Sandwich Mechanics: Fire the Cannons! Sink this Bread-ship!

My method for buying new bread is usually to look at whatever's on sale at the grocery store, because I'm a cheapskate. Usually there is at least one Oroweat bread on sale (and I don't mean BOGO, because what am I going to do with all that bread before it expires??), but last time not a single Oroweat bread was, so I had to explore a little farther.

I stumbled upon this Franz bread, Cannon Beach Milk and Honey. I don't normally buy Franz because I don't tend to like them as much as Oroweat, but like I said, desperate times... It said "Milk and Honey" on it, which is basically enough to get me to buy anything. "Peppercorn" and "plum" are likewise culinary triggers for me. I'm so easily played.

I got played big time. The bottom line is this bread is terrible. I saw a Franz delivery truck this morning that displayed this bread and a couple others on the side, and immediately got a little mad. Of all the nerve, trying to foist this inferior product off on us with delicious sounding words.

Deep breaths...

This bread is soft to the point of instability. I guess that kind of comes with the territory when you're talking about white breads, but it still seemed weak. This ended up being a huge problem, as it started getting soggy within minutes of constructing the sandwich. That's simply unacceptable. I imagine it would likewise fail as a soup vehicle, probably breaking apart on the way to your mouth mere seconds after dipping.

Each slice of bread also seemed almost... underbaked? A little spot next to the curl on each side was hard, doughy, and undercooked, as though it weren't properly baked. I haven't seen this before, and I don't know what it means. I guess it didn't taste noticeably worse, but it was disconcerting.

Finally, let's come to the much touted Milk and Honey. I have just one thing to say: where is it? I couldn't detect even a hint of it. A disappointment on top of mediocrity. It tasted like normal, bland white bread.

Don't bother with this one. Skip it and get something stronger, more interesting, or better tasting. There are plenty of choices out there. Cannon Beach? Hmph. Deserves to be shelled.


Sandwich Mechanics: Premium Italian? More like Premi-DUMB!

Woohoo, we're gonna crank out these catch-up sandwich blogs like nobody's business. That's not to say I'm going to skimp on the details. Don't you worry about that. We'll apply the appropriate amount of writing to the breads, according to their merits. Speaking of which, this post is going to be, hmm... short.

This time we're talking about Oroweat Premium Italian bread. It looked pretty decent, and I think it was on sale at the grocs shop, so I grabbed it to try out. The loaf is a little longer and wider than Oroweat's usual shorter loaf size, which stood out a bit to me. However, even with this increased size, it felt light. Suspicious.

My suspicions were later confirmed as I started making sandwiches with it. This is a very light bread. It's airy and a bit fluffy, also pretty soft. I guess I'm finding that I prefer heavier breads, because I didn't like these attributes in it, not one bit. The bread felt weak to me. At first it seemed almost belligerent to the idea of a spread, only allowing me to coat the surface somewhat. Later, it soaked it up too much! It wasn't a deal-breaking amount of soaking, but more than I like. Because of its soft and light consistency, pieces towards either end tended to get squashed about. That's not good eatin's.

At least hopefully there is some marevelous taste to make up for this bread of weak constitution...? Not so, I'm afraid. The bread is bland, simply put. The website exalts its "ultimate flavor", but I'm sorry, guys, I just don't get it.

I was hoping for a strong bread maybe with some seasonings. I may get some flak for bringing it up, but Subway Italian bread is not bad. What I got instead was utterly common white bread with no real redeeming qualities. I say skip it and get some potato instead.

Sandwich Mechanics: Winter Wheat in the Summer

Hello again, everybody. Man, it's been--what?--six months? God, what happened? Er, a lot of code happened. And I wasn't making sandwiches for myself consistently for a little while, which stops the creative juices' flowing. But I hadn't stopped completely, so I nicely stockpiled some photos on my phone to remind me of breads that needed a little textual appreciation.

The one I'm writing about this time left quite an impression on me, enough so that I remember it vividly enough to write about months after I tried it. I'm talking about Oroweat Winter Wheat, a pretty unique bread off the shelf in the store.

Probably the very first thing you'll notice upon picking up the package is that it's kind of small. The form factor, if you will, is noticeably smaller in all dimensions than a standard loaf of bread. Despite that, the weight is comparable. Hmm. We'll revisit this soon. I prefer the regular size of bread, myself, because it gives me more surface area to work with when laying out ingredients. Raw spinach leaves, in particular, are finicky things, just chomping at the proverbial bit to slide off during construction.

Still not having opened the packaging, you can see some kind of large seeds on the surface of the loaf. These are actually sunflower seeds, and they contribute nicely to the texture of the bread; more on this later.

I'll be direct: this bread is quite tasty. It's kind of expensive, but if you're okay with shelling out for some yuppie bread, I do recommend it. The base taste of the bread is mildly sweet, so if you're adding on sweet spreads like Miracle Whip or the cranberry spread depicted (despite being cranberry, it is tempered quite a bit), you may get a little too much of that.

But the mere taste isn't what makes this bread unique or interesting. I briefly mentioned the weight before. Despite the bread's small size, it retains the weight of a normal slice. In other words, it's dense. This is a thick bread, and not in the sense of the cut of the slices. When you bite into it, it's a bit doughy. At the same time, the texture of the bread itself is kind of coarse: it breaks apart into large granules. Think of it as tending towards the consistency of, say, pumpkin bread. Mmmm, pumpkin bread...

Erk, where was I?

The words I used to describe it here might make it sound unappetizing, but it's really not. It's simply a different taste. You have light, airy breads like many white breads and the Italian bread I'll come to in a later episode, and you've got the heavier breads like the Winter Wheat.

What else is going on with the texture? Well, there are walnuts baked into the bread, too. Chopped walnuts, like you'd bake into a cake or something. They're slightly crunchy and add a lot to the normally boring texture of plain bread. Couple these with the previously mentioned sunflower seeds and you have a sandwich that suddenly has a number of extra "little bits" that surprise you as you eat each bite. I remember being somewhat distracted during lunch that day, chewing these little treats incorporated unexpectedly into my sandwich. It was great!

This is a great sandwich bread, but I don't recommend using it as dipping material. The bread is too expensive to waste as a mere soup-sponge. Its texture talents are better served where they'll be noticed: in a sandwich. Besides which, the coarse grain that I talked about before does not lend itself especially well to holding together in damp situations.

All in all, I recommend trying this one. It's a little expensive, and the small bread size can be a bit harder to work with, but the taste is good and the extra bits of texture complement the average sandwich well.


protip: fixing your stupid synaptics touchpad

I have a Asus Eee PC netbook. It’s not perfect, but I like it. One of the things I don’t like so much about it is that sometimes the trackpad gets all wonky and doesn’t quite work. Specifically, only a vertical strip down the center will function, and that too requiring undue force. Inputs on all other parts of the trackpad basically don’t work, so using it is nearly impossible. Moreover, tapping on the trackpad, which normally does a regular left-click, produces all kinds of other inputs that are not a left-click, such as a right-click or a middle-click.

So, what to do about this? I thought it might be a Windows 8 problem, because I got this around the time the Win8 developer preview was out and installed it directly, so I asked around at work. I actually got a very good tip that’s worth sharing, because I haven’t seen it written anywhere else.

If your trackpad gets into this situation, unplug the laptop from AC power, then place your palm flat on it for 10 sec, then remove your palm for 10 sec. This recalibrates the trackpad’s ground noise levels, which I guess are what were getting out of wack. The trackpad should function normally now. I’ve done this several times since receiving the suggestion, and it works like a charm. I hope it helps someone else out there. Protip indeed.