My first attempt in recent memory at cooking one type of what may be the world’s oldest food: bread! Lessons learned:
- Cooking bread with olive oil maybe works. At first the bread tasted strange, but by the next day it tasted quite good. I think next time I’ll try using butter or vegetable oil to see how that turns out.
- Use bread flour, not all-purpose flour. The “crumb” of the bread (the stuff inside the crust) didn’t develop very well and I blame it on the low gluten content of the flour.
- If you start baking at 9:30pm then nobody will be awake to enjoy the results with you when they’re done!
- Don’t trust the kitchen timer to reach your ears all the way upstairs.
In the end the bread was good but not great; the experience gained, though, was definitely worth the effort.
Having just eaten lunch at Kneaders I was struck with a really cool idea: I’m going to make my own Kneaders-like meal, doing as much from scratch as is reasonable. This would include the following:
- The Sandwich
- Vegetables: grow the lettuce, tomatoes, herbs, onions, sprouts, etc.
- Bread: not milling my own wheat or anything, but baking the bread on my own
- Cheese: can I make cheese?
[I won’t bother trying to do the meats or the eggs (for mayonaise) on my own]
- Soup: grow some broccoli and make a cream of broccoli soup, or grow potatoes and make potato soup
- Pickles: pickled from my own cucumbers
- Potato chips: made from my own potatoes
Since I haven’t been growing the right vegetables I’ll do it next year.
Tonight for my dinner group I cooked an assortment of dishes:
1. Greek-inspired beef. I bought several pounds of roast for something like 5 dollars, sliced it into long strips, and cooked it along with fresh parsley, tomatoes, fresh spinach, red wine vinegar, soy sauce, tomato paste, a little bit of hot hungarian paprika (which I got from David a long time ago—thanks, Dave!) and—added last to prevent melting and dissolving—crumbled feta cheese.
2. Pilaf. I simmered 3 cups of rice in about 1/4 cup of butter until many grains of rice turned clear and some had been browned. Then I cooked the rice in 6 cups of water, just like I normally cook rice except with added chicken bouillon powder. Because I didn’t put a lid on it I had to add a bit more water later to let the rice get soft enough. Then I added a bit of turmeric and some little bits of carrot (which this photo from Wikipedia reminded me David used to put in his plov, which is the Russian analog to pilaf) and some leftover bits of parsley.
3. Beets and beet greens. I washed three whole beets and chopped the greens off. In one little pot I boiled the actual beets, and in another little pot I boiled the greens. The beets took a little while to soften up—maybe 60 to 90 minutes (I wasn’t really paying attention.) I thought the beets and greens were all fabulous as they were, but those who didn’t grow up on such delights might like the beets better with butter and the greens better with salt.