Discovery of the day: From scratch

Two blog posts in a row -- yay, me!

One of my goals over the past year has been to make as much stuff as I can from scratch. So far we've got the mayonnaise thing nailed; we now make small batches on demand. Did you know it's just egg and oil? Amazing. I also have hazy plans to conquer dried beans, but first I need to get a freezer so I can make batches and freeze in can-sized portions. Jam is another thing that's perfectly do-able, since we don't eat mass quantities of it. I've make small batches using frozen fruit, and freeze it so I don't have to 'can'.

The other biggie is bread.

A few years back I was knee-deep in a major bread/pastry phase. I went to work in a bakery then moved on to cake decorating, and even had dreams of going to pastry school. Luckily that didn't pan out (ha!) -- I had to pack away my pans and pastry bags due to weight gain and the full-time day job, but I've been itching to get back to bread baking, at least.

This last week I pulled out the rarely used bread machine and decided to try for a whole wheat sandwich loaf. I tried the recipe that came with the machine and was under-impressed, so a few days later I pulled out my copy of 'The Laurel's Kitchen Bread Book' and flipped to the bread machine section. I decided on the buttermilk loaf, subbing white whole wheat flour and powdered buttermilk. Miracle of miracles, three hours and twenty-seven minutes later we has us a sandwich loaf, and a darned tasty one at that.

I brushed the top with butter as soon as it was de-panned and wrapped it in a towel to cool. I then used my electric knife to cut the 1.5 pound loaf into thin slices similar to store-boughten bread, bagged it, and stuck it in the freezer. Sounds weird, but I've found it's the only way to keep homemade bread more than a few days, especially since we don't eat that much bread.

So I think we're on the right track. Next up is tortillas -- we eat those fairly regularly. I've made corn (masa harina) tortillas in the past and even have a tortilla press, but I need to make up enough in advance to freeze for weeknights. Also, I need to conquer flour tortillas. I currently buy nice whole wheat (blend) tortillas that are made fresh at the fancy-pants grocery. I'd like to come up with something close to those. When all is said and done, someday soon I want to be able to say with confidence "Why yes, in fact I do BYOB."

Problem is that breads, even whole grain one, are danger foods for me. After all my moaning about my weight gain (verified today at my doctor's visit - crap!) it probably seems pretty stupid to get into bread baking again, but I never said I was smart.

If I stick to the stuff the other members of my household eat regularly, I shouldn't get in too much trouble... I hope. We'll just have to see how slippery this particular slope turns out to be.

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