Toast, master

A one-pound mini-loaf from our new-used Toastmaster Bread Box.

We missed the Big Breadmaking Boom of the Apocalypse.

By the time we thought, “Hmm, might be nice to start making our own bread,” all the ingredients had become as rare as plague-free toadies among Adolf Twitler’s Brown Noses.

Anyway, I am not a baker. Too much math, too hands-on, too much finicky attention required by too many niggling little details, especially at altitude. It’s classical, and while I appreciate the art form, I’m more of a jazz kind of guy, prone to improbable improvisations. Faced with a binary choice — right way vs. wrong way — I’ll say, “No way,” and walk away.

Herself makes the occasional pan of cornbread, but it’s tough to stuff a wedge of cornbread in the toaster.

The device at work.

We had an automatic breadmaker once, a gift from my sister. It was a Toastmaster Bread Box and cranked out serviceable loaves of whole-wheat goodness when we lived up near Weirdcliffe and acquiring proper groceries involved a 110-mile road trip at minimum.

Once we moved back to what passed for civilization the breadmaker went away in some unremarkable fashion, there being a Whole Paycheck, a Wild Oats, and other fine establishments doing the baking so we didn’t have to, even with machinery. You could get a loaf from the hippies at Mountain Mama that made you feel like a beaver gnawing a tree.

But here in the Year of Living Antiseptically our favorite English muffins abruptly vanished without warning, not unlike democracy, science, and common sense. And as I noted earlier, by the time we started weighing our options there were none, and nothing to weigh them with, either.

Herself made a few pans of cornbread, which was fine, unless we wanted toast. Locally made tortillas we have aplenty. But goddamnit all anyway, sometimes a fella just wants a slice of something toasted with butter and jam while he enjoys his morning coffee and tsk-tsks at the news.

I priced modern breadmakers and after recovering from the coronary remembered that there was no yeast to be had anyway.

Something is coming to call, and I don’t think it’s bringing bread.

And then, a miracle occurred.

After an unauthorized stop at a neighborhood garage sale Herself came home bearing — wait for it — a Toastmaster Bread Box.

A lightly used Model 1172X, it looks exactly like our old one save for the kneading blade, which seems larger.

The cost: $20. Even a senior citizen on a fixed income can bear that fiscal burden.

With yeast suddenly available again, we were in the breadmaking bidness. The inaugural loaf was kind of meh due to a poor choice of recipes (molasses, barf). But the next two, plucked straight from the owner’s manual, were perfect.

Now it’s all toasty around here in the morning. And just in time, too. Winter is coming.

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29 Responses to “Toast, master”

  1. Pat O'Brien Says:

    Gets me thinking positive about garage sales again. I have been avoiding them for years. Seemed just a way for folks to get their unused shit from their garage to yours. We had a bread maker, no longer, and had the same experience. The best results came from the recipes in the instruction book.

    • Patrick O'Grady Says:

      Herself is an eBay fiend, a relentless collector and reseller of discards, but has been avoiding estate/yard sales during The Bug®. This one was just down the street and she couldn’t help but have a quick treasure hunt. Did I want this breadmaker? Hells yes I want this breadmaker!

      Like our original it had the manual with a ton of recipes, all easily managed by the dumbest baker (me). The whole wheat makes excellent toast.

  2. Pat O'Brien Says:

    PS: Did you use the Sony for the pics?

    • Patrick O'Grady Says:

      Naw, that Sony is really a thorn in my side lately. It’s turning itself on and off and on again at random, a problem that apparently is fairly common with this sumbitch.

      I’ve reset the camera several times, swapped batteries, done all the simple stuff an end user can do. Like Apple, Sony wants me to send it in for service. Unlike Apple, they won’t give me an estimate up front. So if I send it to them and they quote me some exorbitant price, or say it can’t be repaired, well, they have a free organ donor to save other people’s balky devices and I’m down one camera.

      Anyway, I used the iPhone SE for those shots. It’s not great, but it does what I ask of it. When I drag the Sony around on a shoot I just take the battery out when it’s not in use.

      • Pat O'Brien Says:

        I had a problem with mine too. On a hike, with the camera in the green auto mode, most shots were out of focus. Last time I tried it, it worked fine. Intermittent problems are the worst. I am starting to think Canon Elphs are the way to go. Easy peasy, decent quality pix, and sturdy little bastards.

  3. Hurben Says:

    When the plague struck NZ, this gem appeared, no yeast required.

    Incredibly simple to make & amazing toasted

    • debby511 Says:

      Thanks for the recipe, Hurben. I’m going to try the gluten free version, having gone gluten free two years ago due to gut troubles. There is a brewing company in Oregon that does a good GF lager, so I can use that for the recipe. It’s readily available here in Colorado.

      Looks like a lot of other good recipes on that site as well. I can’t wait to try them!

      • Hurben Says:

        Great Debbie,

        just to ensure that it’s a happy experience, note that we use Commie Celsius down here so you’ll have to convert it to your ‘Merican Freedom Fahrenheits’

        • Shawn Says:

          I’ll take commie celsius any day over the confusion of the fahrenheit system. I was in school when it was necessary to utilize and cross-reference both systems at the same time. There’s nothing like engineering school when you have to make sure your foot pounds of force are “slug”ging it out with your foot pounds of mass.

          F to C: Multiply by 5/9 and subtract 17
          C to F: Multiply by 9/5 and add 32

          Some things you just never forget

    • Patrick O'Grady Says:

      I might have to give that one a squint, Hurben. Thanks! Now all I have to do is calculate the difference between Commie Celsius and U-nited States of America American Fahrenheit. Also, and too, adjust for high altitude. But the loaf looks gorgeous.

