Everything but the Hamburger, Special Sauce Included

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Sadly, as I sit at the bus stop watching my daughters play, I have to tell myself: summer is so last season.

All summer I have been grilling vegetables for salads. Mostly zucchini and summer squash; I char it deeply and then chop it and toss it with basil, lemon juice, and olive oil, in sort of a grilled chopped salad. It captures all the flavors of early summer one could want. But at some point, either the zucchini or I tire and the dish no longer appears on the table. At least not until next summer, when the annual craving for these flavors peaks again. Continue reading

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Daily Bread

I like this bread because it uses leftovers.  What do I mean by leftovers?  My girls don’t like heels and crusts. Sure I could force them to eat them, could throw them out or I could trim them off and save them for other uses.  I could make bread crumbs or, for instance, I could make this loaf of bread.

It is pretty amazing when you think about it.  Bread never wears out, you can use the same crumbs again and again in this loaf and its structure is always the same.

As long as you dry it properly, use breads without seeds, fruit or nuts, the uses of bread become endless but I really like the fact that I am not wasting anything.

It takes time to learn how to make a good loaf of bread.  The good news is if it doesn’t work out perfectly the loaf is more then likely still really delicious and good to eat.  So jump in and start practicing.

Recipe based on a recipe by Peter Reinhart in his book Brother Juniper’s Bread. 

  • King Arthur Bread Flour  $3.98 for a 5 pound bag = 28 cents per cup
  • 1 packet instant dry yeast = 24 cents
  • total cost to make this loaf of bread = $1.00

Makes one 2 pound loaf                                                                                                                    

2 cups dried stale old bread crumbs

2 cups water

1 .25 oz. packet instant dry yeast or 1 tablespoon

1 tablespoon kosher salt

2 1/2 cups bread flour

1. In a large mixing bowl combine the bread crumbs with to cups of water.  Let the bread soak up all the water.  This will take about an hour and you can let it soak for 4 hours.  Make the bread fit your schedule.

2. Sprinkle the yeast over the top and then stir it around and into the damp bread crumbs.  Let is sit for 2 to 5 minutes to hydrate the yeast.  Add the salt and bread flour.

3. Using a heavy duty wooden spoon mix the flour and crumbs until it forms a ball.  Dump the ball onto the counter and start kneading.  Knead the dough until it becomes smooth and elastic.  This will take at least 5 minutes.

4. Form the dough into a ball and put it back into the mixing bowl.  Cover it with a damp towel and set the bowl in a warm draft free place.  The back of the stove is usually good.

5. Set a timer for 1 hour.  At the end of the hour the dough should have doubled in size.  If not let it proof a little longer.  Remove the dough to the counter and knead it to degas it then shape it into a ball.

6. Place the dough into a 8 inch  cake pan that has been oiled and dusted with flour.  To dust the pan smear a small amount of oil onto all interior surfaces of the pan.  Add a tablespoon of flour and shake it around and tilt the pan to get the flour up the sides.  This will keep the bread from sticking to the pan.  Cover the bread and put it back in the warm place you had it.

7. Let the bread rise until it is peaking over the top of the pan by an inch.  This will take 30 to 40 minutes.  About 15 minutes into the final rise turn on the oven to 375˚ F.

8.  You can dust the top of the loaf with flour, cut a slash in it or just put it in the oven and bake it for 50 minutes.  Remove it from the oven then remove it from the pan to a cookie rack.  Let the bread cool completely. Slice and serve.

The iPad Stand

Kitchen tip Wednesday
The iPad mini is great to have in the kitchen. Is that the cover for the next issue of FOODQUARTERLY?

I am not perfect and don’t plan to be anytime soon.  I buy to much when I should do with less and I always seem to waste more then I think I should.

I try to do better.

I compost because I have a garden, I use glass cups instead of plastic, I don’t do tupperware,  and my kids use real plates and glass (in 6 years I can count the broken dishes on one hand) and we are trying to go paperless.

As an old dog I understand my bad habits will probably not change, at least not much.  I may become resolute for a week or two about some sort of waste and how we as a family should do better.  Then it seems we slip back into our old routines.  But we have made permanent changes.

One of those changes is to reuse or re-purpose as much as we can.  I got an iPad mini for Christmas.  I have so many charging cords already that a docking station seems pointless but I knew I needed something to keep it off the counter.  After all,  I plan to use it for iBook cookbooks and recipes and didn’t want it easily ruined when drenched by the first spill.

I went to the garage and luckily, in a light bulb moment, I spotted an old round wood cutting board.  It was perfect.  I got out the saw and cut off the end.  Then I cut a slot wide enough for the iPad to fit with a little wiggle room so it would angle back for better reading and, voilá, I have a stand.  It works so good I made three more and have them in different places around the house.

If you are handy, or someone in the family is, you can knock these out in minutes with a saw.

The wonderful thing is, since it is made from a wood cutting board, it fits in nicely with the decor of our house.