Thursday, January 20, 2011

Whole Wheat Bread

Well, it has been a month since I last wrote, it is amazing how time can just slip by!  So I come back to you with a recipe that I have slowly been perfecting for the last several months.  I had been trying to make a good whole wheat sandwich bread for a while.  Most of the time it was either incredibly dense, not very sliceable or just plain bad.  I finally took some advise from some homesteading friend of mine that said I have to start to embrace the white bread flour.  Now, I know that bread has been made without the white stuff, and I know that I have enjoyed such bread, but recreating it hasn't happened.  So I have slowly embraced the white stuff and have actually had some amazing bread.  Luckily, I have converted the recipe to use honey or maple syrup (since that is a local commodity) instead of just sugar.  Enjoy!

Honey/Maple Whole Wheat Bread
Makes one sandwich sized loaf.

1 tbsp yeast
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup water
3 tbsp EVOO (I think you probably could use melted butter if you can get it local)
1/4 cup honey (Shelburne Honey Co.) or maple syrup (Hager's Family Farm)
2 1/4 cup whole wheat flour*
3/4 cup bread flour

* I have substituted 1/2 the WW Flour with our local WW Flour and found that the consistency doesn't hold up well to slicing, gets all crumby, but I'm still working this part out.

1) Warm milk and water slightly over stove or in the microwave.  (We recently discovered just how much energy the microwave actually takes versus our electric stove: 30 seconds of the microwave = 6 hours of a solar panel in full sunlight; and therefore have decided to not use our microwave anymore.  As it turns out, heating things on the stove is just as easy and even quicker.)
2) In a medium bowl combine milk, water and yeast.  Let sit for a couple minutes until yeast starts to bubble (testing the yeast).
3) Add salt, oil, and honey to yeast mixture and combine well.
4) Add all flour to yeast mixture and start mixing with a wooden spoon.  Do this until dough is too think for wooden spoon.  Leave the mixture in the bowl, and use hands to knead in bowl for 2-4 minutes, until a good consistency of dough forms.  Dough shouldn't stick to hands anymore and it forms a ball well.  (I have found that it is easier to knead in the bowl and not make a mess of the wooden counter.)

5) Place dough in a warm draft free place for 1-2 hours.  The oven with the light on works best for us.
6) After dough has risen slightly for 1-2 hours, take out and punch down.  Let rest for a couple minutes while you grease an 8x4" loaf pan.  Be sure to grease EVERY part of the pan including the top lip because loaf will hopefully rise over it.*
7) Knead dough once more in bowl for another 1-2 minutes.  Roll dough into a log that will fit the pan and place in greased pan.  Place pan back in the warm draft free place (oven) and let rise for another 1-2 hours or until loaf is desired size.
8) Once dough is desired size, and while loaf is still in the oven, turn oven on to 400 degrees.  Set timer for 30 minutes and bake.  After 30 minutes dough should be nicely browned and make a hollow sound when tapped.  I have taken the bread out too early a couple times though, so let it get thoroughly browned!
9) Place on cooling rack and let cool 10 minutes, and then remove from pan and let cool completely.

Perfect sandwich bread or bread for french toast.  We haven't bought a loaf of bread for a long time thanks to this recipe!  It might seem like a lot of steps, but it is very simple especially if you are going to home for the day.  And, once you have this bread as toast with butter on it, you will realize how worth it the effort really was!

*And officially tonight I looked like an energy efficient GENIUS!  This morning I started the wheat bread dough, and put it in the oven with the light on, and pretty much forgot about it.  We went out to lunch, and ran some errands and I realized the bread dough was in the oven when I got home @ 2.  Yikes!  But as it turned out, it was perfect!  I kneaded the bread dough a second time and put it in the bread pan and back in the oven (light on only).  Then, using the same bowl I kneaded the bread dough in (no washing necessary), I made our pizza dough for dinner.  I put that in the oven to rise with the wheat bread.  Then around 5pm I took out the pizza stone and pizza dough from the oven, turned the oven on to 400 degrees and set the timer for 30 minutes (whole wheat bread in there all ready to bake).  Marc and I prepared our pizza and put that in the oven as well.  Half way through baking the pizza our wheat bread was cooked perfectly and there was NO waste of energy!!!  Seriously, I felt like a genius!  The oven was cooking our bread as it heated up to make our dinner, no water wasted in washing the bowl between doughs, pure awesomeness.  Now I need to try and do that every time I make bread and I truly will be an energy efficient cook!  I will include my pizza dough recipe in another post soon, so don't fret, energy efficient brilliance is in your future!  

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Happy Merry Holiday

Holiday Greetings, and hopefully everyone had a wonderful holiday season.  It was a quiet Christmas for us here.  But this gave me the excuse to try and cook a Holiday Roast for Marc and I.  I have never really made much beyond skillet/wok meal.  So this was a big feat.  And I truly have my brother-in-law to thank for my success.  He coached me on how to make this amazing meal.  I am lucky enough to have to have a teacher from Johnson and Whales l and I truly appreciate all knowledge.  The best part was that our dinner tasted AMAZING!  Here's a little recap:

It started off as a mere piece of meat with garlic and onions, then began it's slow roast.

