Thursday, May 14, 2009

Bread and Apple Blossoms

Not much to do in the garden right now except wait. I do have a few more seedlings that I'd like to find a home for. I can't bear to just throw them away, so I'll have to find a spot in the yard somewhere. I'm also hoping to find some perennial herb seedlings (rosemary, oregano, thyme, and lavender) at the Farmer's Market this weekend to plant in the mostly empty landscape-type garden we have on the side of the house. That's where I may end up putting my extra veggie seedlings, too. There IS a lot going on with the rest of the vegetation around here. Our apple tree is blooming, and everywhere you go in the neighborhood, you see lilacs getting ready to pop open. There are lots of azaleas in bloom and little violets popping up everywhere (almost to the point of being invasive - but not quite). The forsythia and tulips are almost done. I've been thinking about planting some tulip bulbs in some of the square foot gardens this fall. I think they'd be just about done when it's time to plant all the plants that you can't plant until after the danger of frost has past. I wonder if I'd have to dig up the bulbs each year or if they can coexist with the tomatoes, cukes, or whatever. I'll have to check into that. Beyond gardening, I've been trying to get away from processed foods and prepare a lot more homemade stuff. I think it tastes 100 times better. I think the rest of the family would still rather have their Wonder Bread and Oreos. Baby steps. Yesterday, I was on a total bread-baking kick. I have this beautiful cookbook called The Bread Baker's Apprentice by Peter Reinhart. Every recipe I've made from it has turned out wonderfully. The only problem with it is that most recipes have to be started a day before. Like I said in the last post, planning is not my forte, so it's a bit of a stretch for me to have to do this, but it's well worth it. Yesterday, I made his "Multigrain Bread Extraordinaire", regular white bread, and Pain a l'Ancienne. I had made the Multigrain one other time. This time, I made it with ground flax seed, wheat bran, oatmeal, and 2T of quinoa for the multigrains in addition to the brown rice that the recipe calls for. I also used 2 3/4 C bread flour and 1/4 C wheat. I wanted to incorporate a little wheat flour but not have it be overwhelming. If this one tastes okay (I was too full from eating too much of the white bread to try it.), I'll up that to 1/2 C next time. The white bread was delish! We've been trying a Vegan diet for the last four months or so, so I substituted rice milk for the regular milk and Ener G Egg Replacer for the egg. The Pain a l'Ancienne is by far the best. It's the kind of bread you'd find in an Artisanal Bread Bakery (Well, okay, maybe mine isn't, but it's close and I think the recipe is meant to be.) with a crunchy crust and big giant air bubble holes inside. This was my best batch yet, but next time, I think I'll let it rise longer. You put the dough in the fridge overnight then let it warm up and rise the next day when you take it out. I let mine warm up for about 4 hours before baking, but the dough was still a little cold. Maybe because I had it in a metal bowl. Next time, I'll try 5 or 6 hours. I'm going to try to bake it a bit longer, too. I think I did about 25 minutes this time.

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