Tag Archive | baking

Cooking with Children

For all my talk about doing better on the blogging thing, I still missed yesterday.

But then, I didn’t really have access to a computer and time at the same moment, so there’s that…

Anyway, the bread was a huge success–to the point where we’re going to make some more today–the batch wasn’t big enough to satisfy me, my sister’s family, and still have enough to share with my sister’s neighbor from Winnipeg.

The whole rye berries–well, cracked would have been better, but oh well.

G had a lot of fun “helping” make bread, even when I wouldn’t let him stand on the counter any more.  Even though he’s a confirmed carnivore–no  superfluous starch products for that kid!  He was excited to taste it, and even more excited to make some more today.

So, here’s the recipe with my adjustments, and what I’m planning to do today:

Winnipeg Rye Bread:  The Cori Version

1/3 c rye berries

1/3 c water

Soak the rye in the water until it is absorbed (I honestly don’t know how long this took.  Somewhere between one and three hours.  I’m upping this to 2/3 c for today’s batch)

3/4 c milk

1 c water

1 tsp salt

1/4 c packed brown sugar

1 egg

3 Tbs butter

4 Tbs gluten

1 3/4 Tbs active dry yeast

Mix together until blended

1/3 c rye four (’cause I have a bunch that needs to be used)

4ish cups flour

Starting with the rye, slowly add the flour until the dough comes together.  Knead.  Let rise until doubled, about 1 hour.  Punch down, let double again.  Form into two loaves, place on a baking sheet, and let rest for 10 minutes.  Bake at 350º f for 30 minutes.

I decided yesterday that I need to talk to G when I’m hesitant about going to church–except his ward starts before mine, so I can’t just call him…

However, upon finding out that I didn’t make it to church yesterday, he told me “You need to go to church.  You have lots of friends at church.  Like Aunt Cori, and pickles, and cinnamon toast, and Jesus, and fish, and dogs…”

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Wry Bread

White rye-type bread

Image via Wikipedia

A very odd thing has happened.  Upon going back to school, and being asked to think all day long, I all of a sudden don’t have anything on my mind worth blogging about.  Unless, you know, y’all want to hear how I applied what I learned in my art history class this week to the little toy my nephew brought home from a friend’s birthday party.

So, I’m sorry I’ve been slacking on my blogging duties.  I will do better, I promise.

And now, on to the post.

If you ever find yourself in the Prairie Provences of Canada, first of all, I’m deeply sorry. (I say this as someone who loves the cities of Winnipeg and Saskatoon, and would move to either place in a heartbeat.  I just don’t particularly want to vacation there.)   Secondly, get yourself to a local bakery that sells a delectable treat known as Winnipeg rye bread.

Winnipeg rye is lighter than regular rye bread, and doesn’t contain the spicy caraway seeds, but it’s still hardier and tastier than white bread.

Once I set my mind to finding a recipe for Winnipeg rye, it didn’t take long (like this one, posted at food.com).  I didn’t take the time to compare the half-dozen or so recipes that I’ve found online, but I did think it was interesting that they were all “converted for bread-maker use”.

Having found a recipe, I began my search for ingredients–namely cracked rye and gluten.  Granted, this wasn’t a very active search, more of looking for specialty flours whenever I was at a new grocery store.

Last week, while doing my grocery shopping, I discovered rye flour in the bulk bins of a newish store that I’m still trying to decide if I like.  Because it had been a while since I had last looked at the recipe, I figured rye bread needs rye flour.  After working myself into a tizzy at the prospect of making my favorite bread, I pulled up the recipe to discover–no, not rye flour, cracked rye.

Crap.

So, never mind the past six years that I’ve been without Winnipeg rye, I decided that I MUST find cracked rye as soon as possible.

In talking to my sister earlier this week, she commented that it had been too long since we had seen each other (a whole week and a half!) and she thought I needed to come up.  I agreed, and headed up to her house after school this morning.   After abandoning G to the care of the Brother-in-law, (alas, he didn’t think that he could take both boys and still help his father with the project they were working on) we loaded the baby in the car and went on a wild goose chase across the Salt Lake Valley to find cracked rye.

