Friday, May 27, 2011

...and I can bake bread!

I don't have many talents - special gifts that you are born with. I can't sing. I don't dance. I am fairly artistic but no Picasso (mind you - he was crap!). The natural talents I have that others can not do - even with training and practice seem fairly pointless. I can touch the end of my nose with my tongue - handy if you are short of a hankie but not much use otherwise.  That's how I know snot is salty! I know you are all now seeing if you can do it too. Are you special enough and talented to do this? No? Well luckily for you a long tongue isn't really a useful asset, is it?! I find a sharp tongue can come in handy though!
I am also quite bendy. When I was younger  I could lie on my stomach and bend back to place my feet on my head! I can climb stairs in the lotus position. I can still put my foot behind my head - I used to be able to do both legs at the same time! I feel I really should have been more popular in my prime! Useless talent but great party trick. My ability to do it these days correlates to the amount of alcohol I have consumed. My willingness to do it has always been in direct proportion to alcoholic intake! Another useless talent for which I have no use or application.
In the absence of talents I have to rely on skills - things learned and practised and of use. I confess I have many useless skills too. When I gave up work a year ago today to come to America I decided I would use my time wisely to learn many new skills and become a more educated person. I thought I might do a Masters (being rather fed up of being a Jack) or maybe even a PHD (So I could become a Doctor. 'Which Doctor?' you may ask - not a Witch Doctor - a real one of something useless - PHD in literature or history or some shit like that) or an MBA. MBA's are really expensive and I realised even if I liked the title I didn't have an ounce of interest in 'Market segmentation analysis' and 'Net promoter scoring'. People who do must be very dull!
I decided to develop other skills - maybe go to an art class.Maybe... I haven't yet!  I joined a belly dancing class having already got some skills in shimmying. The teacher was recovering from a hip replacement and her son took the lessons instead. I didn't think the need for a hip replacement was a good advertisement for Belly dancing. Her son was very serious and focused on technique. It was no fun at all. I wanted to shake my coin belt and tassels like shakira and he wanted me to understand the difference between 'raqs baladi' (proper belly dancing) and 'raqs sharaq' - westernised belly dancing. I didn't care - I just wanted to have some fun! 
I have mastered one skill I never thought I would develop. I may not be a Master of literature or a Master of Business Administration but I am now a Master baker! The standard white sliced bread in the US is grim. It is sweet and nasty. Anything edible by good bread standards (Italian, French) costs a fortune. There is a very trendy bakery near where I live that bakes on the premises, has pretentious French signs and a bistro type cafe and charges $13 for a freshly baked spelt loaf! $13!!!!
Within 3 days of being in the states, having no furniture or belongings to speak of, I decided to try something really radical. I made a loaf of bread...without a bread machine! Delia told me what to do. At first I was confused - with words like 'clenched knuckles',  'good pummelling', 'punching all the gas out' and 'knocking down'  I thought she was training me for Fight Club. It turns out you have to be angry to make good bread and I was fairly pissed off at the quality of American bread, amongst other things, so I was ready for the challenge!
My husband buys me comedy wedding anniversary presents. He knows I don't like to be considered 'a wife'. I don't like the connotations of marriage and didn't even change my name so he plays on this. One year I got an steam iron. Another year he got me a water butt! I pretended the dough was his head, for a really airy loaf. If you are wondering what I buy him - I don't - I'm more than he deserves (and don't forget, I can put my legs behind my neck and have a particularly long tongue- what more could he ever want?!)
I just read this to him and he said 'if only that were even half true.' It is true - I can do those things - sadly for him 'willing' and 'able' are two different things
Anyway - last year he got me a 'Kitchenaid Mixer' to piss me off. It backfired. I loved it!  I have to confess I have always wanted one - not to use - just as a kitchen accessory. Nigella Lawson has one so it is a must! My mixer has a dough hook. According to Delia you can use this to knead bread 'if you are lazy, weak or just tired' (pompous or what!). As I am all three most of the time, my dough hook is a godsend.
As a skill is learned and can be practised and honed to perfection, my bread making skills have developed. From the first days of doing it all by hand, painstakingly measuring everything out and and watching it 'prove' for an hour (well I had f**K all else to do) to knocking a loaf out so the kids can have fresh bread for lunch every day I feel I can now say I have a skill that I didn't have before I came to America. So, in a year off work I have in fact mastered something of use!


  1. lol I clicked away w the fairies because I can darn it!

    You have a skill I am just too lazy to try to have. Maybe one day I'll stop thinking about fresh bread and actually make it.

  2. I fookin love fresh crusty bread

  3. still warm...with salty Irish butter :)
    (Kerrygold is around $8!)
    Still can't post a comment as me! Strange

  4. This sounds like old bollocks to me.
    'The Jolly Ripper'

  5. Perhaps you should have gone on Btitains Got Talent, I am sure "The Hoff" would love to see you with your legs round your neck. I will add your bread is excellent.

  6. Jolly Ripper - You are so very perceptive!

  7. (_0_) Jolly Ripper!
    I should have known - Not sure what the equivilent of a Frape is but the Jolly Ripper turns out to be my hubby (who never visits my blog usually!) His head is dough!