One of my favorite kid books ever is the book Fortunately by Remi Charlip. Published in 1964, the words and pictures tell a story of young Ned, a boy invited to a surprise birthday party, who runs into a series of mishaps as he makes his way there. The pattern of the book goes like this:
“Fortunately, a friend loaned him an airplane [to get to the party].”
“Unfortunately, the motor exploded.”
“Fortunately, there was a parachute.”
“Unfortunately, the parachute had a hole in it.”
And so on.
The illustrations are simple and silly and very 1964ish, and what I love about this book is that so many of my days seem to reflect this pattern…especially last Monday.
Fortunately: A Monday Story (a true story)
Unfortunately, I woke up very sleepy (I blame you, baby).
Fortunately, it was a relatively easy day at work with very sleepy kids.
Unfortunately, I had several things to do after work that had to happen in a short amount of time.
Fortunately, our administrator let us out a half hour early from our staff meeting.
Unfortunately, I still wasn’t sure I could get all of my errands done, even with the extra time.
Fortunately, I’m a grocery store superstar and flew through my list.
Unfortunately, in my haste to load the bags in the trunk, I put my purse…and keys…in the trunk as well, and efficiently slammed it shut, effectively locking myself out.
Fortunately, cell phones exist, and some kind strangers allowed me to use theirs to call Eric.
Unfortunately, we only have one car, and it was going to take him at least 30 minutes to walk to the train station, take the train, and walk to the grocery store to rescue me with our second key.
Fortunately, Target was right next door to the grocery store, and I was hoping to go there anyways this week and compare baby soap scents.
Unfortunately, I was overheating, since it was super nice out and I was wearing compression tights (I blame you, baby).
Fortunately, Target has a bathroom, and I was able to take the tights off.
Unfortunately, several people in Target looked questioningly at me, perhaps wondering if I’d wet my pants as I walked through the store holding a balled up pair of flesh-colored stockings….and then looked at me like I was crazy, repeatedly sniffing baby soaps with no purse or clear intention of buying any of them.
Fortunately, Eric is gracious and picked me up promptly.
Unfortunately, I still had to make brownies for our new neighbors and do our birth class homework before class that night.
Fortunately, Eric said he’d read the chapter we were supposed to aloud while I baked.
Unfortunately, in my attempts at multi-taskedness, I COMPLETELY botched the brownie recipe (that I’ve made probably 50 times) by not halving the evaporated milk.
Fortunately, I have just enough chocolate chips left to make some (slightly more boring) cookies.
Unfortunately, this meant we had almost no time for dinner.
But fortunately, bread makes for many a fast meal, and fortunately I have this great bread recipe, and fortunately, we had some frozen that we were able to use as the “main” course to our giant-salad-on-the-go dinner and fortunately, I get to share this amazing bread recipe with you.
Seriously, it was a cartoonishly ridiculous day of fails, and I was so glad we had some of this bread in the freezer to save us as we ran out the door, trailing bread crumbs and spinach leaves behind us.
This bread is the picture of ease on a day when everything else is going wrong. It’s so simple and low maintenance and makes two gigantic loaves, perfect for eating one fresh and and freezing the other for rushed nights like our Monday. The recipe comes from the More with Less cookbook, which holds some of the easiest meals I make. Usually, this cookbook is all about the whole grains, but there’s something so delightful about plain, white French bread, that we just keep coming back to this recipe. It’s perfect as a dinner side dish, for thick-sliced grilled cheese, French toast, and that perfect piece of bread with jam in the morning.Try this recipe out soon and serve it to your friends and family, who will ooh and aah over your homemade French bread efforts, even though this is truly the easiest bread recipe of all. Fortunately, no one has to know but you.
(recipe from the More with Less cookbook).
(yields 2 loaves)
This French bread recipe is so simple to put together, and it yields a lot of bread. This bread freezes really well, sliced or whole, wrapped in plastic and placed in a freezer-safe bag. I didn't really adapt the recipe at all, since bread is tricky like that, but you could add poppy or sesame seeds to the top, if desired, just before baking. Enjoy with heaps of butter and jam, or use for grilled cheese or French toast.
2 packages (1/4 oz.) active dry yeast (or 4 1/2 tsp.)
1/2 c. warm water (110*-115*)
1/2 tsp. sugar
2 c. boiling water (additional)
2 tbsp. sugar (additional)
2 tbsp. fat (I usually use vegetable oil or butter)
2 tsp. salt
7 1/2 - 8 c. flour
1 egg, beaten
2 tbsp. milk
Dissolve the yeast and 1/2 tsp. sugar in the 1/2 c. warm water.
Bring the additional 2 c. water to a boil. Once it's at a rolling boil, add the fat, salt, and 2 tbsp. sugar and stir to combine.
Let the boiling water mixture cool to lukewarm, and then add the yeast mixture to it.
Mix together the water mixture, yeast mixture, and the flour with a wooden spoon. Once it's combined, knead (on a lightly floured surface) for 10 minutes or until smooth and elastic. Place dough in a greased bowl (I spray and wipe mine with cooking spray first), and turn the dough, so it's coated. Cover with a (floured) towel or (greased) plastic wrap and let rise until doubled.
Punch down and let rest 15 minutes.
Divide dough in half. On a floured surface, roll out each half to about a 12"x15" rectangle. Roll up the rectangle, starting with the 15" edge.
Place the two dough rolls on a greased cookie sheet and make 4 or 5 slashes diagonally across the top of each. Let rise until doubled (I covered mine with a floured towel).
Once doubled, mix together the egg and milk and brush on the loaves.
Bake at 400* for 20 minutes or until lightly browned.