Category: Baking

It’s the week of Christmas 2015!

Less than a week until Christmas means more baking, more cleaning, more, more, more …

I made a batch of Snickerdoodles yesterday. I also made up a double batch of Tollhouse Cookies, but didn’t bake them, my daughter did.

I want to make a chewy molasses cookie, snowballs (russian tea cakes), and so many more cookies.

An old favorite of mine, not a cookie, a savory snack, Olive Cheese Balls. A simple cheddar, flour, melted butter dough wrapped around a pimento stuffed olive, the small variety. ย I really love this during the Christmas holiday, but no one else is a fan. Quite disappointing.

So this time I will make them, but ahead, freeze, and only bake enough at a time. Then I can enjoy them longer, or maybe someone else will end up likingย Olive Cheese Balls.

That brings me to oh, I should make a Cheddar Cheese Ball too. Previously talking about the Olive variety, that is a flour, butter, and cheese dough, and baked, while a Cheddar ball is cheeses, and more, not baked. ๐Ÿ™‚ Pimento Cheese is another idea to employ. I would highly prefer to make it, never buy it again. Super Grin at that.

Things that need to get done make it harder this year. We had an old piano sitting in the house, moved it out recently, and now the bare floor needs worked on. We have about 3 rows of hardwood to put in. We did one yesterday. Hopefully we can swing the rest of it today. That is where the Christmas tree, awaiting our beckon, is going to be. It’s in the garage for now.

Only so many days left, not that many, but I hope to get theย feeling akin to “it’s working”,ย senseย the magic.

Cinnamon Muffin Cake – Recipe

On January 9 I posted about Muffin Cake. Today I am recreating that process of making muffins (ha ha!) on purpose.

2/3 c. butter, melted
1 c. sugar
2 eggs
2 c. milk

3 c. flour
3 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
1 Tbsp. Cinnamon

Sift the dry ingredients together. Set aside.

Put the sugar and eggs into a mixer bowl, then slowly increase speed and mix until smooth. Melt the butter and on slow speed drizzle the butter into the egg/sugar mixture. Mix well on a faster speed. Add the milk a little at a time, mixing well.

On a low speed add the dry sifted ingredients and mix gently until all the dry in incorporated into the milk/sugar/egg/butter mixture.

Butter a 13×9 pan, pour the batter evenly into the pan, pushing into all the corners using a silicone spatula.

Bake at 350 degrees F. for 35 to 40 minutes or until done (cake tester inserted in middle comes out clean)

Muffin Cake

I was making muffins for breakfast yesterday morning and then something happened which made me hand the process off to my daughter. I was going to write the recipe down on an index card, but I got distracted by the other thing, and then my husband and I had to go to homedepot for the thing, so I wasn’t there when she put the recipe together. I’d gone over what I had done and what needed done (with her) but she goofed up and when I was there, I saw and flipped out (as I do when she’s got a great handle on what’s going on in the kitchen and goofs up anyhow.)

Finally I was able to tell her what to do to make it work (hopefully.) It did work, but it was almost a huge problem.

I had taken a recipe, and doubled it. I have showed my daughter how to double something, she has known for some years now, practiced it fine oft times. This time though, she took the ingredients and did everything right, except for the milk. She doubled the DOUBLED amount. Original amount was 1/2 cup. I don’t mess up that way (yes, other ways, not that way though!) and it’s part of what I need to do with all the children, go over measurements and fractions again, every so often.

So what did she end up doing? I had her put it into a 13×9 pan and bake it as a cake. It turned out well enough. We could do it on purpose, or not. Well, it’s something else she goofed up, I like to put cinnamon in the batter, and she added all that milk before the cinnamon, so she didn’t get the cinnamon into it, just sprinkled it on top, which isn’t the same effect when it’s baked as having it inside is. Even with it that way, it was good.

This isn’t a recipe. If I want to experiment I just might do so with this process and come up with a good recipe to post. Later of course.

Happy Thanksgiving 2011!

Today started nice and chilly. Sunny, clear blue skies. Frost on rooves, grass, tops of things. Very Autumn-Thanksgiving-Like.

Temps are said to be getting to 66 F. later, we’ll see. Hope not. It’s been too warm lately. Cooler air came in late afternoon yesterday.

This morning I made cinnamon pastry with left over pastry dough (pie crust pastry.) I rolled out a piece to a basicly thin thickness to fill the size of a large cookie sheet, not tailored, just rolled out unconstrained in shape. I melted some butter and with a brush spread it over the dough. Then using 10x sugar and cinnamon mixed together I sprinkled the buttered dough generously, then using the back of a large spoon gently pressed the sugar/cinnamon and smoothed it out to totally cover all areas. Baked at 325 degrees F. (convection) in the oven for about 10 minutes, give or take.

I took another piece of left over pastry dough and rolled it out extremely thin. I used softened (but not melted) butter, spread all over the dough, then sprinkled the same sugar/cinnamon as above over everything. I didn’t shape this one particularly either, but I knew I wanted to roll it up jellyroll style, so it was wider one direction from the other. So taking the dough as a jellyroll, on the long side rolling the dough until fully rolled up, sealing the edge by pinching the dough gently. Cut about every 1-inch, place on cookie sheet cut side down. I baked these in the same oven as above, same time, approximately a couple more minutes though. (Took first pastry piece out, cut it, then looked at the “rolls” and left them in another minute or so.)

Both versions were so good! Flaky as the day is long, as much as someone is flaky too ๐Ÿ˜‰

Both were different, though made from same ingredients, just like pasta in different shapes.

