Bread Round 2

February 12, 2020 Leave a comment

After travelling all over the county and the neighboring counties, I had to buy my final ingredient and wait a few days. When you own four pounds of a powdery ingredient that you normally would use for pizza the recognition of the fact that you have a decade’s worth of an ingredient hits you. And I had to wait for my four pounds of vital wheat gluten to arrive as no one in my area sells this anymore.

Wonderful – light and fluffy

It is not that making bread is difficult. My wife has made bread many times and it is always successful. This bread is different. This is a bread from scratch using strange ingredients on a bread machine that I am unfamiliar with. It is trial and error for me. The videos and directions I’ve watched have not worked so far, so now this is my discovery to make.

What am I making? Flourless bread. Why have I decided to make this? First, for health reasons. Second, this is an opportunity to make something and use the bread machine my parents gave to my wife and me. Hey Mom and Dad looking down upon me, I am using this machine. A third reason was to see if this stuff tastes good. Now to the recipe.

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 C water (warm water)
  • 2 eggs (lightly beaten)
  • 1/2 C oat fiber
  • 2/3 C flaxseed meal
  • 1 1/4 C Vital Wheat Gluten
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp xanthan gum
  • 1 tsp honey
  • 2 Tbs butter, salted (soften or melted – preferred)
  • 1 Tbs active dry yeast

DIRECTIONS

In a bowl add the oat fiber, flaxseed, vital wheat gluten, salt, and xanthan gum, and blend together.

In the bread machine container, add the water and then the beaten eggs. Slowly add the dry ingredients. Be careful as this can create a lot of dust. Now pour the butter evenly on the outside and against the inside wall of the container. Make a slight depression in the center of the container without digging to the water. Add your yeast in this depression followed by the honey.

You’re ready to work the bread machine. Follow the directions that come with the bread machine you use.

Looks like bread

The image above does say one thing and that is that I am no baker. However, the texture, taste, and the visual appearance says it is bread. This tastes very much like wheat bread. I do notice the pockets in the bread tend to be smaller on the edges and the bottom of the bread but that was an issue when I was eating it. With deli meat, it was perfect. I made some buttered toast and that was good. So, yes you can toast it. I am planning on making French toast with this in the future. In fact, I have some plans for this recipe as I have enough ingredients to become a small bakery. As my wife enjoyed this, I will be making this more often. Now I have to find a place to store the machine in our kitchen as I don’t want to go to the basement and dig the machine out each time I want bread.

Now some notes about this recipe.

1. I omitted any type of sweetener as I simply didn’t want it. It wasn’t necessary, too.

2. The honey is for the yeast as yeast needs sugar to feed. I am not sure if all of the honey is consumed, but there isn’t much in there if you’re concerned about carbohydrates.

3. There are some carbohydrates within this recipe, so depending on your carb limit you may not have a concern.

4. You need to figure out what setting is best on the bread machine you use. The bread machine below is, naturally, the one I used. My original test used the #5 setting and it created a cannonball. I am certain I could knock down any fortification with it. The bread ended up being under cooked. This round I selected #2 and it worked great. I didn’t get the rise that I had hoped for, but as you can see it was a success. Another option is to allow the machine to make the dough and you bake it in your oven. For this method, you take the dough out and put it in a bread pan and allow for another rise. People usually put it in their microwave with boiling hot water for a short time to allow for it to rise before they bake it in their oven. I could try that in the future.

If you’re on a keto diet I recommend this. The numbers I found are as follows: 2 g of carbohydrates per slice or 35 g per loaf, 105 calories per slice, 5 g per slice, and you should be able to get 18 slices out of a loaf. Now I am pulling these numbers from different sites, so I can’t confirm the validity of these numbers. The original person that everyone references is Diedre. If you have no carbs then I guess you can use the other bread recipes out there.

For me, I plan on trying to expand this recipe and do different things as I have plenty of ingredients. This will include my adding different ingredients to this recipe to see what I get. Who knows, I may need to buy a cannon.

