Tuesday, December 22, 2009

I'm Baking

Our First Sierra
Our First Sierra
Originally uploaded by toastfloats.
“Jaime! What are you doing?! Get out of that!” I growl menacingly at my eldest daughter who is hovering over the stove.

“It's okay, Mom. I'm just testing them. It's been awhile since you made them. Maybe you didn't do it right,” she attempts to soothe me.

But I know what she's up to. I know my daughter. I know everything about my offspring. “Get OUT of the rolls. They are perfect. Back away from the rolls. Back away slowly,” I warn.

All three girls giggle as I advance on the galley with a deck brush raised in warning. Aeron and Mera attempt to divert me while Jaime slides three piping hot garlic rolls out of the pan and juggles them as she disappears into the port hull. My feints and dodges do no good, and the thieves disappear into a garlic and olive oil induced coma in their cabins.

The temperature mercifully dropped below 100 a few weeks ago, so I started baking again. I didn't know I loved to bake before I owned a boat. In fact, I barely acknowledged my skills as a chef. It's a well known fact in the Conger household that just because you can doesn't mean you should. And into this bucket, I long ago relegated my not inconsiderable capacity to convert raw materials into tasty, nutritious meals.

Boat life, however, provides the critical ingredient which is missing from land life cooking: time. It's fun to cook when you have the time to do it right. When you are not spending the day commuting, running errands, working, picking up the kids and ferrying them to after school activities or play dates, you have time to think about cooking. You have time to select ingredients, paw through books, and get creative. You can make bread and yogurt and cheese. You can test this and try that. There are lots of opportunities to just enjoy the physical mechanics of chopping, blending, stirring, whipping, and kneading.

Since we've been living on Don Quixote, my interest in everything having to do with cooking has increased. Oh sure, I like it when DrC takes over, and I get a night off. But as a rule, I do most of the cooking, the girls and DrC do all the cleaning. I do all the provision planning, write up the daily lists of what is edible and what is not to be touched as it has a place in a future meal. I supply the maternal nurturing gestures which maintain our sour dough yeast starter and our yogurt culture. We grow sprouts, we bake muffins and scones, we invent creative ways to use the sun to cook stuff.

Then the heat hit. When the heat hits down here, it isn't a metaphor. It hits you. Really super hard. You can't move. It takes the breath away. And positively the absolute last thing on earth you want to do is add even one micro-erg of heat to the boat through the process known as cooking. For weeks, I couldn't get any more creative than “cold.” If I could figure out a way to prepare or serve something without turning on the stove, it became dinner. As a result, we ate quite a bit of cereal, fruit, and store-bought yogurt. For nearly two months, I stored dish rags in the oven.

Praying at the Candy Altar
Praying at the Candy Altar
Originally uploaded by toastfloats.
The northers, however, finally started blowing cool air down into the Sea of Cortez. For weeks, we've woken to a salon well down in the truly pleasant 70s. The days rarely top 90. So I pulled out my yeast, fed them a little honey, and started down the familiar baking path. In the past days, I've made cookies, muffins, and many many batches of garlic rolls. Two of those batches were supposed to be normal sandwich bread, but after the kids descended on the first batch like locusts after a week crossing the desert, it seemed like a good idea to just pump out the garlicky goodness until they subsided.

This cool weather better last awhile.


Positively Orphaned said...

would love that recipe!

judith said...

Does your oven and stove run off propane or electricity? Have you ever tried a solar oven? We grill out a lot once it gets hot here.

Behan said...

OMG... the garlic pull-apart rolls...SO GOOD! I can almost taste them now. It remindes me of that afternoon in Puerto Don Juan- how you & the girls had to come over early to Totem with the fresh pan of them, in order to insure their survival until dinner!

Jomamma, Toast doesn't have a solar oven but uses the sun for a lot of other cooking (browse back a few posts). We have baked in our solar oven but I haven't tried these rolls in it yet. It would probably be best with reflectors, which we don't have.