This is the recipe:

Pastry Dough

For enough dough to make 2 generous pie crusts

Put 3 cups of flour, 1/2 tsp. sea salt, 1/4 tsp. baking power (non-aluminum) into food processor, pulse a few times to mix well. Add 10 tablespoons of cold butter cut into pieces (1 stick plus 2 tablepoons) and pulse to food processor to mix the butter with the flour mixture until it resembles small peas. Then sprinkle cold water over the top of the mixture and pulse the food processor several times to mix. You will need 5-8 tablespoons of water. Start with half, or 4 tablespoons, then add more water up to the limit as needed. You are looking for a texture that is thick, holds together when pressed. Don’t over process! You are not looking for one large lump, nor anything close to that. The less processing the lighter, flakier your dough will be. If you want it dull, heavy, coarse, tough, process it over and over and over and again and again. So don’t do that, just do enough, (a few pulses at a time, less at a time as you go forward) until you get what water is needed in the mixture to form a dough that isn’t sticky nor is dry.

Sounds more complicated than that. But it’s not. Put the mixture on a clean surface and gather into two pieces, rounds that you flatten into discs (makes it easy to roll out later for a pie crust) wrap in plastic and allow to chill in the fridge for at least an hour.

Roll out on a floured surface, flour your rolling pin too.

Form and bake your crusts as any others for any pies or whatever you have, whatever is normal.

When I make pies I flute the edges by taking my index finger on the right, pushing the edge of the dough from the inside of the pie pan towards the outside, very gently, and taking my left hand and using my thumb and index finger very gently pinching the dough around my right index finger, and releasing. It makes and lovely edge to do that all around.

Here’s a photo of the pies that I made yesterday afternoon. Photo from this morning. They cooled and were covered with plastic wrap and in the fridge overnight. I meant to take a picture of just the crusts, and then filled with pumpkin mixture before baked, but I didn’t. ๐Ÿ™

Pumpkin Pies 2011

Pumpkin Pies 2011

I’ll be getting my dinner plan ready in a bit, just not yet. I’ll make a new post for that.

Two days until Thanksgiving – Prep Plan

Today is the Tuesday before Thanksgiving 2011. The day after T-day is a birthday, my daughter will be 13!

Today I need to make the stuffing, then stuff the Free Range Organic Fresh Turkey (15+ lbs.) and roast it in my Electrolux oven on Perfect Turkey setting with the probe.

Then start the gravy making a roux or two (light and dark, for instance) and finish it after the turkey is done, taking the drippings and using chicken stock.

The stuffing will go into freezer bags, then into the fridge until Thanksgiving Dinner time. (It’ll be heated in Corning Ware French White casserole dishes with lids or foil over the top in the oven.)

The Free Range Organic ROASTED Turkey will be allowed to cool, then it will be carved and the different types of parts will be put into Food Saver bags and processed (vacuum sealed) and put into the fridge until Thanksgiving Dinner time. (The turkey slices, (and chunks) will be put into different oven vessels with gravy (covered) to be heated in the oven.)

More gravy will be heated on the stove top (I make lots and lots of gravy for this holiday!)

Tomorrow will be Wednesday, and that is Pie Day. I try to always make the pies the day before. I need to rummage up all my pie dishes and figure out if I need a new one or now. My grandma’s pie plate broke a few years ago. It was one of the worst days of my life. It was an 8-inch wide Fire King – so pretty, deep dish, and so historical for me: it was my grandmas from way back. She died in the early 70’s, it was hers for I don’t know how long, but I’d always known it. It just suddenly fell apart one day (not on it’s own, mind you.) It wasn’t treated right at that time, dropped by someone not authorized to touch it. Anyhow, it broke horribly and I screamed and screamed and screamed and felt so sick about it. I still feel that way.

So then, pumpkin pies and I don’t know what else.

On the day I’ll make rolls of some kind. Last year I was so organized and full of good things, it was the double holiday on 1 day year (every so often the stars align …) I made what became known at the time as 1-up Mushroom Rolls and Tom-Kitten Rolls. I’d forgotten that until I read my post-thanksgiving/birthday blog post from last year this morning. I don’t know if I’ll make any of those for this Thanksgiving, but I’ll have to remember to re-tool the ideas and get them made on purpose some times.

I’ll have yams or sweet potatoes, canned, and I’ll candy them on the stove top (Candied Yams.) I’ll make a Cheddar Cheese Sauce, with that and cauliflower I’ll make Glorified Cauliflower. The obligatory Green Bean Casserole will also be made. (Green Beans, Chicken Flavored White Sauce, Fried Onions.)

I used to make the turkey on Thanksgiving Day, but found it too much with a birthday nearby since 1998, plus my hubby isn’t a good carver so it’s a task best done by me beforehand. It makes everything so much easier to spread the things that need done into the days before the holiday, then on the day it’s reheating and making the veggy things.

Oh, of course, the mashed potatoes. Can’t forget them. I LOVE them with Turkeys and Beef Roasts (and gravy from the particular bird/meat) I love them how I make them. The main secret is, forget any method but using a big Kitchen Aide Stand mixer (or something like it) and first put cooked potatoes into the KA bowl, use a fork to break them up some first, then put the paddle attachment and bowl on the KA Mixer and turn to stir and add salt, butter and sour cream, turn the speed up to 6, allow to mix for 3 minutes. Turn off, scrape the sides, put the wire whip attachment on the KA Mixer and turn the speed to stir, then slowly up to full speed, and leave it to whip for 3 full minutes. Voila! Wonderful Mashed Potatoes!

