Not Bread, Just Bailey

What Baileys Do Best

There are a few reasons I haven’t posted much lately. We were on vacation for a week, without internet access. We had to get rid of our puppy, Riese. He was a Labradoodle, and was just too active and hard to train (a story for another post). And then came Bailey. Yes, that’s him sleeping in the picture above.

Bailey came to us from a rescue shelter. He was the only beagle, in fact the only small dog, in a house full of mastiffs. After our experience with Riese, who was so rough the kids couldn’t even go out in the backyard with him, we knew we had to take our time, do our research, and find just the right dog. When we read about him on www.petfinder.com, we thought Bailey might just fit the bill.

Playground Monitor Bailey

According to the listing, Bailey was two years old, housebroken, neutered, and great with children and other dogs.  I e-mailed Cindy, the shelter owner, and got a response back almost immediately. It seemed like she was as excited about us meeting Bailey as we were. Cindy runs Canisolida Mastiffs Foster and Retirement Home. Although she generally takes in mastiffs and other large breeds, she ended up bringing Bailey home with her from West Virginia. He was six months old at the time and had been living on the streets with a homeless man. How could she say no?

Sit Boys, Sit

Cindy offered to let us take Bailey for the weekend. She said she’d call on Sunday evening, and would come pick him up if we didn’t think it was going to work out. And even if we did decide to keep him, she said she would give us two weeks to make a final decision. She brought Bailey to our house on Thursday afternoon, and by Thursday evening, we had made our decision.

Movin' Into Our Hearts and Home

I probably took 50 pictures of Bailey in the first two days he was here. He was probably sleeping in 45 of them. It is amazing to me that he literally just moved into this house like he had always belonged here. Cindy told me later that she felt the same thing: when they walked in the door, she could tell Bailey was home.

Peek-a-Boo

Bailey loves to go for walks in the neighborhood, and is so gentle on his lead that my five-year-old can control him. He loves to snuggle (obviously) and is always ready to give a kiss or a wet nose. He is playful but not at all aggressive. The girls are completely taken with him. And the feeling appears to be mutual.

I’m tempted to say he’s the perfect dog, but no dog’s perfect. I have a chewed up pillow to prove it. But we weren’t looking for perfect. Just perfect for us. And that’s just what we found in Bailey.

King of the Slide

Update: August 8, 2009

That last paragraph proved all too prophetic. Here are some photos showing what we came home to the first time we left Bailey home alone for about an hour.

Room with a View

You Needed New Curtains Anyway

Now I See     Who Made This Mess

Who, Me

Ciabatta – Add a Lotta Watta

This week’s Bread Baker’s Apprentice Challenge bread was Ciabatta, a wonderful, holey Italian bread. I was really looking forward to making this bread. It’s a simple artisan bread, made of flour, yeast, salt, water, and maybe a little oil. I had never baked Ciabatta, so I was excited about shaping the “slippers”. And, even though I love the enriched breads we have been making so far, to be honest, I was ready for a simple, straight dough.

In typical fashion, I decided to make two versions — the poolish and the biga. I actually made the poolish a week or so before baking them both together. My first try at poolish did not result in the big holes I was expecting, so I increased the water a bit on my second attempt. 

Poolish (left) and Biga (right) Ciabatta Dough

Biga (left) and Poolish (right) Ciabatta Dough

Even though I increased the water in the poolish a bit (by about an ounce or two), you can see that it is considerably firmer than the biga version. I think if I weren’t familiar with working with wet doughs, I would have been a bit freaked out by the biga dough. It was really wet.

 

The biga (on the right) is much wetter than the poolish.

The biga (on the right) is much wetter than the poolish.

 

After fermenting - biga in front

After fermenting - biga in front

 

The poolish dough (left) held its shape better

The poolish dough (left) held its shape better

 

Poolish Ciabatta - Ready for the Oven

Poolish Ciabatta - Ready for the Oven

 

Bake-a Da Biga

Bake-a Da Biga

 I had originally planned to bake all four loaves at the same time, but by the time they were done proofing, they were too big. Unfortunately, I didn’t realize this until I had stretched the dough, and the biga loaves relaxed a bit too much, resulting in flat loaves.

 

The biga Ciabatta (right) is a bit flat,...

The biga Ciabatta (right) is a bit flat,...

 

But look at dem holes!!!

But look at dem holes!!!

 

 
Both breads were delicious. I think I liked the biga version a little better. The crumb was open, chewy and really held the herb-infused olive oil well.
 
Up next:  cinnamon rolls and sticky buns (of course I’m making them both!)