Have you heard about the "10,000 Hour Rule"? In order to achieve expertise in a cognitively complex discipline, such as is demonstrated by pilots and surgeons and musicians and chess champions, it takes 10,000 hours of practice. That's four hours of practice a day for ten years running. That's a lot of practice. Often, too, all this hard work is out of the public eye and not really all that much fun. Intellectually complicated tasks take more than mere intelligence, they also require many hours of mind-numbing work. In his 2008 book Outliers: The Story of Success, Malcolm Gladwell constantly reinforced this theme: that genius is not the only or even the most important ingredient for success. I'm no genius and the jury's still out on whether or not this blog represents an "intellectually complicated task" but by the time I go to bed tonight I will have had 10,000 hits on my blog and I can tell you, with all honesty, that underneath the surface of my writing there has been a lot of good old-fashioned hard work.
August 25, 2011
August 9, 2011
Have you ever wanted to try your hand at making homemade bread? I bake all the bread that our family uses, for several reasons. It's much less expensive to make your own bread, especially if you're buying flour and yeast in bulk. I buy twenty-five pound bags of bread flour and one-pound bags of active dry yeast. I keep the yeast in the refrigerator to make it last longer. The flour gets measured out and put into the freezer, six cups to each freezer bag. Six cups of flour is exactly what I need to make two standard loaves of bread. The other reason that I bake all our bread is that the quality is much, much higher than what you can buy in the store. It tastes better, has a better texture, and gets to be enjoyed when it is fresh from the oven. Part of this improved quality has to do with the fact that homemade bread doesn't have any preservatives or artificial ingredients. I use a little honey (instead of sugar) in my recipe because honey acts as a natural preservative. I also refrigerate some of my bread after slicing it. Refrigerated bread dries out a little bit but it makes great toast, french toast, and grilled cheese sandwiches. If you find that your bread is still succumbing to spoilage, you can always refrigerate half the dough and only bake one loaf of bread. The refrigerated dough will last several days in the refrigerator and it can be used for pizza crust, breadsticks, cinnamon rolls, or just to make another loaf of bread.