WIAW 87 – Bread!
Given the theme of my last WIAW post, I should probably have tried my hand at Kansas City Barbecue – but I’ll leave that to the experts. And I’m a long way off gluten free bagels – though they are on my list!
In a discussion elsewhere about regional food, someone made a rather snarky comment about New Yorkers and their breads – he seemed to feel that it was rather demeaning – and ridiculous – that wherever we go, we miss bagels, and rye bread, and thin crust pizza… Other people, he thought, missed Important Foods! And I found myself thinking about this – and it’s really quite logical.
The first part is – many regional foods are (or can be) made at home. A Southerner misses good biscuits and real sweet tea in a restaurant, but she can make them both at home. (And if she doesn’t know how to, that’s another whole issue… but her grandmother probably does. Grandma’s recipe is better than the restaurant, anyway.) The same goes for Cincinnati Chili, Boston Brown Bread, Enchiladas, and others. An occasional ingredient may be difficult or expensive to source – but most of the time, you can make most things.
The rest are foods people never ate every day anyway – and there are more restaurants around the country at least trying to serve them. That barbecue fits into that category… You still may really only like what you can get Back Home, but you don’t miss it every single day at lunch.
Our breads, though, are in fact – well – our daily bread… and they usually are not (and often cannot really be) made at home. Take a real New York thin crust pizza – which I admit is becoming hard to find even here, crowded out by thicker crusts that take less work… You need the skill to stretch the dough out thin enough, and then you need a real pizza oven – vastly hotter than any home stove – that bakes it almost instantly. Or the above mentioned bagels, which are All About Technique (and maybe our water a little bit – or at least, that’s the mystique… I still think it’s mostly technique.)
At the same time, we may well eat the bagels, or the real sour rye, almost every day… If your lunch sandwich is always on rye bread from the bakery around the corner (mine was for years) and you pick up pizza every Saturday night and half a dozen bagels (and lox and cream cheese) every Sunday morning, you are going to miss them on a daily basis if you move someplace that doesn’t have what you consider the Real Thing… and pale imitations just won’t do.
So, you may well see what going off gluten does to us… I know I’ll never eat a “real” bagel or slice of pizza again – as their texture is all about gluten. That’s just life as it is. I’m pretty sure, though, that I understand enough about baking that I’ll eventually be able to get closer than much of what is sold in the rest of the country even with gluten… And I now absolutely know that I’m going to bake and eat “real” bread. Not real rye bread, of course… rye really does have its own flavor and that’s not going to happen, but it’s not the whole story with a good sour rye. (I learned when I tried to bake rye bread 35 years ago in college… Nice bread. Not what I missed. I know more, now.) It looks as if I’m working out enough information to make a white bread, and a brown bread, and maybe even a black bread, and a sour rye-inspired (shall we say) bread… Yeah, this is going to take a while, and in many ways it’s a diversion from the real message of this blog (cooking at home with limited time and energy) but it’s a goal…
Well. I didn’t actually intend to write that today – one thing led to another – but in fact it leads into breakfast rather nicely. I’m starting with the white bread, since I think more people want it, and look – that really toasted… browning much better than previous loaves. (I’ve gotten browning before by cycling it through twice. I didn’t do that.) And I’m pretty sure I know why. (Which is the important part, since I want to do it again.) Otherwise I think this may be about half a step backward in terms of texture – but I think I know what did that, too… so the next loaf… Oh – though it looks and tastes like white bread, it’s actually all whole grain. Neat! Anyway, I ate toast with a protein shake made with kefir and apple cider, and a little cinnamon, and a cup of coffee.
For lunch I made chicken soup. Chicken legs were on sale last week, so I bought pounds of them, and filled up the slow cooker, layering in some assorted sprigs of herbs we’d gotten (a little randomly) from the CSA. When it was all cooked, I boned it, put the bones and scrap back in the slow cooker, and made broth. So here – I took a quart of that broth, and some of the chicken, and some mirepoix and sauteed escarole from the freezer, and simmered it together to make soup.
If I had not had the toast for breakfast I would have eaten bread with the soup – but I seem to do best if I don’t eat bread at all meals, so I had some seedy crackers. (That was something I learned when my bread was wheat bread – I’ll see how it goes with this down the road.)
Dinner was… a little of everything I was trying to finish? Some pork and black beans, and the end of a head of cabbage, and cooked rice, and what have to be nearly the last tomatoes… We did get a few more yesterday, but I’m pretty sure the farm has been hit by a hard frost, by now, so… they’ve certainly all come in from the field. It wasn’t fancy but sometimes good hearty plain cooking works best.
So anyway, it is Wednesday – and Jenn’s What I Ate Wednesday party has floated (on all this rain, perhaps? It’s been pouring all day!) over to Meghan’s Clean Eats, Fast Feets. (Speaking of rye bread, just look at her plate!) Come on over!