Book Review: Bake Your Own Bread (and Be Healthier)

A Fair Trade Book? Possibly…

Title: Bake Your Own Bread

Author: Floss and Stan Dworkin

Date: 1972

Publisher: Holt Rinehart & Winston

ISBN: 0-03-091886-3

Length: 197 pages plus index

Quote: “Bread baking is a lot like married love. The first loaves of bread you make are not the best you’ll ever make, but they’re better than any you’ve ever bought.”

The subtitle of this book is …and Be Healthier. True? Yes, in the sense that your kitchen probably contains fewer germs than a commercial bakery, and if you eat or freeze your bread while it’s fresh you won’t have to add any preservatives. When you start using whole-grain flour and meal you’ll be even further ahead.

That said, it’s also true that for some people, e.g. this reviewer, good health will not be possible until we stop eating bread altogether. Sad but true. The good news is that, once we achieve gluten-freedom and reprogram ourselves to think of wheat products as things that made us sick rather than things we crave, reading and even using this book won’t make us hungry.

Other people can safely eat bread in moderation, but when they bake bread and have it in the house they tend to binge-eat it. Some of these people are undiagnosed celiacs who will be cured of stubborn chronic conditions when they go gluten-free. Others are allergic to one or more of the other chemical compounds of which wheat is made, but are not gluten-intolerant, and may be able to use bread as long as they don’t binge.

Unfortunately, people in either of those two categories are likely to be drawn to the idea of baking their own bread. Binge-eating homemade bread may be a little safer than binge-eating factory-produced bread, but if you’re a carb-craver who really likes bread, baking bread may be a bad idea for you.

If you are not, and are not feeding, a carb-craver, you’ll enjoy having a book that contains complete recipes and detailed instructions for 34 different kinds of bread. Bread has its place in a balanced diet for most people, and learning to make your own is definitely worth the trouble. Baking bread at home is a great rainy-day treat for children; they’ll love all the mixing, kneading, and shaping. And you’ll always have not only good food to pack in a box lunch, but a conversation piece to take to parties and a gift your friends will recognize as “from the heart.”

Bake Your Own Bread also contains a long rant, unfortunately still mostly accurate, about the hazards of using factory-made foods. It’s not much fun to read but it does explain some, not all, of the emotion with which people discuss the pros and cons of “natural,” “organic,” and home-cooked food. Why do I say “some, not all”? Because in 1972 food crops hadn’t been genetically modified; selectively bred, yes, but bred only for traits that occur naturally in the plant genus being bred. The new hazards of gene-spliced foods, made from plants that have had DNA from animals or disease germs spliced into them, are only beginning to be confirmed. Much of the new information about these new hazards is still available to the general public only on the Internet; type “genetically modified grains” into your search engine if you want to spend a lot of time online becoming increasingly perturbed. Or you could skip the unpleasant reading and just start buying local organic grain.

Is Bake Your Own Bread a Fair Trade Book? I think it still qualifies. Floss Dworkin died recently, “suddenly” and “too young,” in her late seventies. Her obituary lists Stan Dworkin as a survivor. There’s quite a lot of information about Stan Dworkin on the Internet but, so far as I’ve read, what’s not about the books he co-authored with his wife is about a younger man by the same name. If you send $5 per book + $5 per package to either address in the lower left-hand corner of the screen, I’ll make a more diligent effort to find out whether and where the co-author of this book is living, and send $1 per book to him or a charity of his choice. As always, the “per package” shipping fee means that if you want four copies of this book, or the Dworkins’ other books or other books of similar size, you send me $25 and I send Dworkin or his charity $1 for each book by him in the package.

Bread image from Agathabrown at Morguefile:


Top Ten Reasons to Stay Sober on a Date

How can this article be made family-friendly? If you want to share pleasure, the same general principles apply to sex that apply to pleasures in which even younger people rejoice. So, young adults are hereby invited to read whatever they like into this brief consideration of a trip to an amusement park.

