I am a freelancer in the publishing industry, so words are very important to me. I'm a leftist living in a world gone mad, so politics are very important to me. I'm an environmentalist living in a degrading world, so pick up your damn trash, get rid of your gas guzzlers, and don't touch ANWR, you self-absorbed capitalists!

Do leave comments: let's make this a conversation. If you prefer, you can contact me at friuduric at yahoo dot com.

03 June 2008

Food Challenge, Two Ways

I decided to participate in One Local Summer this year. Silly, huh? The one year I don't have access to a large garden. The one year the only food plant growing in our backyard are two pots of basil and cilantro. But I have faith in our local farmers market. As the season progresses, I'm sure we'll be able to create fantabulous meals of local produce!

And this week? The first week? I've already failed. See, we always buy eggs from our favorite farmer, Geo of Hurricane Flats Farm, at the farmers market. We always have two dozen eggs in our fridge. Except, by the time today (Tuesday!) came along, we only had four eggs left. Sheesh. So the Consort went out and bought me some free range "local" eggs from the food co-op. Since I can't confirm they come from within 100 miles of here, I can't really take credit for it.

I made asparagus and cheese fritatta, with 40% of the eggs from Geo's farm. The asparagus comes from his farm as well (100% of it, of course). The cheese is Ascutney Mountain cheese from Cobb Hill farm (another weekly stall at the farmers market). The salad mix comes from Geo as well. Until local tomatoes are ready, we have our salad without adornments other than homemade vinaigrette. We like it that way. Although it isn't made from local ingredients, the Consort and I had some Long Trail beer (local company, though).

Mmm, tasty tasty!

Doesn't that fritatta look good? Here, have a closer look:

Oooh, fluffy! And in a cast-iron pan!

You'll also notice some bread in our supper picture. Although the flour is from the local (yet nationally famous) King Arthur Flour, the wheat is grown out west. That's OK, because tonight was also the first of two Home Breadmaking Smackdowns.

I've been making sourdough weekly since January, when I got some King Arthur sourdough starter, a pizza stone, and a pizza peel for my birthday. Just last week, though, I took out Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day from the library. This was after requesting it three weeks ago (someone else had it out), and then going to the Amazon site and reading the seven less-than-stellar reviews (out of 123 reviews). Big mistake. By the time I had the book in my hands, those negative reviews had tainted any excitement I may have had about trying this book.

I figured the only way to know if this bread works for us is to compare it with the two other breads we've made recently. Tonight, it was the sourdough.

Five-minute bread on the left, traditional sourdough on the right

Sourdough takes a bit more planning than the 5-minute bread (the starter needs to be fed overnight, the sponge has to do its bubbly thing for 3 hours, then there's 2 hours of rising after the kneading and 2 hours of rising after shaping), but I use my Kitchenaid to knead the dough (sourdough is notoriously sticky dough, a pain to work with by hand), and most of the rest of the time the dough is just "resting," so it isn't a time sink for a home-based freelancer like me.

Do you like airy and "custard-like" crumb, or dense and more bread-like?

After the initial taste, it was 2 to 2. Trixie and the Consort preferred the 5-minute bread ("This tastes much more like European bread!" they said). Impera found it "too wine-y" and I thought that the crumb was too sticky. Also, I thought the crust had a bitter taste, probably from over-cooking (this loaf was 30 minutes in the oven, vs. 20 minutes for the sourdough -- but I think if I had taken it out sooner than called for in the recipe, the center wouldn't have cooked through).

By the end of the meal, Trixie had joined Impera and I on the Pro Sourdough side, and the Consort (stubbornly) remained with the 5-minute bread.

Soon, I'll make another of these loaves (the recipe makes enough batter for 4 loaves, and the dough can stay in the fridge for 14 days) and compare it to one of those no-knead loaves that have become so popular in the past year or so. I'll keep you informed!