Saturday, April 17, 2010

J Is For Jewish Rye Bread

Facebook says I have 110 friends.  110?  Really?  One hundred and ten?  No...I just don't buy it.  Not only do I not have 110 friends now, but I don't think I have had 110 friends, cumulatively, during my entire lifetime. 

(Of course, that is one of the joys/deceptions of can count the kid who sat at the desk next to you in 3rd grade as your friend.  The Facebook Friend can be: someone you used to know, or someone you work with, or your insurance agent, or someone who is the spouse of someone you sat next to at the baseball game last spring, or...someone who really is a friend.  It worries me slightly that Facebook will soon try to trademark the word friend, requiring us to indicate whether we are referring to a friend or a FFriendtm.

I have to wonder if some people really do have 110 real friends.  Certainly there is the old joke, about how Mr. and Mrs. So-and-So invited 400 of their closest friends to their daughter's wedding.  And I'm reminded (tragically) of a grade school incident...the 5th Grade Valentine's Day Party...aargh...I thought it was time to be selective - realizing too early that you really can't be friends with everybody - and commenced to decide who would/would not receive a Valentine's Day card from me...only to realize - too late - that nobody else in the class was so honest and distributed cards to everybody. 

So in yet another attempt to oversimplify the world...into a seemingly ever-growing system of dichotomies, I have come to believe that, with regards to friends and friendships, there are The Collectors and The Collected.   No, it's not a creepy Brian DePalma slasher movie concept (THE COLLECTORS!!!  Eeeek!); some people are simply better at/more dedicated to maintaining friendships than are others.  Sister Jane and Lori O. are definitely Collectors.  With them, it seems that once a friend always a friend.  Nik and I, on the other hand...and I don't want to make this sound like a pity-party or a derogatory commentary on others in this class...we belong to the Collected.  We love our friends and enjoy them 100%...BUT, with us, seriously, the front door is always open, we are always home, come by for drinks on the patio anytime, we love to add one or more chairs around the dinner just have to invite yourself...or more correctly, you just have to activate the implicit invitation. 

Passive aggressive?   Indicative of sociopathic tendencies and/or a decreased ability to emotionally, of course not...that's just silly.  Yet another sign of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (which we do not have)?  Or even worse, something akin to Woody Allen's lament that he wouldn't want to belong to any club that would have him as a, definitely not that.  Lazy?...perhaps, to some degree.  Who knows/cares.

It may have become clear to those of you who have read more than a few of these binary musings, that at times I choose to live in the world of the one-liner.  (And, no, I will not delve into the psychoanalytical foundations of that world-simplifying habit.)  Anyhoo...there was a time...when I was working mostly in geriatrics...when I summarized my social life with the, not entirely untrue, bon mot..."My only friends are little old Jewish ladies." 
All day long I would hear variations on...: "So, tell me, are you married?" 
"Come in, come in, now is fine, really - it's fine..sure, I was going to watch my program but I haven't seen it in 10 days, so what if I miss one more day." 
"Eat,'re too skinny.  Well, maybe not so much, but eat, I didn't stand all day at the stove with these swollen ankles for you not to eat."
These were not generally lasting friendships, but they were genuine, interesting, unique, and matter how short-lived.  Thinking back on them I am very glad to have "collected" them, as I am glad to be collected by my other friends.  And it is for them, my tea and toast ladies...with Mrs. Ruben at the top of the list, that I offer Jewish Rye Bread.  (I have some in the freezer...come by anytime and we'll have some with a cup of coffee.  But don't wait for me to call, because I won't.  Just come on over.)

Jewish Rye Bread
(based on a recipe from George Greenstein)
Yield = 2 loaves

Water....................................1 cup
Active Dry Yeast........................2 1/4 tsp (1 pkg)
Mature Rye Sour*.......................3 cups
AP Flour..................................3-4 cups
Whole Wheat Pastry Flour.............3/4 cup
Salt........................................1 Tablespoon

1.  In a large bowl, rehydrate the yeast in the water.
2.  Add the flours, the sour, and the salt - stir to combine.
3.  When the mass becomes a soft but cohesive dough, turn out onto floured surface and knead until the dough is soft and smooth.  Add small amounts of flour to the kneading surface if the dough becomes too sticky to work.  Do not overknead - the dough will remain soft.
4.  Place the dough in a lightly oiled bowl, cover wtih plastic and let rise for 20-30 minutes - fold the dough gently, then divide in half.
5.  Let the dough rest, covered with plastic, 5-10 minutes.  Sprinkle a baking sheet generously with cornmeal.
6.  Shape the dough into boules or batards.  Place on the prepared baking sheet, cover (or place in a large plastic trash bag) and let rise until doubled in size.  Preheat oven to 375. 
7.  Glaze:  Combine 1 Tablespoon cornstarch in 1 cup water.
8.  When loaves have risen, slash each loaf and brush with the glaze.
9.  Bake 30-40 minutes - do not underbake.  (Tap the bottom - it will sound hollow when done.)  Let cool before slicing.

*Rye Sour: When refreshing your white liquid levain, in a separate bowl combine 100 grams levain, 625 grams water, 500 grams rye flour. Mix thoroughly...let ferment 6-8 hours, until big, bubbly, and ripe smelling.

1 comment:

Lori O. said...

So now with Facebook, no one can EVER escape the clutches of the evil friend COLLECTOR! You are mine forever! WAH HA HA!!!!!! (Evil laugh...)