The Devil Queen

How my wife and I sold our souls to the Queen Anne Victorian we tried to save.

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Location: Crow Mountain, Arkansas, United States

Synopsis: This is a cautionary tale. A seriously disturbed couple find the charming, old ruin of a Queen Anne Victorian in Russellville, Arkansas, and buy it for $1.00. They tore the roof off, cut it in half, and had it moved to some land they owned sixteen miles away because they didn't know any better. Since then, they have hired and fired contractors, had all of their tools stolen, re-wired, re-plumbed, insulated, and essentially rebuilt the entire house. Their only problem is that after four years it still isn't finished. Now they are tired, broke, and wonder what in the hell it is they've done to themselves. And, it's haunted.
(Last updated on April 3, 2008)

Press: Russellville Courier Article - December 2003, HGTV website article, AP story - October 2006, and Victorian Homes Magazine - February 2008 (link coming soon).
Art: From time to time, I receive requests for my art. If you would like to look at more of my art, go to The Failed Artist. If you would like to buy my art, email me. I am more than happy to answer any questions you might have. Thanks!

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Since You Asked, Rosemary Bread

This recipe is from a Williams-Sonoma Collection Cookbook, Savoring Tuscany I think. I'm working from memory, but I think every thing is correct. I've added some comments and recommendations from my own experience too. Enjoy.

Rosemary Bread (Sorry, I forgot the Italian name for it)

Ingredients

Starter

1 cup warm water
1cup flour
1 package of yeast

Dough

1 cup of warm water
3 cups of flour
1 cup of whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon of salt
rosemary (quarter to half a cup or more, don’t be shy)
* olives (approximately 1 cup)
olive oil

* [A note on olives. First, the olives are optional. I've made the bread with and without olives, and it tastes good either way. My wife prefers it with olives. I do too, but only if you can get good olives. By good olives, I mean something fresh or in brine. Greek olives are some of my favorites though Italian and Californian ones are good too. Use green or black or both. They're all good. Don't use the everyday canned ones you'll find a Wal-Mart or the kind stuffed with jalapenos, et cetera. Yuck.]

Making the Starter

Pour one cup of warm (not hot water, it'll kill the yeast) in a bowl. I use a Pyrex or Ziploc bowl with a lid for convenience. Add the yeast to the water and let it sit for 5 minutes. Stir the water-yeast mixture briefly and add the 1 cup of flour. Stir until evenly mixed. Cover and let is sit for at least 1 hour. I stick mine in our oven if it hasn't been used recently so it's cool and dark.

I've let the starter sit for up to three days. At that point the starter becomes a sour-dough starter. If you go this way, make sure the starter hasn't spoiled. If it looks moldy, smell really bad (as opposed to sour, which is a sharp smell), or has turned pink, pitch it and try again.

Making the Dough

Mix the flour, salt, and rosemary in a large mixing bowl. Pour in the starter and 1 cup of warm water. Stir until a sticky ball of dough forms. On a well floored board or surface, kneed the dough for ten minutes (I think it would take 5 minutes if you have a mix-master with a dough hook, but, since I don't have one, I don't know). Add additional flour to the board as needed to prevent sticking. After about ten minutes, the dough ought to be elastic, firm, moist but not wet or sticky (as in like glue). Roll the dough into a ball. Oil the inside of a large mixing bowl with olive oil, just enough to cover the sides and bottom. You don't want the dough to sit in a puddle of oil. I use re-use the bowl I mixed the dough in. Roll the dough around so it has thin coat of oil all over it. Cover the bowl with a towel, plastic wrap, et cetera. Let the dough sit in a warm, draft free place for about 1 hour and 45 minutes. The dough should double in size as it rises. Sometimes, I turn my oven on at 200 degrees when I start the dough and turn it off when I've finished kneading it. I then put the covered dough in the oven. The extra warmth helps it rise.

After the dough has risen, uncover it and punch the dough down. Take the dough and cut it into two equal portions.

If your making the bread with olives, do the following:

On a floured surface, take one portion of the dough and press & flatten it into a rectangle. No need for a rolling pin, just use your hands. The rectangle should be about 12" by 8." Cover the dough with half a cup (or more if you wish) of olives. Spread them evenly on the dough. Then, roll the dough up starting at one edge and rolling toward the other (kind of like rolling up a roll of wrapping paper). Tuck the ends in and roughly form into a loaf. Place the loaf seam-side down on a cooking sheet. Repeat to make a second loaf.

If you're making the bread without olives, do the following:

Form each half of the dough into a loaf approximately 12 inches long. Place both loaves on a cooking sheet about 2 inches apart.

[A note on cooking sheets. I use a cookie sheet for my bread. The original recipe calls for you to lightly oil the sheet, but I've found that it works best to lay the bread on without oiling it - otherwise it sticks. Adjust to the particulars of your own cookware.]

Cover the loaves with plastic wrap and let them rise for an hour. The loaves should increase in size by about 50-100%. If they are touching some, it's okay. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Uncover the loaves, cut 4 or 5 diagonal slits in their tops with a razor or sharp knife (I've forgotten to do this and it's made no noticeable difference). Bake for 45 minutes or so.

When the bread is finished, it should have a hard, brown crust. Tap on it, and, if it sounds hollow, it is finished. Remove from the oven and transfer the bread to a cooling rack. Give it at least 5-10 minutes and cut off a chunk and try it. This is when it is at its best. It's good dipped in good, extra-virgin olive oil. I'm not sure how long it stays fresh, we usually eat it all in about 3 days. Don't refrigerate. If it needs to be freshened up, microwave for 20-30 seconds or put it in the oven for 5-10 minutes at about 350 degrees.

Making bread is rewarding, but sometimes it's difficult to work it into your schedule. I've accidentally sat myself up until 1 AM because I started the baking process too late in the day. Once you've mixed the dough with the starter, you're committed. If you're looking for a little less work and some near-instant gratification, I'd recommend this recipe from Clotilde at Chocolate & Zucchini: Gateau au Yaourt (Yogurt Cake). It's excellent. I've made 3 of them in the last week or so. Add 1.5 cups of berries (blueberries, blackberries, et cetera) if you want to change things up.

Bon Appetit!

1 Comments:

Anonymous Lynn said...

Thanks. That is very similar to a bread recipe that we use. Its really pretty fool proof. We have discovered that proofing (i.e. the second rise) in the fridge overnight works just fine. So, if you find yourself facing another two hours of rising at 11pm, just stick it in the fridge (covered) and then take it out first thing in the morning and let it rise and then bake while you are walking the dog, making lattes, showering, etc.

12:37 PM  

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