I need a remedy for the aftereffects of unbridled eating (and a little drinking). A short vacation landed me in the middle of a multi-day, all-bar-food binge, and I’m way too old to metabolize unlimited amounts of grease, salt, and preservatives, along with beer. Sure, once upon a time, it would have been a mere blip to my metabolism, but those days are l-o-o-n-g gone.
So I started a “lighter, fresher” phase today. (Who knows how long it will last.) Lunch consisted of oil packed tuna (well-drained), tossed with cannelini beans, chopped fresh sage & oregano, black pepper, and red wine vinegar. To accompany the tuna and bean salad, I topped toasted peasant bread with chopped tomato, basil, and balsamic vinegar. Satisfying, low fat, low salt, and preservative free: maybe my liver and gall bladder will forgive me for my recent excesses after a few days of better eating.
The bread, a “neo-Tuscan boule”, came from Wal-Mart. Such a purchase means only one thing: it’s too damn hot to bake in my kitchen. Knowing that the thermometer would hit 90 degrees today, I wanted to avoid turning on the oven, so searched the WallyWorld racks for a decent loaf. Imagine my surprise to find not just one, but a whole range that met my standards! It turns out that Wal-Mart sells European-style loaves under its’ “Marketside” label. (The packaging calls the obviously mass-produced loaves “artisan”, which is patently ridiculous, but this post is about bread, not the corruption of the term artisan.)
What am I looking for in a loaf of bread? As short an ingredient list as possible, which means no dough conditioners or baking powder, little or no added sugar, and a minimum of fat. The Marketside neo-Tuscan boule has just five ingredients–wheat flour, water, sea salt, extra virgin olive oil, and yeast. (The inclusion of sea salt seems to inspire the neo-Tuscan terminology, since traditional Tuscan bread is saltless.) I want a sturdy crust and chewy, holey crumb–and the Wal-Mart loaf delivered, after some intervention. Like most par-baked breads sold in stores, the loaf was underbaked for my taste. Toasting slices of loaf quickly corrected the too-blonde crust.
So if your kitchen, like mine, is too hot to bake unless you wake before dawn, and you live in a burg sadly lacking in artisanal bakeries, keep an eye out for the Marketside breads at the world’s largest retail chain.
Ah, the joys of an outdoor covered kitchen, screened in and oven in place for keeping the heat out of the house; wish I had one. I’ve been making sourdough whole-wheat each week and it is getting a tad warm in the kitchen, but I love homemade bread and will endure the suffering. One thing nice about hot weather-the sourdough rises very quickly. My loaves rise in less than 2 hours. I haunt Wally World’s discount bakery rack and often find their interesting loaves which, as you mentioned, make for great toast, and also useful for making croutons and bread crumbs, at half their price of fresh.
Give us this day…