The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

The Grain and I

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Teresa_in_nc's picture
Teresa_in_nc

The Grain and I

What better title for my first blog than a turn of the phrase from that classic book by Betty MacDonald, The Egg and I? Usually if I want something catchy I have to borrow from someone brighter than myself.

A little introduction, I am Teresa and I live in North Carolina, which is a Southern state in the US. Among the things that I am, I am a bread maker. I'm also a mom, sister, daughter, friend and quilter. I started making bread in earnest about 30 years ago when I used the very basic of tools, a bowl, wooden spoon, measuring cups and spoons, and my hands. I've taught bread classes in my home, to 4H groups, as my job in a retail gourmet store, and I'm not yet tired of making bread.

Through the years I've tried many different kinds of breads from simple daily loaves to challah, hoska, brioche, stollen, focaccia, rolls, English muffins, pizza, sweet breads, and whole grain breads. These days I mostly bake grain breads using the 5, 7, 8, 9, and 10 grain cereals. I guess I want the biggest nutritional bang from my bread. Two years ago I sent off for the Oregon Trail Sourdough Starter maintained by the Carl's Friends group of bakers. Finally, success with Sourdough! Now that my starter has some age on it, it is getting a nice sour twang that I can be proud of.

With the help of the fine people at Pizzamaking.com I am working on perfecting my pizza dough. This past year I practiced on the New York-style and making a sauce that consistently suited my taste. Quarry tiles line my lowest oven rack for baking pizza and I use my wood peel (with the help of parchment paper) to transfer the pizza from the counter to the baking tiles.

I bake bread just about every weekend and other times when I have time off from my job. As an Event Coordinator at a textile company, I have the pleasure to plan business lunches and special events for many people. They know I'll always try to feed them well! Like most bakers, I share the breads I make with many co-workers, my family and my friends. I could not possibly eat all the bread I make - could you?

Bread making is such a satisfying pursuit. While I'm mixing and kneading I think about all those bread makers who came before me, the farm wife on the prairie during the Depression, the housewives in small hometowns during the 50's, hippies in communes during the 60's, and men, women, and children everywhere who have experienced the magic of making a loaf of bread, then shared it, still warm from the oven, with another person.

I will plan to make entries here as I proceed with my bread making. And now, I can post photos of my results as well.

T.

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Teresa_in_nc's picture
Teresa_in_nc

Hmmmm.....? Guess I'm not much of a blogger, huh? I'm still making bread though - lots of bread. Following is a listing of recent recipes and results that I have baked:

Alaskan Sourdough Bread - 2 large loaves, 1 going to the mountains this weekend, good results, always tasty

Oatmeal Toasting Bread - from Farmgirlfare.com, good results considering I halved the recipe but forgot to halve the amount of grains called for - what was I thinking? Made one loaf and a pan of about 1 dozen rolls. Very grain-y - ha!

Sourdough Jack's Sourdough Bread - dried starter from Nancy on the Yahoo! Sourdough Group, good results - so now I have two starters... I hope Carl and Jack get along o.k. in the fridge and stay in their respective jars!

Ten Grain Bread - found at Bob's Red Mill web site, I use whatever # grain cereal I have on hand, always good, healthy tasting

Classic Whole Wheat Bread - found on the King Arthur web site and on the back of the KA whole wheat flour bag, always reliable and very good whole wheat taste

Mom's Batter Bread - always delicious, well it should be with sugar and oil added! This time I used my sourdough starter instead of making the starter with the water, sugar, yeast, and potato flakes

Pizza dough - from A Pizza Primer, here at The Fresh Loaf - very good, wetter pizza dough than what I am used to, but a 6 to 8 hour chill in the fridge made it manageable.

There have been many loaves baked between my last posting and this one, but these recent ones are all my feeble brain can remember. I really feel that I have a handle on sourdough now with 3 years experience under my belt. I don't know everything there is to know, of course, but I do know how to feed, bake with a starter, dry a starter, and maintain my starters. Slowly I'm learning to deal with the time issues and getting into the habit of removing my starter from the fridge on Friday to prepare for baking on the weekend. I do long for days and days of time mostly to myself to try recipes, bake more bread, sew, quilt, spend more time with family, organize my house, etc. etc. - but retirement is not an option right now, so I mostly bake on the weekend. Baking and sewing at least keep me off the streets and out of trouble.

dabrownman's picture
dabrownman

Teresa.  You are amongst some fine bakers, both home and professional, from all over the world.  Can't wait to see some of your fine breads!  Welcome to TFL community.