I even remembered the snacks. It was a miracle because I don’t always remember the snacks. Sometimes, I forget the snacks, but remember to pack an extra pair of baby socks. Sometimes, I forget the socks, but I manage to refill the wipe container. On those days, I’m certain to forget the diapers. That’s just how it is on most days. Yesterday, however, I was jolted out of a sleepy haze when the electricians arrived at 7:30 in the morning. I was in my pajamas. We all were. There is nothing quite like two strangers wondering around your home with big ladders and bright-eyed-ready-to-work faces when you are still seeing blurry and garbed in pink fuzzy pajamas. It’s humbling and more than a little embarrassing.
But I got it together despite the circumstances. Bits of ceiling rained down all around me as I snipped grapes into itty bitty pieces. I made a sandwich. I packed diapers, wipes, extra clothes, socks, and the aforementioned snacks. I was feeling accomplished. Nothing was going to stop me. We managed to get out the house in record time and even to wash our redheads. I stopped for gas. There were no tears. I drove to Greenlake while the little red fox napped peacefully. My friend arrived on time as well and pulled into the spot next to me. What are the chances of two miraculous parking spots on a busy day at the lake? Very slim, I am sure.
It was all rainbows as my friend parked her car and I pulled Maeve from her carseat. Yes, it was quite perfect until a split second later when I spun around and shut the car door.
I froze. I knew immediately.
I locked EVERYTHING in the car. Snacks too! Everything, but the baby. I guess I have to be thankful for that.
It was a tough morning and I’ll admit I nearly cried when the auto rescue service was an hour late and my wee one was screaming for food. What a morning. It does make you thankful for the little things. Little things like moments of peace, baby smiles, and long naps. And, really, the whole thing got me thinking about parenthood. It’s pretty great nearly all of the time. If you are thinking about becoming a parent, I encourage you to do so. The good parts far outweigh the bad. That being said, things are going to change. Drastically. Yes, I know you know that. But it’s a hard thing to wrap your brain around without a solid basis for comparison.
One thing I never considered before Maeve arrived was my concept of luxury. I’m not talking about trips to the spa. There’s more to it than that. I’m in my thirties and my sense of what’s special and how I like to spend my money and downtime was well-developed at the time Maeve arrived. Most of those little luxiourous pleasures are gone and redeveloped. Am I a bit wistful? Sometimes. I have a new concept of luxury, however.
These days, it’s bliss when I’m able to walk through my house barefooted without stepping on bits of chewed up food and miscellaneous toys. It’s wonderful to take a shower for more than 5 minutes and actually condition my hair. Putting on earrings makes me feel like a superstar. And the bathroom? Well, it’s perfectly brilliant when I’m able to close the bathroom door without protest and do whatever it is I might need to do.
The greatest luxury, however, is the ability to bake or cook something that’s more than just boiled noodles or stir-fried vegetables. Those moments are note-worthy and often make it onto this blog. It doesn’t happen everyday, which is why I’m so happy to find baking recipes that are easy and require only inactive time. I can wait for things to rise. I have nothing but time to wait for things to rise because I’m certain to be whisked off into another room to read countless books or to crawl around on my hands and knees pretending to be a wild elephant.
I’m excited to share this recipe for focaccia with you. There are other easy homemade breads out there, but this one was on the super easy side of things. That’s because I barely used my hands or brain for any of this. I used the dough hook on the mixer instead of my bare hands. I bet you have one of those. If you do have one and some basic ingredients, you can whip up this miracle bread. I made it twice in quick succession so I’m quite confident a more organized person can make enough focaccia for an army in no time.
And you should. This bread is wonderful. It’s aromatic. The rosemary scent will fill your house. The buttery flavor will compliment nearly any sandwich. Or, eat it on its own. That’s what we did. We stood over the rack of barely cool bread and inhaled big hunks of it one bright afternoon. Maeve too. She loved it and that’s a huge selling point around this place.
I do caution you to watch your bread. Focaccia cooks quickly. That’s good and bad. Start checking in at 20 minutes. My first batch was a touch more golden than I’d like, which dried out the bread a bit. It was still edible, but focaccia is best when it’s softer and more moist. Take it out of the oven when it’s just golden all over and you’ll see what I mean. It will be perfection and you won’t be able to resist pulling off big pieces before it’s cool.
I bid you amazing weeks. Keep your ovens on and your keys close, my friends. I’ll see you soon!
Rosemary Focaccia Bread
1 (1/4-ounce) package active dry yeast
5 cups unbleached all-purpose flour plus additional for kneading
1/4 cup plus 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh rosemary
1 teaspoon coarse sea salt
Stir together 1 2/3 cups lukewarm (105 to 115°F) water and yeast in bowl of mixer and let stand until creamy, about 5 minutes. Add 5 cups flour, 1/4 cup oil, and 2 1/2 teaspoons table salt and beat with paddle attachment at medium speed until a dough forms. Replace paddle with dough hook and knead dough at high speed until soft, smooth, and sticky, 3 to 4 minutes.
Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead in 1 to 2 tablespoons more flour. Knead dough 1 minute (it will still be slightly sticky), then transfer to a lightly oiled bowl and turn dough to coat with oil. Let rise, covered with plastic wrap, at warm room temperature, until doubled in bulk, 1 to 1 1/2 hours.
Press dough evenly into a generously oiled 15- by 10- by 1-inch baking pan. Let dough rise, covered completely with a kitchen towel, until doubled in bulk, about 1 hour.
Preheat oven to 425°F.
Stir together rosemary and remaining 3 tablespoons oil. Make shallow indentations all over dough with your fingertips, then brush with rosemary oil, letting it pool in indentations. Sprinkle sea salt evenly over focaccia and bake in middle of oven until golden, 20 to 25 minutes.
Immediately invert a rack over pan and flip focaccia onto rack, then turn right side up. Serve warm or at room temperature.