Monday, September 10, 2007

Back to School

I'm not going back to school this year in any form. Which feels a bit odd. Last year I went "back to school" as a staff member at a university. For three years previous to that, I went back to library school in late August or early September.

I needed to find a new way to employ my back to school energy this year. So, I decided to make my study functional. It's not beautiful, but this old desk and new chair are way more useful than the deck chair and two TV tables I've been using.

Sunday, September 2, 2007

Summer Breads

With my particular blend of allergies, August tends to be my most miserable month and I'm glad it's over. Not that my allergies can read the calendar. They didn't improve dramatically on September 1, but I know that the worst is over and that, in itself, makes me feel better.

One thing that helped (and I want to remember this for next year) is home made bread. Now, I know that is no one's idea of health food, but as comfort food goes it's on the healthy side and it prevented me from eating worse things.

It all started on August 1 which is Lammas, the loaf mass, to celebrate the first of the wheat harvest. In August, I baked two kinds of bread: Whole Wheat Zucchini Herb Bread and Pesto Bread. Both recipes have a seasonal aspect -- one uses a cup of a grated zucchini to use up the surplus I got from the Farmer's Market; the other uses pesto made using basil from my garden and garlic from my sister-in-law's garden.

The zucchini bread recipe came in the booklet with my bread machine, but it's up on the web here. My favorite thing about this bread: it's so light that I can eat more than I think I should but the scale won't chide me the next morning.

I made up the recipe for the pesto bread. It could use some tweaking to rise a bit better but it tastes so good that I'm afraid to mess with.

Joy's Pesto Bread for the Bread Machine

2/3 cup warm water
1/3 cup pesto
1 tsp. salt
2 tsp. sugar
2 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup bread flour
2 tsp. dry yeast

Stir the pesto and salt into the warm water. Combine the salt, sugar, and flours in a bowl. Pour the wet ingredients in the bread machine and then dump the dry ingredients on top. Make a "bowl" in the flour for the yeast and put it in.

I set the machine for the longest rise times I can get (for my machine that's the "Fruit & Nut" setting) and turn it on. Check the dough in the middle of the first cycle of kneading and add more water if too dry, more flour if too wet.

My favorite way to eat pesto bread is topped with heirloom tomato and a little grated cheese and popped under the broiler in the toaster oven until the cheese melts.