This is not quite a bad food story but it could have gone very wrong.
Well, it actually did.
But, then it didn’t.
Let me explain:
“Hey, Mike. Are you willing to bake bread for an event?” came over the phone.
“Sure. how many loaves do you need?” I asked.
“Fifty?” she asked.
“Fifty? What are you serving?”
“Well, we need it for sandwiches for lunch.” answered Carrie.
“That still seems like an awful lot.”
“I guarantee we will use it.”
“Okay” I reluctantly agreed.
As winter had set it and I was unemployed, I had plenty of time anyway.
Flash Forward Two Weeks:
“Can I up that order a bit?”
“Oooookay. How many?”
“Well, we are getting more reservations than we thought…”
“How many?” I asked again .
“How does a hundred sound?”
“You are kidding, right?”
“Nope, the event steward says to expect at least 300. And I want to put out a whole loaf out on each table, too.” she chimed
“If you are sure…”
“Thank you, thank you, thank you. Oh, one more thing…?”
“Could you make it all focaccia?
“Yeah, you know you make such good focaccia…”
I could hear the gears winding up to lay it on thick. I decided to cut her off right there.
“Fine. Does the Young Miss require anything else?”
With a sigh I hung up. I had three weeks until the event but didn’t want to get too far ahead of myself or I was going to end up with stale bread. Finally, three days ahead of time, I started baking.
That is when the weather forecast started to get iffy. An Alberta clipper might or might not come through the area on the Friday before the dinner.
“Carrie, is the dinner still on?” I asked in somewhat of a tizzy.
“Oh, yeah. It is still on. The weather is going to clear up.”
“Are you sure?”
Back to baking I went until I looked again at the weather the Friday evening before the event. “Possible blizzard-like conditions” were the best parts.
“Carrie, I need to know if this event is still on. I have eighty loaves already done and another twenty rising.”
“Absolutely. The event steward and I just talked and the storm should go south of us.”
“Where is he getting his weather info – Ouija board?”
“It will be fine.”
Exasperated but with a task to do, I went back to packing and wrapping loaves. Finally, I dragged myself into bed about 1 a.m.
“Carrie, what time is it?”
“About 6. Listen, I just wanted to talk to you before you left…”
“The focaccia is done. All 100 loaves.”
“That is why I was calling, Mike.” She hesitated. “The event is off.”
“The governor closed the roads due to the blizzard.”
“Yep. There is a solid inch of ice on all the roads. Everyone has been ordered to stay home.”
“What the hell am I supposed to do with 100 loaves of focaccia?”
“I hate you.” And hung up.
What the goddamn hell was I going to do with 100 loaves of focaccia?
My husband just laughed and shook his head.
“Sucker.” he said.
That is when the Focaccia Donors Network was born.
Over the next few days, all of our neighbor’s got at least two loaves.
The food bank, despite my pleading, would only take 20.
I talked my husband into taking some to work. I gave away loaves until my friends signalled enough was enough.
Even the mail lady got a loaf each day until she nicely told me to please, yes, really, stop.
Even with the twenty I had frozen and the ten I turned into breadcrumbs, I was still stuck with twenty loaves.
That is when I hit on the perfect use for the loaves. I happened to be unemployed and was job hunting and needed to visit offices submitting resumes.
I simply attached a loaf of focaccia to each resume as I dropped it with the receptionists.
I got five callbacks.
NOW LET’S DO IT RIGHT!
2 teaspoons active dry yeast or instant yeast
1/4 cup honey
2 cups warm water
1/2 teaspoon salt
5 cups all purpose flour or bread flour
4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
4 tablespoons dried chicken stock
Start by mixing the honey into the warm water along with the yeast to activate it.
Next, add the chicken stock to dissolve. This makes for a very savory focaccia but delete it if there are Vegan concerns.
Mix the flour with the yeast mixture and 1/2 of the olive oil.
Lightly flour the inside of a large mixing bowl and place the dough in the bowl. Cover and allow to rise for 90 minutes.
Place baking paper on three baking sheets.
Rub your hands with olive oil and divide the dough in three. Knead it carefully and spread flat while dimpling the dough.
Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.
Place somewhere dark to rise. Once doubled in size, drizzle with more oil.
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
Bake until golden brown.
Serve with olive oil for dipping.
COPYRIGHT 2016 Micheal J. Hobbs