Monday, February 11, 2013

Of Nemo and Slush

I saw a friend's status today and it read something like this "Friday: SNOW DAY! ... Yeah!
Saturday and Sunday: Snow forts, snow ball fights, snow football. THIS IS AWESOME! Monday: ... I hate snow." 
I agree with him 100%. The weekend and its 2+ feet of snow was fun and exhilarating--mainly Friday night's huge snowball fight and Saturday's running through the deserted streets. Nemo brought me back to my days in Aspen when I would dream of snow days and epic powder on the mountain. It reminded me of the beauty of a snow-blanketed city and the unique smell of fresh snow. And most importantly, it made it clear that it is still winter--one of my favorite seasons.

But come Monday, the city has turned into a slushy chaos with half-cleared lanes and calf-deep puddles. Its a pain for pedestrians, bikers and drivers--I can't even imagine what it's like for public transportation workers. 

This morning, as I was leaving for work, it took me five tries and a quasi-freakout to drive Bruce (my car) out of the parking lot. And when I got back I almost cried when I scraped the front of it with a snow bank (believe me, it was almost impossible not too). Now I'm cringing at the thought of having to drive tomorrow when the slush turns to ice.

So in all honesty I have to admit that today I hate snow and all things Nemo.

But on a happier note, while stuck at home on Friday I decided to bake Challah bread. It was long, but easy and worth the work. The bread itself turned out sweet and fluffy, just the way it was supposed to. So if you're craving a warm loaf of Challah, try this recipe and enjoy!

Challah (adapted from Epicurious)
Active time: 30 minutes. Total time: about 5 hours.
Makes 1 1/2 pound loaf.
  • 1 envelope (7 gr.) instant yeast
  • 3 3/4 cups bread flour
  • 3/4 cup warm water
  • 2 large eggs + 1 for glazing
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons table salt
  • 1/4 granulated sugar
  • Sesame seeds for sprinkling

  1. In a large bowl whisk together yeast and 3/4 cup bread flour. Slowly whisk in warm water. Let sit for about 20 minutes or until fermented and puffed up.
  2. Whisk the 2 eggs, oil, salt and sugar into the yeast mixture until eggs are well incorporated and salt and sugar are dissolved. Using a wooden spoon, mix in the remaining 3 cups flour at once. When dough is shaggy, transfer to work surface and knead until soft, no more than 10 minutes.
  3. Clean and soak the mixing bowl in hot water; dry and place the dough inside the bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside. Let rise until doubled in size, 1:30-2 hours.
  4. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside. Split the dough into 3 equal parts and roll out into 2-inch thick ropes. Carefully braid the bread, using water to stick the ends together. Cover with plastic wrap or a damp towel and leave to rise for another 1-1:30 hours, or until doubled in size again.
  5. Half hour before baking, arrange oven racks into lower and upper thirds and preheat oven to 350F. In a small bowl, beat remaining egg for glazing. 
  6. When loaf have grown and do not push back when pressed gently with your finger, brush with egg glaze and sprinkle with sesame seeds.
  7. Cook loaf for about 40 minutes, or until browned. If it seems to be browning too quickly, tent bread with foil. Once baked, remove from oven and cool for 10 minutes before serving.

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