"The wife is like the fire, or to put things in their proper proportion, the fire is like the wife.
Like the fire, the woman is expected to cook: not to excel in cooking, but to cook,

.... be a cook, but not a competitive cook,

a school mistress, but not a competitive schoolmistress; a house-decorator but not a competitive house-decorator, etc...
She should have not one trade but twenty hobbies; she... may develop all her second bests.

Women were not kept at home in order to keep them narrow;
on the contrary, they were kept at home in order to keep them broad.

G.K. Chesterton, What's Wrong with the World?

March 26, 2014

Soaked Wheat Bread

My friend Jenny sent me a link a while back to The Elliott Homestead blog.
If you're heading toward the whole foods way of eating to any extent you should check out her site.  It's an inspiration. One step at a time though!

I found her soaked wheat bread recipe and I've been making two loaves twice a week for the past month or so. I used freshly milled flour, with a a ratio of two parts hard red wheat to one part hard white wheat. This is our favorite bread right now.

You can find the recipe here.

March 11, 2014

A Life Changing Loaf of Bread?

A naturopathic doctor I was seeing gave me a link to this recipe:

I'd been on an "elimination diet" to find out what food(s) were so negatively affecting my body. On this diet one temporarily avoids all grains (except quinoa, amaranth, millet, and a couple other ancient varieties), all dairy, nuts, refined sugars, corn, chocolate, soy, eggs, citrus fruits, alcohol, and food additives of any kind. After two or three weeks, one food at a time from the "avoid" list is systematically added, or rather, bombarded (as in, eat that food for breakfast, lunch, and dinner) back in to your diet and you record you body's reactions for a day or two afterward.

Anyway, when I finally could bring back nuts and gluten free oats, she gave me this recipe and told me I was going to love it.  She was right. I've been eating it every morning for breakfast for months.

Funny, a few people I've given a sample to have really liked it and valued it's healthiness. Others hae said something to the effect of "hmmm, tastes healthy." Oh well, some just aren't ready for this.  But when, like me, you hadn't had any sugar or bread or even nuts! for weeks, this tastes very good!

Now for the recipe! It's called...

The Life-Changing Loaf of Bread, from My New Roots.

And you know what? I think that name is just about right. Pop a couple slices into the toaster.
Spread on some raw honey or jam or pesto, and let the life changing (diet-wise) begin.

Oh, and those little red things you see in my loaves are dried goji berries.  Just throw anything in.

March 9, 2014

Maple Oat Sandwich Bread

I've made this bread a number of times now and it's become my kids' favorite for sandwiches.  It works great in a bread machine, which really simplifies life for a mom, especially if you've got other fish to fry that day. Or kids. Or granola. Or yogurt or sauerkraut to try your hand at making. Yeah, I keep putting too many on my plate these days to try out.  There just isn't enough time in a day to get at all the great new foods I've been reading that I can start making at home!
One step at a time, self!

Back to the bread.
I modified an old bread machine recipe so as to work with milled flour, and what I came up with seems to be steadily coming out nicely. So I aint messing with it.

Maple Oat Sandwich Bread

Place liquid ingredients into the bread machine:

1 1/4 C + 1 TBS warm water
1/3 cup maple syrup  (I have this in my Amazon Subscribe and Save list so I save about $5 on it) 
1 TBS olive oil (not extra virgin)

Then add the dry ingredients into the bread machine:

1 1/2 cups freshly milled hard white wheat flour
1 1/2 cups freshly milled hard red wheat flour
1 cup oats
2 1/2 teaspoons yeast (I used instant yeast, but I think active dry yeast would work as well)

I rarely bake my bread in the bread machine itself. I place my the setting to "dough" o that it does the kneading and rising cycles for you.  When the machine beeps (mine takes 2 hours to complete the dough cycle) I take the dough out and knead it slightly for maybe thirty seconds or so and get it into a nice loaf shape and place it into a greased bread pan (or a non-greased USA Pan ;) and let it sit (and rise) for twenty minutes or so while until the oven heats up and bake it at 350 degrees for about 40 minutes.

