Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Moving Day 3: Baking Bread while Packing

We're almost there. Yesterday the containers were delivered and we spent an arduous afternoon lugging nearly all of Do's and my worldly possessions down to the curb. We can almost fit everything into one container, but not quite. Bummer. That said, we've kept up a pretty impressive pace: all that's left is half the kitchen and the stuff we've been using (mattresses, sheets, towels, etc.). Today should be the last day.

In other phenomenal news, Do has got us a beautiful new home in North Oakland. It's the bottom half of a duplex, with the adorable landlords and their young daughters living upstairs. The neighborhood is a vibrant, mixed income community, yet safer than the South Side Chicago neighborhood where we lived during college. The place is also very close to all forms of public transportation (yes!! The less we have to use the car, the better!). The apartment itself is HUGE. We have no idea what we're going to do with all that space. My Dad has suggested that he move in six-months a year (I really, really hope that was a joke), and my Mom reminds us that we'll hopefully be living there until Do gets his Ph.D., so we'll definitely be acquiring stuff. Do and I agree that we're going to miss our cute, teeny, European-sized apartment here in D.C., but, well, onward and upward. If its worst flaw is that it's too big, well, I think we'll cope.

SuperMom decided that we were going to have meatloaf sandwiches for lunch yesterday (meatloaf = lots o leftovers), and asked me to bake a loaf of bread (to make a dent in the baking supplies). The cookbooks were already packed, but my little index card-recipe box was still out. In it, I rediscovered the perfect "baking bread while moving" recipe: one that uses baking soda instead of yeast and therefore doesn't need to rise. So, ladies and gents, if you're ever in the middle of moving and suddenly realize that now would be the perfect time to bake a loaf of bread, well, first acknowledge that you're just plain weird, and then use this recipe. As a disclaimer, I baked the bread in the early morning when all my packers were still injecting themselves with coffee. The bread was ready before the caffeine addicts were.

This recipe comes from a Mennonite cookbook, Simply in Season, which was recommended by a friend. The book was really appealing for someone learning how to eat seasonally: recipes organized by season, and the in-season ingredients are highlighted. Pithy little Mennonite blurbs are sprinkled throughout, extolling the virtues of family dinners and local ingredients. There were even some real winners, including several dynamite bread and soup recipes. However, I ended up giving the book to my Mom because most recipes just didn't fit what Do and I enjoy about food and cooking. The food was very middle-America, down-home hearty, no surprising flavor combinations or mind-expanding ideas. It's not a book for folks who are looking for a challenge, technically or cerebrally. The recipes are not sexy. And several of the Americanized adaptations of foreign foods (a curry, a couscous, etc.) were downright awful. So I gave it my Mom and copied down the winner recipes onto index cards.

This bread itself is dense and chewy, rather than dry. The Molasses flavor really comes through, making it perfect for sandwiches or butter & jam. It's also even easier than baking cookies.

No Rise Whole Wheat Molasses Bread (from Simply in Season).

Oil for greasing the pan
1 2/3 cup buttermilk OR plain Yogurt OR 1 1/2 cup milk & 2 Tbs white vinegar
2 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1/2 cup cornmeal
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 cup molasses
  1. Heat oven to 325 degrees. Grease loaf pan.
  2. If substituting sour milk for buttermilk, warm milk gently (30 seconds in microwave) and add the vinegar. Stir Molasses into soured milk/buttermilk.
  3. Mix dry ingredients in a larger bowl. Stir liquid into dry ingredients, just enough to combine, then pour batter into greased loaf pan.
  4. Bake until firm and toothpick comes out clean (45min-1 hour). Cool on rack for 15 minutes before removing bread from pan.
For a Lighter version:
Use 1 1/2 cups whole wheat and 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour, omit cornmeal. Substitute honey for molasses. Beat 1 egg into wet ingredients. Proceed with recipe.


noble pig said...

I still cannot believe you are doing all this while moving...honestly I'm amazed.

Ginny said...

Good Luck with the move! Make your new place have a guest room and I'll come visit! hehe! :)

Krysta said...

I'm with Noble Pig... Baking vread while moving is insane! I'm glad you guys found an apartment.

Krysta said...

I won't even have to cross the bridge to visit!

Johanna said...

that bread looks like it would get you going - love anything with molasses and cornmeal! That's great news you have a place to be moving to - and impressive you are still baking while you move

Vicarious Foodie said...

Baking bread while moving? Oh my goodness. I can't even bring myself to bake bread while lazing on the couch all weekend. Very admirable!

White On Rice Couple said...

Can't wait for the housewarming are gonna have one right? We're invited? ;)

You're crazy baking bread amongst all this business. Glad to know that you're making your house a home right away. When we moved 7 years ago, we ate fast food for a week before the move and for days afterwards! Between working and moving, it took us forever to unpack the kitchen!

Congrats on your new home!

giz said...

Hey, I'm with Cathy - where the heck do you have time for this - I'd be on another planet at this point. I think I love your mom - maybe she could teach psychgrad to love meatloaf.

melissa said...

Hope you guys are doing well over there. Looking forward to hearing about your moving/settling in/cooking adventures when you have the time. :) Warm thoughts your way~