balancing the scales

Tomorrow I turn 23.

I turn 23 and all I can think about is balancing the scales. Balancing what pays the bills with what I love, balancing solitude with being social. It's the latter that really gets me. You see, I love time spent alone and doing things simply because they are what I want to do. As I've mentioned before, though, too much time spent alone drives me a little mad.

This weekend wound up being pretty well-balanced, though Saturday was the unfortunate witness to the first hangover I've had in a long while. Other than that, it broke down nicely, with a dance party celebrating my dear friend Andy's 23rd birthday - plus, uh, lots of Doctor Who beforehand and also the next day (we really can't get enough). And then Sunday was for me. I just woke up Sunday morning and it felt right to have the day stretching out in front of me with no one but myself.

I've been planning this post for a while, actually, even though I had no idea what I'd put into it. Sunday, I decided, was the day to figure it out. I had eggs to use, so I made a cake, one I've made before and liked a lot. After all, it's my birthday! And you can't have a birthday without cake. While I made the cake - literally in between mixing eggs in - I made an apron out of a t-shirt. This still left me without a recipe for you, dear reader.

Let me tell you: I couldn't get bread out of my head. I had been about to trot over to the grocery store for the second time in one day to get olive oil and yeast to make said bread, but then it was raining. I decided against it; surely I would find something else to make.

Dear reader, I did not. The weather cleared up and, unable to stop thinking about bread, I headed out. Luckily I bought two packets of yeast, because I had to throw the first batch out and start again. (I always seem to be starting again.) All my mistakes turned out auspicious - ain't that always the way - because let me tell you, this bread is just hands-down delicious. I have had to stop myself from eating all of it in less than 24 hours. Plus, it photographs quite well, don't you think?

Olive Oil Focaccia
Adapted from Joy of Cooking

If, for some reason, you do not like olive oil that much, feel free to cut the amount of olive oil down to 1 tablespoon. This is a pretty forgiving recipe - I thought I was screwing something up every step of the way and wound up with a fantastically delicious bread, so don't worry if it seems like your dough is too sticky, or not rising high enough, or any of that. I thought all of this and, again, the bread turned out great.

3/4 cup warm water
1/2 pack active-dry yeast
1 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp salt
1 tbsp sugar
1 tsp oregano

Combine the yeast and water in a large bowl. Let sit while the yeast dissolves, should be about five minutes. (If you've never watched yeast work, check this out. It's pretty neat! Chemistry-art, if you will.)

Mix in flour, olive oil, salt, and sugar for about a minute - I used a wooden spoon, but do whatever feels best to you. (If you're using a mixer, it'd be best to use low speed.) Then knead by hand (or use a dough hook) for just about 10 minutes.

Lightly oil a bowl and transfer dough, making sure the oil covers all of the dough. Cover with cloth and let rise for 1 and 1/2 hours.

Preheat oven to 400

When the dough has risen, transfer to baking sheet, shaping it into a round. Top with oregano (or other dried herb). Bake for 25 minutes. Let cool for 20 minutes. Enjoy!


  1. i may try this. my new years resolution was to learn to make bread, and i am starting to run out of time...

  2. Oh, Liza, you should! It is so satisfying!

  3. it's vegan! maybe i'll try it! :)

  4. Well, hey, so it is, Becca! You should absolutely try it. :)