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Homemade bread at its best

Barbara Ann Dush
Fullerton, Neb.
Paul Zarek measures the sea salt as the machine at left grinds the wheat. The Zareks usually make bread once a week.

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When you step into Paul and Liz Zarek’s home on baking day, the aroma is intoxicating.

It’s the smell of homemade bread at its freshest, made from whole wheat the Zareks mill just minutes before turning it into dough. The couple make their bread and rolls with only the healthiest ingredients – such as pure honey in place of sugar, virgin olive oil and freshly ground flaxseed – making the end product superior in nutritional and health benefits.

There’s no comparison when it comes to the taste of freshly milled wheat flour versus that sold in stores. Bleached, refined flour contains chemical softeners and mold retardants. In order to preserve its shelf life, the ‘germ’ of the wheat berry is removed, depleting the flour of at least 22 of its 26 vitamins and minerals. Freshly milled wheat is also much sweeter than store bought whole wheat flour.

“When I make wheat bread I don’t like making it with wheat that’s already been ground,” Paul said. “I grind it just before I put it in. If it sets for so many hours it starts going rancid. With white flour they delete the oil, the hulls and all that. There’s 40 to 45 percent oil in good wheat they take out. That causes it to go rancid.”

These days Paul only home mills enough wheat for the day’s baking. “When I first started out, I thought while I’m doing it I’d make some extra and store it. By the third day I had to throw it out. That was one of the first lessons I learned by trial and error.”

ACCORDING TO THE Zareks, serious bakers use a Bosch mixer. “The Bosch doesn’t do it all by itself, you have to work a little bit,” Paul joked; however, they like the machine’s durability and multiple functions.

It’s the second such machine they own. Their first was purchased at a home show in the mid 1970s, when their journey to healthier eating began.

“I started making rolls at the (Drive In), then we found these machines at a home show and started with the bread. I did all the baking, then Paul retired and needed something to do while he was home so I just handed it over to him,” Liz said.

Since then, they have updated with a new mixer and electric grain mill and “I took it over,” Paul said. “When I was a kid Mom always made bread. We didn’t even know what boughten bread was until we went to Genoa. When we first got there, Bobby Drozd and his mom had the cafe in town and whenever I went to the cafe I always ate the boughten bread and when Bobby would come to our house he’d always want the homemade bread. Most kids liked cake and stuff like that. If we’d got a loaf of boughten bread that was our dessert.”

THE ZAREKS BUY a large portion of their baking ingredients from Grain Place Foods located north of Aurora, Neb., along Highway 14. Grain Place is supported by organic family farms and is a popular spot for people seeking pure organic products.

After “talking to people and reading books,” Liz said, buying organic was one of the first steps the couple made toward a healthier diet and lifestyle.

“I like to add (ground) flaxseed,” Paul noted. “I just started using it the last few years. It’s got omega-3 in it for nutrition. I grind a cup of flaxseed at a time and put it in the freezer. We use it in the morning on cereal or oatmeal.”

The tiny flaxseed contains all sorts of healthy components. The omega-3 is an essential fatty acid that helps fight off heart disease.

Paul likes to use pure honey instead of sugar. The only downfall is the cost.

“The honey I wanted to buy is so high when we were in Nebraska City – around $17 for a little over a quart, and that’s cheap – so I bought some at Sam’s Club for a while. But honey is better for you.”

Using honey can earn sweet returns to your health. Its benefits range from relieving cholesterol to energizing the body and boosting immunity.

“And if you have problems with sugar or salt, you can cut back and still have the flavor in the bread. We like to use some molasses, too, to put a little bit of flavor in the bread,” Paul added. “We also use virgin olive oil. It’s pure and healthier. We use it in a lot of different things.” Olive oil is also known for its qualities in fighting heart disease.

THIS BAKING COUPLE has been known to experiment in their baking, like using coffee for the liquid instead of water.

“It gives the bread a little more color, it darkens it. Every once in a while we think each other is nuts doing some of these things but we have fun with it,” Paul joked of their creativity. “We’ve also tried marble bread and rye. I’d love to try something like pumpernickel, but there’s too many ingredients and it’s too much work. If you want a real rich bread you can add eggs and milk. We use that when we make rolls.”

And, “you have to learn your machines,” Paul advised. “There’s a couple more tricks that I just picked up. I had some problems in keeping the loaves raised and I found out after I read the book we pulled some boo boos.”

With the machines Paul figures they save one to two hours from doing it the old-fashioned way like their mothers. “From beginning to end, if we do a fast acting one-step quick recipe, we can do it in about two hours and 15 minutes. If you want a lighter bread you can add an hour or maybe two hours” to the process.

For Paul and Liz, the reward of their baking effort is in the simple pleasure of eating a slice of warm, delicious homemade bread slathered with butter while still warm from the oven.

And sharing it with family and friends at their home in Fullerton. “Our grandkids usually don’t care much for bread but they want it for their toast,” Liz said. “When it’s first baked I like it toasted. It has that crunchy good taste.”

