Thursday, February 28, 2008

Homemade Bread

While I'm thinking about food, I might as well tell you another one of my kitchen secrets.

(I promise this isn't turning into just a domestic husband is out there with all his deep theology posts and random zaniness. He'll be back someday soon, he's just really busy these days. And he can't access blogger at work. Oh, and he's sick, too, poor thing. We all go through seasons, so I suppose it is only natural that our family's diverse interests will be reflected in our blogging at different times.) Anyway, here goes nothing...

Though we have very little storage space, I've been loathe to purge any unused kitchen appliances. I never actually bought any of these, mind you, they were all gifts. (Thanks, JL, for the electric can opener-- I use it almost everyday!) I might get rid of the rice cooker, since it has been missing the power cord for over two years, but the coffeemaker does come in handy every now and then. And then there is the one wedding gift that has never been used since I took it out of the box when we arrived here as newlyweds.

The Breadmaker.

(That could be the title of a really bad action movie.)

Yes, I have owned a bread maker for over 5 years, but never used it until last Sunday.

I must pause here and thank all my wonderful AOPi sorority sisters who banded together to buy me the darned thing at that dessert shower before our wedding so many years ago. I'm sorry I can't remember who exactly got it for me, but I wanted to say thank you. Again.

Now you may be thinking, "What a silly machine! I make my own bread from scratch every day! Why do you even need one?" Or you may be closer to this persuasion: "Um, hello! You can buy perfectly good bread from the store! And it's so much easier! Get rid of it already!" Or you may think "Bread machine? And you've been holding out on us?! Those things are awesome!"

Apparently, one of Gaines' hallmates in his college dorm had a bread machine. They all thought he was lame until the first time he used it. Hello, zucchini bread!

So, on one of my recent trips to Trader Joe's I picked up a bag of whole wheat flour. I think I might have been thinking of possibly making bread one day, or maybe it was for the pizza crust kick I was on in January after getting (stealing?) a pizza stone from Gaines' aunt at the annual family Dirty Santa event. The pizza crust made with half whole wheat and half all-purpose flour was pretty good. Not quite Papa John's, but definitely cheaper. Either way, for some reason last weekend I was inspired to try making my own bread.

We had an incredibly busy weekend, so I'm not sure why I even thought to attempt it, but on Sunday afternoon, in between church functions, I got it out and put the ingredients together. I didn't start it until late afternoon, though, so the bread wasn't even ready until after 9 p.m. Silly me. Next time I need to plan ahead a little bit better.

All that to say, there really is nothing better in this world than hot homemade bread with butter on top. It really is so much better than store-bought bread. I made straight-from-the-breadmaker-manual 100% whole-wheat for the first go-round, but I attempt to experiment with this frugal recipe for beginners, next, for something a little lighter. There's also this famed concoction called WHO bread which I find intriguing. And Suess-ical! But since we don't eat much bread around here usually, I may wait a while.

We have, however, enjoyed this first loaf. I wanted to make a special note that it is very good with the Artichoke and Spinach Dip Chicken, as it is reminiscent of the dip that inspired the aforementioned recipe. The only problem with homemade bread is that it is very difficult to slice, since the whole wheat is very dense and I don't think we have a sharp knife in the apartment (I know, I know! And I call myself a cook...). Which makes me appreciate the old adage about sliced bread all the more. Perhaps the other recipes will be easier to cut neatly. I'll let you know.

I'm now going to go enjoy one of the remaining pieces for lunch!


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