Saturday, May 30, 2015

Strange Yeast Thing - You Make My Heart Sing

1966 was a very good year.

All shall be revealed in the fullness of time

But before I get to that, today is Friday, May 29, and I would like to wish Happy Birthday to my Number Three Niece, Adina, and also to my dear old friend, the absolutely ageless Ron Friedman. And happy graduation day to Jane Wheeler; may you have a wonderful time at college.

I have often written how I am all about disco, that disco is not dead, that disco can never die (sort of like Captain Jack Harkness from "Torchwood". Inadvertently immortal. Until it is time for him to Face the Music, or the Face of Boe.)

Disco was born just as I hit my young adult years, and has followed me all the way to Incipient Old Age, but I really am a child of the sixties. Those were difficult times, both for me and the world in general.  My mother overdosed in 1960 and my grandmother finished losing what was left of her mind; the US officially entered the Vietnam war in 1961, and construction of the Berlin Wall began; I was adopted by my grandparents in 1962, entering the Interregnum of the Great and Terrible Secret; the Cuban Missile Crisis flared; the Cold War got downright frigid; I got my period on April 11, 1963, the beginning of a 40 year close acquaintance with endometriosis; President Kennedy was assassinated on November 22, 1963; by 1965 we had almost 200,000 troops in Vietnam and the mood of our country turns ugly; my brother was bar mitzvah'ed in 1967, after which my relationship with my grandmother goes into permanent decline; in 1968 Richard Nixon became President, and both Robert Kennedy and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. are assassinated; in 1969 the Manson Family terrorized California.  And on May 4, 1970, four students at Kent State University were gunned down by the National Guard, related to the Guard being called onto campus because of Vietnam-era student protests.

This is not to say the sixties were totally without their charm.  True, those were the years of my adolescence, so they had to be heart-wrenchingly rotten - I think there's a law about that somewhere - but there were some moments that were wonderful.  Roger Maris hitting his 61st home run in 1961; Doctor Who starting in 1963, The Man from U.N.C.L.E in 1964, Star Trek in 1966; the Eagle lands on the Moon in 1969 and Neil Armstrong takes humanity's first step onto the surface; and of course, there was Woodstock. (No, I did not go. Seriously. I only knew one person from high school who went, and by that point she was already a pot-smoking, bra-burning hippie, and those were still pretty rare in the Lawrence High School of the sixties.) I met my friend Bethe Gochberg in 1968 at St. Joseph's Hospital in Far Rockaway, and a wonderful young teacher named Ronald Friedman in 1969.  And although I never dated in high school, and did not get invited to the Senior Prom, I had a fabulously busy social life attending Sweet Sixteen parties, Bar Mitzvahs, and even the occasional Bat Mitzvah.

And best of all was the music! Before disco but after Bobby Darin, there were the Beatles and the whole British Invasion, and it was fun.  So this song came out in 1966, by a group called the Troggs.  Not the Frogs, not even the Throgs (like the Throgs Neck Bridge).  Troggs, originally known as the Troglodytes.  Of course they were British.  But 1966 was the year that the American pop bands also showed their stuff, and it was all good - the Monkees, the Mamas and the Papas, the Supremes, the Fifth Dimension, Sonny and Cher - it was a very good year.  Like Frankie sang in '65. I never liked Frankie, but that song wasn't too bad.

Why did I get bitten by this particular ear worm?  Because of this damn (delicious) bread, which started out as a Strange Yeast Thing.  I had no hope that it would ever rise to become a loaf of bread, and so when it reached the third rise and still looked as unbreadlike as possible, I shut off the bread machine, repositioned the Strange Yeast thing so that it sat more evenly between the two kneading paddles, and restarted the machine on something called the Super Rapid setting.  What came out of that black box was more amazing than Paul Atriedes' unhurt hand.  The Bene Gesserit just had a nerve induction box; I have a West Bend 41410 horizontal loaf bread machine.  Much better.  This song from 1966 just makes the whole thing - well, perfect.

Wild thing, you make my heart sing
You make everything groovy, wild thing
Wild thing, I think I love you
But I wanna know for sure
Come on and hold me tight
I love you

You want the recipe, you say?  Oh, well so do I, except right now I only have a vague sense of how these ingredients turned into the Face of Boe, I mean the Strange Yeast Thing.  It's easier to explain how Captain Jack Harkness became the Face of Boe.

This is what I did - I make no guarantees, and I will be retesting it, but if you are feeling food-playful and just can't wait, here it goes:

I set my machine for the small - 1.5 lb. loaf - setting, with a light crust.  First I set it on "sweet", but then as I explained earlier, while it was on the third rise, I reset the whole thing on super quick and finished it that way.  For all I know, if I had left the machine running as is, the bread would still have come out the same.

1-11 oz. container non-dairy coconut milk (unsweetened)
2 tablespoons butter
1 cup yellow cake mix (I used Jiffy)
2 1/2 cups bread flour
(a couple of drops water)
2 teaspoons yeast
1/2 teaspoon coconut extract
generous 1/2 cup sweetened coconut

Add the ingredients in the order dictated by your particular bread machine. Add the sweetened coconut at the beginning, along with the other ingredients.

It never ceases to amaze me at how quickly my sense of well-being can tank.  Damn.

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