Artist/actress Eden Miller creates entire grain bread for ‘diet, delight’

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BECCA MARTIN BROWN

NWA Democrat Gazette

When we asked artist / actress / educator Eden Tomboulian Miller about her favorite home cooking recipe, she said she hoped home-baked bread wouldn’t disappoint, “as so many other people have turned to bread-making in those days for comfort and inspiration to search”.

But Miller doesn’t make bread by throwing a prepackaged mix into a bread machine. She does it the old fashioned way.

“The starting point for this adventure,” she explains, “was the 1960s edition of Ada Lou Roberts’ Favorite Breads from Rose Lane Farm, a gift from my mother’s mother. It was very good therapy for a teenager (circa 1965 ) to learn to be patient and careful with the method – and occasionally be adventurous with the ingredients! The ability to beat this dough while kneading was also a constructive way to unleash less gracious feelings.

“I’ve had occasional failures while working through the book,” Miller admits, but “my parents and siblings were usually willing to devour the evidence anyway, which has become one of my favorites: these pages are a little battered.

“Over time,” Miller adds, “my bread-baking has become almost instinctive: no measuring the ingredients, no need to wonder if a stage is done to be able to judge by the aroma, like a batch in the oven is done. The only problem with this for an item is that there is no longer a specific recipe! “

It is not surprising that Miller makes bread for “the diet as well as for myself”. After all, she is a lifelong maker, born into a family tradition of art, theater, writing, music and education. A great-grandmother taught music, she says, her mother’s mother, Dorothea Lamb, taught drama in high school; Her mother, Norma Tomboulian’s artwork is in the permanent collection of the Fort Smith Regional Art Museum; her sister Teddie McConnell is an art photographer and songwriter; and her brother Lee is a jazz keyboardist and composer. And “we all, including fellow sister Necia Parker-Gibson, UA reference librarian and poet, and father Clyde Tomboulian (deceased) are or have been teachers.”

Miller is arguably best known as a visual artist in northwest Arkansas, but after recently turning 70, she is investing her artistic energies in the Northwest Arkansas Audio Theater troupe. She is a secretary to the board of directors, a playwright – her latest film, Alice: No Place Like Tome, is available on the Fayetteville Public Library website – a director and assistant director, illustrator, costume designer and performer. For the next production “The Western Hour”, two episodes of radio broadcasts from “These Exciting Days of Bygone Times”, directed by Marshall Prettyman, she designs the sound effects. Previously scheduled performances are on November 7th at 2pm in the Fayetteville Public Library and on November 14th at 2pm on S. Main St. 214 in Springdale.

Miller says she attributes all of that energy and overall health to “happy genes, excellent diet, and good luck.”

“My parents, especially my mother, began very early in the 1960s to remove the family from the then normal American diet,” she says. “At that time, yogurt, peanut butter, muesli and whole grain bread were hard to come by except in health food stores. This scarcity was one of the reasons it was a good idea to make our own bread KNOW exactly what was in it!

“Bread baking generally takes time,” she warns. “It’s time to read the recipe, make sure you have the ingredients (or acceptable substitutes), make sure you understand the process and actually do it, from the first mixing to going through baking or making the bread if it is possible to do something else – an exercise in multitasking maybe! “

Comfort whole grain bread

The basic recipe for Comfort Whole Wheat Bread “roughly” looks like this, says Miller. “It’s been a long time since I measured exactly; the amounts also vary depending on the ingredients and the chef.” It makes four large loaves of bread, or maybe four dozen buns:

Level 1: sponge

In this phase the yeast works. Mix in a large bowl (stainless steel preferred):

About a liter of very warm water (hot tap water is fine)

1 1/2 to 2 cups of oatmeal (quick cook cut preferred)

About 3 cups of whole wheat flour

Then in a separate container: put half a liter of straight warm water, add about a tablespoon of honey and stir in, stir in three envelopes with packaged yeast.

