Slowing down

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“And so taking the long way home through the market I slow my pace down. It doesn’t come naturally. My legs are programmed to trot briskly and my arms to pump up and down like pistons, but I force myself to stroll past the stalls and pavement cafes. To enjoy just being somewhere, rather than rushing from somewhere, to somewhere. Inhaling deep lungfuls of air, instead of my usual shallow breaths. I take a moment to just stop and look around me. And smile to myself.
For the first time in a long time, I can, quite literally, smell the coffee.” 

— Alexandra Potter, The Two Lives of Miss Charlotte Merryweather


I remind myself to slow down quite a bit these days. I’m really lucky that all of my spare time is taken up by enjoyable things — time with friends, family, my spouse — and that doesn’t even count all of the cool, creative classes and events I get to go to around Fargo. These are things I’m so grateful for, I have a full life and I feel very lucky to be able to live it every day.

That being said, I can’t tell how many times I’ve felt like I’m being pulled in a million directions. There is that desire to go! go! go! and then I end up collapsing onto the bed at the end of the day.

Luckily, I’ve made a list of things that I tell myself to remember to slow down in my everyday life. Breathe deeply, look around and notice small details, only have 3 obligations in a week, write down your to-do list, figure out a few small areas of focus so you aren’t trying to learn ALL THE THINGS at the same time.

It’s really incredible how much more focused and driven I am when I slow down and focus on the things around me. I’m less forgetful. I have time to finish all of my tasks for the week (because I remembered to write them down). I’m more present with my loved ones. I said before that I want to make this the winter that I create more, and honestly, the more I focus on slowing down and working on those goals, the more I get done. My juggling skills have improved so much in just a few weeks! Hopefully, this will become second nature in the future and I won’t have to remind myself so often to take it easy and pump the brakes.

That’s one of the things I really enjoy about baking bread, it forces you to slow down. You can’t rush through a bread’s rising, or skip doing a proper knead, you’ll end up ruining the bread’s potential. You need to give it time; read a book while you putter around in the kitchen, listen to that podcast that you’ve been meaning to get to. You could even just sit around and do absolutely nothing while you wait! Sometimes that ends up being my favorite choice.

This recipe by Jim Lahey is one of the first ones I ever did when I first started dabbling in sourdough bread. It is straightforward and completely approachable.

Take your time and enjoy the process.


Sourdough No-Knead Bread

INGREDIENTS

  • 3 ½ cups/425 grams bread flour – I like using my food scale to measure out grams
  • 1 teaspoon/6 grams kosher salt
  • ¾ cup/180 grams sourdough starter, “fed”
  • 2 tablespoons/9 grams sesame seeds – I usually skip these

PREPARATION

  1. In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour and salt.
  2. In a small mixing bowl, stir together 300 grams (about 1 1/4 cups) lukewarm tap water with the sourdough starter, then pour the mixture into the bowl with the flour mixture. Mix until just combined. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and a tea towel and leave it to rise overnight about 10 to 24 hours.
  3. The next day, dust a clean kitchen surface with flour. Scoop out the dough and place it on the surface, then dust with more flour. Gently fold the edges of the dough from the outside in, to form a round loaf. Dust a clean towel with yet more flour and place the dough on it, the seam side down, then cover and allow to double in size, about 2 hours.
  4. Meanwhile, heat oven to between 450 and 550 degrees. Place a covered enamel Dutch oven or heavy pot with a lid into the oven and allow it to heat for 30 minutes or so. Remove the pot from the oven, take off its top, and carefully invert the risen dough into it, so that the seam side is now facing up. Sprinkle with the sesame seeds, then put the top back on the pot and return it to the oven.
  5. Bake for about 25 to 30 minutes, then take the top off the pot and allow it to continue to cook until it is brown and crusty all over, an additional 20 minutes or so. Put the loaf on a rack to cool for at least 30 minutes before serving.
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