It’s 5:00 a.m. and I am wide awake. Yesterday morning, I made myself espresso, but forgot to put a cup under the spout. I’m exhausted. I went to bed yawning and woke up yawning. Insomnia sucks. I’ve always been a good sleeper, a light one, but a good sleeper. Nine hours is my sweet spot; I usually managed eight during the week. Now, I’m lucky if I get four. It began around the start of the pandemic. I’m sure others can relate. I’ve been prescribed a drug for it – Klonopin. Klonopin has been a friend, ensuring I sleep through the night and wake well rested. It’s also highly addictive. You can easily build up a tolerance to Klonopin, as well. Dependency can also be a problem. My doctor was worried about the tolerance, meaning I would need more for the same effect. I was concerned about the addiction. So, a few weeks ago, we decided it was time to say goodbye to Klonopin. The insomnia returned. Nothing seems to help. I’ve taken long hikes early in the day in hopes of tiring myself out; I’ve drawn myself a warm bath just before bed; I’ve taken melatonin; I’ve tried meditation; I’ve avoided “blue light” an hour before bed; I’ve basked in more sunlight during the day; I’ve tried warm milk, blackout drapes, and a cold room. Band-Aides, at best. My doctor and my concerns missed the target – it was the dependency that got me. I received another drug to take its place. That lasted two nights. It made the insomnia worse – revealing creative, stunning, intense images whenever I closed my eyes – really cool stuff. I was so entranced by the art, I couldn’t sleep. If I was an artist and could sketch what I saw, I’d be all over this drug. I’m not.
New tactic. I’ve decided to taper off the Klonopin slowly. Cold turkey was too much. This week, I’m trying half. Next week, it’ll be a quarter. The week after, melatonin instead and the week after that, nothing. We’ll see if that gets me back to my nine hours, light but good, sleep.
This is what you do when you have 25 lbs. of “00” flour that close to its expiration date.
The focaccia is fluffier than most, almost cake-like. I enjoy it drizzled with a bit of truffle oil or as a bread for sandwiches.
- 1 Yukon Gold potato, peeled and quartered
- 1 cup warm water (105-107°F)
- ½ teaspoon sugar
- 1 Tablespoon active dry yeast
- ½ cup extra virgin olive oil (divided)
- 4 ¼ cups “00” flour
- 2 teaspoon kosher salt
- ½ lb. of the best tomatoes you can find (I used heirloom)
- 1 Tablespoon fresh rosemary, chopped
- 1 teaspoon flaky sea salt, such as Maldon
- Cover potato with salted cold water in a small saucepan, bring up to heat, and simmer until a knife pierces the potato easily, 10-15 minutes. Drain, cool slightly, and mash until smooth.
- In a glass measuring cup, combine warm water and sugar. Sprinkle yeast over water and let stand until foamy, about 5 minutes.
- In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine potato and ¼ cup oil. Add yeast mixture and beat with paddle attachment at medium speed until combined, about 2 minutes. Remove paddle attachment and attach a dough hook. add flour and 2 teaspoons kosher salt. Mix on medium speed until dough pulls away from the side of the bowl and is smooth and elastic, about 8-10 minutes (dough will be soft and sticky).
- Scrape dough into a lightly oiled large bowl and cover bowl with oiled plastic wrap. Let dough rise in a draft-free place at warm room temperature until doubled, 2-2 ½ hours. Generously oil a 12 x 16” baking sheet.
- Punch down dough (do not knead) and transfer to baking sheet, then gently stretch to cover the entire baking sheet, side to side, corner to corner.
- Cover dough with oiled plastic wrap or a proofing bag and let rise in a draft-free place at warm room temperature until doubled, 1-1 ½ hours. You’ll know the dough is ready when you gently poke the dough and it slowly springs back.
- Preheat oven to 425°F with rack in lower third. Arrange tomatoes on focaccia (do not overlap), then sprinkle with fresh rosemary and flaky sea salt; drizzle with remaining ¼ cup oil.
- Bake until center is firm, top is pale golden, and underside is golden (lift to check), 20 to 25 minutes.
- Loosen focaccia from pan with a spatula and slide onto a rack to cool slightly. Cut into pieces and serve warm or at room temperature.
Adapted from Epicurious