The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

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rosiePearl's picture
rosiePearl

New in these parts

I guess it's customary to introduce oneself, so here it is.

I live in the New York metro area and love to cook, but have never made bread in all my 39+ years until now. I love this site, and came to it because I was looking for a pizza dough recipe; pizza is, of course, the perfect food, and I wanted to make the pesto pizza that Whole Foods started to offer this year - without the hefty price tag.

I found the Pizza Primer here (http://www.thefreshloaf.com/recipes/pizza) and it was great.   The pesto pizza - dough slathered with a mix of olive oil, fresh basil, garlic, salt & pepper, topped with mozzarella cheese, topped with fresh sliced garden tomatoes - was truly superb.  And I loved the silkiness of the fresh dough; I still have one dough ball in my freezer, too.

In fact, I have a lunch pizza-making date this weekend with a friend who asked if I'd teach her how to make it!  The blind leading the blind, essentially - but at least we have the recipe!

Anyway, I've started to make everything I eat, instead of buying anything, and have found that my expenses have essentially been halved.  I've begun making cookies, cakes, and breads of all types; I've made the gingerbread, too - http://www.thefreshloaf.com/recipes/gingerbread - and that's another long-time favorite of mine.  I have my eye on these bagels, too: http://www.thefreshloaf.com/recipes/bagels - but can't seem to find the malt powder.

My goal is to make everything I eat by hand - because, you know, I'm just so sick of reading those long lists of chemicals in everything - and also without electricity as I am short in the equipment area. Late to the bread game, IOW, but ardent! 

Thanks, everybody, for your wonderful recipes and for this site!  It's terrific.

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

Hi, rosiePearl.

Welcome to TFL!

Many of us here seldom, if ever, buy bakery bread. We save some money and, generally, get better bread to boot by baking it ourselves.


David

rosiePearl's picture
rosiePearl

Thanks, David - very nice of you.

I just had a slice of one of my cibattas for dinner, and it's not so bad, if I do say so myself.  

 ;-)

Thanks again.  I'm really looking forward to trying so many of the other recipes here....

holds99's picture
holds99

Glad you've joined us.  Have fun with your pizza making this weekend.

Howard

rosiePearl's picture
rosiePearl

Thanks very much, Howard; I'm looking forward to it!  My friend's 10-year-old granddaughter will be there, too, and I think she'll have a good time as well.

Soundman's picture
Soundman

Welcome to TFL, rosiePearl! (I consider anybody within 100 miles of me a neighbor on TFL. I'm in New Haven.)

You say making everything by hand, what about growing it as well? What is it they say about real estate: locavore, locavore, locavore?

It's so true what you say about baking your own bread and reaping the benefits, economically and nutritionally.

This past summer was the first where I decided to grow a significant part of what my wife and I eat, and it was so much fun! We are still harvesting tomatoes, and the last of the eggplant became a delectable parmigiana last night, graced with fresh parsley and basil. I am going to so miss eating things from the garden!

Good luck with your baking, and please show us your results!

Soundman (David)

rosiePearl's picture
rosiePearl

Hi Neighbor David:


Thanks for the nice welcome.  I do grow tomatoes and peppers and the basil I mentioned and other herbs - but not much else.  I need to dig a new garden in another spot, because I've gotten shaded out in the last few years.  (Actually, I've started planting tomatoes and peppers right in my perennial gardens kind of helter-skelter, wherever they fit, and this has been a great success!  My regular tomato garden just doesn't get enough sun these days.)

We have been talking lately - my online friends and I, that is - about some of the new thinking around these days.  About the need to conserve fossil fuels by growing locally and things like that - "peak oil" talk, IOW - so I've been thinking a lot about what you're saying.  If I do start a larger garden, and grow something other than tomatoes and peppers, I will need to start canning, too.  Which would be great; I do love garden-grown produce.  That wonderful fresh taste and no pesticides to boot.

I did take some pics of my ciabattas; they're not very good images, but I'll post them here, since you asked.   They were very much fun to bake, although two were quite misshapen!  Well, that's part of their charm.  ;-)  (I should say, that was part of their charm; they are all eaten up now.) 

So,here goes:





edh's picture
edh

Welcome!

I'm definitely not a neighbor, living in Downeast Maine, but first your comment about the bagel recipe, then your exchange with David made me want to write in.

