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Week 5 – Don’t Let A Three Bread Night Get You Down

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I had hoped to keep this blog upbeat and positive for as long as possible. After all, a lot of people I don’t even know have cheered me on and have given me positive support to take on this challenge. But to be honest, I’m having one hell of a week. I knew this week would come eventually… I just didn’t think it would be this soon.

This was the week where my work life took precedence above all other activities. My days started at home at 6 am, hoping to catch some kind of break reading email early, catching up on correspondence and planning out my workday and ended at 6 or 7 or… well right now it’s 9:40 pm on Thursday night. This week is without a doubt the very reason why it’s much easier to live a convenient life.

I learned a few short weeks ago that planning is critical to feeling good about this new lifestyle. Getting a jump on the week with some baking off of the essentials (bread, crackers and/or granola) sets me up for many breakfasts and gives me a great foundation to build my lunch menus. I/we accomplished that on Sunday when I began the day with a quick bake-off of a cinnamon raisin English muffin bread before running out the door by 8:15 am to the first flea market of the season. (BTW I returned quite triumphantly with a few additional antique storage jars and an enameled canning pot for what I anticipate will be some long days of food preservation come August.) Unfortunately Sunday night dinner had not planned ahead, so with a quick trip to the co-op we returned with a high level of enthusiasm for some polenta with sautéed veggies and fresh chicken Italian sausages. I knew I needed (I’m restraining myself from saying kneaded) sandwich bread for the week so late in the afternoon I started that while Lisa made banana bread from some frozen bananas I swear we’ve had in the refrigerator since “W” took office the first time. For two people that really don’t eat a lot of carbs, we now had three beautiful breads to start off the week.

Don’t you just love those little polenta logs you can buy at the store where all you have to do is slice and brown it lightly in a pan of butter? Me too, but I’m not using them because they are a convenience food. The polenta from scratch took what seemed like an unreasonable amount of time to thicken however the reward was creamy, rich and delicious and we’ll cook it again next time planning so we’re not starving and eating at 8:00 at night.

It’s been said that man doesn’t live by bread alone. I wonder if the person who said that did all of their cooking from scratch? Oh wait, that’s from the Bible (I was a theology major some many years ago) so I’m guessing they did their cooking from scratch – over an open fire – with some kind of poisonous asp lurking nearby. But I digress. By Tuesday night, returning home at 8:15 following a networking meeting, we were resolved to having scrambled eggs and leftover potatoes from Monday night’s dinner. Come Wednesday both of us were crabby from the overly-crunchy (aka mouth numbing hard) granola I made last week, and by Thursday it was all I could do to keep from crying like a baby when I realized I forgot to add the baking powder to my batch of crackers already rolled out and ready for the oven at 7 PM.

The crackers (aka chips when I feel like snacking) turned out pretty tasty so I’m honoring them as the good thing that happened this week.

This recipe is adapted from one my Mom used to make when we were kids and when cooking from scratch was maybe a bit easier because those activities made up your “day job.”

Delores Mehnert’s Crispy Crackers

1 cup yellow corn meal

2/3 cup all purpose flour

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon baking powder

2 tablespoons nonfat dry milk powder

½ cup water

¼ cup canola oil

1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce (I like adding a bit more to taste)

If you don’t have a non-stick pan liner such as a Silpat, you’ll want to grease two large baking sheets rather generously. If your baking sheet has a lip on it, turn it over and use the flat side.

Combine all of your dry ingredients first in a medium size bowl (don’t forget the baking powder). In a separate measuring cup whisk together the water, canola oil and Worcestershire sauce. Pour into the dry mix and blend well by hand.

Turn the dough onto a lightly floured counter and knead it until it feels smooth, about a minute or so. Divide the dough in half and roll out each half directly onto the Silpat or greased cookie sheet. Roll the dough out as thin as you can roll it. Okay, now roll it even thinner. You want these cracker/chips to be crispy. Use a pizza cutter to cut the dough into squares or triangles. Season, if you wish, with a little salt or your favorite seasoning mix if you plan to eat them as chips.

Bake at 350°F for about 12-15 minutes or until they are lightly browned. They will continue to cook when you take them out of the oven and you will want to cool them down right on the cookie sheet.