These work well then to be put into an oven-able serving dish and dot with butter, sprinkle with paprika and stick in a warm-hot oven until ready to serve (not an oven that is baking or roasting something, but this should be done when stuffing and turkey and green bean things are already heated and being held to stay warm.

This is then when the veggy other things for the stove top can be made, and then everything is ready to be served without feeling like it’s killing you. ๐Ÿ™‚

The one thing I like and most of us here do, is canned Cranberry Sauce, jellied variety. It’s tart and sweet and cool and smooth and whoa! What a combination with turkey and gravy and stuffing and … oh so good! It says THANKSGIVING! It pulls it all together, makes the most Thankful statement that can be. All the stuff without it is good, OK and all that, but not the same without that cranberry jellied cold smooth tartness. ๐Ÿ™‚

November – Holiday Season begins

Holiday Season is right around the corner. It’s November now, which means in our household we have Thanksgiving and then our DD’s Birthday, or visa-versa, depending on the year. (She was born in 1998 on the 25th, the day before Thanksgiving.) This year Thanksgiving is three days before her b-day.

It always makes for a more hectic last-half-of-November than ever since 1998.

I’m in the mood for Pumpkin Pie, which it doesn’t have to be Turkey Day, November or December to have, but I haven’t made any “out of season” this year, I haven’t done much cooking overall (with a new baby in the house!) At this point I consider it best to wait until Thanksgiving Day to have Pumpkin Pie, but the urge is so strong to have some NOW so I don’t know what I’ll do in the coming days leading up to TD. Why do I consider it best to wait? So I’m not “Pumkined OUT” by TD, which is possible if I give in to my urge now. FWIW. :blush:

The weather has been cooler lately. Finally Summer has broken in NE Georgia. It’s still getting quite warm, into the 70’s, some days, but getting down in the 60’s at the most at night, all the way down way into the 40’s many nights. This makes things seem more Fall-like, and gets me in the mood for Autumn/Winter thicker clothing, crisp new clothes that just wouldn’t work in the Summer, no way. Boots are my love, for instance, and jackets.

I’m still not fitting into my old things to wear, post-pardum 4-months, so I’m going through my things and trying to figure out what I’m going to do about it. I hate buying “fat skirts” and such, when I know they won’t be needed. I’ve gotten away with wearing my summer skirts just not done up, they stay on and the openings don’t show with my Nursing (BF) Blouses usually covering them up fine. That won’t cut it for the cooler times outside, nor inside the house eventually (as Winter sets in.)

I’ve been Dresses/Skirts only for quite a few years, and did cave to wear pants sometimes when I was pregnant (starting in late ’06) and have a couple of pairs of jeans now for the “transition” but I don’t like them, I am supposing I wouldn’t mind some jeans now if they fit me nicely, but none actually do (since I’m still toting baby fat, which is alright since I am BF the baby, of course. It’d just be nice to have something to wear that looked good and fit nice. :rolleyes: Especially for “winter” wear.)

My DD got a toy sewing machine last Nov. for her BD, but since I was newly preggo then and since and also now have a still “little” baby, I hadn’t showed her how to use it yet … but the other day she was bugging me about it and I told her to just get it out and read the booklet about it. So she did that and started pestering me about this and that in the booklet, and I finally just had her get the machine by me and I showed her some stuff … and thus I now also have the ‘sewing’ bug and want to find a place to put my big machine so that i can use it. Lastly I used it way back in 2000/2001 when I had my 3rd baby, to sew for.

I have had the idea to make nice simple things for DD and myself all along, but I just “haven’t” done that. I really want to and now that I am so blah shaped, it’d be nice to have skirts that worked the way I need them to, you know, custom made by one’s self. I’m going to do that, therefore. I have gotten my DD to want to make T-Shirt Dresses since I told her how easy they are to make, and she wants to get a purple T-shirt for that purpose and is nearly wearing me thin talking about it, so I will have to be sure to find her one ASAP – and get to a fabric store as well.

I did get some Hanna Andersson dresses and tights and leggings and socks and clogs, this week, for DD. Every thing like that has “Blossoming Pink” in it. Also got another skirt and blouse that are not “pink” at all. So a custom made T-Shirt dress that has a purple top will have to have NO PINK in the skirt at all, IMO. In any case, the HA stuff is really nice, a good base for getting more things to mix and match with, every day wear. The blouse I got is has a peter pan collar and buttons up the front. It’s white Pima interlock cotton, long sleeves, very fine yet not “too fine” and will go well under the winter jumpers she has (I bought them a couple of years ago, big on purpose to have later, and later is now!)

We got the boys a few new things from Osh Kosh this past week, as well. Jeans and shirts. The baby too, as well as Carters for the baby. All three of the boys have shirts from Osh Kosh that match each other. A is 7 years old and I have determined (since last year) that he actually looks great in Orange, so he has an orange plaid flannel shirt, R is 11 years old, he and Baby Q both are blonde haired with blue eyes and have fair blue-toned skin and look awesome in blue, so they have the same dark blue plaid flannel shirt as each other, in respective sizes, R has 12 and Baby Q has 6m ๐Ÿ™‚ All three have neat Osh Kosh jeans too, so I hope to get a nice Brothers photo with them wearing all that stuff, very soon.

