Off the Subject

We will have the first chapter done in a couple of days and will let you know as we upload the video version to Youtube. In the meantime, the below has absolutely nothing to do with the topic of recent days OR the goal of this blog, but I was asked, so here is the recipe for healthy bread. MMMmmm I can smell it now. Almost done.

I tell you what, I got real tired of paying an arm and a leg for breakfast cereal that is full of sugar and other odd things, and besides I must use my oven from time to time or the mice build nests in it, so we are addressing several problems here. I’m pretty sure it’s more energy efficient to use the oven once in a while than to have to throw it away because of roasted mice. No reason you couldn’t cook the rest of the week’s meals at the same time – just use it once a week or so.

This bread is very good with cheese and maybe a leaf off the dock plant outside the back door, and a tomato slice if available. It also handles peanut butter and jelly well, with a glass of milk.

Get all your stuff at the health food store, especially the corn meal. Don’t use some other kind of ground up corn. It doesn’t taste as good, but of course if you have something that needs to be used up you should do that.

Corn meal
Oats (quick cook is good, but today I’m using something out of a bin that probably is not quick cook)
Whole wheat flour
Unbleached white flour
Butter or oil, about half a cup but it works with none or more.
Something with sugar in it (I use the juice from canned peaches, usually, or jam or honey or whatever) (FYI, sugar is any substance with a chemical formula of C6H12O6 — that is carbon hydrogen and oxygen plus energy bonds — or several variations on that theme. It is basically anything that tastes sweet. Sugar has nothing to do with whether it is found in honey or jam or marmalade. Ultimately the sugar was built during photosynthesis in plants, using light energy from the sun. The carbon, hydrogen and oxygen are bonded together in a process in the plant cells that uses energy from the sun to make chemical energy that basically holds the molecule together. Chemical energy of this sort, made by plants, is the only source of energy for animals on this planet, and nobody can grow or even exist without energy, so be kind to the plants. They are much more important to your welfare than the oven. And the rest of the story is that the yeast breaks apart the sugar molecule and captures the chemical energy so it can grow more little yeast molecules and – skipping a few steps – that makes the bread rise.

1 tablespoon salt
3 cups of liquid (not counting the oil)
Leave all this stuff out of the refrigerator over night.
Start in the morning, sometimes it is slow to rise.

Take half a cup of water with something sugary in it (not the peach juice) and flick in two packets of yeast. I have found that Fleischmann’s always works, which is not true of the “organically grown” yeast even thought it is four times the price, so I use the former. I suspect the billions of little yeastlets that grow from it are probably not afflicted with anything. While that is getting bubbly, (you can mix it up or not, or mix it later if it’s in globs), you prepare the rest of the liquid things; that is, the oil or melted butter, whatever other sweet things you want, and the salt, all in a smallish bowl.

Then you get a biggish bowl and put in ½ cup of corn meal, ½ cup of oats, 1 cup of whole wheat flour (or up to two if you want) and stir it up and wait till the yeast is ready. When it is, you pour it into the bowl with the other liquids, and I have found the easiest thing at this point is to use a mixer set on low to stir it all up so it is well mixed. But you can stir with a spoon, I did that for a long time. Then you dump it into the dry ingredients and stir with a spoon until well mixed, and add maybe one or two cups (not too much, it will depend on what’s already in the mix) of unbleached flour. Keep stirring, you should not be kneading, if you can’t stir you put in too much unbleached flour. But it should be almost too stiff to stir.

For kneading, I like to put it on a towel, so I can just wash the towel at the end, but some people have shiny kitchens with running water and no fire ants, and for them I would say use the metal counter top or one of those plastic boards. Wooden boards are hard to clean. So, having decided where to do the operation, you should spread out at least another cup of unbleached flour on that spot, get flour on your hands, dump the bread upside down in the flour and knead. Not too long and not too little. If your hands get sticky put them in the flour or get more flour. About the time your hands stop getting sticky is probably long enough if you did a proper knead (fold and push, fold and push, etc.)

Now you put it back in one of the bowls and let it rise with a loose cover over it, a towel or a damp paper towel (if you use paper towels, shame on you). After it has doubled, punch it down, turn it over, (optional-and let it rise again). Again after it has doubled, divide it in two (these will be smallish loaves; they seem to cook better). Put it in prepared bread loaf pans

I like it baked at 325o for just a weeeny bit shy of done, which is usually about half an hour, mostly you tell by how it smells. If you bake it too long it gets dry; if it’s too dry try using butter instead of oil.

If anything bad happens after the stage where all ingredients are combined it’s no biggie. This bread tastes good raw or cooked, fluffy or fallen or even brick hard, though that would be rare unless you forget to set the timer.