Sunday, December 2, 2007

More Rye-Whole Wheat

Made this up starting Friday, so aged the barm 48 hours before mixing the dough and baking--

Rye/Whole Wheat

Org. Rye flour
Org. whole wheat flour
Org. whole wheat bread flour
Daily Grind cornmeal
Oat flour
Soy powder
Ground flax seeds
Ground sunflower seeds
Hemp seeds
Org. gluten
Soy milk
Blyth Honey
kosher salt
San Francisco starter


and made another squash soup--this time from Eric Turner's Millenium cookbook--squash with star anise, topped with sesame seed/star anise cream. So wonderfully delicious that there was none to put away--

oh, and a first! Cleveland playwright Faye Sholitan tells me that she used details from this blog in the draft of a play that was given a staged reading just before Thanksgiving at the Cleveland Public Theatre--and that 'agave nectar' got a laugh! Should I ask for royalties?

Sunday, November 25, 2007

On soup and other things

haven't had to make bread for the last couple of weeks--still Struan in the freezer, as well as an informal whole wheat rye I put together shortly afterwards, when Ann said she really wanted a sandwich loaf. Fairly simple:

Whole Wheat/Rye

Org. Rye flour
Org. whole wheat flour
Daily Grind cornmeal
Soy milk
Org. sea salt
King Arthur “New England” starter


We spent the Thanksgiving weekend cooking--mainly soups, using our new crockpot, which we then canned.

Ann did potato/leek, a favorite adapted by Mollie Katzan, then her own Verde, inspired by a green soup from Whole World Restaurant here in Columbus, but made of whatever greens are in season. I did a couple of squash soups, since there was a great buy on squash locally last week, so I got a couple. Made a Butternut/pear/ginger soup, from a recipe in Deborah Madison's soup cookbook, a winter stew with Delicata and Kambocha squash with red lentils, from a recipe found on an animal rights' organization flyer, and Mollie Katzan's Firecracker Chili, slightly modified. Put up fifteen quarts of soup among us, and Ann got to try out the new 7 quart slow cooker that we charged out on Black Friday to get cheaply. Kitchen smelled fantastically by the time we were done!

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Multi Grain Struan--again

another multi-grain struan, from Peter Reinhart's whole wheat recipe. Had to hurry these a bit, as it was getting very late at night--so the rise not as complete as it might have been, and not quite as browned as the last batch. Ah, well. Taste still splendid--

the ingredients in this particular iteration:

Whole Wheat Struan

Whole grains:
Steel cut oats
Oat flakes
Wheat flakes

(soaked overnight, then added to the biga
King Arthur Whole Wheat
Ground flax seed
Soy Milk
Kosher Salt
Agave nectar
Organic canola oil
King Arthur “New England” Starter

Friday, October 26, 2007

Rye pumpernickel

spent the morning at a rally for Barack Obama; he gave an inspiring speech.

photo by Ann Alaia Woods

Therefore, no new loaf this week--so here's a recipe from last year:


Org. whole wheat flour
First clear flour
Org. pumpernickel flour
Rye Blend flour
Corn meal
Millet flour
Barley flour
Teff flour
Ground flax seed
Hemp seed
Barley malt
New England starter
Canola oil
Kosher salt

--and here's Obama coming in for a handshake; photo by Ann Alaia Woods, who did also get to shake his hand--

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Multi Grain Struan

Finally got to try baking from Peter Reinhart's Whole Grain Breads;
tried the multi-grain struan, Reinhart's signature bread.

Whole Wheat Struan

Whole grains:
Oat flakes
Wheat flakes
Hemp seed

King Arthur Whole Wheat
Ground flax seed
Saranac Pale Ale
Soy Milk
Skim Milk
Kosher Salt
Organic canola oil
King Arthur “New England” Starter

the mixed dough

the dough formed, after first rising

a loaf formed and sliced, before second rising

second loaf formed

the 'turban loaf' baked and cooling

the crumb

loaves are terrific--and Peter's method simple to follow. Thanks!

