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2019-05-26 A Message of Mantras and Memes

Years ago my son was taking martial arts classes, and he was doing pretty well. He learned the katas (training exercises) and it was a joy to watch him. He did light sparring with the kids in his dojo and did quite well. And then, one day, the Sensei's (teachers) arranged to have their students (I almost typed "kids") meet and spar with the students from another dojo (school) to see how they'd do against strangers.

It was embarrassing. It was humiliating. My son went down in epic flames against a student who shouldn't have been able to touch him, much less best him. Thinking about his epic fail, his Sensei, Chuck, told my son, "You tensed up and didn't breathe. And that made you tense more, and then you made stupid mistakes. Remember to breathe!"

That last part of that advice has become somewhat of a mantra in our house. "Remember to breathe!" Incidentally, that advice has served him, and us, in good stead. Maybe breathing won't solve the problems you are facing, but not breathing will certainly make them worse.  When we say it, we mean, "Relax, it's gonna be OK!"

Last week we talked about water and technique. And how years of gloppy dough has been a bit of a problem for me.

Lately I've been trying (with interruptions for family health) to nail down the formulas for a number of flavored breads for an upcoming cookbook, and have been trying to evaluate the differences between different identity preserved organic wheats made into a number of whole wheat breads. And that has meant I've been doing about 8 to 12 bakes every week that were formulaic, that produced breads that, at the end of the bake, I really wasn't all that interested in. Especially coupled with the limp dough issues. *sigh* Doing stuff 'cause you feel you oughta is a real drag.

But, you know what? My bagels still rock! Also, I really liked taking spent grains from a local brewery and making crackers with the spent grains! And the guinea pigs... ahhh... volunteer tasters at the local brew pubs where we handed out samples seemed to really like them too. I'm excited to have purchased a new KitchenAid pasta roller set which will help me make great pasta, and will make cracker production MUCH easier.

And I think that gets us to a new family mantra. "Remember to have fun!" If you aren't having fun, it's time to re-evaluate your life and life goals! It's time to take a good hard look at what you're doing, and why!

This week we enjoyed a great brioche. And I am remembering how much I used to enjoy making brioche. And how much I wanted to make a sourdough brioche, just to see of it was possible. Leaving me to ask why on earth I haven't done it.

So... in honor of FUN, I'll be focusing on brioche this week. And crackers! And maybe some bagels!

Until next time, may your dough always rise, now matter how much butter you put in the dough, Mike

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