No matter how you slice it, it’s bread at its best.

When you step into Paul and Liz Zarek’s home on baking day, the aroma is intoxicating.

It’s the smell of homemade bread at its freshest, made from whole wheat the Zareks mill just minutes before turning it into dough. The couple make their bread and rolls with only the healthiest ingredients – such as pure honey in place of sugar, virgin olive oil and freshly ground flaxseed – making the end product superior in nutritional and health benefits.

There’s no comparison when it comes to the taste of freshly milled wheat flour versus that sold in stores. Bleached, refined flour contains chemical softeners and mold retardants. In order to preserve its shelf life, the ‘germ’ of the wheat berry is removed, depleting the flour of at least 22 of its 26 vitamins and minerals. Freshly milled wheat is also much sweeter than store bought whole wheat flour.

“When I make wheat bread I don’t like making it with wheat that’s already been ground,” Paul said. “I grind it just before I put it in. If it sets for so many hours it starts going rancid. With white flour they delete the oil, the hulls and all that. There’s 40 to 45 percent oil in good wheat they take out. That causes it to go rancid.”

These days Paul only home mills enough wheat for the day’s baking. “When I first started out, I thought while I’m doing it I’d make some extra and store it. By the third day I had to throw it out. That was one of the first lessons I learned by trial and error.”

ACCORDING TO THE Zareks, serious bakers use a Bosch mixer. “The Bosch doesn’t do it all by itself, you have to work a little bit,” Paul joked; however, they like the machine’s durability and multiple functions.

It’s the second such machine they own. Their first was purchased at a home show in the mid 1970s, when their journey to healthier eating began.

“I started making rolls at the (Drive In), then we found these machines at a home show and started with the bread. I did all the baking, then Paul retired and needed something to do while he was home so I just handed it over to him,” Liz said.

Since then, they have updated with a new mixer and electric grain mill and “I took it over,” Paul said. “When I was a kid Mom always made bread. We didn’t even know what boughten bread was until we went to Genoa. When we first got there, Bobby Drozd and his mom had the cafe in town and whenever I went to the cafe I always ate the boughten bread and when Bobby would come to our house he’d always want the homemade bread. Most kids liked cake and stuff like that. If we’d got a loaf of boughten bread that was our dessert.”

THE ZAREKS BUY a large portion of their baking ingredients from Grain Place Foods located north of Aurora, Neb., along Highway 14. Grain Place is supported by organic family farms and is a popular spot for people seeking pure organic products.

After “talking to people and reading books,” Liz said, buying organic was one of the first steps the couple made toward a healthier diet and lifestyle.

“I like to add (ground) flaxseed,” Paul noted. “I just started using it the last few years. It’s got omega-3 in it for nutrition. I grind a cup of flaxseed at a time and put it in the freezer. We use it in the morning on cereal or oatmeal.”

The tiny flaxseed contains all sorts of healthy components. The omega-3 is an essential fatty acid that helps fight off heart disease.

Paul likes to use pure honey instead of sugar. The only downfall is the cost.

“The honey I wanted to buy is so high when we were in Nebraska City – around $17 for a little over a quart, and that’s cheap – so I bought some at Sam’s Club for a while. But honey is better for you.”

Using honey can earn sweet returns to your health. Its benefits range from relieving cholesterol to energizing the body and boosting immunity.

“And if you have problems with sugar or salt, you can cut back and still have the flavor in the bread. We like to use some molasses, too, to put a little bit of flavor in the bread,” Paul added. “We also use virgin olive oil. It’s pure and healthier. We use it in a lot of different things.” Olive oil is also known for its qualities in fighting heart disease.

THIS BAKING COUPLE has been known to experiment in their baking, like using coffee for the liquid instead of water.

“It gives the bread a little more color, it darkens it. Every once in a while we think each other is nuts doing some of these things but we have fun with it,” Paul joked of their creativity. “We’ve also tried marble bread and rye. I’d love to try something like pumpernickel, but there’s too many ingredients and it’s too much work. If you want a real rich bread you can add eggs and milk. We use that when we make rolls.”

And, “you have to learn your machines,” Paul advised. “There’s a couple more tricks that I just picked up. I had some problems in keeping the loaves raised and I found out after I read the book we pulled some boo boos.”

With the machines Paul figures they save one to two hours from doing it the old-fashioned way like their mothers. “From beginning to end, if we do a fast acting one-step quick recipe, we can do it in about two hours and 15 minutes. If you want a lighter bread you can add an hour or maybe two hours” to the process.

For Paul and Liz, the reward of their baking effort is in the simple pleasure of eating a slice of warm, delicious homemade bread slathered with butter while still warm from the oven.

And sharing it with family and friends at their home in Fullerton. “Our grandkids usually don’t care much for bread but they want it for their toast,” Liz said. “When it’s first baked I like it toasted. It has that crunchy good taste.”

