Wholesome Rosemary Bread

rosemary loaves

Of all the abundant gifts of produce that come my way, the most popular herb is rosemary; thus, I created my simple Rosemary Eggs on 2017/08/21.  Now, as bread-baking weather is upon us, I offer a wholesome loaf featuring this sweet, piney flavor.

In Culinary Artistry, Andrew Dornenburg and Karen Page describe how certain food combinations best heighten pleasure in our palates.  In their pages, they list meat as the number one compliment to rosemary.  When I think of these two substances together, I immediately go to lamb, with childhood memories from my mother’s kitchen.  According to Dornenburg and Page, this herb also magnifies the savor found in suckling pigs, pork, game, steaks, veal, chicken, salmon, and oily fish (e.g., mackerel, sardines); I also find it strengthens egg dishes.

When considering uniting rosemary with a vegetable, potatoes are paramount, though our authors also couple it with onions, peas, mushrooms, spinach, and beans, among which dried and fava beans are best; those of us that prefer a vegetarian diet can benefit from this knowledge, using it liberally in our bean dishes.

I was a vegetarian for most of my twenties; moving to Tokyo changed this proclivity, for I didn’t want to offend my Japanese hosts by refusing proffered meat dishes; in part, this herbivorous preference in my youth still rests with me today, for my daily caloric intake includes mostly meatless dishes, though I am not afraid in the least to partake of animal flesh.

Rosemary, our evergreen shrub, a native to the Mediterranean, is a member of the mint family; it is a woody perennial herb that grows quickly and without much effort in temperate climates, such as that of the Pacific N.W.  Its Latin name means “dew of the sea”.

The Greeks and Romans cultivated it for both culinary and medicinal purposes; today it is still utilized in these two ways: among a number of medicinal intents, its antioxidant effects are known to reduce inflammation (rosemary was used as a remedy for gout in the 1500’s), and presently some also apply it as a homemade insect repellent (for this recipe, see homeguides.sfgate.com/homemade-rosemary-mosquito-repellent-recipe-73124.html).

The ancients made use of this herb in weddings, funerals, and ceremonies of all sorts.  In days past, brides often entwined it into head-wreaths, as it symbolized for them: fidelity, love, abiding friendship, and remembrance of the life each woman had led prior to her marriage.  Some sources claim that men of antiquity believed it improved memory, though this can only be partially substantiated.

With its sweet, lemony, slightly piney taste, rosemary is traditionally found in Mediterranean cooking-especially with the meats mentioned above-where its potent flavor is liberally applied.  Culinary Artistry states that grains also provide a powerful union with this herb; my present recipe employs this dynamic duo.

I made this rosemary bread for my church friend Charity, who was first in line this summer, supplying me with this garden treat; her strong response was that I should sell these loaves at farmer’s market.  Nevertheless, with my passion for writing, I don’t have time to regularly bake for the public, but oh how I love to cook for my friends!

References:

Andrew Dorenenburg & Karen Page, Culinary Artistry (Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 1996), p. 205.

https://www.thespruce.com/history-of-rosemary-1807655

health.bastyr.edu/news/health-tips/2011/09/rosemary-herb-history

www.ourherbgarden.com/herb-history/rosemary.html

https://www.botonical.com/botanical/mgmh/r/rosema17.html

homeguides.sfgate.com/homemade-rosemary-mosquito-repellent-recipe-73124.html

easy chopping of  rosemary in food processor

Rosemary Bread  Yields: 1 loaf.  Total prep time: 3 hr/  active prep time: 30 min/  inactive prep time: 2 hours/  baking time: 30 min.  Note: this method produces quick, easy, mess-free bread, the greatest!

4 c flour  (Blend 3 c whole wheat flour with 1 c unbleached white flour, or better yet, for premium bread, grind 2 2/3 c organic hard red spring wheat berries to make a total 4 c of flour, see photo below.)

2/3 oz, 4 stems, or 3 tbsp chopped fresh rosemary

1 1/2-1 3/4 c tepid water  (110-115 degrees in temperature.)

1 individual packet, or 3 tsp yeast  (Red Star Active Dry Yeast comes in a 2 lb package, available inexpensively at Costco; this freezes well in a sealed container for long-term use; if using yeast from freezer, may thaw ahead of time for quicker proofing.)

