Monthly Archives: February 2013

Man-Shall-Not-Live-by-Bread-Alone-But-It-Sure-Is-Delicious Bread Recipe

“And the tempter came and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread.” But he answered, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.” Matthew 4:3-4

Bread with Ground Flaxseed

Bread with Ground Flaxseed

Words obviously have a lot fewer calories than homemade bread but Jesus fed four thousand people with seven loaves of bread, so with carbs its just all about portion control. HAHAhah But seriously even if you are weary of “simple carbohydrates” like bread you should try making homemade bread at least once for a special treat. It is just delectable.

Baking bread is really very simple. This particular recipe has only 5 ingredients: yeast, bread flour, ground flax seed, water and salt. And the only equipment you need is a large bowl, a spoon and an oven. I always try and substitute some whole grain flours in lieu of using only bread flour to make it more nutritious. The more whole grain flour you add the more the taste and texture can sometimes suffer so experiment to your taste.  The bread recipe I follow is adapted from the Joy of Cooking basic bread recipe. The only labor intensive thing about making bread is 5-10 minutes of kneading. The rest of the “work” is just letting it sit there on the counter-top growing and rising which takes pretty much all day. So this recipe needs to be started in the morning. If you start at 9AM you will have homemade bread by 5PM. It is worth the wait.

In a large bowl mix:

1 cup bread flour

3/4 cup warm water

1/2 teaspoon yeast

This mix is your bread “starter”. The yeast blooms in the warm water and “eats” the flour. It takes awhile, 3-5 hours. Leave it on your counter-top at room temperature while it “grows”. Cover the bowl with a dish towel, plastic wrap, or tin foil. Leave the wooden spoon in the mix, you will need it again anyways and it is not going to hurt anything to leave it and then you only have to wash it once.

After 3-5 hours the starter will have bubbles and be twice the size. Add:

2 cups warm water

1 tablespoon salt (I use kosher salt)

1 cup ground flaxseed

Mix well with wooden spoon then start adding bread flour 1 cup at a time. It really depends on the humidity how much bread flour you need to add. Minimum it will be 3 1/2 cups, maximum 5 cups. I don’t even measure, I just keep mixing in flour until it is un-sticky enough to knead without glopping up your fingers (though some dough bits will get stuck on your hands) but not so dry it is “flour-y”. The goal is so keep it as sticky/moist as possible while still being able to knead it. Once it has reached this consistency, knead it. I knead it right in the same bowl, rather than make a mess on the counter-top. Kneading is just folding the dough in half and then pushing it together. Knead for 5-10 minutes. Then pat into a ball leave it in the bowl and pour some olive oil over it (a few tablespoons). Cover the bowl with a clean dish towel and let rise at room temperature for 3-5 hours until it has doubled in size.

Pinch the dough in half and shape each half into a loaf shape. Put each loaf on a piece of parchment or tin foil, pulling up the paper or foil around the sides of the loaves. Place the two loaves side by side against the wall of the counter with a box/something heavy holding them snugly up against the wall (so that they rise upwards and not outwards). Cover with a towel and let rise at room temperature for 1-3 hours.

Preheat oven to 450. Slash the tops of the loaves with a knife (about 1/2″ deep). Bake for 25-30 minutes. This recipe is 100% guaranteed by Spy Garden to be delicious.

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Bread dough is pretty forgiving. It is not like baking cookies or pastry dough and doesn’t require such precise measurements. I have kneaded for only 5 minutes and forgotten to add the salt and still ended up with a pretty good final product. Rosemary is a delicious addition to this bread recipe. You can use fresh or dried. 2 tablespoons. You can also add seeds (caraway are good), garlic, Parmesan…experiment with what you like.

Here are a few pics that are completely unrelated to this bread recipe:

Old Barn near Spy Garden

Old Barn near Spy Garden

Old Barn near Spy Garden with snow

Old Barn near Spy Garden with snow

I drive by this old barn often and I just love the look of it. It reminds me of this artist, particularly this painting.

