An Unexpectedly Happy Cooking Moment

I’ve never made a loaf of homemade bread in my life. IN MY LIFE. The mere mention of starters and kneading and rolling and rising and etc. is enough to send me into a cold sweat. It’s just always seemed like a whole lot of trouble considering that I can pick up a loaf at the store and never even have to turn on my oven, thank you very much.

Lately, however, I’ve had a little bit of a change of heart. For the last few months I’ve been trying to eliminate “convenience” foods from our meals – with the exception of the occasional box of Cheez-Its, DON’T YOU JUDGE ME – and I’ve been looking for ways to make things I would ordinarily buy. That’s why I can now make a pretty decent homemade pizza crust, and it’s why my favorite new smell in the world is a pot of black beans simmering on the stove (oh, cumin – you do marvelous work).


Last week I picked up the May issue of Food Network Magazine (I LOVE IT), and I noticed a recipe for No-Knead Peasant Bread. I read the directions and thought it sounded do-able, but I wondered if it was way more complicated than the recipe indicated. After a little research, though, I discovered that Jaden at Steamy Kitchen has a similar recipe on her site, and for me that was confirmation that I needed to try it.

All that to say: I finally worked up the nerve to make my first loaf of homemade bread. And I used Jaden’s recipe, just FYI.

Sunday afternoon I mixed the dough together, covered it and let it sit tight for 24 hours. Monday afternoon I floured the dough, turned under the edges, then wrapped it in a floured dishtowel and put it back in the bowl. Two hours later I flipped the dough into a Dutch oven (SO BRILLIANT, THAT METHOD), followed the instructions, and 45 minutes later my house smelled like heaven.

It tasted better than anything ever should. Alex just ate buttered bread for supper, in fact. Couldn’t be bothered with anything else.

But the grown-ups kicked the bread up a notch, oh yes we did.

Sunday night I made a batch oven-dried tomatoes and stored them in the refrigerator. These tomatoes are DIVINE and have so much flavor – which is a bit of a wonder considering the state of tomatoes in April. I also made a big pot of homemade black beans (2 cups soaked beans, sauteed onion and garlic, salt, cumin, chili powder and red pepper brought to a boil in 6 cups of water, then simmered for 2 1/2-3 hours – with about half a teaspoon of red wine vinegar added after they’re done).


Once the bread was ready Monday night, I made a little Feta yogurt sauce (1 cup plain nonfat yogurt, 1/2 container crumbled Feta, 1 teaspoon dried dill or 1 tablespoon fresh). David and I spread some yogurt sauce on our homemade bread, then topped it with black beans and oven-dried tomatoes.


(And please excuse the shadow of my phone in the picture.)

(Remember, I am a reliably dreadful photographer.)

We absolutely loved the combo of the bread with the other stuff. It was fresh and tasty and crunchy and hearty. We decided to call it International Bruschetta (a little Greek, a little Italian, a little Mexican) – except that it wasn’t really bruschetta because I didn’t toast the bread, but that is merely a technicality. And you could do all sorts of toppings: a favorite cheese, roasted eggplant, roasted garlic, shredded parmesan on top of pesto sauce, a Caprese salad on top of the bread – I could go on and on and on. There was actually a walnut-pepper spread in the magazine that looked delicious, not to mention glazed figs – but I think my people would revolt if I served them either of those options.

Regardless, I still can’t get over how easy it was to make bread in a Dutch oven. I HAD NO IDEA THIS WAS POSSIBLE. I think my life is changed forever. In fact, I think this is going to be the spring of eating Homemade Bread With Some Stuff On Top Of It for supper.

And I can’t wait.

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  1. Glazed figs sound divine. But alas, my people would think I was trying to pull a fast one with some fruit or vegetable and revolt as well.

  2. Oh my word, the picture did me in. I’m going to make the bread, the beans, the yogurt sauce, AND the tomatoes as soon as I get home from vaca. Thank you very much for sharing!

  3. That Food Network Magazine. It’s magic, I tell ya.

  4. You must try Brie drizzled with warm honey then melted onto the bread and sprinkled with walnuts…I had this in France and recreated it at home…your bread would be perfect for this. It is so delicious!

  5. I love a new recipe that thrills my soul! I recently tried a wheat recipe that was quite tasty. Perhaps I’ll try this one next!

    Are you going to be in Tampa this weekend?

  6. Look at you going all recipe-savvy. You know you’re in love with something when YOU are posting measurements that precise!!! Ha :)

  7. I love that bread too, but something that doesn’t take 24 hours, but is just as good:

    make up your home made pizza dough, and cook that according to the no knead cooking instructions and the bready goodness will thrill, I promise.

