whole wheat bread

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i took a few months off this year. to move. to breathe. to sleep. 

i learned a couple of things about myself. particularly, the importance of structure.

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for example. without a plan, a day can unspool, like a bobbin of thread running loose across the floor, every tug you give it just sends it further off, spinning, unwinding.

without an outside force to impose structure, you have to impose your own boundaries. some i'm terrible at, like turning the tv off after enjoying a little matt lauer with my morning coffee. some i can handle, like waiting to have that first glorious glass of crisp white wine until after exercising . . . to trying to restrain myself during the week. 

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setting your own boundaries is the real mark of adulthood, the respecting of responsibilities. when we're little, we think adulthood is nothing but eating cocoa puffs for dinner and staying up as late as you want. when you're actually an adult, you long for the self-will to eat broccoli, go to bed with a good book at 8:30.

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whole wheat bread is like that for me.

my desert island food is a loaf of chewy, crusty, fluffy-soft-centered, processed within an inch of itself, bread. crock of butter and jar of jam appreciated, but often optional. 

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i've found a multigrain, seedy loaf that i've enjoyed from time to time. particularly toasted with a smear of avocado, squeeze of lime, sprinkle of sea salt. but i don't crave it. i won't eat a whole loaf in the course of an afternoon, one torn, ragged piece at a time.

whole wheat sandwich bread is a sad stand-in for either type of carbohydrate glory. fresh, it can be seductive, soft and toothsome. but the follow-through is never there. as toast, it is mostly air. crisp and unsatisfyingly inhalable. it is otherwise merely a vehicle for sandwich contents, thick layers of crunchy peanut butter with jam or crystallizing honey soaking through the bread, dripping out the sides. tart dijon, creamy mayonnaise with the firm bite of cheddar and lunch meat. 

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homemade whole wheat comes much closer to being both adult and responsible as well as feeling indulgently out of bounds. baking bread offers lovely structure to the day, with set times for kneading and rising and shaping and baking. coming back to the kitchen to find your dough exploding from the bowl, streching slowly but relentlessly against the plastic wrap, now that is an accomplishment. and the day the loaf comes out of the oven, the crust is crisp and crackly, the interior light and spongy. 

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it's also kitten approved.

and the next day? i'd recommend french toast, giving the slices plenty of time to soak up the egg batter, fried in plenty of butter to give you a crisp exterior and custard-soft interior.

find the recipe and more great photos at tuesdays with dorie.

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