  1. You want to be fully alert and attentive to the other person’s reactions. You don’t want your body’s urgent messages (“get rid of some of this horrible alcohol”) to keep you from noticing whether your friend just said “I like carousels” or “I don’t like carousels.”
  1. You want your responses to be efficient, though under control. Is your friend screaming with laughter, or with pain?
  1. You want to be able to help the other person in case something happens to him/her.
  1. You want your stomach not to be too full to enjoy a sudden jolt on the Ferris Wheel or drop on the roller coaster track.
  1. You want to be clean. You want to be able to cling, cuddle, or even hide your face against the other person, without fear that the sight or smell of you will disgust her/him.
  1. You want to be fit to drive home.
  1. You want to wake up the next morning thinking “What fun that was!” rather than “I can’t believe I did that, wasted all that money I couldn’t afford, didn’t get to do half the things I wanted to do, can’t remember which things I did, and now I need to go to the bathroom but I feel too sick to stand up.”
  1. You want to know that you didn’t specifically cause yourself to acquire any horrible diseases. You never know who may breathe on you but at least you can be sure you didn’t collapse headfirst into a toilet bowl.
  1. You want the other person to greet you with “That was fun! Thanks!” rather than “You were disgusting and, by the way, you did $5000 worth of damage.”
  1. If you brought home any little teddybears or similar souvenirs, you want to remember when and why you got them; you want the sight of them to remind you of fun and friendship during the years to come.



(This visual reminder to stand up for our principles and not be chicken was brought to us by Morguefile.)



Can Solar Energy Save You Money?

Here’s an article I wrote for someone who didn’t give a very specific description of what he wanted to publish. Six hours after I’d written it, he replied with a more specific description of how he wanted it to be different. Specifically, his audience already know most of this information. Many people in my part of the world do not already have this information, so here, for the lurkers, is why youall should consider investing in solar energy at this stage of its development. Stealth entrepreneurial and investment tips follow:

We’ve been hearing about solar energy technology for years. We’ve been waiting for the technology to reach the point where switching to solar will actually save people money. Has that time come? And, do new buzzwords like “solar power purchase agreements” (SPPA) and “solar leases” mean that using solar energy can be as low-hassle as using conventional electric energy?

Why is interest in solar energy growing?

Solar panels basically run on sunshine. When sunshine hits a semiconductor, like a sliver of silicon, inside a photovoltaic cell, electrons are jolted out of place in the semiconductor material, generating an electric charge. This charge can be harnessed to power heaters, air conditioners, refrigerators, computers, even batteries for electric-powered cars.

The first working photovoltaic module was built by Bell Laboratories in 1954, but was too expensive for mass marketing. Tiny photovoltaic (PV) modules have been powering solar-powered watches, calculators, etc., since the 1980s and, as anyone who had a solar watch in the 1980s knows, the technology has improved dramatically. Bigger and better arrays of multiple PV modules can now turn rooftops into generators.

People are saving money by going solar.

In Arizona, where there’s plenty of sun, little other potential for roof damage, and a huge need for air conditioning, businesses that have invested in a lot of solar panels are raving over their savings. If you glance at a web page titled “Solar ROI,” you’ll probably need to remind yourself that (a) these are good-sized businesses with room for lots of solar panels, and (b) there’s more solar energy to be harvested in Arizona than there is in Oregon.

How much you can save depends on where you are.

Rachel Bennett calculates that a typical homeowner saves about $50 per month. That’s a national average. Obviously, the more sunshine you get, the more each solar panel can do. The more roof space you have, especially if it gets a southern exposure, the more solar panels you can install. Some solar panels are rated more efficient than others. Solar panels can be vulnerable to stormy weather; if you get a lot of rain, snow, hail, and wind, you might want to put your solar panels over the pool or garage area rather than above places where people live or work.

(Don’t have a roof over your pool or garage? Why not take advantage of the tax incentives and add that luxury now? You already knew a roof could save you money on pool and vehicle maintenance. Now it can save you money on electricity as well.)

Simple arithmetic.

