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Well at least, when you’re trying to save money, don’t sacrifice good food. Just find cheaper ways to make it.

Okay, so everyone is looking for ways to save lately, and I have to admit, sometimes the idea of it makes me cringe, especially when I imagine skimping on food.  I like cane sugar, not beet sugar, or better yet, organic evaporated cane juice.  Margarine or Crisco is definitely out of the question, so we won’t even go there.  And why should I use the no name brand of chocolate chips when Ghiradelli and Guittard chocolate chips taste so much better because they use real vanilla?  I don’t believe in enriching the lives of food companies that want to pull the polyester tablecloth over our eyes by  pumping everything full of artificial this and that and long lists of preservatives. We may be saving money on our end, but they’re making more off of us by cutting corners.

Over the years, I have been the smart shopper in the sense that I don’t come home with a humongous cart full of refined junk for only $89.76, but instead I try (try) to buy less food, but of a higher quality (Of course, that’s when dad comes home, looks at the refrigerator, and charters a large Costco run to get “real food”).

The thing I have discovered in the last year, is that Americans really eat WAY more than we have to. We really do.

We buy efficient houses, we talk about buying efficient cars.  But then, when it comes to food, we say How much of this pizza can I cram into my stomach at once?  Then we think, Oh crap, I have to  burn this all off! Burning it off means hours at the gym, hundreds of dollars on diets, blah blah blah.

I think God made our bodies efficient for a purpose.  We don’t need to eat as much as we have all been programmed.  We can actually eat less, save money, have more time.

Have you heard of that study about the rats? (Which study, Jaime? There are about a million.)  Well, once on the Discovery Channel, I saw this show Human Body: Pushing the Limits.  The episode on Brainpower talks about how our bodies are capable of extreme efficiency.  It talked about these rats: one group was given a normal diet, the other group was given half the normal diet. Many of the ones with the smaller diet lived twice as long as the rats with the normal diet.  The show suggests that these findings are applicable to humans, and that humans who drastically reduce their caloric intake can have much healthier hearts and even healthier lives (Don’t worry though, the guy they featured was eating 2000 calories, and they were calling it close to starvation mode.  If I’m not mistaken, 2000 is the FDA’s recommendation).  Here’s the video clip:

Now certainly, you’ve seen my website.  I LOVE good food.  But now, in recent months, my philosophy has turned more toward my afore written ranting.  I am now trying to curtail what I eat, and try contenting myself more with simple food on most days (you can imagine my children are only slowly getting on board).   Then, I pick a few moments here and there to eat great, delicious, crave-worthy food (like s’mores bars, or tres leches cake with chocolate ganache, or lemon cloud cupcakes.   Mmmmm…..).  It seems to be working well for me.

So after all of that, here’s a recipe for white bread.  Ha Ha Ha!!!  I began this post talking about saving money, and then it turned to a quality not quantity thing, and then my diet philosophy.  Now I’m promoting a bread with zero nutrition.   Ha!  Well, I’m definitely not perfect!

But don’t worry, white flour can easily be swapped out with whole wheat flour (which I actually do all the time).  I just add 2 more tablespoons of oil and use 4 tablespoons of honey instead of the 2 tablespoons of brown rice syrup.

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Back to saving money.

This recipe is really versatile for bread, rolls, whatever, and is even great as hamburger rolls.  This makes 6 large hamburger buns  (you could also make hot dog buns), with no preservatives, no bleached flour, and no refined sugar, for about $0.75, if that.  That’s definitely cheaper than what I would find at Whole Foods or a regular bakery, which still wouldn’t be as good of quality as homemade.  I think that’s a pretty good deal, don’t you?

basic white bread recipe

1 scant tablespoon instant or rapid rise yeast (1 packet)
3 1/2 cups (350g) unbleached all-purpose flour
1 1/4 cups (295mL) warm water (110 degrees)
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons brown rice syrup or honey
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
a bit more oil for when the dough rises

1. In an electric mixer fitted with the dough hook and set to low speed, mix together yeast and 3 cups of flour. Pour in the water, oil, rice syrup and salt. Mix on low speed for about 10 minutes, until the dough is smooth and elastic.  Add up to a 1/2 cup more flour if needed.

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2. Turn out onto a lightly floured board and knead by hand a few times. Drizzle the inside of the mixer bowl with a bit more oil. Roll the dough around in the oil and cover in plastic wrap. Let rise in a warm place until doubled in size.

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3. About halfway through the rising, put a kettle of water on to boil. When the dough has risen, punch it down to disperse the air bubbles. Shape into a loaf, and place in a buttered loaf pan. Place the loaf in a cool oven. Pour the boiling water into baking dish and place on the rack beneath the bread. Close oven door, and allow to proof for 30 minutes.

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4. Remove the water and risen loaf from the oven. Set the oven to 350 degrees (180 celsius). When the oven reaches the temperature, return the bread to the oven and bake for 20-30 minutes, or until the top and bottom of the bread is golden brown. Brush the top of the bread with a teaspoon of salted butter. Tilt the bread pan on its side and allow to cool for 20 minutes. Turn the bread out and allow to cool completely, if you can wait that long.

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*If you’re unsure, dissolve it in 4-5 tablespoons of lukewarm water and let sit for 5 minutes, if it bubbles, pour into flour with the rest of the water.

dinner roll variation:

After the first rising, punch the dough down and divide the dough evenly into 8-10 pieces. Shape each piece into a ball, and place in a buttered 13×9 inch pan. Let rise (you can proof these in the oven with the boiling water like in the regular bread, but I skipped that step for the rolls in the picture), covered, until doubled in bulk. Brush with a lightly beaten egg. Bake at 350 (180 degrees celsius) for 20-25 minutes, or until the tops and bottoms are golden brown.

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hamburger and hot dog bun variation:

After first rising, punch down the dough and cut into 6-8 even pieces. Shape each piece into a ball or a mini baguette, and place, evenly spaced, on a greased cookie sheet. Place the buns in a cool oven over a pan of boiling water. Close oven door, and allow to proof for 30 minutes. Remove the buns and water from the oven, preheat oven to 350 (180 degrees celsius). Brush buns with egg wash. When the oven comes to temperature, replace the buns in the oven and bake for 15-20 minutes, or until the tops and bottoms are golden brown.