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Okay, with all my bread experiments, I’ve never tried anything using quick-rise yeast, but yesterday I found this recipe on the internet for a beginning-to-end one hour yeast bread. I both couldn’t believe it and thought it was too amazing not to try…
Well, it works. The trick, aside from the quick yeast, is putting it into a cold oven, with a broiler pan of hot water that steams away. It doesn’t get the surge of “poof” you get when you quickly put bread into a very hot oven, but it rises just fine during the oven-heating period and then bakes the rest of the way. Sort of amazing!
Me being me, I of course tweaked the recipe, but it worked fine in my food processor. (I had to add a little more water.) And I was able, during this hour, to make both this bread and a batch of the Pioneer Woman’s drop biscuits in the same food processor in the same hot oven, for double the high-cal bread products out of the same energy use.
Okay, I ran across this recipe for a “batter bread” using yeast dough that’s not thick enough to knead or anything…and I couldn’t resist trying it. It’s called Sally Lunn bread, and there are dozens of recipes, but the one I used is here.
Verdict: It was easy, pretty quick (about two hours beginning to end), low maintenance, not messy, and really yummy. It’s more cake-like than bread-like when all is said and done, and I should have added more salt (I…forgot. Bread needs salt. It does.). Real butter instead of my coconut oil substitution would also probably make it yummier…but all in all it was good! And ridiculously easy–I’d totally recommend this one to anyone with anxiety over using yeast. I don’t think it’s possible to screw this one up, really.
Here’s my version, with my adaptations:
Sally Lunn Bread
- 1 C. lukewarm milk
- 1/2 cup combined coconut oil and neutral oil, melted. (Or butter.)
- 1/4 C. sugar (or honey)
- 1 t. salt
- 1 pkg. dry yeast
- 1/4 C. warm water
- 3 eggs
- 2 cups unbleached flour
- 1 1/2 C. white whole wheat flour
- Stir the yeast into the warm water and let it stand for 5 minutes to dissolve.
- Mix the milk, oils, sugar and salt in a large bowl; beat in the eggs. Test to make sure it’s lukewarm. Add the dissolved yeast to the first mixture and beat vigorously.
- Gradually add the flour. Cover and let rise for about an hour in a warm place until about double in bulk. Spoon the mixture into a buttered loaf pan. Preheat oven to 350. Bake for 50 minutes.
Seriously, not bad at all. Next time I’ll sub honey for the sugar and maybe add some spices.
The next one I want to try is this one-hour sandwich bread…
Baked Oatmeal has been one of my favorite go-to portable breakfast foods for a couple of years. I have made it with applesauce, with bananas, with frozen-fresh raspberries, with all kinds of possible fruits and purees.
So tonight, when I realized I wanted to make some, and there was still half a cup of cooked sweet potato in the fridge I had no idea what to do with, I thought “hey! What could go wrong?” After making the recipe and tasting the result, I can only say, “not a damn thing.” Delicious.
So here’s this variation:
Sweet Potato Baked Oatmeal
- 1.5 cups oatmeal
- 1/8 cup oat bran (optional)
- 1/4 cup brown sugar
- 1/3 cup cooked mashed sweet potato
- 1 egg
- 1 cup milk
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- pinch salt
- Few shakes cinnamon, ginger, and/or nutmeg
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup (or more!) crushed almonds
- 1/2 cup dried cherries (or other dried fruit, like cranberries, currants, raisins, blueberries, whatever) (add last)
Spread in 9×9 greased baking dish.
Bake at 375 for 30-35 minutes. Let cool. Cut into squares.
Seriously good stuff. I know what I’m eating on the train tomorrow.
We never seem to finish the loaves of bread. Not sure why. But on a regular basis I find myself tossing or freezing (if I catch it early enough) the bread that began to go stale before we had time to eat it. And even more lately, since I have a friend whose job is to move out uneaten baked goods from a local food pantry when the next week’s stuff comes in, and he desperately tries to get as many of us to take and use the beginning-of-the-end bread he’s got before it’s beyond all hope.