Long story short–we didn’t find the cracked variety, but I did manage to get whole rye berries.  I also discovered that ‘miller‘ is not a viable career option for me.

Especially, you know, when trying to mill the seeds of my biggest allergenic foe.  It’s been two hours since we put away Sis’s wheat grinder, and the tightness in my lungs is just beginning to loosen up.

And I still didn’t manage to crack the rye.  So, I’m going to try it with my non-cracked but slightly scratched rye.

After church tomorrow, I’m going back to Sis’s house, mostly because she wanted to be involved in my bread project.  Which is fine, because it means that I’m not the one who has to clean the kitchen in preparation–although I better mention that I’m planning on cleaning up afterwards, if for no other reason than to keep Mom from getting mad at me.

I really do intend to do the clean-up tomorrow.  Really.

So, if things turn out, expect to see the un-converted bread maker recipe tomorrow.  And, if it doesn’t turn out, I’m sure I’ll have a good story then, too.

Bread of life, salt of the earth.

I love bread.

I always have.  One of my favorite childhood pictures of myself features a 3-year-old Corianne wearing pink footy pajamas (the bane of my young existence–I still can’t stand to have my feet covered when I sleep).  I’d gotten into the bread drawer, and broken in to a bag, and have a half-eaten slice of Wonder Bread in my hand–still chowing down on it.  That picture sums up the relationship that I’ve had with bread for my whole life.

I love making bread.  I don’t have a bread maker or a stand mixer, so I make bread the way my grandmothers did–with a mixing bowl, a wooden spoons and my hands.

I love kneading.  Even when I’m making bread somewhere where I do have access to a stand mixer, I’ll usually turn the dough out early and knead it by hand.  I love the way that kneading unlocks the power of gluten, turning a sticky glob of wet flour and a few other ingredients into a beautiful ball of bread dough.  I love the workout to my hands, arms and shoulders that kneading provides.  I also love that kneading is a wonderful way to work out any frustrations. I love how when the dough has come together the way it should, just at the point when it is ready to rest and rise, it feels like a living thing.  In fact, I love that due to the yeast, it is a living thing.

Yeast holds a magic of its own.  In my fridge, the yeast appears to be a crumbly, beige powder that smells like it’s started to turn.  But, when mixed with warm water or milk, and a little bit of sugar or honey, it springs to life, raising the bread, making it light, airy and delicious.

I love the way, once the dough comes together, that you can cover it, and leave it in a warm place for forty-five minutes, it will double in size.  You can then punch it down, and come back in another forty-five minutes, it will have doubled in size again.

I even love the way that bread dough tastes–it reminds me of days spent at my grandmother’s house, when she would make bread.  She would slip my sister and I bites of bread dough–which, to most people, is pretty nasty stuff until it’s been baked.  To me, it tastes like childhood.

I’ve been wanting to make bread for a while, but it’s usually too late at night when I think of it. Bread is simple to make, but it takes a long time–however most of that time is waiting.

Yesterday, I thought about making bread at 7pm.  I thought about the three hours it would take, and decided that 10pm wasn’t unreasonably late to be pulling something out of the oven.

And so, I mixed, and scalded milk, and used up the last of my yeast. I happily stirred, then kneaded, and set the dough aside to rise.  At that point, I wondered if I had remembered to put in any salt.  So, I tasted the dough, and sure enough, I’d forgotten the salt.

What now?  The dough had come together, it was too late to mix anything in.  I pulled it out, and kneaded a little salt in, but I didn’t dare add too much, because I didn’t want to over-knead, and I didn’t want salty pockets of dough.  So I just hoped it’d turn out.

Long story short, it didn’t.  The bread looked and smelled beautiful, but the taste is off.

Salt is easy to overlook, as my recent baking misadventures have proven.  It’s only 1 Tablespoon of white powder in a recipe that calls for cups and cups of various other white powders.  It isn’t essential to the chemistry of baking, it doesn’t affect the appearance or texture of the baked good.  My bread is perfectly edible.  In fact, due to the over-abundance of salt in the processed foods that are so much a part of the western diet, it’s probably healthier than a normal loaf of white homemade bread.

But still, salt is essential.  Salt heightens sweet, and deadens bitter.  It adds the finishing touch to meat, vegetables, and yes, even bread.

