Sunday, February 21, 2010

Latest Cinnamon Raisin bread

After a big breakfast thing morning -  fried, leftover mashed potatoes, some nice thick, hickory smoked bacon and this cinnamon raisin toast, I headed for the garden. Thanks Bonnie for tip on soaking the raisins. The bread was much lighter; but I did have to hand knead it a bit to get better distribution of the raisins.

We were blessed with two glorious spring like days that allowed me to do a bit of cleanup, severe pruning of one of the peach trees, weed a bit, dig in some mushroom compost and  plant a short row of peas today. I cut my finger on my jammed pruner which made it all take longer that I planned. It's amazing how one cut on one finger, especially one that won't stop bleeding, will interfere with planned chores!

Now I'm going to sip my wine, watch the Olympics and peruse an old Dom DeLuise cookbook, "Eat This It'll Make Your Feel Better", that I just received. I did a quick scan of it this morning and I think it's going to be a fun read.  Some of his childhood memories of growing up in the Italian neighborhood in Bensonhurst section of Brooklyn are the same memories I have of a similar neighborhood of my childhood in South Brooklyn in a mainly Italian, and Polish neighborhood.

I can still remember all those exotic smells of the Italian and Polish bakeries,  Italian and Danish delis and even the live poultry market where my mother sent me every Saturday to buy a chicken. The Italian neighbors bought the more exotic things like pigeon and rabbit. The same was true for the fresh fish store. Dad loved to go deep sea fishing, so we never bought fish. In fact, dad didn't like fish. He only loved to fish! The way he would tell people the best way to cook his catch, would give the impression that he was a real gourmand; but he would rarely eat the fish. So most of his catch was given away to the nuns at school or neighbors. Dad loved seafood  though, so almost every Friday he sent me down to buy either a dozen crabs and on rare occasions, a lobster at the fresh fish market down the street. There were baskets of snails at that fish store and I always figured that the Italian neighbors bought those, although I never did see anyone buying them.

In the summer we would take the Staten Island Ferry and go crabbing. I remember one time when the entire bath tub was filled with the crab we caught. Our other trip to Staten Island was in the fall, to pick mushrooms. Dad only picked two varieties that he knew from his childhood and mom would can them to be sauteed with onions and served on top of pan fried steaks in the winter.

In the 40's and early 50's there were no supermarkets in our neighborhood other than a small A&P; but that wasn't where you went to buy meat, fruits or vegetables.  It was all those wonderful, little specialty food stores where most of our food was purchased. Walking home in winter, with a freshly, baked loaf of Italian bread that was baked in a wood burning oven, holding it close to my body to keep me warm, was one of those wonderful memories. Often the bread arrived with a few bites out of one end; but Mom never complained. :-)

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