Let’s just have another “oh my goodness I love western Virgina” gush moment for a minute.  Just look at those veggies!  And all procured two blocks from my house!  Local, organic, fresh, absolutely beautiful: what’s not to love about this town?  Sure, it was pouring rain (I ended up driving instead of walking, sigh), but I counted five or six farm stands along with the sprouted grain bread maker, the cheese monger (who chided me for not eating cheese–it was an awkward conversation because he was such a nice old man and I hated breaking his heart), and some other little vendors.  I love the Floyd farmers for selling together at one big table–sharing market space is such a great idea because you can feature more produce at once and everyone wins because more customers visit the lush and varied tables.  Come to think of it, I need to go check out Floyd soon.  I’ve been reading Fred’s blog for several years now and the area seems so welcoming and beautiful.

Okra, Zucchini, Purple Cabbage, Chu Chu Eggplants (small purple ones), Thai White Ruffle Eggplants, Hungarian Pimento Peppers, Chicken of the Woods Mushrooms

Ok, so now that we’ve covered the awesome veggies, onto the recipe.  So I didn’t hike McAfee’s Knob without some sustenance, I’ll have you know.  In fact, I stayed up later than I should have the night before (which is why I overslept) in order to make some snacks for the trail.  Being the bread fiend that I am, I knew I wanted something carby and substantial–I mean, trail mix is nice, but I like something to chew on–so, given the time constraints I decided to make pita bread.

Now, I made pita bread regularly a couple of years ago, but the recipe never turned out quite right.  I was never able to get fluffy air pockets and the pita always seemed dried out after a couple of days.  This time I decided to go with The Fresh Loaf’s recipe because it looked easy and foolproof (two things I certainly believe in).  I subbed some whole wheat flour of AP flour, but otherwise followed the recipe to a T.  Every little pita round turned out perfectly: each poofed up in the oven and then when deflated and cool, each was soft and yeasty, slightly chewy–essentially exactly what I wanted out of the bread.  Slathered in peanut butter and apple butter, the whole wheat yeasted goodness was just what I wanted while I lounged on the edge of a rock outcrop and surveyed the Virginia valley.

Perfect Pita

adapted from The Fresh Loaf

1 1/2 c All Purpose flour
1 1/2 c whole wheat flour
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 tbsp sugar
2 tsp dry active yeast
1 1/4 c water, roughly at room temperature
2 tbsp olive oil

Add the yeast to the warm water and sugar. Allow to sit for 10 minutes until foamy.

In a mixing bowl, combine the flours and salt. Stir in the olive oil and yeast water.

If using an electric mixer, use the dough attachment and mix at low speed for 10 minutes.

If kneading by hand, turn out the dough onto a floured surface and knead for 10 minutes, roatating the dough 90 degrees with each stroke.

After the dough has been kneaded, place the ball in an oiled bowl and cover with a moist towel. Place in a warm (but not hot) location (I like to use my oven if it’s turned off) and allow the dough to rise for 90 minutes, or until doubled in size.

When it has doubled in size, punch the dough down to release some of the trapped gases and divide it into 8 pieces. Roll each piece into a ball, cover the balls with a damp kitchen towel, and let them rest for 20 minutes. This step allows the dough to relax so that it’ll be easier to shape.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

After the dough has relaxed for 20 minutes, spread a light coating of flour on a work surface and place one of the balls of dough there. Sprinkle a little bit of flour on top of the dough and use a rolling pin or your hands to stretch and flatten the dough. You should be able to roll it out to between 1/8 and 1/4 inch thick. If the dough does not stretch sufficiently you can cover it with the damp towel and let it rest 5 to 10 minutes before trying again.

Open the oven and place as many pitas as you can fit on the hot baking surface. They should be baked through and puffy after 3 minutes (I was able to fit 2 in the oven at a time on the baking sheet).

Allow to cool, the serve or store!

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