Wonder(ful) bread

We may, on occasion, take things to extremes here in the Green Life household.  On Sunday, I biked to church, and a fellow parishioner commented on my “extreme cycling.”  Perfectly dry pavement, no precipitation on the radar, and almost 32° F?  NOT extreme, especially not with the help of my trusty balaclava and super-warm mittens.  Sometimes one person’s extreme is another person’s normal.

So, bread.  We’ve been making our own bread for quite awhile now, but our neighbors inspired us to branch out a bit.  First, we borrowed their Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day cookbook.  Good concept, but lacking our beloved whole grains.  This led us to the follow-up Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day, which had a couple of recipes that seemed close, but not quite right, due to the presence of some white flour.  Surely we could make a great, basic whole wheat bread with 100% whole wheat!Continue reading “Wonder(ful) bread”

Bread & tomatoes, illness on the side

Sick + Writer’s block + Entertaining + Tiring week at work (last week) = not much blogging around this place.

While I have a relatively high pain tolerance, I don’t do sick well.  This has been the kind of mildly sick where I’m still able to function, albeit at a slightly reduced level.

Saturday night I passed out on the couch at some early hour, abandoning Matthew to start the bread making on his own.  This resulted in a new note on our whole wheat bread recipe: “Do not start at 9 o’clock at night.”  Even though he was only getting the dough together so it could have a long first rise on our cool back porch overnight, he didn’t make it to bed until after midnight.  (I moved from the couch to the bed sometime before then, pausing only to brush my teeth, no energy for flossing or neti-ing.)

Sadly, the bread did not turn out as well as it has in the past.  Still good, just not the “We should open a bakery and sell this for $5 a loaf” quality that we were expecting.  The bread served as the base for some very-late-season Caprese Salad Sandwiches last night.

We’re slowly working our way through the last of the garden tomatoes.  We (and by we, I pretty much mean Matthew’s mom) harvested a boatload of tomatoes a few weeks back and they’ve been slowly ripening (as well as slowly rotting, in a few unfortunate cases) in boxes in our living room ever since.

A few of the things that we’ve done with the tomatoes:

  • Roasted tomatoes
  • Tomato sauce (we need to make more)
  • Tomato tart (the crust has some serious butter)
  • Pizzas
  • And, of course, the Caprese Salad Sandwiches

My usual recourse for ripening tomatoes (and other unripe fruit) is a paper bag, but we had way too many tomatoes for that.  Instead, we set the tomatoes in single layers in cardboard boxes and covered them with newspaper — fast to arrange and easy to keep an eye on them.

Wood and wheat

Every time I look at other apartments, our wood floors lure me back.  Today, I dug in and gave them a much-needed cleaning.  We sweep them pretty regularly, but cleaning the floor is one of those things, like making the bed and showering, that give me pause, because as soon as I clean it, it’s just going to get dirty again.  (I definitely recommend that you NOT clean the floors before company comes, because large numbers of people tramping in are a surefire way to dirty the floor quickly.)

I started with a thorough sweeping, supplemented with a bit of vacuuming for the hard to reach spots.  No carpet means easy, usually electricity free, cleaning.  I even swept the stairs — no sense leaving them with dirt to track onto the clean floors.

Next came a bucket with a bit of cleaner and water.  I used Biokleen All Purpose Cleaner.  (I’m sure there are some great homemade green cleaner recipes out there — anyone want to share?)  The trick is to make a pretty dilute solution.  You don’t want it soapy, or you’ll have to go back over the floors with water.  I prefer a single pass.

While I was on my hands and knees washing the floor, my bread sat on the sidelines, rising.  Two 100% whole wheat plus* loaves that don’t look like doorstops = success.

Clean enough to eat off of, if you like that sort of thing 😉

*I started with this basic 100% whole wheat bread recipe that makes two loaves.  I experimented by adding wheat berries, millet, steel cut oats, sunflower seeds, coarse corn meal, sesame seeds, and poppy seeds.  These additions totaled no more than a combined 3/4 of a cup for the two-loaf recipe.  The trick with the seeds and grains is using a presoak.  I soaked the millet and wheat berries overnight.  I soaked all of the other goodies for about an hour, starting with boiling water.