Saturday, February 05, 2011

Bread and Jerky

Its a beautiful day here! It's well into the 50s and the snow is melting off. The sun is shining and warming up the house. I enjoy snow and cold, but not when its in my house.  I know how to stay warm in a chilly house, I have plenty of experience, but its never fun to have to be bundled up just about all the time. Thus the space heater. But more on that later.

Today, I got busy making beef jerky and bread. I found some nice round steak at the grocery store with little fat marbling. That's important because fat goes rancid much faster than the meat, and the meat will dry out, but fat doesn't. I cut the outside fat off the meat and cut the meat into pieces just small enough to fit in the food processor. I put the meat into the freezer for 30 minutes to firm it up, but not enough to freeze it through. Good for slicing the meat thinly. I had thought to use my food processor to quickly cut thin slices, but that didn't pan out. The food processor more chopped the meat into small pieces, even with the "slicer" blade. So, out came my trusty Alaskan Inuit blade -- a gift from my in-laws after their Alaskan cruise. Its great of slicing meat.

With my blade I sliced the meat as thin as I could, ideally between 1/8 and 1/4 inch thick. And now a confession... I used the jerky cure and spices from a box. Its good stuff, but I'm sure I can do it cheaper on my own. But, I had the box of cure and spices, so I used them. Anyhoo, let the meat coat, and layer it in the dehydrator. 

Its still in the dehydrator, blowing the moisture from the meat into the air. Which is nice because its so very dry right now (I've also got the humidifier running). I'll let you know how it turns out.

I also made bread today. I love making bread and tend to use the Basic Tassajara Yeasted Bread from The Tassajara Bread Book*. But every time I've made bread, its good, but crumbly. Too crumbly for sandwiches. I've thought that if I could make sandwich bread, I won't need to buy any. But, gotta get the bread right first.  I started out by googling "how to make bread less crumbly" and found several suggestions that sounded like they would work. So I adjusted the recipe I'd normally make and used less whole wheat and more white flour. Then, when I kneaded the bread, I left it stickier than I normally would, and made sure it never rose too far (those were from the various suggestions I'd read off google). When the loaves came out of the oven, I was so eager to try some, I didn't let it cool all that long... and I wasn't disappointed!

Its so soft, just like sandwich bread should be! I will continue to buy bread until I can make this kind of bread consistently. But this encouraging that I *can* make this kind of bread. I have dreams of someday making all our various bread products, and having a true baking day; though in the summer it might be worth buying bread to save on the cost of air conditioning the house... an oven running all day sure heats everything up -- great in the winter, poopy in the summer. I wonder if one can bake bread in a solar oven -- anyone know?

Now, I turn my attention to school. Mid-quarter reports go out Monday and I should have those finished before then. Blah, I hate highly dislike the paper work involved in teaching. (had to use the mark out, looked like fun!)

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