6 1/4 tsp sugar

1 1/2 tsp salt  (Real Salt is important for health; available in nutrition section at local supermarket.)

Spray oil  (Coconut spray oil is best; Pam is available in most grocery stores; our local Winco brand, however, is far less expensive.)

  1. grinding flour with attachment to kitchen aid mixer

    If grinding your own flour, begin to do so now (see photo).

  2. Place 1/4 c water, lukewarm to the touch (110-115 degrees), in a small bowl; stir in yeast and 1/4 tsp sugar.  Let sit in a warm place, until double in size, about 10 minutes-this timing depends on temperature of room.  (Note: frozen yeast will take longer to rise.)
  3. Remove rosemary from stems, chop, and set aside.  This may be done in food processor; see photo at top of recipe.
  4. Place ground flour, rosemary, 2 tbsp sugar, and salt in processor.  Blend well with machine; stop and stir once, using hard plastic spatula that comes with processor.
  5. When yeast is doubled, add it and 1 1/2 c tepid water to flour mixture (if grinding fresh flour, use 1 1/4 c of water only).  Turn machine on and knead for 35 seconds; turn off and let dough rest for 4 minutes (see photo

    dough-made with fresh-ground flour-after initial kneading

    of dough, as it appears after this first kneading-dough made with store-bought flour isn’t as wet, however, as that of fresh-ground, because it has a finer grind, which absorbs more water).  The resting period cools dough, which is essential as processing increases heat; too much heat will kill the yeast.

  6. After pausing for 4 minutes, turn on the processor; knead dough for 35 more seconds; let rest for 4 minutes.
  7. Take out and knead by hand for 5-7 minutes, or until satiny smooth, minus the rosemary lumps (see photo below for dough before and after kneading by hand).  As wet dough readily sticks to hands, rinse them as needed, to facilitate easy kneading.  (Note: dough may be somewhat wet and sticky at first, but much moisture is absorbed with kneading by hand; this is especially true with fresh-ground flour.  IF your dough needs adjusting for some reason, do the following: if it remains quite wet and sticky, after kneading by hand for several minutes, slowly add more flour to your board as you knead; if it is too stiff to knead by hand easily, place back in processor; knead in an 1-2 tbsp of water, depending on how stiff it is; watch and rest dough, as not to overheat it; repeat if needed.  Ideally you want soft, pliable dough, which is smooth to the touch, when finished.)
  8. Place prepared dough in a well-oiled 13 gallon plastic bag; let rise in a warm place for 50-60 minutes, or until double.  (To facilitate proofing in a cold kitchen, may warm oven for 20-30 seconds only; be careful to only warm slightly, just taking edge off cold, as too much heat will kill the yeast.)
  9. Spray a bread pan with oil, preferably coconut spray oil; punch down doubled dough, forming it into a loaf; place in pan; use a piece of plastic wrap, which has also been sprayed, to loosely cover dough-this keeps it moist.
  10. Let rise until double for 50-60 minutes, depending on room temperature.  About 30 minutes into rising process, preheat oven to 400 degrees, to insure oven is ready when it is time to bake.  (IMPORTANT: if proofing loaf in oven, be sure to remove it, before turning oven on.)
  11. When double, bake for around 30 minutes, or until bread sounds hollow when tapped on bottom.  (Ovens vary slightly in temperature; my oven takes 27 minutes to bake a perfect loaf.)  Enjoy this excellent staff of life!

1970’s Whole Wheat Banana Bread

cooling bread in pan for 5 minutes

I became a vegetarian during college in the early 1970’s.  When I moved to Tokyo six years later, I gave up this proclaimed role, because of my need to be open to all foods proffered by my Japanese hosts.

While abstaining from meat and fish, I searched for healthy alternatives in an array of natural food cook books.  There I found treasured recipes which I still use today; one was for this powerfully good, whole wheat banana bread.

