Craig Ponsford Bakes Whole Wheat Ciabatta

...r. You can incorporate ingredients by hand or with a stand mixer. Just don’t knead! Baking requires a scale. Ponsford is very insistent about this and with good reason. As he puts it, when he hears about someone’s bread disaster, 99% of the time it’s because they did not use a scale. Rather than dust flour on work surfaces in order to handle dough you’ll see Ponsford use water instead. He also wets containers that he puts...

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Is Modern Wheat Killing Us?

...agriculture, have the unintended consequence of increasing allergic reactions? Are older varieties healthier for us? What have we lost in terms of flavor when we decreased the diversity of grain varieties? Is sourdough bread a pro-biotic food? Could some of the allergy problems associated with bread be related to commercial yeast strains and the way commercial yeast processes sugar? I’ll spend the rest of this week taking a deeper...

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Making Tofu From Scratch at the Institute of Domestic Technology

Around once a month I teach a bread class at the one of a kind Institute of Domestic Technology, founded by our friend Joseph Shuldiner. The IDT is not your usual cooking school and its offerings are difficult to define succinctly. If I had to take a stab at explaining what the IDT does it would be that it teaches things worth doing from scratch that most people haven’t attempted since the pre-Betty Crocker era: cheesemaking, home coffee...

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Happy Fornicalia!

Oven at Pompeii. Image: Wikipedia. Today (or roundabouts) the ancient Romans celebrated the festival of Fornicalia in tribute to Fornax, the goddess of the hearth and baking. And, yes indeed, it’s where we get the word “fornicate” — for reasons that aren’t entirely clear. It’s either because prostitutes used to operate out of bread oven-shaped basements in Rome, or because the “bun in the oven” eup...

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Extension Service Webinars on Organic Agriculture

....extension.org/pages/25242/webinars-by-eorganic. You can watch archived sessions or sign up to participate live. While the webinars are aimed at small farmers, there’s a lot that gardeners can learn. Having co-founded a bread baking club, the Los Angeles Bread Bakers, I was particularly excited to watch the  webinar on ancient grains. I’m also planning on watching “Linking Cover Crops, Plant Pathogens, and Disease Control in Org...

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TV Turnoff week April 23 – 30, 2008

...view at your own risk!). At some point we decided to give up the TV cold turkey. For a week it seemed like a close friend had died, but soon all those evenings quickly filled with activities. We learned fencing, print making, bread baking and countless other skills. We never regretted exiling the TV to the garage. Recently the tube’s come back into our lives with a certain DVD mail service, but we feel like we’ve tamed the beast and c...

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Poached eggs and greens on toast with wildflowers

...ever you like. The greens can be spiced up with onions, garlic, hot pepper, etc.–or absolutely plain. At the same time, get some water going for poached eggs. While that’s heating, toast up some nice big slices of bread. Dress that toast how you like–with butter, olive oil, S&P, a rub of garlic, maybe a bit of some gourmet spread you’ve got in the fridge–whatever. (And by the way, just because it’s not par...

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Mellow Yellow: How to Make Dandelion Wine

...I compost the spent flowers (thanks dandelion!). Then I add juice and zest from four lemons and four oranges, and four pounds of sugar (4-4-4 = E.Z.). Okay, now here’s what I think is the best part: I float a piece of stale bread, sprinkled with bread yeast, in the mixture. This technique is used in Appalachian and some European recipes. Then I toss a dishtowel over it so the mixture can both breathe and the crud floating around my house stays...

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Making Salves, Lip Balms & etc.: Close of the Calendula Series

...e mix starts to cool. I find that the lip of a liquid measuring cup gives enough control to fill even those fiddly little plastic lip balm tubes. Let the containers sit, open, until they are completely cool. Then lid them and label them. Clean up: The best way I’ve found to deal with the waxy grease residue (since I stopped using paper towels) is to shake a generous amount of baking soda into the dish and then rub it around. The soda lifts...

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