Today, March came in like a lion. The winds were 20 mph, and the gusts were a whole lot gustier. We were supposed to get one to three inches of snow, but at least six inches blew in off Lake Superior, and flurries are still coming and going. Around two o’clock this afternoon, a light pole fell over onto the Bong Bridge and blocked traffic from Duluth to Superior. Fortunately, it didn’t fall on a vehicle.
In my yard the snow piled up on existing drifts, turning hills into mountains. I will need a Sherpa, oxygen, and snowshoes to walk around my yard. When I opened my back door, I pushed it slowly, using it as a plow to move a drift just enough so I could reach around and grab the shovel. I cleared a path across the deck for the dogs, who unfortunately need to go potty outside, and do other stuff, like walk around the house to smell for bunnies. They come back inside looking like four-legged abominable snowmen, and I have to towel dry them and dig ice balls out of their feet.
I worked this morning, which left my afternoon wide open for cooking — something I feel compelled to do during a snowstorm. Perhaps it’s a primal instinct, meant to ensure I survive the brutal winter elements while I’m inside my house with central heating, electricity, and running water. First, I made taco soup in the crockpot. Nice and simple. This gave me time to make naan bread.
Why did I decide to make naan bread? Reading made me do it. I’ve read Behind the Lens and Double Exposure written by Jeannée Sacken. Her novels are about the adventures of photojournalist Annie Hawkins, who travels to Afghanistan. They are page-turning adventures with twists and turns and danger and romance, but they are also filled with the sounds, smells, and tastes of Afghan food, and naan bread is mentioned often. After reading the second book a few months ago, I decided I needed to make naan bread. On Sunday, I bought the ingredients.
I made bread once before when I was sixteen and babysitting for my younger cousins. And it turned out perfect. It was so good — just the right color and height and texture and taste — that I never made bread again. I figured I had nowhere to go but down. My next loaf of bread would have surely been a brick. But naan bread is mostly flat, so I was encouraged. The naan bread could be dipped in the taco soup or torn into bits and dropped into the soup.
My first attempt at activating the yeast was a failure. My water was warm enough, but when I put that warm water into a cool metal bowl, the water temperature dropped, and the yeast fizzled instead of bubbling. I had to throw it out. After some internet research, I tried again. This time I used my Pyrex measuring cup. I warmed it up with warm water, then I put warm water in the cup with the yeast. It bubbled up and doubled in volume, just like it was supposed to do. I mixed the other ingredients in and kneaded the dough on the pastry mat. I covered the dough and let it rise for an hour and a half, while I attended a Zoom write-in.
Triple play: soup cooking in the crockpot and dough rising in a bowl under a dish towel while I write.
After the naan bread dough finished rising, I divided it into eight sections, rolled each one into a flat six-inch circle — more or less — and fried each piece. I set off the smoke alarm, but only once. I made a mess out of my kitchen. When I finished there were dishes all over the countertops and stove, and I found flour on the floor. I don’t know how I can cook something and make so many dirty dishes and create such a mess. I guess it’s a gift.
When my husband came home, there was no evidence of my afternoon cooking spree. The kitchen was clean and the dishes were done. (I even managed to read a bit and take a nap.) He looked at the plate of naan bread on the counter and asked, “What are those?”
“That’s naan bread. I made it this afternoon.”
“Yeah, right. You went to the grocery store and bought it,” he said.
“Nope,” I said, “I even took out the rolling pin and pastry mat and put them in the dish rack, so you would think I made them from scratch.”
He looked at the dish rack overflowing with bowls, pans, and measuring cups, and he laughed. He knew I’d been cooking and baking. He also doesn’t understand how I can cook something and make so many dishes and such a mess. Some talents are inexplicable. But he liked the naan bread and soup, happy to have a hot home-cooked meal after snow blowing.