Monday, March 09, 2009

The Good Yeast of the Midwest

We've never been friends, Yeast and me. Trust me - you don't want me to elaborate any further. But I'm going to anyway.

In my years as a woman, Yeast has often been my itchy, discharge-y foe in the great Underwear Battle that is life. Apparently, I have a very delicate ecosystem ::down there:: For a while, mostly during what I refer to as The Condom Years, I kept almost as many tubes of Vagisil stashed around my house as I do chapstick. In more recent years, things have been better. I've adjusted to the crazy pollen in the Minnesota air, and subsequently have suffered fewer pneumonia-induced antibiotic regimens. I've learned that the post-coital bladder evacuation is my friend. I've embraced the blow job.

But most importantly, I've met my new best friend: Dry Active Yeast.

I've never been a fan of baking, the many reasons for which can be summed up with "Because You Have To Measure Shit", and I hate measuring shit. I appreciate those with the patience and attention span required to follow a specific list of ingredients, adding (the most ridiculous amounts) a quarter teaspoon of Cream of Tartar (which I'm hoping is not related to teeth), or a "dash" of something, in a perfect ratio of shit, the combination of which results in one of my favorite things: Carbohydrates. Bless you people who bake, I am not like you.

Even when I try to bake a cake from a boxed mix, I fuck it up. Somehow, my attention wanders as I'm reading the directions, and I leave out some crucial ingredient (usually, the only one they ask me to add) like eggs, and I end up with a 1/4" thick, 25lb. frisbee.

I've always been an decent cook because with cooking, I can just throw a bunch of shit together (without a recipe), using common sense (or hunger) as my measurements, and end up with something that vaguely resembles food. Thankfully, I've always lived with men who will eat anything, provided it has not come into contact with a green bean.

But, my friends, Dry Active Yeast called my name this weekend. I heard it calling from the cupboard over my stove, "Activate Me!" Ladies. Gentlemen. I answered that call.

Actually, it was 2Sock Shakur that inspired my doughy quest with her post about all the disgusting shit that they (being food companies) put into our food when we aren't looking. I purchased a bread maker from Good Will about 4 years ago for about $4, and have since used it sporadically, and exclusively with pre-mixed bread ingredients. This time, I wanted to find a recipe for whole wheat bread. I used this one.

My first attempt didn't rise. How is it possible that the chunk of cement I dislodged from my bread maker weighted 80lbs, but the ingredients I put in only weighted about 1lb? Determined to try again, I googled "Why didn't my bread rise?" (how did I do ANYTHING before google?) and found that my yeast may have been old. Which...yeah, considering it had been in my cupboard 6 years, I thought that might be possible. I dug the empty package out of the garbage can.

The expiration date was in 2003.


So I looked at some of the other packets of yeast in my cupboard, decided to use the freshest available (2006), and tried again. This time? MY DOUGH ROSE! I did a happy dance and demanded that Gray pause the TV and come look inside the bread maker at my MAGICAL RISING DOUGH! He thought this was mildly amusing.

So the second time was a charm, and although the finished product turned out a tiny bit heavier than I would have liked, it was pretty successful. I'm contemplating a sourdough starter, but am not sure if I have What It Takes to "parent" a living, yeasty beast in my fridge. I killed an Amish friendship bread once, and it still haunts my dreams.

After the successful bread making endeavor (I know, I know - I did nothing. The break maker did everything. Suck my spatula.), I decided to make brownies from scratch. Did you know there's like 14lbs of butter in a batch of brownies? It explains so much about...well, why brownies aren't advocated by the folks at The South Beach Diet. We are the entire pan, Gray and I. I joked (was totally serious) that I'd have to start rolling him around everywhere like the girl on Willie Wonka.

Anyhow, Yeast and I are going to spend the night together, next weekend. This new relationship does not behoove bathing suit preparedness. I'm very nervous, but I've decided that anything that smells kinda like booze but tastes like carbs...well, it can only make me happy, right?