Art, and Gardening as Art

Shapes of dirt in a grassy field have a high aesthetic value in Spy Garden. It is fine art at its finest as it will soon have the added bonus of being incredibly practical (food! exercise!)

Earth Sculpture with Snow

Earth Sculpture with Snow

Robert Smithson is a big inspiration for Spy Garden. Check out this website to learn more about Earth sculpture: http://www.robertsmithson.com/

Picasso said something to the effect that: all children are artists, but the trick is maintaining the creativity as we age. So often people say “I’m not good at art” or “I can’t paint/draw/etc” but 99% of “being good at art” is enjoying the process and doing it freely. As you draw, paint (or dig!) tell yourself you are a raving genius and don’t over-think it.

A Design by the Spy at age 5

A Design by the Spy at age 5

A landscape by the Spy at age 5, reminds me of Cezanne

A landscape by the Spy at age 5, reminds me of Cezanne

No one should ever say “I don’t get art”. When looking at a painting/sculpture ask yourself: “Do I like it?” If you can answer that question, congratulations, you “get” art. I don’t know why people try and make it so much more complicated. Don’t be afraid to say “That painting is repulsive” instead of “I don’t get it”. Opinions will always differ but all you have to do is have one to “get” art!

Art is anything you find interesting or attractive: anything you like enough to look at on a daily basis. Art is something that exists chiefly for aesthetic value, but can also have practical uses. Even if all the produce in Spy Garden was, say, eaten by deer, the garden can never be a failure because of its great aesthetic value!

Painting of a church in Manchester, CT

Painting of a church in Manchester, CT

Sometimes the trick in creating a masterpiece is snatching up a painting to dry at the precise moment when the paper is just completely filled up and “done” (“doneness” being something of an aesthetic judgment call). If a kid (or anyone really) continues to paint past the point of the “doneness” he or she will inevitably swirl the colors round and round until they all mix into a hideous brown-mauve monotone mess of paint. In the creative process you must stop to take breaks and reflect on what you’re making so you don’t miss the point of “doneness” and end up, say, digging up your entire front yard!

Landscape by the Spy, reminds me of Cezanne

Landscape by the Spy, reminds me of Cezanne

One point perspective is a fun and simple lesson:

One Point Perspective

One Point Perspective

1.             Draw a tiny dot (the vanishing point) in the middle of the paper then

2.            Draw a horizontal line dividing the paper in half horizontally at the level of the dot you drew then

3.             Draw two diagonal lines originating from the dot toward the bottom left hand corners of the paper and proceed with a simple landscape of your choosing! The ocean’s horizon! A vanishing highway!

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The principles of the lesson are the same whether being taught to an adult or child. The same vanishing point, the same horizontal line. The experience of the simple lesson is not so universal. Because every time you complete this lesson the paintings/drawings will all be different and each experience will be different.  Typically a young child will follow the instructions, then freely paint shapes and color on top of the diagonal lines, not pausing to ask “Am I doing this right?”

Potato Stamp Art reminds me of profile silhouettes

Potato Stamp Art reminds me of profile silhouettes

Drawing by the Spy

Drawing by the Spy

In the artistic process you must have an ego. Not just a big head, but a belief and understanding that the work you create is innovative and fantastic, or at least contains these possibilities. When you step away from a painting/drawing/sculpture and out of this ego-mode, you are able to use critiques to enhance the positive things in the work that you felt so proud and enthusiastic about while painting/drawing/sculpting them.  When you see your picture/work and say, “This is hideous. I’m not good at painting,” you need to nail down the specifics of what you find unattractive and instead say, “Yes, this part isn’t so great, but look at this combination of colors I’ve got over here, that is just perfect.” Then enhance the rest to showcase the part you like. This method of critique works for both kids and adults and in any artistic medium, paint to dirt.

Tell yourself you are a raving genius and don’t be hesitant while painting, drawing or digging shapes in the dirt. Take breaks to reflect on your progress. Voilà you’re an artist. Happy creating!

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