Tuesday, January 26, 2010


Last night I baked bread again. I used my standard recipe, flour, honey, salt, yeast.. And I couldn't help but be amazed again with how magical it all is.

I poured about a pint of tepid water and blended it up with some local honey I'd purchased at the end of summer from a friend. About 24g of yeast went in on top of that, and I remembered I was bothered at how the yeast all clumped up together and refused to separate. I shrugged, and left it alone on the counter to measure out my kilo of flour.

It's amazing what a bit of warm water, honey and yeast can produce. The water fairly boils with the activity of the yeast, and a gorgeous yeasty smell akin to a pint of beer drifts into my kitchen. By the time I'm done with my flour, the yeast has puffed up on the surface of the water nearly a half inch thick, and growing.

I stir this all down into the water, add it gradually to about half of my flour, and just have at it. The smell is incredible, fresh yeast and flour making a gorgeous heady bouquet that quickly fills my kitchen. The dough comes together beautifully, and within 15 minutes is rising away happily in my slightly heated oven.

I remember being startled when I opened the oven door about 40 minutes later, the dough had amazingly tripled in size and was giving off hints of the amazing smells that would pour forth during the baking. It beats down quite quickly, and I seperate it into two sections to let it rise just once more.

How amazing is it, that just a little bit of yeast can provide this much growth? It's amazing to me that it's so simple to have this pleasure right here, in my very own kitchen for mere pennies.

I see students all over the city buying into the vegetarian diet, buying massive heads of broccoli and bok choy, off red tomatoes and crisp baby peas. All remarkably out of season and a mere shadow of the true flavor of produce fresh from the garden. They buy expensive, whole grain, omega added loaves of bread to bring home. Yet none of them know how this food is really supposed to taste, how amazing it is to know that the food you're eating started out so simple, and with the simplest ingredients. None of them are feeling the satisfaction of knowing that the food they're eating was created with their own hands.

I can't wait until the day I can provide entirely for myself, off my little piece of land somewhere, and teach my kids the pleasures of planting the seed, tending for the plant, and eating the final bounty exactly when it's meant to be eaten, at the height of ripeness and flavor, in season and straight from the ground before them.

The things I would do with just a little slice of land!


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