Filed under: food, go green, recipes | Tags: baking, baking your own bread, bread recipe books, bread recipes, easy bread recipe, healthy bread in five minutes a day, mother earth news, naturally nora, sweetish hill bakery, ten grain bread
As a birthday present this past year my mom subscribed me to Mother Earth News. This magazine is like sitting on a rural backporch in 1965 exchanging homemaking secrets with your best friends, who happen to be Rachel Carson, Sacagawea and Laura Ingalls Wilder. The magazine gives you all the information and inspiration you ever needed to live solely off the land. I’m now convinced that not only can I bake my own bread, but I can grow my own wheat, make my own flour, and build my own solar oven to bake the bread in.
I should probably preface the rest of this post with this statement: I don’t really “do” recipes. Save for one thing: baking. Baking requires a certain amount of chemistry knowledge that I just don’t have. Rather than create my own Bunsen burner experiments, I rely upon the tried and tested steps spelled out to me in cookbooks and occasionally on the back of Naturally Nora boxes. This time I followed directions spelled out to me in the December/January issue of Mother Earth News. The article was called “Healthy No-Knead Bread Recipes”, and it promised me that I could bake a loaf of bread by the traditional yeast method quickly, and inexpensively. In fact, they estimated that making your own bread costs just $.40 a loaf. Considering that I usually spend $5-$6 on whole wheat bread from Sweetish Hill Bakery, I thought it might make financial sense to give bread-making a shot.
The simple recipe that I followed below yielded 4 small loaves. The bread is a dense whole wheat and I opted to use a mix of sunflower, flax & sesame seeds on the crust. I am baking without a baking stone, so instead I warmed my cookie sheet for 30 minutes prior to baking, placed the loaf in the bottom 1/3 of the oven, and added a cup of water to my broiler below the racks to create steam. This recipe is from the book, Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day. Based on the success of this recipe I’m looking forward to buying a copy and trying some other recipes!
10 Grain Bread
- 2 cups 10-grain hot cereal (Bob’s Red Mill brand), uncooked
- 3 cups white whole wheat flower (made from wheat varieties with pale, mild-tasting bran layers)
- 2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
- 1-1/2 tbsp (2 packets) granulated yeast
- 1 tbsp kosher salt
- 1/4 cup vital wheat gluten
- 3-1/2 cups lukewarm water
- 1 to 2 tbsp seed mixture for sprinkling on top: sesame, flaxseed, caraway, sunflower, poppy and/or anise
1- Whisk together the cereal, flours, yeast, salt & vital wheat gluten in a 5-quart bowl, or lidded (not airtight) food container.
2- Add the water and mix without kneading, using a spoon, a food processor (w/dough attachment) or a heavy-duty stand mixer (with paddle). You may need to get your hands wet to get the flour to incorporate if not using a machine.
3- Cover (not airtight), and allow the dough to rest at room temperature until it rises and collapses (or flattens on top), approx. 2 hours.
4- The dough can be used immediately after the initial rise, though it is easier to handle when cold. Refrigerate it in a lidded (not airtight) container and use over the next week.
5- On baking day, dust the surface of the refrigerated dough with flour and cut off a 1 lb. (grapefruit size) piece. Dust with more flour and quickly shape it into a ball by stretching the surface of the dough around tot he bottom on all four sides, rotating the ball a quarter-turn as you go.
6- Elongate the ball into an oval. Allow the loafto rest for 90 minutes (40 minutes if you’re using fresh, unrefrigerated dough), covered loosely with plastic wrap, on a pizza peel prepared with cornmeal or lined with parchment paper. Alternatively, you can let the loaf rest on a silicone mat or a greased cookie sheet.
7- Thirty minutes before baking time, preheat the oven to 450 degrees, with a baking stone near the middle rack. Place an empty broiler tray on any other rack.
8- Just before baking, use a pastry brush to paint the top crust with water. Sprinkle with the seed mixture and slash the loaf with 1/4″ deep parallel cuts, using a serrated knife.