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Barley Honey Bread of Lesbos, sort of . . .

wanted to recreate bread from ancient Greece for a graduate seminar I'm currently teaching in Greek, Roman, and Medieval theatre. A fourth century BCE Sicilian-Greek gourmet, Archestratos of Gela, praised the honey-sweetened barley bread of Lesbos in his book, Hedypatheia (Life of Luxury). According to legend, the bread of Lesbos was so famed that Hermes regularly got bread there for the other gods. There are, of course, no recipes. Herewith a reconstruction, entirely guesswork, in the absence of anything like firm records:

the loaf version

Desi Indian Barley flour, in a three to one ratio with
King Arthur Traditional whole wheat flour
Wildflower honey, from a beekeeper in NE Franklin county
Sea salt
Olive oil
Giza sourdough

and a flatbread of the same dough

There was no dry yeast in antiquity, of course; the sourdough used here was collected in the ancient Egyptian site of Giza and obtained from Sourdoughs International. Barley flour was used by the Greeks for everyday bread; Solon at one point says that leavened bread was only used on feast days; in Peace, Aristophanes has a character refer to eating only barley bread, with the sense being that of a diet of bread and water. Also obviously, no refined or enriched bleached (or unbleached, for that matter) white flour would have been available. I also added a bit of wheat gluten to help there be a rise, even for a flat bread—which, again, would have been pretty much the norm for everyday use. The Egyptians of the period (and much earlier) used conical earthenware pots to bake loaves of bread in; I’m not aware of any similar ware in classical Athens.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Basil Olive Whole Wheat

The Basil Olive Whole Wheat loaf, with San Francisco Sourdough starter

the crumb of a smaller loaf

the dough, after overnight rise in the refrigerator

and formed into the loaf

the loaf, risen

and the ingredients:

Whole Wheat Basil Olive

King Arthur Traditional Whole Wheat Flour
Amish Cornmeal
Quinoa Flour
Oat Flour
Ground Flax seed
Hemp seed
Org. Barley Malt
Org. Canola Oil
Kosher salt
Chopped fresh basil
Chopped green olives w/garlic

Mixed 9/21/07
Baked 9/23/07

Friday, September 21, 2007

not bread, but other good stuff--

Starting bread, which will get baked in the next day or so; in the meantime:

A bread recipe from last year:

Multi Grain

King Arthur Rye Blend
KA Whole Wheat
Org. Rye
Millet flour
Org. unbleached white
Org. corn meal
Ground flax seed
Mashed sweet potato
Org. Milk
Potato water
Sea salt
Org. barley malt
Org. canola oil
Org. gluten

while the poolish is slowly rising in the refrigerator, some images from recent meals. First, black rice cakes topped with oyster mushrooms, inspired by a dish we had a couple of weeks ago at Eric Tucker's Millenium restaurant in San Francisco--couldn't begin to match his tamarind sauce

and here's the pizza we had tonight; a pesto laced crust, topped with Japanese eggplant rounds, onions, garlic and garlic stuffed olives, Ann's own tomato sauce, and other goodies---

and some spicy tofu dishes from Chi Thai, a restaurant from the east side of Columbus; great and fiery spices--

Friday, September 14, 2007

San Francisco Sourdough

A year or so after buying the San Francisco starter from Ed Wood at Sourdough International (, finally got around to activating it and making bread! Took three days to activate, following Wood's directions; made two sets: baguettes, and a no-knead loaf (again following his directions). Photos of the results below. Terrific San Francisco taste--and having just been in San Francisco last week, and had the real thing, this is either identical or so close that our jaded tastebuds can't tell the difference!

dough formed

no-knead loaf shaped and in the cast iron pot

the loaves baked; should have let them brown a few more minutes, although the look is purely cosmetic--taste still good!

no-knead baked; should have let it rise more, but it was 1:00 a.m., and I wanted to get some sleep--

no-knead crumb

and the crumb of the baguettes, resting on the other loaf

Saturday, September 8, 2007

Whole Spelt Bread

Mixed and baked today.

Whole Spelt Loaf

4 cups organic whole spelt flour
1 cup Amish cornmeal
1 cup organic teff flour
1 cup quinoa flour
½ cup oat flour
½ cup ground flax seed
1 Tablespoon organic barley malt
2 teaspoons kosher salt
12 oz Saranac Pilsner Ale
KA “New England” sourdough starter

Kneaded, shaped into two loaves after first rise; topped with seeds; baked in 425F oven 14 minutes, then lowered to 375F until done, additional 35-40 minutes. Not much of a rise once shaped, but good crumb and taste.

and as a bonus: a salad Ann put together for supper; red peppers, yellow peppers, carrots, beets, and kolrabi disks.

