Thursday 13: Bread, Cheese, and Kisses

croissant-and-marmalade-from-istockphoto

Thursday is nearly over, but I wanted to write about bread, so I’m doing it this way.

1) I spent the day baking bread. Well, that’s not true. Twice today, I spent several minutes tossing the ingredients for bread into the bread machine and pressing buttons. But I spent the day smelling fresh bread being made, so it sort of counts, right?

2) My bread machine is a Breadman Plus, and was a joint gift from my mother-in-law and sister-in-law years ago. It remains one of the best gifts I’ve ever received. It has a jam setting that I’ve never used, though I have been tempted. I don’t really like jam though. I like marmalade. And lemon curd.

3) I learned my love of bread-making from my grandfather. He had a bread machine, too, of sorts. It was a large copper bowl with a hand crank, and it was meant to make it easier to mix the dough.

4) My fondest memories of my grandfather are of the times when we baked bread together. He would wear a blue calico apron with “Chief” embroidered across it (made by my mother – my grandmother’s matching one said “Chiefie”), and I remember him putting cornmeal in the bottom of loaf pans, and knocking on baked loaves to see if they sounded “done.” I was always amazed by the way his rough, thick-fingered, calloused hands could be so gentle with dough. But they were gentle in the garden, as well.

5) My grandfather was a great fan of James Beard. I’m not his greatest fan, but I love the way he wrote about bread. He said, “Good bread is the most fundamentally satisfying of all foods; and good bread with fresh butter, the greatest of feasts.” I agree completely.

6) Just as I have a thing for beach novels, and coffee houses, I have a thing for bakery books. One of my favorites is Bread Alone, by Judith Ryan Hendricks. It’s a lovely story about a woman whose husband leaves her, prompting her to rediscover her love of baking, which began during an apprenticeship in France. Okay, I know, it doesn’t sound lovely, but trust me, it is. There’s a sequel, but it’s not as good.

7) Last year, when I visited my mother in La Paz (Baja Sur, not Bolivia) we found a Greek restaurant where the owner/chef bakes his own bread. He got me hooked on this rustic whole-grain loaf filled with pesto. It was amazing.

8) Sprouts sells a walnut raisin cinnamon bread that is to die for. It’s even better when toasted and slathered with honey-roasted almond butter.

9) My grandfather used to keep a special crock on the back of the dishwasher. It was his sourdough starter. I’ve never been fortunate enough to have anyone give me sourdough starter, but I have successfully done a wild-capture, when I still lived in California.

10) San Francisco style sourdough is special because of the type of yeast (wild captured), and the refreshment ratio (40%), but you can actually make it pretty much anywhere. However, true San Francisco sourdough is also special because you’re eating it in slightly salty, coastal air.

11) When Fuzzy is away and I really don’t want to cook, I often make a meal out of good bread, cheese, olives, and fruit.

12) In my family, Italian bread is the soft baguette that you eat with pasta, and it isn’t covered in garlic and cheese. We fight over the ends.

13) White bread (except baguette) never crossed the threshold of my house until I married Fuzzy. I looked at it in horror. He never bought it again. My favorite sandwich bread is pumpernickel. Especially if there’s liverwurst involved.

Bonus: “Blues is to jazz what yeast is to bread. Without it, it’s flat.” – Carmen McRae

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4 thoughts on “Thursday 13: Bread, Cheese, and Kisses

  1. Growing up we never made bread, unless it was a dessert bread (teachers got cranberry bread as gifts). Now I live in a place where all bread tastes flavorless to me, which is sad. I worked at a bakery in high school, so I do love me some bread.

    My niece was diagnosed with ciliacs a few years ago and so my sister couldn’t use her breadmaker anymore since it was filled with gluten flour. So I inherited that and suddenly I had bread again! What I have been doing these last for weeks is using the breakmaker for the kneeding, then I take the dough out and braid it, or shape it and then let it rise, and then bake it in the oven. The hard part is not eating a loaf in two days :)
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  2. hahaha I love the worm that slides down the side :-)

    My Dad was a baker early in his life…which he left when he and Mom moved to the suburbs to raise my brother and me. He retained his skills and loved baking bread :-)

    mmmm, SOURDOUGH, how I love you!!!

  3. Thinking about whole-grain loaf filled with pesto–it sounds absolutely fabulous
    I bake my own bread all the time and I will have to try it–I’ll get to the last kneading and then just swirl it through, sort of layered–I can taste now.

    white bread (shudder)–not since my childhood

    I love liverwurst, too, though it’s become too salty for me. I’d love to find a meat seller who makes his own and could make a low-salt version for me
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