In baking, I suppose, leaving out the salt isn’t as big of deal as leaving out, say the yeast or the flour, but it’s a big enough deal.  Salt may seem like a small thing, but without it, the time, energy and effort that I put into baking bread last night was wasted.

The little things are important.  Big things are just made up of a bunch of little things.

Thinking along those lines makes the big things easier to tackle.

White Bread

1 c milk

1 c water

1 Tbsp shortening

1 Tbsp margarine

2 Tbsp sugar

1 Tbsp salt

1/4 c warm water

1 Tbsp yeast

6 1/2 c flour

Scald (heat until just before it starts to boil) milk; add 1 cup water, shortening,  margarine, sugar and salt. Set aside.

In a separate bowl, put the 1/4 c warm water and 1 Tbsp yeast, stir to dissolve.  Let sit for 10 minutes. (This is called “blooming” or “proving” the yeast, it a) gives the yeast a head start before it has to raise the bread, and b) lets you know that your yeast is good before investing the next three hours of your life to the project)

Combine the cooled milk mixture and yeast mixture into a large mixing bowl.  Stir in 3 c of flour, and blend well.  Knead in enough of the flour to make the dough come together.  (this is hard to explain.  The dough shouldn’t be sticky, but it should hold its shape.  The best way to find out if the dough is coming together properly is through trial and error.  Sorry.  Kneading by hand is simple, you fold the dough in on itself, then push out with the palm of your hand.  Fold and push, fold and push.) Knead for 10-15 minutes. (Just think of how much more bread you can eat because of the calories burned by kneading!)

Place in a greased bowl, cover with a clean dish towel, and place in a warm, draft free spot.  Let the dough rise until double, (about 45 minutes, I start checking after 20) punch down (just what it sounds like; take your fist, and punch the bread dough once or twice. It should collapse on itself) and let double again.

Shape into two loaves, and place in greased pans.  Let raise, then bake at 450° Fahrenheit for 10 minutes, then at 350° F for 30 minutes.

Corianne vs. the tortilla

I received one of the best phone calls ever the other day (at least, before the phone call saying Max had been found).  I’ve been trying to rent out my spare bedroom, but have had a hard time finding a roommate. Which, frankly, minus the money issue, I’ve been fine with.  I like living alone.

Anyway, I got a call Tuesday? Wednesday? Sometime early in the week from a girl interested in renting my room.  She’s coming by later today to take a look at it.

I’m the type of person who claims not to be messy, I just have a complicated organizational system.  It’s true.  If I put everything away, I have a hard time finding it.  I don’t, however, have a problem remembering for instance, that one of my brown dress shoes is under the couch, while the other one is in the closet.

Most people don’t understand or appreciate my style of organization, so yesterday, I returned to my home to straighten the house up to the point of presentability.  In the process, I discovered that I have at least twice as much counter space in the kitchen as I had previously thought.  Crazy how that happens.

Well, in celebration of my newly cleaned kitchen and all the discovered counter space, I decided to do some cooking.  ‘Cause that’s how I roll.

I’d used up all of the tortilla mix that I had bought, so I decided that it was time to try tortillas from scratch.  I found a promising looking recipe on recipezaar.com.  It looked simple enough, that I thought I could just memorize the ingredients and amounts, and not bother with printing a recipe or taking my computer into the kitchen.

I should know better.  I really should.

For starters, I thought I needed a teaspoon of both baking powder and salt–which is twice as much salt as was actually called for.  Secondly, I used baking soda instead of baking powder–yuck.

For those who don’t know, soda is just sodium bicarbonate, and unless mixed with an acidic ingredient, will taste horribly bitter.  Powder is sodium bicarbonate and something that acts as an acid, like cream of tartar.  Powder can be substituted for soda, but soda cannot be substituted for powder.

Needless to say, the first batch of tortillas didn’t work out.

This morning, having realized my mistakes, I decided to try again–using the proper amount of salt, and actual baking powder this time.  The results were MUCH better–even though once again, I didn’t have a copy of the recipe.