With a vinegrette and herbs, a welcome addition to a modest supper after a long day of baking/gardening/yard care/recuperating from much air travel.

Monday, September 3, 2007

No Knead Bread I

Finally had the opportunity (and time) to try to much-discussed no-knead bread, published in November, 2006, in the New York Times by Mark Bittman, adapted from Jim Lahey's method at the Sullivan Street Bakery. Followed the recipe from the Times closely in terms of technique and timing (full 18 hours slow first rise), although I did substitute a half cup of whole wheat flour for part of the white flour. And had to use Gold Medal all purpose flour, since that's what's available here in Japan--no high gluten or boosts of any sort.

Dough performed as predicted. Rose slowly, bubbles formed on surface on schedule. Preheated oven, with a soaked Roemertopf clay baker, into which I plopped the loose dough.

Finished loaf was indeed crusty, and delicious. Once we get home, I plan to try the King Arthur variation. But Lahey's loaf fulfilled all expectations.

I still expect to knead loaves in future, however, except for the occasional no-knead loaf. Too many therapeutic benefits!

good texture!

Sunday, September 2, 2007

Misawa Stir Fry

Cooked stir-fry for daughter and son-in-law in their kitchen on the Misawa Air Force Base in northern Japan. Had to improvise a lot, although with the base commissary, American products are available. No wok, no peanut oil, etc. But this is what we wound up with:

1 large white onion, chopped
4 gloves of garlic, chopped
2 10 oz. packages baked tofu, cubed
1/2 large carrot, chopped
1 small summer squash, chopped
1/2 small eggplant, chopped
1/2 can water chestnuts, chopped
1/2 can bamboo shoots
3 handfuls spinach, chopped
6 button mushrooms, chopped
3 oyster mushrooms
2 tablespoons capers
small dried red pepper, to taste

stir fry in canola/olive oil mixture, adding each ingredient in order

add sauce made of 1 tablespoon corn starch dissolved in 2 cups of water; cook over low heat about five minutes. Add additional water as needed, and dissolve half of one packet S&H Golden Curry (hot). Simmer an additional five minutes. Serve over rice/grain mixture

Rice/Grain mixture

2 cups brown rice
1 cup couscous
1 cup pearl barley

cook couscous according to package directions. Mix rice and barley. Sautee a handful of chopped onion and garlic in oil, add rice/barley mixture, stir to coat. Add water to barely cover. Bring pot to slow boil, cover, reduce heat, cook for 15 minutes. Remove from heat, let stand without removing cover for 15 more minutes. Combine with cooked couscous.

As is visible in the photos, this was served with a mixed salad.

And was devoured by the four adults at the table.

While doing all the chopping and preparation, kept hearing more news about Senator Craig's resignation; another conservative closet case. Seems to be a pattern: the most rabid anti-gay, 'family values' politicians turn out to be self-hating repressed gays. And in a public toilet, to boot! Couldn't have been more archetypal.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Potato Leek Pie

I'd promised to make potato-leek soup here in Japan for our daughter & son-in-law; brand new grandaughter not up to anything other than mother's milk right now. And on a trip we discovered beautiful leeks at a roadside market. But it's been very warm in Misawa, so hot soup didn't seem the greatest idea in the world. I decided tp put together a pie instead, using the same ingredients and drawing on a bunch of sources (listed below) for inspiration. This was the result:

Leek/Potato/Carrot Pie

6 fist sized white potatoes, scrubbed, roughly cut up, boiled
1 large carrot, diced
3 large leeks, scrubbed and chopped, both white and green
4 large cloves of garlic, diced
2 blocks tofu, cut up
1/2 cup olives, chopped
1 tablespoon olive oil
soy milk
pine nuts, toasted

sautee leeks and garlic in olive oil.
preheat oven to 425 degrees F
mash together potatoes and tofu, adding a little soy milk as needed (I leave potato skins in the mash, but that's optional)

Combine potato/tofu mash with leeks and garlic
add carrots, olives and seasonings (to taste)
spoon mixture into polenta crust. Top with toasted pine nuts.