Mixed Green Salad with Goat Cheese and Homemade Balsamic dressing wet our palettes.

 The sides of Garlic Mashed Potatoes,  and Rosemary Carrots and Parsnips.


The the main course of a Holiday Roast with Sherry Mushroom Sauce.

It was magical!  I can't explain how amazing this all tasted and how enjoyable it was to cook for Marc and myself on our quiet Christmas.  Next time I will finish with a dessert of chocolate covered strawberries and a single malt.  The only thing I would change :)

Have a safe and wonderful Holiday!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Winter Solstice

Tonight marks the longest night of the year, with longer days of sunlight to follow.  This is something that we hardly think about nowadays, but the natural world is highly effected by this turn of events.  I know that for myself this fall, I have definitely felt the effect of the shortening days and the cold chill of the winter setting in.  Normally snowboarding is a good distraction from this time of year, but this year, I couldn't help but feel the darkness with the lack of a garden and sunlight.
Pepsi soaking up the last rays of the day, hoping they return tomorrow.
So tonight we celebrate the long night with the return of the sun and longer daylight in the morning.  The turn to lengthening days and the hope that things will bloom again.  Reflections of the past year, hopes for the new year, candles to light the long night and Solstice Bread to celebrate the night.

Happy Winter Solstice!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

A Christmas Surprise

We got a special anonymous package today in the mail.  A miniature Christmas tree to give our bland apartment some Christmas cheer.  A beautiful little cypress tree that smells amazing and came with little decorations!  After some investigating I figured out who it was from... Thanks Mom and Dad for the great holiday surprise!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

All Wrapped Up

AMAZING NEWS!  The BATTERY CHARGER has been located!  Shortly after posting that I had lost this vital piece of equipment, Marc went out to check the RV one last time and found it!  It has been in there since we got home from our road trip back in October!  I am pretty psyched, and now I can get back to posting.  What's new around here:
Snow and a frozen garden.

Christmas shopping and baking.  I attempted to do more of a "handmade" Christmas. 

However, for all the little kids in the family, I ended up buying some things.  I tried to make sure I was either supporting a good cause when buying the gift, or it was made of recycled materials.  This worked for almost all of the kids, but I will admit, some things were bought just because... Here are some links to great kids gifts from great companies (better late then never).

Stubby Pencil Studios 

World Wildlife Fund

Sprig Toys

Plant a Billion Trees

My goal for next year: not go overboard with the wrapping.  I bought a huge roll of wrapping paper that will definitely last us the next 5 years....should have thought that one through.  Recycled materials from here on out!

And lastly, what's growing around here...Wheat Grass.  A potent green that helps us through these dreary, cold days!'s nice to be back on the blogisphere!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Mission: Find My Camera Charger

Hello All, I am writing to say that, sadly, I have lost our camera charger...hence the lack of posts.  I am personally a fan of pictures rather then writing, so it's been s secret boycott of blogging.  I have tried using Marc's iPhone, but usually it's not around when I need it.  So I have come to buying one, and actually went to Staples to get one the other day.  Ironically, they were sold out!  The quest continues.  So hopefully soon I will be able to recharge the camera and get to blogging again, and I apologize for the lack of posts.

What's been happening here since the loss of the battery:
-Lots of sewing projects.
-Put the garden to bed for the winter.
-Crafty holiday wrapping projects.
-Marc has brewed more beer.
-Some NEW amazing dinners with our winter veggies.

I will write again when we have a camera to post some pictures.  Enjoy your Holiday Season!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Giving Thanks

Well, Thanksgiving is upon us, and Marc and I hadn't had much time to even consider the holiday until Tuesday.  It occurred to me that not only was Thanksgiving in 2 days, but that also means that Christmas is right around the corner...YIKES!  I will admit, I am not a huge holiday person, but I do get excited to give people gifts.  So yesterday I did some canning projects, some of which I cannot mention because of the high probability of them becoming Christmas gifts.  But one thing I made was some Cranberry Sauce with Blueberries for the upcoming feasts (8 pints to be exact).  This recipe was super easy, and although it isn't jellied like the canned stuff, I believe if you refrigerate it prior to using it will be thick enough to enjoy with the various holiday fixings.

Cranberry Sauce with Blueberries

6 cups whole cranberries, washed and picked over
1 cup blueberries
1 cup fresh orange juice
1 cup water
2 cups honey/maple syrup (whichever you have)

1) In a large sauce pan combine all ingredients.  Bring to a boil.
2) Reduce heat and simmer 15 minutes.  You should hear the cranberries popping.
3) Sterilize jars and prepare boiling water bath.
4) Ladle cranberry sauce into sterile jars, cap and boil water bath for 15 minutes (pints).

Pretty easy!

In other news, our dog has taken a liking to yoga...or it could just be our yoga mat.  But this is something that I am thankful for this holiday...she always makes me smile!

Happy Thanksgiving!