  4. Shawn Says:

    What? Garage sales. No way. They just have a bunch of trinkity stuff that nobody wants. Nope, everybody should stay away from them, what with the pandemic, the parking (have you ever noticed the parking at a garage sale?), and, well they just aren’t that great. No good. Bad…… said the ebay seller.

    Wow, she paid too much. $5 to $10 is the going rate for garage sale breadmakers. But if your supporting a great neighbor or folks who really look like they can use the money, what ever a buyer pays can be fair.

    Did you ever realize that garage sales / thrift store purchases are 100% American capitalism. Unlike when you buy new where a portion of the sale goes to the manufacturer (perhaps Asian), the shipper (probably Dutch), the distributor (probably conservative from Kentucky), and the merchant (maybe Cincinnati), all the money spent at garage sales or at thrift stores fully benefits those in your community. Well, unless you get a band of gypsies from Teec Nos Pos.

    You must advertise to us your smarter side’s ebay handle. Perhaps she will have something we just can’t do without.

    • Pat O'Brien Says:

      Yea, like a Jones for cheap!

    • Patrick O'Grady Says:

      Around here garage/estate sales draw pro shoppers like a dead hog draws flies. Dudes in trucks hauling out wallets chained to their belts, going all like, “How much for the lot?” It’s nuts.

      Herself is a pro at finding what she calls “treasure,” odd little items you’d never give a second glance. Then boom, off they go on eBay for the big money. It’s definitely a knack. Me, I had trouble selling drugs to dopers.

      • JD Says:

        Yeah. We’ve had the experience several times of the pro shoppers showing up the day before the garage sale to reconnoiter and attempt to bulk buy. I guess that falls under Adam Smith’s Invisible Hand free market concept?

      • Patrick O'Grady Says:

        It’s good to see old stuff finding new life, hey? These little economies underneath the capital-E economy are interesting to watch.

        Kind of sad in a way, too. Pre-Bug® I went to a couple estate sales with Herself and it felt a lot like watching buzzards pick at a carcass. Or maybe Fremen in “Dune,” snatching up the fallen to render them down for their water and then passing their goods around as keepsakes.

        • Shawn Says:

          I agree about the buzzards at the garage sale thing. It’s disappointing to watch folks dig and toss stuff around. There’s no consideration by many shoppers. It is really sad to go to an estate sale where an elder person has died or left for life in a senior center and you realize that their memories are being sold off piecemeal. That’s when I really think about what I am buying.

  5. BruceM Says:

    Ah, Patrick, you’re missing all the fun of making bread. That stuff coming out of that box just ain’t bread! I have a sourdough culture I made when I lived in “Lost Almost” back in 1977. I make bread using very few ingredients. The sourdough is the yeast! Getting your hands dirty is the fun, and it isn’t all that difficult.

    Kneading bread dough relieves stress. Ya outta try it!

    • Patrick O'Grady Says:

      Bruce, now that I’m mostly a gentleman of leisure, I may have to have another go at proper breadmaking. You’re not out much money if you bollix it, after all. Boy, I remember making a lot of smallish hockey pucks while trying to do some decent baking-powder biscuits, though.

  6. John A Levy Says:

    Due to a recent drop in temperature, I pulled out some yeast and started making bread last night I made a large sheet of foccacia bread wth fresh Rosemary on top. Went well with new york strip steak on the barbie ad green salad. Got a batch of slow reising dough in fridge to make cinnamon rolls Tuesday or Wednesday. Be making turkey stock in the middle of the week. middle of the week. Funny how daytime highs in the 20’s and lows in the single digits above and below zero make baking seem like a way to keep busy and heat the house up. Next thing you know I will singing Jimmy Buffets ” Boast Drinks”.
    Been looking for a Zorushi bread maker bjut no luck too cheap to spring for a new one even at Amazon prices.

  7. debby511 Says:

    Happy baking, PO’G! I went through a number of bread machines in my wheat-eating days (I’ve been gluten free for two years now due to gut problems). I never had any luck doing a 100 percent WW loaf, but I had a good recipe for a 50-50 loaf. It was great having a hunk of hot bread with butter for breakfast! Set the timer and wake up to the smell of freshly-baked bread. 🙂

    Gluten free baking is tricky, especially at 8000 ft, so no more machines for me. I have to bake the old fashioned way. I’ve adapted recipes for muffins and cookies with decent results, but haven’t tried bread yet. I’m going to try the recipe that Hurben linked to. It has a GF option.

  8. Libby Says:

    Keep us posted on your bread story. Enjoying your story and all the threads running through it and everyone’s garage sale/bread stories.

  9. Dale Says:

    All of this bread talk made think about Maryland Beaten Bicuits, and sent me off to search for recipes.
    I found a few, and the simplest recipes reminded me of my grandmothers biscuits. Her biscuits were dense little things anout 2.5 to 3 inches in diameter, and about an inch and a quarter tall.
    When they were warm we ate them with butter, jelly, or jam. When they at room temperature, we made little sandwiches – ham, ham&cheese, chicken salad, tuna salad, etc.
    I’m getting hungry now.

    • Patrick O'Grady Says:

      Oh, yeah, the itty bitty sammiches! Mom was not a baker, though her mom was; what we got were those prefab Pillsbury tubes you slammed on the counter to open, dumped onto a tin baking tray, shoved in the oven, and snarfed down at speed a few minutes later.

      When we got bored with butter and jam we’d fill ’em with slices of prefab “lunch meat” and “American” cheese. I’m convinced they were the inspiration for all the breakfast sammiches that popped up at the fast-food joints, the Egg McMuffins and what have you.

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