Friday, February 5, 2010

Artisan Breads Made Easy

The anticipation of having a slice of hot home baked bread with butter is for most of us a desire we seldom indulge in yet, it just became easier to do. You are probably thinking yeah right. Well thanks to a new book that I have just been introduced to, you to can have hot homemade bread daily. The book is "Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day" by Jeff Hertzberg and Zoe Francois. This book is a keeper in my opinion, it is loaded with tons of recipes for different types of artisan breads. Very easy to read and understand. The basic concept is that you make a wet dough that is never kneaded and can sit in your refrigerator for up to two weeks. Then when you want some bread pull out about a grapefruit size piece round it off and let sit on the counter for 40 minutes and then bake. Viola you have a wonderful dense crusty bread. The basic recipe they call their master recipe is based on 6-3-3-13. Which translates into 6 cups hot water, 3 tbs yeast, 3 tbs salt and 13 cups flour. You just mix together until flour is incorporated and then let rise on the counter for 2 hours and starts to fall then cover and refrigerate. This recipe will make approximately 8 - 1 pound loaves of bread. The other beauty is that the flavor improves as the dough ages in the refrigerator and if you can't use it fast enough you can freeze it in 1 pound packages till you need or want it. Of course the recipe can also be halved or quartered.

In addition to artisan breads we learned to braid bread. My niece, Gina, was gracious to come and teach us how to braid using her family's "Yummy White Bread" recipe. The experience was a hands on one and even though it looks easy it still takes practice. I definitely have to practice. That's why when we have a family get together she usually gets asked to bring the bread. Thanks Gina! The basics of braiding are difficult for me to explain with words and so I'll just have to leave it at that.
Here is the recipe we used for the braiding although any bread recipe you have could be used.

Yummy White Bread

In a small bowl Mix 1 tsp sugar, 2 pakages of yeast (4 1/2 tsp), 1 cup warm water

In mixer or large bowl put 5 cups flour, 4 tbsp sugar, 4 tsp salt and 1 1/3 cup powdered milk and stir. Now add 4 cups warm water, 1/4 cup oil and mix on low then add yeast mixture. Continue stirring and add 3-5 cups more flour until it starts to pull away from the sides of the bowl. Mix on low or knead by hand till smooth. Divide into 4 loaf pans and raise till double and bake at 350 for 25 to 30 minutes.

Our recipe for today was made by Emily and it was fantastic. It is pantry worthy and for that it receives extra points.

Baked Tuna Surprise

4 pkg Top Ramen cooked
2 cans cream of mushroom or chicken
1 1/2 cans of evaporated milk
2-3 cans tuna

Cook Ramen per package directions adding the seasoning packet. Drain off water and mix together with other ingredients and pour into 9x13 pan and cover with cheese. Bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes. Can add veggies if you desire.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Yogurt Making

To my daughter who is reminding me to add my posts here is December's class that I did not get to post very timely. Blogging is new to me and I am by nature not a very prolific writer. If you get me talking that is another story but here goes my attempt at trying to catch up.

Yogurt like many other things in life seems like a mystery to most of us but in reality it is not very difficult to master. I must confess that I do like yogurt but don't seem to eat very much of it and have not made any since the class. Although it is relatively simple to do I just have not added it to my to do list. Some of the information comes from The ingredients that you need are nonfat dry milk and water or skim, 2% or whole milk and nonfat dry milk plus plain yogurt as a starter. The yogurt must contain a live culture. After you make your first batch you will always save out enough for your next batch. The first thing is to combine your liquid and dry ingredients together and mix thoroughly. Second you heat this milk with frequent stirring to just near boiling (185 degrees) and then cool quickly by plunging the pot into a sink of ice cold water to 110 degrees. Now you add your starter culture and mix well but gently trying not to incorporate too much air. Lastly but not least you pour the milk into your clean jars and cover with a lid and incubate in a warm place, one that you don't have to move the jar around. Your warm place could be in your oven or crockpot or heating pad or even an electric fry pan with water in it and keep it at 110 degrees. Some dehydraters also can be used for yogurt incubating. You need to incubate for at least 4 hours and up to 7. The longer it incubates the thicker it sets. Once done there will be a liquid on top of the yogurt. This is whey. You can pour it off or stir it in it is up to you.

Now that you know the steps here are the amounts depending on the size of the batch you want to make. The amount of liquid you use is pretty close to how much yogurt you will make.

Liquid / Nonfat Dry Milk / Yogurt

1 gal water / 8 1/3 cup / 1 cup

1 qt water / 2 cups / 1/4 cup

1 gal skim milk / 4 cups / 1 cup

1 qt skim / 1 cups / 1/4 cup

1 gal 2% Milk / 2 3/4 cups / 1 cup

1 qt 2% / 3/4 cup / 1/4 cup

1 gal whole milk / 1 3/4 cup / 1 cup

1 qt whole / 1/2 cup / 1/4 cup

When do you know if you have Enough?

If any of you have wondered how do I know if I have enough food storage, today's post is for you. I came across a wonderful post that is called "Everything under the Sun" by Wendy DeWitt. In this wonderful pdf form she has broken down for you how many cups of wheat are in a #10 can and how many teaspoons are in a container of salt etc. The beauty of this as she explains is that you can plan your menu for food storage and add up the total of all your ingredients and then know exactly how much of each item you need to acquire to have enough for the time period you have chosen. For example if you want to plan for three months and you use 14 dinners and repeat it 6 times in three months than you know that you have to store enough of the ingredients to make those recipes each 6 times. It is just one more way to be able to judge whether you have enough to last 1 week or 6 months or a year. In her post she has some recipes that she gives you and has added up the total of the ingredients needed for a years worth of the recipe. I especially liked the information that let me figure out how much would be required to have a loaf of bread a day. Knowledge is peace of mind.

Our recipe for this month comes from Brandy of website. It was surprising how easy and good this recipe is.

Chicken Fried Steak (minus the hen)

2 2/3 cup old fashioned oats
1/4 cup dried onions
1 1/2 - 2 cups water
2 eggs
2 tsp rubbed sage
2 tsp Lawry's Perfect Blend Chicken and Poultry Seasoning
3 tbsp oil for frying

2 cans cream of mushroom soup
3 cups milk (can use powdered milk)

Mix first six ingredient. It should be wet and stick together well. If it does not, add enough water until it does. Form into six patties and fry both sides until browned. Meanwhile, whisk soup and milk together to make gravy. Lower heat to simmer and pour gravy on patties. Flip them over to coat both sides with gravy. Cover and simmer on low for 10-15 minutes, checking occasionally to make sure that they don't stick or burn.