Sunday, June 28 2020

pizza drama, rock pavers, and krang bread

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Dear Journal,

Good morning, everyone, and a happy Sunday to you. To set the scene here, our entire family has settled in, on, or around the couch in the living room - or as you might say in Dutch, de bank in de woonkamer. And for a free interesting Dutch tidbit - the word for couch is the same word for bank, which is just bank.

In hopes of snapping Rodney out of his YouTube video rutt, I dropped the hammer this morning and dictated that he has to watch at least an hour of Veggie Tales before returning to his beguiled orange and blue master, of whom we try not to speak his name more than we have to.

I was hoping to make crepes this morning. But to my disappointment, we didn't have quite enough milk in the house to satisfy the crepe batter recipe I found. So I instead resorted to our family's Sunday morning standby - French toast. But rest assured, I've got crepes on my radar, and I'm eager to add skinny pancakes to our breakfast menu.

As I write, Marissa was catching me up on some drama happening in a nearby pizza place. This pizza place, which used to be a regular dining choice for our family, allegedly had an employee test positive for COVID-19, but failed to disclose it to anyone until a week of regular operation had passed. If you visit their webpage, it only says they're closing early to give their awesome staff a well deserved break, but the unverified Facebook whistleblower certainly gives an interesting backdrop to the seemingly innocuous hiatus.

We're not to worried about it. We actually haven't eaten there since the stay at home order started. Being limited to take out, our family has been forced to see our usual set of favorite restaurants for what they are - decent beer, and walking distance to our house - none of which really count for anything in quarantined world.

"They're food was never really good," I added after Marissa stopped reading. "But if you're food isn't good and your management is this toxic?"

"Yeah, I always got the sense that the staff was really frustrated with management. I think they had a lot of problems."

Sip. Yesterday was a good day. After lunch, we all headed outside to begin our work day. With Marissa acting as our site foreman, she directed Rodney and I in moving the rocks off a strip of dirt beside our driveway and digging a small trench so she could lay down new stone pavers. Afterwards, we'd rinse off the rocks with a hose and shovel them back in.

And even though there was plenty to do, it didn't take long for the work day to become a play-in-the-hose day for Rodney. He shook his sandals off to the side, picked up the hose, and sprayed it directly into his face. His yelling was drowned out by the sharp spray of water, but I felt lucky to be close enough to hear what he was screaming.


Leaving the hose running on the pavement, he flopped on his belly, and putting his mouth to the ground he took a few sips out of a puddle.

"RODNEY," Marissa yelled. "No drinking the water."

"Just a little bit? Just my lip?" Rodney contested, pointing to his face.

"No, Rodney. Not just a little bit. No drinking water off the ground," I scolded. Rodney pouted for a few moments, staring wistfully into the dirty puddle which he so desired. But then he remembered he had free access to a hose, and returned to spraying himself in the face over his own battle cry.

Meanwhile, Marissa rinsed rocks and laid pavers while I dug a trench. We had trouble finding an efficient way to clean the rocks without leaving a big muddy mess.

"The best way I've found so far is just doing a handful at a time," said Marissa, hunched over a mount of pebbbles.

"But that's going to take forever," I replied. Marissa shrugged.

We tried flattening the rocks into a pile, rinsing portions at a time, rinsing them over a shovel, rinsing them over a rake. But each variation of the same chore proved messier and less effective than the last.

"OK, so far, your handful method is the best," I laughed. "I'm not going to stress about it. As long as what we do today is better than how it was before, it's still worth it."

We rinsed Rodney off in the driveway then sent him upstairs for a nap. Marissa and I finished the project, then ordered a pizza from our new favorite Madison pizza place. After dinner, we all took a walk to the neighborhood liquor store. As we struggled to untangle the dog leashes from the stroller, Rodney took Ollie's lead in his hand.

"Momma," he asked. "I hold Ollie?" Marissa looked hesitant.

"It's Ollie," I said turning to her. "He's not going anywhere. This is good practice." Ollie smiled up at Marissa, almost as if he was offering his approval.

"OK," she said. "But just until we get to the busy road, then I'm taking over.

Rodney ran ahead of the pack, with a very composed Ollie jogging behind him. "It looks like Ollie is walking Rodney," I laughed.

Marissa picked up some beer and loaded it into the stroller, then we made our way home. After putting Rodney to bed, we treated ourselves to a luxurious snack of buttered sourdough bread and beer fit for our arduous work day.

But we were not just celebrating finishing the rock paver project. We were also taking the maiden voyage of our family's new standard issue sourdough sandwich bread - or what we refer to simply as Krang Bread.

The goal of Krang Bread was to make a simple, reliable, repeatable, no-fuss all purpose sandwich bread. Krang Bread should be practical, good enough to make crispy toast, a soft PB & J, but it should still be appetizing enough to eat with just a swipe of butter with your dinner.

And at last, after a long research and development processes tweaking hydration, inoculation, bulk rise duration and oven temperature, we think we've arrived at the perfect recipe.

krang bread

Krang Bread. Enjoy it for anything, as long as it's with a beer.

Be on the lookout for my recipe Krang Bread - I'll publish it later today on the Recker Family Cookbook. Thanks for stopping by today.