08 October 2007

Whoosh!

That's pretty much how the weekend went by, with David's Wednesday night ER visit only being one in a string of goings-on. Just as I was on my way out of the clinic Thursday morning, David called to tell me he'd gotten a call that Madelyn had gone into labor. It wasn't until I got home that we learned that she'd had a female cria who looked fairly normal but was being very slow to get up and nurse/walk/play - all the things a healthy baby should be doing within a couple of hours.

So that meant making a trip out to check on baby and pretty much dashed any plans I'd had for getting a nap while David picked up his cousin Greg and ran some errands. As we were getting ready to do that, I got another call about a bit of a family crisis which, while not involving me directly at all, is somewhat worrisome, which is about all I can say about it at this point.

Anyway, I got myself cleaned up and we headed off to the bus station to meet Greg, who had flown into Boston a few hours previously. As I mentioned on my last post, this visit was a very big deal - even more so because Greg is the first member of David's family I've met aside from his parents. So documenting his arrival was essential.

100407Greg_arrival

Then we quickly hopped in David's truck and made off for the new RedMaple warehouse, both to show the place off and to pick out some sweaters for later. And then we again hopped into the truck and sped off to Val's to see the new baby.

100407Maddy_cria

Another adorable baby, and with grey eyes like her sister Juliette. She was, however, not nearly as far along she should have been, acting at 5 hours like a 1-2 hours old cria. A bit of Karo syrup seemed to help, though, and she quickly got up to speed over the rest of the afternoon and so far doesn't seem to be looking back. No name yet, as I haven't had a real chance to think about it, but I'll be working on coming up with something fitting soon.

I had originally planned on making dinner that evening, but by the time we were getting back into town and given my lack of sleep, it was clear that I wasn't really going to be able to throw something together in a reasonable timeframe. Since we had discussed going Indian for dinner, we stopped by Divine Cuisines to see what they had available.

Since their business has been primarily catering and selling at the farmer's market, they don't do a lot of takeout business, but they're preparing to expand and do regular restaurant business, which I'm really looking forward to. The food is very good, and Raj is a nice guy (and very cute). Anyway, they did have enough for us to make a decent meal from, but they were out of naan (recipe below), so I made that when we got home and we had a nice dinner and visit before turning in to rest up for our weekend adventures.

Friday we got up and headed up to Fryeburg for the fair. We got a late start and ran into a horrendous traffic jam of leaf peepers going through Conway, New Hampshire, so we didn't get to Fryeburg until very late in the afternoon, but we still had a fun time eating fair food and looking at the livestock and exhibit halls. I took a few livestock photos, but I figure fiber folks always like the jacob sheep (who can resist all those horns?).

100507Jacobs

Afterwards, we headed even farther north to Bethel, where I had reserved us rooms for the night so that we could spend Saturday seeing the leaves and doing a bit of hiking. We all went to bed relatively early so that we could be nice and fresh for the day ahead, because in addition to the hiking, David had recruited Greg to be a RedMaple fashion model and we had a bit of a photo shoot planned.

100607Greg_modeling

He seems a natural, no? This particular shoot was done at Screw Auger Falls in Grafton Notch State Park. We stopped at most of the park sights along the road, doing photo shoots at some and just exploring at others. We eventually made our way up to where the Appalachian Trail intersects the park and hiked a short section of the trail up to Table Rock. And though the segment itself was short (1.4mi/2.1km), it entailed a vertical rise of about 900ft/270m. My quads are still a bit sore, but the view at the top was definitely worth it.

100607Table_Rock

We decided to do our last photo shoot of the day there, but by then Greg was getting a little punchy (the altitude, perhaps? or maybe just the excitement of a well-crafted alpaca sweater) and the photos got, well, interesting. It's not entirely clear, but there's a little nipple play going on in this photo.

100607Punchy_Greg

We hadn't intended it to be that kind of photo shoot, but I suppose if it sells sweaters....

And on that note, we made our way back down the mountain and back down the road to Bethel, where we had an excellent meal and some equally excellent beer at Sunday River Brewing Company (thanks to Kit for the suggestion), then made the nearly 3 hour trip back home.

Yesterday was much more relaxed and close to home, with an outing to take a few more pics and let Greg get the obligatory lobster dinner, followed by blueberry-apple pie and silly movies. After a little more driving around the area today, we put him on the bus back to the airport, and he is hopefully having a very uneventful trip home.

Yummy, Yummy Naan

I love, love, love naan, which is really the quintessential Indian flatbread. Of course, there are others - chapatis, pappadam, etc. - but when most people (here in the US, anyway) think of Indian breads, naan is the one that comes to mind most often. I mostly follow the recipe from Madhur Jaffrey's World Vegetarian cookbook, with very slight variation, and have been very pleased with the results.

