Saturday, May 25, 2013

One more time, from the beginning

Sometimes, you have to start with a dumb idea.

There's a whole Zen thing - and I am not even remotely well versed on the subject so don't yell at me if I am slightly off in my interpretation - about having a beginner's mind, Shoshin.  You come to an activity with a willingness to try everything, no preconceived notion of what can and cannot be done - no idea that something is a dumb idea.  From there, you allow yourself to explore possibilities that wouldn't occur to the expert, rigid in thought and process.

The idea that mixing ice cream and flour could make bread, for example.

I find weird ideas like this exciting. Of course I had to try it.  To me, the batter immediately suggested biscuits, rather than bread, so that's what I made - butter pecan biscuits, topped with raw sugar.  The only bad parts were my hands got really cold mixing the dough, and now I have to keep a supply of self rising flour around the house.  Because I don't already have enough flours around the house.

The good parts?  I have been inspired to play more with my baking. Not just with this recipe (although I really want to try using a good pistachio ice cream next. Or maybe beer and chocolate ice cream), but with bread in general.  What makes bread? Most bread doughs are variations on the theme of 5 parts flour, 3 parts liquid, plus leavening and flavoring.  But what does that mean?  If the liquid is water, I can develop a passable baguette, but what if I use the liquid I strain off yogurt? What if I just use yogurt?  How do different fats affect things? Different flours? So many possibilities.

There's a trick here, though.  It wasn't hard to get excited about an idea that involved two ingredients, little time and intuitively seemed like it would work.  Also, there was cheating involved on my part - someone else had already tried the idea and presented it to the world as something that works.  But when there isn't someone else showing you the silly, weird, odd ideas that shouldn't work but maybe they could work, where do they come from?  Being open to all possibilities means being open to bad ideas, as well; how can you recognize those ideas, and do you try them anyway?  Crazy Brain Me says yes, you should try them anyway, because you still get answers from failure.  You just need to not let those failures and successes stop you from trying more ideas.

Good thing I have biscuits to sustain me through the process.


Brian Rogers said...

"because you still get answers from failure."

The essence of science, right there. Now I want Rachel to try the ice cream biscuits.

queenofsheba said...

It was really good, and Amy's kids were quite swoony over the results