9- Slide the loaf directly onto the hot stone (or place the silicone mat or cookie sheet on the stone if you used one). Pour a cup of hot water into the broiler tray, and quickly close the oven door. Bake for about 30 minutes, until richly browned and firm. If you used parchment paper, a silicone mat, or a cookie sheet under the loaf, carefully remove it and bake it directly on the stone or an oven shelf at about 2/3 of the way through the baking time. (smaller or larger loaves will require adjustment in resting and baking time).
10- Allow to cool on a rack before slicing.
Filed under: Heath + Beauty, lifestyle, personal | Tags: alcohol, benefits of sobriety, reducing alcohol consumption, sobriety, wine
Every day since my last sip on Monday night I have wanted to come home and have a glass (or 2 or 3) of red wine. And every day I have succeeded in reminding myself of my goal. My disappointment over not completing the challenge would ruin any enjoyment from having even a sip of wine.
My commitment to completing the week without alcohol began from a desire to start making some sacrifices in my life. I’ve been a bit glutinous in the last year – indulging in food & drink and skipping exercise for no reason other than laziness. After a year of my laissez-faire lifestyle, my body started telling me it wasn’t really up for that sort of behavior anymore. Cutting out alcohol for a week seemed an appropriate first step towards making a change. While I was contemplating the change, I thought back to this time last year and remembered training for the Austin Half Marathon. I remembered that I wasn’t partying as much because I had workouts to complete. I made sure to get enough rest, to eat intelligently, and to drink in moderation. I was consciously taking better care of my body so I could complete my goal. Though I haven’t set any fitness goals yet this year, it seemed natural to mimic those lifestyle choices from a year ago in order to get my body back into a good routine. I refused to have to buy new clothes because of weight gain. No stinkin’ way.
The most surprising discovery from this experiment was how I felt during the business week. I slept SOUNDLY through the night. That never happens. For years I’ve blamed Milo for my restless nights. But now that I realize that it may have been ME keeping HIM up, not the other way around. I was so surprised by this that I did a little research and found that in most cases, even though alcohol is a depressant and can help people initially fall asleep faster, alcohol can be disruptive to the second half of sleep for a variety of reasons. This in addition to the obvious fact that if I’m going to sleep with alcohol in the system, I’m probably going to sleep a lot later than normal. As a result of my restful sleep, I felt energetic and refreshed during the day. Having a clear mind, positive attitude and more energy made my work day much better.
Though I fully intend to celebrate on Tuesday with a glass of wine and a pat on the back, I expect to cork my imbibing for at least one more week. Most likely it will be longer. I see it as a long-term weight and spending reduction plan, and also a way to feel better day in and day out. I have a handful of celebrations coming up that I will make exceptions for (can’t take all the fun out of life), but I hope to find a more moderate, less excessive way to enjoy myself in 2010.
Cheers to those who’ve supported me & to those of you trying to do the same for yourselves!
Filed under: Heath + Beauty, personal | Tags: no alcohol for a week, sobriety
I’ve often threatened to spend a week away from alcohol but it hasn’t happened yet (not purposefully anyway). Because life has stabilized, because I have begun to right my exercise wrongs, because I’d love to cut some unnecessary calories from my diet, and unneccessary spending out of my budget and because I don’t have any alcohol-exclusive events planned this week, I’ve decided to start an experiment today: no alcohol for a week.
There is one small caveat to this experiment. I opened a wonderful bottle of Red Bicyclette pinot noir Saturday night and have about 1/2 a glass left to sip, which I am most certainly going to do tonight. So technically, the week will begin tomorrow. (And so the procrastination begins. No no no, I’m kidding. I’m sticking to my guns on this one!)
As I make my way through the week I’ll be updating here to log my journey, and hold myself accountable to my decision. I’m also using the opportunity to look a little harder into the long-term affects of alcohol on the body. While I am super health-conscious in other aspects of my life, the negative affects of imbibing were always pretty easy to ignorantly overlook. With any luck this experiment will lead to positive change in body & budget!