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16 responses

  1. Yes, it is all about the planning. Some weeks are better than others.

    While it may not be any faster, here is a walk away, oven baked polenta recipe:

    Baked Polenta
    Serves 6
    6 cups water
    1.5 cups polenta or yellow cornmeal
    2 teaspoons salt /pepper to taste
    1 teaspoon dried thyme
    1/4 cup half & half
    3/4 cup shredded parmesan cheese

    Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
    Pour water into 13-by-9-inch glass pan and stir in polenta, salt and pepper. Bake uncovered in preheated oven 30 minutes. Stir thyme, half-and-half and cheese into polenta, stirring well. Return to oven and bake 10 more minutes.

  2. What a tough week you’ve had! It happens to us all, so don’t take it too personally. Time to start freezing soups and tomato sauce for those “Oh, no! There’s nothing to eat!” nights.

    @ Karen—the baked polenta is a great suggestion. Thanks for sharing it with all of us!

  3. Diane Schieffer

    Sorry you had a bad week (pretty eyes and all). Hope next week is better! I have stuff in my freezer that my vegan sister (Barb) made from scratch for me, i.e. rice & beans, quinoa and veggies, veggie lasagna, etc. Do you want me to bring some over?

    • What a nice gesture Diane. I think I’m out of crisis mode now, it is the weekend. But if you want to join us for dinner some night and bring some food along, I wouldn’t turn you down 🙂

  4. A lot of families who are able to do everything from scratch have a lot of other things going for them that contribute to a more inconvenient life: SAHM/W/Ds; homesteaders; those who are a part of a larger community of like-minded people.

    Having said that, I commend you for doing this. You are learning, and there is always a learning curve. Instead of kicking yourself for what you “missed,” celebrate your “hits.” I believe they will come in fitts and starts, but I also believe they will come a lot more frequently. If I or anyone else of us tried such an endeavor, I am pretty sure we would all run into the same problems, more or less. The point is, you are actually doing it. Good for you!

    You can do this!

  5. …much like the John Lennon quote, “Life is what happens while you’re busy making other plans”, you’ve had a terrifically busy week (and 5 weeks already!) with work, home, and “from scratch”. You’re doing a great job so far, and I’m sure the rest of the challenge/ process will be fun and deeply gratifying.
    Thanks so much for the cracker recipe, I’ve been wanting to make crackers for a long time, and these sound quite tasty.
    Hang in there – we’re all in this together one way or another!
    Cheers, Carol

  6. The crackers sound great and I want to try but my family and I are vegan. How essential is the dry milk powder to the recipe? Is there a substitute I could use or is it ok to leave it out all together?

    • I’m not familiar with it, but I googled it and found a site that says to substitute soy milk powder or rice milk powder. I believe we sell both at Outpost if you live in Milwaukee.

  7. My brain boggles thinking about all that planning and prepping. I often think about dinner about 10 minutes before (or after) the kids start calling for it.

    I wonder how many of your new chores will evolve into habits that you will hold onto when your year is up. I hope you’ll follow this up with a post-inconvenient-year editorial.

    Happy weekend 🙂

  8. I’m always adding to my stash of recipes, and found these after my other comment. They seem to be great for a tight schedule, and veratile, as well:

    I’ve cooked and baked for many years, and I’m glad you’re blogging about your experience. When I have my own place again, I’m going to try this path of “from scratch” for 3 months first, and go from there, …thanks for the inspiration.

  9. Patricia Fitzlaff

    I cannot believe you “resurrected” (bible speak) the ol’ cracker recipe! Thanks for posting, that’s one I do not have, brings back memories of quiet Friday nites at home. . . very quiet. I’m sure your readers will enjoy this tasty made from scratch recipe – nice job! Hope your week is getting better!

    • I actually found the recipe in your handwriting, how about that! Thanks for the encouragement – will have to have you two over for dinner soon.

  10. Between your full-time work and the rest of your busy life, I’ve got to tell you Pam — you’re doing great! Was great to run into you at the Outpost the other evening too! Glad we were finally able to meet!

    And thanks for sharing the cracker recipe! Homemade crackers really beat anything you can buy in the store.

  11. Pingback: 52 Weeks of Recipes | A Year Of Inconvenience

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