Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving!

Here's to all my friends who are reading my blog.
Happy Thanksgiving!
I am grateful to have such good friends and family.

Friday, November 21, 2008


What do zucchini and pomegranate have in common? The recipe below........

Glenda's Christmas Bread 1st Time

I wanted to create a nice bread for Christmas time with the colors red and green. What food could I use to get the colors I wanted? I knew I wanted the shape of a tree. I was going to do cranberries, but didn't know if I could get the bread red enough and I didn’t want the seeds. I was watching the 'Martha' show and there they had the pomegranates. I love pomegranates; my Aunt Mary had trees in her front yard in California. When I was a little girl we would go and visit and pick and eat them to our heart desire, yes we stain our clothes, but ooooh they were so good! So, I knew the red I wanted, now for the green. I wanted it to look like pine needles, so I thought of zucchini. Why not, there is good zucchini bread out there, why couldn't I make my version of yeast bread. I knew I didn’t want raisins, think, think….
Ok, so now I have my colors, what other ingredients do I want? I went to the store for some ideas: I bought one pomegranate, one zucchini and a small package of dried cranberries, enough to make 1 cup. Came home and juiced the pomegranate and let it set over night. They are light in color when you first juice them and darker over night, something I didn’t know, it also separated into 2 shades of pink or red. Today I got my starter out and fed it, so that by noon it would be ready. Alright here goes. You really need 2 pomegranates to get 1 cup of juice. So, what I did was to add water to make the cup with ½ teaspoon of red food coloring, which I said I wouldn’t do, but did. Next time I will buy the Pom® brand of juice and then I won’t need to juice. The bread came out nicely and tasted super good!

The recipe :
Glenda’s Christmas Bread
Sprinkle these two ingredients in a large bowl and let proof for 5 minutes:
1 package of yeast
¼ cup warm water (105˚)
Slowly start adding the following ingredients and stir as you go:
1 ½ cups sourdough starter
1/3 cup sugar
½ cup butter, melted and cooled
3 eggs
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup Pom brand pomegranate juice

1 cup whole-wheat flour
Now start adding the flour:
5-6 cups bread flour
Keep stirring until it starts to form the dough and is smooth then add:
1 cup shredded zucchini
1 cup dried cranberries
Pour this out from bowl onto flour dusted counter top or table and knead for about 5 minutes, adding a little flour at a time until the dough is not sticky to the touch.
Grease a large bowl with a little oil and put the dough into this bowl. Cover and let rise about 1-1 /2 hours, free from drafts.
Take dough out of bowl onto lightly flour dusted counter top or table and start to form the dough into the shape you want, a tree*, a wreath or can put into 2 large greased loaf pans. Cover and let rise about 1 hour.
Bake in preheated oven, 350˚ for 45-50 minutes or until golden brown and surface springs back when touched with your fingers.
Makes 2 loaves.

*The instructions I use to shape the tree:
Take one-quarter of dough and form the trunk, about 1 inch thick and 10 inces long, tapering it broader at the base. Place on a 12 by 18 inch baking sheet with parchment paper. With the side of your hand, press a dent about 2 ½ inches up from the base to indicate beginning of branches.
Divide the remainder of the dough in quarters. Roll one-quarter of dough between your floured hands to make a 1-inch-thick roll about 15 inches long. (If you roll all the dough at once, it may break.) Starting at the top of the tree, twist figure “8’s” down one side of trunk. Roll out another quarter of the dough, as you need it, into a 1-inch-thick roll. Repeat, using the other half of dough to make figure “8’s” on the opposite side of tree. Cross the ends of the dough over the dent in the trunk.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Ciabatta Rolls

This is an Italian type roll made with sourdough (biga), it looked good in the Daniel Leader's book, so I had to bake it along with the pumpernickel yesterday. They turned out great, will make this again. I wanted a nice sandwich roll that I could easily take for lunches and this just might be it. Who knows, I might find another variety. So many bread recipes, so little time.......