I haven’t uploaded any baby pictures to the web still, as I haven’t yet gotten those announcements sent out :veryshocked: I’m appalled at myself for this. I have finally determined that I like one photo I have from September, right after Baby Q turned 3 months old, which I like enough to duplicate, so I’ll use that one, or maybe take something in the next couple of days that will be good enough, and more recent … and have wallet or some other small-ish size photos printed out at a shop, to include with the announcements. I really, really, really intend to get this done THIS COMING WEEK!!! I hope I can do so.

So with all that pressure, needing to get some sort of warmer clothing figured out for me, get the right clothing ready for the children, and get the announcements mailed, and plan Thanksgiving and V’s 9th Birthday, plus wishing to really start sewing parts of us girl’s wardrobe, and bake for the holidays and get things ready for Christmas, which hopefully will be a Christmas Card that will get mailed this year (for the first time in many) … pressure … it’s heavy, tight, pressing down.

On a good note though, I have a more comfortable bed now: we got a topper for the mattress at Costco this week. It’s a micro filled top with something like 3 inches of memory foam beneath that. It was a pain to open and unfold … the foam was vacuum sealed into a tiny (for it) package. Literally the hardest work I’ve done all week, or in many, many, months. That is on the mattress and I have a waterproof/allergy cover over that (it goes around the whole mattress, zips up to keep all ickies out of the bed) then a thin mattress cover and the sheets. The next thing I want then is a memory foam pillow (with an allergy cover sealing it) as the memory foam is a dream to be on, no pressure points. Lovely to sit up in bed and feed the baby now, just need to get the pillow situation fixed to complete the comfort. Sleeping is nice too, no need to shift around finding a comfy way to be, I mean, just choose what direction to lay in, and if it’s the way you want to be, it’s comfy now.

A second good note: I now have a chair in the “dining room/living area” next to the kitchen. The couch was moved downstairs and I was without a nice place to be with the baby (not liking the “basement” as it is currently) and wanting to be on the main level with the baby mostly anyhow.

So I now have an Ektorp chair and a Bromma foot stool, with white covers. From IKEA, for those not familiar with those product names. Our couch is an Ektorp Corner sofa 2+2. (corner seat with 2 seats on each side, a couch with 5 seat cushions that can hold up to 6 people if you don’t mind sitting right by someone, not bad for visiting, just annoying for basic TV watching, reading, with children, everyone wanting lounging space.)

What is so great about that IKEA Ektorp line? The styling is classically beautiful, in my mind’s eye, and the outside of the couches and chairs are slipcovers entirely, so it’s easy to get a clean couch when needed or wanted. Unzip all the cushions and take the cover off of the frame, into the washer, then drier, then back onto the frame and cushions. It’s work, but worth it. The chair is even easier since it’s just a chair, compared to the corner 2+2 couch. Not only that though, the next best thing is: extra slip covers. The white is cheap, $29 to get an extra set. Other colors start at $79 and go up. The couch, we can get a color we like for $199,a complete new set of slipcovers, making the couch so versatile, brand new-like when wanted. We only have one set of slipcovers for the couch and also the chair right now, but will be getting extra’s sometime sooner than later, I hope. I also want to get an Ektorp Loveseat, which has a really cheap white slipcover set, just $11 … FWIW

To have all this furniture it will be separated in the house we live in now, but I hope to have a house with a very large family room someday …

For now though, I’m more comfy in the main living area again. A place to rest, feed the baby day or night other than in bed, watch TV, read, or even nap … a nice chair that is Mama’s and no one else may sit in it unless I say they may, which is no one. ๐Ÿ™‚

Spelt Bread (food)

I’ve ignored my Sourdough cultures of late. I’ve taken to this process:

Day 1: Put 1 1/2 cups of whole grain spelt in a bowl, and mix into that 1 cup of yoghurt. Cover with plastic well, and sit that bowl on a shelf until sometime the next day, to make bread with it.

I continue to use my breadmachine to make bread, but don’t alway allow it to “make the bread” but use it to “make the dough”. My preference for the latter is starting to come alive.

Today that is what I did.

I take my bread machine pan and add 1-1/2 cups of white spelt flour, 2 tsps. salt, 1 egg, 2 Tbsps EVOO,ร‚ย  and yeast, and let the bread machine begin mixing, and add the spelt/yoghurt mixture on top of all that.

As the mixing/kneading process goes on I add more white spelt flour as needed to make a lovely non-sticky dough.

I can use more whole grain spelt in the yoghurt mixture, I just have settled on the 1-1/2 cups for now because my grain buckets are getting mighty low.

Anyhow, the breadmachine can take it all the way and does make a nice loaf, but as I did the other day, and also did do today (well, yesterday, Friday) I set it to only make dough, and when the time was up I put it in a bowl to rise again, then shaped it and put it in a bread pan to rise then bake.

No mistaking how much nicer it is when I let it rise as long as I deem right, and how lovely it is when slicing it later, no hole to contend with. ๐Ÿ™‚

Now years ago I used to make a big batch of bread, several loaves of bread and I fell off of that wagon and do prefer to make one loaf at a time now, fresher bread, nothing frozen.

Of course this will have to change, something will have to change, very soon. My hubby will not make bread with any of my methods. I doubt he could actually follow any recipe that the breadmachine’s book has in it, and produce a sliceable as well as eat-able loaf. ๐Ÿ˜‰

The whole deal about it is “soaking” though. Whole grain is better than white. A mixture is alright though. I do like a 3 to 1 mixture, or less. Soaking the whole grain makes for a finer loaf of bread, but it’s an artform, not a scientific recipe, and not something to write down and have hubby attempt when I am down with the end of my pregnancy, or post-pregnant with little newborn baby.

