Why haven’t I written anything for over a week? I’ve been crazy busy with working on the basement, playing music, but mostly cooking. And those are all things that make me feel good.
The basement is close to finished. An electrician is adding dimmers to the lights on Friday so I don’t have to look up from the floor or a machine into a glare. After consultations with people who should know, I am leaving the ceiling alone with its beams and ducts and returning the 12 queen size blue sheets to Target.
At yesterday’s piano group I played 3 pieces: a Brahms 4-hand waltz with Lou, a movement of a Bach sonata with Deborah, and a tango of Albeniz by myself. I practiced hard last week in preparation.
But cooking has become my real passion (and time-sink). In addition to finding ways to use the CSA bounty each week, I make a lot of things from scratch that could be so conveniently purchased ready-made. Like yogurt, pickles, dog food, hummus, and bread. It’s my choice to spend my time doing things like soaking and cooking garbanzo beans and kneading dough and waiting for it to rise. But I like the results and find many of those things somewhat therapeutic.
While recently searching through my recipe box, I came across a recipe from my mother for “Five Grain Health Bread,” written in the beautiful handwriting people of her generation had. I don’t recall her ever making it when I lived at home, but with a few tweaks it has become my favorite bread recipe.
Here’s my version of it:
Five Grain Health Bread
1 tablespoon yeast
2-3/4 cups warm water (around 110 degrees F.)
1/3 cup honey
1/3 cup canola oil
1-1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1-1/2 cups rye flour
1/2 cup oats
1/2 cup cornmeal
5 cups (white) bread flour
2 teaspoons salt
3/4 cup milk powder
1 egg mixed with a little water
Mixture of seeds/grains for topping: oats, flax, sesame
In a very large bowl, soak yeast, honey, and oil in the lukewarm water for 10-15 minutes. Then add the remaining ingredients except 3 cups of the white flour in order and stir 50 times. Cover and let rise until doubled (about 2 hours). (I put a heated skillet in my electric oven with the rising bread. It gives off just enough warmth to grow the yeast.) Sprinkle kneading surface with 1-1/2 cups of the remaining white flour. Turn punched down dough onto it and knead flour in. Knead in the rest of the flour until dough is pliable (about 250 times). Divide dough into 3 parts. Shape into loaves and put in greased bread pans. Brush egg wash on tops of loaves. Sprinkle liberally with seed/grain mixture. Let rise until doubled (about 1 hour). Bake at 400 degrees for 15 minutes (take bread out of the oven while oven is heating). Reduce heat to 350 degrees and bake 25-30 minutes longer. Remove from oven and let cool on a rack until loaves can be easily removed from pan. For convenience, slice and freeze in serving-size portions.
Beware: If you make this even once, you may decide to give up commercial bread and spend time making your own!
How do you choose to spend your time?