I realize that this is not a food blog. For a couple of days I’ve been trying to figure out how I can justify the post I’m about to write. I think I’ve got it:
Without food we die. If we’re dead, we can’t do art.
Too far? Well, how about this: We all need simplicity in our lives. I always believed that in order to really be a cook you had to make everything from scratch. If you didn’t, well, it was cheating. But most of us just don’t have that kind of time. Between work and trying to carve out creative time, we need to be able to simplify somewhere. Simplify, but not compromise on health, so I’m not suggesting awful junk or take-out food with crazy additives like MSG and preservatives. I’m talking about near instant gratification food or do-art-while-it-cooks kind of food.
I often do things or come up with ideas that make my husband’s eyebrows rise at a precipitous angle. To his credit he rarely outright shoots me down, usually giving me the benefit of the doubt. For instance, the crock-pot I decided we needed. Since I was feeling some resentment at having to cook at the end of the day when we were both tired, I framed the idea of a crock-pot as “marriage saver”. I could load the thing when I had energy and time in the morning, and at the end of the day all both of us would have to do is serve and eat. It was genius and we are both fans.
Well…when I enthusiastically came home from the thrift store with a “barely used” Williams-Sonoma bread maker, sans operation manual, cradled in my arms the eyebrow reached their greatest heights yet.
I’m happy to report that we are at 7 loaves and counting and the eyebrows are now at rest. The one problem we do have is trying to resist making a loaf everyday and becoming insatiable carb snarfling beasts. Fresh, hot bread and butter…there’s just nothing much better than that!
I wanted to share with you the simplicity of this thing. As I mentioned, no manual came with the used bread maker nor a recipe book. There are recipes on-line in abundance. You just need to know whether your maker does 1 lb, 1.5 lb or 2 lb loaves. The actual machine is simple, a few button pushing experiments and you are on your way.
Here is an awesome French bread recipe – it’s white, so shouldn’t be the only type of bread you eat, but its mighty tastey (you can make a brown loaf right after this one!) and unlike store-bought, it does not contain mystery ingredients:
11-13 ounces water (I split it and do 12 oz)
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 1/2 tablespoons vegetable oil (quick tip: 1/2 a tablespoon is 1 and 1/2 teaspoons)
4 cups bread flour (there’s an actual difference between bread flour and regular flour flour)
1 teaspoon sugar ( I use brown or raw)
2 teaspoons active dry yeast (for some reason packets come containing 2 1/4 teaspoons, so I just toss the whole thing in – keep it simple, right!)
Most important to know is that you must put ingredients in the bucket in the order that it is listed. Ingredients are specifically measured to react in a predictable way (water and yeast should not touch…not yet anyway).
Then you just press buttons until “french bread” is selected, which will take approx 3.5 hours, and press “start”.
Now off you go to take care of other things, like creating a masterpiece in your art studio.
Now, when it finally beeps to let you know it’s ready, don’t go leaping to open that thing up with your bare hands. Take it from me – it is stinkin’ hot! Pleeeaaase use mitts. You need to take it in both mittened hands and shake it out of the bin. Even that little handle is hot – somehow my lip and that thing made contact and it was PAIN- FUL.
And I’ll leave you with this last suggestion:
If you are a lactard like myself and cannot enjoy dairy like some lucky folks can, or if you want a forray away from that which is strictly bovine, try this:
Plain, soy ice cream. (In California we have an awesome grocery chain called Trader Joe’s that carries this stuff. Unfortunately for my Canadian friends you will have to find it elsewhere. I choose soy based rather than rice based because of its nutty flavour.)
And a handful of raw almonds roughly chopped.
Put a few scoops into your favourite bowl, throw the almonds on top and enjoy. Couldn’t be more simple, but the nutty flavour of both ingredients is what makes it so great. Plus the chill of the ice cream paired with the crunch of the almonds-pure joy!
Keep it simple
and keep creating!
Let me leave you with a true, dedicated foodie food blog by my friend Brittany: www.butterlemonsalt.wordpress.com