Monday, July 30, 2007

Wedding Bread

Christina and Sally got married! At long (12+ years) last, these two hotties have finally tied the knot in public, with white roses, Bellinis, and Billy Idol's "White Wedding" as the recessional..

It was a lovely, lovely Northern California day under the oak trees in San Rafael, clear and sunny with a long, long view over the undulating lion-colored hills. Everyone dressed up and drank champagne dolloped with honey and peach puree, the peaches picked by PQ herself the day before on the farm. Lots of organic farm produce made it up to the wedding, for platters of roasted summer squash, baby potatoes, cippoline onions, carrots, and red peppers, and crudites of cucumbers, green beans, broccoli, and even more peppers and carrots. There were beautiful dips galore made by Susie and Heather, and ravishing plates of leg of lamb. Being on the veggie bean-mush farm diet has turned me into a raging carnivore--how much of that lamb I packed away all on my very own, I wouldn't like to say. Shar made the special love-juju hummingbird cupcakes and peaches-and-cream cake, Sally's old pals Tess, Reggie, and Carol dressed up in sequins and lip-synched and danced for Christina, and both the Lucys (ages 4 and 10) had a bang-up time.

Love was in the air, and if only K. had been there, all would have been perfect. But she's on her way to California soon--just a week! And she'll be here, ready to be wined and dined and relaxed among the redwoods, far from the chiggers and poison ivy. And I'll be off the farm, which, lovely as it is, one really needs to get a break from every so often, back into the land of non-shared everything and soft clean inside beds.

Part of their ceremony was a ritual sharing of bread and honey. The honey came from a black-lava beach where they did their own private wedding ceremony last year; the bread I was honored to make that morning. So we call it a

Sweet Wedding Moon Bread for a Feast of Love

1 cube fresh yeast, or 1 packet dried (fresh is nicer, if you can find it in the refrigerated section of your market--it's often on a little shelf near the butter and yogurt)
1 1/2 cups tepid water
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup olive oil or soft butter
2 cups unbleached white bread flour (with more as needed to make a soft dough)
1 tbsp salt
2 1/2 cups whole wheat bread flour
chopped pecans, diced dried figs, golden raisins, pumpkin seeds

1. Dissolve yeast in tepid water, and let stand 5 minutes.
2. Stir in honey, olive oil, and 2 cups white flour. Sprinkle on salt and whole wheat flour.
3. Stir in additional white flour to make a soft dough. Knead well for 10-12 minutes, until smooth and springy.
4. Let rise to double in bulk. Punch down, knead briefly, and pat into a flat rectangle. Sprinkle on nuts and dried fruit, folding the dough over and kneading gently to incorporate. Shape as desired. I made this into a flat oval, then made diagonal cuts in the middle of each side to make a fougasse shape. But you could also make a regular loaf, or a foccacia-type flatbread.
5. Let rise 30-40 minutes.
6 Bake at 400F until nice and golden brown. Let cool to warmish, then eat with butter and honey.

Monday, July 02, 2007

Farm Fashion, Part 1

Friday was Farm in a Skirt Day, no exceptions, and everyone did it, even the farmboys from Texas and Arkansas. On Wednesday, a couple of the guys hit the thrift stores, and by Thursday breakfast a row of skirts was hanging from the ceiling with a note, "Skirts $4, boys take priority." I didn't have a regular skirt that I wanted to get farm-dirty, so instead I dug out this sparkly hippie caftan, property of the late PQ grand-mere. Note the belt, holding both my pruning shears and harvest knife, and yes, capri pants underneath, so I could tuck the ground-sweeping skirt up into my belt without wowing my fellow farmies with the sight of my undies.

Putting everyone in a skirt made the day just terribly festive, somehow. And nearly all the dudes commented on how free they felt. Okay, actually they talked about their balls, but we're about the pies here.

And yes, as mentioned earlier, apricot galettes were made in the up-garden chalet kitchen. Quite simple, really--2 1/2 cups flour, a tablespoon of sugar, a tsp of salt, 2 sticks (8 oz) butter, ice water with a splash of cider vinegar, mixed and cut in and tossed together the usual way. Then up the ladder to pick a bowl of sun-freckled little apriums, pitted and tossed with sugar, a little cornstarch, a pinch of nutmeg and allspice. I remembered too late that you have to roll out the dough and put it onto the baking pan before you start piling in the fruit. Thus getting the fruit-heavy, tippy thing off the counter without tearing wasn't easy, requiring an offset spatula and some muttered pirate-worthy language.

So roll your dough into a rough circle, slap it onto a baking sheet, then pile up your nicely sugared fruit. Lap the edges of the dough up over the filling, leaving an open space in the middle to show off the color. Bake at 375 or 400 degrees until the fruit is softened and giving up juice and the pastry is deep golden. Let cool as long you can stand; it's best warm rather than boiling hot.