Unofficial Slow Cooker Summer Challenge

For the last couple of weeks in the Boston area, it’s been a little hot and a little humid.  It hasn’t been bad enough to be considered a heat wave.  When I take my late evening walks, it’s actually quite comfortable.

But when it’s that time of day to cook a meal, the stove is the last thing I want to use.  This makes me a little sad as making soups and baking things in the oven tends to be my default cooking style.

(Grilling is not something I’ve done on my own.  However, I’m determined to change that this year.  I’ve dug out an old charcoal grill left by a previous housemate that I will finally clean out and use.)

So, I’ve been playing with my slow cooker some more and I’m going to try using it as my main cooking method this summer.  I might as well.  I’ll be working from home for the rest of the summer (and likely for the rest of the year).

Here’s what I’ve done so far:

I’ve done a sweet Italian sausage/tomato sauce/bell pepper recipe.  Most of this batch went to some friends, but I kept what I couldn’t fit in the container.  It was pretty good, and something I’d like to re-visit with some changes.  While I like Italian sausages, I am health conscious, and try not to eat a lot of sausages in general.  (Having said that, I do several pre-cooked sausages in my freezer right now because I can’t afford to be picky shopping during a pandemic.)  I think the next version will be to make my own meatballs and cook in the same sauce.

Quick breads actually do pretty well in a slow cooker.  The cornbread in the photo was a slow cooker recipe.  And this weekend, I made my favorite sourdough discard banana bread in the machine – it was delicious.

If you’d like to make my sourdough discard banana bread, take a 6 quart slow cooker and line it with parchment.  Drop the whole batter in.  Cook on high for 2 hours, with a tea towel lining the lid.  The towel makes a huge difference for making baked goods in a slow cooker.  It keeps any condensation from falling onto your product.

I’ve actually been slowly working on a rotisserie-style chicken in a slow cooker for the past year.  I think I’m finally getting the hang out it.

I have a lot chicken bones in the freezer waiting to be turned into stock.  I think I’ll try my sourdough recipe in the slow cooker (yes, the texture will be altered COMPLETELY but if it still yields a tasty bread, I won’t complain).  I’ll have to figure out a good vegetable side dish to make because I don’t always want a salad even though it’s the summer.  I will NOT be braising any cabbage though.  It’s fine in the colder weather but the one time I made braised cabbage in the summer, several flies found their way into my apartment.  I think that’s the one downside of slow cooking in the summer.  Flies will find their way to you depending on what you’re cooking.  The last two times I made chicken, a fly found its way into the house (although, one fly is still better than the several from the cabbage round).

I’ll also take this opportunity to revisit cookbooks I have (Martha Stewart’s Slow Cooker and The Easy Asian Cookbook for Slow Cookers), but I’ll probably draw most of my inspiration from whatever I have available.

I guess we’ll see how it goes.

In case you missed it, my favorite banana bread recipe can be found here:

https://awesomesauceeats.wordpress.com/2020/05/13/how-to-stop-wasting-flour/

Almost No-Knead Sourdough, a Kitchen Conclusion

I haven’t done a “Kitchen Conclusion” post in a long time (oops) but I have a lot of thoughts right now, so I figured I’d share publicly so that others can feel better informed before attempting this recipe from a very well know food publication.

First of all, I don’t consider myself an expert bread baker.  Or an advanced bread baker.  Or an intermediate bread baker but I think everyone I know in real life would argue against that, so I’ll compromise and say that I’m a “beginner to intermediate” bread baker.  (Interginner?  Beginmediate?)

Simply put, I know just enough about bread baking to recognize when I’m doing something wrong or when there’s something wrong with the recipe I am using.

I have a sourdough recipe that I’ve made a couple of times and liked.  I still need to work on my shaping technique but that’s a user issue.  And even though I have a recipe I like, I still like to explore other recipes.  It’s how I learn.  So when I wanted to make sourdough bread this weekend, but realized that the timeline of my tried-and-true recipe wasn’t going to work with my schedule, I took that as an opportunity to experiment with a different recipe.