  8. LOVE LOVE LOVE my bread machine! Soem people can’t be bothered with them, but I use it all the time. I use the dough cycle so I don’t even have to think about al lthe parts of bread baking that make people nuts and then I bake in the oven. Add the ingredients to the machine and walk away. An hour and half later put it in the pan to rise, 45 minutes later bake it ’til it’s done. My grandmothers are spinning! :)

    And the bread accompaniments look divine!

  9. Thank you for the shout out!

    and btw, love your blog header design.

  10. The bread looks amazing and I’m definitely going to make the black beans too! I made a Tuscan Peasant bread a few months back that my hubby raved over, but it was not baked in a dutch oven. Sort of a crusy french bread and I do recall brushing it with salt water before baking.

  11. You are of the Tribe of Joseph, I tell ya. I JUST bought that same magazine tonight.

    Did your recipe require yeast? Because I am seriously paralyzed by fear when it comes to yeast (made Chef Boy R Dee pizza for a friend’s kids I was babysitting 25 years ago – let’s just say eating the ‘crust’ with a spoon wouldn’t have helped matters one. single. bit. I’m traumatized still!)

    Which issue is it? I have a bad, bad feeling that Sam’s Club is way too efficient – I’m looking at May 2010. You looking at April? ::wails::

    Note to self: go to library tomorrow and check out April issue. Sophie has inspired me to overcome my fear of yeast, throw caution to the wind and make some bread!

    P.S. If I was P-Dub, I’d have smartypants quiz with a big, fancy word for ‘fear of yeast.’ I would.

    P.S.S. Is if just me or is Bobby Flay a cutie patootie?

  12. My hubs got me a bread maker last year and I failed miserably at my first-ever-bread-baking experience. We had homemade croutons out of it! :( I must try this – because after all, I’ve never met a carbohydrate I didn’t like.

  13. I’m pretty sure that’s the dinner of the gods. I love to bake bread, but I haven’t done anything in Dutch oven. Yet. I will be soon.

  14. Look at you, getting all PW with your food posts.

    Next time try the bread shmeared with pesto and then top with slices of fresh mozzarella and those roasted tomatoes.

    You’re welcome.

  15. Oh my, my, my goodness. Yum!!

  16. We don’t eat bread at my house, but I’m tempted to make it anyway! I’ve always wanted to make my own bread. But, I don’t have a Dutch Oven. Any other suggestions? However, I’m all about the homemade black beans! What’s your recipe for those? And if I made the bread, I’m making the Walnut Spread, that sounds great! Also, I have an amazing recipe for Greek Pizza, if you want to try something different with that homemade pizza dough :o)

  17. Ree better watch out – Bacon Mama may be coming soon! Can’t wait to try the bread – but no dutch oven ;o(

  18. I am going to have to make some peasant bread. That is too easy to not try…and what’s not to like about homemade bread??

  19. That sounds divine! I, like you, break into a cold sweat with anything involving yeast. But I’m getting better.
    Love it. Loved your hilarious recap too.

  20. What a worthwhile and excellent goal – to make, instead of buy convenience foods. My little guys eat frozen breakfast stuff every day and I cringe over it EVERY DAY. I tend to get overwhelmed easily so the thought of making my own “convenience foods” kind of freaks me out. Baby steps, right? : ) Those tomatoes look FABULOUS! Ooooooo and yogurt sauce!! How big is your Dutch oven? There is some book a friend recommended, Artisan break in 5 minutes, something like that, on Amazon. Thanks for sharing. I am encouraged.

  21. Oh my! I want to make this right now…if only I had a clue what a Dutch Oven is! I may be throwing my girls in the car (in our jammies still at 4pm) for a trip to the grocery store. YUMMY!

  22. So proud for you! making bread is one of those “I am woman hear me roar” (and pass the butter!) times in your life.
    Since you are loving the black beans thing – you can sub your home cooked ones in this recipe from a real foodie who makes real food.

    you might want to browse her website – ’cause she has the cutest lambs being born this year – little master Alex would no doubt like those lamb pictures. Great idea to make your own convenience foods – Mary over at Owlhaven has a lot of homemade convenience subs in her repertoire. Woo hoo – bread with anything – yes ma’am

  23. Okay…you will find this funny…I made the bread today, but I didn’t have a dutch oven that could go in the oven…therefore tried a glass bowl…oops. Let me advise you NEVER to put a glass bowl in the oven at 450…I now have shattered glass all over my kitchen. But, that is okay, because then I went on Amazon to look up (affordable) enamel dutch ovens, and while I was doing that I found this cool book…you should watch the video too, I was impressed. I think I am going shopping today! (and the enamel pot I found was from the Lodge)
    I’m just letting you know, that when my husband sees the bill for all my purchases, I am totally putting the blame on you though, okay? See the power your posts have! :)

  24. I’m inspired & my family will have you to thank!