I’ve been making a lot of bread pudding lately, and the freezer is full of bread cubes and bread crumbs for the stuff I haven’t had time to bake yet. But we’re, believe it or not, getting a little tired of bread pudding…
So I’ve been poking around on the internet looking for more recipes. Turns out there’s a lot out there you can do with stale bread. Many of them are variations on bread pudding and its favorite hybrid, French Toast–different kinds of strata (including a caramel apple one that looks amazing) abound, and there’s one for a bread pudding involving chunks of butternut squash that I will have to try. Then there’s this recipe for bread-crumb dumplings, where you make a dough out of bread crumbs and eggs and spices and cook them in boiling water…I don’t know if I’ll ever try that one, but it looks very cool. Other sites have more basic across-the board hints…
So this is kind of cool. Anyone else have any novel ideas what to do with bread that’s passed its reasonably delicious shelf life?
According to the Environmental Working Group, the average woman uses 12 commercial cosmetic products containing 168 different ingredients, every single day.
The FDA has no authority to regulate safety of any of those ingredients or products, unless the active ingredients are officially considered to be an “over-the-counter drug.” And over 500 ingredients used in these products are banned in Japan, Canada or the EU. We have all these assumptions about the safety of what we put on our faces and bodies and hair, and a lot of those assumptions really need reexamining.
So…what do you use on your face, body, and hair every day? How many different products? Where do you get them? What is in them? How long is the ingredient list?
I have over the past few years cut way back on my cosmetic use. I have some makeup that I wear for performance occasions when to do otherwise would look unprofessional, but most of the time I go bare-faced. My moisturizer is a little bit of sweet almond oil scented with essential oils, and about two drops are enough for my arms, hands, and face. My deodorant is likewise homemade, consisting of a mixture of baking soda and cornstarch with odor-fighting essential oils. I do use standard over-the-counter shampoo and conditioner, but I’ve managed to cut my hair-washings to every other day; on alternate days I use a homemade dry shampoo made of–ready? this is complicated–cornstarch and a little essential oil to give it a nice smell. On the off-days, I also sometimes use a little commercial hairspray. But that’s really about it.
If learning any of that about me grosses out my friends, well…unless you’ve wondered why I smell weird or go around with greasy hair all the time (I don’t, and I don’t, although the strategic ponytail has been my ally on more than one occasion), it shouldn’t.
When I want to do a little more, I consult Crunchy Betty, and use one of her recipes for a moisturizing facial mask, bath soak, or my own hot oil hair treatment...these are awesome when I have the time. It’s all on her blog, but she also has a Kindle-available or downloadable pdf book with a bunch of her recipes too…I highly recommend it, her, and everything she has to say. (After all, why not use stuff you already have in your kitchen, stuff that’s natural and whole and safe and edible, to take care of your skin?) I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: Mocha-Frappucino Face Mask. Do it. Your pores will thank you.
I swear in those few years since I stopped buying all that expensive crap my skin is looking younger than it did before, and last month a 19 year old swore I couldn’t be a day over 30. (I’m…a few days over 30. We’ll leave it at that.)
So…anyone ready to take the “food on your face” challenge? Toss out those bottles of unpronounceable things, save a pretty significant amount of money every month, and have even nicer skin and hair than you did before?
It’s flu season. And a really bad year for it, too.
I’m not a flu shot person. For one thing, it seems like a big crapshoot every year, trying to determine whether the annual shot and the actual bug (or bugs) that shows up will match in the slightest. And then by the time you really know whether or not it’s the right one, it’s another couple of weeks before the shot takes effect. My own personal take is also that if one keeps one’s immune system healthy and strong, one has a fairly decent chance of fighting it off and gaining one’s own antibodies anyhow. And given that we don’t actually know what weird chemically things are in the vaccine itself (thimerosal, anyone?), I always wonder about body burden and toxic load and stuff and just like to avoid putting anything avoidable into my body that will in any way, however small, draw its resources away from ordinary day to day stuff into having to deal with invaders. I genuinely believe that, for generally non-serious illnesses like flu and chicken pox and stuff, it’s a decision everyone needs to make on their own, based on the data at hand, weighing possible consequences either way. (And no, I am not an off-the-cuff anti vax person, my kids are all covered for all the basic biggies and would be even if it weren’t required in order to send them to school. I’m just middle-of-the-road enough that people on both sides of the vaccination debate get really p.o.’d with me on a regular basis.)
But anyway. That’s not what this post is about.
I’m always on the lookout for recipes for what to do with a cold/cough/respiratory ooziness situation, especially if they do not involve drugstore formulas that don’t seem to work anyway. (Although I keep a bottle of trusty Robitussin DM in the medicine cabinet for nighttime stuff, because that actually does seem to work.) Remedies that either ward off illness or help ease the symptoms when it does break through.
