Through the Kitchen Window

First of all, my apologies for my absence last issue. That, of course, is part of the topic for discussion this month.

If you follow my musings at all over time, you likely have had your fill of hearing about my troubles with technology. I know I’ve had my fill of dealing with them. We love to hate Bill Gates and his Windows world. But for the most part we also acknowledge that our lives, while more complex, have been made easier.

At least that’s the theory.

It all started when I followed the directions of an auto update that told me my Windows 98 operating system needed to be updated and that I should go to the website and do so. It was a quiet Saturday morning and so I did. Now, you need to understand that I have done this before with no ill effects and I fully expected the same to be true of this update. Uh-uh. No way!! THIS time I get a corrupted file in my download from the Microsoft website. Internet Explorer now performs (or tries to) illegal operations and gets shut down. Imagine my frustration when I KNOW for a fact that behind my desktop picture (a nice snowy-icy scene by the way, reminiscent of the days of my life) are all of my programs functioning perfectly but which Windows in its infinite wisdom will NOT allow me to access. After all, I’m illegal!!!

After an hour or so of trying various things, I decide to consult a pc guru friend. His matter of fact reply said, among other things, that there was a patch for this problem on the Microsoft site. As if I was somehow a lesser mortal for not knowing that!!! Not to mention that if I could have accessed the site, I’d have had no problem to begin with, let me say that my reply was “if they *!#*!@ know about the problem, why not just fix it outright instead of giving us a “patch” that we can’t *!#*!# well even access!!”

If you know a pc guru or two, then you know his reply was a shrug and a “that’s Microsoft!”

Seems I needed to find the errant file, rename it, copy it from my Win98 disc and tickety-boo I’d be back in business. In a perfect world. In my world, it didn’t happen that way. Found the file, copied it, did all the steps as prescribed in the patch, and my pc told me it “couldn’t find” the file. And why not??? I found it. I looked through the directories and subdirectories and pages and pages of Win98 files and FOUND IT!!! But I couldn’t draw my pc a map to it. Don’t ask what I did next. It wasn’t pretty.

Someone else said that I should just load Win2000 overtop and go from there. What they didn’t tell me was that in order to load a newer version of Windows, I need a running version, which I decidedly did NOT have.

Anyway, there is a happy ending. We found a way to make my pc FIND the file, it still didn’t work well, but it worked enough to allow me to load up Win2000, so now I’m semi-current. My modem software was made obsolete, as was my printer software and some other stuff I probably don’t even know about yet.

But I am now back online. And I’m in semi-working order. Dontcha just love modern technology???

Now, moving onto a more pleasant topic… My daughter is a baker. All manner of baked goods from cookies and cakes to breads and pies she has mastered with some flair. Don’t tell her I said so, but even better than her ole “mamina”. She has one of the qualities that I think is essential for a really good baker and that is fearlessness. She will try, she will tweak, she will poke and prod and cajole until she has what she considers the perfect version of whatever she’s after. And believe me when I say, her version of perfect is absolutely awesome!!!

So we were talking not too long ago and she mentioned these “ciambelle” that my mother used to make. Kinda like a bagel, but more Montreal style than what we get here in Ontario. For our American readers, that’s the equivalent (roughly) of a New York bagel, but better!!! Ciambelle, however, are made bigger than a bagel. They’re usually a circle about six to eight inches in diameter, about two inches thick. Savory, with fennel seeds in them, the raised dough is first dropped in boiling water, allowed to drain quickly then baked in a hot oven till their texture is a dreamy mix of crunchy crust and soft fluffy middles. Yummmmmmmmmmmm!!!

Now, readers, you must understand. I’ve watched them being made. I’ve eaten them. But I have never made them. And here’s my daughter saying she wanted me to tell her how to make them, because she had a craving for them and this is one thing that just isn’t available anywhere for sale.

So I did a web search, found, to my amazement, several recipes, each slightly different, and I proceeded to “tell” Marina how to make ciambelle.

And she did. From all reports they were “awesome”. She made them a couple of times and perfected the recipe so that now it’s exactly what she was after. And that’s the recipe that follows. Marina’s Ciambelle. I haven’t had them yet, but my trip to Montreal this weekend will rectify that. But do try them. I can promise you a taste treat like none other. They’re great accompanied by a glass of red wine and some sharp cheese.

Marina’s Ciambelle

  • 2 tsp. yeast
  • 1 ¼ c. warm water
  • 4 c. flour
  • 1 T. salt
  • 1-2 T. anise seed
  • 1 T. light brown sugar
  • 1/4 c. white wine
  • 3 T. olive oil
  • Beaten egg
  • Coarse salt (optional)

Dissolve the yeast in the warm water.

Make a well in the flour. Throw the salt, anise seed, light brown sugar, white wine and olive oil into the well along with the yeast.

Knead for 10 to 15 minutes adding flour if necessary.

Let the dough rise covered in a warm place for at least an hour (two or three hours is even better). Punch down and knead again for a few minutes to eliminate all the air bubbles. Cut the dough into three equal portions.

Roll each portion out into a thin (about an inch) snake about a meter long, fold in half and twist to keep the strands together, form into a circle and seal the ends well.

Drop into boiling water just until they float to the top. Brush with beaten egg, dust with coarse salt (optional) and bake at 400 degrees for 20 – 30 minutes until nicely golden brown.

We’ve got snow today. Twelve centimeters and still falling, up to twenty or twenty-five centimeters before it stops. They say we’ve had more snow this winter than any in recorded memory. Excuse me if I don’t get excited about this record. *laughing*

I’m looking for someplace warm to retire to. Any suggestions???

Catch you from a hopefully warmer, snowless next month.