I call it a good sandwich bread because it doesn't crumble and fall apart when I cut it up.
The slices actually hold their shape. Yes!

February 22, 2014

Whole Wheat Bagels

This recipe is from the Bread Beckers Recipe Collection.

This recipe uses freshly milled hard white wheat berries. My children have always liked store bought bagels but I stopped buying them a while ago. When I broke these homemade ones out one morning as a surprise, my kids were all so thrilled to have bagels again that none of them noticed the change to "whole wheat." I'm glad they were a hit.  (The cream cheese helped I think. :)

Whole Wheat Bagels

2 1/4 cup warm water
2 Tbs honey
2 1/4 tsp salt
5 cups freshly milled wheat flour (hard white)
1 Tbs. gluten (optional)*
2 tsp instant yeast

Combine water, honey, and salt. Add half the flour, yeast, and gluten and mix well.
Add remaining flour and knead to form a slightly stiff dough (about 8-10 minutes). Let rise until double, covering to keep don't from drying out.

Divide the risen dough into twelve pieces and shape into balls and allow to rest. In a large pot bring one gallon of water to a boil then add 1/3 cup honey to it. Working with only six balls at a time, take each ball and poke your thumb through the middle forming a hole, twirling each new bagel on your thumb to enlarge the hole until the hole is about 1 1/2 inches in diameter. Let each bagel rest about five minutes, then place it in the boiling honey water. Cook two to three bagels at a time, adjusting the heat so the water is simmering all the time. While these cook, prepare your next six balls for the water. The bagels should sink, then rise in a few seconds; if they don't, they rested too long but are still fine. Just turn them over so that the both sides get wet. After one minute in the water remove with a slotted spoon and place on a greased cookie sheet.

Bake at once in a preheated oven at 425° for about 35 minutes. The bagels may be brushed with a mixture of 1 beaten egg and 2 tablespoons water then sprinkled with sesame seeds, poppy seeds, minced onions, or minced garlic before baking. The egg wash makes even ungarnished bagels shiny and pretty.

(* I didn't add the optional gluten into mine.)

February 18, 2014

Crock Pot Chicken and Saffron Rice

I got this recipe out of The New Slow Cooker: Comfort Classics Reinvented cookbook. I've hardly ever struck out with a Williams-Sonoma cookbook recipe, and I've made quite a few of their recipes over the past fourteen years or so.
I have about ten cookbooks of theirs and I go back to them over and over. I'm always looking for good crock pot recipes. Getting most of the dinner prep (and mess) done and cleaned up early in the afternoon, and at the same time filling the house with the savory smells of slow cooking meats, vegetables, and herbs, is something I'll take any day of the winter week.

photo from the cookbook, because my dished-up plates never look like this ;)


Large pinch of saffron threads

1/2 C plus 3 TBS dry white wine

1 whole chicken, about 3 1/2 lbs cut into 8 pieces
(or you can buy the pieces separately)

salt and freshly ground pepper

2 TBS olive oil

1 large yellow onion, finely chopped

3 bay leaves

5 cloves garlic, finely chopped

1 tsp dried oregano

4 C chicken stock, homemade or purchased

2 C long grain white rice

2 large jarred pimiento peppers, seeded and chopped

Soak saffron in the 3 tablespoons wine for 20 minutes. Oil the slow cooker insert. Pat the chicken dry and season generously all over with salt and pepper. In a large, heavy frying pan over medium-high heat, warm the oil. When oil is hot, working in batches to avoid crowding, add the chicken and sear, turning as needed, until golden brown, about 8 minutes total. Transfer the chicken to a plate.

Pour off most of the fat from the pan and return to medium-high heat. Add the onion and bay leaves and saute until the onion is golden, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for one minute more. Add the oregano, 1/2 teaspoon salt, several grinds of pepper, the saffron mixture, and the remaining1/2 cup wine and stir to dislodge any browned bits on the pan bottom. Add the contents of the pan and the stock to the slow cooker and then stir in the rice. Nestle the chicken in the rice, cover, and cook on the low setting for 3 hours.

