Monday, July 12, 2010

Baking bread

After being inspired by Michael Pollan and Nina Planck (two food authors I am reading now) to look at the listed ingredients in my food, I pulled our bread off the shelf.  How bad could Arnold's Healthy Multi-Grain Bread be?  It's multi-grain and advertised as "healthy" so one would think there's no need to worry. 

Uh, wrong. 

What's bread except for milk, butter, and flour, and maybe a few other normal ingredients depending on the recipe and the type of bread.  Well, our (former) favorite had some pretty scary things in it, apparently to allow it to be massed-produced cheaply and to extend it's shelf life.  Because we threw it away, I can't list the 20 or so ingredients here, but I assure you, there were plenty of soy-this and diglycerides-that.  I think all the ingredients in a loaf of bread should be pronounce-able, and if not, we'll be just fine without it - in fact, we'll be better off without it.

And so, I found myself a recipe for homemade bread online.  I baked my first loaf on Thursday.  It was, well, it was awful frankly, but it was edible, and I knew everything that went into making that bread.  It was as dense as a brick, and it didn't slice very well.  (I think I should have found a recipe for whole wheat bread because I used whole wheat flour, but my recipe called for unbleached white flour.)  Despite the minor catastrophe, my wonderful husband pulled out the butter and jam, poured a glass of milk, and "enjoyed" a piece of homemade toast. 

Inspired by my efforts, Chris thought we might like to try to bread maker.  I didn't think another gadget would fit in our kitchen, but I took a look on Craigslist and found a local person selling a pretty good model at a great price.  You can probably guess how the story goes... we bought the bread maker, made our first loaf (it was a half loaf) on Saturday night, ate it ALL on Sunday, and loaf number two is baking as I type.  (We found a cabinet to fit the contraption when it's not busy baking us bread.)

I feel remarkably better about sending Chris to work with a sandwich made with homemade bread.  I feel better about eating it too.  I feel better nursing Luke knowing that I am "making" his food with good wholesome ingredients. 

I don't know if all our bread will be homemade from now on, but I do know that it's not that difficult to make and that we will probably be healthier people for eating foods we make ourselves. 

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