Bread gets a bad rap these days, I know. I shelve ‘Wheat Belly’ books at the library all the time. However in our house we have a weakness for the smell and taste of fresh-baked bread. I can almost hear the collective sigh of relief if there is some form of fresh bread served with supper. Curry must be served with naan. Friday night is home-made pizza night. Garlic bread with pasta, buns for burgers, flat bread wraps for fajitas and just plain old fresh-baked bread with any meal is a bit of a treat. It’s more likely that everyone is going to leave the table feeling good, and having had fussy children at the table in the past, bread helps.
Dear reader, do not have the image in your mind of me kneading dough and baking every day. I don’t. Some days there just isn’t the time. When I can fit it in though I’m always touched by the appreciation from the family. It’s one of those simple things that makes us happy.
This time of year we have a glut of tomatoes and I’ve been working through a whole host of tomato recipes to use them up as well as eating them fresh and uncooked with lunch and dinner. I’ve made tomato soup, salsa, tomato sauce and to go with supper last week I made tomato focaccia. That was a winner. It’s always a tricky thing to get right as the dough is a bit sticky and wet, but so good when it is finished. The salt sprinkled on the top makes it incredibly more-ish. Of course I also made one without tomatoes for the fussy eaters. The recipe I used was Paul Hollywood’s – I have become a bit of a disciple of his in terms of bread making. His recipes are just so doable…and they work.
When we’re harvesting our veg from the garden I’m struck by the little amount of work I do compared to the abundance of what we get. This is only the fifth year for me as a vegetable gardener. Yes, I prepare the ground, plant it all at the appropriate time (get that wrong often), water, feed and weed when needed, learn year on year about what works and what doesn’t, but then I watch it grow. At first it’s doubtful that anything will survive then everything takes off. There are some failures, but much success. I love seeing the changes and wondering at the everyday miracle of the growing fruit and vegetables.
In August and September we reap the rewards. It’s a great stress reliever to potter out in the garden collecting salad and veg for the night’s meal. This year Tim had to deal with a lot of the snow peas and beans while I was away in England which I don’t think he found very relaxing, but by the time I was back we were into the rest of the harvest. We had a record of four good size aubergines/eggplant this year – yes, little successes make me happy! I picked the last cucumber of many yesterday, tomatoes are still ripening as I write, and we still have swiss chard, courgettes/zucchini, beetroot, carrots, parsnips, lettuce, ground cherries and plenty of herbs.
When I’m questioning whether I’m spending too much on the garden next spring I should check back to this post. It really does save us money in the long run. This year we didn’t have to spend as much as I got a few different seeds free from the Fredericton Public Library Seed Library (with NB Community Harvest Gardens)…so I’m learning how to collect seeds from the plants at the end of the season to give back ready for next year. It’s a great initiative.
I know that the growing season is coming to an end and all too soon it will be winter, but for now we’ll eat bread out on the deck with our meals and I’ll freeze vegetables so we can take out a taste of summer to enjoy once the temperature plummets.
Simple, but oh, so satisfying.