Breakfast

BREADMAKING, a delicious escape from the Pandemic nightmare

FEATURED RECIPES: War Bread, French Toast, Open-faced Turkey & Poached Egg Sandwich

Where have I been all this time? My life took a turn with some life changing events. I sold my country home and moved 50 miles away. With my house gone, I temporarily lost my bearing for not having my own space and independence. Then, I changed my job to a better, more challenging one – all these happened in just 2 years.

Then, the great COVID pandemic came to town and conquered the world in a lock down for about 8 months or so. Everyone found themselves quarantined except for the so-called “essential workers”. I was one of them! I was working my way through the pandemic. I felt lucky I still made money; yet scared that I might catch the virus in the process.

In the last 2 years and especially in 2020, life for me and for everyone in the world has been a plethora of tales that taste like salty and sour (expressions of anger) since the world has suddenly shut down without notice; as well as bitterly unhappy since people couldn’t do things they have normally done.

Some tales were sweet and savory for those who can see the silver lining behind the dark clouds of the pandemic. I believe most of us in the beginning of 2021 were hoping the pandemic was already behind us or gradually drifting away so that we can eventually return to our normal lives; or to the new normal.

Most people turned their energy into bread making, baking or cooking in general! I’ve seen many celebrities and home folks showcasing their cooking skills and delicious creations over social media. All of a sudden, everyone is baking!

Apparently, the tendency to indulge in breadmaking or baking is not totally coincidental to the lockdown or any crisis situation in general. Neither did it become a random act of escaping boredom nor taking refuge in comfort. Rather, breadmaking during the pandemic suggests a more primal reaction of the subconscious; the mind has just turned on its survival mode.

In societies that consume different starches like rice, noodles or potato; people in those communities would stock up these starches during any given calamity or disaster caused by nature or humans. Bread (or its similar representations in other cultures like  rice, noodles, potato, and alike) represents survival. It gives man a sense of security and bounty in times of crisis.

In tribute to bread or breadmaking, I’d like to feature and execute a bread recipe called the WAR BREAD, which I picked from the book, The Flavor or Wisconsin by Harva Hachten and Terese Allen. This book is about Wisconsin’s culinary history and customs which were greatly shaped by human migration. It is also a compilation of submitted recipes from Wisconsin’s chefs, food writers and aficionados throughout the history of the state.

According to the book, the War Bread recipe was submitted by Celia Thorson of Cedarburg. WI. “It dates, as she noted, from WWI when her mother-in-law had to buy a certain amount of oatmeal to get white flour.”

I tried the best I could, to give this recipe the utmost respect it deserves. And here is my thought; I was expecting a regular bread texture! Contrary, it was very dense and heavy. You can compare it to a sourdough with more moisture and to a banana bread but less crumbly. I kept the bread in the fridge; and every time I microwave or toast a slice and spread butter on it, the aroma of the yeast comes alive. It was quite an experience I did not have in the past eating or baking other breads. It was very filling and heavy in the stomach; one slice is enough to keep the stomach full. It gave me an idea why it was the chosen nourishment during such time in history.

WAR BREAD

1/8 cup sugar
1 oz. active dry yeast
1/4 cup lukewarm water
4 cups hot water
3 tbsp. vegetable shortening
2 1/2 tsp. salt
6 cups flour

  1. Combine sugar and yeast.
  2. Combine oatmeal, hot water, shortening, and salt. Combine both mixtures together. Add flour 2 cups at a time and mix well.
  3. Let rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk.
  4. Punch down and shape into 2 loaves and let it rise until doubled, about 30 to 60 minutes.
  5. Bake in a grease loaf pans at 350 degrees for 1 hour.

WAR BREAD FRENCH TOAST

  • 1 slice War Bread
  • ½ cup milk
  • 1 Egg, beaten
  • Pinch of cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp. vanilla extract
  • Maple syrup
  • Butter
  1. Mix together milk, egg, cinnamon, and vanilla extract.
  2. Soak the slice of bread in the milk mixture.
  3. Pan fry in butter until golden brown.
  4. Top with maple syrup, choice of fresh fruits.
  5. Dust with powdered sugar, if desired.

WAR BREAD OPEN-FACED TURKEY & POACHED EGG SANDWICH

1 slice of War Bread
Spring lettuce
Vinaigrette dressing
2 turkey slices
1 Poached egg

  1. Toast a slice of War Bread.
  2. In a bowl, toss lettuce with vinaigrette.
  3. Layer turkey slices on the bread.
  4. Top with lettuce and poached egg.
  5. Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste

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