A Few Recipes, Thoughts, and a Couple Cartoons

100% Whole Wheat Bread

I've been playing around with a variation (simplification) of Peter Reinhart's whole grain bread recipe. I find the idea of home made bread being made without too much fuss and it not occupying your time and thoughts very interesting. I much rather incorporate it into the rhythm of my day. Many of my breads, for example, I'll start the sponge before bed or before I go to work, and then mix the dough hours later, either retarding it in the refrigerator or baking it straight away. With this cold snap we're experiencing in the northeast a refrigerator isn't necessary...the rear of my house (where my kitchen is located) 9is like a refrigerator. I had to bring the bread to my living room and warm it next to the wood stove to speed the fermentation process. Anyhow, here's my method, and it came out pretty good.

If I recall correctly Peter Reinhart uses milk or butter or yogurt in his dough (I may be wrong...I haven't looked at the book for a while), at any rate, I used a straight-dough recipe, or one without fat (ok, I used a little olive oil). The thing that is key I think, and this is something that I picked up from Peter's book, is that when making bread with 100% whole wheat flour it is essential to soak the flour before mixing the dough.

In the bowl on the left is a sponge with 2 cups of w.w. flour, a little yeast, and 2/3 cups of water; the mixing bowl on the right contains 4 cups of w.w. flour, 1 1/3 cups water, a little salt, and a tablespoon of olive oil (no yeast). I let these sit overnight. In the morning I dissolved a little more yeast in about a quarter cup water (the small container with the spoon in it).

Then I mixed them together, first in the electric mixer then by hand, and mad the dough.

Realizing the coldness in my kitchen (something like 45F), and not having the time to allow for a 12-hour rise, I sped up the process by warming the dough on a stool next to my wood burning stove. I had it covered (of course), but the real challenge was keeping my two dogs away from it.

I divided the bread into three loaves, let it rise again (this time in the kitchen...which was a bit warmer because I was preheating the oven). The outcome was awesome.

Remnants of Summer:

Then I found myself in a quandary...here I had these 3 beautiful loaves of bread, and I knew that I'd never eat them before they went stale. I gave one away, sliced into one, but still didn't have enough room in my teeny freezer for the remaining loaf. In order to fit the loaf in the freezer I had to take some stuff out. And if I were to take some stuff out I knew that I had to cook it...so I made dinner. Actually, I only had to remove a container of broccoli and butternut squash, both of which I grew on my tiny city plot this past summer.

I basically cooked the vegetables aglio e olio style (with garlic and olive oil) and tossed it with pasta. It's a method for which I can cook almost any food, and a flavor I never get tired of. Besides the pasta and chicken broth, here's the basic ingredients I used: squash, broccoli, garlic, and hot peppers.

I sauteed everything in a little olive oil.

Added enough cup or two of chicken broth, and allowed it to cook the vegetables and reduce to concentrate it's flavor.

Then tossed it with whole wheat pasta and Romano cheese

What's up with The Gas Prices?

Really? What is up? Two years ago we were at the very same price for gas per gallon as we are today (in Buffalo). Then we went on a roller coaster ride and we're back where we started. Check out this chart I found at buffalogasprices.com:

Anyhow, I don't care what the price of gas is I still far prefer my bicycle to my gas-powered vehicle. Here's a few cartoons I came across that reflect this sentiment:

Super-Ripe Kim Chi:

Lastly, I had to include a few pictures of my latest batch of kim chi (cabbage and peppers grown in the back yard this past summer). It is by far the best batch I have ever made, and it is literally alive with flavor and probiotics. It has an effervescence the almost sizzles on your tongue. Check out the book and/or website, Wild Fermentation, if you want to learn to make it.