A friend's question about "hard" flour had me answering about hard red (winter) wheat vs. soft spring wheat. And reading Dan Barber's The Third Plate recently also had me thinking about flavors and qualities of wheat, along with the flavors and quality of a variety of vegetables, too. It's all about the selections and growing conditions -- the epiphany is that it's not just true of "fresh" food. It's also true of our staples, such as flour, corn, eggs, etc.
Of course, this is a first world perspective, from an ability to grow excellent vegetables myself, and buy high-quality ingredients -- but it's also about paying attention to the flavor, too.
I'll never forget the amazing array of fresh vegetables in the markets in Vietnam, for example, and the landscapes pocketed with remarkabe vegetable gardens. They're all over the world. Why not more here in America?
|Market in Hoi An, Vietnam|
|Garden in local Vietnamese village, near Hoi An|
It's decent, and I think it may still be available, but having grown up interested in baking, I started making my own whole-grain bread following Martha Rose Shulman's multi-grain loaves recipe and never went back to store-bought (aside from a diversion into Father Sam's Pita Bread, mail-ordered, but that's another story).
Today, I can buy absolutely delicious bread from artisan bakers here in my mountain town. But for a price. A loaf is $6-7.50. I can buy 5 lbs. of Bob's Red Mill Organic Stone Ground Flour for $7.18 or a similar amount of King Arthur's Flour for $4.95.
Five pounds of flour makes a lot of bread, muffins, and biscuits.
I guess it's telling that the results of a search for "bread" in my blog posts brings up a lot of things, but this was the first image that popped up. Most of my loaves are better-looking, but not accompanied by persimmons!
|homemade bread and persimmons from my Piedmont garden|
1 1/2 cups of Bob's Red Mill Wholewheat Flour
1/2 of oat meal, ground fine
2 T. Sweetener (white or brown sugar, Splenda, or Stevia)
1/2 tsp salt.
1/2-1 tsp baking powder
1/4 cup walnut oil (or other fat)
Mix it all together.
Then I added toasted chopped walnuts and Zante currants, but this could be altered (almonds or pecans would be great) or left out entirely.
I rolled the dough into marble-sized balls, then flattened them with the end of a glass as thin as I could.
I baked them at 350° F for 15-20 minutes. I rebaked them later (biscotti-like) for 10 minutes at 300°F to crisp them (the currants added moisture). Without currants, you probably wouldn't need to rebake.
Eaten with ricotta honey spread, they were both tasty and unusual, at least in a world of either sweet cookies or savory crackers!