Marion Owen Alaska
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This series of four simple images was taken while my brother Henry made bread during a rare gathering of us siblings. His stage: The granite topped “island” in my sister’s kitchen.
You gotta feel it
“Making French bread is not about the ingredients,” he said. “That’s just flour, salt, water and yeast. It’s the feel of the dough.”
I got it.
Years ago, I worked on a research ship which employed a baker, Ralph Naughton, as part of the galley crew. “How do you know how much flour to knead into the dough?” I asked during a midnight to 4 AM shift. Ralph a quiet man who lost an eye during a bar fight somewhere in Alaska, reached over to the giant bowl sitting in a warm spot near the galley oven and pinched a little dough between his thumb and forefinger. Then he reached up with his other hand and grabbed his ear lobe and gave it a squeeze.
“That’s how you know,” he said, smiling with his eyes.
Henry spun the ball of dough and pulled it over on itself as if performing a dough-ball. I could almost hear the melody. “Many recipes say to add flour until the dough can’t take any more,” he said. “But that makes for a dry, stiff bread.”
Lifting the ball of dough in his hand, he shared a tip I’d never come across. “The dough should sag a little between your fingers.”
The proof is in the proofing
Blobs are beautiful
Then he took each blob and shaped it into a lumpy, artsy loaf, rolled it in cornmeal and gently settled it into baguette pans, like a mother would lay a baby into its blanket-lined crib.
“Let it rise a bit, then bake it in a 400 or 450-degree oven for 30 or 40 minutes, depending on the size of the loaf, humidity, or crunch factor you’re looking for.”
Me, I’m looking for a platform for butter!
My brother Henry is a civil engineer; not a professional baker. He lives in Spokane, Washington. I live in Kodiak, Alaska. We see each other oh, once or twice a year. He makes bread as a hobby and a gift. It’s a way of saying, “I love you. It’s good to see you.”
Thank you for stopping by. That’s a gift, too.
Just when you think you’ve tried all the rhubarb recipes on the planet, then comes…
It’s a blast to play with new recipes. Oh, sure, you can find rhubarb pickle recipes on the web, but I found most of them to be impractical, with silly ingredients and silly instructions. My motto is to keep it simple, tasty, healthy and quick, which I tried to accomplish in my last recipe, First Rhubarb: My excuse to dream up a new recipe where I make rhubarb muffins, starting with a homemade, multi-purpose, whole wheat muffin mix.
Back to the pickles > We put up many quart jars of rhubarb pickles and serve them on our Galley Gourmet dinner cruises in Kodiak, Alaska. We top salads and bake fresh salmon stuffed with the sweet and sour chunks. Guests are pretty surprised at the idea of eating pickled “pie fruit.”
Either way you serve ’em, rhubarb pickles are not only rosy-pink beautiful, they’re inspiring, prodding you to try new things. Once you get your creative [pickled] juices flowing, you’ll discover all kinds of ways to add them to dishes. They’re a pickle lover’s pickle, and you can re-use the liquid, too.
Here’s the recipe. Please share, experiment, and let me know what you think. I bet they’d be great sliced thin and packed on a hamburger! (Any takers?)
2 cups vinegar (cider or white)
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons salt
2 tablespoons pickling spices
1 piece (1-1/2 inch) fresh ginger, peeled and thinly sliced
Peel from 1 orange
3 cups fresh rhubarb, cut crosswise into 1/2-inch pieces
In a non-aluminum medium saucepan, combine the vinegar, sugar, salt, pickling spices. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until sugar is dissolved, about 5 minutes. Slice orange peel into strips and add with ginger to the pan. Cool liquid cool to room temp. Spoon rhubarb into glass jar(s). Ladle in the cooled brine mixture. Cover and refrigerate pickles for one week before eating. They will keep refrigerated for several months.
How to eat a rhubarb pickle
Let the fun begin! You can add dices and slivers to coleslaws, fruit salads and tossed greens; soups, stews and tuna salad. Slice them up for sandwiches and decorate your favorite chicken and seafood dishes (pack a salmon with sliced pickles before baking or grilling). When all the pickled bits are gone, use the leftover vinegar for an awesome salad dressing base.
Thanks for stopping by. Enjoy!
In coastal Alaska, it’s traditional to celebrate the season’s First Salmon, usually around May 15. Well, we live in coastal Alaska (and love salmon), but we celebrate another “first”: The First Rhubarb. …