So I have to get more Spelt grain, and be sure and put some loaves into the freezer that they can use in June/July. Or else I know what will happen, icky bread from Publix … ugh.

Sourdough and Spelt, Soaking, bread (food)

I put my original sourdough culture in the fridge the other day, as well as a small batch of some from that which I had started to add only white spelt to. They both seemed to be going along fine, so into the fridge with them was my choice.

I was reading further in my sourdough book (by Ed Wood, and he basically says that Spelt is perfect for sourdough bread) and in the section that goes over different flours he gives directions under the Spelt section on how to convert any existing culture to “only spelt” over a period of several 8 hour cycles: Taking 1/4 cup of culture and adding 1 cup warm water and mixing well, then adding 1 cup of spelt, mixing well. Sit in warm place for 8 hours, do it again, then again, at least 4 times, or more.

I started doing that Spelt conversion on Wednesday night and so completed two FULL cycles by Thursday afternoon, but I did slack off — I’ll look at it in the morning to see what can be done.

Not liking to just “throw stuff away” I did take some of the original culture when I last fed it (directions are to discard a cup and then feed the water and flour) and put that in a different container and am adding spelt to it as well. I’m keeping it out, to see what happens, to see if it’s useful to use in bread or something soon. (I find I don’t like the fragrance of the Rye culture, so I’m just leaving that in the fridge to work with seldomly since it was my original, not wanting to lose a place to “start from” at this point.)

The other day I did add some of the Rye culture to a batch of pancakes I was making. I didn’t thin the batter to my desired texture before adding some baking soda, so the batter was thicker than I wanted, but it did make super rising pancakes that the children liked, they tasted different.

The pancake batter I make is one that I developed from NT between the Pancake recipe and the Waffle recipe. I put things together however I want to each time, but do it basically the same for either with good results, and this allows me to choose which cooking method at the drop of a hat anyhow. My main difference is “to separate the eggs or to not separate the eggs” which means I either put the whole eggs in or I separate them, put the yolks in first and whip up the egg whites and fold them in at the end. This also means I put more or less baking soda in, which is the last thing I do when Not Separating, and the second to last thing when Separating. I prefer to use some baking soda with the fluffy egg white addition, I just do not use as much as when I don’t use the egg white fluff for leavening.

The NT way for Pancakes, or any grain based thing, is to soak for 12 to 24 hours, with the best results obtained with 24 hours of soaking, and I agree. The best way to soak is with cultured things, to ferment the grain, which breaks down the properties of the grain to make them more digestable, and the texture is wonderful and it feels so good to eat those products (whole grains done this way are so filling yet not that over-full-bloat feeling, it’s a natural, “that really satisfies me” sort of thing.)

Sourdough does the same sort of thing, sort of, but it’s a basic “yeast replacement” thing. I’m toying with my bread recipes, trying to figure out if I want to “sourdough them” or just do what I have been doing of late: soaking my Spelt flour in at least water over night when I am making bread, that produces a nicer loaf in the bread machine. The other day I started using yoghurt to soak it in, and it got to the point using the bread machine yesterday that I just “had” to take the dough out and knead it by hand and treat it by hand from there on out. I later shaped it and put it into a large breadpan and baked it, but I didn’t quite bake it long enough, it needed longer than usual loaves, though it looked and sounded done, pretty much. When I cut into it there was a small part in the center near the top that was a bit gooey still … so that is Toast Applicable bread. Tomorrow morning I have the same set-up to start with, spelt flour soaking in yoghurt and a bit of water in the bread machine, with a few other ingredients on the sides, then about a 1/4 cup of white spelt covering the soaking dough. In the daylight AM I’ll start the machine, and add an egg, then some more white spelt as needed. I’m sure I’ll just take the dough out after awhile and finish it off by hand. I do like the bread to be a whole loaf and if I feel like doing it, I do like doing it by hand, and this way just makes it a tad easier, to let the machine fool with it more than me to a certain point. (what I meant by ‘whole loaf’ is that bread machine bread has a hole in the middle of the bottom, and isn’t shaped like my hand made loaves at all … though it’s valid bread and does work out fine to use.)

In order to “sourdough” my bread I’m going to have to come to a place where I sacrifice a recipe to the method or a combined method, or a few loaves with different methods, to determine yeast or no yeast with what, and more. Right now I’m not at that point and prefer to know that what I make will be eat-able by humans such as me and my family.

Sourdough Culture (food)

I picked up a package of Sourdough Starter at Whole Foods Market the other day. Today I started the culture. I had purchased a small bag of Red Mill Organic Rye Berries some time ago, to make a natural sourdough culture, but hadn’t used it (actually I had a couple of packages, might have used one, and also tried to make the culture using spelt, but never had success when I tried.) So I ground the rye berries today, used 3 cups of that flour, with 3 cups of spring water, and the “starter culture” … GoldRush Sourdough Starter … ($2.99 at Whole Foods) and we’ll see what turns out in 24 hours from the start (around 3pm.)

I’ll get more Rye Berries later, and keep the original culture going with that, as well as create a Spelt version of the culture from some of the original Rye culture, and see how that all works out.

Breadmachines

Frank got me a new breadmachine this weekend. My “old one” died long ago. I haven’t had a breadmachine for that whole time, therefore, since the old one died. I’ve always made bread by hand, the old-fashioned way, but like having a breadmachine on hand for use when I would rather not make more of a mess, or would like to have a loaf made up, or dough, for something different.

