No-knead bread and WTF first trimester


Last Sunday, Strong Jawline and I Skyped my parents in Evanston, Illinois, to announce that he had successfully impregnated me. Rose and Dave, peering at the screen with their matching crowns of white hair and wire-rimmed glasses, were so surprised they erupted into applause.

I’d wanted to add my brother and his wife to the conversation, but since Skype doesn’t make it easy to do this FUCKING FIGURE IT OUT SKYPE, I also held my phone to dial them in from China on WeChat.

Agua (my 25-year-old sister-in-law): I’m going to have a nephew!

Jenny: (We don’t know the sex yet but since my sister-in-law is Chinese this response is not unexpected.)

Agua: Oh, Jenny, take care of yourself! It’s a Chinese thing but for the next ten months they are the most precious months of your life. Be a queen! Be a queeeeen!!!!!

SJ (agreeably): I’m going to go into slave mode.

Jesse (to Agua): Did you hear what SJ said? He’s going into slave mode.

Agua: (Cackles approvingly)

Mom: That’s really cool. That’s really cool.

Jenny: The cruel joke is that I have 10 bottles of wine left over from my birthday party.

Mom: Time for a visit!

Dad: I’m doing the math in my head, and that’s about four jugs of Carlo and Rossi.

Jenny: I find it interesting that my parents are calculating how much of my wine they can drink instead of my due date.

Mom: Are you typing right now? Jenny, hold up your hands!

Jenny: (Holds up my hands to demonstrate I’m not typing on my phone. Then continues typing on the laptop)

Four days later, first thing in the morning, I fell down the stairs. I have NEVER fallen down ANY stairs. I have been severely nearsighted since the second grade, so I’m well-versed both in putting on my glasses when I get up from bed and holding on to the banister on my way to the bathroom. Neither of which I did this time, plus I was wearing socks, so I slipped on my heels.

As I lay on the steps, staring at the ceiling, my lower back pulsing where I’d landed on it, all I could think was, People do this on purpose to end pregnancies. No one will ever believe this was an accident.

As it happens, this event paired nicely with the wonderful sentiment I’ve heard from so many people since I announced on Facebook that I’m 10 weeks pregnant: that I’m going to be a good mother.


I once did a naked handstand in a hot tub full of people. I got kicked out of the Hungry I in North Beach for giving my friend a lap dance in a private booth. I hippie-flipped at a rave and watched a movie on the tarp above the DJ for a half hour before realizing a movie wasn’t playing. I gave wrong directions to a couple when I was high on mushrooms. I sat in a bathtub high on E and made out with a man who wasn’t my husband. I stole a necklace from a three-year-old (I gave it back, but for one sweet night it was mine).

Also, a few nights ago, SJ and I were watching 30 Rock. Liz Lemon’s boyfriend wakes her up on Valentine’s Day by shaking her and saying, “There’s someone in the house!” (which has made me cry laughing every time I think about it). Liz startles awake, and you can see she’s fallen asleep with her hand in a Pringles can.

“I’ve done that,” I said. (For me it was passing out in the passenger seat of my ex-husband’s Saab on the way home from a Sunset Party on Bolinas Beach.)

Finally, last week, for the first time in my life, I wore my indoor slippers outside. I DID NOT CARE. I was too tired to change some fucking slippers to go outside to the laundry room. And I realized something. All these people I’ve seen for the past twenty years wearing their fucking pajamas and slippers outside? In Target? In PUBLIC? I realize now that THEY’RE ALL PREGNANT. Realizing this earlier would have saved me years of bewilderment that slowly shifted into begrudging acceptance of what I thought were cultural norms. No. It’s an ever-changing army of pregnant people who, like me, do not give a fucking shit about cultural norms.

It’s true that these days I’ve traded cocaine and Ecstasy for multivitamins, fish oil, and Metamucil. But ultimately, nothing I do or have done matters. I still have to make it through genetic testing, which happens in January, to find out if I’m even going to get the chance to be a terrible mom. Fortunately, since last week, I’ve done a fair amount of letting go. I woke up in the middle of the night and realized that being pregnant is a lot like zip-lining: You have to trust the equipment.

This is the fight SJ and I had the night he made no-knead bread.

Jenny: I can never sleep when I’m over here!

SJ (groaning): I finally fell asleep. Do we need to talk about this now?

Jenny: I’m awake! I want to talk about it now!

SJ (rolling onto his back): Fine. What happened.

Jenny: First the dog woke me up. Then your phone went off. Then it went off AGAIN. Then YOU woke me up when you came in late.

SJ: I came in late because I was up making you bread because you said you wanted fresh bread first thing in the morning!

Jenny: (Bursts out laughing) OK. Good point. Did you finish the bread?

SJ: Yes.

Jenny: Thank you.

SJ: You’re welcome.

Jenny: I love you, honey.

SJ: (Silence)

For no-knead bread, follow the classic recipe first reported by Mark Bittman. You need:

  • 3 cups all-purpose or bread flour, more for dusting
  • ¼ tsp. instant yeast
  • 1 ¼ tsp. salt
  • Cornmeal or wheat bran as needed

You need to:

  • In a large bowl combine flour, yeast, and salt. Add 1 5/8 cups water, and stir until blended; dough will be shaggy and sticky. Cover bowl with plastic wrap. Let dough rest at least 12 hours, preferably about 18, at warm room temperature, about 70 degrees.
  • 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 rest about 15 minutes.
  • Using just enough flour to keep dough from sticking to work surface or to your fingers, gently and quickly shape dough into a ball. Generously coat a cotton towel (not terry cloth) with flour, wheat bran, or cornmeal; put dough seam-side down on towel and dust with more flour, bran, or cornmeal. Cover with another cotton towel and let rise for about 2 hours. When it’s ready, dough will be more than double in size and will not readily spring back when poked with a finger.
  • At least a half hour before dough is ready, heat oven to 450 degrees. Put a 6- to 8-quart heavy covered pot (cast-iron, enamel, Pyrex, or ceramic) in oven as it heats. When dough is ready, carefully remove pot from oven. Slide your hand under towel and turn dough over into pot, seam-side up; it may look like a mess, but that is OK. Shake pan once or twice if dough is unevenly distributed; it will straighten out as it bakes. Cover with lid and bake 30 minutes, then remove lid and bake another 15 to 30 minutes, until loaf is beautifully browned. Cool on a rack.

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