Friday, July 12, 2013

Difficulty Points

Still no door on the water heater cabinet. It rained yesterday, but I don't think it was enough to test either the leak repair or the temporary door because it was the kind of rain where you could dodge the raindrops. They seemed to be falling at least three feet apart. It's possible that no raindrop hit the cabinet.

I did get back into the groove of writing, and turning on the music seemed to help. I don't know why this one particular series requires music -- even music with lyrics -- to write when just about everything else requires either silence or instrumental music. I should make decent progress today since I know the next couple of scenes. Then again, there's the chance that when I get there, they'll go in an entirely different direction.

My other accomplishment was making homemade bagels. A month or so ago, there was an article being passed around Facebook on what kitchen staples it's worthwhile to make for yourself, based on time, cost and quality, and what it's better to just buy. One thing that surprised me on the "make at home" list was bagels. The writer claimed that not only was making them at home far less expensive, but it wasn't that time consuming and the results were so much better than anything you'd buy, even from a specialty bakery. I doubted homemade bagels would be cheaper than what I buy, considering that I usually get them at about $1 for six on the "Oops, we baked too much" cart at Kroger and I think he was comparing to buying them at a specialty bakery, but still, that article triggered the "Aha! A Challenge!" part of my brain.

As my friends and family can attest, I have a bad habit of living as though I'm putting together an Olympic gymnastics or figure skating routine, where you get extra credit for doing more challenging things. I actively look for the hard way, and I rationalize it by claiming that it's better or more efficient. Some people climb Mt. Everest because it's there. My reason would be that the place I want to go is just on the other side, and there's no point in going the long way around the mountain when you can just go up and over the top. To be honest, it comes down to the fact that the hard way is usually more fun or more interesting, and there's a real thrill in achieving something difficult. Because of this sometimes dangerous and scary trait, when I read something like "it's cheaper and better to make your own bagels," I have to pause to question whether this appeals to me because of the cost and quality, or if it's because I think I'll get bonus difficulty points for making my own instead of just buying them.

At any rate, for some reason, yesterday I decided that this had to be done. I used the recipe in Joy of Cooking, and it turned out not to be that difficult, if you know the basics of making bread. It only took about two hours, start to finish, and that includes the at least ten minutes of searching for a particular measuring spoon, only to find it in the dishwasher that's currently serving as a giant dish drainer. I won't be staggering out of bed in the morning and making bagels for breakfast, but a bagel sandwich for a lunchtime hike picnic is doable. A lot of that two hours is rising and baking time, so there's not that much labor, just stirring together ingredients, kneading, shaping, then boiling and baking. Looking at the cost of the ingredients, I think I may even be beating the Kroger bargain rack. But the real difference is the taste. The guy writing the article was right. There's no comparison between this and anything you buy at even a good bakery. Lightly toasted, with a little cream cheese and strawberry jam, this made a heavenly breakfast. I'm afraid this is going to become like the jam, where I did it once just to prove I could, and the results were so good there was no going back to store-bought. Because these have no preservatives, I froze most of the batch. Now I'll have to experiment with other flavors, like cinnamon raisin. Blueberry might be interesting, but I'm not sure how you'd knead a stiff dough without making a mess and popping blueberries all over the place. I bet bakeries use dried blueberries for blueberry bagels.

Aren't these lovely?

One other odd thing on the list of things it's better to make for yourself was yogurt. Supposedly, homemade is much cheaper and so much better that you won't ever want to buy yogurt again. I've yet to try that, but I am curious, and just think of the difficulty points!

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