Leave this on for about five minutes; when it starts bubbling and foaming, the yeast is “tested” – ready to use. If not, give him a little more time. If it just sits there, repeat this part of the process. (The water must not be too hot: simply pleasant to the touch.)

Pour the yeast mixture into the large bowl and stir thoroughly. The texture should be sticky; If it’s very thin, add more flour. Then carefully cover the bowl with a towel or lid and walk away on tiptoe for 15-20 minutes to allow them to wake up and rise. Then stir and let rise again if you like. (You can keep stirring it for quite a while if desired or needed. Up to a point, the more agitation it gets at this point, the lighter the finished bread will be.)

Stage 2: dough

Mix in the remaining ingredients. NOTE: This is where most of the possible variations come into play. (Read a good bread recipe book like Rose Lane Farm Favorite Breads for an idea of ​​the possibilities.)

After mixing the biscuit for the last time, add and stir in:

Four jumbo or six large eggs, lightly beaten

1/2 cup shortening: butter OR peanut oil preferred

2 teaspoons of salt

About four cups of flour

Mix thoroughly and add more flour if necessary so that it becomes stiff enough to knead. (This part is a training for the agitator!)

Put another four cups of flour on a board or countertop, turn the dough on the board, add a little more flour and …

Stage 3: kneading

(Put your phone on silent …) With flour on your hands, take one edge of the dough and slide it into the rest. Turn the dough a quarter turn and repeat. Hold this up for about 15 minutes and work more flour into the dough – but not so much that it is very stiff. Dust your mixing bowl with flour, put the batter back in, grease the top of the batter with a little oil, cover and let rise in a warm place until the volume doubles. This takes 45 minutes to an hour. Die-cut it to its original size. You can now shape breads or rolls OR let them rise again (this exercise thing).

Stage 4: Molding & Baking

Now you will become a bread sculptor: loaves of bread, rolls, artisanal breads on a baking sheet?

Preheat your oven to 350-375 degrees.

Grease your bread baking tins or muffin tins (for rolls) or baking trays with butter or oil.

Cut your dough into portions. Each serving should NOT fill its container MORE THAN half full.

Put as many servings as your oven will hold in their containers and let them rise slightly covered (yes, again). Once the servings have risen, you can gently brush the tops with melted butter or some beaten egg for an extra golden brown top, if you’d like.

Press down on the rest of the dough (if you have it) until it’s ready to shape.

Bake each batch at an appropriate time. My big loaves of bread take about an hour. Buns take 30-40 minutes because they are smaller.

Test the degree of doneness by tapping lightly on the surface with a table knife. The bread shouldn’t be dented and should sound hollow.

Place the loaves on a surface where they can cool. (My favorite is a perforated pizza pan.)

Level five: eating

Let the bread cool before slicing until it feels comfortable. Toppings are up to you!

Well wrapped in plastic – or probably waxed paper – this bread is very easy to freeze. Let the bread cool completely before freezing.

The current loaf should stay in the refrigerator; Storage on the countertop is not recommended.

Toasting is highly recommended; it brings back the aroma of baking!

Send your suggestions for “Celebrity Chefs” to [email protected]

Miller is a lifelong visual artist whose work has always been popular with buyers when the Arts Center of the Ozarks hosted its annual 5×5 art exhibit and fundraiser. (Courtesy Image / Eden Miller)

Eden Miller comes from a family of artists.  Her mother, Norma Tomboulian's artwork is in the permanent collection of the Fort Smith Regional Art Museum;  her sister Teddie McConnell, who took this picture, is an art photographer and songwriter;  Sister Necia Parker-Gibson is a poet;  and her brother Lee is a jazz keyboardist and composer.  (Courtesy Photo / Teddie McConnell)

Eden Miller comes from a family of artists. Her mother, Norma Tomboulian’s artwork is in the permanent collection of the Fort Smith Regional Art Museum; her sister Teddie McConnell, who took this picture, is an art photographer and songwriter; Sister Necia Parker-Gibson is a poet; and her brother Lee is a jazz keyboardist and composer. (Courtesy Photo / Teddie McConnell)