Saturday, May 31, 2008

Trying Different Breads

With the wealth of excellent blogs and other websites out here, I've run across so many recipes I want to try. I'm always interested in recipes that are tried-and-true and are a "backbone" recipe of the family table. There are just so many good ones out here, I often get overwhelmed by the sheer number of possibilities, and procrastinate long enough that come dinner time we're back at square one again.

I'm overweight and don't need to be eating a lot of bread. Nevertheless, our approach to eating is never going to be all-or-nothing. I've found that we've needed to purchase a loaf or two of bread for this and that lately, and every time I put a storebought loaf into the shopping cart these days, I think to myself how I could have just as easily used ingredients I already have in the pantry to make a far more satisfying sort.

This always reminds me of my paternal grandmother, who home-made EVERYthing on her table, and fed her family a full meal three times a a manner rarely seen in any family I've ever met. I cannot aspire to that amount of committment because our days share far more demands than that would accomodate...and we simply don't need to eat those sorts of quantities. In the words of Mary Poppins, and in the spirit of eating wholesome home-grown foods in season, "enough is as good as a feast." It's a lesson I'm still striving to learn.

Reducing quantity and keeping quality is part of our goal of simplifying our meals, but I do aim to have them be overall much more satisfying, as we phase out the eating out and all processed foods. We're not there yet, but we're farther there now than we've ever been before. Awareness has been the first step, necessity is the taskmaster, and the satisfaction of it being better nutritionally and budget-wise is the motivation.

Presently, we're eating down our pantry goods, and this includes the white flour. The eventual goals is to incorporate more non-gluten flours, and when using the gluten sort, to learn to ferment them (sourdoughs, etc) and sprouting some of them...but for sure to grind the flours fresh at home. Like I said, it's a series of goals to shoot for, and we're not set up for it just yet, but are headed that direction.

The recipe I chose this weekend, because it looks delicious and basic and would incorporate ingredients I have on hand, is from Susan at Farmgirl Fare. I had seen pictures on her site, but the recipe was not available until the Year In Bread collaborative series was posted. Here it's her delicious Farmhouse White. It looks very much like the homemade bread my grandmother had on hand in some form every time the table was set. There was nothing as good as her food!

I'm a novice bread baker, and this was very easy recipe to attempt. The one mistake I made was in not adding the full amount of salt, and so mine turned out not nearly like it would have had I not forgotten this important ingredient. But it's still so good, it's not lasting long!

There are countless other recipes floating around out here in the blog-o-sphere that look very basic and delicious. I'm glad I tried this one, and I'd love to know some other of the most trusty and cherished bread recipes that are the backbone of YOUR family's meals...anyone care to share? I'm going to slowly try different ones so that some day I'll never go to the store again for bread at all...and it's so much more fun knowing recipes come from like-minded friends :)

What's your favorite bread recipe? You may have already written about it...if so, I'd love if you'd share the link! If you do, I'll to post it for everyone to try :)


ilex said...

I am allergic to wheat. I was diagnosed when I was 32 after being really sick for about 3 years. Bread, as most folks know it, is off my menu (and I still really miss it). But, a few months ago I started buying a sourdough spelt loaf from a farmer at our farmer's market. It's incredibly delicious- the sourdough gives it just enough ummph and makes up for the lack of gluten. Next weekend, I'm going to this farmer's spring bonfire party at his farm; I'm going to corner his wife and ask her how she figured this recipe out!

TOCCO said...

I love to make breads. It required a time commitment that I just don't have now! That is our goal. To be self sustaining in all our foods. But it is a process! Good Luck!

Farmgirl Susan said...

Your bread is beautiful! I'm so glad you had such delicious success with my recipe! : )

tina f. said...

It's so funny you mention not putting enough salt in Susan's farmhouse white bread recipe. When I made it it seemed too salty to me, but still quite delicious. The next time I added less salt and it was better (to me). On the other hand, however, when my sister makes feta she makes two batches, one saltier version for her and one less salty for me. Her salty version is inedible (to me). The really funny thing? I love salt! Here's one way I used the bread:

Robbyn said...

Ilex, that sourdough spelt sounds really good. Finding some gluten-free greats is on my list because my sister was recently diagnosed with Celiac syndrome, and wheat really messes her up. I suspect finding some great recipes along those lines would benefit my household as well, since we're looking more and more into anti-fungal foods in conjunction with losing weight naturally and trying to have a better balance with types of food, not overloading our systems with disproportionate amounts of irritants. I'd love to incorporate a broader range of new-to-me fermented foods and such. I hope you can persuade your farmer gal friend to share some of her insights!

Christina, I'm trying to make things as much as I can right now with more time at home (I'm between jobs again!), but yes, I don't enjoy rushing baking, ever. It seems so easy when I can do it if my day is at home, but when I'm gone 8 or 10 hours a day, it seems daunting. Thanks for the encouragement!

Susan, thanks! your site was one of the very first "homesteading" sites I ever visited, and I'm still a regular :) I admired your mouthwatering pics of the Farmhouse White and longed for you to post the recipe...Imagine my delight when the Year in Bread finally brought that day to fruition, yay!! Your instructions really helped me with a lot of the unknowns, though I still have to get the hang of how the dough is supposed to feel at particular stages, and how long to let it rise. They turned out beautifully despite my amateur attempt, so kudos for the great recipe, instructions and for sharing them so folks like me can have the satisfaction of my family lining up at the oven door and making short work of the end result! :)

Tina, I used about half of the salt, because it's added at a certain stage, kneaded in, and the rest of the salt added. I forgot the second addition of the salt, oops! And I had measured by hand rather than measuring spoon, so then I was afraid I'd be making a too-salty loaf. I opted for risking it being not quite salty enough...which is how it turned out. Nevertheless, it's yummy! I checked out your link and oh, the tomatoes...the perfect pairing! Your sandwich with the pesto looks terrific...we'd have to omit the bacon because we don't eat pork, but there are other things we could substitute; how can you go wrong with homemade bread, pesto and thick juicy homegrown tomatoes? I think I could eat that every meal! Thanks for sharing the link :)

Country Girl said...

There is a wealth of info on the www. I especially love what I learn from others blogs. There are just so many , it is hard to keep up! I too have a goal reducing processed and store bought foods. It is a good goal and we are just in the beginnings of our adventure. I have little experience with bread making except for with my bread machine but I someday would like to bake a good loaf of homemade bread.

Robbyn said...

Country girl, I used to own a breadmaker many moons ago, and loved the fact I could put the ingredients right in and it would cycle through. What I did was take it out before the baking stage, form it into loaves in loaf pans, let it rise however long it took to look nice and rounded, and pop it into the oven! Voila...homemade bread! In my opinion (and you know I'm opinionated, lol!) however the process works, if the end result was made by YOU, it's homemade whether it's made in the machine or in the oven :)

Anonymous said...

This is my favorite bread recipe, although it does contain wheat:

Oatmeal Wheat Bread

fellow Floridian

Farmgirl_dk: said...

Oh Robbyn...yummm. I so love bread. That picture makes my mouth water. I tried a Farmgirl Susan bread recipe once (I think it was the beer one) but it wasn't nearly as yummy as the picture made it appear. Of course, this could totally have been the baker's (me) issue. :-) But I will definitely try this one. Mmmmm!!