Wednesday, July 28, 2010


In the midst of all this crazy limited-diet business I've gotten to thinking about the types of food we eat as a family, and have been considering ways to improve on all of it. From a nutrition standpoint, we are pretty balanced eaters, and we have the good genes and youth that make the occasional package of Oreos (consumed by two people in two days) not matter a whole lot. Like most people I know I'm starting to buy organic foods when I have the option, and trying to fit more fruit and vegetables of all kinds into our meals.

But my month of reading EVERY ingredient on food labels has had me thinking that packaged, processed food needs to find its way out of our kitchen. My best example of this is bread. It is difficult to find a loaf of bread in the grocery store that does not contain milk ingredients. It is impossible to find one that does not contain soy. Most basic bread recipes in my baking book do not contain either (or can be easily modified, in the case of milk products). So I have revisited the homely task of bread baking.

Making bread from scratch is, for me, a bit like knitting - I always think it's going to be much more fun than it turns out to be when I'm actually in the middle of it. In my tiny kitchen in my tiny free time making bread is one big sticky, floury, hasty mess. And I am not usually a sticky, messy, hasty person, so this bothers me.

About two weeks ago I made a sourdough starter. (I should include the recipe, but I simply don't have the energy for that tonight). This actually worked quite nicely. I left the yeasty mix on top of the dryer for over a week, and sure enough, it fermented and smells like beer. I used some of the starter to make a basic sourdough bread yesterday. This is where the messy part came in. No amount of flour made the dough workable in this humidity, and after letting it rise I didn't have the enthusiasm to knead it again so I just plopped it (in what was supposed to be two rounds) on a baking sheet and tossed it in the oven, and, well...

But it actually tasted great! Despite almost giving up on it, this was probably the best loaf (loaves?) of bread I have ever made. Go figure.

So maybe my dream of baking all my own bread still stands a chance. Perhaps a bread machine would be a nice compromise? I'm still thinking it out. Consider this the first installment of The Rudy Family Goes Natural...

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