The benefit and the drawback of not having a lot of family around on Christmas is it’s quiet. On the one hand, it’s kinda nice to sit back and relax, not having to get out of comfy sweats or get into the car and deal with holiday travelers late for their next holiday gathering with step-family number three. On the other, it’s not quite the same when you were raised with laughter and chaos – and you actually like the people you’re not with.

This really was a relaxing day – I didn’t even have to cook dinner, since we decided to go with the Cioppino, again. I had made enough for several small third world countries and an army or two, so it made sense to go for it rather than cook up another meal. And it reheated really well – even the calamari stayed tender.

I put it into a different bowl and it was just like having a totally new dinner!

But prior to reheating last night’s meal, I decided to bake some bread. We had used up the last of the sandwich bread yesterday, and I always prefer a home-baked loaf to a grocery store loaf.

I made my basic multigrain loaf. It’s easy and pretty much a no-fail recipe.

Multi Grain Sandwich Bread

  • 2 1/2 tsp yeast
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 2 cups whole milk – room temperature
  • 1/2 stick butter  – softened
  • 3 cups white flour
  • 1/2 cup sprouted wheat flour
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup rye flour
  • 1 tbsp salt
  • 2 tbsp sugar

Mix yeast with water and sugar and proof for 5 minutes.

Add milk and white flour and blend on low speed with dough hook. Slowly add very soft butter, remaining flours, sugar, and salt.

Continue mixing for about 8 minutes. Dough should completely pull away from the sides of the bowl, but won’t pull away completely from bottom. Add water or flour by tablespoons, if needed.

Roll dough into a ball and place in a buttered bowl.

Cover, and allow to rise in a warm, draft-free spot until doubled. I use the microwave with a 2-cup Pyrex measuring cup filled with boiling water.

When doubled, form into two loaves, place in buttered bread pans, and allow to rise, again, until doubled.

Bake in a preheated 400°F/200°C oven for about 40 minutes, or until baked through and hollow-sounding when tapped.

Remove from pans and cool on racks completely, before slicing.

Light and delicate with a nice, crispy crust. I prefer a bit of crunch to my crust, but you can always brush on some melted butter right after it comes out of the oven to soften it a bit, if you like.

It’s back to the gym tomorrow and probably another ridiculous meal on New Year’s Eve – and then the holidays are over. It will be back to practicing a little restraint in the calorie department.

While we have over-eaten this past week – based upon our newer eating habits – we’re still doing better than we did last year at this time.

I refuse to be a slave to a weight scale. I am going to eat and have fun – and work a bit harder if need be to balance it.

Balance. What a concept.

I wish I had figured it out 40 years ago.

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