This is the last guest poster while I am whooping it up at BlogHer. Actually, today I am packing up all of my swag and spending some much needed quality time with my family before we jump on a train and head East towards home.
Anyway, this wonderful blogger is Astacia from Life on the Run. Okay, I'm going to shut up now and let you read.
I read Michael Pollan's In Defense of Food, this past winter. His words solidified my fears about conventional food. His rule on “If You Can't Say It Don't Eat” is my grocery mantra. We gave up packaged foods about two years ago. I should correct that and say most packaged foods.
We were eating a loaf every two days. I was buying 4-6 loaves every grocery shopping trip. I tried to stick with whole grain, no HFCS varieties. Then I looked at their ingredient labels. All of them had a long list of unpronounceable substances. There was no way I could remove bread from our diet. My kids would shrivel up before the end of the day. I needed a worthy substitute.
For years, I had been telling my friends “I cook but I don't bake.” To me, baking required precision and dedication. I could handles cookies but “baking from scratch” sent shivers down my spine. My soufflés collapsed, my pie crusts were dry, my cakes didn't rise.
Everytime I bought a loaf of bread at the store I cringed. I knew I could do better. I gave in to the nagging on my weekly trip to the Goodwill. There was a Mr. Coffee bread machine with instruction manual for $7.99. the directions seemed simple. The ingredient list was small. So I took it home.
My first loaf was a hit. It used the basic recipe and my husband and kids devoured it. The smell of baking bread is addicting. Not all of my loaves were successful. I have learned that baking bread is an art form much like cooking. It does not require the attention to detail that I thought I did. It turns out that baking one loaf at a time is simple. There are four ingredients for a basic loaf (flour, water, yeast and salt) and then you can experiment from there. No tiptoeing around the kitchen. No proofing of yeast or hours of kneading.
It has taken six months of baking two or three days per week for me to hit my stride. Now I have a solid routine. First, I put the ingredients in the machine according to the manufacturer's instructions. Then I set it on he dough cycle. I have discovered than I like to finish my bread in the oven. I set my timer for one hour. That's 30 minutes of mixing and then a 30 minute rise in the machine. When the timer rings, I pull out the dough, knead out the large bubbles on a floured board. I place the dough into a large loaf pan and rise it on my preheated oven for 30 minutes and toss it in the oven. 25-30 minutes later we have fresh bread.
Yummm...thanks, Astacia! Tomorrow, I'll totally dish all about BlogHer for all of you!