Monday, July 21, 2014

It was a short affair, but passionate



Bread is in the eye of the beholder.
June 10: The recipe for a “life-changing” gluten-free bread appears on Food52. Gazing at the picture, you shake your head. Calling this brick of nuts and seeds "bread" is like calling soy paste shaped into a cylinder “sausage.” You write a note to a friend: “I would eat this -- it looks very crunchy and tasty -- but it's not bread. In 30 years we'll be scoffing at the ridiculous things we cooked and believed about nutrition in 2014. It's the honey-sweetened carob brownie of our era.”

You tell ‘em, Jennifer. What a snot. But you grew up on health foods and look where that got you? You’re no healthier today than all your friends from the 1970s who got to eat real brownies.
 
July 15: You stop by your sister’s house to drop off the DVDs of Borgen. She says, “I want you to taste this strange health bread Margi (friend) made.” She toasts and butters a slice of dense, seedy bread and presents it to you. You take a bite. It has a complex texture and nutty flavor with just a hint of underlying slime. The slime doesn’t bother you at all, just adds to the complexity. You say, “Oh my God, this is amazing bread! I love this. Where did Margi get the recipe?” 

Justine: “Food52.”

Sigh. Of course.

July 16: Why are all the people who work at Whole Foods so young and groovy and all the people who work at Safeway so . . . not?  Do the managers at Whole Foods look for fabulous people with nose rings who are saving for a trek through Nepal while the managers at Safeway look for downtrodden lifers with kids? Honestly, you prefer Safeway, but for today’s errand -- buying the ingredients for that delicious bread -- you must endure Whole Foods. You search around and finally have to steel yourself to ask one of the groovy clerks: “Where can I find the psyllium husks?” It turns out they're about 2 feet away from the chia seeds, also on your list. Then, so the cashier can be sure you’re a real nut, you grab a bottle of a coconut probiotic drink from the refrigerator case. 

July 17: You mix the dough, which isn't beautiful and springy like yeasted bread dough, but a damp, rough, swarthy paste. You let it sit for a few hours and then bake the paste. You cut a slice. Divine. It has the rich flavor of coconut oil and that pleasant hint of slime -- from the psyllium husks? the flaxseeds? -- plus lots of gentle crunch. Perhaps it’s a bit crumbly, but you can fix that in future loaves. 


July 18: Mark was skeptical but loves the bread. He calls it “birdseed bread” and toasts it for breakfast and dinner. You eat a piece with butter for your afternoon snack. YUM! A new staple for the household. You don’t personally care that it’s gluten-free, but appreciate that it’s so full of fiber and Omega 3 fatty acids from the chia seeds. You’re not sure exactly what fatty acids are or why Omega 3s are good, you just know they are. 

July 19: You have a piece of the bread for breakfast with some avocado. Maybe the coconut oil flavor is a bit unctuous. Perhaps there's still a place in your life for the occasional Acme baguette.

July 20: You have another piece of the bread with butter for a snack. Today, it brings to mind an under-seasoned veggie burger. You can't finish your snack.

July 21: You think about having a piece for breakfast. You stare at the remainder of the loaf, oily and coarse, and try to think how you can make it palatable. Peanut butter? Jam? Yuck. No. What happened? You adored this bread only three days ago! Mark looks at you looking at the bread and says, I'm done. It’s bread you can only take in very small doses.” 


You take the remaining chunk of bread down to the dung pit, a.k.a. yard, for the chickens, but the goats head butt the birds out of the way so they can have at it. Bullies. If they'd asked nicely, maybe you'd let them keep it. Instead, you take the bread away from the goats and crumble it into tiny pieces that you scatter all over the yard. The chickens devour the crumbs, which means their eggs will be full of Omega 3s, whatever those are. You just know they’re good for you.


39 comments:

  1. The conundrum between regular groceries and WF's personnel is akin to the chicken and the egg question. Do they recruit them or are they drawn to their natural habitat? Who knows! It is a very interesting philosophical question that I am sure some sociology major is researching even as I type this. I just can't look at all that body piercing and tattoos without thinking about how they will feel about that later in life when gravity begins to be the unbeatable opponent. By doing that, I know that I am racing their lives ahead while they seem to be enjoying the present immensely.
    I also saw the bread recipe on Food 52 when it was posted, and I had precisely the same reaction that you did. I like peasant bread but that recipe sounded like it would produce a door stop. I am incredulous that Mark liked it. It must be entertaining to be married to such an unpredictable man! Maybe it is something that should only be made if it can be parceled out? One of my criteria for trying new recipes these days is whether or not I think we will consume enough of it to make it worth the expense and trouble. Not very adventurous of me, I know. As with so many of your posts, I laughed out loud, so thanks.

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  2. A good question about the WF checkers. . . they're very nice! And so young. All young. I haven't baked any desserts since my children have been gone -- we'd never eat it all. I'll probably stop baking completely when they move out, which is sad. I need a baking outlet.

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    1. The checkers are mostly young in my area, but there are a few old hippies (like me!). The environment in WF is lovely - youthful enthusiasm not yet marred by reality. I wish I felt I could afford to shop there more. I am sure you will find lots of people to bake for when the time comes. My social life is almost nonexistent, but I always find someone who appreciates an unexpected sweet.

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  3. I had to laugh when I saw the picture of your bread. I just bought the ingredients to make this last week. I was supposed to make it yesterday but I decided to binge watch Mad Men instead. I'm going to use Josey Baker's recipe, called Adventure Bread. I fell in love after seeing a photo on David Lebovitz's website. I don't expect it to become our everyday bread, just something different to break up the monotony.

