More and more I find myself looking forward to Spring. I noticed just yesterday that my fig tree has begun to awaken. It has sprouted a few baby leaves and buds of what will become the most delicious fruit. I remember that last year these little leaves appeared right on the first day of Spring.
So, I guess even Spring is ready to make its debut a little earlier this year.
It was lemon harvest day here in my backyard a couple of days ago. All of these lemons came off of one rather small tree. There are still even more on the tree that have not ripened. This week it will be time to make Limoncello in my kitchen. If you notice, there is still a bit of green on a few of the lemon rinds. I use these lemons for the Limoncello because it gives it such a beautiful, almost chartreuse color.
With all of the rising awareness and cautionary measures people and communities are taking concerning the Coronavirus, I thought I would share what I have been doing here in San Diego.
I have been home more and more these days. My son is attending a very unique high school academy, which only meets three days a week. This has given me the chance to condense and organize my weekly errands into just a few trips. Before this, I was admittedly, running errands daily.
It all started with this garage reorganization project. I finally got into the deepest corners of my garage and purged. I don’t have a very large garage, which means there isn’t much storage space. How things got so piled up in there over time still remains a mystery to me.
I began by taking a mental inventory of paper products, canned and boxed goods, and cleaning supplies. I created a corner in the garage for the increase in provisions I want to store. Similarly, I took note of what was available in my freezers. Over the past few weeks, I have filled in and rounded out what is needed to establish a working 2 month inventory of household provisions.
Here on my shelves, there is everything from canned beans and pasta, to all sizes of canned tomatoes, dried lentils, rice and grains. There are tins of tuna, salmon, sardines and anchovies. Teas and espresso, olive oil and vinegar, broths, condiments, mixers for cocktails and bottled water are all to be found here.
My goal is to create a sustainable dry goods inventory where the only things necessary to purchase on a regular basis are perishable items such as milk, other dairy, eggs, fresh fruits and vegetables.
This has been a task of preparedness. I have every hope and belief that most of this exercise will never be needed, but it has forced me to rethink the way I spend my time running errands needlessly everyday. Now that I have carved out even more time in my life, how will I choose to spend these new found moments?
Let’s start with the basics and make Italian Bread!
Basic Italian Bread
- 1 1/2 cups unbleached all purpose flour
- 1 cup water, lukewarm
- 1/4 teaspoon active dry yeast
- pinch of sugar
- 4 teaspoons active dry yeast
- 1 1/2 cups water, lukewarm
- 5 1/2 cups unbleached all purpose flour
- 2 1/2 teaspoons fine sea salt
- 1 teaspoon olive oil
- 1 egg white, beaten with 1 Tbsp water
- sesame seeds
- Make starter: combine all starter ingredients in a small bowl, mix thoroughly. Let rest at room temperature, covered, overnight.
- Combine the starter and all remaining dough ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Mix and combine slowly and thoroughly. Knead the dough by turning out onto a lightly floured surface. I use a plastic or wooden board. Knead the dough until a smooth, soft and elastic mass is created. This takes about 10 minutes by hand.
- Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap and then a dish towel. The dough needs to rest and rise for 90 minutes, turning it and punching it down after 45 minutes, rewrap and cover again. During this stage, I keep the bowl in the oven, where it is draft free.
- Transfer the dough to a lightly floured work surface. Divide into 6 equal equal pieces.
- Roll each piece of dough into an 18” rope. Using 3 ropes, braid the ropes and tuck the ends under. Set the braid onto a parchment or silicone lined baking sheet.
- Cover the braided loaves with a clean dishcloth. Let rise for an additional 90 minutes. At the end of the rise, preheat the oven to 425 F.
- Uncover the loaves. Brush each loaf with egg wash and heavily sprinkle with sesame seeds.
- Bake the loaves for 30-35 minutes. A longer baking time will yield a crunchier crust. There will be a hollow sound from the bottom of the loaf when knocked on.
- Remove the loaves from the oven and allow to cool on a rack.
While the world around us seems to be teetering off balance, it is so important that we put into place patience and calmness. There are many things at play in our environments that are unseen. People in the medical profession around the world are seeing first hand what the virus is capable of. This doesn’t mean that we need to jump to conclusions. Being prepared can mean simply taking those extra few seconds to thoroughly wash your hands. Please remember that you never know what someone else is going through. Show kindness and understanding.
All content and photos ©DianaAmato