These past two months have been a blur to me.  I was busy with both boys in baseball, and my responsibilities with the Hurlburt Spouses’ Club ramped up, as I was in charge of organizing the elections of next year’s officers and a biennal review of the Constitution and other legal documents.

Pardon the blurriness. I was recognized by Hurlburt Field earlier this month as a nominee for the annual "Angel Award". I didn't win (I didn't hold a candle to most of my fellow nominees!) but I was incredibly flattered to be among such amazing volunteers.

But now it has all wound down, with the new Hurlburt Spouses’ Club officers installed a couple weeks ago, the boys’ baseball and Cub Scouts having come to a close and I have a summer season that I can dedicate to my family.

One of the things that really came to a screeching halt in April and May was normal cooking for the family.  Our dinnertimes became dominated by the “quick and easy”, from chicken nuggets to Firehouse Subs.

With the help of some inspiration from several friends who have embarked on similar cooking/eating journeys, I am going to try to go “back to basics” with our eating.  Not a “fad diet”, per se, but just trying to reset my cooking and eating habits a little.

What is “back to basics”?  Simple, I’m trying to keep fundamental with the foods we eat.  Minimal processed foods, real homemade meals, etc.  Less empty carbs, such as juices, white sugary foods and starchy snacks.  Dinners will consist of a meat, a veggie and a basic starch, such as brown rice or homemade whole wheat bread.  Minimal reliance on oils, and we will try to keep fats to naturally occurring fats: butter is a winner in my house.  Heck, maybe we’ll even delve into cooking with lard (that isn’t as bad as it sounds)!!!

My garden is producing nicely, so we can enjoy green beans and peppers straight from the yard right now too, yum!

So I am starting with pulling my bread machine down from the top shelf of my appliance pantry and giving it a go.  I’m in search of a yummy honey-sweetened whole wheat bread machine recipe.  Whole wheat flour has a higher protein content than all-purpose or bread flours and therefore can go from yummy to tough if over-kneaded.  Here are the two I’ve tried so far, and there’s one more in the queue that I’ll try out later this week.

If you have a bread machine, making homemade bread is about 1/4 the cost and 1000x the nutritional value of store-bought bread.

Honey Whole-Wheat Sandwich Bread for Bread Machine: This recipe calls for only whole wheat flour, which has This one baked up smelling and tasting good but it was way too dense.  We’re using this bread for toast now.

Heavenly Whole Wheat Potato Bread for Bread Machine: I substituted honey for the white sugar in this recipe.  It still came out rather dense, but had a little more “fluffiness” compared to the recipe that had no bread flour.

This is the next recipe I’m going to attempt.  We like “potato” breads, it adds a nice flavor.  Once I find the right recipe, it’ll be our keeper for all-purpose bread uses.

Whole Wheat Potato Bread for a Bread Machine: Unlike the 2nd recipe above that uses dry potato flakes (such as Betty Crocker’s “Potato Buds”), this recipe calls for already-prepared mashed potatoes.  A great way to use leftover mashed potatoes.  Or nuke a potato in the microwave, fork-mash it and add it to the recipe.  Also, this recipe uses vital wheat gluten, which is an additive that helps produce more gluten for whole wheat breads without over-toughening the bread.

One of the perks of a “back to basics” campaign is the incredible cost savings.  Did you know a homemade loaf of bread costs well under $1?  Perhaps as low as $0.50!  Compare that to most loaves of bread costing $2-3!

Stay tuned as I write about our adventures making homemade laundry detergent.