That Toto song is not in “Out of Africa” at all

I rented “Out of Africa” about a week before I actually watched it.

“Do you know how long that is?” Rockford asked. I am not a fan of lengthy cinema. “It’s like 3 hours long.”

“Have you seen it?”

“Yes,” he said. “A long time ago. It’s … kind of boring.”

I think he must’ve watched it back when he considered “Red Heat” high cinema. Rockford almost always has an opinion about movies, but it’s rarely just that it was “boring.” That one tends to have its sole provenance in my critique wheel box.

“Out of Africa” is a languid movie, by which I don’t necessarily mean boring, really, just that it’s an excellent film for watching while you convalesce on your couch while an early-spring breeze gently stirs your curtains.

A few things thoughts I had while watching “Out of Africa”:

  • Africa looks so beautiful in this movie. I never really pictured it as lush before, but it definitely looks lush here.
  • Robert Redford. Also does not look too shabby here.
  • My sister-in-law looks like Meryl Streep.
  • Meryl’s accent was somewhat distracting.

    I probably wouldn’t watch it again, but I didn’t hate watching “Out of Africa.” (Is that a ringing endorsement or what?)

  • This is how the Daring Bakers roll

    This month’s Daring Bakers Challenge was Dutch Crunch Rolls, and it was the first challenge that made me feel like a real baker. I’d never made sandwich rolls before, and they turned out perfectly. The dough didn’t give me any trouble; they rose just as advertised; and their interiors were bakery-quality.

    Dutch Crunch Rolls are variety of bread most frequently found in the San Francisco area, from what I gather. The unbaked rolls are coated with kind of a paste made with yeast and rice flour, which hardens and cracks as the bread bakes and gives the rolls a distinctive look. The Dutch call it Tijgerbrood, or tiger bread, although mine looked more giraffe-spotted than tiger-striped.

    Whatever you’d like to call them, these rolls were wonderful and really pretty simple. I’ll make them again.

    Sara and Erica of Baking JDs were our March 2012 Daring Baker hostesses! Sara & Erica challenged us to make Dutch Crunch bread, a delicious sandwich bread with a unique, crunchy topping. Sara and Erica also challenged us to create a one-of-a-kind sandwich with our bread!

    The recipe for the Dutch Crunch topping came from Rose Levy Beranbaum’s “The Bread Bible.” The recipes for the breads we’ve suggested came from “The Bread Bible” and an adaptation of a recipe found on Baking Bites.

    Soft White Roll
    Makes six sandwich rolls

    1 tablespoon (1 packet) active dry yeast
    1/4 cup warm water (No need to use a thermometer; it should feel between lukewarm and hot to the touch).
    1 cup warm milk
    1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
    2 tablespoons vegetable oil (plus additional olive or vegetable oil for greasing bowl during rising)
    1 1/2 teaspoons salt
    Up to 4 cups all purpose flour

    In the bowl of an electric mixer or large mixing bowl, combine yeast, water, milk and sugar. Stir to dissolve and let sit for about 5 minutes (The mixture should start to bubble or foam a bit and smell yeasty).

    Add in vegetable oil, salt and 2 cups of flour. Using the dough hook attachment or a wooden spoon, mix at medium speed until the dough comes together.

    Add remaining flour a quarter cup at time until the dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl (I needed an extra 1 1/2 cups of flour).

    Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and knead for about 4 minutes, until smooth and elastic. Place in a lightly greased bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let rise for 1 hour, or until doubled (or more) in size.

    Once the dough has risen, turn it out onto a lightly floured surface and divide it into 6 equal portions. Shape each into a ball and place on a parchment-lined baking sheet (try not to handle the dough too much at this point).

    Cover with plastic wrap and let rise for 15 minutes while you prepare the topping:

    Dutch Crunch Topping

    1 tablespoons (1 packet) active dry yeast
    1/2 cup warm water
    1 tablespoons sugar
    1 tablespoons vegetable oil
    1/4 teaspoon salt
    3/4 cup rice flour (white or brown; NOT sweet or glutinous rice flour)

    Combine all ingredients in a large bowl and beat with a whisk; beat hard to combine. The consistency should be like stiff royal icing — spreadable, but not too runny. If you pull some up with your whisk, as shown below, it should drip off slowly. Add more water or rice flour as necessary. Let stand 15 minutes.

    Coat the top of each loaf or roll with a thick layer of topping. You should err on the side of applying too much topping; a thin layer will not crack properly. Once you’ve applied the topping, bake in a preheated 380-degree oven for 25-30 minutes, until well browned. The topping should crack and turn golden brown. Let cool completely on a wire rack before eating.

    The second part of the challenge was to make a delicious sandwich, which meant sandwich night at the Butterscotch Sundae house! The kids had peanut butter and honey on their Dutch Crunch Rolls, and Rockford had leftover Alice Springs chicken on his.

    Chicken, cheese and bacon is hard to beat on a sandwich, but I did my very best. I had bacon, lettuce and avocado on mine.

    I think this was my favorite Daring Bakers Challenge so far. And this was definitely our tastiest sandwich night in a long time!

    I’ve come to realize that everyone in “Rebecca” annoys me

    Before we get into this, please be aware that it might get spoilerish in here.

    Everyone at the seaside manor Manderly lives under the shadow of the dead Rebecca de Winter, which turns mousey little second Mrs. de Winter (Joan Fontaine) into even more of a mouse. Such a sad little creature, in fact, that she doesn’t even get to have a first name. Nor does she get to play tennis, because the “dashing” Maxim de Winter (Laurence Olivier) tosses her racquet into the bushes and makes her go for a drive when they meet in Monte Carlo a few days before the the second-worst marriage proposal in film history. (The very worst was Rocky’s.)

    I was never a fan of Maxim in Daphne de Maurier’s novel, and that feeling held fast when I watched Alfred Hitchcock’s film version of “Rebecca” on Friday night. Olivier’s portrayal of Maxim de Winter put me in mind of a mostly-less-violent Ike Turner. I can never quite tell whether de Winter is supposed to be an attractive lead or just a moody jerk.

    Hitchcock’s hand in the 1940 Best Picture winner shows in the lighting, the moodiness and the proliferation of creepy creepers, chief among them the gliding, lingerie-obsessed Mrs. Danvers (Judith Anderson) — she’s a thoroughly freaky study in weirdoism and psychological abuse — and the sleazy cheesy Jack Favell (George Sanders).

    I think the moral of this story is never marry a wealthy recently widowed dude with a pencil-thin mustache. He’s bound to have baggage.