Oatmeal Bread

February 24, 2009

I try to make a few loaves of homemade bread at least a couple times a month. I bake four, freeze two, and devour the rest.

Here’s the version I made this Saturday – it’s a very dark, whole-wheatish version with molasses. You can make it with more white flour and honey if you’d like a lighter loaf.

4 cups milk

4 teaspoons salt

1/2 cup vegetable oil

3-4 cups oatmeal

1 cup molasses

2 tablespoons yeast

Great quantities of whole wheat flour (I never measure flour in this recipe, but I would have at least 10-12 cups on hand)

Smaller quantities of white flour (again, I don’t really measure flour when I make bread, but I’d have at least 6 cups on hand – better to have too much than too little)

Heat the milk, salt, and oil until it’s warm, but not hot. (Imagine that you’re going to give a baby a bath in it – that’s the temperature you want.) Remove the pot from the heat, stir in the oatmeal and molasses, and add the yeast.

Stir in great quantities of whole wheat flour and smaller quantities of white flour (the bread I made Saturday was about 3/4 whole wheat and 1/4 white) until you can hardly stir in another bit.

Clean off the counter, dry it, cover it with a mound of flour, and dump the dough onto the counter. Knead the dough for about ten minutes (fold, press, turn, fold, press, turn), then let it rise in a clean pot, covered with a dish cloth.

Once the dough has doubled in size (this should take a couple of hours – go amuse yourself), punch it down and knead it again. Divide the dough into four pieces, knead each one for a minute or two, then shape it into a loaf and plop it into a greased loaf pan. Cover all the loaves with a dish towel and let them rise until they double in size (this will take an hour or two, so go ahead and do something else for a while).

Bake the bread at 375 for 30-40 minutes. It’s best to cover the loaves with foil for the first 20 minutes or so – it keeps the crust from burning before the bread is done.

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What’s In My Lunch Bag, or Evidence That I am a Nomad

January 30, 2009

Remember when I was saying that it’s very important to pack a satisfying amount of food?

Here’s what I packed for lunch yesterday:

One and a half loaves of homemade oatmeal bread

One wedge of homemade cornbread

One tupperware container full of homemade cheese grits and homemade Brazilian black bean soup

An entire box of Stoned Wheat crackers

A tub of hummus

A bag full of almonds, walnuts, pecans, cashews, raisins, craisins, and dried cherries

Half of a very large carrot, many celery sticks, and a few sprigs of broccoli

An orange

A banana

Six homemade brownies

Do not fear, gentle reader. I did not consume all this food in one setting. So far, I have eaten two lunches, one dinner, many snacks, and I shared some of my bread with Jerry. And I still have leftovers! There’s enough for lunch and snacks tomorrow, too.

Why, you may ask, did I pack enough food for three days? Because I am a nomad, and I like to carry my food with me as I traipse about the law library.

Also, bad things happen when I pack a “normal” amount of food. First, I eat my lunch at 10 a.m. Then, I realize that I am starving and I buy lunch number two. Two hours later, I am starving and I buy a brownie. Basically, I am a bottomless pit.

Finally, carrying a loaf of bread around makes me feel  safe. Laugh if you want, but there’s something very powerful about knowing I have so much food that I cannot possibly run out. And by “powerful” I mean “enables me to walk past coffee shops and falafel stands and keep my money in my pocket.”


Laying in Stores for the Winter

January 13, 2009

There’s an exhibit at the American Museum of Natural History where you can see everything that happens underground: moles tunneling up to eat tulip bulbs, earthworms slithering through the soil, tree roots  sending spiky little root-hairs out for water.

My favorite part of the exhibit is the chipmunk’s nest, which is filled with layers of leaves and acorns. The chipmunk sleeps on top of all her acorns, and when she wakes up after a long winter’s hibernation, her emergency food stash is right there waiting for her.

I’ve been feeling like the chipmunk ever since getting back to New York. I’ve laid in my stores for the winter – flour, grits, quinoa, oats, butter, oil, sugar, honey, black beans, kidney beans, chickpeas, lentils, raisins, dried cranberries, dried cherries, apricots, prunes, pecans, walnuts, cashews, almonds, peanut butter, milk, eggs, and cheddar cheese – and I feel as secure as the chipmunk asleep on her acorns.

Last week, I made oatmeal bread, lentil soup, and brownies, cooked dinner with a friend, met a friend for a home-made lunch at her office, and felt smug every time I walked past a bakery with my empty wallet. It’s the dead of winter and the beginning of a recession, but I have my emergency stash right here.

Recipes after the jump

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