Monday, November 17, 2008

Pumpernickel Bread

This recipe originally comes from ‘The Frugal Gourmet On Our Immigrant Ancestors’ by Jeff Smith, 1990 page 148. I enjoyed reading this book a few years ago and forgot about it until Boaz was asking for German Rye Bread. It is interesting to note that all the cookbooks I have, this was I felt the most authentic recipe. I remember making this for my husband because he wanted a dark rye and likes caraway seeds. Well I have change it just a bit, I added rye sourdough. Here is my version of the recipe.

Pumpernickel Bread

Sprinkle into a large bowl 1 package of yeast and add 1 ¼ cups warm water (about 105˚) and let proof for 5 minutes.
Add: 1 cup rye flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
¼ cup molasses (I used 2 tablespoons molasses and 2 tablespoons buckwheat honey)
2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
Mix in a mixer with a dough hook for about 5 minutes.

Then add into this 1 cup all-purpose bread flour and mix about 3 minutes.

(If mixing by hand, stir in 1 cup flour with a heavy spoon. Scrape the dough onto floured board. Knead, adding as little flour as possible, until the dough is smooth and elastic, about 5 minutes.)
Place the dough onto parchment paper and cover with a large glass bowl. (I have never done this step, but did it this time, interesting way to raise dough.) Let rise for about 1 hour or until double in bulk.

Put parchment paper on a baking sheet and sprinkle some cornmeal onto it, set aside.
After the dough has risen, take out of bowl onto a flour dusted counter top or board and knead the dough to into a shape of a 6 inch round. Place this onto the baking sheet and let rise about 30 minutes.

Bake in a preheated oven at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes. Use a water sprayer while baking. Simply spray a bit of water into the oven now and then as the bread is baking. (I put the round onto a preheated stone and baked about 40 minutes, it still needed a little more time. Also I put a cast iron skillet with ice cubes in the skillet and put it on the bottom rack of the oven for the steam.)
Notes: Next time I will bake just a little longer, maybe an extra 5-7 minutes. Some rye breads call for coffee to darken the bread. I like this recipe because it calls for cocoa, I don't care for coffee, so this works better for me. It does taste a little bitter than most breads, but has a good strong taste of rye. This bread would be great for Ruben sandwiches or a nice light soup that has cabbage in it.

Look what I saw?

As I opened up the shades this morning to the backyard, I saw two yellow iris growing. So I went outside to snap some pictures and decided to see what else was growing in November.

The rosemary is still doing good and some mint. I picked some of the mint and made some delicious tea.
Also my little rose bush with one loney little rose is still growing.
Anyone have a suggestion as how to cover up the rose bush for winter, it is in a big barrel?

Over the week-end I did some baking:

Coconut Cake with Strawberry Filling
I made the white cake from the King Arthur cookbook page 353. I didn't have enough egg whites so tried the Deb El - Just Whites®. It worked! The cake was light and fluffy. We all enjoy it. Sometimes it amazes me when there isn't enough of something and you try what you have on hand and it works. I also didn't have enough strawberries, so I mixed them with some of the frosting for the filling of the cake. It tasted great.
Isn't it fun to make something new?

Sally Lunn Sourdough

1 package yeast over:
¼ cup warm water (105˚)
Let set about 5 minutes to proof

Put in a large bowl and mix together:
¼ cup cooled, melted butter
1/3 cup sugar
3 eggs

Next put in the yeast mixture and add:
1 ½ cups sourdough starter

Start adding:
4 ½-5 cups flour and knead all of this together with:
1 teaspoon salt
This dough will be sticky, but knead for about 7-8 minutes adding a dusting of flour on the counter top as you knead.

Take this dough and put into a large greased bowl and let rise for 1 to 1 ½ hours, covered.
While this is rising go ahead and greased two loaf pans.
After the rise, take out of bowl and knead just a bit, then divide the dough in half.
Roll out and make two loaves, put into prepared loaf pans, let rise until to the top of the pan, covered and free from drafts for about one hour.
Preheat oven to 350˚. Bake for about 40-45 minutes, check to make sure the tops are not over browning. If so, then put a piece of foil on top to prevent burning and use the toothpick method to check and see if the bread is done. When done, take out of oven and cool on wire rack.
Makes: 2 loaves

Mostly what I tried new with this batch of bread was instead of rolling the dough out, I stretched it out and folded it into 3rds, then stretching it out again and folding, then took the loaves and put them into the pans. Usually I rolled out the dough and then roll it back again and put into the pans. I liked this method and will use it again. I saw this method on a web and I tried looking for it but can't remember what web page, sorry.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Making of Vanilla - Part 2

Here are the bottles that I use, I buy them from a health food store and then sterlized them, then add the finished vanilla. I use a small funnel with cheesecloth on it, and then pour the vanilla from the quart jar into about 8 small bottles. Label them and they are ready to go!

