Category Archives: bread

Slow food and other good things.

Sunday was a long and stimulating day for me, with church, the symphony right afterward, and going out to dinner with my goddaughter for her birthday. I was a long time winding down when I finally got home, and stayed up till midnight. That usually bodes ill for the next day, but today has been very satisfying so far. I took a walk, made soup, got my sourdough sponge on to the next stage, wrote a letter, and watched the birds for a while.

In addition to the hummingbird feeder I’ve got two feeders supplied with black oil sunflower seeds. This morning two dozen finches (house and gold), chickadees, sparrows and juncos were flitting back and forth from one to another and to the fountain. When a pair of fat robins landed on the fountain I did a double-take, startled at their size after seeing so many little birds day after day.

On my walk I took a loop through the park where we used to attend the homeschool park days (they continue), and noticed for the first time two species of abutilon, though they are big bushes that have obviously been around for years. All of the plant pictures here are from my walk.

 

This time I didn’t add any regular yeast to the Swedish Sourdough Rye, and I’m baking it all in pans. That’s how I used to do it in yesteryear, and it worked for me back then. I don’t have any patience with my fancy Dutch oven boules right now, and want some tidy slices for the toaster. I divided the sloppy dough into small, medium and large lumps and poured them into greased loaf pans, small, medium and large. At the moment they are rising like the very Slow Food that they are, and I’m counting on them being out of the oven before bedtime — not talking about midnight this time!

Cozy and Baking

I got on a roll today in the kitchen, and made a huge happy mess. I really don’t mind cleaning up a kitchen – I especially like it when someone is cooking and I can just do the dishwashing for them. If I could be two people, I could cook up a storm as one GJ, and the other of me would gladly wash and dry and wipe counters. Doing all the jobs is complicated. I won’t get to bed early tonight!


And I won’t have time to tell you about everything I cooked. Just the bread, for which I give credit to Jody. I read her blog post about sourdough baking, and it stirred again in me the urge to bake some chewy loaf and fill the house with that amazing aroma.

I glanced at the clock and saw that I had just enough time to start and complete a bread project before bedtime, so I jumped up and opened the freezer, scooped some yeast into a bowl and started pulling out of my memory the beginnings of a batch that would make two loaves.

 

Eventually I ended up with a potato-rye sponge, and after it rose a few minutes I added enough wheat flour and other goodies to make a stretchy dough that rose further in front of the wood stove. I was using Giusto’s Pumpernickel Rye flour.

A couple of years ago Soldier son gave me a pizza stone and I remembered just in time to get it out of the cupboard and use it to give the loaves an even chewier crust. They turned out so big, I think three round loaves might have been even nicer.


Because of the kitchen mess I ran out of time to post the photos of everything I made, and I’m not even getting all the cleanup done. But I did take time to slice off the heel of one loaf and try it out. Success!

Tomorrow I’ll have to revisit the world of sourdough, too.

Happy Marketing

 

The only task I was determined to complete today was a shopping trip to a grocery store in the next town. The establishment is combination of neighborhood grocery, natural food store, and international market, and the kind of store I go into with a list of five items (like today) and after exploring and discovering up and down the aisles I leave with two big bags full of good finds. Oh, they also have a gift shop in one corner! I could spend an hour right there, browsing for the gift I wish I’d been diligent to make myself.


As I wheeled my cart in the door I was already fairly elated, having just encountered the budding vine outside — and that was after I had brilliantly noticed the jewelry store next door and got my watch battery replaced. I’d been carrying it around in my purse for a couple of months — surprising how much lighter I felt, getting it back on my wrist instead.

Maybe I was so smart, and elated, partly because of all the caffeine I’d been imbibing on my morning off from the gym. Besides the shopping trip, I did have in the back of my mind the idea of thoroughly vacuuming several rooms in the house. The day’s not over, so who can tell….

My favorite place to shop carries items that I can’t get any longer at Trader Joe’s (Ezekiel 4:9 bread) or other grocery stores (Roastaroma tea) and some standard items at great discount (obscure brands of olive oil). And, I admit, some just plain weird things.

I often get bogged down in the kitchen aisle, looking at cute European utensils including my downfall, knives. This time I paid $2 for the tea strainer to replace our old one that is all mangled and rusty.

I had even been sharp enough to remember to bring in my reusable shopping bags. It does seem to me that the checkers at this store are a little less warm when I don’t. It all comes of living in the kind of place where people take their Wine Country Vacations.

Another thing I like about my market is that they never have tacky holiday displays. Today I didn’t notice the window until I had loaded my bags and was back in my car. So I got out again to mark the advent of spring behind the cigarettes. Happy March!

Bread with Sorghum

I made some more bread this week. The bread pans and dough hook were still in hiding, but I enjoyed the kneading, and the free-form loaves do look more rustic, even if they are a bit problematic for B. when making his lunch in the mornings.

This time I used a lot less oil and sugar, and for flour I added some oat and sorghum to the mix. Sorghum? I picked up a small bag of the stuff somewhere, sometime, toward the goal of always-increasing variety in the diet. I didn’t really know where sorghum comes from, but while the dough was rising I read on the bag that it is a grain. This morning I read more about it online and find that it has been used for a long time by humans, more in other parts of the world than here in the U.S., but is gaining popularity here, too.

When it was time to put the loaves into the oven I quickly tried to think of what styles of decorative cuttings I’d seen on commercial artisan breads, but it was too late to do a good job of being creative in that department. So far, my experiment shows that the simple and traditional architecture is nicer.

I have a dear friend N. who is about my age. Neither of us gets to make bread the way we used to 20 or 30 years ago, when The Tassajara Bread Book was one of our bread bibles. Tonight I talked with her on the phone and told her about making bread twice in one week. She was surprised, and said, “You must be avoiding something you should be doing instead.”

That’s one way of seeing it, and how wonderful to have a friend who understands me! Another aspect of the phenomenon is that breadmaking is a relatively small and particular task that I know how to do. None of the little decisions about how closely to follow the recipe comes with very many options, and if the whole batch is ruined for some reason it wouldn’t have much consequence. Baking a loaf or two of bread takes only a few hours, and makes me feel homey, useful, and accomplished.

The tasks I am “avoiding,” on the other hand, consist of three whole rooms, each of which will require at least a day’s worth of work, consisting of one hard decision after another about whether to keep one item or who among my friends, or among thrift shops, might want  another one. If I keep it, how will I store it so I can find it? Etc. Everyone knows how that works.

Now how did I end up talking about sorting junk when I started with homemade bread? The subject is like the clutter itself, creeping in when you are busy doing doing good work. This next week is my chance to tackle one of those rooms, where I hope to lodge a wedding guest if I can clear off the bed. And this afternoon I found both my dough hook and my loaf pans, so it’s even possible I might be inspired to make bread again, too.