Monday, May 30, 2011

My Standard Whole Grain Bread

This is the bread recipe that has become my standard. I was into the no-knead method last year, but now I'm back to taking a whole weekend afternoon to make bread and other things. Mostly just because I'm having a hard time planning to be able to start no-knead dough a day in advance.

While this may not rise very much and is on the dense and crumbly side fresh out of the oven, it makes for excellent crunchy toast, which is how I usually eat bread anyway. Since I can't finish a loaf on my own before it goes stale, I slice and bag it for the freezer, most often having a piece of toast with a cup of tea or coffee for breakfast on morning workdays. The variety of grains gives it a complex and nutty taste that goes well with a little butter or peanut butter on top.

I only wish I hadn't accidentally broken my other beautiful loaf pan. I need to get a second one ASAP because now that it's summer, it makes sense to bake two loaves at a time and use the oven less often.

Wholegrain Bread
1 tsp yeast
1 1/4 cup all purpose flour
1 1/4 cup whole wheat bread flour
1/4 cup ground flax seeds
1/4 cup oats
1/4 cup cornmeal
1/4 cup rye
1/4 cup sunflower seeds
1 tsp salt
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp honey
About 1 1/2 - 2 cups water total

In a large bowl, stir the yeast and 1/2 cup warm water until the yeast is mostly dissolved in the water. Let sit for about five minutes until you can smell the yeasty aroma that indicates it's working. Dump the grains, salt, olive oil, and honey on top, along with another 1/2 cup of water. Stir to combine and add more water as needed in 1/4 cup increments. With experience, you will learn the consistency you are looking for - wet and pliable but still able to knead and handle without it being too sticky.

I knead right in the bowl, rather than on a cutting board to save on cleanup efforts, for about five minutes. I dust my hands and the dough with flour a few times during kneading as needed.

Form the dough into a ball, place seam side down in the bowl, and cover the bowl with a wet dishtowel. Let rise for about 90 minutes, until the dough has approximately doubled in size.

Gently press down to press out the air. Use a spoon or spatula to carefully gather the dough away from the sides of the bowl and reform it into a ball. Let rise another 60 minutes with the wet towel on top.

Grease a loaf pan. Once the dough has about doubled in size again, press air out gently and remove from bowl. In my hands, I form the dough into a ball again and then gently elongate it into more of a rectangle that is the size of the loaf pan. Place in the pan, seams down. After 15 minutes, preheat the oven to 375.

After another half hour, once the dough has risen above the top of the pan, place the pan in the oven. Bake for one hour. Let cool for another hour before slicing.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

From Seed

Another year, another garden. My current roommate is in charge of filling the patio with flowers and I'll do my usual herbs and tomatoes. Last weekend I finally potted herbs, transplanted some seedlings, and got organized.

Kentucky Mint
Golden sage
Lemon thyme

From seed:
Dinosaur (Lacinato) Kale
Jalapeno Peppers, that have not sprouted one bit
Yellow Pear Cherry Tomatoes
Flat Italian Parsley
Italian Large Leaf Basil

This year, I am experimenting a bit more with growing from seed, since I had a pet-free indoor window space for the first time ever. I picked up heirloom seeds at the Bushwick Food Coop and a local organic gardening store, and at less than $2.50 for a packet of seeds, why not try?

I started the tomato and pepper seeds in an egg carton indoors next to my window, but sadly the peppers have not sprouted one bit.

The rest are starting to come up. Except for the cosmos seeds, which I also just planted last weekend. Cosmos have long been one of my favorite wildflowers and I hope they bloom, unlike the bee balm I tried last year!

Wednesday, May 11, 2011


When I saw YACHT play many years ago, it was one guy dancing around the living room of my college housing coop to music he created and played off his laptop. It felt a little silly and not quite memorable. YACHT has since gained a second person and some notoriety since then, so I thought I would give them another chance and check out their newer music. I was surprised to realize this song "Dystopia (The Earth is On Fire)" is not only a catchy danceable tune but also offers an apt and timely commentary on the state of our society's relationship with the environment. It's rare for musical artists today to address this kind of issue, so I thought it was worth sharing their message with you here. Enjoy!

Every day the sky gets lower,
And every day the tide is blacker,
And every day the flames get higher

We live like lions, we live our lives
With no more husbands, No more wives,
We let our children multiply ’cause we’re afraid of dying.

The Earth, the Earth is on fire!
We don’t have no daughter,
Let the motherfucker burn!
If we cut off the water
Then the jackals would return.


Download "Dystopia" here