Bake in oven for 15 minutes. Reduce heat to 375 degrees F.
Bake until browned, another 35-40 minutes or so.

I used commercially prepared polenta, softed with a bit of water and spread over a large pie pan. It was ok. A good Polenta Pie recipe is at Mollie Katzen's website, from the Moosewood Cookbook; Her Leek and Potato soup from the same book is our standard. Next time I'll use her recipe for the pie crust as well.

on the table

The recipe was adapted from various sources, including:

"Tofu, Leek and Potato Pie" by Derek & Rhian Jones, Wales,
"Carrot, Leek and Olive Stew" from the Vegetarian REsource Center of Boston, Mass., both from from the International Vegetarian Union,

Wednesday, August 29, 2007


The tomatoes of summer, all canned. Both red and yellow--the green jars are a verde soup, adapted from the wonderful soup at Whole World all natural restaurant in Columbus, Ohio

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Baked Potato Bread from The Fresh Loaf

Currently in Japan, visiting the Most Adorable Grandchild in the Universe (for details, see, and so having to improvise ingredients and processes.

Baked this earlier this week; the basic concept is from The Fresh Loaf (, by Floyd Mann, the guru there; my adjustments were because I'm in Japan at the moment, and don't have access to some ingredients (no chives, for example); and no bacon because we're vegan. My variation first, followed by Floyd's original

1/2 cup mashed potatoes
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup cornmeal
3/4 cup water
1/2 cup sour cream
1 tablespoon butter
2 teaspoons instant yeast
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup chopped green onions (green stems only)

mix ingredients and knead, adding all-purpose or whole wheat flour alternatively to get to a soft loaf. I used a Kitchen Aid mixer for the kneading, doing a bit of hand kneading at the end. Let rise until doubled (about 45 minutes here in an un-airconditioned kitchen in Japan with temperatures in the upper 90sF outside); shape into loaves (I placed the shaped loaves into loaf pans greased generously with olive oil, since I knew we'd need sandwich bread for picnics, etc. Otherwise would have shaped into round loaves or -- if at home -- would have used a basket), let rise until doubled (another 45 minutes); while rising, preheat over to 425 degrees F. Bake at 425 for 5 minutes, lower temperature to 375 degrees F, bake until done (in this US military issue oven, which is not entirely accurate, about 45 minutes). Cool.

I add cornmeal to most recipes; adds a nice crunch to the finished bread, and doesn't change the taste that I can tell, although a less jaded palate than mine might well notice.

and the original recipe (and see for the method, directions, and some mouthwatering photographs):

1/2 cup mashed potatoes
3 to 4 cups all-purpose unbleached flour (ambiguity in original)
3/4 cup water
1/2 cup sour cream
2 teaspoons instant yeast
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup cooked bacon
1/2 cup chopped fresh chives

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Darfur, Paris, and Bread

originally posted 7/07 elsewhere--but a recipe this time!

An interesting day. A friend sent a link to the new Amnesty International website devoted to the tragedy in Darfur, with satellite photos, eyewitness reports, and enormous amounts of information detailing the tragedy. The evidence remains overwhelming of systematic destruction, murder, rapes, all apparently with the support of the Sudanese government. Yet the United States stands by, distracted by our military follies in the Middle East and by the celebrity culture that blindsides most of us (Paris Hilton released from jail today! Will she go be sent back by an intolerant judge?--or so screams the headlines online, as we lurch from triviality to triviality, breathlessly seduced by the antics of incredibly trivial people). But we need to pay attention to Darfur, before we're pulled into yet another military debacle--or, worse, ignore what's happening as we did in Ruwanda. People need to look at -- if they do, one hopes they'll be moved to action.

