Give Us Today Our Daily Bread

December 28, 2014

Six years ago today we started to make our no-knead bread.  We have made it every other day or so ever since and we rarely eat any other kind of bread. I just made our next loaf this morning.  I was going through some old posts last night and came across the following which was posted on December 28th, 2008.

In 1977 there was a long bread strike in England.  In some parts of the country one could pick up an expensive loaf from free-lance bakers; but I lived in a small town in Somerset and there was no alternative but to learn how to bake my own bread.  I remember the first few times being serious disasters with an inedible product, but I eventually got the hang of it.  Still, I was relieved when I could just pop down to the local store and get what I needed.

Fast forward thirty years.  We live on Commercial Drive in Vancouver, home to a number of bakeries that are well-known and popular across the city — Fratelli’s, Uprising, Strawberry, Aran Spelt, and Pane Vero to name just a few.  We’ve enjoyed bread from many of them over the years.  But a few months ago, my bride started to bake her own version of Tuscan bread;  most of the time we eat just that nowadays.  It tastes good and the process makes the whole house smell magnificent.

Last week I came across the world’s most simple bread recipe — flour, yeast, salt and water.  And best of all, no kneading is required!   A lazy man’s dream.  Last night I made the dough and this morning I cooked the loaf.   It is great — very crusty on the outside, soft and airy in the middle, and with a clean straightforward taste.  I’m pretty pleased with myself to be honest.

bread

Six years is, I guess, not very long for a tradition; but I am sure it will continue.

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Odds & Sods #4

January 4, 2009
  • jim-bradyDavid Kamp has written a fascinating detective story surrounding the legendarily prodigious eating feats of Diamond Jim Brady.  He suspects some exaggeration, but the reality is probably close enough.
  • Gertrude Baines, daughter of slaves and Obama voter, takes on the most dangerous job in the world.  The previous job-holder survived just four months in the position.
  • How do salmon find their way back home after years in the ocean?  The open sea part still seems a bit iffy, but once they reach the river, it’s the schnozz that leads.  Maybe Jimmy Durante is their patron saint?
  • The earliest artificial eye has been discovered at an archaeological dig in Iran.

Feed A Cold

January 4, 2009

Vancouver is suffering the worst snow storms that I’ve seen in my thirty years here.  There has been snow on the ground since about the 15th of December, and yesterday’s storm must have dropped another foot or so on the city.  This is so unlike us.    While pretty to look at, the snow has severe disadvantages for old farts like us, making it almost impossible to get around.  I was out for a couple of hours  yesterday, but my best gal hasn’t left the house so far this year.

However there are advantages to such enforced isolation:  We’ve both taken the opportunity to cook our little hearts out, especially herself. Magnificent breakfasts have been created, fit for kings (including my first attempt at chilaquiles on New Year’s Day that I thought were pretty good); and we have both baked tasty breads.

chicken-tagine-41My bride gave me a huge tagine dish for Christmas.   It turned out to be the perfect vehicle for my unkneaded bread, and I’ve used it twice already to that purpose.  I also used it to create a chicken tagine for dinner the other night that was quite successful (recipe at the end of this post).  On her side, the boss has cooked a wonderful chicken pot pie, and a batch of the very finest mince pies.

Let the snow keep piling — we have a larder full of goodies to keep us warm!

Recipe for Chicken Tagine

This is best made using a tagine dish but, as you will see, a casserole dish would be just fine too.

First make up the spice mixture:

1 tsp cayenne      2 tsp ground black pepper     1 1/2 tbsp paprika                          1 1/2 tbsp ground ginger       1 tbsp tumeric    2 tbsp cinnamon

Rub half the mixture into about 2lbs of chicken (thighs and breasts) cut into 1 inch pieces and let those marinate for a bit.

Pre-heat the oven to 300.  Prepare a dish, either a casserole or tagine and heat it on the stovetop.

Rough grate 2 medium onions and in the dish, slowly fry the onions, three crushed garlic cloves, and the rest of the spice mix in a couple of tbsp of olive oil.  You want the onions soft and translucent, about 10 minutes on low.

Open a large can of whole tomatoes and separate the tomatoes and the juice.

In a large pan, brown off the spiced meat.  Use a little oil and a little tomato juice to keep them moist while they brown.  As each batch is done, add the meat to the dish with the onions.

To the dish add the rest of the tomato juice, the tomatoes, crushed roughly, a pint of hot chicken stock, flaked almonds, a tablespoon of honey, and whatever dry fruit you have (a palmful of raisins, perhaps, another of sultanas, and a handful of chopped dried apricots).  Add some saffron if you have it.

Bring to the boil and then transfer the dish to the oven.  Cook covered for 90 minutes.   Garnish with fresh cilantro and serve immediately with couscous or rice.

Hope you like it!


Give Us Today Our Daily Bread

December 29, 2008

In 1977 there was a long bread strike in England.  In some parts of the country one could pick up an expensive loaf from free-lance bakers; but I lived in a small town in Somerset and there was no alternative but to learn how to bake my own bread.  I remember the first few times being serious disasters with an inedible product, but I eventually got the hang of it.  Still, I was relieved when I could just pop down to the local store and get what I needed.

Fast forward thirty years.  We live on Commercial Drive in Vancouver, home to a number of bakeries that are well-known and popular across the city — Fratelli’s, Uprising, Strawberry, Aran Spelt, and Pane Vero to name just a few.  We’ve enjoyed bread from many of them over the years.  But a few months ago, my bride started to bake her own version of Tuscan bread;  most of the time we eat just that nowadays.  It tastes good and the process makes the whole house smell magnificent.

Last week I came across the world’s most simple bread recipe — flour, yeast, salt and water.  And best of all, no kneading is required!   A lazy man’s dream.  Last night I made the dough and this morning I cooked the loaf.   It is great — very crusty on the outside, soft and airy in the middle, and with a clean straightforward taste.  I’m pretty pleased with myself to be honest.

bread


I Love Burgers

September 27, 2008

It’s true. I know they’re bad for you, with no redeeming features, but I just love them. Burgers are one of North America’s gifts to the world, along with jazz and playing golf for money. Here on the Drive, Fet’s makes the best burgers in the city; and every once in a while I just gotta have one. And I do.

In the Weekly Standard this week, is a review by Victorino Matus of Josh Ozersky’s Hamburger: A History“.  The history of the burger, something I have read a great deal about, is the history of American merchandising and the development of consumer capitalism.  It happens concurrently with  the development of other forms of retail merchandising such as supermarkets and malls.  It is all about brands and systems and algorithms that can calculate customer satisfaction-per-dollar-spent.

As the “History” reminds us, there were fast-food systems before Roy Kroc.  There was Walt Anderson and Billy Ingram and the “White Castle System”, as well as Bob Wian’s Big Boy system in California.   But Roy Kroc was special, even though, by the time he met the McDonalds brothers they had:

already successfully converted their drive-in that once served barbecue and employed carhops into, according to Ozersky, “a profit machine that you would turn on in the morning and turn off at night,” thanks to the McDonalds’ Speedee Service System. The menu was shortened and the food preparation resembled an assembly line (involving six-foot griddles, precision condiment pumps, and a heat bar to keep the sandwiches warm). In addition, the owners’ target customers were no longer teenagers but the family–particularly busy postwar mothers. By 1961, annual sales totaled $61 million; today, that number soars to $29 billion.

This would be a fascinating book to take with me next time I simply can’t resist one of Eric’s special Fet’s Burgers.