28 March 2012

Bread in Between

So the season of Lent just happened to be when we decided to move three hours north of where we lived. And then go back to the old place two different times. The first was a short weekend, and I sorta cheated on the bread thing by getting a biscuit mix ("just add water!") because my cupboards looked like this:

Cooks word: Fresh = yum! Leftover the next morning = ugh!

The next trip south was for two weeks, so I went armed with flour (white and whole wheat), yeast, baking soda, baking powder, and sugar. Just in case I needed to make bread or something. However, I was still short on the kitchen gadget end of things. I had to borrow a can opener and grater from two different neighbors. Other things could be approximated like a cup for a biscuit cutter (my husband actually scoffs at the "need" for a biscuit cutter but, hey, it's my grandmother's vintage one!) or a smooth-sided canning jar for a rolling pin:

I ended up using this jar quite a bit and it turned out some lovely tortillas as well as this stack of pita: (I'm really into colons at the moment)

One of the funniest (and of course, un-photographed) genius ideas was a rigged up pancake spatula from a canning lid and wooden scraper. It fell apart in two seconds and after two grubby, mangled pancakes I had the brilliant insight to make miniature cakes my wooden scraper could flip smoothly. Did that make sense? Small scraper. Small pancakes.

While the challenge of living in a minimally-stocked kitchen was fun for a week or two, I'm glad to be heading back into my regular quarters with all my lovable familiar gadgetry. Ah!

23 March 2012

I just pulled these out of the oven and had to share how hilarious they looked, all leaning off to one side! I can't wait to eat one though! Still making bread every day; I'm in such a mindset with it that yesterday I made pancakes for breakfast then, forgetting I'd already made my bread for the day, made tortillas for supper!

16 March 2012

Daily Bread Continues . . .

I have to admit it. This discipline I've chosen for Lent has turned out to be a struggle some days. Originally, I thought "oh, this'll be a great way to consciously meditate on God's daily goodness to me while enjoying a passion: bread". Well, yes, sometimes it has worked out like that. Then there are the day(s?) where I hurriedly mixed up a few tablespoons of flour, a bit of oil, and some water to fry and eat at 11:00 pm. Or that other day when I woke my husband from a couch nap at 10:30 (PM!) to make him eat some fresh, homemade soft pretzels with me. There was also that weekend traveling that I simply bought an "add water only" biscuit mix to make my daily bread with (hint: these are okay fresh but pretty much yuk the following day!).

Mixed up with all of that has been the gigantic headache of turning our house inside-out for extermination purposes, the disappointment of not getting internet access at our new home (at the outset of this bread thing, I was planning to blog every day as part of my discipline), the scare of a smoking--yes, SMOKING!--washing machine, and a few trips between new home and old home (the second time I remembered to pack flour, salt, and my arsenal of leavens along with a week's-worth of clothing for the family). Ah, yes, and we're going camping this weekend. Have I really decided to make fresh bread every day?!? It's beginning to feel like a discipline rather than a pleasant exercise, and the whole being-mindful-of-God's-goodness thing has become a lot more relevant (read: "difficult") too.

But I suppose that's the point of a discipline, eh? Sticking with something no matter what happens to make you want to quit it. And I have been, actually.

Some days I've really needed the reminder that God is good and is going to take care of my needs. My husband and I have joked about all the calamities that have been striking us, but we're both healthy; we have a beautiful baby; we get to spend time with our families; materially, we're not in need; we have plenty of food to eat and lots of good friends to share it with; our new neighbors are great . . . I could really go on and on. Do I need to worry about getting renters for our old house or sob over some of the disappointments of our new place? Maybe a little. But I think my faith in God can supersede those things. One day at a time.

SO! This is a cooking blog, right? And maybe you're wondering about the picture I started off with.

One of the delightful meals I got to make this month (the 1st of March to be exact) was a pork pot pie with a soda bread crust (that satisfied the daily bread requirement). I browned, then stewed a half pound of pork tenderloin with some onions and garlic, then added cooked potatoes, sweet potatoes, and peas to it along with a vegetable gravy to thicken it up. The vegetable gravy was made with a roux (melted butter and flour) to which I added a veggie broth I made by boiling the veg skins I had from the potatoes, sweet potatoes, and onions. I also added some veg bouillon to deepen the flavor. The filling all got dumped in my cast iron skillet then covered with the soda bread crust (recipe from an Irish cookbook I have) and baked until the crust was done. YUM! Only things I would change are less salt in the crust and a bit thicker/chunkier filling (I had a limited veg selection on hand). I also think this could easily be made all in the skillet rather than three different pans. Don't you like the cute country hearts on the crust, though? =)