Thursday, 19 February 2015

Growing pains

My love affair with food has not been without its hurdles. Though, majority of them are (as tends to be the case with self-obsessed, spoiled Westerners...) my own doing.

I grew up in a small town at the Arctic Circle and the culinary atmosphere during my formative years was almost as freezing as the climate itself. I, a difficult child grew up to be one difficult teenager and naturally went through the meat is murder- phase (I did go to art school so being a vegetarian was sort of mandatory way of showing the world just how conscious and intelligent were).

Later on I worked my way through an eating disorder. Food was categorically not something to be enjoyed - it was the necessary evil; the fuel my body against all my wishes required in order to get through the 3-hour workouts. My #1 culinary feast at the time? Steamed carrot strips which I convinced myself were as good as pasta (though I was shocked to learn they too contained, like, 4 carbs). That phase put a strain on my social life too; I'd refuse meeting my friends as I couldn't allow myself to eat anywhere outside my home as I could never be sure if food cooked by somebody else contained something off my endless list of forbidden ingredients.

Some of my friends though, after not seeing me in a while refused to go anywhere with me as I looked so horrid (the way I heard that? They envied my willpower). My sisters (subtlety clearly runs in our genes!) pointed out how I looked like a concentration camp escapee (my reaction? I congratulated myself. As sane people do...)

Later on I was hell-bent on keeping kosher. Oy vey. Not the most logical thing to do if your favourite foods are made of either pork or shellfish...

Yet some of my happiest childhood memories revolve around my Dad's cooking. I suppose that is what managed to plant the seed of my love of food that later on flourished to this. My first ever recipes are scribbled down round about the the same time; with round, childish hand-writing of a 9-year-old, i's dotted with heart-shapes. This bread is one of the first recipes on that notebook, though over time the amount of oat has steadily crept up as I've grown to think white flour as the enemy...

makes 2 breads

25 g fresh yeast

1/2 l milk or water (at 37º temperature)
1 tbsp honey/ syrup
1/2 dl oil
2.5 dl rolled oats
1/2 tbsp salt
2.5 dl oat flour (finely ground rolled oats)
5- 6 dl all purpose flour

Dissolve yeast into your chosen liquid and mix well. Cover and leave for 5 minutes until it bubbles a bit. Then add oil, rolled oats and salt. Start adding oat flour and all purpose flour 1 dl at a time until you've got yourself an elastic dough that no longer sticks to your hands. Cover and leave to rise in a draft-free place for an hour or until it has doubled. 

Divide the dough in two, punch the air out and roll into two round loaves. Place on parchment-lined trays and flatten the loaves a bit. Using a glass, cut a hole in the middle and with a fork prick lines into the loaves dividing the loaf into 6 segments. Cover and leave to rise for half and hour. 

Brush with milk (or combination of milk and honey/ syrup), sprinkle some rolled oats on top (optional) and bake at 225º until golden; 20-25 minutes.

Cut the still steaming hot bread in two, spread some butter on it and pour yourself a glass of cold milk. Ah, how the world instantly feels a better place!




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