Fire Cider is one of my favorites, but it takes a crazy long time to make and requires a lot of ingredients. I ran across something today that’s actually fairly close, but doesn’t require the several weeks of maceration time. The Good Food Matters blog (one I shall be visiting again with some frequency!) had this nice recipe for a kid-friendly home remedy, involving apple cider vinegar, honey, ginger, and cayenne. (Well, sort of kid-friendly–the cayenne would make my kids weep.) I looked at some other ones out there and threw in a couple more ingredients for something less kid-friendly but which I think might pack sufficient wallop to get me through the next bout:
Homemade Cold-Cough Syrup
In a clean jar mix:
- 4 tbs organic apple cider vinegar
- 4 tbs organic honey
- 2 tbs bourbon
- 2 tbs lemon juice
- 1/2 tsp ground ginger
- 1/2 tsp ground cayenne
That’s pretty much it. I did warm the stuff for about 15 seconds in the microwave to help the honey mix in better, but it was mostly a mix-and-shake proposition. And you need to shake it before each use, too. Nancy at the original blog only makes it in small quantities and uses it quickly, but I find myself wondering what happens to it if it sits over time, if the cayenne and ginger give up their consituents and mellow in the whole mix. Might be a little less WHOOOOSH and not as obviously hot…which means one could actually put more cayenne in there to begin with and reap those benefits all the more. We shall see!
One of these days my elderberry bushes will start giving me berries, and then I’ll really have some fun…
In the meantime, good health to all–
I’ve long been a fan of the whole “artisan bread in five minutes” method of bread baking, where you make a container of dough which can sit in your fridge for a couple of weeks, while you take off chunks and have fresh bread in an hour’s notice. And I’ve been futzing around with it for a few years now. But tonight I hit on something really fun and cool.
It was brought out by my kids, really, who got the idea in their heads that they wanted to make pigs in blankets. So I figured, why not? I made up a batch of dough last night, and then tonight I got on the computer to find some ideas for how it might work, how much and how long and what temperature and all that.
I hit pay dirt almost immediately–this quite cool blog I’ve never read before but plan to in the future had a beautifully simple method for making the things: basically, you roll out a big circle, cut it into 8 wedges, and roll a high-quality uncured wiener in each one, crescent-roll style. (It also occurs to me, duh, that one could make delicious easy crescent rolls the same way.)
The kids and I rolled the dough out, they assembled the dogs, I baked them up while I made the Pioneer Woman’s recipe for potato soup for my husband and me, and served them up for dinner. Seriously good. And easy–we got home at a little before 6 and had dinner on the table before 7, along with recipe hunting and feeding the dogs and all. (Er…the real dogs, not the hotdogs. Although both of our dogs are of the wienerdog variety…)
Anyway, the variations to which one can put that remarkably easy bread dough still never cease to amaze me.
Long time readers of this blog may remember my love-hate relationship with my husband’s Vita-Mix blender. I have been growing fonder of it as time goes by, making more and better veggie smoothies (tossing clean but unpeeled carrots into it with some orange juice and a little fresh ginger makes the most amazing smoothie imaginable) and using it for generally more than ordinary blender duty, but it still seems like this huge lunky thing. Kitchen appliance meets Manly Power Tool.
But then the other day I was at Whole Foods when the Vita-Mix demo lady was there hawking the things, and I for the first time got to witness the whole “it makes soup” phenomenon. And it really did sort of blow me away. She had samples of this Chicken Tortilla Soup, where you toss all this stuff into the blender and blend the heck out of it for 6 minutes till it gets hot–steaming hot, in the blender–and then you toss a few more ingredients and just sort of incorporate it on low, and then it’s ready to eat. (The official Vita-Mix version of the recipe is here, but I think she kind of had her own.) It was too salty, but otherwise it was delicious.
So today I went to the site and found a recipe for pumpkin soup. I happen to still have half a can of pumpkin left over from Christmas breakfast, so I thought, hey, what the heck? Let’s give this a shot…
Then, of course, I promptly dissed the recipe and did all kinds of stuff to it myself. This is what I did:
Vita-Mix Easy Pumpkin Spice Soup (makes about 3 cups…I think…)
Toss into the Vita-Mix container:
- 1 can pumpkin or 1.5 cups pureed pumpkin (or probably any winter squash)
- 1 cup broth
- a sprinkle each nutmeg, black pepper, and cayenne
- 1/2-1 tsp brown sugar or maple syrup (optional, but the first time I left this out and it really make a difference with just a hint of sweetener…a little apple juice in place of some of the broth would probably work too)
- 1/2-1 clove garlic (I used maybe 1/2 tsp “jarlic,” crushed garlic in a jar) (no, that’s not its official name, it’s what we call it around here, but some marketer should pick up on it, don’t you think?)
