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Saturday, March 27, 2010

Bread day - plus a bonus

Today was a lovely spring day - which somehow put me in the mood to make bread.  I had intentions of making bread regularly during the winter, when it's actually nice to use my oven more, but somehow the weekends kept getting away from me and it never happened.  So today I got out the whole wheat flour and made a couple of loaves.  I really liked the flavor of the this bread, and it cuts like a dream without falling apart.  I can't wait to have a piece of whole wheat toast before work on  Monday (if I can keep the second loaf from disappearing tomorrow!)  This recipe came from my friend Lisa's son-in-law, John.  He does a lot of baking and came up with this as his "ideal" whole wheat bread recipe.  We like it!

John's Whole Wheat Bread
2 1/4 cup hot water
2 teaspoons sugar
2 Tablespoons yeast
5 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
2 teaspoons salt
1/4 cup honey
2 Tablespoons lemon juice
1/4 cup canola oil

  • Combine 1/2 cup hot water and 2 teaspoons sugar.  Mix until the sugar is dissolved.  Add yeast and stir until wet.  Let stand for 10 minutes in a dark place.
  • Add 2 cups of flour and 1 1/2 cups warm water to the yeast mixture.  Stir vigorously for several minutes.  Cover and let stand in a warm place for 2 hours or more.
  • Add the salt, honey, lemon juice, oil and remaining 1/4 cup water.  Stir in 2 more cups of flour before deciding how much more flour to add Add just enough flour to make the dough firm but somewhat sticky (It won't stick to your hands when tossing dough from hand to hand, but it will if it's in one hand too long).
  • Knead the dough at least 10 minutes, until smooth.
  • Let rise in greased bowl until doubled. Cover with a damp towel to prevent the dough from drying out.
  • Punch the dough down to remove air bubbles.
  • Divide dough in half and place in two greased bread pans.  Let rise until double.
  • Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes, or until done.  Remove from pans and place on cooling rack.
While I was cleaning up the kitchen and waiting for my loaves to rise, I noticed that I had a couple of sorry looking bananas that needed to be made into banana bread.  But once I mushed them up to put into the banana bread batter there really wasn't enough.  Fearing that too little banana would result in dry bread I scoured the pantry for something else to add, and settled on a can of crushed pineapple.  I added some drained pineapple to the banana in the bread - and the results were great.  I would do this again ON PURPOSE.  

Finally, I realized that Easter is only a week away and I didn't have my Easter dish towel made so I sewed up the cute little guy you see in the picture by the banana/pineapple bread mini-loaf.  Forgive the "hoop" marks on there, I took the picture as soon as I got the bunny's face embroidered on.  Have a fantastic Easter!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

I found my thrill...

Delicious blueberry pie! Since blueberries came in the produce co-op and my dad recently gave me a bunch of cream cheese (he's the king of finding great deals on stuff) it was necessary for me to make this pie.  Miss "Anti-blueberries" in my family actually ate a piece (although she left the blueberries on her plate).  I thought this pie was scrumptious and it was GONE fast, everybody loved eating it while watching the Academy Awards.  Here's the recipe:

Blueberry-Sour Cream Pie

1 deep dish baked pie crust - either pastry or graham cracker

Fruit layer:
One bag frozen blueberries or 1 pound fresh blueberries, set aside some fresh berries
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/3 cup sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
Cream layer:
8-ounce cream cheese, softened
1/3 cup powdered sugar
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
1/2 cup sour cream
1/4 teaspoon vanilla

1.  Mix together the blueberries and lemon juice in a medium pan.  Cover and cook over medium low heat until the blueberries are simmering in their own liquid.  Stir in the granulated sugar and cornstarch and bring to a boil.  Reduce the heat and cook, stirring constantly, for about a minute.  It should be quite thick.  Stir in the vanilla and let the mixture cool for at least 20 minutes before spooning into the pie crust.  If you have more fresh berries, sprinkle a few on top.
2.  Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
3. Beat the cream cheese, sugars and lemon zest with an electric mixer until the mixture is smooth.  Add the sour cream and vanilla and blend until smooth.  Spoon over the chilled blueberry layer and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

In a pickle

I belong to a produce co-op, which is a lot of fun and gets more fruits and veggies into our house.  I never know what we'll be getting.  Most of the fruit in the Fruits of the Forest pie came from the food co-op, so you can see that we get some nice variety.  Last week my basket included a bunch of cucumbers.  My family is not a big cuke eating crowd so I decided to try my hand at making some pickles for the first time.  I had to go out and buy some jars, and figured I'd get 2 or  3 jars of pickles out of this pile of cucumbers. I chose a recipe for sliced sandwich pickles that could be done within an hour...that's what fits into my schedule.  Well, somehow once they are sliced the cukes sort of shrunk or something - and they all fit into ONE pint jar!  I went ahead and made the liquid and poured it in the jar and processed that lonely jar.  My first pickles! I don't know what they'll taste like but they look kind of nice, and were easy to make.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Fruits of the interesting forest....

On Sunday I thought some of my "adult" children would stop by, so definitely had pie plans.  Unfortunately they changed their plans.  I went forward with the pie anyway.  I found this recipe called "Fruits of the Forest" pie and already had almost all the ingredients on hand.  It's an interesting variety of fruit and I can't imagine where the forest would be that contains all these fruits, but I'd love to visit!  My 16 year-old daughter said she didn't like it after taking a bit of her brother's pie, but she was already  prejudiced because it looked purple (because of the blueberries) and she said she hates purple food.  Everybody else LOVED it.  My dear husband ate about half the pie over the course of two days.  I will definitely make this one again. (It was especially great served warm with vanilla ice cream).

Fruits of the Forest Pie

1 double-crust recipe of pie pastry (for deep dish pie pan)
2 peaches or one small can of sliced peaches, sliced more thinly
1 pear, peeled and sliced
1 apple, peeled and sliced
1 cup fresh blueberries
1 cup sliced fresh strawberries
1 cup pineapple, fresh or canned chunks (I used fresh! Yummy!)
1/2 cup plus 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 fresh squeezed lemon
3 Tablespoons cornstarch

  • Prepare the pastry and line a deep dish pan with pastry.
  • In a large bowl combine the fruit with 1/2 cup sugar and the lemon juice and spices.  Set aside for about 10 minutes while you preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  Mix the remaining 3 tablespoons fo sugar and the cornstarch together in a small bowl, then stir into the mixture of fruit.
  • Pour the fruit into the pastry-lined pie pan and top with pastry.  Flute the edges and cut vents into the top pastry.  I like to brush the top with ice water (left over from making the pastry) then sprinkle with sugar.
  • Bake pie for 30 minutes.  Then turn the temperature down to 375 degrees and bake for 30-35 minutes more.
  • Let cool a little before serving, or serve at room temperature.