That was when I remembered that America’s Test Kitchen recently posted on Instagram their Almost No-Knead Sourdough.

I copied the recipe before it went behind a paywall.  I used the weighed measurements which are a little weird but anyone who bakes bread regularly should be using weighted measurements.  Honestly I don’t mind that the recipe is in ounces as opposed to grams since my kitchen scale can do both but WHO ON EARTH DEVELOPS A RECIPE WITH A THIRD OF AN OUNCE?!

Anyway, I’m reposting it for you even though I don’t like to repost things out of copyright respect.  But if I’m going to talk about this recipe in depth, then you need all the details.

18 1/3 ounces King Arthur all-purpose flour
1 ¾ teaspoons salt
12 2/3 ounces water, room temperature
3 ounces mature Sourdough Starter

Whisk flour and salt together in medium bowl. Whisk room-temperature water and starter in large bowl until smooth. Add flour mixture to water mixture and stir using wooden spoon, scraping up dry flour from bottom of bowl until dough comes together, then knead by hand in bowl until shaggy ball forms and no dry flour remains. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and let sit at room temperature for at least 12 hours or up to 18 hours.

Lay 12 by 12-inch sheet of parchment paper on counter and spray generously with vegetable oil spray. Transfer dough to lightly floured counter and knead 10 to 15 times. Shape dough into ball by pulling edges into middle. Transfer dough, seam side down, to center of parchment. Pick up dough by lifting parchment edges and lower into heavy-bottomed Dutch oven. Cover with plastic wrap.

Adjust oven rack to middle position and place loaf or cake pan in bottom of oven. Place pot on middle rack and pour 3 cups of boiling water into pan below. Close oven door and let dough rise until doubled in size and does not readily spring back when poked with your floured finger, 2 to 3 hours.

Remove pot and water pan from oven; discard plastic from pot. Lightly flour top of dough and, using razor blade or sharp knife, make one 7-inch-long, 1/2-inch-deep slit along top of dough. Cover pot and place on middle rack in oven. Heat oven to 425 degrees. Bake bread for 30 minutes (starting timing as soon as you turn on oven).

Remove lid and continue to bake until loaf is deep brown and registers 210 degrees, 20 to 30 minutes longer. Carefully remove bread from pot; transfer to wire rack and let cool completely before serving.

And here’s the clip of the recipe they shared on Youtube.  Skip to 4:15 to go to the recipe.  The first four minutes are about making your own starter, which I did not need to do since I was using my existing starter.

 

So…

No offense to ATK or to Dan Souza, but I have no idea which bread recipe they were using on the show because it DEFINITELY IS NOT the published version.  I wish I had photos or videos of my experience to show as proof but I had no idea I was going to have very strong opinions about this recipe.

To be transparent, there were two things that I did differently that would not have changed the experience for the worse.  I mixed my dough for 5 minutes with a dough hook in my KitchenAid at the start instead of mixing until shabby ball formed.   All this should have meant was that my dough would be ready in 12 hours, not more, and even possibly a little less time.  I swapped about 2 to 3 ounces of King Arthur all purpose flour with a whole grain flour from a local source.  Theoretically, it would make my dough drier than what the recipe intended because the germ and bran that are present in whole wheat flour can absorb more liquid.  For the record, I did not add any extra water.

After 12 hours, my dough had risen beautifully and was double in sized.  So far, so good.  Or so I thought.  When I turned the dough out to knead 10-15 times, I couldn’t!  The dough that came out of the bowl was nothing like what is shown on the show.  It was quite wet and stuck like crazy.  The only way I could knead it was to use the slap and fold technique.  It was my salvation.  It didn’t take long to shape a ball with this technique, but it’s outside the scope of the recipe.