So, here’s how I made the tortillas:

Flour Tortillas

  • 2 c flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 c oil OR shortening
  • 1/2 to 3/4 c warm water or milk

Mix flour, powder and salt together.  Cut in the oil or shortening.  Slowly mix the water or milk until the dough reaches a consistency that is neither too dry nor too sticky.

Divide the dough into balls–both times, I got about eight.  Place the balls on a plate, then cover with plastic wrap.  Let rest–the recipe says for a half hour, I waited perhaps 5 minutes and they turned out just fine.

Heat a dry skillet over high heat for several minutes.

what homemade tortillas SHOULD look like. I don't have a picture of the duds, but they were--yellow. And they didn't have the little puffy spots.

Thinly roll out each ball–I don’t care about shape, but you may want to try to keep things as circular as possible.  Cook on the skillet for 30 seconds on each side. The dough should get brown spots.

I can roll out two tortillas in the time it takes for them to cook, so I’m usually rolling and cooking at the same time.

Allow unused tortillas to cool completely then store in a plastic bag in the fridge.  You may want to separate each tortilla with a paper towel, just in case.  They can be re-heated in the microwave or in the skillet.

And now, I don’t want kids.

Seriously.

Today has been one of the roughest days of my life.  I’m still at Sis’s house, preparing for the party–and E decided that it’s time to start teething.

You know, two days before the temple, three days before his blessing, and the parties in his honor associated with them.

Yeah.

And, because E was getting so much attention, and because he didn’t sleep well last night, G was acting like a little demon all day.

I think all four of us, Me, Sis, G and E, were in tears at some point during the day.

The highlight of the day was Sis’s dog, Polly.  She’s an outside dog, and has a hardier digestive system than Max and Lulu (which isn’t hard–they LOOK at something that isn’t their normal dog food, and it makes them sick) so Sis and the Bro-in-Law are much less picky about what they feed her.  Well, she became the proud owner of one of the ginormous bones that we cleaned yesterday, which is now her pride and joy.

When I let Max and Lulu out for the last time last night, (they’ve been spending the days outside, but they spend the nights in the bedroom I stay in at my sister’s house) Polly was literally standing over the bone to guard it from them.  Polly is a mostly corgi mutt, and the joint on the end of the bone is longer than her legs.

This morning, when I banished the dogs to the backyard (Max’s word, not mine), Polly was again jealously guarding the bone, but as she’d gotten most of the good stuff off the outside, a little less jealously. Still, she’d growl at Max and Lulu whenever they came close.  And chase away the flies that landed on the bone.

I should probably mention that Polly has the corgi herding instinct pretty strong.  When she first came to live with Sis and the B-I-L, she’d chase the airplanes across the sky.  She’ll chase cats, wasps and birds–anything she can, really.  I once watched a neighborhood cat walking along the back of a neighbors fence, then, when she got to Polly’s yard, she jumped down into the backyard of the house directly behind Sis’s–the one that had a cinder-block wall separating Sis’s yard from the neighbors, then continue her journey on top of the fence on the other side of the yard.

I don’t know if that last paragraph made any sense, but I’m too tired to care.

Anyway, G’s snoring, the dogs are semi-calm (at least they’re being quiet,) and I’ve been exhausted all day. And I’m not even the Mommy.

So, the cookies I made today were the Rollo Cookies featured on page 11 of the Great Canadian Cookies, Bars, and Squares cook book.  I’m not going to type it out, as you can access it through Google Books, and the link I just gave.  Only I don’t like pecans, and I used Hershey’s Bliss Creme de Menthe instead of Rolos.   They are amazing if I do say so myself.

I’m hoping tomorrow goes better.  I really don’t think it could go worse.

A Taste of Childhood

I had every intention of going to church this morning.

But you know what they say about good intentions.

When I woke up, my hip had locked up on me, and I couldn’t move it.  I managed to hobble to the bathroom, and that loosened things up enough that I was able to hobble downstairs (and back up again) to take the dogs for a walk. I can move now, but I’m in a lot of pain–the kind that causes nausea, so I don’t want to take any painkillers that might further upset my stomach, and frankly, acetaminophen, aka Tylenol, doesn’t work for me so I don’t have any in the house.