No matter how you slice it, it’s bread at its best.

When you step into Paul and Liz Zarek’s home on baking day, the aroma is intoxicating.

It’s the smell of homemade bread at its freshest, made from whole wheat the Zareks mill just minutes before turning it into dough. The couple make their bread and rolls with only the healthiest ingredients – such as pure honey in place of sugar, virgin olive oil and freshly ground flaxseed – making the end product superior in nutritional and health benefits.

There’s no comparison when it comes to the taste of freshly milled wheat flour versus that sold in stores. Bleached, refined flour contains chemical softeners and mold retardants. In order to preserve its shelf life, the ‘germ’ of the wheat berry is removed, depleting the flour of at least 22 of its 26 vitamins and minerals. Freshly milled wheat is also much sweeter than store bought whole wheat flour.

“When I make wheat bread I don’t like making it with wheat that’s already been ground,” Paul said. “I grind it just before I put it in. If it sets for so many hours it starts going rancid. With white flour they delete the oil, the hulls and all that. There’s 40 to 45 percent oil in good wheat they take out. That causes it to go rancid.”

These days Paul only home mills enough wheat for the day’s baking. “When I first started out, I thought while I’m doing it I’d make some extra and store it. By the third day I had to throw it out. That was one of the first lessons I learned by trial and error.”

ACCORDING TO THE Zareks, serious bakers use a Bosch mixer. “The Bosch doesn’t do it all by itself, you have to work a little bit,” Paul joked; however, they like the machine’s durability and multiple functions.

It’s the second such machine they own. Their first was purchased at a home show in the mid 1970s, when their journey to healthier eating began.

“I started making rolls at the (Drive In), then we found these machines at a home show and started with the bread. I did all the baking, then Paul retired and needed something to do while he was home so I just handed it over to him,” Liz said.

Since then, they have updated with a new mixer and electric grain mill and “I took it over,” Paul said. “When I was a kid Mom always made bread. We didn’t even know what boughten bread was until we went to Genoa. When we first got there, Bobby Drozd and his mom had the cafe in town and whenever I went to the cafe I always ate the boughten bread and when Bobby would come to our house he’d always want the homemade bread. Most kids liked cake and stuff like that. If we’d got a loaf of boughten bread that was our dessert.”

THE ZAREKS BUY a large portion of their baking ingredients from Grain Place Foods located north of Aurora, Neb., along Highway 14. Grain Place is supported by organic family farms and is a popular spot for people seeking pure organic products.

After “talking to people and reading books,” Liz said, buying organic was one of the first steps the couple made toward a healthier diet and lifestyle.

“I like to add (ground) flaxseed,” Paul noted. “I just started using it the last few years. It’s got omega-3 in it for nutrition. I grind a cup of flaxseed at a time and put it in the freezer. We use it in the morning on cereal or oatmeal.”

The tiny flaxseed contains all sorts of healthy components. The omega-3 is an essential fatty acid that helps fight off heart disease.

Paul likes to use pure honey instead of sugar. The only downfall is the cost.

“The honey I wanted to buy is so high when we were in Nebraska City – around $17 for a little over a quart, and that’s cheap – so I bought some at Sam’s Club for a while. But honey is better for you.”

Using honey can earn sweet returns to your health. Its benefits range from relieving cholesterol to energizing the body and boosting immunity.

“And if you have problems with sugar or salt, you can cut back and still have the flavor in the bread. We like to use some molasses, too, to put a little bit of flavor in the bread,” Paul added. “We also use virgin olive oil. It’s pure and healthier. We use it in a lot of different things.” Olive oil is also known for its qualities in fighting heart disease.

THIS BAKING COUPLE has been known to experiment in their baking, like using coffee for the liquid instead of water.

“It gives the bread a little more color, it darkens it. Every once in a while we think each other is nuts doing some of these things but we have fun with it,” Paul joked of their creativity. “We’ve also tried marble bread and rye. I’d love to try something like pumpernickel, but there’s too many ingredients and it’s too much work. If you want a real rich bread you can add eggs and milk. We use that when we make rolls.”

And, “you have to learn your machines,” Paul advised. “There’s a couple more tricks that I just picked up. I had some problems in keeping the loaves raised and I found out after I read the book we pulled some boo boos.”

With the machines Paul figures they save one to two hours from doing it the old-fashioned way like their mothers. “From beginning to end, if we do a fast acting one-step quick recipe, we can do it in about two hours and 15 minutes. If you want a lighter bread you can add an hour or maybe two hours” to the process.

For Paul and Liz, the reward of their baking effort is in the simple pleasure of eating a slice of warm, delicious homemade bread slathered with butter while still warm from the oven.

And sharing it with family and friends at their home in Fullerton. “Our grandkids usually don’t care much for bread but they want it for their toast,” Liz said. “When it’s first baked I like it toasted. It has that crunchy good taste.”

No matter how you slice it, it’s bread at its best.


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