Greetings from England!
Like so many people right now, I'm stressing out about the economic situation - can we afford to keep our house, where can we cut down on our expenses etc. I decided that there's no point in worrying about the things I can't control, to take control of the things I can and to distract myself by learning a new skill; by learning how to bake bread. I found this site, and now I'm in baker heaven! Yes, it's actually colder inside our house than it is outside (500 years old, and not efficient to heat), yes I still tend to stres about those things which are out of my control, but I'm working my way through the lessons (great success with the sandwich loaf no. 2 - it's lovely with tuna and mayo), and I hope to gain a skill which will last me lifetime, regardless of where I'm living or what I am - or am not - earning.
This old English farmhouse will have seen thousands - if not tens of thousands - of loaves of bread made in its kitchen over the centuries, and I'm very happy to be adding mine to the list. And it's become a family affair, with my six and nine year old sons having a cook-off last weekend to determine which gadget kneaded the best, the Magimix or the Kitchen Aid (the Kitchen Aid won hands down, but, in its defence, the Magimix has major strengths in other areas). We have a bread machine which, over the years, has produced some perfectly acceptable loaves, but they've all been lacking soul. And soon I'm going to take the dough out of the Kitchen Aid and start hand kneading - I have a feeling it will be a great way of relieving tension!
So here we are, an English family, reading our way through the blogs and the postings on this site, picking up hints and tips from across the world on something which we all have in common, regardless of nationality, race, creed or wealth - good bread! And I have one question - though not, I admit, bread-related: does anybody have a completely foolproof recipe for chocolate chip cookies? We like them big, gooey and soft - but we seem to produce them big, tough and crunchy.
Now I'm off to try the Pizza Primer recipe!