On Saturday, I made my weekly sojourn to the Farmer's Market. Oh how I love looking at the bright flowers and veggies all lined up for sale. Unfortunately, the pickings were a little more sparse this week. I believe it was due to a combination of use getting there an hour before it closed, hence, most of the stuff was sold already, and probably due the fact that this is the time of the growing season where there's a slight lull. The cold weather crops, such as lettuces, spinach, rhubarb, and sugar snap peas are winding down as the weather warms up, and the hot weather crops, such as tomatoes, peppers, plus everything else that takes 90 days or more to grow isn't ready for harvest yet.
I had read about a local artisan breadmaker in a local newsblog. I was hoping for a chance to speak with her, as the article as about her flax seed bread that she makes with no sugar. NO SUGAR? You heard me. No sugar. I had to ask her how she did it, because I was always under the impression that yeast needs fuel to rise. Here's a little secret about me: I'm shy. I hate walking up to people I don't know and engaging in conversation. Well, hate is wee bit strong, but I definitely get heart palpitations. But I really was curious, so I sucked it up and went to go speak to this woman. I really shouldn't have worried. She was bright and welcoming, and instantly offered a sample of her bread - a standard ice breaker. And it was wonderful! crusty on the outside, soft and chewy (but not in the over-processed way of commercial breads) on the inside. I mentioned that I'd seen the write up on her in the local newsblog, and she beamed, and bubbled, and said that she'd gotten quite a response from it.. And so our conversation took off.
I asked her about the no-sugar thing, and she explained that yeast doesn't *need* the sugar for fuel, but sugar does help in making the bread rise faster. She told me how long she lets her bread rise (first rise usually overnight in the fridge), how she prefers to cook it open on a baking stone, and much more. I was in baker heaven.
As you might remember from a previous blog, I make my own bread, but due to time constraints, and the fact that I have a bum wing,, I now make it in a bread machine. I'm seriously contemplating ditching the machine, and going back to the old fashioned way. I've also had very dim success with incorporating wheat and other grains into the bread. Could it be something so simple as hurrying my dough too fast, that led to less than desireable results? Quite possibly. This is stunning to my brain. I can slow it down, and have a better result! I am all about slow! I constantly think I must have been a turtle in a past life. I can do slow! Why don't they tell you these things in the cookbooks???
Da Hubster and discussed the bread making process on the way home from the farmer's market. He and I came up with the conclusion that the addition of sugar (or honey, or whatever is *needed* to feed the yeast) was added in during the course of time to speed things up, and it might possibly be another link in the "make it fast & plentiful* part of society that has contributed to our overweight society. It's certainly feasible. I made a small joke about sugar making the bread diabetic, and he gave a small chuckle, but seriously, folks. It's a metaphor for life...slow things can be better for you. I'm certainly going to continue to plod along, and let the slow food movement continue the right the wrongs I've done to my body over the years.
If you want to know about this wonderful lady I met on Saturday, you can look her up at www.thetravelingchef.org. Or find her on FaceBook at The Traveling Chef. And if you local to me, you can find Lizz at the Downtown Racine Farmer's Market on Saturdays.
P.S.I also bought about a pound of sugar snap peas. I'm going to try that pickled sugar snap pea recipe I talked about in the last blog post! I'll keep you posted!