Solar panels are rated according to how many watts of electricity they’re designed to harvest in a typical year: 240, 320, etc. Companies multiply the number of watts per panel by the number of panels to be installed, then subtract that from the number of watts your actual electric bill shows that you use, to estimate how much you “ought to be” able to save by installing solar panels. In the Southwestern States this estimate is quite reliable.

Become a producer, not just a consumer.

It’s possible for solar panels to collect more electricity than you actually need. In fact, if the panels are installed on a building whose peak use is not in the middle of the day, you can plan on collecting more electricity than you need.

You could go off the grid, but for those of us who are not electrical engineers, it’s simpler to let the electric company “buy” this surplus electricity, then “sell” it back as credit for the times when you use more energy than the solar panels produce. “You buy low and sell high!” a California company assures.

Electric companies are planning to jack up prices.

Even if your electricity consumption declines in the next few years, your bills could still increase. However, if solar panels make you an electricity producer, you should see rewards on every monthly bill.

Solar panel maintenance can be, almost literally, a breeze.

In a dry climate, about all you have to do is dust off the solar panels every year or so. The photovoltaic cells are designed to last for twenty years.

What if the climate isn’t dry?

Many ecologically concerned homeowners have heard horror stories about older style solar panels damaging roofs. In the Eastern States, storm damage to roofs is a fact of life anyway. Some companies claim that new, improved solar panels can actually protect the roof. In any case most Easterners own a roof that’s pretty much a luxury, and panels installed above the garage can still save money for a home or business.

Cloudy, misty Buffalo, New York, has invested in solar energy in a big way. M.I.T. reviewer David Rotman worries that this investment may not pay off well for Buffalo, but expects it to pay off for individual Easterners…especially if they need the tax break they’ll get in 2015 or 2016.

Tax incentives to go solar are scheduled to drop after 2016.

You might call it government’s reward for helping develop this technology. In 2015 or 2016, 30% of the cost of installing solar panels can be deducted from your federal taxes. In 2017, that 30% is scheduled to drop to 10%.

There may be more, depending on where you live and what you do. States like New Mexico, with lots of sunshine and not much water, offer page after page of potential rewards for participating in the switch to solar energy.

Going solar feels so right.

At the same time that going solar reduces your carbon footprint, it helps send displaced coal and steel workers back to work. It can increase your property value, too. And, depending on how many buildings are involved, it can give a noticeable boost to the local economy.

So why aren’t more people switching already?

Once solar panels are assembled and installed, they cost nothing. Buying and installing solar panels is not cheap. Companies are coming up with creative financing options to help more people find out whether solar energy is for them.

A Solar Power Purchase Agreement (SPPA) allows an investor company to own solar panels they store on their customers’ property. A city or town, such as Pendleton, Oregon, may be the “solar service provider.” Customers then pay the company for the electricity they use, while the company retains ownership of the panels, collects the tax benefits, and, if necessary, reclaims and relocates the panels. Benefits to the customer can include a positive cash flow “from day one” with little or no initial investment.

A solar lease allows customers to pay a fixed monthly fee for the use of electricity from solar panels stored on their property. The company that installs the panels retains ownership of the panels. The fee offers a substantial reduction in monthly energy cost, so many homeowners in places where solar leases have been offered, like California, have chosen solar leases.


Solar energy technology has reached the point where it’s safe and affordable for your home or business to switch to solar. If you can’t afford to buy and install solar panels, you may be able to save money with a Solar PPA or solar lease.


Semiconductors: NASA Science News,

“Solar ROI”:

Bennett, Rachel. “Can I Really Save Money by Putting Solar Panels on My Roof?”

“Buy low and sell high”:

Buffalo, New York: Schlager, Eric, in Buffalo News,

Rotman, David. “Paying for Solar Power.”

New Mexico:

Pendleton, Oregon:

California homeowners choose solar lease:

Morguefile’s Charlesa46741 illustrates how to go solar with zero risk to the roof ( ) (I want this):

solar final