and a photo essay - of bread
The past week has been one of much. Much fun, much laughter, much done. I've made, marketed and met up. In these dog days of summer, I'd safely declare that this would be, by far, the most productive.
At this point, you would probably be wondering - what has bread got to do with oatmeal? It's not the bread pudding oatmeal I've made before, clearly, and there's that burnished, pockmarked loaf of something that vaguely resembles bread above, it's edges starkly illuminated by morning light.
And if you read the sub-heading, this is a photo-essay - of bread. This sultry heat of summer, despite slowing down my movement, has left my mind to idle. Either way, I've decided to start a new chapter to this space, (inspired by Kinfolk, which I've been hooked onto) one which documents my weekly wanderings, snapshots to suspend in time, and everything in-between. If you visited the recently revamped art section, you'd see that I've compiled my craftwork recipes as well as the particularly noteworthy moments in life. So, in a nutshell (and a big one at that), I'm adding a section to the art section on my Weekly Wanderings, where I'll forage into life and publish these documented moments.
#1 and #2 : bread basked in morning light
#3 : Thursday's breakfast, to the likeness of incredibly-flattened bunnies
#4 : Wednesday's breakfast, after snapping the above shots
Alright, so what exactly is bread? There's so many different versions of this amorphous term, much like the shape-less dough itself. Bread is that giant loaf of dense walnut rye down to the petite jam-filled bun. Bread is both artesian and Asian. Bread is both man and machine-made. And bread - it is the stuff of childhood.
I kid you not. It is bread I truly love. It's enveloped me in it's pillowy embrace, has me fascinated with it's pockmarked perfection. There's nothing better than tearing apart a piece of bread and watching the fibres of it's being separate before placing that chunk in you mouth, savouring the feeling of teeth sinking into the fluffy substance which borders on chewy.
#1 and #3 : sourdough slices with rhubarb jam
#2 : pumpkin bun from the market which I'm currently munching on now - a childhood favourite
But, halt! This isn't going to draw on into another dusty and dry monologue filled with dreamy drawls as I marvel at bread - been there, done that. Here, I'll fill you up on what I've done this week - which firstly was to bake bread. Not that combine-flour-water-yeast-bread-machine bread (for the indolent), but true sourdough consisting of the naked essentials of water, flour, salt, and good faith in Michael Pollan's book Cooked. Really, I condemn that machine-made bread. It pales in great comparison to bread from the hand, not just in terms of effort, but of crust as well (get it?). I've spent much of the end of last week and beginning of this to stare at my starter, occasionally giving it a dubious sniff.
It's bubbled and emitted a fermented smell, pungent and resembling that of yeast. Later, combined with the leaven and dough, which was a wet mess, it never really worked out fine. I watched it tumble onto the floured sheet with dismay - would it work? Still, I wasn't about to dump my slodgy dough away without attempting to wing it first. So into the oven it went, despite bearing a startling likeness to wet cement, and out emerged a browned loaf of pockmarked bread, dense and slightly wobegone, but I Did It!
Celebration involved the next few days consisting endless thick toasts, slightly differing to normal sourdough in terms of moisture, but a success taste-wise. Back and forth I'd go, toasting bread and slathering on a multitude of spreads (see above) - peanut butter, black tahini, chocolate, jam, marshmallows!, etc. Pictured here is toast with rhubarb + ginger jam I attained from Mark and Spencer's, and a worthy purchase at that.
It's incomparable to real rhubarb, which I've hunted up and down for, but no luck. So armed with the concept of something is better than nothing, I went ahead, stretched out my hand and in the basket it went.
What other (mis) deeds I committed this week:
- went out to the relatively-barren Universal Studios with a soul-sister with an aptitude for baking and largely similar habits as me i.e picking at food when full. We successfully conquered nearly all the rides, leaving aside the ones which fulfilled the criteria of children-targeted and in-the-sun. Overall, it was a day well-spent and bid farewell to with both of us pulling home (balloon) cows.
- went grocery shopping at the market by myself, and returned with an abundance of cherries. Hooray indeed!
With those freshly purchased cherries, I proceeded to make honeyed black tea cherry oatmeal.
They mock me, those cherries, nearly glowing and bursting with ripe-ness. See? It was worth making that trip to the market (which wasn't super).
Honey (and tea) proves to be another of my childhood staples. There was never anything better than the last slurp of a spoon after my mother dipped it into the jar for some beverage or another, handing me the spoon to lick clean. It's got a homely taste, honey, a subtle sort of sweetness which lulls, unlike maple syrup which pops with syrupy sweetness. Knowing that cherries and honey go well, as do sweet and sour, I've incorporated them into this recipe which brings back the flavours of home.
Have cherries for a simple topping, or add more, if desired. And as always, enjoy warm.
*head to the bottom for S'mores Toast
Honeyed Black Tea Cherry Oatmeal
1/2 c oats
1 tsp of black tea leaves
1 c liquid (1/2 tea, 1/2 milk)
1-2 tsp honey (adjust to preference)
3-4 cherries, pitted and halved
1. Boil water in a pot and brew tea. Pour out 1/2 c worth and set aside.
2. In a pot, combine oats, honey and cherries. Stir and let it cook over low heat for a minute or two.
3. Pour in tea and milk. Increase the heat to med - high and stir occasionally.
4. When the liquid is almost fully absorbed, pour into a bowl and top with a few more cherries and honey, if wished. Serve warm and enjoy.
2 slices of bread
A small handful of marshmallows, chopped if they're too big
1 tbsp. cacao powder
1 tbsp. maple syrup
1. Lightly toast bread. Remove and preheat oven to 'broil'.
2. Spread marshmallow evenly over bread.
3. Broil for approx. 2 mins, or until marshmallows are lightly browned.
4. Meanwhile, whisk together cacao and maple syrup.
5. Remove bread and drizzle. Serve warm and enjoy.