Some Stale Writing as we Edge Toward the Equinox


“Man cannot live by bread alone …”

Just when you were thinking that the nuttiest words a President has ever said are coming out of the current White House, consider this:

“Man cannot live by bread alone, he must have peanut butter.”James Garfield, 20th President of the United States.

Who knew? This story may seem a little stale, so I’m going to apologize in advance.

I’ve been posting some tragically depressing things lately on my website. Sorry! It’s the end of winter, OK?!  But here’s a tip that is sure to bring a broad smile to your face. And, it’s guaranteed to freshen things up.

I don’t bake bread very often during winter here at the Alamo. It’s too cold for the dough to rise properly here in the cabin unless I put it right on the wood stove. However, then I have the opposite problem. It’s really too hot and the dough gets a nasty crust on the top.

I’ve been working on making perfect French baguettes for a couple of seasons. But, alas, my French cooking is about as good as my French speaking.

Comme ci comme ça.

emile henry baguette.JPG

Pursuit of the perfect baguette.

Last year, I bought a neat ceramic bread pan from Emile Henry that promised to improve my baking tremendously. And, I can’t wait to get started again on my quest for the perfect baguette as Spring approaches.

The problem now is, that it makes three loaves at a time. And while I suppose I could just make one, the dough recipe doesn’t work out properly. So I’m now faced with at least one of the baguettes heading towards stale before I get a change to eat it.

We’ve all faced the situation. Particularly if you bought one of those great Wegman’s loaves of pain de campagne and not gotten half way through it before it turns.

So this week, I can’t save you from Fascists or ICE or the next disaster perpetrated in the White House, but I can save your stale bread loaf in three easy steps. Here goes:

  1. Preheat your oven to about 300° or so, or use a “warm” setting if your unit has one.

  2. Take the offending bread and stick it under the faucet … crust side out … so that it gets pretty wet. (They say you can soak the crap out of it, but I don’t really recommend it.)

  3. Pop the damp loaf into the oven. I put it directly on the rack in about the center of the oven. Leave it in there for about 6 or 8 minutes and voilà! You’re bread is resuscitated!

It takes a few experimental trials for you to get the hang of it. Right amount of water. Right amount of time. But it’s sort of like toasting some not too appetizing slices to serve at breakfast before your guests know you’re serving them stale bread. It works in the toaster for a slice. Why not the oven for a whole loaf?

So there. Freshen up for Spring. Bon Appétit!