Saturday, October 4, 2008

The First Loaf

For all those who love making bread and all those who wish they could make bread. For all those who always turn out a beautiful loaf and for all those who can’t ever seem to get a loaf to turn out, this recipe is for you.

We live in the high altitude of Colorado and it’s very hard to bake a loaf of bread that doesn’t turn out hard or with a crunchy crust.

I tried this recipe called The First loaf by Bernard Clayton’s book: Bernard Clayton’s New Complete Book of Bread’s.

This is a simple white bread recipe that turns out perfect every time.
My kids and husband love it for sandwiches and toast. I like to take a whole loaf and make the most beautiful and delicious French toast you have ever laid eyes on.

I will never buy another loaf of bread again, and since this recipe freezes well I always have a loaf in my freezer.

Have fun and I hope you enjoy it as much as we do!

(Note: I don’t know if its because we are in Colorado and things cook and loose moisture faster or if it’s the recipe but my bread never has to cook the full cook time It usually takes my bread half the cook time.)

(Note: Below I have included his instruction to make by hand or with mixer, his cookbook also offers instructions to make using a food processor.)

The First Loaf

5 to 6 cups all purpose flour, approximately
3 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons salt
1 package dry yeast
¼ cup nonfat dry milk
2 cups hot water (120-130 degrees)
3 tablespoons shortening at room temperature

Baking Pans:
2 medium (8” x 4’) or 3 small (7” x 3”) loaf pans, greased or Teflon

By Hand or Mixer 15min:
In a large mixing bowl measure 2 cups flour, sugar, salt, yeast, and dry milk. Pour the hot water into the dry ingredients and beat by hand or with mixer flat beater to blend thoroughly. Add the shortening; continue beating. Add 1 cup flour and with a wooden spoon beat 100 vigorous stokes, or for 3 minutes at medium speed in mixer.
If by hand, continue adding flour, ¼ cup at a time, and stirring with a wooden spoon until it becomes a shaggy mass. Work more flour into the dough with your hands if it is sticky.
If by mixer, attach the dough hook and add flour, ¼ cup at a time, until dough forms a soft, elastic ball around the revolving hook.

Kneading 10 min:
If by hand, turn the dough out onto a floured work surface and begin to knead with a strong push-turn-fold motion. Occasionally bring the dough down hard against the work surface with a sharp whack! Do this several times during the process. If the dough continues to be sticky, add light sprinkles of flour.
If using the dough hook, continue to knead for 10 minutes. If the ball of dough sticks to the sides of the bowl, add sprinkles of flour. Should the dough try to climb over the protective collar at the top of the hook as it turns, hold it back with the edge of a rubber spatula.
When properly kneaded the dough will be soft and elastic. It can be pulled into a thin sheet when stretched between the hands.
A caution: too much flour will make a hard ball that will behave poorly. Work 1 or 2 teaspoons water into the dough. By the same token, if the dough is wet and slack and difficult to handle, add 1 or 2 tablespoons flour.

First Rising 1 hour:
Place the dough in a lightly greased bowl, cover tightly with plastic wrap to reatain the moisture, and leave at room temperature until the dough has doubled in bulk, about 1 hour.

Shaping 10 min:
Turn back the plastic wrap and punch down the dough. Turn it onto the floured work surface and knead for a moment or so to force out any bubbles. Divide the dough into 2 or 3 pieces with a sharp knife.
Shape each piece into a ball and let it rest on the work surface for 2 or 3 minutes. Form a loaf by pressing the ball of dough into a flat oval roughly the length of the backing pan. Fold the oval in half, pinch the seam tightly to seal, tuck under the ends, and place seam down in the pan.

Second Rising 45 min:
Cover the pans with was or parchment paper and leave until the dough has doubled in volume, about 45 minutes at room tepaerature.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees about 20 minutes before baking.

Baking 400 10 min. 350 25-30 min:
Place the loaves in the hot oven for 10 minutes, then lower the heat to 350 degrees for an additional 25 to 30 minutes. Midway through baking and again at the end turn the pans end for end so the loaves are uniformly exposed to the heat.
If using a convection oven, reduce heat 50 degrees)
When the loaves are a golden brown and sound hollow when thumped on the bottom crust, they are done.

