What a week!! All those Heat-Spurs games had everyone here in South Florida just a coffee swillin’, late to work, bleary eyed mess! It was exhausting and that was watching the games in the comfort of our fluffy king sized beds, with our books and laptops in the cool comfort of our conditioned air homes! So after doing a few errands this morning, an emergency mani then take Dad to the bank, I decided I wanted to stay home, bake tons of bread and maybe, JUST MAYBE, take a nap. I threw my hair back in a pony, slipped on some old Havaianas and started measuring. I always have the radio on in the kitchen. If it’s not classic rock or salsa then you can bet NPR will have me under its spell. As I added my own touches to the recipe and took notes the song “Sweet Caroline” came on. I had always HATED Neil Diamond until the day James came home from a Red Sox game and said “Oh, no, Mama!! We love that song!! They always play it at Fenway and EVERYONE sings.” From that moment on I LOVED “Sweet Caroline”. Borrowing the famous line from the movie ‘Coming to America’, “His mama call him Cassius Clay, I call him Cassius Clay!” Jamesy love “Sweet Caroline, I love “Sweet Caroline”. The song begins, “Where it began I can’t begin to knowin'”… Well, I know. I thought of the day, a hot August day, when I first met Jimmy. I remember what I had on. I had recently moved back home from Atlanta, leaving a hideous train wreck of a twisted, nasty relationship. It was baaaaaaad. Not knowing what I wanted to do with my life besides wanting to do nothing, I got a job at an exclusive design store in the Galleria. It would give me something to do plus a little money for clothes and alcohol. And not necessarily in that order. I was a mess. Emotionally not physically. I had never been lonelier or sadder. My self-confidence was almost nonexistent. I’ve noticed girls never look better than when they’ve hit heartbreak rock bottom… even their sweet smiles reflect the innermost anguish, pain and despair. But the hair’s in place, the nails are done and full makeup is on. So when you see a friend that looks unnaturally good and you’ve ruled out wild success, Botox or plastic surgery be there for her. She will be there for you. Anyway, I got a job at the design store, Arango, making probably a quarter an hour or something close to that. I didn’t care. I just wanted the love and security of my family. I even remember what I had on that day. Skinny, khaki pants with a long-sleeved, white, oxford cloth shirt loosely tucked in. Sleeves rolled to 3/4 length. Pamela’s pink and blue, cotton, Argyle vest pullover hanging out and pink alligator flats. I.Looked.Darling. and I knew it. Pamela brought me my lunch everyday and we would visit. Sometimes I would buy bologna and she would bring me a bologna and cheap, yella mustard sandwich. That was a bit of a treat because Mama wouldn’t have that trashy stuff in the house. But I’ve always had a love affair with salt. Did I mention it was on whole wheat bread? It wasn’t even called whole wheat bread then. It was called “brown bread”. Anyway, that day she brought me my lunch and as we were leaning over the counter, giggling and sharing crucial and gravely important thoughts and observations such as, “I think we should try a new flavor of Crystal Light in our vodka tonight before we go out” or “I’m seriously considering cutting the sleeves off my Southport Raw Bar t-shirt and make it a work-out shirt. It’s just too hot.” when “he” walked in. Yup. Jimmy. Chewy. Mr. Carrera. Mr. Carracas. (See! He has nicknames, too!) He wanted a Lamy fountain pen. I was impressed. No one that I ran with knew the first thing about Lamy. And then we played! We all kidded around, Pamela, too. We looked at different pieces in the store and I flirted shamelessly with him. I mean, he seemed to like it. I showed him beautiful pieces of Georg Jensen silver and then asked him charmingly if he would LIKE to buy them for me. I showed him my favorite Alvar Aalto wavy vase and let him know that buying it for me would score some serious points. We wrapped up the sale of his pen and he left. Pamela and I continued our profound discourse. “If we ask a boy to go with us to The Parrot tonight we can drink all we want and don’t have to worry about driving home.” And that’s how Jimmy and I first met. He was so nice. So gentle. But waaaay too serious. I guess he was good for me and I was good for him. I’m much more serious now. And I never go out. I like being at home. And that ol’ uptight Yankee changed, too. He’s always cracking jokes. I’m forever telling him, “You were never this funny when we were dating!” Now he’s Mister Yeah-let’s-go-out late-and-come-home-late-and drink-and-have-fun!!! Btw, it N.E.V.E.R happens. Poor thing! But when he comes home tonight after his two beers or martinis downtown he’ll have some luscious, mouth-watering, homemade bread with a thick smear of half-melted butter to greet him and he’ll be glad his girl stayed at home!
This is a fantastic recipe for whole wheat bread that I found online some time ago at a site called Six Sisters Stuff. I believe it was under the title of “6 Loaves of Whole Wheat Bread in an Hour!”. I’ve tweaked it a bit adding blackstrap molasses and multi-grain hot cereal. It’s one of my favorite bread recipes because it yields 6 (count ’em!) loaves making it well worth my time and it’s one of the fastest yeast breads out there. It has a tender crumb yet is robust enough to carry a hefty chicken salad or get a BLT to your mouth without falling apart. The honey and molasses lend a sweetness to the bread and it’s 100% whole wheat with the exception of the hot cereal. In other words, there is NO white flour involved so it’s super healthful. I used my stand-up Kitchen Aid mixer which was certainly strong enough to work this huge amount of flour but I had to be really careful not to make a mess. My bowl holds 5 quarts so it just barely held it all. It’s a pretty large amount of flour but incorporate it slowly and it’ll be just fine. Make certain your water is no hotter than 110° or you’ll kill your yeast and have to start over. Oh, and nonstick spray works better than oiling the pans by hand. The loaves freeze beautifully if carefully wrapped. Just make certain to keep out as much air as possible. So have fun and don’t forget to share!
Perfect Whole Wheat Bread
- 6 cups water between 100° and 110°
- 2/3 cup vegetable oil
- 2/3 cup honey
- 3-4 tablespoons blackstrap molasses
- 2 tablespoons yeast
- 2 tablespoons salt
- 1 cup uncooked multi grain hot cereal, I like Bob’s Red Mill or Quaker’s
- 14-17 cups whole wheat flour
- In the bowl of your stand-up mixer combine water, oil, honey, molasses and yeast. Let the yeast proof, bubble up, for about 5 minutes. This makes sure your yeast is active, not dead. I always do this regardless if the recipe says you don’t have to.
- While the yeast proofs combine in a separate bowl the multigrain cereal and 6 cups of the flour. Add to the yeast mixture when the yeast has proofed and mix well with the dough hook attachment.
- Carefully add 1/2 of the rest of the flour letting the dough hook knead the dough. If the flour slips over the sides of the bowl turn the machine on and off, on and off until the dough has incorporated all the flour. Add the remaining flour and knead until all the flour has been combined.
- Spray your 6 loaf pans with nonstick spray. Spray a little on each hand.
- Spray a little nonstick spray on your counter and turn the dough out.
- Divide into 6 equal portions and shape into loaves.
- put into greased pans, cover with clean kitchen towels and let rise until double in size, roughly 20-30 minutes.
- Bake at 350° for 35-40 minutes. The outside will be golden and lovely. If you use Pyrex keep an eye on the bottoms that they don’t brown too much.
- Cool on racks until warm then take out of pans to cool completely. Serve with lots of soft butter!