bread


When I moved into my apartment,  I’d hoped that I might be able to grow some plants on my back patio. I had visions of herbs of every kind, tiny eggplants, okra, chili peppers, an endless flow of zucchini, and maybe even some lettuces in the shady parts of the patio. It turned out, though, that my patio is nothing but shade—and I could not bring myself to go to the trouble of gardening at all when my only yield would be lettuce. I’m sad about the herbs, but I’ll confess to a slight relief that I’m not subjecting myself to the torrent of zucchini that gardeners complain about come summertime. Now I can procure precisely as many zucchini as I need. No more, no less.

And then you can make things like this, which requires exactly one zucchini:

Zuke me.

While I’ve never much cared for sweet zucchini breads (despite my general glee at sneaking vegetables into desserts), this savory one hits the spot. I was inspired to make it by the lovely ladies of Whisked, who enticed me with a sample of a similar bread a few weeks back. Everyone should check out their wares at the U Street Farmers Market—but in case they’re out of their savory zucchini bread, this one is almost as good.

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Another wonderful thing that I got from my mother (in addition to, you know, life and all that—oh, and some really great jewelry) is this astoundingly easy, delicious, and healthy multigrain bread. There’s whole wheat flour and oatmeal and flaxseeds and no kneading, and I even tossed in some wheat germ, just because I could. Take that, $5 bread from Whole Foods.

It's even healthy when slathered in butter! According to me.

It’s seedy in all the best ways.

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I have to interrupt the posts about awesome things I made for my housewarming party because OMG CHEDDAR-CHIPOTLE CORNBREAD. The Militant Carnivore Cooks For His Vegetarian Wife is amazing.

I was in a crappy mood before, and now I’m not. The end.

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As a novice baker of bread products, I’ve come to accept the fact that I may have to try recipes multiple times before I can get them to work properly. Sweet potato biscuits took three tries. So did almost-no-knead bread. I tend to lack this degree of patience and perseverance in other areas of my life, but apparently I’ll do just about anything to get my carbs.

Wouldn't you do anything for these?

So far I’ve only tried this pretzel recipe twice, and both times they’ve been almost perfect—and suffering from the same fatal flaw. You see, the recipe calls for brushing moist pretzels (they’ve just been poached in baking soda) with an egg wash and then baking them.

Taking a nice baking soda bath.

When baked, this egg wash turns into glue.

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On the cusp of yet another snowstorm (seriously, what is going on? The snow is currently flying straight up), I braved the grocery store to buy milk. I did not, however, buy bread.

The main reason I didn’t buy bread is because I don’t generally use that much bread at home. But ignore that, please.

The other reason I didn’t buy bread is because I’ve been MAKING bread. And please believe me when I say that if I can make this bread, you can too. It took me three tries, because I am not good at following directions and superb at making simple things harder than they ought to be. This bread is simple, and if you can follow directions worth a darn it is easy. Not quite as easy, perhaps, as the original no-knead bread, but definitely worth the tiny bit of extra effort.

The missing piece is in my belly. Just like the rest of this loaf will be soon.

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These luscious, bright biscuits, along with the aforementioned fried brussels sprouts, are my contributions to Karina‘s sure-to-be-lovely potluck Thanksgiving. They’re wonderful. But I hesitated to write about them here, because despite my southern roots, I’m a total biscuit novice. These biscuits are, in fact, the only ones I’ve ever made. (Devoted readers, have you noticed my tendency to add sweet potatoes to things that normally don’t include them? I’m a sucker for the sweets in savory concoctions.)

This was the least attractive one, so I had to eat it before Thanksgiving to put it out of its misery.

At this point, though, I’ve now tried the same recipe for sweet potato biscuits three times, so if nothing else, I’m qualified to discuss this particular recipe. (That is, to the extent I’m qualified to discuss anything food-related.) I finally achieved success, on the third try, thanks to two tricks. First, if you have one, use a food processor to cut the butter into the flour mixture AND to combine the sweet potato mash/buttermilk mix into the flour. If no food processor, do combine the wet and dry mixtures thoroughly. My first two efforts ended up lumpy and dense because I didn’t do this—I was so worried about overworking the dough that I didn’t combine it well enough. Second, I found this fabulous tip on the interwebs: when forming the dough into one cohesive lump, it helps greatly to dump the dough from the food processor onto a non-terrycloth kitchen towel or napkin. Then, gather the cloth up into a bundle to press and fold the dough into a ball and then into a disk. The crumbly bits get fully incorporated, the warmth of your hands doesn’t heat up the dough, and—bonus!!—the counter stays clean.
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