MY LIFE - Is it just me?
MY LIFE - Is it just me?
Is it just me or do weird things happen to other people, too? Seems to me “Lucy and Ethel” moments are no doubt happening all over the place out there in the real world and I’m just not hearing about them, but I have to admit that I seem to be having more than my fair share of “unusual” things going on in my life.
The latest occurred just before Christmas when I was trying a new bread recipe from my King Arthur Flour Baker’s Companion cookbook.
My daughter Kathy (who bakes most her family’s bread) had been telling me about her favorite bread recipe, a honey oatmeal loaf that contained a healthy mix of both white and whole wheat flours. I’m not really a fan of whole wheat bread, but she thought I might like this particular one since it used white whole wheat flour and therefore had a milder flavor. She made it sound so good I was eager to give it a try. And so it came to pass that on a quiet day in December, I found what looked like it might be the recipe in question and began a trial bake.
Into the big stainless steel bowl of my bright red super-duper Professional 6000 HD model KitchenAid mixer (a gift from my fellow Porch People), went the hot water, salt, oatmeal, and honey, followed by the yeast and flour. I have made enough bread to have a pretty good idea of what the dough normally looks like and this one seemed a lot denser than usual, but it was a new recipe, so I carried on.
Directions said to knead the bread for 10 minutes by hand or 5-7 minutes in the mixer. As I said, this is a seriously powerful piece of equipment, and although the dough hook was still churning the batch of dough, it was making the kind of noises normally heard when the load in the washing machine is a bit off kilter. Kind of “ka-thump-ka-thump” but as I said, it was an unfamiliar recipe so I was only mildly concerned as I let the mixer do its thing, and with several minutes still to go in the kneading process, I left the room for a moment.
The sound of a loud crash soon had me racing back to the kitchen where I couldn’t believe my eyes. It took a few seconds for my brain to process what I was seeing. The mixer was laying on its side on the floor, its load of dough still in its bowl, and devastation surrounding it.
The mixer is a heavy son-of-a-gun that lives on the kitchen counter. I need to wrap both arms around it to drag it forward when I want to use it, and then use both hands to push it back into place against the wall when I’m done.
What had apparently happened was that the ka-thumping not only involved noise, but subtle vibrations that had slowly but surely walked the mixer on a diagonal path across the counter top and over the edge, sweeping everything in its path as it went. Two bins full of flour (both pastry and bread), the roll of paper towels in its stand and the matching chrome-plated napkin holder with its full load of paper napkins, as well as measuring cups and spoons were all on the floor, covered in the flour that had sailed through the adjacent doorway into the living room and settled like drifted snow two inches deep against the big vent that serves as the air intake for the furnace that lies directly under it in the cellar.
I immediately grabbed up the bread dough, intent on salvaging it before it came to harm.
It reminded me of the time 25 years or so ago when my mother was carrying a roasted turkey up the stairs, tripped on the top step and went flying head first into the credenza at the top of the stairs. The turkey pan hit the floor and my first instinct was to snatch the turkey away before it got bled on before clamping my hand over the cut on Mom’s forehead that soon began spurting blood from the artery she had opened. Pragmatically speaking, the accident had already occurred. There was no need to compound it by ruining everyone’s supper.
Same idea with the bread dough.
After quickly assessing the situation, I carefully picked up the solid debris, plugged in the vacuum cleaner and was amazed to find everything clean as a whistle in no time at all.
I had serious reservations about the dough, but since it was already made anyway I figured I had nothing to lose by baking it. It surprised me by turning out to be a handsome loaf with a lovely texture and delicious taste. Who knew?
The only residual damage from the whole affair was a divot in the kitchen floor that closely matches the diameter of the crank handle that raises and lowers the mixing bowl, and a slight clicking sound that the mixer now makes when used on medium to high speed. Not bad at all, all things considered.
A day or two later I was on the phone with my daughter Barbara who lives in New York. Still kind of upset by what had happened, I was telling her my tale of woe when things on her end got very quiet, and then I heard the faint but unmistakable sounds that grew louder as she began gasping for air. The cheeky kid was laughing at me and quickly assuring me that this, too, would most definitely make it into the ever-growing eulogy that would someday be delivered in my honor.
Rhea Bouchard Powers is a writer from Cumberland.