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    Replies
    1. Exactly, "break up the monotony". And it does. (And you may love it and keep loving it!)

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  4. Phew, I have had that bread bookmarked for well over a year but just could not fathom getting all the stuff to make it, making it, and liking it, and I was afraid this blog post was going to make me think I needed to try it. I am curious about the day 1 taste, but not enough to deal with the dreaded leftovers.

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    1. Well, if you ever have all the ingredients give it a shot. It's an adventure.

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  5. THIS post sums up exactly why I love your blog. Am binge-reading all your archives (only allowing myself a year each day). Even though my feed-the-man-meat husband scarfed down my chickpea, potato and silverbeet curry last night (a minor miracle) there is no way he would touch this 'bread'. I'm all for chia seeds/phsyllium husks/flaxseeds but you lost me at slimy. Would rather chuck all the above ingredients into a smoothie with lots of berries and yogurt! Much quicker too.
    Loretta in Australia (PS Just ordered your book and can't wait to read it).

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    Replies
    1. Oh, thank you! I don't think my spouse would eat a curry with beets in it. Nothing with beets. That's where he draws the line.

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  6. Oh thank you for trying this recipe and sharing the experience! I've been wondering and pondering -- wanted to make it but decided to wait until the weather gets cold again (in Pennsylvania). Now I don't need to bother.

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    1. You're welcome! It's an interesting bread -- I don't want to be TOO discouraging, it just didn't sit well over time.

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  7. You thank god that you don't have celiac disease, and so you really don't have to eat that sort of thing. Ever. And you thank god that chickens and goats will eat most anything.

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    1. I'm very grateful not to have celiac disease. The odd thing is, the goats usually won't eat anything but they did love this bread.

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  8. I sent a link to this post in an effort to deter my Sunday afternoon baking buddy from going ahead with his wish to make this bread. He just emailed me back that he would track down the psyllium husks. {I am NOT telling him you can buy them at Whole Foods.} Some people just can't take a hint.

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    1. Stubborn! Your friend might like it. A lot of the Food52 commenters did. I've been wondering if it might have been less offensive over time if I'd used butter instead of coconut oil.

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    2. Ugh, no coconut oil for me! I'll lobby for butter!

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  9. I couldn't help it. It looked really interesting and I made something that resembles it. It is cooling in my kitchen now. I didn't have chia seeds, but I had the psyllium husks. I threw in a bunch of nuts that were cluttering up my refrigerator and I will soon see. You didn't end up liking it, but there's something to be said for a brief, torrid affair, right? Do you think the reason you went off it was that you realized it was awful or that it actually became awful as it got older? (I'm trying to "eat down" my fridge.)

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    1. Tell me what you think. Did you use coconut oil? That might have been the problem for me -- too strong. I'd use butter if I were making it again. I don't know what happened! I don't think it tasted all that different after a few days. (Your chickens will love it, for sure.)

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    2. I used olive oil, following David Lebovitz's Adventure Bread recipe from Josey Baker Bread. It differs a little from the recipe you linked to. It contains more of most things, including water and maple syrup, and adds pumpkin seeds. I didn't have sunflower seeds but used chopped walnuts, and put more than the recipe called for thinking I didn't have pumpkin seeds either, but then I discovered some in the pantry. I didn't want to add too many oats, since I'm trying to keep to a ketogenic diet, so I used ground almonds in place of most of them, and I didn't have flax seeds so I used flax seed meal. I used erythritol instead of maple syrup. So you can see that I hopelessly bastardized this recipe. I actually assumed it would be a disaster, but I liked the look of the bread in the pictures, and I wanted something I could toast and spread butter or peanut butter on, so I decided to try it. And...I like it! It isn't as good as real artisan bread, but it is nutty and toasty and a little bit damp, kind of like the sourdough brown bread my neighbors used to make in Ireland. I knew I wasn't going to use coconut oil, because I'm not a big fan of coconut-flavored things--definitely don't like coconut oil in my coffee!--and I was going to use butter, but the version of the recipe I used called for olive oil, so I went with that. Now let's see how long I can stand to eat it!

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    3. olive oil sounds about right -- and I like walnuts better than sunflower seeds. Good luck! Will you stick to your ketogenic diet in Scandinavia? Seems like it would be hard not to at least try the baked goods.

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    4. I think you should eat the fabulous cuisine while traveling. I will take a break ;)

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  10. P.S. My chickens will probably love it anyway.

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  11. Oh dear! At least you gave it a go! xx

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  12. Absolutely my experience! I make it for groups and it always disappears in minutes, but I can't eat it more than occasionally myself. I don't find it at all crumbly, though. I use the recipe from mynewroots.org, and substitute olive oil for coconut oil since I find coconut oil a bit icky.

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  13. Oh I'm so glad someone I know, even virtually, tried this bread. It looked both intriguing and potentially horrible, and I didn't make it in part because of the ingredients (what do you do with the rest of the seeds and psyllium husks?) and in part because no one else in the house would come near it with a ten-foot pole. That's right! Mark is a daring eater compared to my peeps!

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    ReplyDelete
  15. got here from a comment on food52's (arggggh!!) Piglet cookbook pageant, and i'm very glad i did because i just spent roughly two hours reading back and chomping down on your fascinating cookbook reviews. after reaching thus far i found this post, and am very happy to report that i successfully de-veganized this recipe last year, as follows: substituting two eggs for the psyllium powder and using a total 1.25 cups of water. turns out great. sorry to say i did get sick of it after a few days, just like you :(
    but it freezes very well. not a low calorie food, unfortunately...
    thanks for the great blog! (now bookmarked)

    ReplyDelete
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