I Made A Panera Bread Bowl

February 7, 2020 Leave a comment

It isn’t what I intended to produce, but the geometrical shape says it is a bread bowl. It was supposed to be double the height. This bread smells nice and had a nice crust when I pulled it out of the bread machine. Here is my story of the bread bowl.

Not what I expected

It doesn’t look like much and it isn’t. Pay no heed to the color. Without professional lighting, my photos take on this type of hue. The color is actually quite bread-like. The size is really slightly larger than a Panera bread bowl. The crust is not as uniform as I would have liked. So what about the interior of this bread?

The hint is the lead like feeling to the cannonball. After allowing it to cool for nearly 18 hours as I had to work, I noticed the bread was somewhat damp. This is strange as it should not be like that. This was my first indication of something wasn’t right. Cutting the bread showed no issues. I made a sandwich and had a nice weighted meal. It was dense, really dense. I took a closer inspection of the bread.

Signs of problems

On closer inspection, the bread wasn’t finished. Was it the bread machine setting or was it the fact the dough did not rise properly? My guess is the dough didn’t rise properly and with the setting I used, the bread couldn’t finish baking. My solution for this bread other than assaulting intruders or skipping the bread on water?

Toasting is the best answer. I toasted the bread and made another sandwich. It worked. Disclosure – I also cut thinner slices. After two sandwiches, I was finished eating. 16 hours later and I still feel the food in me. I can’t eat. If you wanted to be on a diet this is the bread to eat.

There is no recipe this time as I want to do this again, but the local market now doesn’t carry an ingredient I need. They just stopped. I am disappointed in my local community. Maybe this weekend I’ll make it if I can find some other market that carries the ingredient. This may look like a failure, but this bread is not your standard bread and the fact it looks, smells, and tastes like bread is positive and good reason to do this again.

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Ruth Graves Wakefield's Chocolate Chip Cookies

February 5, 2020 Leave a comment

These cookies are the quintessential American cookie that you find everywhere. There are so many “best” versions out there that it really has become laughable. For me, typically dread these cookies. They are so easy to make but far to easy to screw up. Usually, if the person is not a baker or does not do a lot of cooking I don’t expect a good cookie and have been right each time. The pretentious fancy chocolate chip cookies are often the worst for me. I think this is due to pastry chefs trying to be unique. For me, I know basically 4 types of chocolate chip cookies.

The first is the hard as granite chocolate chip cookie. I grew up with this as my mother liked hers hard. The second is the soft, chewy and could potentially melt in your mouth version. This is what my wife makes. I happen to like this one. Next are the packaged cookies you buy. If I want to taste poison, I’ll eat these. They are so awful. Finally, there are the “we tried” cookies. They range from inedible to trying to be so fancy that I just can’t tolerate them.

As for ingredients, chocolate chip cookies have evolved from the simple original recipe to having oats, nuts, different chocolate, or cinnamon. Frankly, I believe many of these are no longer chocolate chip cookies. You can deviate the ingredient amount and maybe sugar or shortening substitution for the most part. What is the original recipe that Ruth Graves Wakefield came up with? According to her daughter the following recipe is the original

INGREDIENTS

  • 12 cups (350 mL) shortening (Crisco)
  • ​1 18 cups (265 mL) sugar
  • ​1 18 cups (265 mL) brown sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • ​1 12 teaspoon (7.5 g) salt
  • ​3 18 cups (750 mL) of flour
  • ​1 12 teaspoon (7.5 g) hot water
  • ​1 12 teaspoon (7.5 g) baking soda
  • ​1 12 teaspoon (7.5 g) vanilla
  • chocolate chips

DIRECTIONS

Cream the butter and sugars. Add the beaten eggs. Dissolve the baking soda in the hot water and add this to the mixture. Now sift together the flour and salt and add to the butter mixture. Finally, stir in the nuts, chocolate chips, and vanilla. You bake these at 350°F (177°C) for 12 to 13 minutes.

