The very first thing...

After a week of travel - even though I was in a place that looked like this...

And this...  (although, the only time I saw much of it was during my 6 AM run and if I was lucky, for a few minutes at the end of the day before the sun went down).

The very first thing that I wanted to do was to come home and make some of this...

My job entails travel at times.  Which is fine.  And good.  I don't mind travelling.  It's not particularly glamorous - usually involves truck terminals, rail yards and chemical plants.  However, there is something about the sights, smells and sounds of a new location that provides a rush of adrenaline.  Knowing that the road you are on, you have never travelled before.  Not knowing what is around the corner.  Where the next gas station is.  What type of food the restaurant you are venturing into is serving.  Relying soley on your GPS and a paper map to keep you out of real trouble (if you are lucky...).  The break of routine that gives you the opportunity to return to your world and see it differently. 


Sometimes, I struggle with the tiredness.  The bone weary feeling at the end of the day.  The change of routine loses its thrill.  And all I want to do is.  Go.  Home.  Get back into my kitchen.  Where there is control.  Where the choices are mine to make.  Where things are familiar.  Where I know the quality of what is going into my food.  Where I can MAKE MY OWN BREAD. 

Growing up in Northeastern NY, I was a little spoiled with constant access to good bread.  It was a bit of a shock when I went away to college to discover that not everyone else grew up with good bread.  Really.  The more I travelled, the more I realized how lucky I was to be able to commonly obtain what appeared to be a luxury in other parts of the country.  Because I love bread.  Really, really love bread. 

I wondered how the rest of the country survived without good bread.  Until the year I received Red (my trusty KA Stand Mixer) and ventured into the world of flour.  And realized that I had been deprived all these years and didn't even know it.  I learned the SECRET.  How people in the rest of the country have managed to survive all these years - they make their own!  That which I thought was good paled in comparison to what could be.  Granted, I will admit that the bread situation has improved recently in many places - but there are a few places that, well, not so much...

Ah, I have wandered again, have I not?  Stumbling into the house late in the evening after my journey home, I surveyed my kitchen, gave the oven a quick hug and fell into bed.  Dreams of flour and yeast pervaded that night.  Once dawn had finally reached its first light, I knew it was the moment I had been waiting for.  I could finally start my bread....   I was absolutely giddy with anticipation.  Seriously.  (Later that day, I did spend a few moments pondering the meaning behind my intense yearning for a loaf of bread.  I didn't like any of the answers, so I quickly moved on). 

A few hours later, when that first loaf came out of the oven, I almost dropped a tear.  Considering my need for comfort, it was no surprise that Oatmeal Bread was my first choice back into the world of bread.  I know, it was only a week.  But it was a long week.  And I was glad it was over.  To be home.  Ready to start a two (three)-day cooking spree.  Ah.  Good to be home. 
From KingArthurFlour.com

• 3 cups King Arthur Unbleached Bread Flour

• 1 cup rolled oats (old-fashioned oats)
• 2 tablespoons butter or margarine
• 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
• 3 tablespoons brown sugar or honey
• 2 teaspoons instant yeast
• 1 1/4 cups lukewarm milk


1) In a large mixing bowl, or in the bowl of an electric mixer, combine all of the ingredients, mixing to form a shaggy dough. Knead dough, by hand (10 minutes) or by machine (5 minutes) till it's smooth.

2) Place dough in a lightly greased bowl, cover and allow it to rest for 1 hour; it'll become quite puffy, though it may not double in bulk. Shape as directed below.

3) Bread machine method: Place all of the ingredients (except the fruit) into the pan of your machine, program machine for manual or dough, and press Start. About 10 minutes before the end of the second kneading cycle, check dough and adjust its consistency as necessary with additional flour or water; finished dough should be soft and supple. Add the raisins or currants about 3 minutes before the end of the final kneading cycle. Shape as directed below.

4) Shaping: Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled surface, and shape it into a log. Place the log in a lightly greased 9 x 5-inch loaf pan, cover the pan with lightly greased plastic wrap, and allow the dough to rise for 1 to 1 1/2 hours, till it's crested 1" to 2" over the rim of the pan.

5) Baking: Bake the bread in a preheated 350°F oven for 35 to 40 minutes, until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the center registers 190°F. If the bread appears to be browning too quickly, tent it with aluminum foil for the final 10 minutes of baking.

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