Canadian Brown Bread

I bought myself a present.  It's always a big deal when I buy myself a present.  Well, when could it possibly not be a big deal.  A present implies something special.  It's something that you may not necessarily need but get given to you anyway... or, as in this case, you give to yourself.  In addition, I'm not someone who spends money on herself... except for books... and champagne (I am blushing right now).  This week I bought myself two books.  That's right.  Two books.  Not one book... two books.  They've been on my 'wish list' for quite a while so it was fitting to finally bite the bullet and go for it.  Admittedly, I went to a bookstore downtown to see if I could pick them up 'supercheap' before I bought them online but it was not to be.  The whole thing happened because I got really frustrated last week with baking.  Baking is not something that I normally get frustrated about but there it is, I got frustrated.  I've been trying to incorporate more whole grains into my baking and bread making since discovering the fantastic red fife/Ontario thing (you know - locally grown and milled, whole grain, good for you... blah blah blah).  For the most part my attempts have been successful but limited.  I'm getting more adventurous but I'm looking to really dive in a go deep.  Let's just see how far this goes.  I'm searching for more recipes using whole grains in part or in whole and let me tell you, it takes a lot of time.  A lot of time.  I spent a long time searching through my own (limited - hence the 'present') cookbook collection and then a longer time online scrolling through reems of google search results.  After a while I forget what I was looking for in the first place.  Next thing I know I'm throwing up my hands (and mouse) in frustration, grabbing chocolate and a beer and giving up.
I've heard a lot about this book - all good things... all great things actually.  Now that I've got it in my grubbies I see that it's a little different than I had hoped in that it makes use of quite a few different kinds of whole grain flours (kamut, quinoa, spelt - you get the idea) but I'm going to use this as a base for inspiration more than anything else.  I wanted recipes for whole grain chocolate cookies (it's here), whole grain quick breads (it's here - almost but I can work with it), lots of whole grain and fruit combos (Yup - it's here) and recipes using honey as well as or in place of the sugar - although I'm hearing some rumblings about honey being no better than sugar as a sweetener but I'm going to do some more investigating on that one cause honey at least has some healing and nutritive qualities even if it still is just fructose at the end of the day, right?

Right now (and I do mean this very moment) I'm more excited than I have been in months about getting chocolate cookies and pumpkin bread in and out of my oven.  Unfortunately, this recipe is neither one of those things.  It is the bread recipe that I fell on while searching for my pumpkin/whole grain/honey/google/mania a few days ago.  It's nothing like pumpkin bread.  It's very very far from whole grain chocolate cookies too you might have noticed.  It is though one of the best breads that I've churned out in a while and I liked that it was called 'Canadian' although I have no idea why it might have been given the title.  I like it when a post starts out weird and then totally makes sense when you get to the last 4 sentances.  It makes me feel like I've accomplished something and given you, my reader, a little bit of pay-off.

Canadian Brown Bread adapted from 'King Arthur Flour'
makes 1 Big loaf

2 cup unbleached all purpose flour
1 2/3 cups Red Fife or Whole Wheat flour
2 tsp salt
1 tsp cocoa
1 tsp instant coffee powder
1 1/2 cups warm water
2 1/4 tsp yeast
1 tbsp sugar
2 tbsp butter, melted
1/2 cup honey

Combine the warm water, yeast and sugar together.  Stir just to mix and set aside in a draft free spot to proof for 10 minutes.  After 10 minutes there should be quite a bit of foam on top of the water and it should smell very 'yeasty'.
Meanwhile, combine both flours - reserve a 1/4 cup or so of the all purpose flour for kneading.  Add in the salt, cocoa powder and coffee powder.  Stir to mix.
Once the yeast has proofed pour in the melted butter and honey to the mixture.  Stir to mix.  Add the honey/yeast mixture to the flour.  Mix until it forms a dough ball.
Remove to a lightly floured surface and knead the dough using the reserved all purpose flour as well.
After about 6 - 8 minutes the dough should be smooth and soft to the touch.  Place the dough in a lightly buttered bowl, turning so that the entire ball is greased.  Cover and place in a warm, draft free spot to rise for about 1 hr. or until doubled in size.
Punch the dough ball down and form into a loaf shape.
Butter a loaf pan and place the dough into the pan.  Cover again and place in a draft free spot to rise for another hour.
Preheat oven to 350°F.
Place the risen loaf into the oven and bake for 20 - 25 minutes or until the crust is just turning brown and sounds hollow when you knock on it.
Let it cool slightly before attempting to slice it.