If you need it, here is an example of the slap and fold technique, which I think was made famous by Richard Bertinet.  (At least, that was who I learned it from back in the days when his first book “Dough” was published.)  You can skip to 1:40 to see it in action.  You can see how sticky a Bertinet dough is.  It is nothing like the ATK video.  This is basically what I had.

 

By this time I was done with kneading, it was almost 9pm.  Rather than shape it, move it to a parchment sheet, and then letting it rise for the final time in the dutch oven, I chose to do my final shaping in a banneton and let it sit in the fridge overnight.  Because this was a very wet dough, I knew it was going to need the physical support of a banneton for any success. Also?  I wanted to go to bed at a reasonable hour.

On the plus side, it meant I got to work with my banneton.  The last time I used it, I screwed up my shaping which meant my dough stuck to the banneton like crazy.  I have since watched many videos from “Bake with Jack” and learned what I did wrong.

In the morning (aka “This Morning”), I took my banneton out of the fridge.  My dough hadn’t risen as much as I thought it would.  At this point, I let this sit in a “cold” oven for an hour with a pan of just boiled hot water next to it, much like the original ATK instructions.  When the hour was up, everything looked good to go.  I carefully turned the dough out onto a parchment sheet, and it looked lovely.  (THANKS JACK FOR THE SHAPING TUTORIALS!)  I scored it with the sharpest knife I had and proceeded with the rest of the recipe.

The thing I learned next?  Do not use a cold start oven method when using a wet dough.  That lovely looking dough I had?  Gone.  I wish I took a photo of it before it went into the oven.  It grew out instead of growing up, spreading out mostly where I had scored the dough.

Now, I know some modern ovens don’t lend to cold start oven method very well, but that is not my oven.  I have done cold start oven bread recipes before with standard instant yeasted doughs without issue.  I’m 100% positive it was the hydration level of the ATK recipe that caused my bread to not look like Dan’s loaf.

I also think that the cold start oven method with a wetter dough caused my crust to be softer and chewier than expected.  If you don’t like a crunchy crust, then this might be the preferred method for you.  But if you want the classic crust usually associated with a sourdough, this is NOT it.  You will be disappointed.

While my bread does look much like the one in the official Instagram post, it looks nothing like the bread in the video.  FYI, I baked for the full amount of time per the recipe instruction.

Last observation, when it comes to sourdough, people like their open, irregular crumb.  This is still not that recipe.  My crumb, while not dense like a standard yeasted dough, was not as open as I would have liked.

When all is said and done, the bread tastes fine.  But I’m still going to officially declare this as a recipe fail.  It did not work as expected.  It looked nothing like what was on the show.  Anyone with less bread baking experience is going to freak out trying to make this, and think they did something wrong.

Even though I know ATK will never notice my little blog, if they ever should:

Dear ATK, 

Please re-develop this recipe!  

 

Reference Links:

https://medium.com/@mattsamberg/and-now-for-something-completely-different-15edf4740de2

https://www.abreaducation.com/content/baking-bread-with-whole-wheat-flour

https://www.bakewithjack.co.uk/

View at Medium.com

Soup Swap 2019

Soup Swap 2019 has come and gone.  I’m currently unable to find online evidence but I think I attended my first swap in 2008.  Holy cow!

I haven’t managed to go every year but I’ve been to a lot of them.  And I think there was a year or two where there was no swapping to be had because the host was working on a master’s degree.  

This is the earliest mention on this blog that I could find:

https://awesomesauceeats.wordpress.com/2009/01/28/chinese-black-sesame-soup-dessert-soup/

 

But I know the first thing I ever made for Soup Swan was French onion soup.  I remember crying through 5 pounds of onions and vowed “never again!”

