One of the most comforting smells in the world is fresh baked bread. It speaks of nourishment, home, and family. Today baking bread is one of the reminders to me how lucky I am to have a home, be able to sleep in my own bed, and cook something for my family. Over the past few days my city flooded and tens of thousands of people were displaced from their homes, power and natural gas cut off in many areas. They are saying that this is the 100 year flood, and it’s not over yet. Large areas of the city are still under water including all of downtown. The military has been called in to help. My community escaped the flood zone, but I’ve heard constant sirens and helicopters circling overhead, a reminder that we are in a state of emergency.
No boil water advisory, but for some reason people have been buying up all of the bottled water in the shops, as well as all manner of perishable food items like milk and bread, as though the food supply was in danger of running out. There is no danger of food running out and the tap water is safe to drink. All one needs is a dependable pantry and a bit of knowledge/ common sense. In my pantry I have items for sustenance and items for flavour: bags of flour, dried beans, dried fruits, lentils, nuts, tins of tomatoes, pickles, jams, sacks of rice, dried mushrooms, dried chilies, cornmeal, spices, pasta…the list goes on and on. Quite honestly I probably have enough ingredients to prepare meals for 2-3 weeks, or longer.
Today I made muhammara, a red pepper dip, and a loaf of homemade bread with a bit of flour, water, yeast, salt. I could have easily made a pot of baked beans, a pot of soup, a bowl of pasta, all without going to the grocery store. There are so many food items available in a grocery store that we can do without. Different types of manufactured foods available for purchase in the store that are completely superfluous. We can live simply and healthily with a little bit of know-how, a pantry, a pot, a knife, and a fuel source for cooking. If I had no electricity or natural gas, I could cook a meal on my butane hot plate, propane bbq or on my charcoal bbq. Two excellent books that I recommend you to check out are An Everlasting Meal by Tamar Adlar and it’s source inspiration How to Cook a Wolf by M.F.K. Fisher.
Muhammara is a middle eastern spread that is easily made with a few pantry items and is delicious with crackers, bread, assorted sliced vegetables, or as a sandwich spread.
1-2 handfuls of fresh bread crumbs (cut the crusts off of some stale bread and blitz in a food processor until crumbs form)
1⁄2 cup walnuts, toasted for extra flavour
1-2 cloves crushed garlic
1 – 200ml jar roasted red peppers (or roast and skin your own)
sea salt to taste
cayenne pepper or hot paprika to taste
1⁄2 tsp ground cumin
1 tbsp pomegranate molasses
lemon juice to taste
1⁄4- 1⁄2 cup olive oil
In the jar of a food processor blitz the bread crumbs, walnuts, garlic until the walnuts are in fine pieces. Add the red peppers, salt, cayenne, cumin, pomegranate molasses, lemon juice, olive oil. Blitz to combine. Thin out with a bit of water if necessary. Adjust the seasonings. The flavours will meld and deepen in an hour or so.