Mushy… and a Surprise

I would be remiss not to wish you all a very wonderful Valentine’s Day first of all. I don’t get all hallmarky over it like some, but I also don’t subscribe to the “singles appreciation day” that some do. I’m just some sort of a middle ground guy. Hey, I’m like Mitt Romney when he ran for governor. Oh wait, he wasn’t even that moderate, shit. Well… I’m not going to do a complete 180 like that.

Valentines day is fine. It’s a bit overrated. And heck, I feel this way now that I’m in a relationship, and I did before when I was single. It’s all the same. But I’ll take an excuse for some bubbly and chocolate. Bring it.

Before I get to what’s going on in Shaw tonight, let’s talk about my mush. No, not my being overly mushy (I can’t make any promises after champagne), but rather the mush that my hands were shoved in the other night…

I saw this crazy feature on the local news the other night about “money saving tips.” If you’ve ever watched local news, I’m sure you’ve seen something similar. But one idea stood out and I thought I would challenge myself with it: stop buying store bought bread. Like every other chump, I normally spend about $4 a loaf for multi-grain, high-protein, high fructose corn syrup-less loaves. And I have no regrets about being picky, but why not do it myself? I mean, there is nothing like warm bread anyway.

So I did just that. I decided to go for a whole-wheat, seeded bread, giving myself the fiber and whole wheat that I would be getting out of the store version, just with the goal of doing it cheaper. Bob’s Red Mill served as a great starting point, especially since I’m basically entering virgin territory in the bread baking world.

My adapted recipe…

  • 2t or 1 packet of active dry yeast
  • 2 T honey
  • 2 T oil
  • 2 cups unbleached flour
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1-1/2 t salt
  • 1/2 cup flaxseeds
  • 4 T shelled sunflower seeds
  • 1-1/4 cups warm water
  1. Add honey, yeast and warm water in mixing cup and let proof for 5 minutes
  2. In a mixing bowl combine flours, salt and seeds and mix
  3. Once yeast has proofed, add oil mixture
  4. Add to flour mixture
  5. Mix by hand or in mixer with bread hook
  6. Once fully mixed, remove from bowl and place dough ball on floured surface
  7. Knead vigorously for 5-8 minutes
  8. Place dough in oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap for 45 minutes, or until doubled
  9. Punch down loaf and then place in oiled loaf pan and let rise for another 30 minutes or until doubled
  10. With about 10 minutes to go, pre-heat oven to 375
  11. Once doubled, place in oven for 40-45 minutes
  12. Remove from pan, let cool slightly then slice

So I started out by proofing the yeast

Then once the yeast proofed, I added it to the dry ingredients and created the dough

And the kneading began...

After the kneading and resting and rising, the loaf is ready for the oven

The beautiful, golden (yet partially lopsided) loaf

There's nothing like a slice of fresh from the oven bread

So a few lessons learned. Firstly, I need to work on my loaf-shaping technique. And secondly, I need to invest in an industrial bread slicer. I swear, no matter what knife I use, how much patience I exhibit, or how cat-like my focus is, my slices are never as perfect as I’d like. One day.

But the really good news? The bread is delicious. So good! And the even better news?….

The total loaf cost me $2.31 to make. I know I can make it a bit cheaper if I wanted to as well, but this has a handful of organic ingredients and the like. But heck, it’s STILL nearly 1/2 the price of store-bought stuff. And let’s face it, the only thing the store-bought has on me is the perfect slices.

So you’re wondering about that surprise I mentioned in the title, right? Well here it is. When Gabe and I talked about how we wanted to celebrate/not celebrate today. I suggested a nicer than usual (so something nicer than Trader Joe’s) wine and maybe a fancier dish than normal. But someone decided to get a bit more creative.

Being true to his Mexican roots, Gabe decided that he is going to be taking over the kitchen and surprising me with a dinner instead! 

So to commemorate this monumental moment, this guy is going to not only be taking the reigns in my our kitchen, but also coming to you as a contributor on this blog. Now stay tuned, because I hear he makes a mean Tex-Mex dinner (we’ve been dating for 2 years and I still don’t have proof).

Look out for his south of the border post coming atchya sometime Wednesday… unless he tries to poison me that is.

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