Just a few minutes after seven in the morning, a yellow cab pulls to the curb outside the apartment building. Underneath a thick wool sweater, I shivered with a mix of anxious anticipation and from the cold. The door of the cab opens, and I relax into the warm embrace of a boyfriend not seen since January of this year. He traveled across the country for his career and has returned to home. We carry the luggage into the apartment. I’ve waited for this moment for months. Instantly, our habits around each other become a familiar pattern.
Our first meal together is Banana Walnut Buttermilk Pancakes. The pancake recipe has been previously featured on MyLifeRunsOnFood.com. In this version, two-thirds a cup of white flour plus one-quarter cup of whole-wheat flour replaces the original one-cup of white flour. Toasted walnuts are added to the batter and used as a final garnish. Thin banana slices top stacks of pancakes on our plates. We enjoy a cup of mint tea and discuss upcoming stressful events. His arrival home is dear to my heart, but such events make his homecoming bittersweet. The last few months have been emotional for us, and now we’re regrouping. My stress level eases into a comfortable zone, albeit it remains on alert. Such events surrounding our lives are only a moment, not a lifetime.
In the early evening, we watch a film made in the 1970’s, The Killer of Sheep. It’s the first film being shown as part of Director Charles Burnett’s retrospective at the MOMA, The Power to Endure. En route to the film, Nicole Taylor of Hot Grease, an online radio show, sends a congratulatory text message of being named “The Root’s 30 Black Bloggers You Should Know”. That’s a big and well known website. Instead of using my boyfriend’s smart phone to read the news, I continue to enjoy our first evening together.
With the boyfriend’s homecoming and MyLifeRunsOnFood.com’s mention in The Root, my mind races with excitement, but my body is wary when it’s time for bed. I’m tossing and turning. Sleep is impossible to attain. Eventually, I give in to the struggle and start working on a Whole Wheat Bread post.
In my sleepless state of mind, I ponder the thought of starting the process of baking more wheat bread. However, the whirl of the mixer is an alarming sound. After all, I’m no longer alone in our apartment. Instead, my restless mind is put to work organizing bread photos and writing. The previous day’s excitement continues to fuel a restless mind. Eventually, it will need rest. For now, the early birds and my keyboard chatter a nighttime silence away. There’s one last slice of Whole Wheat Bread left from the second loaf. It’s delicious with swirls of crunchy peanut butter and honey.
Whole Wheat Bread
Yields 2 loaves
This is a time-saving recipe. Instead of making a loaf of bread every week, this recipe makes two loaves. After the bread completely cools, enjoy it. Tightly wrap the second loaf and place it in the freezer. It quickly thaws out within a few hours when ready to use.
7 to 8 cups whole wheat flour; divided in half
2 packages of active dry yeast, each package is 5/16 oz.
1 tbsp. sea salt
1-1/2 cups whole, organic milk
1/4 cup + 2 tbsp. butter
1/4 cup honey (love using local cream honey when it’s within my budget)
1. Combine 3 cups of flour, yeast, and salt in the bowl of an electric mixer. Lightly mix and set aside.
2. Place milk, water, butter, and honey in a medium or large saucepan. Over low to medium heat, warm mixture until the butter melts, but don’t let it boil. Once the butter melts, remove from the stove.
3. Pour milk mixture into the flour mixture. Beat bread dough at a medium speed for one to two minutes, until it is smooth. Add the rest of the flour and continue beating until the dough is stiff and starts forming a ball.
4. Dump the bread dough onto a lightly floured surface. Let it rest for 10 minutes. Knead the bread dough for three minutes until it is uniformly smooth. Place dough into a buttered-greased bowl. Turn the dough over so the butter-greased side is facing up. Cover with a damp towel and let rise in a warm place that is draft-free for one to two hours and/or until the dough has doubled its size.*
5. Punch the dough down and divide it in half. Shape each portion into a loaf (for a pictorial demonstration, see the post, Breaking Bread, in step five). Place the shaped bread dough into their individual 9 x 5 x 3 inch loaf pans. Cover with a damp towel. Place pans in a warm place that is draft-free. Let rise for one to two hours. Bread dough is ready when it has doubled its size or risen to just the top of the loaf pan. Bake in a preheated oven at 375°F for 35 to 45 minutes. When the side of the pan is tapped and the sound is hollow, the breads are ready. Also, if the bread falls easily out of the pan, then it is ready. Immediately remove bread onto a wire rack to cool. Brush the top of the bread with butter.
6. Enjoy once the breads are completely cool.
*During colder temperatures, such as in the winter, place a cookie sheet in an oven filled with water. Turn on the oven at 400°F for 1 to 2 minutes, or until the internal oven temperature is about 85°F. Then turn it off. Let bread rise in the oven with the door shut for each step’s required rising time.
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