Jul. 7th, 2017

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There are few things as good as home-baked bread, but between (a) losing track of two (!) pizza stones on which to bake bread and a plastic container large enough for the artisan dough I learned to make some time back and (b) Galina's objections to heating an oven to 450°F and keeping it at that temperature for the time it takes the bread to bake (while at the same time running an air conditioner in the Houston heat), there's not been much bread baked around these parts in recent times.

As I'm sure I've mentioned before, buying bread in a store can be an expensive roll of the dice, given that the kind of bread I'm looking for typically costs $3–$4 per loaf, sometimes higher. My most recent unfortunate experience was just a few days ago, with a loaf that cost very nearly $5, the slices of which "contained" a lot of empty space, which degraded slice performance—for example, when buttering bread in the morning to go with coffee or keeping mustard inside a ham sandwich.

So a couple of days ago, while accompanying Galina and Alla while out and about, I picked up a thrift shop bread making machine at a price that would not hurt should the device turn out to be defective. A little Internet search-fu found the machine's user manual.

I made some whole wheat bread yesterday, but as it typically the problem with such bread, it was quite dense. Today, I went out and bought some white bread flour and repeated the experiment, and ended up with a loaf that was pretty airy.

I think I have what I need bracketed.

One thing led to another in the kitchen, which gave me the desire to make something that I had made a little more than 3 years ago (mentioned here). As it turned out, we pretty much had all the ingredients on hand; the only thing I really needed to get from the store in order to put this dish together was a small butternut squash, some raisins, and some pitted Kalamata olives, which were obtained in short order.

Making the concoction was not difficult, but did take some effort to keep things straight. I thought the end result was pretty tasty, and while Galina's comments about the Moroccan-style stew were pretty noncommittal, Alla declared it to be of restaurant quality.

It's getting late, so I guess I should go hit the rack. Big day tomorrow.

Cheers...

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