For those not in the know, Soup Swap is a gathering to boost our spirits in the heart of the winter season. All of the attendees bring six quart-sized containers filled with a frozen homemade soup/stew of their choice. If you’re really ambitions, you can bring twelve quarts and secure yourself two picks per round.  All of the soups are lumped together in a spot in the room. Attendees pick out a random number, and proceed, in their numbered order, to explain what they brought in. The dear host likes to call this the “Telling of the Soup.” You can also win bragging rights for best telling.  Once the telling completed, the guests then take turns, in same numbered order, picking out a new soup container to bring home. To be fair, the dear host likes to run backwards during the last two rounds. So, you bring over six quarts of your soup, and you bring home six quarts of someone else’s soup.  It gets a bit competitive and a lot of strategic after the first round because there’s usually 12-14 flavors available, only 6 quarts per flavor, and some flavors are extremely popular.

And true story, I’ve been enough times to soup swap that I printed out my own inventory sheet this year.

I am proud to announce that this was the very first year where I got ALL THE FLAVORS I WANTED!  This was probably definitely only made possible by my severe dislike for cilantro. (A couple of the very popular flavors had cilantro in the ingredient list.)

This year, I made a pumpkin curry soup with black beans.

And here were my “winnings.”

 

I’ve had the Green Monster and the Porq-ue soups so far.  Tonight, I’ll be having the Eatin’ Big Time. I can’t wait.  🙂

If you want to make the pumpkin curry soup that I did, it’s a Libby’s Pumpkin recipe.  The only difference was that I added canned black beans, rinsed and drained, at the end of cooking.  If you want to make six quarts of it, just multiple the recipe by 3.  I will say that I think your results will heavily depend on the quality of your spices.  I am personally fond of Penzey’s house curry blend.

https://www.verybestbaking.com/recipes/28476/pumpkin-curry-soup/?recipeSortBy=Relevancy&keywords=pumpkin+soup

https://www.penzeys.com/online-catalog/penzeys-curry/c-24/p-3037/pd-s

Kenji’s Vegan Ramen, a Kitchen Conclusion (and a spice blend for you)

I’m a huge fan of Serious Eats.  Besides referring to it for general cooking questions I might have, I really adore their series “The Vegan Experience” (and I’m not vegan… heck, I’m not even vegetarian).

One of the vegan recipes that I bookmarked but was intimidated by the number of ingredients and steps was Kenji Lopez-Alt’s Ultimate Rich and Creamy Vegan Ramen With Roasted Vegetables and Miso Broth.  What does one do when they are not sure they can pull off a recipe on their own?  In my case, it was finding a friend who said “So when you want to cook together? I want to do something new and crazy.  Just something fun, y’know?”

New?  Check.  Crazy?  Check.

Let’s do this thing!

Our observations:

The ingredient list isn’t all that bad.  It would have been nice if there had been a condensed shopping list.  It’s essentially this:

eggplant
onion
garlic
ginger
oil*
fresh shiitake
fresh maitake
kombu*
dried porcini
dried shiitake*
napa cabbage
leek
scallions
sweet potato
shichimi togarashi*
mirin*
soy sauce*
miso*
tahini*
noodles

Everything with an asterisk were things already in my pantry.  Well, except for the shichimi togarashi but we’ll get to that later.  And for the ramen noodles, Jared and I decided to be extra experimental and try the pasta with baking soda trick.  Several times, we asked each other if we had forgotten something because our shopping cart seemed like it didn’t have nearly enough ingredients waiting to be paid for.

One hurdle done.

But the doing?… ah, this was the real challenge.

And half the challenge was matching the ingredient list with the ramen component we were working on.  We both really wanted to reformat the whole recipe for easier reading in the kitchen.

On my own, I had read the recipe through a couple of times but I wish I had studied the photos in the blog post more.  We didn’t notice that the sweet potatoes and the maitake were not mixed on the baking sheet.  It made for a slight inconvenience to pick out sweet potato chunks for the blender.

For the soy-tare, I would leave the ginger and scallions in large identifiable pieces because you have to separate it from the quartered shiitake caps when done.

We also recommend upping the eggplant from 1 small to 2 small.  We had very little eggplant compared to the number of servings when all was said and done.  Also, you don’t get a lot of cooked liquid from 1 small eggplant.  Spinning out said liquid felt fiddly.