This is the front of the label.

This is the back of the label. I usually put on a 6 month expiration date, or can use the expiration date from the vegetable glycerine bottle.
That's it, hope you give it a try.

Making of Vanilla - Part 1

I start by buying the best beans I can afford. I have found an internet site, that I buy them from. I've tried a couple sites and like this one the best. (spice fever is the person from ebay)

I then cut up the about 12-18 beans and put into a pot with 1 cup distilled water. I heat until boiling and then them boil for about 1 minutes to get the seeds out and the color started.

I put this into a sterilzed 1 quart jar, with the lid. Shake it everyday, a couple of times a day.

To this I add 16 ounce container of Vegetable Glycerine. I let this set for 2-4 weeks, depending on the color and fragrance I want.

This is the back of the Vegetable Glycerine bottle so that you can see it is a food grade product.

To be continued........

Thursday, November 13, 2008

New Recipes

Tried out 2 new recipes last evening for dinner and we liked them! Sometimes we get in the same old rut and fix the same meals over and over again, maybe because as we go down the isles of the grocery store, we know where our favorite food items are, so we buy them.
I was watching Rachael Ray because they had on Michael J. Fox and I wanted to see how he's doing. As Rachael was saying good-bye to Michael and Ryan Reynolds she mentioned she would be cooking a Thanksgiving dinner rolled into one, so I was interested in how this could be done.
Well, it's called: ‘Turkey and Stuffing Meatloaf’ with mashed potatoes and ‘Cider Gravy’. Doesn't that sound different? It looked easy enough and sounded great, so I copied off the recipes got the ingredients I didn't have and made it. Wow, it was pretty good! I asked the kids if I should make it again and we all agree that we could. My son and I said, we liked meatloaf the way I made it but this would do every now and then. My daughter liked this better as she doesn't care for meatloaf at all.
I really liked the gravy, it was different and I am not a gravy fan.
S00ooo, if you want something a little different before big turkey day, you might want to give this a try. It gave me an idea of what to do with the leftovers, changing the recipe just a bit.
Web page: www.rachaelrayshow.com/food/recipes/turkey-and-stuffing-meatloaf

Sorry, I didn't take pictures.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Day Dreaming of.....

Days of Yesteryear?

Always wondered if I would say that. I can remember as a child and thinking that my grandparents were wonderful and of course older than I. They would talk of their growing up days and the younger years. Some stories I loved listening to and others, I wish I would have paid more attention to.
Holidays were always fun and exciting to think about just before Thanksgiving. We used to have the week before Christmas off and get to dream of what we wanted and to be able to make or buy some little thing for our family members. Today we just buy, buy, buy and not really think about why we are buying. The children say, I want this or that and usually somehow they get it. My dad and mom usually would make something for us and then buy a toy to go along with what they made. We accepted it and if we got what we dreamed of that was a bonus! We usually had a tradition of where we went to a relatives home the Sunday before Christmas and have a big feast and give and received gifts, (we always had to wait and open them on Christmas). The feast and visiting were always great fun! Our families are so scattered that we don’t do that anymore. I usually have Thanksgiving and Christmas here with the seven of us. I didn’t realize that this has become a family tradition, so to me to switch things around has been interesting. I like change in most things, so I was excited to see if I could get it done. Looks as if not this time, back to the same old thing. We’ll see what happens come Christmas. I suppose when you live in a house a long time, things just do fall apart and sometimes don’t get fixed. I can remember thinking when I visited other houses and it needed work, I thought to myself, how can they live like that? No knowing maybe they just couldn’t fix it for whatever reason. And not helping them fix it up, how selfish of me. Now I look at where we live and I am sure people think the same of me. No wonder I don’t have many visitors anyone! If I had the money and get-up-and-go like I use to, I would love to fix up my house! I know in my head what I want done, just the body won’t get going like it use too.
After all my years, I have finally decided what I do best at, and that is to bake. Breads and cookies and other goodies. No so good at pretty pies, I can bake good pies, just not decorative type. So I would love to have a huge kitchen just to bake. I know I couldn’t bake big batches; otherwise I would be in a bakery. But just to bake for family and neighbors is fun.
I have enjoyed looking at all kinds of blog sites on breads and other different foods. It is so cool that many people have written their recipes and pictures. You all are doing such great work!
Guess I will get off my soap box now and get busy…..thanks for letting me talk it out.
I do hope all of you will have a great holiday season!

