Friday, February 19, 2010

Ode to EWR

Ah, the joys of Newark Airport. It's funny to me how much I fail to hate this place (except when it's the weekend after Thanksgiving and the weather has canceled almost all flights, including mine, and there are so many people everywhere that I'm on the verge of developing claustrophobia, but that's another story).

The part of travel I really hate the most is the luggage, and on this trip I've neatly circumvented that problem by traveling from where I'm half living now back to the place I'm about to move out of but (and this is key) haven't yet (so 95% of my stuff is still there). Good trick, right? I'm not even bringing a toothbrush. Sadly this does not mean I'm traveling with a single small handbag containing nothing more than a book to read and an official ID to get me on the plane in the first place. But for me one backpack and one shoulder bag weighing less than 20 pounds (estimated) in total is a major triumph. Please remember, people, that whereas most women walk around with lipstick and cell phone in a small purse, I've been known to carry a liter of water, a snack, a 400 page novel and a first aid kit as a matter of course.

So on this trip I'm doing quite well on the luggage front. Which brings me to my next least favorite part of travel: sitting around the airport/train station/bus depot doing nothing. Waiting.

Patience? What?

(Let's note, now, that this is actually the legitimate reason for half the stuff I carry with me on a regular basis: to amuse myself when my infinitesimal patience runs out.)

This all brings us to the crux of this post: my ode to Newark Airport, written to pass the time while waiting for a flight to Nashville, via Charlotte (gods willing the weather cooperates).

Oh Newark Airport, under smoggy skies
You sprawl so hugely, as an airport should.
With seeming endless in- and outbound flights
To take a traveler anywhere she would,
You serve Northern New Jersey like a charm.
No need to drive to far-off JFK:
You're only twenty minutes in the car!
(Depending on traffic on 78.)
As planes alight over the Turnpike lanes
EWR over the airways reigns.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Bread - failure and success.

Well, the holy grail is still out of reach. It was probably me, and not the recipe, but it didn't turn out as I'd hoped. The crust was pretty good, but the inside was a bit spongey. My parents actually liked it better than I did, believe it or not, but they weren't holding out hopes for a substitute for the gluey, stretchy, yeasty gloriousness of real bread. I still have the second half of the dough in the fridge, which I'll try baking as rolls and see how that goes.

Lessons learned? 1. In regular baking I could get away with all kinds of fudged measurements, but I'm going to have to be really exact (with everything) whenever xanthan gum gets involved. 2. I really should stop expecting anything to turn out quite like yeasted gluten bread, and then I'll stop being disappointed. 3. Stick to quick breads! (at least, for now.)

And on that last note... This morning I made a batch of pumpkin corn muffins ( and they're DELICIOUS. My new favorite thing. The slight crunch from the corn meal, the cinnamon and pumpkin pie spice... mmmmmmm. I suspect corn meal will in fact be one of my staples from now on, as it's such a normal ingredient and has so much character on its own. One of the next recipes I plan to try is these cornbread muffins: (with fake milk, of course). I'll let you know how those go, too. But I should probably finish eating this batch of muffins before I make the next one...

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Snowy Day Update

Since the snow has been falling for nearly 24 hours now, and that's always an invitation to bake, I decided to go for the holy grail: gluten free yeast bread. I got out the tapioca flour, the xanthan gum, and a recipe for which I have very high hopes ( and started mixing. The dough is resting now, so I'll have to give you an update on how it turns out.

In other news, the reason I vanished again after recently resurfacing is that I've been doing a lot of traveling and logistical business, the upshot being that I'm now back in scenic NJ and will be here for probably the next year or so.

It's a long story, and not particularly interesting, but the time has come to conclude The Nashville Experiment. The irony is that I've finally found some things in Nashville (namely a handful of people) that I'm reluctant to leave behind. But such is life, and in a couple of weeks I'll be making one brief trip back to pack up my apartment and drive the thousand miles home.

Which means... we begin the next chapter in the saga! Right now I'm hoping that this one will include things like a food processor and a large kitchen to house it. The main goal, though, is good health, and to that end I'm going to walk away from the computer, make a cup of tea, and watch the snow fall.