My Frugal Life: Message In A Bottle

To Whoever Has Chanced Upon This Bottle:

I am stranded on a deserted island somewhere in the tropics. I am as well as the circumstances justify, thank you very much. After all, I consider myself somewhat of a minimalist anyway, inherently resourceful and inventively frugal. I have adapted remarkably well to my existence here and have come to enjoy the true simplicity of life in paradise. There is one contraption, however, I do particularly long for: my breadmaker.

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I've never been exceptionally adept at baking bread by hand, previous attempts at homemade bread have failed so miserably they have actually been comical. I generally blame it on the room temperature or the yeast, but I've never been quite able to pinpoint exactly what caused the bungling of my breads. I am known among friends and family for my persistence, but present me with enough personal failures and I will (as human nature often dictates) move on to the next project. Quickly.

Oh, you simply cannot fathom the fevered excitement I felt one Christmas when I realized the gift I was opening (a present from my felicitously sensible mother who had, indeed, sampled a few slices of my homemade blunders) was a GENUINE BREADMAKER ! Wow !

At first, I faithfully followed the recipes that came with my breadmaker, and amazingly every loaf I baked was superb in texture, appearance, and taste. When I became relatively adept with my breadmaker, I felt confident enough to actually experiment with ingredients. On occasion, I self-assuredly substituted whole wheat flour or cornmeal for the white flour; judiciously sprinkled in some bran, wheat germ, or flax seed; insouciantly added my own special medleys of spices; and sagaciously poured yogurt, juice, soup, and even leftover spaghetti (sauce included) into the pan. In the process, I discovered one extremely important fact about kids: they WILL eat spinach (and actually LIKE it) if it is baked in a loaf of bread.

That's right, I became so darned good at this breadmaker thing, I even concocted my very own recipes. Many of my creations are (I blush) worthy of blue ribbons, if not the envy of every mother who has every struggled with a vegetable phobic, vitamin- and mineral-deficient child. For a time, we referred to my Spinach Parmesan Bread as "Green Bread" for my young son's sake. When he learned the true source of the hue of his favorite bread, surprise! It was still his favorite. That Leftover Spaghetti Bread? It's a real winner, especially among my daughter and her friends.

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I've also made some money-saving discoveries. The quick-rising (or "made for the breadmaker") variety of yeast is key. It costs the same, but I don't need to use as much of it as I do the regular stuff. When the recipe calls for a package (2 1/4 teaspoons) of yeast, I ignore the recommendation. One teaspoon of Quick Rise, or Special for Breadmaker, yeast is quite sufficient, and my jar of yeast lasts twice as long. Don't believe me? Just ask Red Label customer service.

Did you know there is even a website devoted solely to recipes for bread? Yep - I found it:

So, don't fret too much over me as I lounge here in my hammock among the palm trees, feasting on tropical fruits and sipping coconut milk. The weather is sensational, the beach is glorious, and the sea an incredible blue. I'm doing just fabulously, thank you. I do need one small favor from you, the individual who has happened upon the bottle with this note in it: could you please contact UPS and ask if they deliver to remote locations? If so, please pack my breadmaker carefully and send it to me Red Label (no pun intended - honest !)

Oh yeah - be sure to include a generator.

Laura from Long Beach, CA

Do you have a frugal story to share with the ThriftyFun community? Submit your essay here: http://www.thriftyfun.com/post_myfrugallife.ldml

March 5, 20080 found this helpful

Laura, this one made my day! I might have to dust off my breakmaker again and get crackin'

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March 5, 20080 found this helpful

Please post the spaghetti bread recipe. My kids love an Italian herb I make and I often have left over spaghetti.

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March 5, 20080 found this helpful

Hi Diana!

I'll trade my Leftover Spaghetti Bread recipe for your special herb recipe. ;)

Breadmakers vary so here's what I recommend:

Refer to your basic white bread recipe that works with your brand of breadmaker

Throw your leftover spaghetti (sauce included) in the blender or Cuisinart and chop it or puree it.

