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Hi, I'm Pam Mehnert

As Outpost's general manager, Pam's work keeps her at the office, in meetings, or in front of her computer more than a simple 40 hours each week. However, her passion as a foodie has driven her to take on this challenge for the culinary experience of...
Pam Mehnert

Week One - Oy!

A Year of Inconvenience
For one year, I'm making everything from scratch and forgoing convenience foods. Join me on my journey! By Pam Mehnert on April 23, 2010
So how was my first week? Well it started out pretty good! This project was going to be fun and I was energized by the support everyone was giving me. I figured out a few meals we could make this week, wrote a list, and then headed to the co-op.

Less to buy – yea, a quick shopping trip! Since the grocery store is essentially my work, – even though I’m mostly in my office downtown – getting in and out fast after working a long day is a challenge.

Wait… less to buy? My list of meals for the week wasn’t very long, and a number of the meals were going to involve some more involved prep time before hand. You see, as a person who typically works 50+ hours a week I am a well experienced convenience shopper. My daily lunch decisions are made in the car on the way to the store, on the way to my office. Dinner often involves deciding which of our favorite restaurants we’re stopping at when we head out of work at 6:30 or later.

But this week was different… To start with, the dinner of steak fajitas was accompanied by some “interesting” looking home-made tortillas (sorry, Honey!), and the guacamole was served without salsa because we forgot we’d have to make that from scratch. My early morning time when I usually read email, catch up on Facebook and drink coffee, has been spent creatively – okay desperately – scrambling for something to make for lunch. I got home from work one night and made crackers while dinner was cooking. So far the crackers have been a snack, like chips. Last night I made bread (again) while dinner was cooking. I’m almost out of granola, which means I’ll have to either wake and bake tomorrow (no, not that), or make it after work tonight.

One thing that has gone well this week is the bread baking. I really love baking bread and before this week I’d refer to it as one of my hobbies. This recipe is pretty easy, even for a novice baker. It’s my version, adapted from the book “Great Whole Grain Breads” by Beatrice Ojakangas.

Honey Whole Wheat Bread
(makes one loaf)
  • 1 pkg. active dry yeast (or 2 ¼ teaspoons from bulk)
  • 1 cup warm water, 105-115° (I always use purified water rather than tap water)
  • ½ cup of non-fat dry milk powder
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • 1 cup unbleached white flour (bread flour)
  • 1 ½ to 2 cups whole-wheat flour
  • 1 spray bottle filled with purified water

Heat the water in a microwave for about one minute. Add the dry milk powder to the warm water and blend it in with a whisk. In a separate bowl, add the dry yeast and blended warm milk and stir until the yeast dissolves. Immediately add in the honey and let it sit for five minutes until the yeast begins to bubble. Now add the salt, canola oil and white flour and mix with a whisk or blender until smooth. Slowly add in the whole-wheat flour about ½ a cup at a time, blending well with each addition. The dough will start to become stiff. Add only enough flour until it blends in and the dough is no longer sticky to touch.

Now get out a bread pan and lightly coat it with oil. After the dough has doubled in size, punch it down. You’re going to feel like you just ruined your dough, but punching is good for it. Now take the dough and form it into an oval that will fit into your bread pan. Cover with a towel and let it rise for another 45-60 minutes. Set the oven at 375° and when your dough has risen slightly over the top of the pan, it’s time to bake. Put the bread into the oven and spray the top of the bread with water (just about 3-4 spritzes). Set your timer for 30 minutes. After it has been baking for only five minutes, spray the top of the bread with water again, and then once more in another five minutes. This is going to get you a nice brown crust. Remove the bread from the oven after 25-30 minutes and turn out onto a wire rack to cool. The bread will be done if it sounds “hollow” when you tap it.

When it cools, enjoy it with butter because if you’re me and you want to have some jam, you’re going to have to make it first!


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