Archive for February 3rd, 2007

Ciabatta with sundried tomatoes

We are going to a gathering tonight to see some friends and I thought I bake some bread for all. I went with ciabatta, the popular Italian bread.

Ingredients (for 1 loaf)
For the sponge:
* a bit less than 1 cup of warm water
* 1 cup white flour
* 1/2 tbspoon dried yeast
For the dough:
* 2 cups of white flour (add more as needed)
* half cup of warm water
* 1/2 tbspoon dried yeast
* 10 thin shreds of sun-dried tomato in olive oil
* 1 tbspoon olive oil (plus some for greasing)
* 2 tbspoons milk
* 1/2 tbspoon salt
* 1/3 tbspoon sugar

1. In a big bowl put all the sponge ingredients and mix well with a whisk until it becomes a sponge.
2. Use a plastic wrap to seal the bowl and leave it overnight, or for 10-12 hours.
3. The next day, pour all ingredients into the sponge and start knead it with your hands to make the dough take a somewhat solid shape (make sure that it does not become stiff though). Add flour as needed.
4. In the meantime, turn on your oven at 400F (205C) for about one and a half minutes, and then turn it back off.
5. Add the sun-dried tomato into the mix and use some of the olive oil that is inside the sundried tomato can to spread it in your hands. Then, knead the bread some more.
6. Place the bowl into the warm-ish oven for 1 hour. Let it rise.
7. Remove the dough from the oven and turn on the oven again for 1 minute and then turn it back off.
8. Take a cookie sheet and evenly grease some olive oil on it and then on top sprinkle a bit of flour. Take the dough, place it in the cookie sheet and try to make a rectangular shape out of it. Then, fold it in two and sprinkle on top of it some flour too.
9. Put it back in the warm-ish oven and let it rise for another half an hour.
10. Turn on the oven at 400F (205C) and let it bake for 30-40 minutes, or until golden brown. Remove from oven, place it in a cooling rack.

Note: You can always omit the sun-dried tomatoes if you are not a big fan of them. Additionally, you can also add in the mix some shredded basil or olives.

Regarding work and leisure

Apparently my father is now on retirement pension (since last December). He will be 59 years old this month, but he got on pension early. My father has worked hard in his life. He was a house and roof builder and worked this unforgiving job since he was 13 years old. When he had a strong incentive to go to work he was always there, rain or shine. But when there was not an immediate requirement, he would just slip off to have ouzo drinks with his friends and fight about political matters — like any genuine Greek would do.

My mother on the other hand is a completely different matter. She works 15 hours a day (8 hours at her work and the rest of the time in the house, garden and knitting). There were many times that I wanted to strap her down or something. She doesn’t want to stop doing something all the time. She reminds me of the Tasmanian devil who is moving around all the time and he finds no peace.

Because of how different my parents are, their philosophies about life always collided. “Go to work” my mother would shout. “We have enough to live, I am tired” my father would reply. “No, it’s not enough, we have responsibilities” my mother would say back. “Learn to live with less then” my father would reply.

And guess what, I am a lot like my father. I am somewhat lazy and I have a very simplistic and practical view for life. I can sit down my ass all day and not do anything productive if I don’t have a strong incentive to do otherwise. However, when I am actually working, I get into a mode where I become obsessed with the work I have to do and I don’t take my eyes and hands from it until it’s done.

Sure, I am more lazy than I should be but on the other hand my JBQ is more workaholic than he should be too. He works 15 hours a day and on the better parts of the weekends too. I don’t want to see him doing this to himself and I have tried to put a break on his frenzy involvement with his job but he insists that this is how much work he has to do. And because we lost our green card a few months back, he can’t quit and move to another company for the time being. Because of all this, the last 2 years (and especially the last 8 months) have contributed in a day-in, day-out boring life and relationship, but we are both hanging in there because we love each other so much.

As with everything in life, how much you work is about balance.