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Last weekend we had company — which means that I spent last week avoiding housework. Instead of doing the deep cleaning my house needed, I researched Nepal, Mongolia and Tibet because, well, it wasn’t house cleaning.

Here are the highlights of my efforts:

1) According to everything I remember from high school geography, somebody moved Nepal.

2) China should have its hand slapped for erasing all the dotted lines delineating the Tibet border and confusing the geographically challenged.

3) Mongolian horses are veeery short, and the people do a type of throat signing that sounds like a didgeridoo mating with a whistle.

I also learned that Hungarians compete in the most awesome horseback archery matches (jump forward to about 3:50). I’m totally asking for a compound re-curve bow for Christmas now.

The only deep cleaning I really got done was to get down on my hands and knees to scrub, with a brush, the wooden floors in my kitchen and bathroom, rather than just wiping them down with a rag.

The things I learned are thus:

1) Even if your feet aren’t sticking to the floor, that doesn’t mean it’s clean enough.

2) I sincerely wish to take back those few times in the past couple months that I snatched a fallen food item off the kitchen floor, declared the three-second rule in effect and popped said food item into my mouth.

Is there a mouthwash that works retroactively? at pam(at)


So it’s Wednesday evening and I’m supposed to be writing my weekly column, but thought I’d take too long a moment to share these with you:

If you want to pee your pants a really good laugh to tone your six pack start your day right, watch this video (be sure to have your speakers turned on, it’s the total viewing experience): The Rabbit Shepard

And if you want to pack on some completely outrageous pounds really impress yourself friends, family, guests, make this European-style, heavy-crust bread from a recipe that was in the NY Times and Mother Earth News:

No-Knead Dutch Oven Bread

1/4 tsp active dry yeast
1 1/2 cups warm water
3 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting. You may use white, whole wheat or a combination of the two.
1 1/2 tsp salt
Cornmeal or wheat bran for dusting

In a large bowl, dissolve yeast in water. Add the flour and salt, stirring until blended. The dough will be shaggy and sticky. Cover bowl with plastic wrap. Let the dough rest at least 8 hours, preferably 12 to 18, at warm room temperature, about 70 degrees.

The dough is ready when its surface is dotted with bubbles. Lightly flour a work surface and place dough on it. Sprinkle it with a little more flour and fold it over on itself once or twice. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let it rest for about 15 minutes.

Generously coat a clean dish towel with wheat bran or cornmeal. Using just enough flour to keep the dough from sticking to the work surface or to your fingers, gently shape it into a ball. Put the seam side of the dough down on the towel and dust with more bran or cornmeal. Cover with another towel and let rise for about 1 to 2 hours. When it’s ready, the dough will have doubled in size and will not readily spring back when poked with a finger.

At least 20 minutes before the dough is ready, heat oven to 475 degrees. Put a 6- to 8-quart heavy covered pot (cast iron, enamel, Pyrex or ceramic) in the oven as it heats. When the dough is ready, carefully remove the pot from the oven and lift off the lid. Slide your hand under the towel and turn the dough over into the pot, seam side up. The dough will lose its shape a bit in the process, but that’s OK. Give the pan a firm shake or two to help distribute the dough evenly, but don’t worry if it’s not perfect; it will straighten out as it bakes. Score top of dough if you wish.

Cover and bake for 30 minutes. Remove the lid and bake another 15 to 20 minutes, until the loaf is beautifully browned. Remove the bread from the Dutch oven and let it cool on a rack for at least 1 hour before slicing.

*The friend who told me about this recipe recommended bumping yeast to 1/2 tsp. Mine was over-raising (over-rising?) when I left the dough the 12 hours, even in a 68-70 degree room, so now I just do a slightly heaped 1/4 tsp.

For people who make lots of traditional breads, this dough will freak you out seem a bit disconcerting because it doesn’t have that firm, kneaded bread-dough feeling. It’s very moist gloopy in comparison. Also, some friends who have made the bread have had trouble with it burning. I’m no good to you I have no advice because I can’t even say for certain what temp my oven is. Don’t be shocked. Don’t call me stupid. It’s an old gas stove without a thermometer, so we just pray to the bread gods, crank ‘er wide open, and get lucky it works. It does seem to be pretty idiot friendly able to come out tasting good despite a wide spectrum of moisture content from loaf to loaf because I can’t seem to be consistent.

The dough is rising as I type at: pam[at]

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