Anyway, as I foresee a day mostly lying around the house, with lots of stretching, I really don’t have much to talk about.  So, in an effort to write a post with substance (not necessarily nutrition, but substance nonetheless) when I was in the kitchen making breakfast, I grabbed a cookbook with the idea of posting a recipe.  The cookbook in question was put out by CBC Radio, and is called Great Canadian Cookies, Bars and Squares.  The recipe that I intended to post is a variation on a lemon bar found in that book.  But, I found something even better.

I found a slip of yellow paper that had been tucked into the back of the book without my knowledge.  On it, my dad had written his favorite chocolate chip cookie recipe. The fact that it’s in his handwriting, not mine or my mom’s just makes me smile.  So that’s what I’m going to share with you today.

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies:

1 cup soft butter

1 cup brown sugar

2 eggs

1 tsp baking soda

1/4 cup boiling water

1 tsp vanilla

1 1/4 cups flour

1/2 tsp salt

2 cups quick oats

12 oz semi-sweet chocolate chips

Cream butter and sugar together, add the eggs and blend them in.  Dissolve baking soda in boiling water, and stir into the butter/sugar mixture.  Add vanilla, then dry ingredients and chips.  Drop small balls onto an ungreased cookie sheet.  Bake for 10-12  minutes at 350°


Having typed that out, it seemed strange to me that there wasn’t any white sugar.  I seem to recall using white sugar to make these cookies, but we always made a double batch, so it’s possible that we would use one cup of brown sugar and one cup of white sugar for the double batch.  I looked at Recipezaar,  and the proportion of sugar and flour seem to be the same as other oatmeal chocolate chip cookie recipes I could find…but I’d still appreciate if someone with access to the original recipe could check that for me.

Anyway, enjoy this little taste of my childhood.  If you need me, I’ll be in the corner whimpering in pain.

Tortillas and family history

I have conquered the flatbread!

Well, kind of.

Okay, a few months back Cari over at Life at #71 posted a recipe for pita from scratch.  I like pita bread, I like baking, and I like trying new things in the kitchen, so I gave it a go.  Three times.  I couldn’t make it work (although, the finished product that I came up with did make a wonderful pizza crust, with a bit of spaghetti sauce and cheese, then put put into the toaster oven until everything melted).

I decided that I was flat-bread deficient.  Then I got to thinking.  I don’t have any Mediterranean/Middle Eastern ancestors (that I know of), but my Great-Grandfather was born in Mexico. (His ancestors all came from England and Denmark, but dangit, he was Mexican!) So maybe I’d have better luck with tortillas.

I found a few recipes online, but mixing the fat in scared me a little bit.  I don’t know why, I have a pastry cutter, and don’t have any problems making shortbread or piecrust or the like, but yeah, I was a little intimidated.

While grocery shopping the other day, I found myself where the baking supplies meets the ethnic food isle, and saw this:

I know enough Spanish to know that “simplemente agrea aqua” means “just add water”  I didn’t look for the English instructions at all.  Yeah.

I made some last night, and they were easy and tasty, especially with my sister’s barbacoa pork recipe that mimics that of a popular local Mexican restaurant.

I have enough confidence now in my tortilla-making abilities that I’ll use the rest of the mix, then try them from scratch.

As for the family history–

I knew about this great-grandfather who was born in Mexico, but I wasn’t sure if he was great-grandfather or great-great grandfather, so I looked it up.  I clicked back a few generations to make sure I knew what I was talking about, and discovered a mystery.

My Mexican great-grandfather, one Johnathan Pratt Nelson, had a grandfather named Claybourne Montgomery Elder, who died and is buried in the tiny Central Utah town that my mom’s ancestors settled–the town where I lived until I was 8, and I’m related to almost every single resident of that town.

Now, here’s the mystery.  Claybourne’s wife died in Southeastern Utah in 1905.  Claybourne died in Leamington in 1912, at the age of 85.  Elder is not a Leamington name, so I don’t know why he went there, or when, though I think it’s safe to assume that it was sometime after 1905.

This is a mystery that I’d like to solve, and I guess that I have enough connections to Leamington that I could probably do it.

Honestly, this is the first family story that I’m interested in learning about.  I like to know the dates and places, and imagine what my ancestors lives were like, but haven’t really given much thought to finding out the stories.

But now, I need to know.

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