Red Fife Galette or pie crust with lard

I'm hoping that you will all bear with me while I air out some things that I'm finding myself confused about.  For example, the other day I read a statement that went something like this: (I'm embellishing)
If you are used to seeing an armed guard at your local fast food restaurant, bank, church(!) then wouldn't the 'logic' follow that the schools which house our children for a large portion of the day should also be protected as diligently.  
This was put out the in the alternate universe known as Facebook by one of my 'friends.  'Oh Yes' you say immediately.  That's right.  We absolutely need to protect... wait, what?  Did you just mention your church had an armed guard?  Fast food joints have armed guards?  Ok.  No.  I think that we're a little mixed up here because shouldn't the real question here be why we feel the need to be armed like a military state in a country which purports such unequivocal freedom for the individual?  Sometimes 'logic' just doesn't make sense for me.  I was immediately confused.
I remember when I was a teenager a friends cousin got pregnant.  She was 17.  Most of those who weighed in on the situation (both parent and peer) thought that the logical thing to do was for her to marry the dude.  I was not one of those people.  I really thought that just because you messed up and got pregnant didn't mean that you had to sign up to continue down the same path.  Chances are that in any other circumstances the two wouldn't have stayed together past the summer.  Back then I thought that insisting the two get married would only make mistake number two.  Mistake number one already has some pretty far reaching consequences if you know what I mean.  Fortunately for her and for him they decided not to get married.  For me the same logic follows in the paragraph above.  I was always confused by the 'answers'.
If I'm truthful, both the questions and the answers feel wrong.  They seem upside down and backwards and it feels we're all too confused to really understand what we're nodding our heads to anymore because the language doesn't make sense.  Or maybe we want to find an answer that completely negates the problem.  I get that too.  Let's just find a paint colour strong enough to completely cover the crap underneath.  It can be a lot of work to get the crap off the walls first.  Sometimes I wonder if we've forgotten how to work together to find an answer because we've only been taught the 'black and whites' based on religion, colour and/or income bracket.
Do we only debate anymore?  Does debate matter in the light of 'right' and 'left' positioning.  I'm really struggling with the confusion I feel around governance and what appears to be our progressive and collective lack of understanding regarding the problems (I'm purposely using the word 'problem' as opposed to 'issue').  I'm not trying to stir the pot around gun controls.  It's just the current problem, that's all.  My concern is for the bigger picture.  I'd love to hear from you on your thoughts, not on the smaller, current problems but the larger, over-riding ones.  In other words, I'm not looking for a dissection and/or debate around things like gun control or abortion but a discussion around how we consider and move through these problems.

Now for something completely different: I promised you galette (or Pie) dough.  I promised you a recipe using lard.  I've recently started using lard more.  I've always heard that lard produces the flakiest crust but I've also heard that it's so bad for you that it's worth forfeiting for something healthier.  No longer.  I found out that I can get rendered lard from 'Fresh From the Farm'.  They just put it in yogurt containers.  I went, I saw, I bought.

Truth is that honestly I've never experienced a crust with a crumb so exquisite.  Fantastic.  Delicious.  Amazing.  I've got a crust or two in the freezer now so that I can make this on a whim but the reality is making the crust from scratch is pretty easy too.  If you can find lard from a trusted source then give this a whirl.  If you can't then butter will also do just fine.

This is the broccoli and roasted squash galette that I made with the crust.
Red Fife Galette (or Pie) Dough adapted from 'A Couple Cooks'
makes 2 med sized galettes or 1 double crusted pie

1 1/2 cups unbleached all purpose flour
1/2 cup Red Fife or Whole Wheat flour
3/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup cold butter, cubed
1/4 cup cold lard, cubed or in small bits
1 egg yolk
1/4 tsp apple cider vinegar
6 tbsp (approx) cold water

Combine the egg yolk, apple cider vinegar and cold water together.  Whisk until combined.  Set aside.
Combine both flours and the salt together in a medium sized bowl (not plastic).  Add in the cubed butter and lard.  Cut together the fats with the flour using a pastry cutter or two knives until the texture is crumbly.
Add the egg yolk mixture to the flour mixture.  Mix until it forms a dough ball (I added a little bit more water to mine).  Divide the dough into two balls, cover each with clear film and rest in the fridge for about 30 minutes.
Roll out on a lightly floured surface to about 1/4 or 1/8th of an inch approx.
Use the dough according to whatever recipe directions you are using from there.  If only using one dough ball then freeze the other.

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St Michael's Choir School is celebrating it's 75th anniversary year of service to St Michael's Cathedral. Part of the school celebration is a trip to Italy where our boys from Grades 5 - 12 will be performing and celebrating Mass. This blog will be chronicling our adventures. Wanda Thorne is the Vocal Coach at St Michael's Choir School. Gerard Lewis is the Grade 7/8 Homeroom teacher at the Choir School.

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Wanda Thorne
St Michael's Choir School is celebrating it's 75th anniversary year of service to St Michael's Cathedral. Part of the school celebration is a trip to Italy where our boys from Grades 5 - 12 will be performing and celebrating Mass. This blog will be chronicling our adventures. Wanda Thorne is the Vocal Coach at St Michael's Choir School. Gerard Lewis is the Grade 7/8 Homeroom teacher at the Choir School.
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