Return to Simpler Times

I have blogged in the past about being a bit hippy in the sense that I have always had a garden, been a recycler before it was popular or required, used up/reused before throwing away. Long before I met my husband, I cooked from scratch, baked my own bread, and was vegetarian by choice, though that aspect is more limited as he is a definite omnivore and cooking two different meals is too onerous. We do have meatless meals occasionally, I do make sides such as macaroni and cheese or au gratin potatoes that I can eat as my meal and he as a side. During my earlier days of omitting meat from my diet, I read several books, bought a couple. Only one of them has stayed in my library, a nutrition guideline and recipe book full of vital information and anecdotes of the lifestyle changes of the authors. The book is “Laurel’s Kitchen.”

My copy is 2 years older than our marriage, 4 years older than my eldest child, well worn, well loved, and cherished. Though I rarely refer to a recipe anymore in my cooking, it is still pulled off the shelf to check my intuition when returning to cooking something I have let lapse over time.

One of those processes that lapsed after the kids were grown and less bread consumed, was bread baking. By that time, artisan loaves and whole grain breads could be purchased in the grocer or at the Farmers’ Markets. With us at home and away from others, bread baking has returned to my routine. The internet has a wealth of recipes and instructions on “how to” but I love my old book. Yesterday, I blogged that with our Natural Foods Store doing email orders and no touch curbside delivery, I bought the fixings for a meatless Mediterranean dinner, but needed to make Pita. When I first moved into this home with hubby still working across the state, Son 1 and his family were living here with me and still doing interior work on the house. They were very amenable to meatless meals and both very good cooks, so we would buy Dolmas and olives, they would make hummus and tabbouleh, and I would make Pita bread and we would feast. I haven’t made Pita in at least a dozen years, but knew that when I made them then, the recipe did not come from the internet, but from my beloved book. This morning, I pulled it back off the shelf to refresh my memory. The recipe in the book makes 24 Pitas, or if half of the dough is formed into a loaf, a dozen Pitas and a loaf of bread. I may go for half a dozen Pitas, a loaf of bread and half a dozen sandwich rolls.

When I was making bread for our growing family, hubby bought me a giant pottery bowl.

I would mix up 3 or 4 loaves of bread, beating the dough with a large wooden spoon and breaking a few of them over the years as the dough got stiff. Kneading in more flour in the bowl by hand until the dough was not sticky and turning it on a floured board or counter to finish kneading it. At a craft fair at some point, hubby bought me a wooden dough bowl.

The final kneading and rising could be done in the bowl. It was all done by hand, but alas, a wrist break, wrist surgery, and arthritis make if nearly impossible to do the entire process by hand anymore. I can do the artisan type breads, but that dough doesn’t make good rolls or Pita so we bought me a Kitchen Aid stand mixer.

It is not a commercial grade one and it struggles toward the end of kneading dough, so it gets the bread started and then I turn it into the wooden dough bowl to do the final kneading and proofing. The dough is proofing covered in that precious wooden dough bowl as I write. Later it will be divided and prepared for baking the bread for dinner and meals later in the week. A slow down in time, a return to a simpler life. There is some good come from this staying at home.