Uncover and check to be sure a little liquid is still visible at the bottom of the cooker. If it appears dry, add 1 tablespoon water. Sprinkle the chopped pimiento evenly over the rice, then re-cover and cook for 15 minutes more.

Spoon the chicken and rice onto a large warm platter or individual plates and top with Warm Asparagus Salad (below), if using. Serve at once.

I just used a bunch of organic drumsticks instead of a whole chicken. Made it easy to serve for kids.

Warm Asparagus Salad

Trim the rough stems from 1 pound asparagus, peel the lower 2 inches with a vegetable peeler, then cut the spears into 1 1/2 inch lengths. Bring the saucepan three-fourths full of salted water to boil over high heat. Add the asparagus pieces, 1 1/2 tablespoons fresh flat leaf parsley leaves, and 2 tablespoons capers, rinsed.
Drizzle with 1/3 - 1/2 cup Lemon Vinaigrette (below) to coat lightly and toss well. Serve at once.

Lemon Vinaigrette

1 tsp Dijon mustard
1 TBS white wine vinegar
1 tsp finely grated lemon zest
2 TBS fresh lemon juice
salt and freshly ground pepper
1/4 C extra virgin olive oil

In a small bowl whisk together the mustard, vinegar, lemon zest and juice, 1/2 tsp salt, and a few grinds of pepper. Whisk in the oil until emulsified.

(I didn't have any pimientos so I didn't put those in the chicken and rice. They probably would've given the dish more flavor, but it tasted just fine without them. Also I didn't do the parsley or the capers with the asparagus, just poured the lemon vinaigrette over them when they were done.) 

Even if you don't make anything else on this page,
make the lemon vinaigrette and pour it over 
your next asparagus side dish! 
You won't be sorry!

January 22, 2014

Peasant Bread

This is my family's new favorite bread at dinner.

It is this recipe and once you make it, you'll want to make it again and again. It is light and feathery inside, and buttery crisp on the outside, and soooo easy to make.  No kneading necessary.  Just two rises and you bake them in small glass Pyrex bowls.

I made these loaves using half white (unbleached) flour and half whole wheat pastry flour, so mine didn't get as much loft as the ones on the recipe page, but they were still light and airy.

November 15, 2013

My Favorite Pie Crust Recipe

Since Thanksgiving is around the corner and I know everyone loves baking pies (Come on, you know you do! ;), I thought it fitting to share the crust recipe I've been using for years now.  I went through many recipes that I thought were the best until I found this one, and I've never looked back.  It rolls out like elastic every time. (Make sure you do the "chilling" step.  It make a big difference in the roll-out ease.)

It's from the The Farm Chicks in the Kitchen cookbook.  It makes four crusts, for two pies.
Everything I have made out of this cookbook has turned out really scrumptious.

"Grandma's Pie Dough"
4 cups all purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon sugar
1 3/4 c cold unsalted butter (3 1/2 sticks), cut into small pieces
1 tablespoon white vinegar
1 large egg
Combine the flour, salt, and sugar in a large bowl.  Cut in the butter using a pastry blender or your fingers until the mixture resembles coarse meal.  Whisk the vinegar, egg, and 1/2 cup of ice water together and mix into the flour mixture with your hands until just combined.  Transfer to a clean work surface, and gently press to form a dough.  Divide the dough into 4 equal parts.  Shape each into a ball, flatten slightly to form a disk, and wrap into plastic.  Chill for at least an hour.  Roll out as indicated in your recipe.

You could make the dough in a food processor, using the pulse feature, or in a Kitchen Aid stand mixer with the paddle attachment, or the good old fashioned method, with a pastry cutter, or two knives.  I've done all four methods.  They all work, just some are more work than others.

It's always nice to have "helpers" with the apples too -