My bread machine finally sighed and refused to work anymore. Too many batches of bread, or pizza dough, or rolls or focaccia loaves. The bread machine gave up and died. The last batch was a heavy lump in the container. Oh well. I used to make bread the old fashioned way when my kids were little, kneading the dough, letting it rise, punching it down and kneading again. It was very satisfying—especially as a way to release frustration or any other negative emotion—kind of like pulling weeds. I could resurrect even this heavy lump with some energetic kneading. The result was okay, but not the airy light loaves I was used to. This wasn’t going to work out too well.
I know myself well enough to know that making bread the old way was going to get, let’s face it, old really fast. But buying a new bread machine was out of the question, given our limited resources.
Then I remembered my last trip to Goodwill. I’ve been losing weight, along with Joe and my pants, besides getting a little frayed at the cuffs, were too loose and sloppy. Maybe I would find something at Goodwill. My sister Betty always finds good stuff. And my daughter Kim, outfits her girls—and herself, with really cute clothes that she finds there or at Value Village. So I went in on Senior Day and found four pairs of pants and two tops for barely over $19. All name brand, and as Betty would say, “gently used”. I checked out their small appliance section, thinking I might find a pasta making machine.
I didn’t see that, but there were about four bread machines on the shelf. There was even a griddle like the one I have from my mother—which dates back to the mid fifties. There were a lot of waffle irons and Panini pans. But I didn’t need any of that. At the time, I didn’t think I needed a bread machine either. Now I could only hope that I could still find a reasonably good one—and that it would work.
I bought the BreadMan machine for $9.99. On close inspection, it looked only “gently used”. But I still wanted assurance that I could bring it back if it didn’t work. “Keep your receipt and keep the sticker on the top and you can return it within seven days if you need to,” I was told.
I gave the machine a trial run with a batch of focaccia bread. No problem. As I asked myself why a perfectly good bread machine found its way to Goodwill and then to my kitchen, I realized that it might be a very simple explanation, such as someone not wanting to make bread anymore, or downsizing and having no room for all those appliances, or…When I washed the container, I couldn’t get the paddle off. Was that the reason the machine was discarded? It still works fine and I can clean it even if I can’t remove the paddle.
There are a lot of reasons that I am glad we are in constrained circumstances; chief among them is a renewed sense of responsibility and accountability for my actions as they affect the world around me. I don’t want to be part of a throwaway society. Goodwill represents the opposite of that. Recycle, re-use, and renew, as the company’s mission statement emphasizes the value of job training and placement—renewing lives by helping people help themselves.
My son spent the weekend with us, so I thought he might like this first effort from my not quite new bread machine.
Focaccia Bread and Pulled Pork Sandwich
1 cup water
1/3 cup olive oil
2 teaspoons sugar
1 teaspoon salt
3 cups bread flour (high gluten)
1 teaspoon Herbs de Provence
1 ½ teaspoons active dry yeast
Put ingredients, in order given, in container of bread machine and set to dough setting. When done, with oiled hands, press dough into oiled clay baking pan, pushing it into the corners and pressing down to make indentations with fingertips. Cover and let rise in a warm place until double in size, about 30 minutes.
Sprinkle dough with chopped fresh oregano, grated Asiago or Parmesan cheese and coarse sea salt.
Bake at 400˚ for about 20 minutes or until golden. Let cool before slicing.
For each sandwich, carefully slice a 3” x 4” piece in half horizontally. Top one side with pulled pork and dill pickle slices and cover with other piece. Makes about 12 sandwiches.
2 pounds boneless pork ribs
1 bottle of beer (I used a Porter, because that’s what I had)
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon cloves
1 teaspoon dry mustard
1 tablespoon brown sugar
¼ cup ketchup
¼ cup balsamic vinegar
Cook in crock pot until meat is tender enough to shred. Transfer meat and sauce to large frying pan. With two forks, pull meat apart to shred. Salt to taste and simmer to cook juices down.