Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Guest Post From Rachel, The CHG Gourmet: A Baker’s Dirty Dozen, Part I

Happy New Year, folks! I’m Rachel, the Kris-dubbed CHG Gourmet. Thanks for being kind enough to host me while our gentle sprite of delicious, healthy things is off jaunting across the Indian mainland.

Since Kris is away, I’m going to interrupt our usual Cheap Healthy Good-ness for a quick look into the depths of culinary stupidity. As background, here are four facts you need to know:

Fact 1: Basically, I’ve always been one to overload my plate with social activities, job-type duties, and what I can lovingly term “projects.” And that procrastination thing? I’m a pro.

Fact 2: I’ve been working on a monstrous freelance writing gig since the dawn of time, and subconsciously decided that it would be awesome to take a few days to…er…do a “project.”

Fact 3: A well-meaning friend who’s an accomplished baker recommended Beth Hensperger’s wondrous and seminal baking tome, and I’ve been in love with it ever since. In fact, until recently, there were about four recipes I was dying to try…

Fact 4: Jeff, the Live-In Gentleman, and I are both performers; by night, we make the improv and sketch comedy ha-has. Knowing that both of these groups were about to have holiday parties, I started hatching an idea…

What if we gave each member of each of the groups a gift bag of home-baked bread? Wouldn’t that be nice and thoughtful, especially for the people who live far from family and ol’ fashioned homemade goodies? Wouldn’t it?

But then, the idea ballooned. Clearly, the gastronomically discerning members of these groups couldn’t have just one loaf. Each member would definitely need one sweet and one savory option.

I started crunching some numbers. Four bread choices (two sweet and two savory), twenty or so people in the improv group, three in the sketch comedy group, and a few extra loaves just in case, plus one gluten-intolerant person who’d need something different.

All in all, I figured I’d need forty-eight loaves. Twelve loaves each of orange cinnamon swirl, cornmeal and sundried tomato brioche, roasted garlic and herb focaccia and amaretto roulade. One dozen gluten-free fudgy chocolate-pecan cookies for our gluten-free friend.

Oh, madness. You seemed so justifiable at first.

Seventy-two hours into this baking disaster, it was 3:30 in the morning. Jeff had just gone to bed after cellophane- and ribbon- wrapping about thirty-five of the loaves. I was still waiting for the cookies to cool, pondering the late-night appeal of an early Linda Fiorentino bomb on Showtime, and inhaling in deeply as awesome-scented goodness saturated my tiny, bread-covered living room...

Part II to come!

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