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    Published on May 14th, 2011 | by Rita


    Bugs In The Kitchen?!

    Bugs and food. It’s not a com­bi­na­tion that most peo­ple go in for on any kind of reg­u­lar ba­sis, or in­ten­tion­al­ly, un­less you’re An­drew Zim­mer­man. I’ve got a cou­ple of dif­fer­ent kinds of bugs to­day that may make you want to head right out and get some for your kitchen. Don’t be­lieve me? Read on, dear friends!

    Most peo­ple don’t think of yeast as a liv­ing or­gan­ism, but it very most def­i­nite­ly is. I’ve got a friend who has sev­er­al failed at­tempts at brew­ing beer un­der his belt, be­cause he has failed to pay at­ten­tion to the tem­per­a­tures at which yeast thrives. Per­son­al­ly, I’ve ru­ined more loaves of bread than I’m go­ing to men­tion here, and like­ly for the very same rea­son. Re­cent­ly though, I’ve de­cid­ed that I’m done with my failed bread streak, and set out to make good bread, and not just on a fluke. En­ter King Arthur Flour, and sev­er­al tools to make my en­tire bread (and cake) bak­ing ex­pe­ri­ence a pos­i­tive one!

    I start­ed out with a bag of Chak­ki At­ta In­di­an Flour, a bag of SAF In­stant Yeast, wa­ter, salt, sug­ar and my shiny new Gi­ant Spat­u­la. With the aid of a tal­ent­ed bread bak­er, who was will­ing to walk me through the steps of bread bak­ing, we set off. Af­ter much knead­ing, pulling, push­ing, ris­ing and bak­ing, I had two loaves of gor­geous crusty light and airy bread. The se­cret? Good in­struc­tion, lots of pa­tience, and ex­cel­lent in­gre­di­ents.

    I tried bread with many dif­fer­ent kinds of flour for sev­er­al weeks, and kept com­ing back to the Chak­ki At­ta flour. It’s a fine­ly ground hard du­rum wheat flour, and while it’s com­mon­ly used in In­di­an food, par­tic­u­lar­ly in naan. I found that the high gluten con­tent, and the love­ly nut­ty fla­vor was per­fect for Tus­can-style bread as well. Be­cause of the high gluten, the dough is al­so ide­al for flat­breads and any­thing that has to be stretched thin, as it will do so eas­i­ly with­out break­ing or tear­ing. At $7 for a 3-pound bag, it’s per­haps a bit more ex­pen­sive than reg­u­lar AP flour, but well worth the cost.

    Hav­ing good, re­li­able yeast is al­so a key to mak­ing good bread. The SAF Red In­stant yeast that I have been us­ing is a top-sell­er at King Arthur Flour, and with good rea­son. There is no need to proof or dis­solve this yeast, you sim­ply add it in with your dry in­gre­di­ents, and it works as it should, ev­ery time. It comes in a 16oz. brick, for lack of a bet­ter word, and at $6, this yeast is rough­ly 75% cheap­er than any sin­gle pack­et of yeast on the mar­ket. Store it in an air­tight con­tain­er: for 6 months at room tem­per­a­ture or in the fridge; or for a year or longer in your freez­er.

    The gi­ant spat­u­la is a thing of beau­ty, re­al­ly. Not on­ly is it use­ful for mov­ing bread dough that is slight­ly sticky, it’s al­so love­ly for mov­ing pie crust, and cake rounds. It’s 8×8” square, and has an an­gled, easy to grip han­dle. I’m al­ways a fan of uten­sils that serve mul­ti­ple pur­pos­es in the kitchen, and this one fits the bill nice­ly. It’s easy to clean, as it’s dish­wash­er safe. The $13 price-tag pret­ty much seals the deal for me. You re­al­ly can’t beat prod­ucts that are mul­ti-func­tion­al, high qual­i­ty and af­ford­able.

    Hav­ing less to do with bugs, or bread, I al­so tried out the Un­bleached Cake Flour from KAF, and am hap­py to re­port adding cake as a suc­cess to my list of bak­ing ac­com­plish­ments. While the Chak­ki At­ta flour is high in gluten, cake flour is very light, and in­ten­tion­al­ly low in gluten. When you want chewy, gluten is a love­ly thing, and when you want light and del­i­cate, you def­i­nite­ly should go with cake flour. As an aside, I al­so learned that when do­ing cake (and waf­fles), it’s al­most uni­ver­sal­ly a good idea to sep­a­rate your eggs and beat the whites to a place in be­tween a soft and stiff peak, and then fold them back in to the bat­ter. Ev­ery time the re­sult is a lighter end prod­uct.

    What bet­ter way to serve up your fresh bread or cake than with a mug of cof­fee or tea? Re­mem­ber what I said about the bugs? Ants on My Mug and Plate from Bai­ley Doesn’t Bark may make you re­think your stance on ants in your kitchen. I’ve seen this type of de­sign in sev­er­al cof­fee shops and restau­rants, and it’s amus­ing. In my own home I’ve got­ten a wide range of re­spons­es to this par­tic­u­lar set. Re­ac­tions range from hor­ror to ado­ra­tion, and pret­ty much ev­ery­thing in be­tween. BDB prides them­selves on eco­log­i­cal­ly friend­ly pro­duc­tion prac­tices. For me the $80 price tag smarts a bit, but if you’re look­ing for table­ware that is sure to gar­ner some sort of re­ac­tion, this is cer­tain­ly one way to go.

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    About the Author

    Professionally in healthcare, and semi-professionally a photographer, former student at the University of Hawai'i at Mānoa, and full-time student of human nature, Rita has been writing for Truly Net for many years. Born and raised in the Midwest, she spent years on Oahu, and has formed some very strong opinions about all things knitting, pie, and the best places to climb. She really enjoys good food, music and friends, and is perfectly willing to write about, and photograph any or all of those things.

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