Meanwhile, in Germany, the G8 issues a call to slow down global warming, but with no real recommendations, due to the United States blocking German chancellor Angela Merkel's original proposal to cut global emissions by 50% by 2050--too harsh on American business, ap
Merkel looks unhappy--Bush grins

Although Merkel and other leaders are calling the watered down statement a good beginning, at least one environmentalist says it's not, according to Claudia Kemmer of the Associated Pres, who writes today

“I know Chancellor Merkel is declaring victory, but in fact President Bush has shut the door in the faces of the other seven leaders at the table," said Philip Clapp, president of the U.S.-based National Environmental Trust, pointing to the "seriously consider" phrase.

"That is a far cry from the United States having signed up to any such reductions," he said.

Clapp said the agreement showed progress among the other countries in reaching a consensus that could be taken up by the next U.S. president after Bush leaves office in January 2009.

So again we're stymied by Bush and his crew. How long will it take us to undo the damage this bunch has done, both to the United States's reputation, as well as to the disasters, both natural and military, that they've either created or allowed to become disasters? It'll be years--

So what do I, as an involved citizen, politically and socially active, do in the face of these continuing disasters? It should be obvious: I bake bread. Herewith today's mostly whole wheat; mixed up the starter and basic dough on Sunday, aged for four days in the refrigerator, and baked early this morning.

Here's the recipe; made five loaves, so was able to use a lot of different flours (four loaves now in the freezer); great crumb, and terrific taste. And, as always, kneading the dough works out a lot of frustrations and anger at world events. Very therapeutic, a lot cheaper than psychoanalysis, much more rewarding that firing off yet another letter of protest, and you get something good to eat at the end!

Mostly Whole Wheat

Org whole wheat flour
King Arthur traditional whole wheat flour
Org rye flour
Org teff flour
Org quinoa flour
Org cornmeal
Org spelt bran
Org wheat germ
Oat flour
Chickpea flour
Millet flour
Ground sunflower seeds
Ground flax seed
Hemp seeds
Ground golden lentils
Kosher salt
Agave nectar
Org canola oil

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Com Fest, politics, and still more bread

originally posted on another blog, June, 2006. and a note: I was testing recipes for Peter Reinhart at this point, so can't post his recipes. Will add some of my own later on, when I'm not in Japan, and have access to my files in Ohio!

A busy week. This was the 34th annual Community
Festival in Columbus, an event begun in 1972 as a university area, radical student event. It's grown and moved to Goodale Park just north of downtown Columbus a number of years ago. Although it retains its radical, post-hippie sensibilities. Lots of craft artists, leftist and progressive political groups, environmentalists, animal rights folks, and so forth. And several hundred thousand others. We usually wind up volunteering at community or political booths. This year, we were to be at the booth sponsored by the Coalition of Democratic and Progressive Organizations of Central Ohio (grand name, no?), groups that grew out of the 2004 election campaign efforts and decided to continue on after the disappointing results of that election (about which more later). (The Coalition's activities are at ) That was for Sunday afternoon. But since Ann thought she might put some of her 'Some Women Are Born Leaders' tee-shirts at the booth for sale, we went down late Saturday morning.

The booth was too busy with various groups (including our own Uptown Progressives) and representatives for candidates to put out the shirts. But we ran into the formation of the Pride Parade, about to start at Goodale Park, the ComFest site.

A church group heads down State Street

The Marching Flaggots of Central Ohio

We wound up marching with the
Kilroy for Congress group.

Which meant a long walk as part of the march, and an even longer walk back to the car. But there's nothing quite so exhilarating as rounding a corner from a side street onto the main north/south artery and finding some 80,000 cheering people lining the sidewalks.

the kelly green shirts are for Kilroy

The march was logical, since we'd hosted a fundraiser for Mary Jo the night before, sort of! We'd worked with the campaign to set up a house party, invited a bunch of folks over, cleaned the house, bought food and wine, and then had the event cancelled--Mary Jo couldn't make it. We had the party anyway, although it was no longer a fundraiser. But we had a great time, and had a lot of terrific conversations about politics, both secular and religious (the Episcopal Church had just finished their convention in Columbus, and a couple of gay Episcopalian activists were with us).

Here's the group on the deck
Sunday we were back at ComFest, at the Coalition booth. Good conversations again, and very reinforcing to be with like-minded folks.

And more bread on the testing circuit; this time all rye. With decent results. The bread testing is fun, although the freezer is filling up with loaves; will have to start giving some away soon!