Helpful bread

My friend was in a battle with a pit bull. I could say “he was attacked by a pit bull” but it’s more complicated than that. What is undeniable is that the pit bull attacked his family dog on their front porch and that my friend did his very best to defend it.

A dog could not be closer to a family than this one to my friend and his wife and daughter. They called it their “test son” because they raised him from a puppy together to see if they were ready to have a child. So, in every sense, my friend felt like his family was under attack when he saw what was going on.

Early morning, in his underwear, he tackled the pit bull, wrestled him from his front porch, and tried unsuccessfully to pry his family pet from the bloody jaws of the pit bull. A neighbor arrived to help, also unsuccessful. The police arrived and the pit bull was subdued. My friend raced with his dog to a local emergency vet but it was hopeless. The family pet was dead; my friend ended up with bruises and dog bites.

Now, a very tough guy from the streets of New York is subject to uncontrollable crying jags. Maybe it is mourning for his lost family member. Maybe it is thinking how easy it would have been for the bull to turn its rage on him and leave his wife and daughter without a husband and father. I think it is both.

Tartine Country French Bread

Tartine Country French bread (I gave away the loaves with the nice crust)

We had dinner and heard his story and he said it was helpful to talk it through. Now I have to go out of town for nearly two weeks. I am worried about my friend so I baked him this bread. It’s the Country Bread from Tartine Breads. The recipe is very simple but the technique is magical, and the only way to read it all is to buy the book. (Martha Stewart’s website has the recipe but it’s an abbreviated version; don’t settle for less than the real thing.)

This book, actually this recipe specifically, has really changed my perspective on bread. It makes a much wetter dough and you stretch-and-fold it rather than kneading, pulling a huge wad of dough out of the bowl, slapping it around a bit, and allowing it to collapse back into the bowl under its own weight. It’s really sensual and I find myself sneaking away from work to make this bread, in the same way I once snuck away to surf the internet. I also find myself inventing excuses to bake this bread (I made another loaf for a friend laid up after foot surgery) because I like it so much.

The bread gets better each day after it’s baked for 4 or 5 days so, in addition to giving someone the gift of bread, you’re giving them something to look forward to.

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2 Responses to Helpful bread

  1. Steve says:

    I am not convinced that it suffices to bring the chicken to a boil and then turn it off and wait for three hours, not even by the “no peaking” admonition. Since this recipe qualifies under my 15 min rule, I plan to give it a try and report back. However, since my gut feel is that the bird should simmer at least a bit, I’d be grateful if you could reassure me that all I do is turn off the heat after the water comes to a boil.

  2. Burnt My Fingers says:

    Steve, I think you’re commenting on the chicken in a pot recipe, not this post. I’ll leave a reply over there….

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