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
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…”
It’s been one of those days when I’ve been busy, but unless you want to hear the details about cleaning bathrooms, I don’t have anything to post about.
However, Dad’s garden is continuing to produce bountifully, and for dinner tonight we had fried zucchini. And fry sauce. With watermelon for dessert.
So, I know there’s as many recipes for fried zucchini as there are people who fry zucchini, but I have to say, I’m pretty impressed with myself. I don’t really know how to fry food–I don’t know what temperature the oil should be at, I don’t know what the consistency of the batter should be like, and I don’t know the best methods for putting the food into and taking it out of the oil. This is probably a good thing.
Today’s fried zucchini is my very first attempt ever at deep fat frying something without someone looking over my shoulder. And I’m happy with how it turned out:
Okay, the picture’s not that great, but you get the idea.
To make this, I took one large (and I mean ginormous) zucchini, and cut it into wedges. The batter is 1 c plus a bit of flour, 1 c milk, 1 egg, 1/2 tsp of salt, and 1 c milk. I also put some Mrs. Dash in the batter, and used a wire whisk to mix it all up.
I heated the oil until dropping water in it made it spit and sputter, then I coated the zucchini in the batter. I found the easiest way to do that was to put the wedges in the batter and stir them around. I the fried them until they were golden and crispy.
I probably should have cut the zucchini a bit smaller, because some of the larger pieces weren’t done, but live and learn, right?
As for the fry sauce…if you don’t live in Mormon-dom (Utah, and parts of Idaho and Nevada) or have never visited a Mom-and-Pop fast food joint in that area, there’s a good chance you don’t know what you’re missing out on. Fry sauce is simply a mixture of one part ketchup and two parts mayonnaise, and is quite frankly, delicious with all things fried.
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.
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:
- 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.
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.