Gosh I can’t tell you how many nice comments I got from you folks about our recent weather situation. We lost power for a few days. Words of encouragement were a little light in the cold darkness during those days. Our situation was nothing, I mean nothing, compared to what is happening in so many places north of us. The Red Cross is collecting donations to assist the folks of the Northeast in their recovery which looks to be long and heartbreaking for so many. I am humbly aware that we were lucky and that our luck was not shared.
Given the relative brevity of our power outage and the lack of damage to our health, hearth and home, I have to admit that there were parts of our little house in the prairie experience that I didn’t mind so much. I’m down with lantern light, going to bed earlier, more blankets and cooler temps at night, and less noise from the outside world in my home through screens and such. I did learn some lessons, a few of which are relevant to our food related endeavors.
First and foremost, when a major storm is predicted in your area, follow each and every dishwashing/kitchen cleanup with a resounding and thorough round of garbage disposal running, no matter who is already in bed. Run that puppy until rocks would be gone. Several days worth of sticking my hand in there to get whatever was still blocking the holes and clogging the sink was gross and became more so as time marched on. Secondly, I learned that I use the oven to cook far more than I realized. We are lucky enough to have a gas stove, so with the old fashioned magic of a match we were able to cook the food that was on the verge of spoilage, but I kept walking to the oven to turn it on.
And so, in celebration of having power (and I don’t mean to brag if you don’t have it yet and are only online through some sort of bizarro iPad WiFi hotspot like we had rigged), I’m spending this week on comfort food. And with the news of a Nor’Easter getting ready to power its way up the coast on Wednesday, I admit to a desire for a little comfort and a ready supply of deliciously simple food. Today I offer you a rustic expression of my eternal devotion to the carbohydrate. Say what you will, but I believe in bread, bread with limitations (whole grains, no dairy), and maybe not so very much bread all the time, but I believe in bread. They don’t call it the staff of life for nothin’ friends.
While trying to choose what to bake, I remembered a super yummy loaf that I made last year, when I still ate a lot of cheese, and began to wonder… and play. I dug out my cookbook to find the recipe that prompted the previous yum and a few hours later (in time, not effort, this is the joy of homemade bread) yum again, and this time with no ill effects for me. Yay!
Peppery Cheeze Bread - inspired by Peppered Cheese Bread in Deborah Madison’s Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone (yes, you should get it)
- 1 1/3c warm water
- 2 1/4 t active dry yeast
- 1 1/2 t salt
- 1 t fine ground pepper (I used white in a foolish attempt to hide it)
- 1 t red pepper flakes
- 1 beaten egg (I used flax)
- 4 c white whole wheat flour
- 1/2 c sunflower cheeze
Pour warm water into large bowl (or the bowl of a stand mixer) and stir in the yeast. Allow to sit about 10 minutes or until slightly foamy. Add salt, pepper, pepper flakes, all but 1 T of the egg and all but one cup of the flour. Mix or stir until smooth. Add sunflower cheese. Mix or stir to incorporate. Add remaining flour in bits and mix until incorporated or stir until too heavy for the spoon. For stand mixer, change over to dough hook and knead for about 5 minutes. If mixing by hand, add the rest of the flour and knead by hand to incorporate. Continue to knead by hand (folding the dough in on itself repeatedly and pushing it flat) for about 5 minutes. Put the dough in an oiled bowl, turn over once, cover and place in warm spot to rise for about an hour (until doubled).
Push the dough down, turn it out onto the counter or a floured surface. Shape into a ball. Cover until doubled, another 45 minutes to an hour. Preheat to 375 during the last 15 minutes of rising. Slash an X on the top, brush with olive oil. Bake on a preheated stone or pan for 45 minutes and cool on a rack. Allow to cool at least 10 minutes before you cut in and devour it, wisely dipping it into some amazing soup I’ll share in a few days. Delish. Warm, flavorful and deeply comforting.
Interested in more whole grain bread?
Wondering what’s in our pantries…. it’s coming, I promise.