Final Step:
Turn out onto wire racks to cool. If you want a soft, tender crust, brish the hot loaves with melted butter or margarine.
This bread may be frozen for a later presentation – up to 6 months at 0 degrees. Toasts beautifully.

Finally, if this is your first loaf, stand back and admire your creation!

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Quick, healthy, and nutritious Meals

I learned a new one pot cooking method the other day; it is very easy and very yummy!
It’s from a cookbook called Glorious One Pot Meals. Here is the creator Elizabeth Yarnell’s website

It’s a simple way of cooking nutritious, delicious meals for me and my family, using just one pot and it requires very little prep work or forethought you just stick what you have in a pot, put it in the oven and 45 minutes later a complete dinner of meats, vegetables, and grains is ready to eat!
You will need:
1) An enamel coated cast iron pan that has a lip on the inside lid that’s also been sprayed with cooking oil (you can pick these up very inexpensive now at Walmart instead of spending hundreds for a Le Crueset)

2) Frozen or fresh meat in individual serving sizes enough for your family size, She suggested freezing meat in individual serving sizes usually ¼ to ½ pound per person putting them in a small zip loc back and putting those in a labeled large freezer zip lock bag so you can take just what you need to use that night out.

3) Frozen or fresh vegetables cut up or whole skin on or off doesn’t matter it’s your preference and she says there is more nutrients in the skin so she leaves hers on

4) A grain or Carbohydrate of some sort, she used Quinoa, Sweet potatoes, potatoes, canned beans, really the possibilities are limitless (with the exception she said of brown rice and dry beans because they don’t seam to get done all the way) and enough liquid according to package to cook the grain if using.
5) Any flavorings you wish such as any kind of salad dressing as long as its not a creamy dressing, any kind of vinegar based dressing, tomato sauce, juice from lemons and oranges once again the flavoring options are endless its all your families preference

To Cook
Just throw in the carbohydrates, flavorings, meats, and vegetables in the enamel coated cast iron pan and throw it in the oven at 450 degrees for 45 minutes or she says you will know its done when the fragrance of the dish finds you wherever you are in your home it will be done 3 minutes later. When you pull it out you have a delicious complete meal that is cooked to perfection and tastes even better!

I think this is a great way to feed my family healthy nutritious meals that require little prep or thinking ahead and little time. She describes her method in full in her cookbook and also has recipes in her cookbook for macaroni and cheese, eggplant parmesan, etc. using this one pot cooking method. Hope your family enjoys as much as 7 year old had three helpings of this and my 3 year old finally ate her vegies all gone!!!!!

My Small Kitchen

My Small Kitchen,

We have a very tiny eat in kitchen with our family of four. I don’t know about any of you with small kitchens but for me its been a struggle to keep my kitchen looking clutter free and keep the food and appliances organized. I have found a few things that have helped with the kitchen organization but still it takes a lot of work to keep up on a small eat in kitchen!
In order to find a place for everything and have everything in its place we had to get creative and maximize all kitchen space available. That little gap between the cupboards and the ceiling holds our boxed cereal, oatmeal, pitchers, large mixing bowls, etc.
I use one shelf in hour linen closet to store dried and canned goods.
I try to keep my counter space clear from any gadgets, this is hard to do in a small kitchen so I keep my stock of kitchen gadgets to a minimum and I store them in the bottom of a cupboard we purchased to serve in our kitchen as a pantry for food.
Another thing that has worked so well for me through the years is my cute little yellow crock that sits next to my oven and houses all of our cooking utensils. It works so great, doesn’t take up precious drawer space and while I’m cooking I never have to go digging for a spatula in a drawer, I always know right where to find them.
The biggest problem I have with my small kitchen is it gets cluttered fast and requires consistency by putting things back in their places. I haven’t figured out how to do this yet with three other people in our house so I go through it every couple months and spend a good portion of the day reorganizing and de-cluttering.