[Don't tell my kids, but I'll even use the spaghetti and sauce that was left over on their plates] o_o

Use this spaghetti mixture in place of the amount of liquid your basic white bread recipe calls for. You might need to add some additional sauce to get the right consistency.

Add 1/3 cup of parmesan cheese to the dry ingredients listed in your white bread recipe.

Bake as usual.

If you would like the detailed recipe I use with my Zoyirushi brand breadmaker, I'd be more than happy to give it to you, just let me know.

Ta ta from the tropics :)

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March 5, 20080 found this helpful

With all that sunshine, maybe a solar panel would work better than a generator... being that you have no gas to power it anyway...

Gosh! ... This post brings back memories of the "good ol' days" when the kids were still at home... of waking up to cinnamon bread from the breadmaker that was programed to have yummy warm cinnamon bread waiting for us when we arose on a cold winters morning...

Hmmm, I don't know what was better, the TASTE, or the SMELL of that warm cinnamon bread... The only thing better than the smell of fresh warm bread, is fresh warm CINNAMON bread...

* RECIPE: just add a half to a whole teaspoon of cinnamon to your favorite regular bread or breadmaker recipe. If you want to add raisins, It's best to do it towards the end of the mixing cycle, otherwise they'll end up pulverized & all mashed up... But, if your're lazy like me, you can just add them at the beginning (but it's just not the same!). If you do choose to add raisins, they sweeten the bread up quite nicely. If you don't care for raisins, you can add an extra third of a cup of sugar to the recipe if you like.... Another yummy smelling, tasty treat is to add about a teaspoon of orange zest to the mix. This makes "Orange Cinnamon Bread" or "Orange Cinnamon Raison Bread"... In place of the raisins, dried cranberries can be substituted. That's a tangy treat...

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March 7, 20080 found this helpful

Yes! A bread machine is so easy to use and the bread is so delicious. I think everyone should have one. And you can be as creative as you want to be. Great invention.

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March 7, 20080 found this helpful

Elegantly written, I haven't seen that wonderful word 'insouciant' in a while, pity!

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March 7, 20080 found this helpful

thks so much for this enlightening...story

on your well being....

good stuff....

regards

janet m

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March 7, 20080 found this helpful

Laura.. I loved your story, and would take an educated guess that you are a creative writer, short stories, poetry, etc.. it was just so well done. I'm a writer, (but alas, not a bread maker) except for damper-Australia's own bush bread (yes, I'm Australian)

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March 8, 20080 found this helpful

Good morning Laura,

I have not used my breadmaker in some time. Don't know why, when I first received it I used it quite frequently, but not nearly as creatively as you. You have SO inspired me Laura, I'm only on my first cup of coffee and I am revved up and ready to bake, I am going to dig that machine out immediately!

Thank you so much for all the wonderful ideas, the very useful information AND the INSPIRATION! Send me your Island address, as I could use hanging out on an island for awhile, I will bring my breadmaker with me.

Keep on baking and keep on writing! Mary Lou

P.S. Have you ever done anything with Amish Bread Starter? The ladies I work with and I have been making some interesting breads with that. You can find the recipe in "All Recipes.com" for the the starter and the bread recipes. I will show you Laura when I come out to visit you on your Island. : )

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March 21, 20080 found this helpful

Your amusing post calls me back to my breadmaker, which has been gathering dust in a corner. Hot cross buns for Easter, coming up!

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November 15, 20080 found this helpful

Hi Laura, I loved your essay! I had a bread maker but I didn't like the bread, so I gave it to the church garage sale, was wondering what make of bread maker you have so I can buy one? TY, Peggy

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November 20, 20080 found this helpful

Peggy, I have a Zojirushi bread maker, but any bread maker would be equally priceless on the island.

Ta ta =)

~Laura

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