March 4, 2012 § 2 Comments
If you’ve spent any time here at all you know money is pretty tight for us. We never go hungry or anything, but there is very little cushion at times and for the past week or so, we’ve been scraping: no spending unless it’s gas in the car. That means no new groceries (we eat what’s already in the house plus the eggs from our chickens), no drive through coffees, etc.. It’s not a self-imposed period of no spending. There just isn’t any money until we get paid again, and so we tighten down and make do. This go around hasn’t been horrible (we’ve done it before), but the boxed in feeling is never fun. Thankfully, these periods pass, and on the other side, I feel a little more confident in our ability to live on very little, and far more grateful for the relative luxury in which we live most of the time.
As far as cooking goes, when the money runs low, I’ve noticed I make a lot of two things: bread and beans. Suitable, right? So, today, I’m going to talk about bread and next time we’ll go over the method I use for beans. I know, I know. You’re on the edge of your seat! But these are great standbys to have in your arsenal if ever you need to tighten your belt.
Jim Lahey’s No-Knead Bread
Note: this makes a pretty large loaf of bread and unless you are feeding a large group, you will have leftovers. This is a great opportunity to make toasts (bake at 375 degrees F for 10 minutes or so and rubbed with a clove of garlic) that you can top with anything you like (cheese, fried egg, wilted greens, all of the above, etc, etc). You can also make fresh breadcrumbs. Or, you can tear them in pieces, toss with olive oil and a bit of salt, bake until crunchy, and have the best croutons you have ever tasted.
3 cups (430g) flour
1½ cups (345g or 12oz) water
¼ teaspoon (1g) yeast
1¼ teaspoon (8g) salt
olive oil (for coating)
extra flour, wheat bran, or cornmeal (for dusting)
special equipment: a 6-8 quart pot with lid (Pyrex glass, cast iron, or ceramic)
Combine all the dry ingredients in a medium-sized bowl. Add the water and mix with a wooden spoon or spatula until the flour is incorporated (not more than a minute). The dough will be pretty shaggy and sticky. Lightly oil another medium-sized bowl or large container with a lid and transfer the dough. Cover with plastic wrap or top and let sit for 12-18 hours at room temperature (about 70 degrees F).
When the time is up (the dough will have bubbles on the surface), use a spatula to remove the dough from the container to a well floured surface. With floured hands, gently fold the dough over on itself once or twice (in half is fine). Let sit for 15-30 minutes more and then shape into a ball. Move dough to one half of a floured towel (not terry cloth, but a smooth kitchen towel). Sprinkle the top with flour and cover with the rest of the towel. Let rise for 1-2 hours, or until doubled in size.
In the last part of the rise preheat the oven to 450-500 degrees F. Place the container and lid in the oven to preheat, as well. Once the dough has doubled in size, take the hot pot out of oven, take off the lid and place the dough in the pot seam side up. Don’t worry what it looks like at this point. You can transfer the dough to the pot while still on the towel by picking up the towel like a tray with two hands. Cover the pot and bake for 30 minutes. Uncover the pot and let bake for 15-30 more minutes. Remove from the oven and pot and let cool completely on a rack.