My whirlwind visit to Roanoke is about half-way through now, and I just got here last night! But it has been wonderful; such a nice break from the crushing city heat. I’ve met my landcouple, Beth and Tom (check out Beth’s amazing blog here), walked around the house, taken pictures of it to send to my future roommates, learned how to take care of the fish in the fish pond, sipped coffee on the front porch while reading The Atlantic Monthly and listening to birds chatter in the bushes, walked the 2 and 1/2 blocks to the village center, eaten an amazing avocado-artichoke heart-tomato-horseradish sandwich at the vegetarian ice cream parlor of cuteness, bought books I shouldn’t have bought at the used bookstore, and in general just become more and more in love with this neighborhood I get to call home for the next ten months. Can it be next month right now?! (I mean August…June’s practically over, how nuts is that??)

Seriously, look at this kitchen!!! Would you not be in love with it too? The stove! The full-sized oven, the griddle in addition to burners! A dishwasher! I am going to cook so many amazing meals in it. Just you wait!

So I couldn’t turn up empty-handed last night and what says “thank you for trusting me with your awesome house while you’re in Boston” better than homemade bread? While I don’t have a garden, my boss at the Beckett Project does and when she gave me a little bunch of fresh rosemary, basil, and marjoram, I knew it would have to go into a loaf. Later that night I chopped the herbs up as finely as I could, used Martha Stewart’s rosemary bread recipe as a base, and mixed it all together in my mixer, let it rise, then baked it. While I’m still no pro at shaping bread, I’m happy with the crumb and the flavor. It’s dense enough to use as sandwich bread, but not too dense. I’d happily eat it dipped in some olive oil. And the combination of rosemary, marjoram, and basil turned out well-balanced with just a hint of each coming though.

Fresh Herb Bread

adapted from Martha Stewart

1 1/2 tsp active dry yeast
1/4 c warm water (110 degrees)
5 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for bowl
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp salt
1 tbsp fresh rosemary, finely chopped
1 tsp fresh basil, finely chopped
1 tsp fresh marjoram, finely chopped
1 1/2 cc plus 1 teaspoon all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
1 c whole wheat flour

Stir together yeast and the warm water in the bowl of an electric mixer. Let stand until foamy, about 7 minutes.

Add 3/4 cup water, the olive oil, sugar, salt, chopped herbs, 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, and the whole-wheat flour to bowl. Fit mixer with the dough hook; mix on low speed until dough comes together, about 1 minute. Raise speed to medium-high; mix until dough is smooth and elastic, 8 to 10 minutes.

Lightly oil a large bowl. Shape dough into a ball, and transfer to oiled bowl. Loosely cover with plastic wrap. Let dough rise in a warm, draft-free spot until doubled in bulk, about 1 hour.

Punch down the dough; let rest, covered, 15 minutes. Turn out dough onto a lightly floured surface.

Shape into a loaf. Transfer to a baking sheet.

Loosely cover baking sheet with plastic wrap, and let loaves rise slightly in a warm, draft-free spot 30 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Dust loaves with remaining teaspoon all-purpose flour. Bake until golden, about 30 minutes. Let cool completely on a wire rack before slicing.