But more importantly, how did it taste?

The components of the ramen are their own were good but nothing I felt impressed by.  The baking soda noodles were really interesting!  The baking soda made the noodles a bit chewier, and taste very eggy.  The sweet potatoes baked in the spice blend gave a nice heat that quick dissipated.  But, altogether, the dish was very lovely and satisfying.  Jared’s wife got a gluten free version for health reasons.  We replaced the soy sauce with GF tamari in the recipe, and made a separate pot of rice noodles just for her.  Her reaction was “This is amazing!”  We also fed a friend of theirs who is vegetarian and planning to go mostly vegan.  The friend thought it was one of the best things she had had in a very long time.  In short, those with dietary restrictions are probably going to enjoy it best.

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Making flavored oil

A post shared by @ awesomesauceeats on

I can definitely see myself making parts of the recipe for other noodle and soup recipes.  I’m not sure if I’ll ever make the whole recipe on my own (but if I do, I think I would spread it over two days).  Jared and I may make it again, but not for at least 6 months and we’ve had time to recover from the amount of steps this ramen involved.

I will definitely make the sweet potatoes again.  I never thought to bake them with shichimi togarashi before, and I like the idea blending some of it to give the broth more body.  True story, I’ve never cared for shichimi togarashi before.  So I didn’t have it in my pantry, nor did I see the point in buying it for just this recipe.  So I made it with ingredients I did have in my pantry.  The spice blend is supposed to be a blend of seven spices.  (Shichi means seven.)  I used five, so I’m going to start calling my blend “five-mi togarashi.”  It is not traditional but I was quite happy with it.  (I suppose I could also call it go-mi togarashi since go is five in Japanese).

FIVE-MI TOGARASHI (GO-MI TOGARASHI)

1 tablespoon mandarin orange dust
4 teaspoons gochugaru
2 teaspoons toasted sesame seed
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/8 teaspoon ground white pepper

Mix altogether, and store in a tightly fitted lidded jar.

Reference Links

https://www.seriouseats.com/2015/02/how-to-make-the-ultimate-vegan-ramen-rich-and-creamy-vegan-experience.html

https://www.seriouseats.com/recipes/2015/02/vegan-ramen-miso-creamy-vegan-vegetarian-food-lab-recipe.html

http://penandfork.com/recipes/cooking-tips/mandarin-orange-dust/

Pantry friendly pasta sauce, version 1.0

I wanted to make a pasta sauce that wasn’t a traditional pasta sauce.  Partly because I like being difficult, and partly because my right thumb has been swollen all day for reasons unknown.  So I was not inclined to do a lot of cutting or anything remotely similar.

So I came up with the recipe below.  I may fuss with it in the near future, but I was happy with it today.  It also happens to be vegan and nut free.

Pantry friendly pasta sauce, version 1.0

  • 3/4 cup sunflower seeds, roasted and unsalted
  • 1 garlic clove (I cheated and used 1/4 tsp Penzey’s minced garlic)
  • 1 Tbsp lemon juice (Honestly, I used 1/2 of a lemon but that was too lemony)
  • 1/4 tsp table salt
  • 1/4 cup sun-dried tomatoes
  • 1 1/4 cups water
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano

 

Blitz everything in a high powered blender.  If you don’t have one, you could probably let everything soak for an hour in a standard blender before turning it on.

Makes about 2 cups.

How to take a break from studying…

… feed yourself.

Case in point, Trader Joe’s coconut cashews:

coconutcashew

O.M.G.

Pure love right there.  I bought a bag to try out on Sunday.  I might already be halfway through the bag, 36 hours later.

While I was at Trader Joe’s, I also perused the cold cuts section.  I was stopped in my tracks by a package of Spanish brand deli cuts.  I tried to walk away, really I did, but the chorizo called to me.  Yes, I bought an entire package of sampler deli cuts just for the chorizo.  I’m looking forward to trying the other cuts too, but chorizo is a personal favorite.

