The Loafer’s Loaf

26 Jul

And, we’re back!

Big Wolf Sunset

What a nice little break. The Adirondacks were, as always, spectacular and relaxing, and if you can believe this, nearly bug free.

Snail

We didn’t have much time up there, only two days really, which is a short time when you factor in the 17 or so hours it takes to make the round trip, and the time was condensed by the need to climb a mountain and delve into the final Harry Potter.

Yes. I know. As my mother reminded me multiple times, it’s a children’s book. But you know what? I don’t care. I was simultaneously reading one of the modern world’s most gifted and controversial authors’ attempt at a children’s book, Salman Rushdie‘s Haroun and the Sea of Stories, and I can honestly say, in this one throwdown, Ms. Rowling soundly kicks Sir Rushdie’s ass.

Bark

But I digress. Where were we? As yes, we were on the topic of ass kickings, and mountains.

After our trip to Colorado even I began to scoff a bit at “our” mountains. For a few years now I’ve felt the need to defend the ‘dacks against the boy’s insistence that the Rockies are more spectacular. I would insist that it didn’t matter! Ours are older! Ours have moose! Yes, but they also have mosquitoes, he would retort, and most of them top out at an elevation lower than Denver, he would add. And after actually seeing the Rockies and being up in them, I began to believe him.

Mt. Ampersand Vista

But no more. We had originally wanted to climb Mt. Marcy but decided it was too far away from camp, so we settled on Mt. Ampersand. Settle might not be the proper word for this hike, actually, hike might not be the correct word for what we did either. I think, climbed, scrambled and flirted with grievous bodily harm might be some better phrases.

There is no settling when you chose to climb Ampersand after the trail has received many days of very hard rain. I’m no weathered mountain climber, or even a very accomplished hiker, but I feel secure in stating that if, like us, you didn’t bring hiking boots, don’t bother with this climb. You’re risking life and limb. Yes, the view is spectacular, but seriously, do yourself a favor and climb a different peak.

Mt. Ampersand Vista

When we got back to camp (after rewarding myself with a Stewart’s Sweet Black Cherry cone) I was too busted up to cook. All I was good for was lying on the couch and groaning. My knees hurt, my arms hurt, my back hurt. God, am I getting old or what?

I had planned on whipping up a spectacular Middle Eastern feast, complete with harrisa marinated chicken, couscous and yogurty cucumber salad, but I was saved by the fact that it was Sunday and after 6pm. No groceries were open so we’d have to make do with produce from my mother’s garden and leftover filet mignon. It’s a rough life, I know.

Sand Castle

And that was it. Just two short days of peace and quiet and nearly one whole day traveling back. It’s wonderful to be home, it always is, but I do wish we’d had more time to sit in the sun, swim and hang out with my mom. But alas, time marches on and I have to pay the bills somehow.

The Burbling Hudson

Since we’ve been back I finished The Deathly Hallows (if you’ve finished it too (and only if), head over to Slate and read their awesome, grownup discussion of all the twists and turns), cooked No. 21 on Bittman’s amazing and inspirational list (which I realised only after the fact) and contemplated making my new favorite cheaters “bread” at least once more.

Cheaters

Cheater’s “bread?” Oh yes. Before we left I was seduced by the siren call of fresh favas at the Greenmarket (and no, I had not woken up that morning with a tribe of Berbers in my apartment to help me shell them). I decided that since I knew what I was in for, this second time with favas couldn’t be nearly as bad as the first, and I was right. The boy and I shelled the favas while sitting on the stoop, and then I whipped up another variation of my new favorite dinner in the whole world using the favas, some fresh corn, peas and squash and adding a wee bit of tarragon to the pistou.

Scallops In Brown Butter, With Peas, Favas & Corn in a Mint & Tarragon Pistou

But I wanted bread, but I was too lazy to make bread, so I cheated. I trotted around the corner to the awesome grocery/bakery Cangiano’s, bought two balls of pizza dough (for a dollar no less), popped one into an oiled bowl, let it rise for a few hours, then rolled it out, folded it over once, inserted a layer of fresh herbs, folded it again to form a loaf, rolled it out once more, pushed my fingers into it to dock the dough, smooshed on some olive oil, sprinkled it with coarse sea salt and a few more fresh herbs, then baked it for 15 minutes at 450°.

Cheaters

The “bread” was delicious. Salty, herby, perfectly yeasty. I can’t recommend this method enough for quick, easy bread when you’re feeling too lazy or too time crunched to make your own loaf from scratch. Who says cheaters never win?

17 Responses to “The Loafer’s Loaf”

  1. Paul July 26, 2007 at 9:05 am #

    Hey – – thanks for this “cheaters bread” idea. here in FL we can’t get good crusty bread and from you pics.. it looks like this might work out. All the Best – Paul

  2. Andrea July 26, 2007 at 9:22 am #

    The bread looks just beautiful.. My results using yeast never turn out so grand (aside from the no-knead bread..) I used the pizza dough for pizza but never thought to branch out and use it for bread. Thank you!

  3. Christina July 26, 2007 at 11:24 am #

    BEAUTIFUL! It looks like you had a great time. You captured the beauty of the area perfectly–as always, nice photography work.

    I dig the “cheater’s bread” idea. It looks like it has a nice crust.

    And, I’m on page 397 and can’t stop reading. I can’t wait to head on over to Slate ONCE I’M FINISHED READING. I must resist the urge to click the link. I must.

    Welcome back.

  4. Terry B July 26, 2007 at 11:35 am #

    I started out planning to comment on the boy’s issues with the mountains of your youth, but got distracted by the amazing food. Dang, I’m hungry. I am SO making scallops this weekend.