My grain grinder died last autumn/winter, and so since then I’ve had to resort to only making unbleached flour bread. Not my favorite for overall everyday bread. I do like rolls with unbleached flour, and pizza crust, french bread, etc., it’s just the way of it for me. I do miss my spelt and kamut and prairie gold freshly ground flours though ๐Ÿ™ I loved a fresh loaf of whole grain bread, slathered with yummy european-style butter.

Since the grain grinder died I have made bread less often, since I don’t like making white bread so much. Plus the kitchen is in transitional mode, so it is a help to have a breadmachine again. I can’t always buy good bread … Harry’s carries better versions of bread, but we can’t get there when we run out of bread suddenly, and it’s pricey bread too. So now I’ll just be sure to have this breadmachine going to get at least a loaf for sandwiches that doesn’t have any soy flour, or other icky ingredients (as the stuff at Publix is), and have it done easily.

It’ll free me up to moreso desire to make specialty things again, and re-create my old cultures for bread. Since I don’t have to knead, it’s a better option for me now. Since I tend to make too much bread if I do it by hand, I’ll be making just a loaf as I need it now with this machine.

It’s a SS Breadman Pro. It seems very nice, it sure sounds nicer than my old Oster machine, and has many more options. Looks nicer too.

I’m partway through the first bread making with it. The dough is warm and smells so good. It’s been awhile since I’ve made a warm dough. I usually have used a culture and slow-rise naturally, so it’s back to old machine mode … but it’s alright, I’ll phase in my natural processes with the machine sooner than later.

A couple of photos of the current process:

The photos are a bit blurry, I didn’t use a flash and so … they are that, as well as a bit more golden than reality shows.

I don’t mind using a breadmachine. It’s something that is a help, and it’s not a bad thing for a self-pronounced home bread-maker artisan woman. It’s a second body for me. It’s an extension of me and will only do what I tell it to do, in a way that I would do it. It’s no “microwave” … doing things that I couldn’t and wouldn’t do to food … that’s another story but I wanted to bring it up as a comparison to something that is used in the kitchen as an aide and is in more kitchens than a bread machine is. It’s overused, and I don’t trust using it since it cooks differently from traditional heating methods. It changes the structure of food. We’ve gotten along fine without a microwave for a few or more years now. A breadmachine though is a tool, like toaster-oven-mixer combination. That’s all. It’s a dedicated machine to mixing dough, kneading dough, and rising and baking dough. You can stop the machine at any point and do something else with the mixture. It’s purely a helpful machine for the home baker.

It’s heeerrrreee!

I’ts evening now, and dark is setting in, and the rain has begun … um, but it’s not water, it’s tiny ice pellets.

Forecast/current conditions has us at 34 degrees F. right now with 27% humidity and a feels like of 20 degrees F. with winds from the East at 16 mph. They say rain/ice late tonight, low of 26 degrees.

Well, it’s icing NOW! Frank was just about to make a fast run to the grocery store so that I didn’t have to make a meal tonight (we can warm up frozen stuff, etc.). He’s gone anyhow, even with the knowledge that it’s icing. It’s just started. It’s constant, steady, but light. It melts eventually, but does sit on the ground, deck, etc for a little while before melting. The temperature is just so close to freezing, but just above it.

We also had no sun today, so no heating of surfaces for the purpose of melting the ice faster from heat-gain on objects.

It’s a three mile trek up the road to the store, then three miles back. Country road, a bridge or two … and you know about that “Bridge freezes before road …”

We have the entire wood pile in the house by the fireplace. It’s not that much, considering it’s our WHOLE stockpile of wood :shocked:

We’ve bought it in loads as needed this Winter. Two van fulls so far. It’s not been so cold but in spots here and there. We are flummoxed out of cash to get more wood right now. We DO have enough for tomorrow, then the next day should be warm enough, and it’s a Chuch day anyhow [we won’t be home really].

Sure it was cold in the house today. But conservation of fuel meant conservative fire today and conservative fire tomorrow: or none today, tough it out. Nice fire tomorrow, crowd around it and enjoy the heat on ICE DAY! We can be troopers. I am just that on many occassions when it’s called for, just that every occassion doesn’t call for that. Just some. Like today, I could do this. But not everything.

Funny, it feels a bit warmer in here since the pelting of tiny ice bits started. That’s really not funny, kind of a standard “natural house” thang that I can comprehend when it occurs. Continue reading

Thanksgiving Eve

Today is, as Russell desires me to call it “Thanksgiving Eve” since there is a “Christmas Eve” :laugh:

I’m currently making Victoria’s Birthday Cake for tomorrow, a New York Cheesecake. It’s in the oven with less than 40 minutes to go.

I’m seriously thinking about making the Turkey and Stuffing today, but I’m not sure I can. We have some more running to do for Birthday Girl, unfortunately.

In any case, if I can’t do that today, I’ll do it early tomorrow. I’ll be chopping up the celery and onions and nuts and such for the stuffing ahead of time, and the bread too. It’s my signature stuffing: that and apples and raisins and butter, eggs, stock/water. Into the bird it will go. It’s devine!

I have pumpkin pies to make too, and then the other things will be: mashed potatoes, gravy, cauliflower with cheddar cheese sauce, green been casserole, chill the cranberry sauce (I just used the jellied canned variety, I like the smoothness of it: Ocean Spray; a nice accompaniment to the other Turkey Delights) and hmmm. I have to get out my Palm and check out the menu again. Ah, yes, the rolls I’m working on.

