Sunday, February 05, 2012

More Food

For much of the past year, I've been working odd hours and letting it affect how I cook. There's been a fair amount of box macaroni and cheese and other convenience foods served here, even frozen entrees because UP doesn't mind heating those up to be waiting for me when I get home. Not the best thing financially, let alone health-wise, and I've been feeling kind of bad about this slipping of standards; when I was young, the only convenience food I would buy was a box of mashed potato flakes once or twice a year (for my husband, who loves m.p. and can't tell much difference between instant and homemade). I can't even do as I used to sometimes do and cook several entrees at once and freeze meal-size portions for the coming month, because I now have a very small freezer space.

One of the ways I'm working through my guilt on this lately is to make homemade bread. So earthy, so wholesome, so filled with awesome guilt-fighting power. It smells sooo good you just know it means you are still a good homemaker. (Yes, I'm laughing at myself.) I've made several batches of a bread recipe from "sarah from nyc" (her blog is here, but I found the recipe on PatternReview). It's a super easy no-knead bread, that is even easier to make than my favorite Cuban bread and uses a lot less yeast. Not having one of those cool enamel-covered cast iron Dutch ovens, I make it in a large casserole dish with a glass lid, and it comes out fine.

I also decided finally to try the Universal Yeast Bread recipe from the latter days of the Tightwad Gazette. Why I never tried it back then, I don't know; I loved the Universal Muffin recipe, quiche recipe, and casserole. (A "universal" recipe is a sort of master recipe that gives you proportions or a sort of outline that you can plug the ingredients you currently have on hand into and have it come out right because the right proportions are there.) The Universal Yeast Bread recipe turns out to be just as good or better than any of those other recipes. I have made it twice so far, once as a honey oat bread (good, although I don't actually like honey-sweetened bread myself) and once an onion bread that made delicious sandwiches as well as being really good on its own. I intend to make it again. It's more work than sarah in nyc's recipe, but I like it and can get a success even with my poor kneading skills.

While the dough was rising on the first batch, I found the website of someone who's not only familar with the Universal Yeast Bread, but with the others I mentioned, plus a Universal Pilaf recipe that seems to be her own invention. Moreover she's gone to the effort of posting these on her site, making them really easy to print out and use. I also found a Mock Alfredo sauce recipe on her site that, if it turns out as tasty as it sounds, will have both me and UP singing her praises.

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