It’s simple arithmetic. Not Going To The Y plus Not Writing equals More Time For Cleaning. When a second batch of yogurt turned out curdly and separated, I knew the yogurt maker needed a scrub, so I gave in and hit the housework. I just can’t do it all, unfortunately, and with our recent road trip to H-town rounding out a whirlwind spring season, the house (and my figure) reveal embarrassing signs of neglect.
The next time you find yourself in Baghdad of the Bayou (I just had to throw that one in ), check out chef Monica Pope’s T’afia restaurant for Czech-inflected Clutch City cuisine, locally flavored with the bounty of the Third Coast. Joined by another mom and gradeschooler, we enjoyed kind service, tasty food (loved the chorizo-stuffed, bacon-wrapped dates!) and a noisy atmosphere impervious to energetic kids. On a rare night of imbibing, Austin Frugal Foodie gratefully knocked back a flight of five Texas wines to accompany the five-course local tasting menu. Our party partook of silky Swiss chard, heavenly cream-drizzled grits, fat shrimp, great bowtie mac-n-cheese, balsamic caramel beef(!) and more. On Saturday mornings, T’afia hosts a farmers market that sounds incredible. We might pencil that in for our next trip to Space City. By the way, Motel 6 on the Katy Freeway furnishes THE most comfortable mattress I’ve ever slept on! (I like ’em firm.)
If you’re hauling your kids to the Energy Capital of the World, be sure to visit the amazing Children’s Museum of Houston. Our frugal friend, Austinfrugalmom, recently purchased a Premier Membership from the Austin Children’s Museum, and the reciprocity program allowed free entry into the Houston location for all of us. Great savings for itinerant summer-breakers! Check it out before you hit the road with young ‘uns.
Back to that “yogurt”. I can’t bear to throw away honest local goat milk (from Wateroak Farms), even if I did screw up the preparation. Well-whisked, the fine-lumped fluid still works as a buttermilk substitute for most recipes. Like this here easy, easy quick bread fortified with Richardson Farms freshly ground whole wheat flour. Crunchety-crusted and sweetened just enough to highlight the fresh wheat, this craggy loaf craves the caress of rich and lightly salted Organic Valley Pasture butter. Accompany this bread with Dai Due‘s meaty hot boudin and you’ve got lunch—don’t forget the Texas peaches for dessert!
IRISH-STYLE BROWN BREAD makes one 8″ or 9″ round loaf
- 182 grams (1½ cups) organic all-purpose flour. Whole Foods 365 brand in the 5-pound bag is usually the best value.
- 3 3/8 ounces (1 cup) organic whole wheat pastry flour. Look for this in bulk departments or try Arrowhead Mills or Bob’s Red Mill.
- 6 ounces (1½ cups) Richardson Farms whole wheat flour (available at their Barton Creek farmers market location) or organic whole wheat flour.
- 1½ teaspoons cream of tartar, sieved
- 1½ teaspoons baking soda, sieved
- 1½ teaspoons salt. I use Real Salt.
- 3 Tablespoons organic sugar. Buy this in bulk or look for Central Market’s brand in the 2-pound bag.
- 2 Tablespoons organic butter, softened, plus 1 Tablespoon melted. Organic Valley is my favorite all-purpose butter. If you didn’t stock up when Natural Grocers offered their near-clearance-priced sale, click for a coupon.
- 1½ cups organic or local buttermilk or yogurt. I make my own yogurt from local goat milk and I usually do a better a job than the last two batches. Click to see how. Swede Farm Dairy is back from babymaking (SFC market at Sunset Valley). Wateroak is taking a market break but will still be available at Wheatsville Co-op and Whole Foods.
Preheat the oven to 400°. If you bake your loaf in a handleless pan, you can use the toaster oven. A heavy 8″ or 9″ round pan works best and cast iron is ideal. Lube the pan how you please and sprinkle the bottom with wheat bran or cornmeal.
Whisk together the dry ingredients (flours through the sugar) or just dump them into the food processor and let ‘er rip. Add the butter and process to blend or rub the fat in with your fingertips. I recommend the machine if small children are about. They have a way of knowing just when to soil the carpet or bust their lip and you might not want to get caught butterfingered at that moment.
Pour the flour mixture back into your bowl and add the buttermilk or yogurt. Stir quickly with a fork to evenly moisten the dough, then use a flexible dough scraper to fold the dough over itself just a few times to bring it all together and develop a bit of structure. Using the scraper, place the dough mound in the pan. Slash a large “X” in the top of the loaf with a sharp knife before placing the pan in the oven.
Bake for about 40 minutes, until browned and the center of the loaf tests done when probed with a long bamboo skewer.
Carefully remove the loaf from the pan, brush it with the melted butter and let it cool for at least 30 minutes. Serve warm or let cool completely. This loaf tastes best the day of baking. Chunk, crumble or slice leftovers to freeze for stuffing, bread crumbs or toast.