Happy happy New Year guys!!!! I hope you all had amazing Christmases/Holidays and got to ring in the New Year with style (or, if you’re like me, lazing about on the couch with the BF with a great movie on the TV, and sangria)!
My Christmas holiday was awesome; not all that restful, but awesome! (I got so many cookbooks for Christmas guys! Dad had to ship them to MTL because I didn’t have the space in my bag to bring them back!)
When I finished exams in December, I had a LONG list of things that I wanted to get done over the break, most of which were blog-related. I also had this notion in my head that I would have ALL this time to sit around for hours at a time, reading and watching Netflix. (By the end of December, I STILL hadn’t watched the last episode of Daredevil, was only half way through the first season of Chef’s Table, and had Black Mirror, Luke Cage, and The Medici Netflix Originals series sitting in my queue).
Unfortunately, between that long list of things that I wanted to get done (and only half-finished), cooking for myself and others over the break, catching up with some friends, and spending some much needed time in the gym, I managed to watch the pilot episode of Black Mirror, and one and a half episodes of The Medici. That’s it! I did get a few afternoons to sit around working on the blog, and accomplished many things in that regard, but fixing coding issues in various plugins, is not exactly restful.
At this point, I think I would be better off getting used to the idea of resting only when I’m in the grave, and just embrace the hustle that has become my daily life. I love having vacation time, not because I know how to rest or be on vacation (clearly), but because I finally have time to do the things that I want to do and pull some of my life balance back toward the middle as opposed to everything being SO freakin’ school-centred.
I’m back in MTL now, but thankfully, I get to spend the next 7 weeks in another stage (a.k.a. internship) before doing the last 8 weeks of school of my life!!!! For the first time, I’ve actually been placed in a stage that suits my interests! I’ll be interning/learning at a highly-respected private clinic in Montreal which works with athletes of ALL levels and ages!
Learning how to treat athletes is why I got into this game in the first place, and for the first time, I’ll be in a clinic where people are being diagnosed, not just treated. While I’m sh*t-scared at the load of patients I’ll be expected to work with (without ever having worked in this very different sphere of physio), I’m also excited to see how my problem-solving skills and anatomy knowledge handle the new challenge! My supervisors, and indeed the whole team, are also hilariously random. I work well with hilariously random.
I’m still not quite sure what my schedule is going to be for the next 7 weeks (hence this post being even later in the week than normal), so y’all may have to bear with me for the next week or two as I figure out my new life rhythm.
Now…how were all of your New Year’s Eves? Mine was restful…actually. Or, at least as restful as I can get. I had been saving ideas for a New Year’s Eve cocktail, and was ultimately inspired to make a Champagne Sangria! The original recipe was like a Rosemary Mimosa with cranberries, cloves, and apple slices in it. Almost never happy to follow a recipe, however, and not being a huge fan of cloves, mimosas, or even champagne for that matter, I decided to jazz it up and made a Passionfruit and Blood Orange Prosecco Sangria!!! It was phenomenally tasty. Unfortunately, the BF’s apartment isn’t exactly set up for foodography, so I won’t be sharing that recipe with you today. Some day, however, some day…
In addition to my first attempt at Sangria, I took a stab at making macaroni ‘n’ cheese; except a vegan and (traditional) pasta-less version. Specifically, I used butternut squash as the sauce base and chickpea and lentil shells as the pasta. So, as the BF pointed out, it’s mac ‘n’ cheese without the mac or the cheese.
Now, for whatever reason, I actually followed this recipe and made the (now fully-acknowledged) egregious error of adding dijon. I then had to spend almost as much time un-dijoning the sauce as I did making it. (THIS is why I don’t follow recipes, folks). I added all manner of things to un-dijon this sauce; salt, more water, honey, brown sugar, regular sugar, the list goes on. Once I managed to do ALL that, it started to taste ok, but the recipe needs work for sure; work I will be happy to do since the process of making faux mac ‘n’ cheese wasn’t all that hard, and it means I get to eat more pasta! Win!
However, the whole dijon-un-dijon process thing is the reason I won’t be sharing that recipe with you today either! (The previously-mentioned lack of foodography space or equipment at the BF’s apartamento is obviously part of it as well).
The recipe I WILL be sharing with you is one of my faves! About a year ago, I figured out how to make bread; ACTUAL bread!!!!! In hindsight, I probably should have shared it with you before the Christmas Pudding post, because it was this bread that I used to make it, but as we all know, hindsight is 20-20. I’m sharing it now though! And just in time for folks to be going back to school.
The wicked thing about this bread recipe is that while it requires a few more ingredients than normal bread, it’s EASIER to make, LESS labour-intensive, AND doesn’t necessarily require any special equipment to make. Woot woot!
Paleo-ish Sandwich Bread
This wonderfully delicious every-day Paleo-ish Sandwich Bread is easier to make and less labour-intensive than regular bread! It’s also gluten-, egg-, and dairy-free!
- Prep Time: 90 mins
- Cook Time: 30 mins
- Total Time: 2 hours
- Yield: ~14 slices
- 6 tbsp lard (or 3 tbsp lard and 3 tbsp coconut oil)
- 2 1/2 tbsp sugar (or agave syrup)
- 1 1/2 cup water
- 3 1/2 tsp yeast
- 1 3/4 cup arrowroot starch
- 1 1/2 cup oat flour
- 3/4 cup quinoa flour
- 1/2 cup potato starch
- 1 3/4 tsp salt
- 2 tsp xantham gum
- 1 tbsp baking powder
- Agave syrup or honey
- Melt your lard (or coconut oil and lard) and set aside to cool.