  • 4-5 cups unbleached all-purpose white flour, plus some for dusting
  • 1½ teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1½ teaspoons sugar
  • 1¼ cup plain yogurt (note: If you are cooking for vegetarians, please check the label. Some yogurts use gelatin and so are not vegetarian. Even kosher gelatin is usually non-veg, despite misconceptions to the contrary.)
  • 1 egg
  • butter ghee, and plenty of it

First sift together 4 or so cups of flour with the baking powder, baking soda and salt. Then mix the sugar and yogurt in a large bowl. This can be done with a mixer, but I prefer to use a wooden mixing spoon. Slowly begin beating in about two cups of the flour mix a little bit at a time. It is essential for proper texture to beat this very well, as it encourages the gluten molecules to crosslink. I generally add in roughly ½ cup at a time, stir until mixed, and then beat the batter 100 strokes with the spoon for each addition.

By the time you have beaten in 2 cups of the flour mix, the resulting batter should be smooth but have some obvious resiliency from the activation of the gluten. At this point, mix in the egg and 1 tablespoon of melted ghee, then continue adding in the flour mix in increments until the dough is sticky and getting too thick to stir readily. Then you should turn it out onto a board or countertop with the remainder of the flour mix plus any additional flour needed to keep the dough from sticking. Grease up your hands well with the ghee and knead it briefly until the dough can be shaped into a ball readily. It should at this point still be a bit sticky.

Making sure your hands are still well-greased, divide the dough ball into 8 or 9 smaller balls and place them on a well-floured tray. Flatten them slightly with your hand and cover with plastic wrap or parchment paper. Allow the dough to rest for at least 30 minutes - or refrigerate for up to 48 hours - as this will give the gluten molecules more time to crosslink.

Turn on or light your broiler. If this is in the main oven compartment, then the rack should be set all the way at the top. The original recipe calls for the initial cooking to be done on stovetop with a large cast-iron skillet, but I do it all under the broiler on a cookie sheet.

Take each of the dough balls and dip into flour. Then grease your hands well with ghee and begin to pat out and flatten the dough ball into an oblong shape. You want the dough to be quite flattened. If the gluten has been activated well, it shouldn't tear too readily. Daub both sides with a bit more ghee and slap the nan down onto the heated pan. Cook under the broiler for a minute or so, making sure after about 30 seconds that it is not sticking. Once it has started developing a few reddish-brown spots, flip it over and cook on the other side for another minute or so. Remove the finished naan from the broiler and daub on some more ghee and enjoy.

10 comments:

Sheepish Annie said...

Wow! You had a pretty busy weekend. But, it sounds like a great deal of fun and that little baby alpaca is just adorable!

I don't think I've ever had naan before...but it sounds yummy.

Paul said...

Yowza! You must be drop dead exhausted by now! The baby IS adorable, and the scenery from your hike is absolutely beautiful!

And I gotta say that Greg really is a great sport for modeling, and the nipple play pic made me snort! Thanks for the laugh.

Sean said...

Mmm, Naan. Thanks for the recipe! I'll have to give it a try.

PS--I think cousin Greg is a hottie...

Carole Knits said...

What a busy and fun weekend you had. Thanks for the naan recipe, too. I'm not sure I'll actually try it but it's nice to know I can if I want.

anne marie in philly said...

greg is drop dead gorgeous!

I prefer roti over naan, IMHO.

have never seen a baby alpaca in person before; she is sweet!

perhaps things will settle down at your house now.

Julie said...

Oh my, that baby is so sweet!

Sounds like you had a good weekend; you deserved it!

Joe said...

Wonderful to live vicariously through your birthing and travels. If Greg had anywhere near the lovely time I did reading about your time together, he will bring nice news back to David's family.

Don't you wear your kilt whilst hiking?

Or better yet...I still haven't seen any "gratuitous leg" photos.

knitnzu said...

Wowsa, now there's a studmuffin! I think you need to wear the kilt out hiking...

Syd said...

I've been wondering what PUNCHY means for a couple years now. I'm so glad I finally have an answer.

Cousin Greg said...

Mel and David, Thank you SO much for the fabulous weekend! You were both such gracious hosts and every minute was so worth the trip. The views were "extraordinary"!

Mel, I appreciate you posting some of the lighter side of my debut photo shoot, hopefully those family photos will help sell more rather than hinder sales!

I have shared all the great stories with friends and family and look forward to trying to make it out there again as soon as I am able.

I feel very lucky to have had the opportunity to get to know the two of you much better.

Take care!

P.S. - to all those who left such touching comments about me...flattery will get you everywhere!