Friday, March 13, 2009

I Am Not My Stuff

Are you thinged out yet? I know I am. When one has five people in a New England bungalow, one has to be judicious about possessions. I'm reminded of the Genii in Aladdin. You know. The blue one? "Phenomenal cosmic powers! Itty-bitty living space..." Our house? Phenomenal back yard. Genii-sized living space.

Teaching stewardship is one of the big challenges of parenting. Every parent wants to give each child everything their hearts desire. Saying no is hard. Saying no to your children is even harder than saying no to yourself sometimes. I remember when Dog was a wee tyke of four years old and a particular toy in Target caught his attention. Shark Park. The ultimate little boy race car awesome track fantasy. He hankered after it with all of the fervor reserved for Ralphie in A Christmas Story. Every time we went to the mall (and in San Antonio, the heat and even Genii-er sized living space there made mall trips frequent!), he would visit Shark Park and lovingly stroke the box. Partings were sweet sorrow. He may have actually hugged it once or twice.

The Christmas after we moved to Little House in the Big Woods, we bought Shark Park for Dog. I believe that I can probably count on one hand the number of times that it was played with. After he got older and was able to articulate what was going on inside his head more, he admitted to me that he expected it to do things that it wasn't capable of doing. I suppose every child of the television era, and--if Ralphie's Little Orphan Annie decoder ring is any indication--even before television, has succumbed to the fairy dust of advertising that somehow makes a toy appear to do impossible things.

But Shark Park was a deal...a steal, actually. Because I can't tell you how much mileage I've gotten out of that Shark Park toy, though it wasn't the kind of mileage the manufacturer envisioned. Bug was old enough during the Shark Park debut to remember it, so every time someone falls madly in love with a marketing concept, we talk about Shark Park. We've completely dissected the dynamics, nuances, and strategies of Corporate Advertising and the Hobbits are now not ignorant of Its devises.

Princess wasn't around for Shark Park and so I was thankful when some teaching opportunities arose for her. One morning during Children's Church, she was perched on the edge of her chair with a rod-straight back (I swear I don't teach her these things!) and listening intently. The lesson title caught my attention and pretty soon, I was listening intently, too. The title was "I Am Not My Stuff." I started taking notes. It went like this:

  • I am not my stuff
  • My stuff is not my stuff (I Tim. 6:17)
  • My stuff is your stuff
  • If I make my stuff His stuff and your stuff, then I get the good stuff (I Tim. 6:19)

I like it when I hear other people talking about not being defined by the things we possess. It helps hold me accountable. When the drawers start getting too full, I start asking, "Do I own this or does it own me?" We all have our toys.

I'm not swayed by fashion lures, but kitchen equipment can turn my head. I have to be careful since I drool over kitchen appliances with all of the passion others reserve for Prada or Manolo Blahnik. I have to be honest, though...the closest I've come to Prada or such are the pages of Meg Cabot's work. I had to google these up to find out what the rave was. And Monolo Blahnik? This has to be the contemporary version of foot binding. And all for the low, low price of $1000 per pair! Not.

But I do like how having a few (just a few!) key appliances can make work easier. Like making bread. Like focaccia. Tool Guy has been fantasizing about focaccia ever since we picked up an artisan loaf at a local farmers market almost eight years ago. It was the first and last time I'd ever eaten it. That first year we were here, we kept talking about going back and getting more. Never did, though. And then the food pyramid collapsed.

When I discovered Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day, I stumbled across the focaccia recipe and squee-ed the house down. Tool Guy made me promise to make it soon. Well, Breatharian, it is now soon.

Focaccia (inspired by Jeff Hertzberg/Francis Zoe)

1/4 cup olive oil
2 eggs
2 cups sourdough starter
1/2 tsp. salt
2 t guar gum
2 T potato starch
2 T tapioca starch
3 T sliced black olives
1/2 onion, sliced
*Rosemary oil (prep at least a week ahead of time)

Measure in all wet ingredients and mix. While slowly stirring, mix in the dry ingredients, starting with the guar gum. "Knead" for five minutes. The dough should make a wet, slapping sound when the paddle runs through it, but the consistency shouldn't be thinner than toothpaste. Stirring slowly, add the black olives until incorporated.

Line pizza pan, cookie sheet, or other baking surface with baking parchment and spread dough rather thinly over the surface, approximately a 1/2 inch thick. Allow to rise in the refrigerator overnight or for two hours on the counter before baking.

While oven is preheating to 425*, slice 1/2 an onion and brown the slices in a skillet until the desired done-ness. Before placing in the heated oven, drizzle *rosemary oil over the top of the bread. Too much onion and/or too much oil will prevent the bread from browning properly.

Bake for 20-30 minutes or until brown on top.

*Rosemary Oil

Jeff and Francis' recipe suggests sprinkling rosemary over the surface of the bread. Well. This bread has to feed three Hobbits who would view the presence of twigs scattered on the surface of their bread with deepest suspicion, if not outright mutiny. They have raised no fool. So about a week before making this bread, I took a bunch (how's that for quantitative specificity?) of rosemary, crammed it in a jar, and covered it with olive oil. Sealing it with a Tilia vacuum sealer will expedite the extraction process. The result was an olive oil rich in rosemary with none of the sensory objections that twigs would provoke.

This bread was so absolutely delicious that Tool Guy reached for a share and narrowly withdrew his hand with his fingers intact. So there you go, Breatharian. Artisan focaccia. Can you get any lazier than that? Only if you're wearing Monolos, lounging them on the desktop, while filing your french manicure. Here. Have a Godiva chocolate.

Princess is taking her turn at bat with a Barbie Fashion head that she was bequeathed. After she'd had it for two days and one night of bad dreams over it, she readily agreed to Freecycle it to a special needs child who would enjoy it. Her parting injunction to the mother picking it up was, "They lied. It doesn't make a flower pony tail." And so the inoculation goes...


Anonymous said...

I'm sorry, that doesn't look appetizing. Do you realize it looks like a cookie with worms?

Anonymous said...

I think it looks fantastic. An allergen-free focaccia is no small task.