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This F'ing Advice Column

Natalie solves your relationship problems with tender, nurturing care, this time with a recipe for baking bread.

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Natalie solves your relationship problems with tender, nurturing care

I get bags and bags of mail here at the F News Headquarters. Some people just want autographed 8×10 glossies of me, some want to submit something to the paper, but most people just want advice on their love lives. I can understand why they would want that advice from me. I gave up a glamorous life of globe-trotting and romance to settle down with a perfectly reasonable man and edit this paper. So I’m fairly qualified in the romantic arts.

This month we’re going to start with two basic questions from our precious readers, questions I think we all can relate to:

Dear Natalie,

I read on your fansite that I started for you because I am such a fan of you, that you think food is the answer to all of our depressing sex lives that aren’t as good as yours. I can’t for the life of me figure out how to make bread because I can’t ever find anything that will teach me how to knead correctly. So far, the cat I took out of the back alley that was living in that moldy futon has been my best teacher. Can you help me understand how to properly knead?
Sometimes Anarchists Injure Cats

Dear SAIC,

OK. Let’s talk about kneading bread, eh?

Kneading is the most important part of making bread, because it’s the part that’s most sexy. It also creates the elasticity that bread needs to be bready. Kneading bread is just like that scene in Ghost where Patrick Swayze’s ghost is all necking up on Ashton Kutcher’s wife, and you feel guilty for thinking it’s kind of hot that that ghost is grinding up on that lady, but anyway, she’s all making ceramic stuff, and that’s just hot in it’s own right, but bread’s like that too, except you’re not left with another useless ashtray when you’re done. You have something you can eat and probably, no ghosts tried to get up in your way while you were making it.

F’ing Advice Comic

Wait, why are you wearing a bra to make bread? Oh. Because it’s sexy. I get it. You’re meta-sexying it up. What you’re trying to do to this bread… well, remember when your parents would drag you somewhere on the east coast for a vacation, and you’d go see the saltwater taffy machine, and it was creating these threads of goo? Well, you’re trying to do what that machine did, except not too much. Just enough to create a smooth, elastic ball.
Now you know how to knead bread. Aren’t you a little rock star? Maybe next I’ll teach you to make pizza dough or even baguettes, the sexiest bread of all.

NATALIE’S basic bread rules:

1. Take off your rings, watches, fake nails, etc. They will get stuck in the dough.
2. If you have hairy wrists or hands, do whatever it takes to prevent those tiny hairs from getting in your dough. I recommend gloves or shaving your freaky wrists, you freak. Promise, even Ashton Kutcher’s hippy potter wife would be instantly unimpressed by pubic hair in her bread.
3. Clean your counter and your hands and don’t let your cats up on your counter while you’re making bread. No one likes hairy bread. That’s why I said you should shave your wrists.
4. Get a food processor. A Cuisinart. At least get a standing mixer. Tell your mom or dad or aunt that you need one for Christmas or some other holiday like Hannukah. A food processor will revolutionize your kitchen life, and make people think you’re a real grown-up with actual grown-up tastes and abilities.
5. Get a baking stone. If you don’t have one, leave a cookie sheet in the oven while the oven preheats, that is, until you get a baking stone. They’re ten bucks at Target.
6. Get parchment paper. It will make your life easy and less messy, and nothing sticks to it. They don’t have it at Target, so get it at Jewel. You can also draw on it after you use it.
7. You should have Kosher salt. For bread and everything else. It dissolves easily, sticks to meats best, and isn’t as salty and chemical-tasting as table salt. Thanks, Jews!

Dear Natalie,

Since you are such a goddess of romance, I thought I would ask you if you can solve my problem: I really like this lady and I want to invite her over to dinner, but I don’t know how to make anything impressive enough to keep her around for even one evening. What did you cook to make all those men and women fall in love with you?
Some Almost-adult In Crisis

Dear SAIC,

As you rightly assumed, the best way to get anyone in the sack is with food. There’s a reason Jesus was all about “breaking bread” with folks: bread is sexy and increases your chances of getting that special someone to get in your bed. Lucky for Jesus, he was a magician and didn’t have to go through the hassle of baking the stuff. For those of us who aren’t magicians, I’ve included a simple bread recipe that will help you get some attention without having to martyr yourself.

F’ing Advice

Let me show you the easiest (and tastiest) bread of all: Beer bread.

– 3 1/4 cups of flour (bread flour works best, but all-purpose will do. The 1/4 cup is for the counter when you knead it.)
– 1 package of yeast (or 2 1/4 tsp)
– 1 1/2 tsp Kosher salt
– 1/2 a teaspoon black pepper (I use more because I like it)
– 3/4 cup parmesan or some other dry-ish shredded cheese. I leave it out because cheese makes me break out in hives.
– 12 oz. of beer. An ale or I.P.A. Maybe even a stout. Use a beer you like (or can afford). Make sure the beer isn’t freezing cold. Don’t take sips from the beer while you’re making the bread. The beer is for the bread.
– 1 cup fresh basil, chopped up. Or whatever herbs you have in your house. It really doesn’t matter. You can use combinations of herbs, or just one kind.

1. Heat your oven to 400 degrees. Make sure your oven is at 400 when you put the bread inside. If you rent an apartment, your oven sucks. Trust me. You need to get a thermometer for your oven to see what temperature it’s really at. Anyway, put your baking stone or your cookie sheet in the oven to heat up so you can cook your bread from the bottom up too. Otherwise the bottom of your bread won’t form a delicious crust.

2. In your mixer with the dough blade, or in your awesome Cuisinart with its dough blade, or if you’re some sort of baking ninja and want to make this by hand in a large bowl with a real big spoon, combine flour, yeast, salt, pepper and cheese. Combining in a Cuisinart means a few pulses should do it. That’s just a few seconds.

3. Add your beer. Mix until the dough forms a shaggy mess. You’ll know it when you see it (45 secs when using a Cuisinart, a few minutes in a mixer, and an eternity by hand).

4. Turn the dough out on a floured surface. Sprinkle with the herbs and knead until incorporated. Shape the dough into a round loaf that looks like a basketball (a basketball is a spherical rubber ball used in sports). I like to throw it down hard on the counter a few times because it’s fun and creates a sort of seal on the bottom so your bread doesn’t explode into a fucking Frank Gehry “masterpiece.”

5. Is your oven at 400 degrees now? Good. Use the parchment paper as a hammock to move your bread ball to the baking stone or cookie sheet. Leave in the oven for 45 minutes or maybe 40, until a toothpick comes out clean. Then you can use the parchment paper again to get it out of the oven and let it cool for fifteen minutes on a baking rack if you have one. Then eat it. It’s good with soups and makes a fancy sandwich too.

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