First day of school

It came and went, summer that is, and now it’s back to school already.

What’s better for the first day than such a comforting classic as the PB&J refined and a collection of reminders from summer? From our own found and picked gooseberries and black currants, we rediscovered canning and preserving this summer.

I don’t know about you, but I can’t think of too many better things to go with jam than nut butter. I’m not much for peanuts, but almonds and hazelnuts? That is spreadable perfection. Usually found in the organic section of the grocery store, it’s also actually easy to make on your own. Just by adding a cup each of skinned almonds and hazelnuts to a food processor, they will cream and reduce. The nuts will release their own oils, so nothing needs to be added.

The bread? We got adventurous and made our own. It’s not as laborious as you’d think and the results are better than some kind of wonderful. Around here we don’t eat plain white bread all that often, in fact it’s referred to as “Cake Bread” as my kids never see anything so white other than a true special occasion. Nut, seed and whole grain free, this bread packaged a lunch manufactured in heaven.

All that, and an apple for the teacher, of course.


1/2 teaspoon Sugar
1/4 Cup Luke Warm Water
1 1/2 teaspoons Yeast

Dissolve the sugar and yeast in the warm water. Allow to sit for about 5 minutes while it becomes frothy.

1 Cup Hot Water
1 1/2 Tablespoons Sugar
1 1/2 Tablespoons Vegetable Oil
1 teaspoon Salt
1 Cup Cold Water

Dissolve the sugar, oil and salt in the hot water. Add the cold water to cool. Once it is lukewarm, add it and the waiting yeast mixture to an electric mixer fitted with the dough hook, or a large bowl.

Add 4 Cups Unbleached, All Purpose Flour.
Mix well and let rest for about 15 minutes. The dough should be about the consistency of a cake batter and about doubled in size when you return.
Add another 2 Cups of flour, one cup at a time.

When the dough comes together and is workable, turn it out onto a lightly floured surface and knead it for a few minutes. The dough is fantastically stretchy and soft. When it’s smooth and elastic, lightly spray a large bowl with oil and place the dough in it to rise, covered and in a warm place, for about 1 – 2 hours.
Once it has doubled in size, remove it from the bowl, knead it for a minute and return it to the bowl.
Let the dough rise a second time for another hour or more. When it has doubled again, preheat the oven to 350ºF and prepare two loaf pans by lightly spraying with oil. Divide the dough in two and shape to fit the loaf pans. (The dough may also be shaped into round, rustic loaves or cut smaller and shaped for dinner rolls.)
Cover the pans with a tea towel and let the dough rise again. Once the dough has risen high enough to resemble a regular loaf, a few inches above the pan, bake it on the center rack for about 45 – 50 minutes or until golden and hollow sounding when tapped.

Try not to burn your fingers when you eat it.

Makes 2 Loaves.

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I'm a chef, food stylist, cancer survivor, recipe developer, art director and photographer. My obsession for food, how it looks and makes me healthier has driven my passion for chronicling my journey through photos. Find more about me on: or my portfolio at:

5 thoughts on “First day of school”

  1. mmm, PBJs are the quintessential sandwiches of youth!! so simple, yet so delicious!! personally, I prefer either almond butter or hempseed nut butter, straight up on whole-grain bread, with fresh or dried fruit on the side, to make up for the lack of jam :0)

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