Filed under: baking, project updates, where the flour went | Tags: biscuits, bread, Chicago, decorative breadmaking, dinner rolls, pie, pizza, seattle, thanksgiving
Hey, so maybe it’s time for me to tell y’all what I did with my flour…
Presented below, in no particular order, are the occasions of how I personally used the flour to nourish others in the spirit of the project. I baked for a number of other events related to the Industrial Harvest itself, but these activities are more personal in nature.
For Thanksgiving 2010, I made two batches of dinner rolls and one pear-honey-walnut pie for two different Thanksgiving dinners in Seattle. The rolls were a recipe my mom sent me, and turned out PERFECTLY for the first dinner, which was held on the official Thanksgiving day at our place with a few friends. We try to do up a proper feast, usually vegetarian or vegan, every year and as the photo shows, we had a lot to be thankful for this year. Rolls are in the “wicker chicken” breadbasket, center top; pie is to the right of the rolls. You may also spy stuffing, two varieties of white potatoes and one of sweet potatoes, succotash with great-grandma’s heirloom red limas, brussel sprouts, cranberry sauce, a squash-pecan pie and two breastlike tofu turkey mounds in a sea of roasted root veggies:
The dinner rolls were the exception to an otherwise vegan dinner. I made another batch for a larger Thanksgiving celebration a week later but cooked them in the host’s oven and they turned out underdone (still totally edible and appreciated).
The pear honey walnut pie made at least three appearances over the summer and fall, most recently at Thanksgiving. It turned out to be the perfect pie for late summer, as pears are in season and you can always substitute apples or asian pears. Here’s one example (from the illustration on the top crust, this one probably has apples or asian pears in it):
Our Chicago household (myself included) was partial to breakfasting on this pie – there’s barely any sugar in it, and the walnuts add enough protein to get you through the morning.
I made a lot of biscuits. I probably make biscuits more than any other baked good, and in Chicago that meant several batches for the housemates and myself, some vegan, some with lard, some with buttermilk depending on all our various dietary quirks. Back in Seattle, I made biscuits for a couple of different visitors, and a couple of batches for myself and my husband. Sadly, there are no pictures of the biscuits.
And then there was the pizza. I got tons of practice making pizza last summer – grilled, wood-oven fired, stovetop, plain old oven baked, I did it all. My favorite episode involved bringing a bunch of excess dough and homemade pizza sauce (made with fresh midwest tomatoes from my housemate’s garden plot!) home to a little family reunion in Ohio, the first we’ve had in years. Mom was happy to be absolved from some cooking duties, and the huge batch of pizza that resulted fed everyone at the reunion with slices to spare.
Another epic pizza making session took place on another homecoming – the day of I returned from Chicago to Seattle, which also happened to be my birthday. We’d invited a bunch of friends over to make pizza as a welcome home / birthday celebration and I pretty much rolled off the train and started rolling dough. The hilarity in the kitchen that ensued was well worth it…there’s some goofy documentation of the evening here.
I did try bread baking a couple of times, with reasonable success. These loaves were made for our Chicago household on a verrrry hot July day, right after the flour was finished milling. They’re not the prettiest, but they were tasty.
And lastly, there’s this decorative bread medallion. It was inspired by a Bread Bakers’ Guild of America newsletter article on artistic breadbaking, which included a recipe. Compared to the lovely, highly refined decorative breads produced by the pros, my effort was pretty crude. Nor did it technically nourish anyone, but as one of the few actual art pieces produced as part of Industrial Harvest, I was somehow happy with it and felt it deserved a place in this list. It was one of three made for the show at Roots & Culture. You can see the others here (one fell apart shortly after the opening).
Filed under: project updates | Tags: Chicago, feeding people, happy, industrial harvest, many hands make light work, sad, seattle
Well, as you may or may not have heard, I’m in the midst of my final week in Chicago. That was fast, wasn’t it? Just a couple weeks ago, I was wondering what on earth I was going to do with the 5 tons of flour that was still in the warehouse. About a dozen people responded to my email query with their ideas and contacts, and whaddya know – it’s all been spoken for now.
Many months ago, back in Seattle, I was on the phone with Ben Walker and he mentioned that one of the things he was finding interesting about this project was that it seemed to embody the old adage “many hands make light work.” With everyone doing just a little bit, whatever they can, the Industrial Harvest has been made possible. People have been asking me whether this project has turned out to be what I’d envisioned. And although it has, it’s also been so much more, mostly because of what others brought to the table.
So you should be very proud of yourselves! Together, we’ve fed a lot of people. Many of those were people who were hungry. Others may not have needed the food itself, but were perhaps in need of what the food represented – support, caring, appreciation, friendship. I’m under no illusions that a bag of flour is going to keep someone from losing their job, or from being kicked out of their home. It won’t address any of the numerous underlying problems in our society. But, as a formerly-homeless friend told me long ago, with these small gestures we can keep people from feeling invisible, and make them feel like someone cares about them.
Over the last couple of weeks I have been riding the emotional roller-coaster – so happy to be returning home to Seattle, to my husband, our cat, and our extended Seattle family. And so sad to be leaving Chicago, the Midwest, and the inspiring network of people I’ve gotten to know and love over the last few months. I have been just overwhelmed by the welcome that y’all have given me – it’s made being here such a joy.
So although saying thank you doesn’t seem to capture the depth of my gratitude, you have my most sincere thanks.