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Kitchens and Bread

I love kitchens. I think anyone who enjoys cooking loves kitchens. Actually, even if you don’t enjoy cooking, kitchens are a huge thing. I can’t speak for anyone but myself in this instance, but the kitchen is the heart of the house, primarily because we spend so much time in it, and when I look at homes for sale, the kitchen is the room that plays a major part in whether or not I want that house. I can work around small bedrooms maybe, and crappy living rooms, but the kitchen has to be stellar if I’m going to ignore anything else. Counter space is a must. I have to have room for everything I’m doing, plus the inevitable vase containing utensils. Cabinet space is also a must, especially if you don’t have an actual pantry, and preferably cabinets with adjustable shelving. My cabinets are always full and, because of certain short individuals that live with me, they are also unorganized. One of my cabinets is full, from top to bottom, of different spices, many of which I’ve yet to open. I like to keep that cabinet fully stocked, as there is nothing more irritating than coming across a new recipe I’d love to try, and not having the right seasonings on hand!

I love my kitchen gadgets, too, things like a bread machine, food processor, rice cooker, my mom’s Kitchen Aid mixer, and crock pot. If I could afford them, I’d have a full set of copper pots and one of those Vitamix blenders. But $500 for a blender?? I just can’t justify the cost, no matter what it can do.

When I was a kid, my mom cooked. Constantly. The only thing she ever made from a boxed mix was cake. Everything she cooked was from scratch, so that was how I learned. My brother and I, typical kids, begged for Chef Boyardee,  but mom wasn’t having any of that in her house, and as I got older, I learned to appreciate her cooking more than the prepared meals at the store.

I didn’t learn everything she had to teach; I was not a fan of poultry, so I was never in the kitchen when she made it. Many things I learned from her and then tweaked my own way later, other things I learned by trial and error, completely on my own. One of the best things about the internet is the ability to look up any recipe!

One thing I have questions about is using a bread maker to bake bread. While I love the breads that come out of it, no matter how light I set the machine for the crust, it always, without fail, comes out thick and hard. There has never been a way to use the bread for things like sandwiches. Slicing it has always been more sawing through the crust than anything else, and I’m wondering, if anyone can tell me, how to solve this problem. I’d like to use the bread maker more often, and cut back on the store-bought breads, but I’ve gotta have the ability to use the bread for sandwiches. If anyone has a suggestion for softening the crust, please share it in the comments–I need all the help I can get!!!

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