d have to leave my bread unattended at a most inopportune time. It was at least halfway through the rise, and should have gone into the oven right around when I had to leave the house. Not really sure what to do, I put the loaf in the fridge, figuring that it would either be preserved or ruined. This was the loaf right before I left the house.

Once I got back, the loaf didn’t look like it was having any major problems, so I just continued with baking it, and everything came out all right in the end. I even got the job!

The next bread was Marble Rye, but I cheated and just made regular rye. I didn’t have the time to make two doughs, and I was lacking whatever ingredient it was that would have made the dough dark in the first place. Below is the cap from one of the other ingredients. Do you know which one?

This formula called for a mix of rye flour and regular flour and as a result made the dough surprisingly unphotogenic. This was when I was forming it into a loaf.

In the end, the bread came out somewhat ugly, but edible. It didn’t really taste too rye-ey though. Maybe it was because I skipped the caraway seeds? Okay, I guess I kind of half-assed this one. Oh well!

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Tidbits

Since the title of my blog does have the word “librarian” in it, I guess it’s about time to write something relating to librarianship. I’ve recently started working a second part time job at the Kinnelon Public Library. Not sure where Kinnelon is? Don’t worry—I didn’t either until I started working there. It’s 30 minutes north of Montclair, up in the boondocks. I’ve been working as a substitute Reference Librarian because two other employees have been out on medical leaves. It’s only 2 or 3 days a week at this point, but I’m thrilled to be able to put the title at the top of my resume.

The funny thing about this job is that it’s essentially the middle ground between the children’s department at the Montclair PL and the Douglass Library at Rutgers. One job serves little kids, the other served undergrads, but now I get the pleasure of helping high school students, a population that I haven’t really given much thought until now. Their queries are always interesting (read: annoying) because they’re all doing term papers for their history class, the majority of their topics being ridiculously obscure. From what I gathered, the parameters for this assignment were that the topic had to be related to Europe between the years of 1400 – 1800. The two best topics I’ve heard were physical education (in Germany, specifically) and cars (kind of tough, seeing as cars didn’t really come into existence until the 1900s). And they all need a total of six books on the topic. Are you kidding me? In the end, I’m usually able to find them some stuff to get started…but seriously. These kids need to learn how to write a paper (Step 1: pick a reasonable topic).

The other day I saw a woman driving a pink Hummer. Immediately, I hated her. Is that wrong?

Lately, Michael and I have really been enjoying HGTV (Home & Garden Television). Who knew? I never thought to turn any of those shows on, but now we’re tuning into For Rent and My First House all the time. Lots of times, the places that people look at are very nice, fancy, and relatively expensive. The part I enjoy is finding things to criticize about the places. They’ll be looking at a 5-bedroom, 4,000 sq. ft. house, or a 1-bedroom apartment in a major city going for $500k, and I’ll say stuff like, “I don’t like that kitchen.” “Those hallways are too narrow.” “I’m not crazy about the vaulted ceilings.” Me in my (our) 1-bedroom ivory tower.

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Give & Take

I’m starting to learn that there are Givers and Takers in life. For lack of a better explanation, I usually just say that people “give, give, give” or “take, take, take.” You probably know which side of the spectrum you fall on. And there’s probably a middle ground in there somewhere, but I haven’t really given it much thought because I really only see the two extremes in my daily life.

Last Wendesday, we had a blizzard. During the day, Michael and I went outside a total of three times to clean off our cars and shovel around our respective vehicles. By the time all was said and done, and the rest of our driveway had gotten plowed, we were looking at two nice and clear spots for our cars. Our one neighbor’s space (we share a house with three other tenants) was so-so, but our other neighbors, a married couple, didn’t do anything all day as far as clearing out snow. Their spot was just a big mess.

Over the weekend, Michael and I were gone for a couple days, and we returned to the house to find that the aforementioned couple had taken their car out of their crappy spot, and then parked it in our immaculately clean spot instead. So, Michael then got stuck parking on a huge mound of snow and ice.

One word comes to mind in this situation: inconsiderate. I couldn’t believe that they would actually just sit back and do nothing while Michael and I worked diligently to ensure that our areas were taken care of, and then just slide into one of our spots like it was no big deal! This is how I know I’m not a Taker—I would never do something like that. I would never do that because I think about my actions and how they may affect others. I also try to put myself in others’ shoes. So, if I were said neighbor, I would have thought to myself, “Hhm, maybe I shouldn’t park in the spot that Michael and Rachel cleaned out. After all, I was too lazy to shovel out my own spot. They’d probably think I was a douchebag if I took advantage of them like that.” Well, I have news for you. The neighbors didn’t think that, but now I do think they’re douchebags.

