When there is a free moment in my hectic life, reading is my favorite past time. I love an evening curled up inside a blanket on my favorite chair, sipping tea from a tall glass (not a plastic fast food cup) and having Stephen King make the hair on the back of my neck stand up on end. These are the moments of life's simple pleasures.
Add a bowl of popcorn and remove the book, watching a "good" movie is my second favorite past time.
I learned to enjoy movies as a child from my grandmother.
Grandma Iva loved all kinds of movies, but a pet peeve of hers was when actors went overboard with their performances. One such actor that caused my grandmother to cringe was Robin Williams.
"I know he's a good comedian, but he's just too wild for my taste," she would say whenever he came on television. "He's all over the place. Takes way too much effort on my part to understand what's going on when I watch him."
I guess that opinion rubbed off on me, because I understand what she means.
When Williams became an actor, I loved the movies where his performance was controlled by the movie script. I especially love it when he plays dark, sinister characters.
Although there are so many movies to choose from, I believe Williams is terrific in One Hour Photo, Insomnia, What Dreams May Come (my favorite), Mrs. Doubtfire, The Best of Times and Man of the Year.
Seeing him go a little crazy in movies like Jumanji and Death to Smoochy are also great because he's not completely crazy.
If you wonder what this has to do with using our kitchen pets we created last week, baking Sourdough bread can be a "wild process," but when you use a little tip to control the process it is easier and tastier.
My grandmother used to get perturbed at letting Sourdough bread dough rise uninhibited on a baking sheet like her recipe called for.
"It's alive and running everywhere," my grandfather would chide her when the dough was left to sit on the counter to rise. It wasn't unusual for the dough to outgrow the confines of her baking sheet, plus she didn't like listening to my grandfather complain that her sourdough was a long, thin bread loaf when it was baked.
"It should at least be big enough to make a full sandwich with it," he'd tease her when it was done.
A crafty sort, she conquered the problem by mixing, proofing and baking her Sourdough bread recipe in a greased aluminum-mixing bowl.
To make the bread, do the following:
Dissolve the yeast in a 1/4-cup of hot tap water with a pinch of sugar until froth develops on top.
Combine the yeast mixture with 1/2-cup hot tap water, 1 cup of Sourdough starter, 2 tablespoons of honey, 3 tablespoons of melted butter and 1 tablespoon of salt in the aluminum bowl. Stir in three cups of flour by hand, and then knead in another half cup of flour by hand (about 6-8 minutes).
Dough shouldn't be too sticky. Let it rest on the counter while you wash and dry the bowl. Use butter to grease the bowl and place the dough inside, turning to coat all sides. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise until doubled in size, usually about 90 minutes.
Punch down the dough, divide in half and place in two buttered aluminum mixing bowls, turning the dough to coat all sides. (The dough can be placed back inside the same buttered aluminum bowl for one large loaf.)
Cover with plastic wrap and let rise another hour until doubled in size. (Let rise longer if your house is a cooler temperature.)
Carefully place the bowl(s) in a preheated 400-degree oven to bake for 15 minutes, and then reduce the heat to 375 degrees and let bake 20-25 minutes longer. When the bread sounds hollow when tapped, remove from the oven. Turn upside on a serving dish and let cool. The bread will gently fall onto the serving dish.