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Polish Cottage Rye Bread

Today I made some rye bread, again from the book, "Local Breads" by Daniel Leader page 327.
I enjoy reading his little stories of how he came by the recipes.
Luckily I had two rye starters going, as the one I had for this recipe didn't rise, but I put it in anyway and added some of my other rye starter. The only major difference is that I used one teaspoonful of vital gluten, as this recipe calls for unbleached bread flour that is high in gluten. I didn't have that so I just used my regular flour and added the gluten. I wanted to make sure this dough did rise, so I added 1 package of dry yeast, no extra water.
The recipe said the dough would be sticky, as you can see in the first picture, it was. The fermention of the dough turned out great, in second picture. It is rising in a colander, I don't have a banneton. (Maybe as a Christmas gift, from one of my children??? HINT) But I was surprised because I thought it turned out great, as you can see from the picture where the bread is in the oven.
I baked the bread for 40 minutes and did the thumping because a toothpick wouldn't go through. It sounded done, but I think Daniel is correct on adding 5 more minutes in the oven, as the bread wasn't quite done as I would have liked. I think you can notice that from the last picture. But the finished bread was beautiful and tasted great! (Croc, you're right, it does taste like the rye crackers) I enjoyed it with butter and my daughter with some honey.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Our Trees

Here is what I see everyday, looking outside my kitchen window. I love these trees and enjoy watching each season. I especially love when spring starts to bloom. Their are many different shades of green. Now of course, they are yellow, orange and brown and are losing their leaves fast as we have had 3 days of good winds. The lawns in the neighborhood are filling up fast with them. The children are having fun raking them up and hiding and playing in the leaves.

I call myself the neighbor grandma, as I enjoy watching how the children play and make sure they are safe. I am the type of grandma who does the baking of cookies, cupcakes, breads. The children know when I am baking and make sure they are close by. One of my neighbors also is a grandma, so we visit and love to watch the little ones. She has a grandson who is a little over two and he is so cute. We also take care of all the neighbor dogs when they are out and luckily for us they are all friendly. It really is a nice neighborhood. I am glad that some of my grandchildren live close enough to visit anytime.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Sourdough Cinnamon Rolls

My daughter and I made these rolls. I made up extra sourdough in the morning to make these and got busy making the Autumn Time Bread, I forgot I needed to get these going. I made up the dough and had to go to a meeting and so my daughter finished up for me. She made the rolls bigger than I would have, but they were great!

I got the recipe from northwestsourgh.com, thanks Robin L. of CA, we really enjoyed them. I really like the carmel at the bottom, so I turned over the pan to show the gooey side. Yum!

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Pumpkin Yeast Bread

Because I added pumpkin to the Autumn Time Bread, it made too much for the rope and so I took some off and made a big roll.
Baked it in a 6" round cake pan and 20 minutes later......delicious pumpkin bread!!!

BBD#14 Autumn Time Bread

Here is bread that I made today. There is a blog for bread baking day (http://grainpower.wordpress.com/2008/10/24/bread-baking-day-14-colored-breads/) and this bread is what I am entering.
I have been thinking on this for about a week and knew I wanted to do something with pumpkin.
After Halloween I cooked up the leftover jack-o-lanterns and put it in the refrigerator. I knew I didn't want just plain pumpkin, so I thought of a braid. (Thanks, Birrd for the pumpkin.)
I looked at some of my recipes and found an old recipe from high school days, called 'Swiss Braid Bread'.
I took from that recipe and added to it.

