I grew up on fresh baked bread. When my Mom married my Dad and left Newfoundland for Montana and a crazy life in the Air Force, she declared that she “hated American bread.” “I absolutely hate the stuff.” “It’s not bread.” This was around 1970 and American bread meant soft, processed white stuff like Wonder Bread, which was clearly devoid of all nutritional value and wholesome flavor and a nice crumb. You see, Mom grew up in the country. And by country, I mean the extreme country of St. Mary’s, Newfoundland. My Nanny has proudly told me that they had the first flush toilet in town—put in, I kid you not, in the 1960s. If you wanted a glass of milk, you went out and milked the cow. If you wanted bread, you got some flour, water, and yeast and started kneading. If you wanted a cute mini-dress, you pulled out the sewing machine. Well, you get the picture. My Mom also told me on a number of occasions that I was a spoiled rotten, lazy American teenager and that she “was making bread at 12 years old.” Or was it 10 years old? And, yes, I was spoiled rotten—by her, no less.
So, when I moved out of my parents’ house and started living on my own, did I take up bread baking? Hell, no. What struggling graphic designer in their 20s has time for proofing yeast and mixing dough by hand and kneading and rising and punching down and forming loaves and rising again and finally baking? This was all I knew of bread baking. Then years later (in 2006 to be exact), I discovered Jim Lahey’s no-knead bread making method in The New York Times. Well, that changed my life. A few years after that, my talented and amazing friend Jason O’Malley turned me on to Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day. Two words: mind blowing. You mix up your dough by hand in a big plastic container, let it rise in the container, store the container in the fridge, and form a loaf of bread when the spirit moves you. That’s it. No proofing. No kneading. No heartache, because the bread always turns out.
I decided to bake a couple of loaves yesterday, so I could send some lovely homemade whole grain bread to preschool for today’s snack. I also sent along some honey butter (actually Earth Balance vegan buttery spread—almost as good) and some honey yogurt cheese (I’ll tell you how I made that one of these days). And, of course, I made a big batch of green smoothie for the kiddos. To make smoothies for a crowd of preschoolers, I fill up the entire Vitamix. Today, I started with about 3 cups fresh squeezed orange juice and one cup of almond milk. I put in about 4 or 5 frozen bananas, a frozen avocado and a handful of frozen mango chunks. Then I stuffed the blender to the top with spinach leaves. Mmm. Super sweet, creamylicious, and vitamin-packed.