MONDAY MIXTAPE – 12/4/17

A few years ago, I attended a conference presentation during which audience members were asked to construct a metaphor to represent our experiences as students.  No one had ever asked me to do this, so I was intrigued, but pretty stumped.  Then I remembered my old boom box, with its radio and dual cassette deck–I always kept a blank tape handy, ready to press “record” whenever something caught my ear.  I realized that I did the same in the classroom, gathering bits and pieces from various sources, often without an idea of how–or even if!–those pieces would fit together. That was the joy of making and sharing mix tapes; when crafted thoughtfully, they were greater than the sum of their parts.  

In that same spirit, I share a weekly “mix” of articles, recipes, book recommendations, and ideas in the hopes that something I share might fit into your own personal, ever-evolving collage. 

Have something you think I might be interested in?  I’d love to hear about it.  Share it here.

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Hello friends!  I just realized that, in a few weeks, I’m going to have to start writing dates that end in “18.”  That is weird, but also great, because I’m pretty ready to kick 2017 out the door at this point.  You know?

-If you would like to read something uplifting, something that reminds you of the amazingness of science and the incredible tenacity of the human spirit, I highly recommend this Houston Chronicle feature–Alive Inside: How a Houston hospital restores patients with severe brain injuries.  It’s a stunning piece of reporting on a subject that, for most of us, is mind-boggling and difficult to fathom.

-Really excited about having discovered Luminance Skin Care, a totally all-natural skin care line (it is both vegan and organic).  This is not a sponsored post, just me being really happy with their products; I ordered one of their free sample kits–you just pay the shipping–and was convinced by the results.  I’ve wanted to use less chemical-heavy stuff on my skin for all kinds of reasons, but I have also struggled with changes to my skin the last two years; I’m thrilled to have found stuff with an ethos I appreciate that WORKS.

-A couple of friends gifted me this short story collection for my birthday and hot damn!  It’s been a while since I read fiction that felt this inventive and exhilarating.  I love it so much that I’m trying to go slowly so I don’t run out of stories too soon.

-Over on Instagram, several people requested the recipe behind the bread dough I posted today.  Since I don’t have a food blog anymore (!), I don’t write my recipes down as precisely, but I’ll do my best here.  Over the summer, I started making a “daily bread” for our household, in order to save money.  I’ve been experimenting to see if I could come up with something that would meet our needs: not insanely difficult to make, sturdy enough to slice easily, soft enough that Shiv would enjoy it in sandwiches, salty enough for Jill, good when toasted.  After some experimenting, I found this Bob’s Red Mill Recipe, which I’ve adapted below–it’s hearty and healthy, but not super-dense like so many whole wheat breads.

Ingredients:

2 cups milk (we always have whole milk on hand, so that’s what I use)

1/3 cup honey

1/4 cup vegetable oil

1 tsp. fine sea salt

2 cups whole wheat flour

1 cup oat flour (blitz rolled oats in the food processor until they resemble coarse flour)

1 cup buckwheat flour (I’ve also used rye or rice flour)

1/2 cup “add ins” of your choice (hemp hearts, chia seeds, chopped sunflower seeds/walnuts, or some combination thereof)

1/2 cup steel-cut oats (uncooked)

2 T active dry yeast

2 T vital wheat gluten

 

Instructions:

In the bowl of stand mixer, combine the whole wheat flour and the yeast.  In a small sauce pan, heat the milk, honey, oil, & salt until they’re just warmer than your finger.  Pour into the mixer bowl, then beat at low speed with the paddle attachment, scraping as needed so all of the flour is incorporated.  Then, beat for 3 minutes on high.

Switch to the dough hook attachment and add the remaining flour, vital wheat gluten, oats, and “add-ins.”  Run the mixer until the dough comes together and starts to work its way out of the top of the mixing bowl, about 5 minutes.  Flour the counter with some whole wheat flour and give the dough a couple of good turns with your hands–it should be springy, but not sticky.  You may need to work a little bit of flour into the dough.

No need to clean the mixing bowl–just give the bottom and sides a good rub with some butter, then add your ball of dough, cover with a damp kitchen towel, and let rise in a warm place until the dough has doubled in size.  This will take about 45 minutes to an hour.  Gently punch the dough down, then move to the floured counter.  Divide in half with a bench scraper or kitchen knife.  (If you want to be precise, you can weigh the dough; or, just eyeball it.)  Cover with the kitchen towel and let it rest for about 15 minutes.

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees F.

Shape the dough into 2 loaves and placed into greased bread pans.  Cover again and let rise in a warm place until they’re puffed and filling the pans up nicely, about 30 minutes to 1 hour, depending on the temperature of your kitchen.  Bake for 35-40 minutes, then remove bread pans from the oven and allow them cool slightly before turning the loaves out onto wire racks to cool fully.  Don’t try to slice before they’ve cooled!  I know it’s tempting but it’s never worth it.

You’ll need to keep this bread in the fridge; I recommend slicing the whole loaf at once, so it’s easy to grab slices during the week.  Freeze the second loaf, well-wrapped in plastic or foil, then tucked into a freezer bag.  Thaw at room temperature before using.

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