|The Beautiful Beach of the Persian Gulf|
But, right alongside of all that beauty is poverty. The men who work on the towers to build them so beautifully sleep in shacks that don’t have air conditioning or running water. They work in the heat of the day and sometimes into the heat of the night to meet the deadlines set by those who sit in plush offices. The workers only make on average $300 Qatari Riyals a month…that is the equivalent of about $82 US Dollars. They send most of that home to their family in their country of origin. It is sad to see the heartache and tiredness in their eyes. You know they live in such awful conditions yet have such a love for their family that this hard life seems like the best option for them. As they lay specks of gold into the walkways, they simply dream of providing a better life for their family back home. I suppose that, in and of itself, is beautiful, yet heartbreaking at the same time.
|Towers Area of Downtown Doha|
Another thing that boggles me sometimes is the way that the “locals” feel so entitled. I’ve been told many, many times when working to open the bakery to remember that you can’t tell a customer “no” when they ask for something. They say to remember that if you tell them “no” that they could complain to higher management to get what they want or simply just never set foot into the store again. Can you imagine? I mean, I understand making a request and being disappointed that the store doesn’t offer it (heck, I’ve been lots of places here that don’t serve iced tea, a staple for me in the States!), but to complain to the point of going to higher management because we don’t serve the flavor of juice you want? It’s a challenge to remember that I’m not dealing with the American way of thinking and the way of doing business. The Arab world apparently does not like to confront people directly nor call people out when they are just plain wrong or telling mistruths (note I didn’t say lies…that would be rude!). This creates a culture of a lot of double-talk and going around people to get what you want. The He-said, she-said game is quite maddening at times.
|Let's think about that tomorrow!|
|Shiny Happy American Gals!|
|American ingenuity at it's finest!|
|Outstanding French Country Bread|
Source: A Passion for Baking by Marcy Goldman
Sponge Starter (8-16 hours ahead)
1 1/2 cups warm water (100-110 degrees)
1/4 teaspoon rapid-rise yeast
1 1/2 cups, approximately, bread flour
All of sponge starter
1 1/2 cups warm water (100-110 degrees)
1/2 teaspoon rapid-rise yeast
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 3/4 teaspoons salt
1 tablespoon sugar
4 to 6 cups bread flour
For Sponge Starter, in a small bowl, stir together water and yeast and let yeast dissolve by briskly whisking.
With a whisk or wooden spoon, stir in bread flour to make a thick mixture. It should be like a gloppy pudding. Cover bowl loosely with plastic wrap (leaving a small air space); let stand at room temperature 8-16 hours.
Stack two baking sheets together and line top sheet with two sheets of parchment paper. If your oven and baking sheets cannot accommodate two breads, prepare another set of sheets to bake second bread (or make one large bread).
To make the bread, stir down starter to deflate it. Spoon it into mixer bowl. Hand-whisk in 1 1/2 cups warm water (100-110 degrees), yeast, oil, salt, sugar, and most of flour. Stir to make a messy mass and then loosely cover bowl and let until dough is smooth and resilient but not tough and bouncy. Remove dough hook and lightly spray dough with nonstick cooking spray. Cover entire mixer and bowl with a large clear plastic bag. Let rise 90 minutes to 2 1/2 hours until dough has doubled.
Turn out dough onto a lightly floured work surface and gently deflate. Divide dough in half (or keep it as one large bread); form into two balls.
Gently place balls of dough, seam sides down, on prepared baking sheets. Spray dough with nonstick cooking spray. Cover baking sheets loosely with large clear plastic bag. Let dough rise until puffy (and 50% larger in volume).
Preheat oven to 475 degrees. Slash loaves with a sharp knife before baking. Spritz with water and dust with flour. (If dough deflates with you slash it, it rose too much but might recover with oven heat.)
Atomize oven with a few squirts of water and place baking sheets on lower oven rack. Spray oven interior every 5 minutes for the first 15 minutes (Do not spray oven lightbulb!). When 20 minutes remain, reduce heat to 425 degrees to finish baking. Loaf should be well browned after a total of 25-35 minutes. Cool well on a wire rack before slicing. To store, keep in a loosely sealed plastic bag (which softens crust but keeps bread moist) or in a brown paper bag lightly sealed.