We just returned from another fun and relaxing get-away to the cabin on Lake Superior. Despite fresh lake breezes and cool temperatures, the bugs were bad. Mosquitoes the size of dragon flies—I swear! And the dreaded biting flies were abundant too. As a result, our plans for several days of hiking were reworked when the buzzing and bites became unbearable.
On the bright side, there’s still plenty to do on Superior’s North Shore that doesn’t involve traipsing through the beautiful-but-buggy woods. We traversed miles and miles of logging roads in the closed-up comfort of the truck and scoped out future canoeing and picnic locations on inland lakes and rivers and were lucky enough to experience a moose-sighting along the way. A comfortable, mostly bug-free picnic spot on the big lake was found and we enjoyed a sun-soaked, albeit chilly, lunch. Wining and dining aplenty, both in Hovland (even caught some live music there!) and Grand Marais, and of course, we did a little shopping!
At Stone Harbor Wilderness Supply we were treated to a primer on stand-up paddle boards—what impressive craftsmanship (including inlaid bamboo panels!), and snagged some cute sunglasses. Anxious to check out a pet supply store I had read about, we were disappointed to find it closed. Peeking through the windows we spied a black wooden cut-out of the words “Kiss the Dog” that so now would be sitting on a side table in my living room had the store been open!
But the most-treasured souvenir of our trip was found at one of my favorite stores, Lake Superior Trading Post. After checking out the hiking supplies, maps and shoes, I always end up in the second floor book corner where they have a small, but ever-changing stock of unique cookbooks. This trip, I added to my collection with The Soup and Bread Cookbook by Beatrice Ojakangas. It contains over 100 pairings of soups and breads organized by season. Lavash, rolls, scones, focaccia, breadsticks, and loaves of all shapes and sizes—it’s a comfort food read straight from heaven, with a steaming or chilled bowl on the side.
Intrigued by a bread containing both Thai red curry paste and coconut milk, I made this the first day back. Wow! It’s delicious and, be warned, difficult to stop with just one slice. To make it whole grain, I substituted whole wheat bread flour for almost half of the called for flour, and added a little vital wheat gluten, which I think made the texture even better. Ideal for dipping in soup, sopping up a good stew, or stuffed with sandwich fixings, this is a recipe I’ll be making often. Enjoy!
Red Curry and Coconut Milk Bread
1 package (1/4 ounce) or 1 scant tablespoon active dry yeast
1 ¼ cups warm water (105-115 degrees F.)
1 tablespoon sugar
2/3 cup canned unsweetened coconut milk, well stirred
4 tablespoons Thai red curry paste (I used Thai Kitchen brand)
1 ½ teaspoons salt
1 ½ cup unbleached bread flour, plus up to 1 cup additional
1 ½ cup whole wheat bread flour
1/8 cup vital wheat gluten
Place the warm water in a large bowl and sprinkle the yeast over it. Stir in the sugar and let stand 5-10 minutes, until foamy. Add the coconut milk, curry paste and salt and mix to combine.
Mix 1 ½ cup of the unbleached bread flour, 1 ½ cup of the whole wheat bread flour, and vital wheat gluten in a medium bowl until well combined. Add the flour, ½ cup at a time, to the coconut milk mixture, mixing well after each addition. Add up to an additional cup of unbleached bread flour, a little at a time, until you have a stiff dough. Cover bowl and let dough rest for 15 minutes.
Turn dough out onto flour-dusted counter and knead for 5-10 minutes until you have a smooth, satiny dough. Lightly oil a large bowl and place the dough in it, turning the dough over to make sure both top and bottom are oiled. Cover the bowl with a damp tea towel and place in a warm, draft-free spot to rise until doubled in size, about an hour.
Turn the dough out onto a lightly oiled baking sheet. Divide dough in half and shape each half into a narrow 12 inch long loaf. Cover loaves with the damp tea towel and let rise until doubled in size, about 45 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. With a sharp knife or razor blade, slash tops of the loaves 4 or 5 times on the diagonal. Using a spray bottle, spritz loaves with water and place in preheated oven. Spritz oven walls with water. Bake until loaves are golden, about 25 minutes. Transfer to a rack to cool. Makes two loaves.