This was the foundation when I arrived here almost seven years ago. This was the scene, this was the beginning to where I wanted to start my when-I-grow-up-I-want-to-live-here life. And that’s not to say that I didn’t chose other things in my life; where I went to college, what I wanted to study, what I did with myself in my free time–but as for the important choices, this one, this Portland decision, was mine. I owned it. And if it didn’t pan out, well then I was the one to make that call.
When I first arrived here, I felt this empowering liberation. It was the power of choice. Of doing something within my own rules, my own expectations, and seeing what would happen. It was my decision that would prove whether I would need to bail, or if I could believe the hype and stay and love the place in which I lived.
I totally made the right choice.
I used to not quite know what to make of January. It’s cold and snowy and rainy, and no real sign of spring honestly approaching. It’s the end of the holiday season, which I used to find fun and different and indulgent. But now as an adult, I crave the choices I have in January. No holiday parties where we should show our faces even if we’d rather play Trivial Pursuit at home. No pushes to get random presents for people that feel forced and not thought out.
This is the time to do things that I want to do to make things better for me and the people [and pets] around me. It’s time to get creative. Read more. Take a walk. Cut down the phone and computer time. Watch less T.V. Listen to records. Find a new place to eat or sip a cappuccino.
So this year I want to make a few small changes. No major moves. But small things that will make a big impact. And all in my choosing. Like baking a bread bowl from scratch, and having it be totally worth the time it took to do it.
Homemade Bread Bowls
You will need a few Pyrex oven safe glass bowls for this recipe, but they’re a good investment since you can store so much in them. I got mine at Target–they hold 2 cups, which is the perfect bread bowl size.
From Alexandra Cooks
I have tried many times to bake bread, and it never quite comes out the way I like. This, though, is amazing. Especially when you fill it with your favorite soup. I used this broccoli cheese soup which kept it light, but still hearty enough to stand a bowl made out of bread.
You will need 4 2-cup glass bowls. Or you can use 2 4-cup glass bowls for huge bread bowls.
4 cups All-purpose unbleached flour
2 teaspoons kosher salt
2 cups lukewarm water (mix 1/2 cup boiling water with 1 1/2 cups cold water)
1 tablespoon sugar
1 package active-dry yeast
1. Whisk the flour and salt in a large mixing bowl and set aside.
2. Measure the water in a cup that will hold 2 cups or more. Stir in the sugar to dissolve, then sprinkle yeast on top of water. Let stand 15 minutes, or until mix gets a bit foamy. Stir to combine.
3. Add water mixture to flour bowl and, stir to combine (you can use your hands if it’s easier).
4. Turn oven on; set to 400 degrees. Set a timer for 1 minute. When minute is up, turn off the oven (this creates a warm space for your bread to rise.
5. Cover dough with plastic wrap and put in oven. Let rise for 1 1/2-2 hours (but no more) until it has significantly risen (mine was peaking over the bowl).
6. While dough rises, liberally butter your glass bowls.
7. Using 2 forks, remove dough from oven and separate the dough in half, and then in quarters. The forks will help you cut through the dough. Then, using your hands, quickly grab the dough quarters and put them in each of the glass bowls.
8. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Keep the bread bowls on the stovetop or another warm place, and let rise for about 20 minutes. The key here is to keep the area slightly warm. I have an electric stove, so I turned my burners on low and let them sit on them. Bread should rise to the top or a little over the bowls.
9. Once oven is preheated, bake bread for 10 minutes, then reduce heat to 375 degrees and bake for 25 more minutes. Bread should be golden on top. Remove from oven, and turn bowls over onto a cooling rack to release the bread. If the bread isn’t golden on the bottom and seems a little soft, put on a cookie sheet and bake for 5 more minutes. The idea is to have a hard exterior with a soft interior. Perfect for soup.
10. Let cool for 10 minutes. Then, with a pairing knife, cut into bread, angling your knife inward towards the center of the bread (I pretend I’m cutting a pumpkin), but also leaving a 1/2inch wall so the soup will stay in the bowl. Serve immediately, with a ladle of your favorite soup.