- 1/2-1 tsp crushed fresh ginger (again, I use the jarred stuff, because it is so much easier…a sprinkle of dry would probably be fine, and real fresh would be even better)
Pulse first on low variable speed, then increase to high variable, then turn to Real Heavy Duty VitaMix High. Blend 5-7 minutes until you see steam coming out of the vents in the top. Pour into mugs or bowls and serve with a dollop of plain greek or regular yogurt on top. (Also optional, but also makes a big difference!)
The Verdict: Really really good. This would be a delicious soup to make and serve for company even if it involved a couple of pans and some actual kitchen time, and it took all of 5 minutes. I think I may have to get to know this overachieving blender a little better. If it can do this, it may be worth its clunkiness and counter space after all.
More research provides links to more soups– there’s this recipe for creamy tomato basil soup, which looks awesome, as does this one…and this site, with an absolute motherlode of Vita-Mix-able soup recipes. (And if you’re not the proud or slightly embarrassed owner of one of these ridiculous $500 blenders–I know, really??–I’m certain you could make something very like these over the stove with an ordinary or immersion blender.)
I still don’t care for its “ooh I’m so fabulous” attitude, and I have to wonder what the markup is on that $500 price tag (like maybe paying all those demo people in Whole Foods? Do they realize that if they priced it at something lower, like $200, it would fly off the shelves?), but this contraption might be part of the key to the weight I really genuinely plan to lose this winter…
Okay, a friend asked me for my turkey recipe, so here we go. It originated in the New Basics Cookbook by Rosso and Lukins, but it’s evolved sufficiently that I don’t feel like I’m breaking copyright law by putting it up here.
If you aren’t planning on stuffing a bird, this stuffing can omit the sausage and be a pretty yummy vegetarian Thanksgiving dish (use vegetable broth instead of chicken, of course!) On the other hand…the sausage makes it really good.
So here we go (ingredients are in bold):
Brown 1-2 sweet Italian sausage links (or whatever kind you like), casings removed, in your largest skillet. (Alternatively: use a between half a pound and a pound bulk sausage.) Break up and stir till just cooked through. Drain off fat. The sausage can be omitted if you wish; just increase celery and onion by maybe 1/2 cup each.
It should also be noted: the ingredients below are listed with a lot of leeway! That’s because it just doesn’t much matter how much of each thing you like–if you like a lot of bread, go to the high side of bread. If you love celery but not onion as much, do that. If you want sausage but don’t want quite the caloric addition that putting the full pound in there will cause, use less and break it up into smaller piece, and maybe increase the herbs a little. Play with it–it’s totally up to you! (And if you’re like us, go high on everything so you have enough leftovers to munch on for a few days. Also note, even the not-in-bird stuffing won’t keep as long in the fridge if it contains sausage…)
Add to the pan and saute till soft:
- 3-4 cups chopped celery (about 1.5 celery hearts worth)
- 2-3 cups chopped onion (2 large onions)
Remove from heat; stir in:
- 1 tsp dried or 1 tbs fresh thyme leaves
- 1 tsp dried or 1 tbs fresh chopped sage leaves
- 1 tsp salt
- a few good shakes or grinds black pepper
In a big bowl, combine:
- 5-7 cups stale bread, cubed
- 1/2-1 cup dried cranberries (or raisins or other dried fruit)
- 2 small or 1 large apple, chopped. (Only peel if you really feel like it! I usually save some of what I cut up for the pie the night before, chop it up smaller, and dump it in the stuffing.)
Add skillet contents (veggies, herbs, sausage if using) to bread mixture; mix it up.
Add 1/2 cup each tawny port wine and chicken (or veggie) stock; mix well again.
Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
(I usually have about a 12-14 lb bird; I always accidentally overstuff it. This year my bird is bigger, so I’ll have less out-of-bird stuffing by this recipe.)
