What to do with all that free time.

Being unemployed sucks.  Not having a steady income and living off of government subsidies does not feel good.  That being said, it does leave you with a surplus of free time and you can either use that time to finally beat super metroid on your emulator; or you can use that time to learn new skills, reinvest in old hobbies, and fill in the gaps in your interests.

I’ve been using my time to shore up some kitchen skills that I don’t want to lose.  Most professional cooks don’t, for some reason, like to bake.  I’ve always been something of an exception to that rule, so I’ve been using my many days off to practice making my own bread, stock, and pasta.  These particular skills are also great money savers;  I haven’t had to buy bread in quite a while, and, as I improve, I can make much better bread than I could possibly buy for the same price.  Making my own stock is a no brainer to me.  Store bought stock is never very good and costs around five times as much as what I can make at home.  Making stock is also something that every good cook should be doing.  It’s remarkably easy to do and everything that you cook with it will be greatly improved.  Check the end of the post for my recipe for basic white bread.

I have also used my time to learn some new skills, not the least of which is blogging, but along with that, I have taken up knitting, which is a skill that I see a lot of opportunity in.  My girlfriend is an avid and skilled knitter and she has been teaching me the basics.  More men should learn this skill;  for one thing, it gives you something productive to do while watching TV on those many days off.  It is also cost effective and money saving.  I can knit a high quality scarf for slightly less than twenty dollars worth of materials that I would easily pay $50 – 100 for in a store.

The most important thing is to capitalize on the skills that you have during your period of unemployment and make the most of it, especially if jobs are scarce.  You can make a contribution to your household or make your self more comfortable.  Also remember that there is an incredible sense of satisfaction that goes along with making things for yourself.

White Sandwich bread

Preheat oven to 425° before baking

  • 225g – water – luke warm
  • 28g – whole milk
  • 21g – sugar
  • 10g – salt
  • 1 pkg – active dry yeast
  • 565g – bread flour
  • 28g – butter – softened to room temperature
  • 1 ea. – egg
  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer or mixing bowl, add water milk, sugar and yeast.
  2. allow to sit for about 15 minutes so the yeast can bloom
  3. Add egg, flour salt and butter.
  4. mix with a dough hook on low speed for 10 minutes
  5. check the dough by feeling it, it should be just tacky, but not sticky to the touch, if you need to, add a bit of flour at this point.
  6. mix again on medium speed for 4 minutes.
  7. move dough to a oiled bowl to proof (rise) in a warm spot for one hour.
  8. punch the dough down and allow to rise again.
  9. Remove from bowl and shape into a loaf or shape and place in  two loaf pans.
  10. Allow to rise until doubled in size
  11. Bake for 10 minutes, rotate and bake for another 10 minutes.
  12. Enjoy.
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About cookinablackhat

I cook. That is what I do. I go to work every day and cook professionally and then on my days off, I cook some more. I love everything about it. I love the chemistry, the alchemy and magic, and I want to know more.
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