- Proof your yeast by first dissolving the sugar in the water in a mixing bowl and then add the yeast. Set aside for about 5 minutes. The yeast should get puffy and float on the surface of the water.
- Whisk all of the dry ingredients together in a bowl until uniform.
- Slowly fold or whisk ~ 1 cup of dry ingredients to the wet ingredients.
- Add the lard (/lard and coconut mix) to the mixing bowl, and whisk until uniform.
- Continue adding dry ingredients to the dough, and mix/knead with your hands, until you have a soft, but stand-alone ball of dough in the bowl. Avoid over-mixing the dough. You can also put your bowl in your stand mixer at this point, and mix the rest of the dry ingredients at medium speed. You may have ~ 1/2 cup of flour mix left in the bowl. This is fine.
- Sprinkle some of the leftover bread flour on a flat surface, and empty the dough onto it. Sprinkle more flour on top of the dough, and very quickly roll the dough out into a ~ 11″ x 9″ rectangle. You may want to run a bench/bowl scraper or spatula under the dough a few times to make sure it’s not stuck to the surface.
- Fold the short ends of the dough toward the centre, making sure the two ends touch. Carefully roll the dough along the long edge until you have a round loaf shape.
- Place dough in a greased loaf pan.
- Cover and let rise for about an hour or two, or until you notice it’s not rising any more. It likely won’t double in size.
- Preheat your oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Right before you put your bread in the oven, mix about 1/2 tsp of agave syrup with 1 tsp of water and brush it on top of the bread. This gives the bread it’s golden colour on top!
- Bake for 30 mins or until the bottom of the bread is golden and has a hollow sound when tapped.
The reason this baby is easier to make than regular bread is because I’ve realized that with gluten free baking, doing the second punch down yields brick-like bread. Normally, when you make bread, you let the dough rise in a bowl until it’s double in size. You then punch it down, shape it into a loaf, and let it rise again before you bake it. The distinct lack of gluten in this (or any gluten-free bread-based recipe, for that matter) doesn’t really comply with the double rise thing, so I’ve cut the rise-time, and therefore labour requirements in half. Specifically, I recommend shaping the dough into a loaf right after you mix it, letting it rise, and popping it straight in the oven!
Also, since there is no need to knead the bread, you don’t HAVE to use a mixing machine to make it. You can honestly summon up your Play Doh skills from pre-school and mix it by hand.
One related tip that I would give you for this recipe is that when you’re forming the dough into a loaf, do your best to avoid flattening it more than it needs to be. Again, unlike regular bread, the less you handle this dough, the lighter your bread will be.
Now…I’m not gonna lie to you and tell you that this bread is squishy like Wonderbread, or light and airy like a Calabrese loaf, BUT unlike most gluten free breads, it actually holds together so that you may toast it and smear butter/jam/whatever on it! It also has a nice subtle flavour not even remotely resembling cardboard (as most gluten-free breads do) that goes well with anything you want to put on it.
I legit use this bread for everything! I make sandwiches out of it, Christmas pudding out of it, toast, casserole topping, dipping it in olive oil and balsamic vinegar, etc. And since there are only 30 mins of active prep time, it doesn’t feel like you should save it for special dishes (as I have felt in the past when spending 3 hours making a single loaf of bread). This means that it’s OK to use it for everything!
Also…since this bread ISN’T Wonderbread, and because I don’t eat bread every day, I usually slice it after it cools, and freeze it. That way, I can pull slices out as I eat it. If you go through bread like Pop Rocks, however, then by all means keep it out and enjoy!
On the other hand, if you’re too lazy or forget to slice it before putting it in the freezer, you can do what my Dad does (who almost ALWAYS forgets to at least cut the loaf in half before freezing it) and just run it through the bandsaw in his wood shop! True story. It occurs almost weekly in my house; or at least it did when I lived with the ‘rents. The joys of living with an artist. (Note: That is very much a mostly joking suggestion. While my house has never suffered ill effects from eating bread off the table saw, I’m not promoting it as a legit solution).
Ok…last thing… allergen notes!
- I described this bread as being gluten-free. Oat flour is technically gluten-free BUT oats are often grown in fields beside wheat and can become cross-contaminated. SO…people with severe gluten intolerances/allergies may have trouble with regular oat flour if they don’t get certified gluten-free oat flour like Only Oats Pure Whole Grain Oat Flour or Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free Whole Grain Oat Flour
- I should also mention that baking powder contains corn starch. It’s not enough to irritate my system, but for those who are severely allergic/intolerant to corn should consider adding 1/4 tsp of baking soda to the dry ingredients instead of the baking powder AND add 1/2 tsp of cream of tartar to the wet ingredients before mixing.
Alright! That’s that for this week folks! Per usual, if you have any questions, you can comment below or email me! (That’s one of the things I actually fixed over the break!) If any of you have come up with creative ways to slice frozen bread, please share! I’ll be happy to pass them along!
Ciao for now!