What gives credence to this recipe is Crisco and the fact that her daughter, Peg, states this is the recipe. Along with the Chocolate chips you could add walnuts and using King Arthur Flour AP puts you closer to the original.

Have I tried these, yet? Nope. I really don’t have an interest to try them, but do not doubt they are tasty and good to some people and not the best to others. I have found that chocolate chip cookies and their versions taste differently to everyone. Some like those rock hard cookies while others love everything shoved into the cookie. As for me, I will enjoy my wife’s and look to placing oatmeal in any of the cookies I make.

Who Sells The Spice Matters

January 26, 2020 Leave a comment

When it comes to using spices I never recognized the large difference in aroma and flavor between freshly ground spices and the spices you purchase from the market. This realization only came after I became more involved in cooking. As my diet has change and spices play a larger role, I tend to prefer to grind, if possible, my own spices as it adds more depth to my dishes. However, there is another aspect to the whole spice thing that I recently began to notice.

Paprika and nutmeg are two spices that drew my attention to where a spice comes from or who produces the spice. Two Christmas’ ago I was making eggnog and needed nutmeg. I finally found some in some health store that I never knew existed and purchased 3 or 4. This past fall I had need of nutmeg for several recipes and the eggnog. This time I found some at the grocery store and bought them as I had forgotten about the remaining 1 1/2 nutmeg nuts that I had. It didn’t take long to notice a difference once I found my old nutmeg. My older nutmeg had a better aroma and I could taste it while the recently purchased nutmeg was not as aromatic and hardly affected the dishes I used it in.

Could this be due to age of the nutmeg? The “better” nutmeg was the older while the grocery store nutmeg was not. Maybe it is not the age but how the nutmeg is stored or something else I am not aware of.

Paprika is one spice that I recall my wife saying she didn’t care for as she believed it only added color as there was no flavor. I couldn’t disagree as I, too, couldn’t taste anything. It was until we purchased a more common brand instead of the generic version that we could get something out of it. The next step was my need for a specific paprika for a dish I was making. It was then when I noticed the huge difference from the commonly purchased paprika and the one I specially ordered. To cap it off, I watch a taste test on different smoked paprika and saw the results.

Spices come down to freshness and how it is made. Often times, the price indicates quality and the trusted brand isn’t very good. When it comes to specific dishes I am making I will grind my own spices and buy the better quality spices that I do not process myself. It still is an ongoing battle between my wife and me about the diminishing returns of spices, but I think I am winning her over. This leads me to a future project that I am planning. My goal is to make my own onion and garlic powder. As we have a ton of this stuff, it will have to sit and wait.

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Buttermilk Pie

January 25, 2020 Leave a comment

Yes, yes, I can’t keep away from sugar. Face it, it is far more interesting than the other options not to mention it tastes good. This is a pie that I wanted to try last fall but never did. I could blame my dietary habit but the reality was I didn’t have a use for the excess buttermilk. Unlike my father, I could never tolerate drinking it. This pie is my weekend pie where I will not tell my son what is in it in case he finds buttermilk unappealing that way he may he the bulk of the pie.

INGREDIENTS

  • 1/2 C unsalted butter
  • 1 1/2 C white sugar
  • 3 Tbs AP flour
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1.5 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/8 tsp nutmeg
  • Juice and zest of 1 lemon
  • 1 C buttermilk

DIRECTIONS

You’ll need a pie crust that will fit a 9″ pie pan or dish. So, you’ll need the 9″ pan, too, or be like me and use a larger version and have a shallower pie.

As this is a quick pie to make, preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C).

Roll out your pie dough and place it in the pie pan and fit it into the pan. Trim the excess dough but leave enough to crimp the edge. Now poke or prick the pie bottom with a fork. If you want you can place parchment paper in the crust and place either dry beans, pennies, or pie weights in so your crust doesn’t bubble up while baking.

Bake your pie for 15 minutes and then remove from the oven. You can carefully remove the weights from the pie making sure to not damage your crust. As we allow this to cool completely, we move onto the next step.