    But back to the mountains. Growing up in St. Louis, I too had an inferiority complex about the rounded, tree-covered Ozarks just southwest of us. The Rockies were just so, well, rocky—and big. But then I read somewhere that the Ozarks weren’t just older. They were already old when the Rockies were forming. And at one point, they had been similar to the Rockies in cragginess, but had been worn down over the millennia to become the beautiful green hills they are today. I’m sure the same is true of the Adirondacks. So the Rockies are just an upstart, a mere pup. Tell the boy that.

  5. Jennifer Hess July 26, 2007 at 11:44 am #

    Welcome back! Your photos are glorious and the food sounds amazing.

  6. Tiny Banquet Committee July 26, 2007 at 2:16 pm #

    Ampersand is a terrific name for a mountain.
    I like the cheater’s bread idea very much, particularly with tons of herbs. I’m going to have a hard time deciding which pizza place to seek dough from, though – it may require some comparative analysis. Hm.

  7. sher July 26, 2007 at 8:13 pm #

    Ahhh–wonderful pictures. And the fava beans!! I’m whimpering in anquish here!

  8. ann July 27, 2007 at 7:43 am #

    Paul — You sound like a candidate for the famous “no-knead” bread then.
    Give it a go, it’s not hard at all and gives such an amazing sense of accomplishment!

    Andrea — Hi! It’s a fun idea and I felt a little silly passing it on since it seems so well, stupid, but I guess people like it! I hope you do too.

    Christina — Feel free to email me with your thoughts on the book if you need someone to babble at! And the crust was really nice. I just wish I had rolled out more bubbles so it wasn’t quite so poofie.

    TerryB — Too funny! I think Isaac gets it now. I know I have way more respect for the ‘dacks now too.

    Jennifer — Thanks!

    TBC — Isn’t it the best name? We kept cracking jokes that it’s the place that copy editors go for summer vacation (if they took vacation that is, ba dum dum)

    Sher — Thanks! My fava love is all because of you, so thanks :-)

  9. s'kat July 27, 2007 at 9:33 am #

    Those mountain photos are simply stunning- I can practically inhale the fresh, clean air!

    I, too, am now craving scallops. Unfortch, they’re not in my future for the time being. I guess I’ll have to keep myself occupied with the Slate group.

    *hauls ass on over*

  10. Julie July 27, 2007 at 1:34 pm #

    I have to jump in to the Adirondacks vs. Rockies debate on the Adirondacks’ side. The Rockies may be bigger, but the Adirondacks are prettier, greener, and have that great piney-woods smell. Plus I think they have fewer strip malls.

    I’ve only been to the Rockies once, to a town called Silverthorne which is near Vail. There were postcard picture views of snow-capped mountains in every direction and more damned outlet-shopping strip malls than I’ve ever seen in any place before or since. It was an odd juxtaposition.

    For some reason I never crave scallops — except when I look at these pictures. And your bread? Brilliantly inventive idea.

  11. TheFightingLibrarian July 28, 2007 at 8:01 pm #

    I agree about Harry Potter–it may be a kid’s book, but it’s just so good! If you want another take on the book aside from Slate, you can check out my review (which I decided to wait until tonight to write, so as not to ruin it for the late finishers.) And I am jealous of your vacation… the Adirondacks look lovely!

  12. Valli July 29, 2007 at 7:45 am #

    I remember travelling to White Face Mountain when I was a kid with my family. We clammered over rocks and visited a beautiful waterfall whose name I can’t remember. I now live on the West Coast so am not likely to visit again. But I do have an Adirondack chair. Thanks for the beautiful post and the childhood memories. The “cheaters” bread looks great too!!!

  13. Luisa July 29, 2007 at 4:57 pm #

    Gorgeous photos, as always. Lovely! I am SO sad on your behalf that you only had 2 days there – what a glorious place! And after a week of being indoors packing (and unpacking) I took one look at beautiful Mount Ampersand and felt relief.

    (And: Children’s books rock! Sometimes far more than adult ones!)

  14. ann July 30, 2007 at 7:49 am #

    s’kat — the air smelled so amazing. I miss it.

    Julie — you hit the nail on the head. Teddy Roosevelt did an amazing thing for New York State when he assured the ‘dacks would remain pristine for future generations. He was a great man.

    Hi TFL! — I thought you might weigh in on HP. Man that line from Mrs Weasley was amazing. It was worth the wait for that alone!

    Valli — Glad to be of service! I’ll have to mull over that waterfall. I know the one you’re talking about, but it’s too early in the day for my brain to be working properly to remember it’s name ;-)

    Luisa — How’d the move go? Glad to be of service with the relaxing photos. Speaking of amazing kids books, have you ever seen the ones Mark Helprin did with Chris van Allsburg? really worth trying to find.

  15. lobstersquad July 31, 2007 at 1:28 am #

    harry potter, even HP7, can kick haroun and the sea around the world and back a million times. totally agree. I hate it when adult writers do children´s´´books with such condescension. they nearly always suck.
    I´ve wolfed down hp7, and when people say it´s a kid´s book, I say I have to know what the market´s doing, being an illustrator an´all. but I just love it.

  16. ann July 31, 2007 at 7:06 pm #

    Lobstersquad — that’s such a good excuse! Next time I’ll tell my mom I’m doing research for a book I’m thinking about writing ;-) And while Haroun wasn’t the best book I’ve ever read, don’t you think it would make a great movie?

  17. Thatcher Hogan July 10, 2010 at 8:45 pm #

    re Ampersand Mtn: there a nice new guide that identifies the views from Ampersand and 9 other popular day-hike mtns at http://www.AdirondackPeakFinders.com.

    Happy trails!

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