Tuesday, August 17, 2010

The Best Use of Space, and Fresh Bread

The office space is finished, like I posted yesterday, so here's a picture of the end result.  That's our cat Molly approving of the sunbeam and the perching spot (the best vantage point from which to watch the guinea pigs on the other side of the room).  I like how this paint reflects light through the day, sometimes seeming a little greener, and other times a little more gold-green.  Eventually I'll have to rearrange again, when my husband makes the art table for me this fall.

Our house isn't being used the way it was designed.  The "office" is actually our dining room, but since we have an eat-in kitchen we don't use it as a dining space.  The actual living room of our house is my husband's office/music room - he has a Hammond organ, a Kurzweil electric piano, and an Axiom 61 keyboard, along with his Mac and his favorite reading chair.  He enjoys making music, so that's his room.  Our family room is where the seating and TV are, so it's our de facto living room.  I guess we're not the only family using their house space for uses other than the traditional arrangements.  I see no point in having a formal living room, or formal dining room.  That's not important to us.  Using the space we have to be creative and enjoy our avocations takes priority.  Eventually, though, I'd like to finish half the basement into a rec room.

A friend mentioned on Facebook that she made fresh bread this morning.  That sounds so good, I might just have to do that myself today.  There is nothing as good as fresh bread, warm from the oven, with real butter melting into it.  (I have dibs on the heel!)  I have a favorite recipe, adapted from the "Beard on Bread" cookbook by James Beard.  I modified his "Basic Home-Style Bread" to incorporate white whole wheat flour.  Here's my recipe, with apologies to Mr. Beard:

1 package active dry yeast
2 cups warm milk (about 115 degrees)
2 tbsp. sugar
1/4 cup canola oil
2 tsp. salt
3 cups white whole wheat flour (King Arthur brand is best)
2-3 cups white flour

Place the warm milk in a large bowl.  Mix in the salt, flour, and yeast, and allow to proof (sit for 5-10 minutes to start the yeast growing; the milk will start to look foamy on top).  After the yeast has started to become active, add the canola oil, and gradually add the white whole wheat flour, mixing well after each cup.  A wooden spoon works best for this.  Begin adding the white flour, until the dough is stiff and ready to be turned out onto a floured counter top or kneading board.  Knead for about 10 minutes (until the dough is supple and smooth).  In a clean, large bowl, add a couple tablespoons of canola oil.  Place the dough in the bowl, turn it to make sure its covered with a little oil on all sides, cover it with a clean cloth, and set it aside to rise.  (If you're doing this in the winter, make sure it's in a warm place, like a cupboard, or a room with a wood stove.)  It should double in bulk, and this will take 1 1/2-2 hours.

After the dough has risen, punch it down, turn it out onto a floured surface, and knead it again for a few minutes.  Divide into two equal parts and shape into loaves.  Place each loaf in a lightly greased large loaf pan.  (You can also make three smaller loaves and use medium loaf pans, but you'll need to reduce the cooking time slightly.)  Let the dough rise until doubled in bulk again (covered, in a warm place like before).  Bake at 400F for 40-45 minutes, or until the loaf sounds hollow when tapped.  Remove them from the oven, let them rest for a few minutes, and turn the loaves out to finish cooling.  (This recipe makes good sandwich bread, and amazing toast.)  Enjoy!

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