Bananas have a long history.  Alexander the Great discovered them growing in the Indus Valley in 327 B.C.; they had been cultivated, however, in India since 2000 B.C.  Documentation dated in the 7th century shows that China was using them in abundance also.1

Portuguese explorers reported this same fruit in western Africa in 1482, where it probably had been grown for a long time; these Europeans adopted its local name Musa sapientum, which was originally given this fruit by Alexander the Great.  In 1496, Spanish conquerors found an intense cultivation of bananas in Tenerife in the Canary Islands.2

Nevertheless, the United States didn’t experience this tropical fruit until 1804, and then only in a limited way for the next 50 years; this delectable was imported infrequently, in such relatively small quantities as 300 stems, by sailing ships coming from the Caribbean or Central American ports.3

In 1830, during this early inactive period, Capt. John Pearsall brought the first full cargo of bananas, 1500 stems, to New York.  This man later became a N.Y. commission agent, specializing in the import of this prized fruit.  In the mid-nineteenth century, he went bankrupt when his shipment of 3,000 stems arrived too ripe to sell; big money was tied up in each of these loads, for then a “finger” sold at the exorbitant price of 25 cents wholesale.4   This was at a time when factory workers, consisting of women and children, were making between 25-50 cents per day.5

More and more cargoes from Honduras and Costa Rica were reaching New Orleans, New York, and Boston during the two decades before 1870, the year when large-scale banana traffic really began.  As the 70’s opened, the now more abundant bananas were sold, foil-wrapped, at a fair in Philadelphia for 10 cents a stem; it was the first time many of these fair goers had ever indulged in this delight.6

By 1885, 10,000 stem cargoes were being shipped from Jamaica in 10 to 12 days. Next, just prior to the turn of the century, this exotic fruit spread to inland America by rail express.7

Now, however, bananas are common and cheap; every American has experienced them, along with their familiar sweetbread.  This 45-year-old banana bread recipe is one of the best among thousands.  Here I have included grams, as someone recently requested that most accurate of measurements for my baking receipts; measuring in grams insures foolproof baking.   Nevertheless I can’t express how easy and certain this preparation is, even with cup measurements, for I could make it with my eyes closed.  Receive!

  1. James Trager, The Food Chronology (New York: Henry Holt and Company, Inc., 1995), pp. 18, 9, 41.
  2. Ibid., pp. 78, 18, 81.
  3. Ibid., p. 196.
  4. Ibid., pp. 217, 234.
  5. Stanley Lebergott, Chapter: Wage Trends, 1800-1900, The Conference on Research in Income and Wealth, The Trends in American Economy in the Nineteenth Century (Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 1960), pp. 449-500.
  6. James Trager, The Food Chronology (New York: Henry Holt and Company, Inc., 1995), pp. 283, 301.
  7. Ibid., pp. 320, 360.

wheat grinding attachment on a kitchen aid

Whole Wheat Banana Bread  Yields 1 loaf.  Total prep time: 1 hr & 25 min/  active prep time: 25 min/  baking time: 1 hr.

1 cup (136 grams) whole wheat flour  (Bob’s Red Mill is high quality.)

1/2 cup (64 grams) unbleached white flour  (May grind 1 cup organic, hard red spring wheat berries to make total 1 1/2 cups-204 grams-flour.)

1/4 cup (60 grams) cream* or milk, soured with juice from lemon ball

1/2 cup (113 grams) butter, softened

3/4 cup (165 grams) brown sugar, packed  (Organic brown sugar is preferable, which is available at Trader Joe’s, or may substitute a healthier 3/4 cup-95 grams-coconut sugar.)

1 large egg (51 grams)

1 tsp (7 grams) baking soda

3/4 tsp (4.26 grams) salt  (Real Salt is important for optimum health; available in health section of local supermarket.)

2 large or 3 small ripe bananas (375 grams), 1 1/4 cup  (May ripen these overnight by gently, but firmly, squeezing the whole banana, until meat is mushy under the skin; let sit at least 8 hours.)

1 tsp (4.2 grams) vanilla

1/2 cup (62 grams) nuts, optional

Spray oil  (Pam coconut spray is best; our local Winco brand, however, makes this preferred spray for less than half the expense.)