First, the bagels; totally don't worry about the malt powder. I couldn't find the stuff here if my life depended on it, and that recipe works beautifully every time. I actually prefer Floyd's write up to the original. I just sub in a little maple syrup or whatever, works a charm. And with no bagels worth eating within 250 miles, that's been a godsend!

Your discussion about growing your own food is also close to my heart; we grow much of what we eat in the summer, and put away a fair amount for winter, though not as much as I'd like. Unfortunately homesteading is a full time job, and we both have full time jobs already. Makes for very busy lunchtimes, evenings, and weekends! Our growing season is pitifully short compared to some who've written in on this site; I can't tell you how envious I've been of the descriptions of tomatoes in early August, when we don't see them until September!

Your ciabatta are lovely; good going!

edh

rosiePearl's picture
rosiePearl

Thanks for the maple syrup tip, edh!  I'd never have thought of that.  I haven't seen Floyd's write-up, but will go looking now that you mention it.

I know the growing season is short up there!  I actually have relatives up your way, in Cushing (or near there, I can't exactly remember).  It's very beautiful.

It definitely is a lot of work to grow what you eat; I couldn't simply rely on that in any case.  Perhaps if I move where there's a bit more land and a bit more sun.  But I do love the small-scale gardening that I do; it's one of the most pleasurable things I do, in fact.

Lately, I've been noticing the many vacant lots and unused parcels of land around here - all pretty small - that would make excellent community gardens.  That would be a great project, now that I think of it, and especially now when things are economically tough.  I wonder if we could lease some of these small empty plots?  It would be a good deed (and good PR) for the owners, and a way to grow food for local folks who don't have enough.  I'll have to think of some way to figure that out....

Thanks for the welcome!

Soundman's picture
Soundman

rosiePearl, nice ciabatta! The shaping of ciabatta is supposed to be free-form, and yours really look like slippers, so I think you did very well indeed!

Glad to have this discussion on growing your own with you and edh. By the way, edh, where in Maine are you? I probably read it somewhere, but the memory, oh well you know, what was I saying?

I couldn't possibly grow enough vegetables to eliminate the need for other people's markets. As with edh, I have a FT job, and we haven't got nearly enough land. Still, I grew my tomatoes the same as you did, around the daisy plant and the honeysuckle and the proud stand of sage (anybody need some sage?) and the output was and is stunning! The tomatoes' ripening has slowed down, but as long as we don't get a frost, I expect to keep picking lovely and delectable tomoatoes.

Some of the many benefits: the best darn eggplant I ever ate bar none, 5 years' supply of pesto ;-), lettuce and peppers enough to make far fewer trips to the supermarket, a tomato or 2 a day for 2 months, more money in our pockets not theirs, eating something we grew every day for 3 months of the year, and saving the world a modest portion of greenhouse gases. And don't fortget the fun and the awe of closely watching life happen in your own backyard!

Two more benefits: this coming winter, something nice to look forward to: germinating next summer's crop. Next summer, more great veggies!

Keep on baking. Glad you figured out the pix trix!

Soundman (David)

rosiePearl's picture
rosiePearl

Oh, sage!  One of my favorite herbs.  I put it on popcorn, actually, and that's terrific; a little butter and a little lemon juice and some sage and salt.  Mmmmm....

I realize now that I didn't say which ciabatta recipe I used; it was redcatgoddesses', this one:  http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/9105/ciabatta-italian-slipper-bread.  I was amazed that all you need to do is 3 folds and a flip!  But it was very easy - except for converting grams to cups, that is.  Had to go online to another site for some info about that.  I guess I did OK, though, because the bread did taste good.

Wow, eggplant!  That's terrific.  I forgot to mention that I get a lot of little critters around here - squirrels, chipmunks, and whatever - and they grab all my produce and take one bite out of it and leave the rest.  I have to put some fencing around the stuff next year - but this year I didn't lose too much; I picked all the tomatoes the minute they started to ripen (the birds get attracted, too, when they turn red) and let them ripen indoors.  Still terrific!  But I'm having eggplant envy right now.  

Well, maybe next year.  It sounds, David (Soundman), like you really got a good crop this year - and actually, it was an excellent growing season here, too.  Cool nights and warm days, lots of sun and lots of rain.  And I think maybe I'll try germinating inside this year, too, now that you mention it....

Thanks!