Rinse your turkey well, inside and out; don’t forget to take the bag of giblets out of the interior, if that’s where they are. Pat dry. Roll up your sleeves and stuff the big cavity with stuffing, and skewer it shut. Do the same with the neck side. Don’t overstuff, and don’t forget where you put your skewers. (It’s one thing to find the bay leaf someone forgot to take out of the stew; it’s quite another to bite into a 3 inch steel pin.) Put any extra stuffing in a casserole pan and heat it separately; broiling the last few minutes with the cover off will give it a nice crusty top.
(By the way, don’t stuff the turkey until right before you’re ready to roast it. You want it to go into the oven full of pretty hot stuffing.)
Place turkey in roasting pan, either up on the roasting rack that’s the part of the pan that’s totally hard to store all year but which you totally want for those 5 hours each year, or if you don’t have one, lay a bed of veggie pieces (carrots, onions, celery) that it can sit on while it roasts.
Pour 3-4 cups hot water into the pan.
Rub the skin with butter, if you wish. Then drizzle a little port over it.
Roast turkey for the appropriate amount of time for its weight; mine this year (it’s a 15 pounder) will go a good 4 1/2-5 hours. After the first 3 hours or so, start basting with a little port wine every 15-20 minutes or so. If it seems like the breast is cooking too fast, you might want to cover the breast with aluminum foil for an hour or so in the middle.
Use whatever methods you normally use to make sure the bird is cooked all the way through–meat thermometer in the thigh joint, cutting a little to make sure juices run clear and not pink, whatever works–just make sure it works.
When it’s cooked, remove turkey from the oven to a platter, and let it rest for a good half hour; it will continue cooking within during this time, and this will hold the juices in better. (This is when I raise the oven temp to 400, put the sweet potatoes back into the oven to reheat, and bake the biscuits or rolls.)
My grandmother made the best gravy, I thought. It was always just kind of Her Thing. This gravy isn’t hers, I admit, but it’s super-good.
Mix 1/4 cup flour and 1/2 cup water into a slurry, and stir till smooth. Whisk into pan juices and bring to a boil; simmer for a few minutes; if you don’t have enough pan juices, you can add some stock until you have the amount you want. Season with salt and pepper to taste. This recipe makes a very strong gravy–if you want something milder that you’d pour all over your potatoes and meat, you’ll want to add stock or water, or its flavor will overpower everything. Between the port and the roasted turkey bits, this is a seriously brunette gravy; I like it this way, with just a small amount drizzled onto my food for intensity of flavor, but definitely be aware!
(You’ll notice I skipped the whole “how to deal with the pan juices” part…its messy and frustrating to me, deglazing the pan, and somehow separating the juice from the fat since I don’t have one of those high-tech separators that lets you pour off the juices without mixing in the oily part. My gravy is always way oiler than it should be.)
So…that’s what I do on Thanksgiving. The year I used ruby port instead of tawny, the bird was incredibly gorgeous, this amazing sort of glowy red color, but I didn’t like the flavor as much. But the wine itself, whatever color, gives this amazing richness to the flavor of the whole feast…
There you go. (Now I’m hungry. Only 4 more days…)
(UPDATE: I went in again to alter this recipe a little based on what actually happened on feastday. This was by far the best turkey/stuffing go-round ever…there will not be an issue with stuffing going bad this year, it’s all I can do to not keep going in and pilfering it.)
The Saturday before Thanksgiving.
This morning I cleaned out the fridge of all the overdue-verging-on-science-experiments lurking in there to make room for the free range organic local turkey that should be delivered in the next hour or so. And I have my shopping list prepared for tomorrow. So…pretty much all set, and I can’t wait.
This is what’ll be on our table Thursday:
- Port wine basted turkey, with sage-and-sausage stuffing laced with chopped apples, celery, and dried cranberries. (The port makes a fantastic gravy…)
- Garlic smashed potatoes (too lazy to peel and whip, and we like ‘em this way anyhow.)
- Bourbon sweet potatoes
- Cranberry-orange relish
- Sauteed haricots beans
- Herb/garlic drop biscuits
- Apple pie (with oatmeal crumb topping)
- Pumpkin pie (the no-frills version from the pumpkin can)
- Chamomile-Peppermint tea to settle our stomachs afterward!
The pie thing is sort of ridiculous, really–there are only four of us in the family, and the kids prefer apple, and my husband and I both really like pumpkin…so I try to make fairly low-sugar healthful versions of each, and we eat them for breakfast for the next couple of days.
So…what’s going to be on your feast this Thanksgiving?