Saturday, January 25, 2014

suck it up buttercup: make the bread

Sometimes, as cooks, we have to get tough with ourselves, or at least, I do. It is snowing, again, and the temptation to put-off everything I had planned to do today, until tomorrow or some yet to be determined day when I actually feel like doing it, is very strong. I’d rather just sit drinking my tea and watching the snow fall, and maybe squeeze in a nap.  

There is an economic principal I like to apply at these times called “opportunity cost.” 

In this case the opportunity cost, is that either I won’t get to my soups tomorrow, or I’ll end up eating store-bough bread for the week because I cannot make the soups and make the bread in the same amount of time. Since, as I mentioned, our grocery budget is extremely tight – OK we’re flat - I can’t really spend anything on bread when I already have all the ingredients to make bread. If trade bread making for making lunches and dinners in advance of the work week, I then be forced to make them during the week. This means, as an example, that I’ll cursing myself come Wednesday night when I’ve been stuck in traffic for two hours, and now have to produce an meal that takes a long time to cook when I’m really warn down and don’t want to do anything. In other words, the cost of not doing a little labor in the kitchen now will be having a really shitty time in the kitchen later, and possibly being out of money before payday. Some things just cannot be corrected with a positive attitude. 

So, my bread is on the go, and the snow has finally stopped. It is time shovel.
I’m back, I know, it’s like I never left… The driveway is cleared thanks in large part our neighbor and his tractor. I managed to clear the paved section but he usually does the gravel and the rest of the private drive up to the municipal road. I am not usually a big equipment guy, but even I have tractor envy. 

My bread is in the final bench proof stage, ready to slash and bake. Dinner is going to be spaghetti with a premade tomato sauce that I canned early this fall. 

Back on the matter of opportunity cost and trade-offs. There is a cost we so often don’t measure when we’re making decisions about how we use our time and that is, what is the cost to my in terms of long term health? Sliced bread from the store is convenient, no one is debating that, but it contains ingredients my spell checker doesn’t recognize, and I’m guessing, neither do our bodies.   

This is what a bread manufacturer thinks should go into a loaf of enriches white sandwich bread: enriched blended flour [wheat flour, malted barley flour, ferrous sulfate (iron) thiamine hydrochloride (vitamin B1), riboflavin (vitamin B2), niacin (vitamin B3), folic acid], water, sugar, yeast, soybean oil, buttermilk powder, salt, potato flakes, cultured wheat flour, monoglycerides, wheat gluten, vinegar, sodium stearoyl lactylate, calcium sulfate, citric acid, ascorbic acid, azodicarbonamide, calcium peroxide, soy lecithin; may be topped with flour.  

sodium stearoyl lactylate, is a widely used food grade emulsifier which helps water and fats combine in the mixing process, it is also used as a humectant to keep bread moist. 

azodicarbonamide and calcium peroxide, are both flour bleaching agents. Calcium peroxide is also used as an oxygen fertilizer in agriculture, and aquaculture. Azodicarbonamide is allowed in the United States at a rate of 45ppm, but is banned in Europe and Australia 

 This is what I think should be in enriched white sandwich bread: unbleached bread flour, water, powdered milk, sugar, egg, unsalted butter, salt, and yeast.  

Which would you rather eat?

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