Flour for dusting sprayed pan

  1. If using fresh ground flour, begin grinding 1 cup hard red spring wheat berries now (this berry makes a dense nutritious bread, which is extremely high in protein-one serving has the protein of an egg or 7 grams), see photo.
  2. Measure cream* or milk in a medium/large bowl; squeeze several squirts of lemon juice from a ball over surface; let sit until soured, about 10 minutes.
  3. Beat butter in a large bowl until light and fluffy; mix in sugar thoroughly; add egg, beating extra well; set aside.
  4. In a medium/ large bowl, mix together flour, baking soda, and salt; set aside.
  5. When cream/milk is soured (cream will appear curdled more than milk), add bananas to bowl and mash well with a fork; blend in vanilla; set aside.
  6. Add alternately flour and banana mixtures to butter mixture.  When all is incorporated, mix in optional nuts.  Beat well.
  7. Spray a 9 x 5, or 8 x 4, inch loaf pan; lightly dust with flour; pour batter in prepared pan.  (This bread will be denser when made in the smaller pan.)
  8. Bake for 55-60 minutes, or until bread responds, bounces back, when pressed with finger.  May also test with a toothpick; it is done when toothpick comes out, of soft area in crust, clean.  Do not over bake.
  9. Cool in pan for 5 minutes; then, remove and finish cooling on rack; see top photo.  Keeps well in refrigerator, wrapped in paper towel, and sealed in gallon size storage bag.
  10. This is a staple in my home!

Onion Bread

grinding flour with attachment on a Kitchen Aid

Bread is proverbially known as the staff of life.  Indeed, my onion bread promotes vitality in body and soul; how it nourishes.

Words, as well as bread, establish the life force in each of us.  As my blog unfolds each week, I passionately look up even the simplest definitions; thus, I am able to best express my vision to you.

I see maxims in cooking, succinct formulations of principles or rules of conduct, which subsequently transfer over to our everyday existence.  My specific choice of terms defining food preparation displays concise truth that releases liberty to our total person.

Each written expression must have the precise force to propel that which is being born in my thoughts.  My broad scope for this website is to set captives free from all hindrances to receiving healthy nutriments.  My salutary insights first change our natural physiques; then, invigorate our minds; last, heal our emotions and spirits.

It has been spoken that the word of God is the bread of life.  We find freedom with it, as it produces needed change, which sheds light on the hidden fractures in our being.  This day may you be rejuvenated in my life-sustaining English meanings, God’s word, and this good onion loaf?

To gain this we must rise to action, by taking courage; one must purpose to step into the unknown.  Read on to grasp how the fundamentals of bread baking transfer to indefatigable living.

Let’s start with the practical first: may I encourage us to take a leap of faith by nimbly making bread with a food processor?  Blessings follow immediately with the remarkable ease which replaces this otherwise messy/time-consuming work.  Quickly we master making homemade bread using my simple, detailed directions; these comprehensive steps will circumvent all mistakes.  Let us allow ourselves the luxury of a little practice, which guarantees ultimate perfection.

There will always be new horizons, with greater challenges to overcome, as we walk through life.  Our proper attitude about this allows us to approach necessary growth with unspeakable joy and confidence.  It is, however, critical to learn the power of patience-both that needed in times of trouble and, equally important, the calm endurance required while waiting for promised good.

Faith is critical in learning this quiet process of baking bread, as well as achieving tireless living.  Take my pledge that simple, better bread is fool-proof if you honor my comfortable instructions.  Likewise effortless patterns of existence are more readily obtainable, as we draw upon my maxims found between cooking and living.  We dare to reach out for superlatives.

Now for the final stretch: when the time is right, invest in a wheat grinder for optimum health-giving bread with a long shelf life.  Grinding our own wheat is a quick, one-step process: merely place the mixing bowl under the wheat grinding attachment on a Kitchen Aid, turn the machine on, and  the purest of flours is produced minutes later (see top photo).  If you don’t have a Kitchen Aid, it is possible to buy less expensive appliances that only grind wheat.  Trust, you won’t be sorry that you made this investment!

easy mincing of onion

Onion Bread  Yields: 1 loaf.  Total prep time: 3 1/4 hr/  active prep time: 45 min/  inactive prep time: 2 hr/  baking time: 30 min.  Note: these steps are detailed, making this process easy to learn.  Also see Cocoa Bread (2016/05/300, Rosemary Bread (2017/10/16), and “Cuban” Holiday Rolls (2017/11/20).

