A few years ago, New York baker Jim Lahey came up with an amazingly simple bread recipe and was kind enough to share it with The New York Times’ Mark Bittman, who in turn shared it with the rest of us. Lahey claims this bread is “so simple a four year old could make it.” I believe him! Although I have a bit of culinary talent, none of that talent carries over into the realm of complicated baking. As Kelly will tell you, I just don’t have the patience. The great thing is that with this recipe, no patience is required. It literally takes only about six minutes of total hands on time.
Lahey, Bittman, and the New York Times have named this bread “No-Knead Bread.” You can find the article in Bittman’s “The Minimalist” online column at “The Secret to Great Bread: Let Time Do the Work.” I have since renamed my version “College Bread” because it’s so easy to make and doesn’t drain away all of the precious minutes required for my studies, club activities, activism, and extreme running and biking habits. Similarly, it would be easy to make if you only had a few short minutes while your kids are napping or before rushing off to an important board meeting. This recipe is so great that some friends and I thought that we would share it!
A few weeks ago, some of the students at North Seattle Community College and I successfully hosted a community-building project called “A Knead for Unity.” Driven by our desire to reach out to the community, break through the barriers of political partisanship, and start a community dialogue, we invited all of Seattle to come into our school under the following manifesto:
In the United States, late November often brings thoughts of the Thanksgiving holiday, and the comfort and community of wholesome food. Few things are more fundamentally and universally enjoyed and shared by humans.
Next week we are tapping into the 6000-year old tradition of breadmaking to connect us all to one another, to the fruits of simple foods made well, and to the ecological benefits of carefully produced ingredients for these foods.
During this fun, free presentation you will learn how to make super-easy, no-knead bread. While the bread is baking, learn about club and community leadership activities happening here at North. Then: EAT and TAKE HOME FRESH HOT RUSTIC BREAD!!!!!!!
During our five day baking extravaganza we made over 250 loaves of bread and fed participants, evening students, campus security, a homeless shelter, and even the Mayor of Seattle! More importantly, our mission was accomplished — we connected with the community and started a dialogue. This was a four step process:
First, we began the even with the showing of the video NY Times video Baking Bread at Home (YouTube title: Making No-Knead Bread). With this video, our participants learned how to bake family-size portions of No-Knead Bread.
Our next step was to show our audience how to draw in their own crowd and start a conversation in their local circles. We did a little simple math, and taught them how to make enough bread to feed over 100 people. Additionally, after we get feedback and make adjustments and touch up our reference page, we are going to make the PowerPoint presentation public property so that if anyone wants to use this method as a means of starting a dialogue, they can.
We then began our own conversation with the audience by defining a few terms and talking about them etymologically. The terms defined were Community, Conversation, and Sustainability. I plan to post separate entries on each definition later this week. So stay tuned!
The last part of this hour and a half forum was actual community dialogue. We invited those present to share their ideas on any topic. The purpose of this was to make everyone present aware of concerns within the community. The issues brought forward ranged from a campus-wide smoking ban to conceptualizing an outreach project with local elementary schools. Some of the ideas were big; some of them were small; but they were all important.
The “Knead for Unity” Project was a huge success, and has created quite a buzz around Seattle. I’ll let you know when and where the PowerPoint is posted as soon as we have it worked out. If you’re interested in learning how to make this bread, check out our next post on “Rosemary College Bread.”