While I was supposed to be studying (yes, studying… holy cow I’m cursing my desire for career development), I made chorizo pizza instead.

DSC01141-1

The sauce was one I whipped up with things I had on hand.  I don’t think it would taste particularly well on pasta, but it tasted fine on my pizza.

Emergency Pizza Sauce 1.0

8oz can of plain tomato sauce
1 tsp of dried herbs (oregano, basil, combo, or cheat and use an Italian mix like I did)
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp tomato paste
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/8 tsp red pepper flakes

Mix everything up, and set aside.  I suggest making this first so that the flavors can sit and make friendly while you go make your dough and let it rise.

Depending on how heavy handed you like your sauce, this is enough for one pizza or barely enough for two.

As for the dough, I decided to use the measurements given on a recipe from Sorted Food.  I used a bit more yeast though, just 1/2 tsp seems too little to me.  My kitchen is getting cold, so it took my dough a full hour to rise enough to my liking while parked near the oven light bulb.

I baked it at 475F until the color was to my liking.  My crust wasn’t very chewy but that’s my own fault.  I used all-purpose flour since I’m all out of bread flour.

DSC01142-1

In a word, bliss.

I also tried my hand at making bread in a slow cooker.

DSC01140-1

I totally forgot to take a picture of the bread when it was done cooking, so all you get is a picture of my slow cooker lined in parchment.  I took the instructions from the kitchn, and the only change I made was to set up the parchment before plopping in the dough.  My 4 quart cooker took about 2 hours on high.  I’m not 100% sure on the amount of time because I lost track.  I set a timer for 1 hour and then started to check every 15 minutes or so.  Once I had reached 195F, I turned it off, put the loaf on a sheet pan, and broiled the top for five minutes so that the top didn’t look pathetic.

(For the record, I used the all spelt bread recipe that I posted a while back.)

Flavor-wise, it’s not brilliant.  The dough doesn’t even need to go through a rising stage.  It will rise as it cooks.  It’s a bit denser, but the cooking method works.  I might recommend letting it rise some in the slow cooker before turning it on, but whatever.  I don’t see myself utilizing the slow cooker method during the winter (hey, a hot oven helps to warm my apartment) but this is definitely what I’m going to do during the summer.  I hate baking bread in the summer, and then I really miss it.  (I can’t stand store bought bread anymore if I can help it.)

And on that note, I’d like to point out that I need to read two chapters about Java because I didn’t do it over the weekend.

Reference Links:

http://sortedfood.com/#!/pizza/

http://www.thekitchn.com/how-to-make-bread-in-the-slow-cooker-cooking-lessons-from-the-kitchn-192421

coconut mint ice cream, food processor method

Has anyone tried to make ice cream with a food processor?  I finally did.

I have an ice cream maker, on permanent loan, that I never use.  I used to keep the insert in my freezer, but that was just taking up room so I finally took it out.  Of course!… when I finally  want to make ice cream, I can’t use the ice cream maker.

I first heard about using a food processor to make ice cream on thekitchn.com, but seriouseats.com actually beat them to the punch.  Basically, you make your ice cream per the recipe, freeze it as fast as possible, and then place it into a food processor to whip in air.

Kenji from Serious Eats froze his custard base into ice cube trays, but I don’t have spare trays or enough of them.  (Most ice cream recipes make 1 quart.)  Jeni Britton, in the video she did for CHOW, recommended putting the custard base in a large resealable food bag and laying it flat in the freezer.

DSC01069-1

My ice cream base was this:

two cans of full fat coconut milk
1 3/4c cane sugar
1/2c fresh mint

I brought the sugar and coconut milk to a simmer, cut the heat, and then let the mint steep about 15 minutes.  This was transferred to a ziploc bag, moved onto a small tray to lie down flat, and cooled first in the fridge.  After about an hour, I moved the tray into the freezer for  4-5 hours.

