Thursday, January 20, 2011

Bread intuition

Anyone who knows me well would NOT call me a great cook. Adequate maybe. No one would associate me with words like "foodie" or "chef" or "gourmand."
Growing up, my dad was a picky eater, and my mom (who loved all kinds of foods) tended to cook to his fussy tastes: lots of meat and potatoes, bread and butter, fried eggs and home fries and greasy bacon. Vegetables? Um, well carrots were plentiful, and usually bought fresh. But green beans came from a can for all I knew. I don't think I ate a tomato until I tried one in college. The same goes for tuna, broccoli and about a half dozen other foods. I just wasn't very tuned in to what I ate.
Now I most certainly am. And I try very hard to not only eat better, tastier, fresher foods, I also try to cook more things myself, rather than buy things prepared. And I have discovered something—I'm pretty good at it. Now, I won't pretend I'm a great cook, but people I feed seem to go away smiling. But I could almost dare to say I am a great baker. I make terrific cookies, cakes, and muffins. And lately I'm all about the bread. When I'm in the process of making it , I can get completely lost. I love everything about it: reading recipes, shopping for ingredients, pulling everything together on the counter before I start. I love making messes and wearing flour on my apron, and having my family walk in and say oh wow what smells so good in here?
I love the dicey moment when I have to put the warm water in with the yeast-- there's a moment of hesitation when I hope it's not too hot— and then there's the decisive feeling I get, knowing I'm committed to it now. The kneading, too, makes me feel strong, as I work the dough just enough to do its magic. It all seems vaguely familiar---like I've always known how to make bread, though I only just learned last winter.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Considering the vegetarian life

I recently read a great interview with a vegan that I found online. I think this guy is right about a lot of things. Eating local, organic food is an act of awareness and also of protest, against an industry that has put profits ahead of food quality. I am inspired to ease in to the vegetarian lifestyle. I am not a big meat eater in general, especially red meat. I am curious to see how I will feel with no meat at all, and perhaps eventually no dairy.

You can see the article here at I'd love to know what you think and if you're inspired to make any changes.

I learned a lot while I was gone...

Hello out there...if anyone is still out there... I'm back after having to take a short break from A Teachable Feast so I could adjust to a new job. If you're reading this, I want to thank you for waiting, and for coming back. I hope I won't need any more breaks anytime soon!

In the time I was "away" I continued my food education. Lester Esser, my friend the chef, taught a class here called "Taking the Eew Out of Tofu." It was pretty fantastic. He showed us the difference between soft and hard tofu and how to handle them. We learned how to make stir-fried tofu with noodles and veggies, a tofu fruit smoothie, Buffalo tofu, and wow---a tofu creme brulee that was as good as the real deal.

The four guests in the class came away excited to have another element to add to their usual line-up of meals. I hope to work with Lester to offer this class again in the spring or summer. If you'd like to host the class in your house, post a comment here and I'll contact you to make arrangements.