Isn't it beautiful!!! You eat a slice and taste pumpkin, like pumpkin pie, then chocolate, like nice warm hot cocoa, then a great slice of bread. It really tasted good.
Autumn Time Bread
1) Sprinkle yeast in water and add sugar, let proof 5 minutes.
1 package dry yeast
1 1/4 cup warm water (95-105˚)
½ teaspoon sugar

2) In a shaker type container mix up:
1 ¼ cup warm water and ¼ cup powered milk,
or can just use 1 ¼ cup milk that has been scalded and cooled to lukewarm

3) In a large bowl add:
½ cup sourdough starter, yeast mixture and the milk.

4) Next add:
1 egg
4 tablespoons butter, melted and cooled
½ cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
4-4 1/2 cups flour
Knead all this together and put in a large greased bowl and let rise. You will need to add extra flour as you knead, so that the dough is not too sticky. Put into greased bowl and cover. Let rise about 1 hour, to double in size.

5) After this first rising, take out of bowl and divide into 3 equal pieces to start making the ropes.

6) To the first rope add 2 tablespoons *corn flour
(not corn meal, see note* 1)

7) To the second rope add ¼ cup cocoa and ¼ cup mini chocolate chips.

8) To the third or last rope add ½ cup pureed pumpkin (can use canned pumpkin); again here you will be adding extra flour, as you go along, until the dough isn’t so sticky. (see note*2 )

9) Put each rope into 3 separate greased bowls and let rest for about 10 minutes, to absorb their flavors.

10) Preheat oven to 350˚.

11) Now take each rope and roll into a 12” length rope and braid the 3 ropes together.

12) Put the braid onto a greased cookie sheet that has been lightly sprinkled with corn meal.

13) Take an egg yolk with about 1 teaspoon of water and make an egg wash. Brush this onto the braid and then sprinkle about ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon on top of the braid.
Also sprinkle about 1 tablespoon of brown sugar on top of the braid.

14) Bake for 35-40 minutes, although I had to bake for 45 minutes.

*Note 1: corn flour is at health food store, but you can for the 2 tablespoons ground up corn meal a little finer and use it. I wouldn’t go and buy corn flour just for 2 tablespoons. I do use it in other baking, so I have it on hand.

*Note 2: when adding the pumpkin to the 3rd rope, you will have more dough here and the rope would be too long. With this extra dough, I make a big roll, put into a pie pan and bake it for about 20 minutes.

Monday, November 3, 2008

A Treat

This morning I baked up a batch of delicious pumpkin waffles! I found this recipe online and thank you for whoever it was I got it from. I am catching myself reading a lot of blogs, so I don't remember who had this recipe. I realize this is somewhat like my other waffle picture, but it really is different.

Pumpkin Oatmeal Waffles w/ Sourdough

Mix these ingredients together:
½ cup whole-wheat flour
½ cup oats, old-fashioned
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg, freshly ground
½ teaspoon soda
½ teaspoon salt (opt)
1 tablespoon dark brown sugar

Add in and mix well:
½ cup sourdough, freshly fed
1 cup pumpkin, puree
1 egg
1 tablespoon corn oil or melted butter
¼ - 1/3 cup milk, as needed
¼ cup chopped pecans, (opt)
Make sure all ingredients are well moistened, will be lumpy.
Bake on preheated waffle iron as per manufacturer’s suggestion.
Serve with your favorite syrup.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Day After Halloween

I am at the stage of my life where I enjoy watching who comes to my door to trick-or- treat. I think the little ones are my favorite. It’s fun to see what innocent costumes the parents or kids come up with, for children under the age of 3. Our little next door neighbor was dressed as a fisherman, how cute is that?
As I was driving home from taking my daughter to college, a pre-school of children were walking down a sidewalk all in their costumes. They all were so cute, one little girl brushing her hair back, seeming to say today I am a ‘princess’.

Here are our pictures of grandchildren and some neighbor children, my youngest daughter with her friend off to a party and my son, off to work at the theater, as Matlock. My son said he even put a half eaten hot dog on the briefcase. Most years they all (those who are still young enough to treat-or-treat) walk together around the neighborhood. We have been doing this for the last 12 years together, taking turns on who stays home and pass out all that candy. The costumes are usually ones made from what's at the house or borrowing each others from the last years and added to it.