The inaugural vegan bloggers’ conference, Vida Vegan Con, took place this weekend in Vegan Mecca, AKA Portland, Oregon. Vegan bloggers ate, drank, socialized, attended panels, and basically celebrated everything vegan. It was three days of awesomeness, and everybody who attended seemed to absolutely love it.
I didn’t go.
I bought a ticket way back when they first went on sale, optimistically thinking I’d attend. But when summer began, I started thinking seriously about the conference and travel logistics. Eventually, I decided to not attend, for quite a few reasons, but mostly because I’m planning a trip to Italy in October and I couldn’t quite justify this trip, too. At the end of the day, spending a week in Florence with my best friend, who’s currently living there while finishing up an MA in art history, wins out over almost any other travel plan. Still, I was a bit bummed out over it, knowing I’d probably regret my choice when August rolled around. I sold my ticket, and waited for the envy to set in. And it did; I felt left out and envious when I saw people counting down on their blogs and planning meetups and drooling over doughnuts.
So this weekend, when I knew the more hardcore VVC bloggers would make time to blog after each day’s events, I ignored my Google Reader, wanting to avoid the all-too-appealing temptation of poring over VVC posts and beating myself up for not attending.
It wasn’t hard to do, though, because I had a really lovely weekend with my man, playing with shelter dogs and spending time with friends and reorganizing bookshelves. I also worked on an embroidery project and tried my hand at weekly meal planning (more on that later) and read books.
And I baked bread.
This was by no means my first experience with yeasted bread, but it was the first time I baked bread for bread’s sake, instead of making something fancier to accompany a specific meal. This is a simple wheat bread, an unassuming, unpretentious loaf that satisfies my most basic desire to consume carbohydrates. Equally tasty when toasted or eaten straight-up after slicing, it’s versatile in its simplicity.
And it was a joy to make. Because I wasn’t doing anything fancy with it and was baking purely for my own pleasure, I didn’t feel pressured to make it perfect. Instead, I enjoyed the simple process of mixing yeast and water and molasses, watching it bubble and foam, and then adding flour and oil and salt and kneading away. Instead of worrying about the consistency of the dough and fretting over flour, I simply pounded, molded, and stretched it, adding spoonfuls of flour until the dough just felt right. I savored the hour or two the dough spent in the loaf pan as it slowly ballooned to twice its size. And when it was puffy and ready to bake, I put it in the oven and left it there, instead of nervously peeking at it every ten minutes. When it seemed done, I used the old “tap the bottom of the pan” method to gauge its completion and trusted my judgment.
And, despite my laissez-faire attitude to its creation, the bread came out near-perfect. And, really, I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised that a centuries-old technique produces reliable, reproducible results, should I?
Do you have a go-to bread recipe? Please share!