March 31, 2005

Flaxseeds

I always wondered if this was a weird little fetish of my own, but now I know that I am not alone, based on your comments.  Such happy reactions to a simple picture of flaxseeds, they gladden my little heart.

I guess it's obvious.  I love flax.  As our beautiful nakedjen mentioned, flaxseeds are a terrific source of essential fatty acids, and are really good for you, but there a lot of foods that are good for you, and that taste terrific, but do not inspire the kind of happiness in me that flax does.  One of my favorite things to do with flax is to make the Date and Peanut Nuggets from Mollie Katzen's Sunlight Cafe, in which you combine chopped peanuts, peanut butter, chopped Medjool dates, ground flaxseeds and some optional (but still useful) flaxseed oil.  Mix it all together with your hands -- moosh, moosh, moosh -- roll it into little balls, and keep them around for snacks when you feel a little peckish but don't want to eat, say, an entire cinnamon bun.  (By the way, dear nmiguy, flaxseed oil is sold in health food stores and is pretty much clearly labeled "100% flax oil.  Store this in the freezer or else it will turn rancid in, like, seven seconds."  I think I know the baseball player of which you speak; if he thought his steroid cocktail was flaxseed oil, he is either thick, naive or putting way too much trust in his handlers.  Either way, he should know better than that.)

It will probably be no surprise that my favorite place for flaxseed is bread, although all of the literature I've read on flax urges us to eat them raw and ground (unground flaxseeds are indigestible, and heat destroys those prized essential fatty acids).  In bread, the whole point of the flaxseed is taste and texture, and it has plenty of both.  At Bread Camp (see Sourdough breadhead, above), we made seeded loaves studded with flax.  To soften that hard seed wall, and to keep the seeds from shredding the dough, we made soakers out of the flaxseeds, covering them with water and letting them sit overnight before adding them to the dough.  Dear friends, if you want to run your fingers through the dry flaxseeds in the picture above, you will definitely want to run your fingers through a flax soaker.  At Bread Camp we were encouraged to touch everything, to feel the dough so that we could learn the various stages of gluten development by touch, to feel the difference between bread and pastry flours,  and wheat and rye flours.  Chef encouraged us to put our hands in the flaxseed soaker to feel how unctuous and smooth, almost lotion-like, flax becomes when it is hydrated.  To this day, I still wonder why the various day spas in New York have not latched onto flax treatment.  You can get manicures and pedicures and facials made with everything from grapes to chocolate.  It makes perfect sense to me that if you put your hands in a bowl of flax soaker for half an hour, you will emerge in a more relaxed, overall better mood.

Not only do I love flax, but flax loves me back.  I know this because that day at Bread Camp, no matter how carefully I rinsed my hands off, I managed to get flaxseeds all over myself.  We all had a bit sticking to our chef's jackets and aprons, but only I managed to scatter them all over myself like freckles:  one between my left thumb and forefinger, one in the crook of my elbow, one over my ear.  It became a running joke in class that day: about once an hour, another flaxseed would manifest itself on my hand or wrist.  Considering that I was dressed in Full Chef Monty (chef's jacket, houndstooth trousers, clodhopper boots, apron, silly little hat that made me look pinheaded but did its job of keeping my hair out of the way), I still don't know how this happened:  I went back to my hotel room that night; I drew a hot bath and filled it with bath salts for the soaking of my tired, sore muscles; I peeled off my uniform, only to find three more rogue flaxseeds, two on my collarbone, one on my ribcage, just under the general breastal area.  I'm sure there's a reason that this happens with flax, but not with anything else, but for now, on this rainy Saturday baking day, I'll just chalk it up to love.

Posted by Bakerina at 11:20 PM in • (1) Comments
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