Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Paska and Kulich

Today I am making paska and kulich with the boys before we go to Confession and Holy Unction.

I don't put icing on my kulich since the paska is already sweet enough.  I've tried a few Kulich recipes over the years.  This is, in my experience, the best one.  It is from the April 2004 issue of Gourmet magazine.  Thankfully, in U.S. law recipes can not be copyrighted.  

1 cup whole milk
1/2 cup sugar plus a pinch
1 1/2 sticks (3/4 cup) unsalted butter
Pinch of saffron threads, crumbled
2 teaspoons salt
2 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast (from a 1/4-oz package)
1/4 cup lukewarm water (105–115°F)
6 cups all-purpose flour plus additional for dusting
4 large eggs

Make dough: Heat milk, sugar, butter, saffron, and salt in a 1-quart heavy saucepan over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until butter is melted and sugar is dissolved, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat and cool to lukewarm.
Meanwhile, stir together yeast, warm water, and pinch of sugar and let stand until foamy, about 5 minutes. (If mixture doesn't foam, discard and start over with new yeast.)
Put flour in a large bowl and make a large well in center. Lightly beat 3 eggs and add to well along with milk and yeast mixtures. Carefully stir together with a wooden spoon, gradually incorporating flour, until a soft dough forms. Transfer dough to a lightly floured surface and knead, dusting with just enough flour to keep dough from sticking, until smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes. Put dough in a lightly oiled large bowl, turning to coat with oil, and let rise, covered with a clean kitchen towel, in a draft-free place at warm room temperature until doubled in bulk, about 3 hours.
Punch down dough and let rise again, covered with towel, until doubled in bulk, about 1 hour.
Form loaves:
Generously butter soufflé dishes. Punch down dough and divide in half. Loosely wrap 1 piece in plastic wrap and set aside. Cut away one third of remaining piece of dough and reserve, then roll remaining two thirds into a large ball and transfer to a soufflé dish.
Roll reserved piece of dough into an 18-inch-long rope on work surface with palms of your hands. Cut rope into 3 equal pieces and lay pieces vertically side by side on work surface, about 1/4 inch apart. Gather 3 ends farthest from you and press them together, then braid strands, pressing together other ends to secure braid. Lay braid over top of dough in soufflé dish (trim braid if using coffee cans). Form another loaf with remaining dough in same manner.
Cover loaves with clean kitchen towel and let rise in draft-free place at warm room temperature until doubled in bulk, about 1 1/2 hours (loaves will rise about 1 inch above rims of dishes).
Bake loaves:
Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 350°F.
Lightly beat remaining egg with a large pinch of salt, then brush egg over top of each loaf. Bake loaves until golden brown and bread sounds hollow when tapped on bottom, about 1 hour. Turn loaves out onto a rack, then turn right side up and cool completely.

Thursday, April 03, 2014

This week so far.

It is about 2 on Thursday morning.

On Sunday I didn't have enough money to get to church but I sold my last shotgun (The boys are not happy about me selling my guns.  They wanted then when I die.) so now I have enough money for my phone payment and some gas.  Of course, this means I won't be getting any spring turkeys.  Maybe some day in the future.  Who knows? 

On Monday I applied for a job as a bartender and was 99% sure I was going to get it.  The guy never called.  I've decided to stop counting the number of jobs I've applied for.  It is a little depressing.  A recruiter (a friend of my sister) looked at my resume and said "it's all over the place" and "it needs some work".  I know, the big companies like specialists.  But isn't that a boring way to live?  Isn't that kind of an insect way to live?  Soldier ants are only soldier ants.  Only one kind of bug gathers nectar from only one kind of orchid.  But I'm not an insect.  I'm a man and men are not specialists, We are generalists. 

I can do anything.  And if I can't do it I can learn how. In my life I've been an aluminum recycler, a sandwich maker, a parking lot striper, a soldier (which means I was a chaplain assistant, rifleman, clerk, and driver), an electrician's helper, a bookkeeper, a road paver, a data entry clerk, an advertising salesman (which means I was an account executive, copywriter, report writer, survey designer, researcher, guy who says to the engineers "Hey, I have an idea. Is it possible to..."), apartment manager, welder, mechanic, hotel front desk clerk, metal fabricator, cinema manager, shoe salesman, and car salesman.   So, I haven't had a lot of job stability.  But I've done more things than most people ever will.  And that doesn't even count the amazing things I've done as a volunteer for the Boy Scouts, political campaigns, and my Church. 

Well, also on Monday, I pulled in to the parking lot at Basil's school and when I got out of the car I heard a "click click click click" coming from the car next to me.  They lady's battery was dead.  So I gave her a jump. (I always carry heavy duty jumper cables, an emergency blanket, a box of road flares, matches, 2 gallons of water, and snow chains in my car).  Turns out she was the nanny of one of the other Orthodox kids at the school.  There are three.  Basil is in the third grade, then there are two girls.  One is in the 2nd grade and one is in the 1st grade.  When I walked up to the car the girl said, "Hi, Basil's dad!"  I thought that was weird until later when Basil told me she was Orthodox and that's how she knows me.  He said none of the Orthodox kids play with each other at school (different grades and sexes) but he likes it that he isn't the only Orthodox Christian at the school.

I ran into the 1st grade girl and her mother at St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox in San Jose, which is where my boys go to Church School.  We chatted for a while. Turns out she and her husband used to be protestant.  Before they had children used to go to one of the churches in Silicon Valley I think of as a Rock and Roll churches.  But having children prompted them to figure out what they really believe.  One thing I thought was funny was when she said about her old church, "Matt, they had a fog machine but they never would have dreamed of worshipping God with incense."  I thought that was a very funny thing to say but I knew exactly what she was talking about. 

Tuesday I was feeling pretty low about my job hunt.  I don't want to talk about Tuesday.

Wednesday was good.  I applied for five jobs, took a nap, and went to Church for the praying of the Great Canon of St. Andrew of Crete.  One this one night of the year the whole Orthodox Church all around the world sings the Great Canon and reads the Life of St. Mary of Egypt.  They let me read it tonight.  It is always a shocking story. I love reading and chanting in church.  Maybe, if I ever get my life together again I can pick up with the training to be a reader.