I made a French Bread dough yesterday, and saved part of it in the fridge. I’m taking it out on occasion and punching it down, and rolling it out and folding butter into it. By tomorrow hopefully I can affect some sort of croissant-ish rolls.

For the dough it started out as a sponge of “unbleached flour: 4 cups; water to make it a sponge; and 1 Tablespoon of Active Dry Yeast”. Mix that up and cover, allow to sponge for several hours to overnight, or longer. Stir down as desired throughout that time. (Make sure you are using a large bowl!)

When ready to make the dough, just stir 1 Tablespoon of salt, and then also more flour until the dough is formed, using a machine of some type, or by hand, and then knead it in the machine or by hand until elastic, adding in more flour as needed.

Form a round and put it in an olive-oil-oiled bowl to rise, covered

OR

Take the dough and form it into the shapes you want, and let double then bake.

If you let it proof in the bowl you can punch it down as long as you like until ready to make the shapes and baking.

Put it in the fridge and take it out again to slow mature it. The more it sits around rising and being punched down the more French it is and good tasting cultured artisan-y.

Bake it at 400 or 450 (F.) until golden brown. Put a pan of hot water in the oven with it, so that the oven is moist, the way to get crusty artisan breads that is easiest. To do it, put the hot water in a pan, put in oven that is turned on pre-heating. When over hot, put bread in quickly and let it bake for 25 minutes, then start watching it for doneness, as any bread you might. It’ll get a nice crusty thick crust the longer it’s left in. I love it very brown.

So that’s what I’m doing now, messing around with dough for crusty melty rolls with dinner tomorrow, and baking the cheesecake, and wringing through thoughts of what else to cook today or not. ๐Ÿ™‚

We have tons of rain, lots the last few days and lots more today. It’s been dreary, but the holiday is keeping me perked up. Usually this kind of weather really punches me down (no sun at all for days and days, just dark and dismal)

Today we had Flash Flood Watch and Tornado Watch, yesterday just Flash Flood Watch. With the stuff today we have Severe Weather of heavy rain expected and gusts up to 60 miles per hour possible, and penny size hail possible too.

We had some big gusts, but not that big. We had no hail. We had tons of rain. We had a river running down the side yard, under the gate to the backyard and forming a small lake that had an outlet beyond it’s vast expanse … water, water, everywhere, no where to go but UP. We are saturated. It’s a good thing though. ๐Ÿ™„

Whisper Mill Dead

My Whisper Mill just died this morning.

I was grinding Spelt [to make the bread I needed to make today], the WM clogged up the shoot, and instantly shut off itself, fuse throw. Fine, that happens sometimes with spelt. No biggie. It happens so fast.

I cleaned the flour shoots all out, dumped out the grain left in the “hopper”, re-set the fuse switched, turned it on, voila, it worked only to within a few seconds start sending up black whisps of smoke and flipped off again.

Or course this all happened in a split second time frame, hardly any time between things happening. No time to react any faster than the machine itself died as doing.

I am totally deflated over this.

At least I have enough flour for a couple loaves of bread … but I can only hope my lifetime warranty will cover what happened.

I think, hope, hope, hope, it’s just the fuse.

But it means sending it away to Utah to be inspected/fixed.

This has reinforced the idea that I love my WhisperMill, but would love to have a CountryLiving motorized mill too.

My old standby is a Kitchen Aide Grain Mill attachment. I am too spoiled to ruin my Kitchen Aide by grinding rough flour out of grain to make a measly small loaf in 100 times the time it takes to get enough fine flour to make 6 loaves or more with the WhisperMill. Grrr.

I figured this day would come sometime. Just wasn’t hoping it would be so soon.

Some people don’t seem to have trouble with their WM’s … well the old models seemed to have worked better, so I’ve heard. I didn’t get into the market for a mill until WM had changed manufacturing to Korea. I then waited until the supposed bugs were worked out of their new facility manufacturing of WM’s. So I’ve had it for … over 3 years, I think. Years are running together for me, and I can’t distinguish time periods of some things :veryshocked:

It figures this happened today too, feeling so dull myself, full of words that I write and delete, rain, overcast weather, blahs.

Henry Watson Bread Baker

I obtained a new kitchen item via eBay this week. I was looking at auctions last week and found something I’d been considering wanting: Terracotta baking and tableware pottery.

What I found was Henry Watson Pottery, Wattisfiled, Suffolk, England.

There is some of this on eBay, though not a whole lot. I started comparing pieces and prices, and looked at the one US Distributor’s web site, and figured out that most anything on eBay for this company would be a good deal.

I got my bread baker for $5.50, plus $8.00 S&H. A good, good, buy at $13.50 total! It’s brand new, in a box and has instructions.

Here it is, as it’s about to come out of the oven after it’s inaugural seasoning earlier today.

Henry Watson Pottery is nice stuff. From having just one piece now, in hand, I do think I’d love the rest of their Original Suffolk Collection, as well as the blue glazed tableware of their Suffolk Tableware Collection. Since we aren’t well-to-do, I’ll have to totally piecemeal these items into our home as they become available on eBay and elsewhere for reasonable amounts.

This is the catalog for UK operations, and here you can see the different collections and what they offer in pieces.

Kitchen and Beyond is one of the USA Distributors, the only online comparison here for such. Compare the price of my bread baker dish to this place, mine was $13.50 including shipping, this place charges 20.99 — before shipping. I like finding stuff through alternative sources, so I’m glad to have found this stuff on eBay to some degree.