(Note – when you’re pouring your ice cream in liquid form into the food bag, make sure that you stand the bag up in a container large enough to hold one quart of liquid.  I stood my bag up in a container that was a little small, and made a mess.)

When it’s ready, put the ice cream into a food processor.  Run the food processor and scrap down the ice cream as needed until it’s an even and smooth consistency.  Move the ice cream into a container for the freezer (I just reused the food bag), and let freeze again before eating.

DSC01070-1

Overall, it’s a bit icier than traditional ice cream but maybe that’s because I was making a dairy free ice cream.  (I was making a dairy free ice cream out of laziness, and for no other reason to be honest.)  I would say that it’s a bit more like gelato in texture.

As for the flavor of what I made, I needed more mint.  I *love* ice cream made with real mint.  Before my mint plant dies as the weather gets cooler, I should harvest all the leaves and try again with a traditional custard base.  However, it’s still quite delicious.  I’d be happy to make it again.  (Although, I might cut back the sugar next time.)

Reference Links:

http://www.chow.com/videos/show/chow-tips/90744/an-easy-way-to-make-ice-cream-in-your-food-processor

http://sweets.seriouseats.com/2010/07/how-to-make-ice-cream-without-an-ice-cream-maker-the-food-lab.html

An everyday batter bread (recipe post)

Fact:  I can’t buy bread from the market anymore.  Specifically, I can’t buy bread from the bread aisle.  If it’s from the bakery section of the market, that’s ok.  But manufactured bread?  I just can’t!  Even the smell of the bread aisle has become unappealing to me.

I’ve been making my own bread fairly consistently for the last four years.  Manufactured bread just doesn’t measure up in fragrance and flavor.  I used to post about my bread attempts but eventually stopped because I only make the same two recipes nowadays.  First and foremost is a spelt version of Richard Bertinet’s basic bread recipe.  I’m very capable of making this.  I don’t even need the recipe on hand anymore.  Mix four ingredients together, work the dough for about 10 minutes, let it rest and rise until doubled in volume, shape, let rise again, and bake.  Simple.

I am still bad at shaping this dough, but that’s another story.

The second bread recipe I use a lot is a white batter bread from Bread Made Easy by Beth Hensperger.  What makes a batter bread recipe different from a basic bread recipe?  Laziness Time.  A batter bread is just that – you mix everything into a batter.  There’s no kneading.  There’s no working the dough for 10 minutes.  You just mix it until it’s a shaggy thing (like dough with a bad hair day?  or like oatmeal gone very wrong?), plop it in a loaf pan, let it rise just the one time, and then bake.

Batter breads lack complex flavor without help.  Basic bread recipes can attribute part of its flavor from the double rise.  I’ve read that three or four rises total taste even better, but who has the time for that?  Beth Hensperger’s version adds a touch of ground ginger which is deliciously amazing and you might not know it was there if you hadn’t been told.

But… I only like it in the white bread version.  I’ve tried making a whole wheat version, a spelt version, and a spelt version without ginger.  The variations didn’t satisfy me much.

And then I came across Home Baked by Hanne Risgaard.
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Warming grapefruit tea, for people who hate grapefruit

I’m coming down with a cold. meh.

So, all I want right now is is something that is warm, soothes my throat, and is full of things that’s supposed to be good for you. I don’t know why, but I rarely crave orange juice when I’m sick. Apple cider is nice but sometimes it tastes too sweet to me. Grapefruit is on sale at my local markets, so that’s what I brought home.

DSC00749

The problem? I don’t like grapefruit. I very nearly hate it. So why did I come home with grapefruits? To make grapefruit tea! Ok, I guess this is more like a spiced grapefruit cider than tea but the original recipe calls it tea so I’m leaving it like that. The original recipe called for 1 stick cinnamon and 1/2tsp allspice berries for about 2 cups grapefruit juice to be heated on the stove. However, I have a jar of chai masala that I made recently, so I went with that instead. Plus, the black pepper in the chai mix feels nice on my sore throat.

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