Let there be bread

1st November 2012 by

In September’s newsletter, the monthly challenge was to bake your own bread.  When speaking with other people who’ve done it before, they made it sound so easy.  There were definitely reasons to do it.  According to the Real Bread Campaign, making our own is:

Better for us
Better for our communities
Better for our planet

Bread and/or bread products are a fundamental part of our diet: 99% of UK households buy it and 74% of us eat it at least once a day but what’s really in a loaf of bread? Try reading the list of ingredients next time you’re in the shop. By law breadmakers aren’t required to include the enzymes, chemicals and additives which may be present in the bread – scary stuff.

Ok fine, I’m convinced.  But my problem isn’t the wanting to do it, it’s the how-to-get-off-my-duff-and-actually-do-it part.  Some people think using a bread maker is ‘cheating’ but when I did a quick search on gently used bread makers for sale and found one around the corner from my house, I felt like all signs were pointing onwards!  (Excuse 1 – don’t have the tools – overcome.) After handing over £30 and carefully bringing the lovely bread maker home it then sat on my counter for weeks.  It came with a recipe book and upon reading through it, I didn’t have all the ingredients.  (Excuse 2 – don’t have the materials.)  So on my day off (yes, it had to come to that) I decided to bite the bullet and go to the shops to find the materials. (Excuse 2 – overcome.)  I must admit, the fun finally began.

Carefully I read through the recipe and followed the instructions (I’m not much of an experimenter when it comes to baking… even if it’s in a machine).  I hit start and subsequently sat by it and would glance over once in awhile.  I will also readily admit that I did a little ‘yes-I-put-all-the-materials-in-the-machine-and-hit-start’ dance.  It was great.

Once the paddling began (yes there is such a thing!), I went over and looked into the little window to watch.  Intriguing.

The waiting continued…

And 2.5 hours later the bread maker beeped.  It was done and looked beautiful. After a cooling down period, and removing paddles (apparently some people really don’t like having holes left from the paddles), the loaf was complete.  And to my eyes – it was gorgeous.  It didn’t taste half bad either.

 

So, did I cheat?  Maybe a little.  Was it still successful? Yes.

Things I learned:

  • I can actually make bread (with the aid of a maker)
  • It tastes great
  • I control what goes into the loaf
  • Once I had the ingredients, it was super easy

So tell me, have you tried it yet?  Was it successful?  What’s going to be your next loaf?  I’ve taken out some ripe bananas from my freezer in anticipation of making banana nut loaf.  This is me – excited!

 

Tasty Tales – Bread Matters

8th August 2012 by

Hello!

Welcome to the second blog post of the Tastetastic food sustainability tour! We write to you from the magnificent Scottish Borders, a land of beautiful rolling green hills, many happy sheep, and an enthusiastic bunch of foodie cyclists, who have come from far and wide to embark on a 3 week Otesha extravaganza.

We started our tour in sunny Edinburgh, our first task being to cycle en masse through the capital and navigate our way to our first host – Bread Matters – who have kindly welcomed us to their home on Macbiehill Farm for our five days of pre-tour training.

Bread Matters, in Peeblesshire, provides weekend courses teaching people about the importance of slow fermentation, a traditional method of making nutritional and tasty bread. Recently, industrial bread-making techniques have arguably led to a rise in many health problems such as wheat intolerance and other digestive ailments. Bread Matters is seeking to educate people about the benefit of Real Bread – better bread for individuals, communities and the planet.

Bread Matters has been a great place to start our tour, as it is an example of a local initiative that is building a vibrant (and resistant) local food economy. The founders of Bread Matters have grown varieties of wheat (and other grains), and processed it by gently milling on a small scale. The flour that is produced is crafted into beautiful bread, and this bread is sold locally through innovative community-oriented distribution networks. This approach to local food is a ‘message’ that we hope to take with us on tour, to inspire a new generation to become more engaged with where their food comes from, and how it’s produced, as well as forging community ties through the sharing of nutritional, wholesome food.

During our time on Macbiehill Farm, we have been thrown into a whirlwind of learning workshops, thought-provoking discussions, scrumptious vegan food, and (perhaps most importantly) sowing the seeds to build our own tastetastic community. As a group, we have shared our stories, experiences, knowledge, and values with each other. There’s also been lots and lots of laughter (and some tears, too). Not to mention, being treated to use the most LUXURIOUS compost loo EVER! Courtesy of Andrew and Veronica of Bread Matters.

It’s really hard to believe that we are only 4 days into the Otesha experience – it’s as if a magic spell has been cast to temporarily stretch out space and time, with everyone happily saturated with ideas, excitement and positive energy.

This is just the beginning, and everyone is itching to get on the road, get cycling up more hills (!!) and start putting into practice everything we’ve been preparing for during training week. (But first, we are spending a vigorous afternoon tending to the small-scale agro-forestry project at Bread Matters, as a work exchange to thank our generous hosts).

Are we ready? Yes we are!

PS. A massive thank you to Amy and her team for spending 2+ hours sharing with us how to love our bikes (and maintain them).


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