Last weekend, I unwrapped a brand new dutch oven to make my first loaf out of Flour Water Salt Yeast. It was the single largest equipment purchase I have ever made toward working out of the cookbook of the month. My dough, which fermented for five hours and was halfway into its second proof, looked perfect. I knew it was going to be a good bread.
The Saturday White Bread is the first recipe in FWSY, and as far as I can tell, one of the shortest in proofing time. Even so, this was longer than any loaf I had tried prior to picking up this book at Amanda’s suggestion. It was an intimidating process: measure by weight, mix by hand, knead it in the bowl, ferment for five hours, and then, when it came time, blind back that son of a bitch in my brand new dutch oven.
Guest Written by: Amanda Cruz, AKA Baking Waifu
Hello, Amanda here! I started baking bread about two years ago and fell in love with it as a hobby, so when Theresa expressed an interest in trying out bread making for herself, I was one of the people behind her with pompoms and a bag of flour. As a child I had a love for bread that bordered on a complex, and while I have more self control as an adult, there’s still something about a warm loaf of bread that makes me want to dive right in and forget balanced food groups.
I actually picked up baking on a whim, but with the gusto of a college student who has her own kitchen for the first time. My first loaf was tragic, lopsided and a bit anemic in color, but I ate it with the smug satisfaction of someone who had created a masterpiece. Since then, I’ve experimented with different recipes and cookbooks, but have only kept two up on my shelves. One of those is Flour Water Salt Yeast, and it’s quickly become a favorite.
In August, I chose Soul by Todd Richards as our cookbook of the month, and I have to be honest, I didn’t do a lot of cooking. I was sick and struggling with an intense bout of depression, so I don’t believe I have given Soul its proper dues. What I did get to try, however, went over well with the husband. At least I got that much.
During planning stages, I was very obsessed with the section of the book dedicated to collard greens. This is an ingredient suspiciously absent from my normal cooking, partially due to my upbringing and partially due to stigma that surrounded it. This kind of food is supposedly not the kind of thing white, midwestern people eat, and I did not want to stray from it. I wanted to understand it. The only two recipes I actually got to play with were collard green waffles and collard green fried rice.
These waffles are made in the cookbook to be paired with a smoked trout, but I was unable to find this ingredient. I used them as part of a classic chicken and waffles combination that my husband now refers to as one of the best things I have ever made. I am now obligated to make this for special occasions in the house.
Still, I learned through the recipes that I did get to that the book suffers from what I call ‘project cookery’. Not many of the recipes are good for the weeknight. I wanted to try a salmon croquette recipe, but it calls for a near four hour marinade of the salmon. I don’t have the time for that! Certainly not when I’m sick.
Where our previous book was very much for the weeknight, this one is not. That does not discount it’s value, however. Soul has plenty of fun things to try for a weekend, something special. It will remain on my mind going forward so that I can revisit my views on the book for the end of the year.
Soul is an interested if challenging new look on an American cuisine often overlooked by the culinary community. The book has been well received online, and it’s easy to see why. Soul challenges the cook and the cook’s views about food. You can get it on amazon. Last I checked, it was on sale.
It's time for another one of these.
As you have probably noticed, my posts have been slim lately. I was sick in August, and here lately I have been reconsidering the structure of Eating Normal.
After today, you will have at least one post a week, always coming out on Sundays. Our focus will be on the cookbook of the month. Any sporadic posts that occur outside of that will be final reviews of the cookbook, what's coming next month, and the occasional restaurant reviews and recipes. Consistency is my goal, and I haven't been reaching that. It's my hope that this new structure will help me find it.
Thanks for your understanding going forward. Your regularly scheduled programming will return next week, and hopefully I'll have my final review of Soul for you tomorrow.
An idea born in Normal, Illinois, Eating Normal hopes to chronicle the eating Experiences of a Red bird.
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