I’ll be baking some bread in this tomorrow. It’s a french bread type recipe, but it’ll just be a nice rustic loaf in this pan, good for french toast, or dinner bread. I usually make a long loaf free form on a sheet for this recipe, but this is a nice pan to try something different with. I’m glad to add this terracotta bread baker to my kitchen utelizational stuff. ๐Ÿ™‚

Fireplace, Movies, Bread

Well it’s fireplace day for us. It was very cold in the house yesterday, with enough wood for that day or this day. So we held out. Today I also held out as long as we could, so now the fire is started.

The morning wasn’t so bad really, but by 11am cold toes were beginning in my boots. I’ve been making bread, so that kept me busy (not as busy as most of you probably think though ๐Ÿ˜‰ ) as well as doing some more looking for movie stuff online.

Frank wants to see Master and Commander at the theatre, and he’s away today, so I thought I’d see what stuff is on their website and get a Desktop for him, or make one if need be. I found that their trailer is one that is only stream-able … pooh to that. So then I saw on their front US interface something about “broadband users” and clicked on it. Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World is a channel in Maven, a tool that different companies can utilize to distribute content. Maven is a light install, and then the “channels” are downloaded behind the scene. Content is richer than is on the website. And it’s on ones own computer en total when desiring to view it. Nice.

The movie clips are all Windows media player files, seemless in the Master and Commander “Maven” interface. But if you know where to look for them on your computer, you can snag them to view in Windows Media Player. .wmv files.

There are other “channels” you can get … but nothing I’m interested in yet. There is a National Geographic one that may be coming soon, that’ll be interesting to check out, not knowing what IT’S content may be, and seeing if it’ll be available to just “anyone”.

OK then, my bread. I experienment with bread whenever I make it for the last couple of years. This time I’m using a 2-cup 2-day-old sponge … flour and water and 1-teaspoon of active dry yeast in a widemouth jar. I shake or stir it everyonce in awhile and just let it do it’s thing. It was really smelly this morning, as expected. Very much what I was looking for this time. It’s a sourdough taste, but using modern yeast. Something that’s not “really sourdough” but it’s a nice flavor.

I use that then with other ingredients and a few pinches of active dry yeast to make the dough. It’s resting/proofing in a bowl in the oven right now. I’ll put it in pan in less than an hour, and keep them in the oven too. I wet papertowels and place them over the loaves while they rise, replenishing the wetmenss as need be. I put the oven on warm for a few minutes, then turn it off. This is a decent environment for the bread.

Well I’ve left this post for a bit, and since I don’t feel like editing it, I’ll just say, time has past, the dough is in the pans and proofing.

What recipe do I use? None. I worked out developing my own “from memory” kind of recipe. So I just add stuff like:

Fresh ground Wheat Montana Prairie Gold flour
Eggs
Butter
Salt
Yogurt
Milk
Honey
Black Strap Molasses

I usually start out with some kind of culture or sponge. In the Spring, Summer, Fall, I used Piima cultured milk in my sponge, but this colder house this winter has had me stop making it. So I’ve adapted to making odd cultures instead … not actually trying to make a wild yeast culture, it’s too cold for that. Instead I use teeny tiny amounts of yeast to get a little bit of flour and water to start bubbling, then feeding it as one would a real sourdough culture. A few days of that and I hold it in the fridge, bring it out beforehand to warm it up if going to use it. I take part, then feed it and a day or so later back in the fridge it goes.

It adds flavor and helps to rise any dough I make, and I only then add a tinier bit of fresh active dry yeast to the dough recipe.

This probably sounds confusing to y’all, of course. I am doing this in my quest to do thing olde world style, for the reason of getting out of modern methods of cooking some things. Bread is the first and foremost. We have advantages of equipment that grind flour fast, so I’m trying to get WHOLE GRAINS done in an olde world style, utilizing no store flour at all.

Sometime I do use store flour, only unbleached regular flour. About two-cups of that in a bowl, some water to make it goupy and two-teaspoon of yeast, stir well, in fact, beat it. Let it sit in a warm place, covered for a few hours, then add more water if you want to, or not. Salt, and more flour to make a nice soft dough. Let this proof, punch it down, let it proof again, punch it down, at this point let it proof again or form a long loaf, just whatever time tells you is right.

This is basic bread making. Add olive oil to the recipe and it’s pizza dough. Add yogurt and it improves flavor and texture. Add something of a flour culture or sponge and get better flavor and texture. Use part whole grain, but only if using a long proofing -punch down phase of making it. Using cultured things in it helps to break down the whole grain to be much more palatable to mouth and body.

My goal is only to be able to make any kind of bread with the most pure ingredients, and without using a book. When I say “most pure ingredients” I mean simple whole foods kinds of things. Nothing fancy manufactured-only.

I do use black strap molasses, but only sometimes, and it’s not something I need to use. I use it to add color, or flavor, particularly if my honey supply is low.

I make french bread as described in the basic way above. My sandwhich kind of bread is the main bread I make with whole grains only, and that’s my biggest experiment. I use steel pans, and coat them well with butter before adding the dough.

These kind doughs must rise and be slashed in some manner before baking, to keep the top from separating from the body of the bread — or making smiley face bread, as you may know it.

Well, this is a mis-mash post. It’s what life is usually like here, many things going on in and out, over and under, weaving, forgotten, remembered … ๐Ÿ™‚

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