The latest publication to cross my path would seem to be off the beaten track for me, but I must confess I became an instant subscriber after I read the first two pages. It's "Food for Thought," a newsletter being produced and edited in Ackworth, Iowa, by MaryBette Slusarski. She has strong health concerns and no-nonsense opinions about the foods we consume.
The newsletter is a five-page stapled, photocopied collection of her mental cogitations, organically sound recipes and a philosophical approach to growing and cooking foods.
From my enthusiasm, you may suspect that I am leaning in the direction of organic foods. Not a bit. I am a sybaritic cook at heart and always will be. But I do believe that there is much to be learned from any group of food activists who state their mistrusts of chemical additives and gratuitous sugar supplements publicly. And who are willing to come up with alternative ways to cook using only "pure" ingredients.
Not for Everyone
The newsletter is not for everyone in the family. But cooks with health concerns (who are willing to take some of its tracts with a grain of salt) will find much that is vital and exciting in its pages.
The newsletter is published every six weeks. The subscription rate is $7 for nine issues or $1 per single copy. Information: MaryBette Slusarski, 1859 Highway 92, Ackworth, Iowa 50001.
One of my favorite recipes from the newsletter is tomato bread. It is a healthy, whole-wheat loaf whose blush is much dependent upon ripe tomatoes in the recipe. Oddly enough, it does not taste at all like tomatoes. I love it best straight from the oven, slathered with sweet butter and honey. It also makes wonderful toast and freezes well.
1 1/2 pounds ripe tomatoes
1/2 cup lukewarm water
2 packages dry yeast
1 teaspoon plus 2 tablespoons honey
1/8 teaspoon ground ginger
2 tablespoons oil
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil
4 to 5 cups whole-wheat flour
Peel, seed and process tomatoes to make 1 1/2 cups puree. Heat in saucepan to lukewarm.
Place lukewarm water in large bowl and sprinkle with yeast. Stir in 1 teaspoon honey and ginger. Let stand until foamy, about 5 minutes.
Add pureed tomatoes to yeast mixture along with remaining honey, oil, salt, basil and 2 cups flour. Stir in 1 1/2 to 2 more cups flour or enough to form soft dough. Scrape onto floured board and knead, adding more flour as needed, 10 minutes. Transfer dough to lightly greased bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let stand in warm place until doubled in volume, about 1 hour.
Punch dough down and knead briefly on floured board. Divide dough in half and form into round loaves. Place loaves on cornmeal-sprinkled baking sheet. Cover with flour-rubbed cloth towel and let rise in warm place until doubled in volume, about 1 hour.
Bake at 325 degrees until bread sounds hollow when tapped with finger, about 45 to 50 minutes. Cool on rack. Makes 2 loaves.