1 3/8-1 5/8 cups tepid water, 105 to 115 degrees

1  individual packet of yeast  (May measure 3 tsp of Red Star Active Dry Yeast from an inexpensive 2 lb package, available at Costco, which may be frozen in a sealed container for long-term use.)

2 tbsp plus 1/4 tsp sugar

1 cup unbleached white flour  (Bob’s Red Mill is high quality.)

3 cups whole wheat flour  (If desired, grind 2 2/3 cup organic hard red spring wheat berries to make the total 4 cups of flour.)

1 1/4 tsp salt  (Real Salt is important for optimum health; available in the nutrition section at local supermarkets.)

1 cup yellow onion, minced  (1 medium/large yellow onion needed, refer to step 3 and above photo for easy mincing.)

4 tbsp dried chopped onion  (Available in bulk; also in jars in the spice section; save all jars and refill yearly with fresh, inexpensive bulk spices; place adhesive tape with date of purchase on each jar.)

1-13 gallon plastic bag

1/8-1/4 cup oil  (Any kind will do for oiling the bag.)

Spray oil  (Coconut spray oil is best; PAM is available at most stores; our local Winco brand, however, is far cheaper.)

  1. If grinding your own flour, begin to do so now (see top photo).
  2. Place 1/4 cup lukewarm water in a small bowl; stir in yeast and 1/4 tsp sugar.  Let rest in a warm place for about 10 min, or until it becomes creamy, foams, and is nearly doubled in size.  (When using yeast from the freezer, it will take longer to proof.)
  3. Meantime mince the onion the easy way (see photo).  Peel it leaving the root on; next, score this by cutting slices close together across the top one way, going 3/4 of the way down into the onion; then, turn it and cut slices the opposite direction.  When onion is prepared thus, shave the minced pieces off the end with a sharp knife.  Set aside chopped onion, save leftovers for other cooking.
  4. In an 11 cup (or larger) food processor blend well: flour, 2 tbsp sugar, salt, minced fresh onion, and dried onion.
  5. When yeast mixture is doubled, add it and 1 3/8 cup of water to flour mixture in food processor (only 1 1/8 cup will be needed for fresh-ground flour, which has a coarser grind).  Note that coffee measures are 1/8 cup; Good Cook, available at our local Winco, has an inexpensive one.
  6. Knead for 35 seconds; let cool by resting for 4 minutes; be aware that processing heats dough, which kills the yeast, if cooling is not allowed.
  7. After dough has cooled, knead again for 35 seconds; let rest for 4 minutes; take out and knead by hand for 5 minutes.  As you start kneading, it should feel somewhat moist to the touch-a lot of moisture is absorbed with kneading by hand.  (This is especially true when you grind your own flour.)  Lightly flour hands and counter top IF needed, while kneading dough.  When it sticks to hands, it helps to regularly wash and dry them.  Dough should be soft, slightly moist, but not sticky, and rather smooth, with the exception of the onion bumps, when finished.  In the case dough becomes too stiff to knead easily, place back in food processor, add 1-2 tbsp of water, depending on how stiff it is, and follow kneading instructions above; repeat if necessary.  Be sure not to overheat dough.  Again, dough will be soft, elastic, and smooth to the touch (minus the onion bumps) when kneading is complete.
  8. Place in a 13 gallon plastic bag, in which you have evenly distributed 1/8-1/4 cup of oil.  Let rise in a warm place for 50-60 minutes, or until doubled.
  9. Punch dough down, form it into a loaf, place in a bread pan sprayed with oil.  Also spray a piece of plastic wrap with oil; drape this loosely in and around the loaf.  Let rise for 50-60 minutes, or until doubled.
  10. 30 minutes into this last proofing time, be sure to preheat the oven to 400 degrees; this insures oven is ready when dough has risen.
  11. Remove plastic wrap when loaf is doubled; bake 27-30 minutes, or until it sounds hallow when tapped on bottom with fingers.  (Temperatures vary slightly from oven to oven-my oven takes 27 minutes.)
  12. Cool thoroughly on rack.  This keeps well in refrigerator for 3-4 weeks, when wrapped in paper towel and sealed in a storage bag.  This process becomes extremely easy and quick with practice!  Enjoy.