December 18, 2007

Give us this day


My blog will be three years old by the end of this month. I've written more than a thousand posts. I've written memes, I've done airport blogging, and I've written about numerous blogger meet-ups. I've done cat blogging, dog blogging, and snake blogging. I've even posed nude for the blog.

But readers keep pointing out the one thing I've never done. I've never posted a recipe.

Readers have been clamoring for the secret behind my healthy bread. Well, I might be exaggerating that just a little. I think a total of one reader asked me for the recipe. But you know what they say: for every reader who actually writes an email, there are 37 readers who thought about it.

This recipe came from a book that I no longer own. I never knew the title of the book because I bought it at a garage sale and the cover was ripped off. I've changed some of the ingredients because I'm incapable of following a recipe the way its written. I don't even remember what the original recipe was called, except that I think it had the word oatmal in the title. But my family calls it healthy bread. Because it's relentlessly healthy. It contains no fat, no refined sugar, no oil. And the most peculiar thing about it is that all of my kids and my husband like to eat this bread. My husband, it is true, likes to slather his slice of bread with butter, which completely destroys the whole healthy concept, but everyone in the house will eat the bread when I make it. Two loaves last less than 24 hours in this house, so I have to make it pretty often.

The first part is quite simple. I use 4 cups of rolled oats, 2 cups of water, and one container (12 fl oz) of frozen apple juice concentrate. I dump this all in a big mixing bowl and stir in a whole bunch of raisins. Then I cover the bowl with a plate to keep out all the cats in the house, and let it sit for at least an hour. That helps the oatmeal get soggy.

A few hours later, when I wander into the kitchen to get a snack, I notice the bowl on the counter and think to myself, "Oh, right, I was making healthy bread." At this point, I've usually lost the urge to bake anything, but since I've got this bowl of soggy oatmeal, I'm committed.

So I combine 2 and 2/3 cups whole wheat flour, 2 teaspoons baking soda, and 2 tablespoons cinnamon. I mix this together, and then mix it with the wet stuff, until I end up with a big bowl of dough that is about the texture of cookie dough. I divide it in half.

The pans I use are nine-inch round pans, which I grease lightly. After I shape the two rounded loaves, I take a knife and slash each into 4 parts. I bake these at 400 degrees for 30 minutes, and then 350 degrees for 10 minutes. Because of all the cinnamon, the bread makes the whole house smell nice while its baking.

Here's the most important part. When the bread is done, I break each loaf into four pieces and then wrap each piece tightly in aluminum foil — while the bread is still hot. Even though I risk burning my fingers every time I do this, it's important to lock in the moisture because the bread doesn't have any oil or fat to make it moist. The bread has to be kept wrapped tightly in the foil until it's time to eat it because it will dry out really fast.

Healthy bread is a good recipe to make if you live in a busy household with small children because each stage only requires 3 ingredients and can be accomplished in less time than it takes for the kids to notice that you are no longer giving them your attention. It's fairly bland, flavored only by cinnamon, apple juice, and raisins, which means that most kids will eat it. And it is, of course, relentlessly healthy.

That's my youngest son, With-a-Why, in the photo.


amypalko said...

That was a recipe that could only have been written by you, Jo(e)! I love that you included forgetting half way through that you were baking and couldn't really be bothered finishing it off. I'm sure that must be an experience shared by almost everyone that has ever baked anything in two stages! I'll be bookmarking this, and I'll try it out after Christmas. I have a feeling we'll be in need of something healthy by then ;-)
Lives Less Ordinary

Marianne said...

Congratulations on your blogiversary! I just started reading your posts this year and I really enjoy them. In fact, I like them so much that I went and posted a recommendation on my own journal (mostly used for book reviews), which I'm pretty sure I've never done before. Text below:

I read a lot of blogs. I read too many blogs, because, well, people are just awfully shiny and some of them write extraordinarily well and what are you going to do? (Or, in this case, not do, because, too busy reading blogs.) You might call me a blog gourmand, if you were feeling cynical about it.

And there is a blog I found this year that I like more than just about any other blog that isn't written by someone I know personally or have spent years loving the novels of:

writing as jo(e) (er, this was a link in the original)

Her posts almost always give me a warm, glowy feeling. Sometimes they make me think hard, or remember stuff. And sometimes they make me hoot like a demented monkey (pace, peanut gallery).

Sometimes ONE of her posts makes me do all those things.

Plus! The accompanying picture generally makes me happy all on its own.

current mood: full of beans
current music: "Sugar Rum Cherry," Duke Ellington

I do hope you don't mind! I just think you're awfully nifty.

jo(e) said...

Thanks, Marianne, for such a nice compliment!

Yankee T said...

With-A-Why has lovely hands, just like all your kids. He's gotten very l-o-n-g, hasn't he?

jo(e) said...

Yes, he's turning into a tall, skinny teenager, just like my other two boys. He's grown so much in the last year.

Nadine said...

I'm almost inspired to try making this.

Jennifer (ponderosa) said...

Hey, it's Irish soda bread! I saw a recipe in Cooking Light that's similar to this -- but it uses eggs, I think, instead of apple juice. I made it over Thanksgiving & used the leftovers to stuff the turkey. (It did dry fast like you said.)

Yum! I will have to try your version!

Rana said...

Happy Blogiversary!

liz said...

MM & I must try this! Perhaps this weekend after eating up all the cookies!

Dance said...

I wonder what would happen if I used orange juice and dried cranberries instead....

it sounds good as is, though! Thanks for the recipe, as one of the 37 readers thinking about asking for it.

Rev. Dulce said...

Yippee!! I adore bread made with oatmeal. I think I will try it with dried cranberries instead of raisins.

I going to try it this week before I leave on vacation.

Thanks for all the wonderful pictures. Texas is kind of bland during the winter and I use your blog to get my winter wonderland fix.

Miranda said...

This sounds wonderful, jo(e). We bake all of our bed from scratch here and this sounds like a nice little change-up that the kids can do all by themselves over break.

Like others have said, your blog is a real bright spot on the internet. Thanks for sharing your experiences and photos with all of us!

Rev. Dulce said...

YUM, YUM, YUM...I made the bread and it came out great. Even my very picky daughter came out of her room when she smelled it baking. She did slather it with butter but, hey, it got her out of her room.

Rev. Dulce said...

And the dried cranberries were awesome.

repressed librarian said...

I made the bread this morning before my all-day meeting with PublisherWoman (which I'm actually in right now), and it turned out great. We're having it now for breakfast. Yum!

I actually combined all of the ingredients last night and was worried that it would not turn out well after sitting overnight, but it wasn't a problem.

Thanks for sharing the recipe!

rainfield61 said...

Happy blogging.
And nice to meet you.