summer fridays! they're referenced on twitter, and one hears of them in passing on saturdays and sundays, but never were they mine until last monday, when it was announced that my office would be closed at the end of the week, motherfuckers. with baking time on my hands, i found myself a recipe, hit the whole foods at columbus circle like an eastern army with a continent-sized campaign on its map, and settled down to make some pumpernickel.
the tricky part of bringing this bread into being was, oddly, the shopping (o, how the russians fetishize shopping): deb of smitten kitchen's russian black bread calls for seventeen ingredients, including a fresh shallot, unsweetened chocolate, three kinds of flour, a decommissioned tank, and four severed alliances. the combination of those things resulted in the peculiar cat-food smell that is the signature of good pumpernickel, though, so i figured i was on the right track.
as my go-to bread procedure has always been jim lahey's no-knead recipe, spending quality time with a dough was new and a little frightening. how much abuse did it want? what does springy feel like, anyway? was i supposed to fold and punch, to stretch and wheedle, to fling and exclaim? i spoke a little russian to the gluten as it developed ("i am studying international relations at stanford university, i am not a spy! what time is it? meat salad!").
the bread, to make a long story short, was quite horrorshow; i think i would be a bit more liberal with the caraway seeds, toss in a bit of sauteed onion, and perhaps tinker with the flour ratios a bit next time (for the pumpernickel flavor was just a bit subdued), but on the whole i was exceedingly pleased. my two loaves rose dutifully, and they were right tasty sliced and toasted with scrambled eggs and cracked pepper.
summer fridays are not merely for making bread, o my brothers; i have also been addressing the 101 in 1001 list with new-to-me shakespeare (as you like it in central park on thursday night) and kubrick (full metal jacket as i pumpernickeled). as you like it was one of the better comedies i've seen in recent years; lily rabe's rosalind was sharp and charming, a katharine hepburn for arden, and the bluegrass steve martin composed for the show paired well with the cast's high spirits. i teared up as i do every year; it is so fine, this city of mine with its plush june air and whirling moths and poetry all over the place. full metal jacket, in turn, was...passable? i liked the head-shaving opening sequence very much (can you really shave a head that quickly?), and vincent d'onofrio was as scary as he always is, but the pacing was weird, and joker's final voice-over was disappointing. i have higher hopes for barry lyndon and dr. strangelove.
imaginary reading group discussion questions
01 what would you do with a suddenly-spare friday?
02 are you a baker of bread? have you any kneading secrets?
03 how many of shakespeare's plays have you seen (live)?
04 do you ever cry at plays?
05 am i the only one who didn't know 2 live crew sampled full metal jacket?
06 have you seen prometheus? was that first scene on earth?