It’s been awhile. And, since today is my first day of classes, it may seem like a very strange time to post again, but sometimes I need to escape to my own little perfect world of food, especially comforting, tasty food that has good memories associated with it. This is especially the kind of escape needed from a non-stop busy day of seeing long-lost friends (it has been over 8 months since I have seen some of them), reading too many syllabi, vacillating between excitement and anxiety over new courses and their associated work, and sending about a million e-mails. My tiny kitchen and lack of a food processor, cookie sheet (mine wouldn’t fit in our microscopic, slightly-larger-than-an-Easy-Bake-Oven oven), and mixer also makes me a little anxious. But, this blog reminds me of delicious homemade food that I made last week and the loved ones that helped me eat it, namely my parents and Jerry.
Because I “borrowed” Jerry’s pizza stone for a pizza party and the subsequent two weeks, I thought I may as well try to take advantage of having it. Since, I hadn’t made an actual loaf of bread in a while, I decided to venture into the “hearth breads” section of my Peter Reinhart Whole Grain Breads book. This was new territory for me; the recipes in this chapter required not only a pizza stone but also a steam pan. This entails placing a pan filled with several inches of water on the oven rack above the pizza stone. The steam created from the water poured in the very hot oven creates steam and therefore more of a distinction between “crust” and “crumb” (Bread is so fascinating, there is always more to learn!).
After the initial nervousness of spilling the water either in the oven and creating a steamy, possibly dangerous mess or spilling it on the oven door window the book warned which can cause shattering wore off, I worked up the courage to just pour the water in and slide the bread onto the pan. After a 40 minute bake in the steamy oven, several hours of waiting for it to cool and for my parents to come home, and taking a million pictures of it, I sunk my serrated knife into the bread. I was happily surprised to find a contrast between the crust and the interior of the bread. It wasn’t nearly perfect, but I was pleased with it and was able to enjoy a delicious homemade appetizer (accompanied by basil olive oil) with my parents.
I also got this crazy notion that since I was near the Whole Foods in Winston last Wednesday, I should get hazelnuts and make this recipe from Chocolate Covered Katie. I had been salivating over the recipe ever since I first saw it and it didn’t disappoint. It tastes more wholesome and less sugary than Nutella but is certainly a refreshing change. It seemed that my new Nutella-like spread and hearth baked bread were destined for each other in a sweet breakfast with a cold glass of almond milk. It was a comforting, and seemingly indulgent, way to start the day.
The bread is sadly long gone, used for dipping and for toasting, but I can only hope I have the good sense to ration out my “Nutella,” as a breakfast staple with bread or oatmeal, an easy snack with pretzels, or or an end of the day comfort in this time of readjustment and transition.