Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Bread Homestyle

D made the best bread last week. Better than the bread I had been attempting several months ago before I was derailed by a broken oven, school, and moving. That said I am one lucky lady. We were both sick or at least I was at that point. It was a sickness that robbed us of our sense of smell and taste. But the fresh baked bread really hit the spot. This recipe is from D’s mom.

Bread Recipe

2 tbl yeast (two packets)
Pinch sugar
1 c warm water
1 c warm milk
1/2 c honey
3 tbs butter
2 1/2 c whole wheat flour
1 egg (slightly beaten)
1 tbs salt
3 1/2 to 4 c white flour

Combine 2 tbls yeast, the warm water and a pinch of sugar. Mix and let sit for about five minutes. Yeast should start to foam and bubble.

Warm the milk in a microwave or on the stovetop. Add the butter and honey and stir until the butter melts and the honey begins to dissolve. When your yeast mixture is ready, add it to the milk along with the whole wheat flour and the egg and mix with a wooden spoon. Now add the salt and some white flour and continue mixing. Add white flour one cup at a time. Continue to add flour until dough is sticky but able to be kneaded. Knead for ten to fifteen minutes by hand. A mixer, such as a kitchen aid can be used, but watch closely to ensure that you do not over knead the bread (hard to do by hand). More flour can be added during the kneading process if it becomes too sticky. Be sure to keep the dough slightly sticky. (It will rise better).

Butter a bowl and put dough inside. Flip the dough around in the bowl so the outside is lightly coated with butter. Place dry towel over the top to prevent drafts. Allow to rise for around 1 hour or until doubled in bulk. Punch down the dough and split into 2 large or 3 or 4 smaller loaves. Knead each loaf for a little while and place it in its pan. Cover with towel and allow to rise for around 45 minutes or until doubled in bulk.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Bake for 40 minutes or until golden brown. Tap the bottom of the loaves to see if they sound hollow to make sure they are done.

Notes: D used Hodgson Mill Active Dry Yeast. which has worked really well for me in the past. For some reason, I have found that it is also the cheapest yeast.

Worms, Part I

After discovering that the local municipality was out of compost bins, I decided to use worms to compost my garbage after getting this advice from J:

The advantage is that you can keep them inside (you would have to b/c they would die in the winter), they are relatively hassle free, they can compost anything (I had one friend that would feed them meat scraps) and you can make the best compost in the world with them. Plus they are fun pets!

The fun pets really got me, and although I probably won't feed them meat, I am excited to feed them other cooked food. After looking into various options, I chose to use this set-up. I bought two grey plastic bins. V is letting me stop by his work to use the power drill.

I ordered, and D wrote the check for, a pound of worms from Down to Earth Worm Farm. The woman who helped me on the phone was very friendly and excited I was not from the area. They are supposed to arrive next week.

I really wanted these lily-scented worms, but they are hard to come by and I suspect mythical.

I have started collecting garbage and newspaper for the worms. D ordered a book so we don’t kill them, at least initially. I set up a plan to get kitchen scraps from E and S every three to four days since I am not sure I will generate enough food scraps to sustain them.

IC expressed concern that I may hear them slithering around, but hopefully they will be quiet and realitively scentless like all the blog postings say. To be continued…

Cabbage Soup

I got this recipe from IC whom I work with. I was sick and needed something to cure my stuffy nose. This soup is very flavorful and was done largely on intuition. It can be adjusted to your individual palate or style of cooking. It is also a great fall farmer’s market recipe…Enjoy!

Cabbage Soup

1 med onion
1-2 tbls butter
1/2 head of cabbage
2 tsp. salt
1 tbls of dry thyme
Fresh dill (to taste, a little less than 1/4 c appx)
Diced tomatoes, 28 ounce can or fresh (see directions below**)
1 to 2 med carrots, sliced (IC’s addition. Adds a sweetness, but is optional)
Pepper, to taste (my addition)
Topping: Sour Crème, Cream Fraiche or Cottage Cheese

Chop onion and place in gallon-sized dutch oven with butter on medium/medium-high heat. Stir onions occasionally so they do not burn. Cook until transparent.

Add water until pot is half full. Add thyme. While waiting for the water to boil, cut the cabbage into thin strips and massage with salt. When water boils, add cabbage and carrots. Simmer until cabbage is soft, about 10 minutes. Add tomatoes. Continue simmering another 5 minutes or so. Add dill and simmer five additional minutes. Add pepper to taste and salt if you feel you need more. Serve hot.

**You may use fresh tomatoes, two or three. You may want to seed and peel them first. Mollie K recommends boiling them for 10 seconds, then peeling them and squeezing out the juice and seeds. Chop and add to soup. You may need to cook the soup a bit longer if you use this method.

Thoughts and Feelings: I had to use dry dill because for some reason my local Whole Foods does not carry dill and my dill plant is very tiny and delicate. I look forward to making it with fresh dill.
I also added cottage cheese to the soup, which IC does not endorse. I had it without too and it was delicious. Ricotta might be a little less adventurous if you want to add a simple dairy product to it. IC usually adds sour cream but thought creme fraiche sounded good, too.
I also would like to try it without carrots.