Everywhere I look, I see people take, take, take. It upsets me, but I know there’s nothing I can do about it. Except vilify them in blog form, I guess.

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I guess Peter Reinhart wanted to mix it up a little with this next formula, for instead of bread, I was charged with making flatbread crackers. It seemed like a fun diversion from what I’ve been doing thus far, so I jumped on in. I made these crackers a few weeks ago, so I may not remember many details regarding the process.

I don’t think the ingredients or method required anything out of the ordinary, because I seemed to have just taken a photo of the dough once it was mixed. That, or my camera battery was dead, which has also been happening lately.

After letting the dough rise, I had to roll it out into a big rectangle. I rolled it out on a cutting board to achieve something of a fixed size, and to avoid a mess. I tried to roll it out as thinly and evenly as possible.

I transferred the dough to a sheet pan, which I had lined with my silicon baking mat. Then, I sprinkled on some toppings (sesame seeds, poppy seeds, smoked paprika, and kosher salt) and attempted to slice the dough into cracker shapes. The book recommended using a pizza cutter, which I don’t have, so I just used a paring knife. The knife cut right through in some parts of the dough, but in others just scored it. I didn’t want to apply too much pressure for fear of slicing my baking mat.

They baked for about 20 minutes, and once they cooled off I broke them up into crackers. They came out really well! Other people who have made them said that the formula was a little too labor intensive with not enough payoff. I think I would make them again, though…and would perhaps double the recipe to yield more of the product!

Next: Light wheat bread.

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A Conversation About Lost.

[ring, ring]
“Hello?”
“Hey man, did you watch Lost last night?”
“No, that show looks weak. I never got into it.”
“What? You’re missing out. See, they detonated the hydrogen bomb last night, which transported them from the 1970s back into 2007. But now, there are two versions of the characters in alternate dimensions: the ones that are still stuck on the island, and the ones that never crashed on it in the first place. It’s crazy!!!”
“Are they ever gonna get off that island or what?”
“Well, they already got off once. Then they went back.”
“They went BACK?”
“Yeah, ‘cause bad things were happening.”
“Is the show anything like Gilligan’s Island?”
(sigh) “No—lots of people die and they time travel.”
“That’s stupid.”
“No! See, there was this physicist who tried to help them when they were bouncing around through time, but eventually he got killed.”
“Who killed him?”
“His mom.”
“His mom?”
“Well, she didn’t know she was his mom at the time. It was in the 50’s, and he hadn’t been born yet. But I think he came back after she killed him, although I don’t remember how.”
“That’s stupid. What the hell was that black smoke?”
“There are these two spirits on the island, a good guy and a bad guy. The bad guy can turn into the Smoke Monster. Then he ended up inhabiting the dead body of John Locke after they crashed on the island the second time. He did that so he could kill the good guy, which sort of happened, but I think the good guy is going to come back in the body of the Iraqi guy who just died.”
(pause)
“Don’t call me anymore.”

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Over the past month, I have been lucky enough to learn some invaluable life lessons and would like to share them with you in the hopes that, perhaps, they will help you avoid the aggravation and embarrassment that I have experienced firsthand.

Lesson One: If you lock yourself out of your apartment and are able to regain entry through the use of a spare set of keys that you have hidden outside somewhere, make sure you put the spare keys back immediately after use. Do not leave them sitting around on your kitchen table all week long, thinking, “The next time I go out to my car, I’ll put them back.” What will inevitably happen is that you will lock yourself out again the following week, only this time your regular keys AND spare keys will be stuck inside the house. If you’re somewhat lucky, as I was, you will have been on your way out anyway, and as such happen to be dressed appropriately (coat, hat, gloves, shoes, purse-minus-keys). In this case, feel free to wander the streets and eventually take refuge in the nearby library—kind of like the homeless people we loved to debate about in library school—until your significant other comes home from work to let you back in the house.

Lesson Two: If you bring your clothes to the laundromat, do not leave your tote bag of detergent and bleach in your car during the winter! Fun fact: laundry detergent freezes. And if you don’t already know that, you’ll be forced to learn it at a most inopportune time: right after you’ve put all of your clothes in the washing machines and go to unscrew the cap, at which point you will be met with a solid blue block. You will undoubtedly have to scrape some of it out with your car key, but when that becomes too difficult, you will probably have to use the laundromat’s own community bottle, which will run you $.75 per capful.

Lesson Three: Take these lessons to heart. Learn from them, and try not to repeat your mistakes twice out of mere laziness or general idiocy. If you’re smart about these things, then you won’t end up locking yourself out twice, or letting your detergent freeze twice (that’s right, it has happened again since the original incident).

I guess I am the prime example of someone who has to learn most things “the hard way.” Is there actually an easy way to learn this stuff? Aside from reading a blog like this?

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