Place the room temperature butter in a bowl and add the sugar. Combine together with a spatula. If the butter is softened it should only take 4 to 5 minutes. Add the flour and salt and mix together. After all of this is combined, add the 3 eggs and mix until slightly blended before switching to a whisk and mix until smooth and creamy.

Now pour vanilla extract, nutmeg, zest of lemon, lemon juice, and buttermilk. Whisk until thoroughly mixed. This should take 2 to 3 minutes. Now pour it into the cooled pie shell.

Bake in preheated oven until golden brown and just set. This should take 45 to 55 minutes. The center should have a slight wiggle. Cool to room temperature. Chill in the refrigerator for 1 to 2 hours.

When it comes to taste I have to say it is an addictive pie when warm. Haven’t tried it cold, yet. The lemon flavor is subtle and doesn’t overpower. It is quite sweet or at least sweet for me. When it comes to texture it is something different for me. Maybe it has a texture of a shoofly pie, though it has been 20 years since I had any.

Now when it comes to making this pie I made a few mistakes. The first mistake is forgetting to take my butter out of the freezer. It takes a while to get to room temperature. It took forever mixing it with the sugar. My crust was the another mistake. The first one had the sides collapse on itself as it shrank while baking. Had to toss it. The second had a similar issue but I was able to salvage it. My skills at making an attractive crust is poor and that may have complicated the shell issue, however, I place the blame on my wife as she made the pie dough. I’m a guy, so I need to find fault. I didn’t make the dough. My final mistake was the lighting on my photo. It was after dinner and we wanted dessert.

Besides poor lighting, the crust was messed up by me.

Okay, where did I find this recipe? The owner of this is Chef John. I saw this a while ago and only now did I make it and it was worth it. I encourage anyone to try this or some other version of this pie. Now this should be the last I eat sweets for a while.

Zucchini and Eggplant Chips Suck

January 23, 2020 1 comment

Suck is a harsh word to use, but there is method to my mad thoughts. First, I love zucchini and eggplants. In fact, I love lasagna made from the two. Grilling these or even doing a little fry with them is good. But to make chips out of them?

Let’s face it. Zucchini and eggplant are nothing like potato chips or any other chips you can eat unless you do a whole lotta processing. The first is that they do not taste anything like what you buy at the market. However, they do taste good when they are baked to a crunch, for me at least. There is one huge caveat. These buggers need viagara after a few hours as they become, well, limp or chewy if you prefer. Now that isn’t a huge problem if you plan on eating them upon removing them from the oven. You just can’t save some for later. The biggest problem with these chips isn’t the limp nature but something worse for me. It takes forever to make them. When I want some type of crunchy-like chip I want it now and not 45 minutes later.

When I want a snack or treat I want it now. Sometimes I get the desire to sip some whisky, wine or have a nice brew with some type of snack. Putting this pleasure on hold while I spend an hour making the snack is just not worth it. I can easily grab peanuts if I have them on hand or the chips my son eats look very appetizing. Usually, I grab some cheese to eat or the deer baloney we have. These ARE NOT an alternative to potato chips. How can people lie to themselves and us?

I have baked zucchini and made the chips in the past. They make for a nice snack if you are making other dishes that take about as long as the zucchini do. If that little zucchini in the refrigerator isn’t used for its intended purpose that my wife has designs for, then I will be chipping it with a meal – Beef Rendang.

The Effects of a Low Carbohydrate and Low Sugar Diet

January 22, 2020 Leave a comment

When I began my new diet it was simply to eliminate any upcoming health issues such as diabetes, any heart ailment, maybe lose some weight, and not only feel healthier but be healthier. In the five to six months that I have been on this diet, there are some noticeable things about it.

First, my wife began this with me and does her best to make me “cheat”. Second, there are a few other people that adopted this diet several months after we started once we told them of our experience. So, what have I noticed?

One, it is bloody difficult to give up sugar and carbohydrates even if my goal is to reduce the amount I take in. Once you get under way, say about a month, it does become easier but falling off can make it difficult to get back on track.

This next one is actually obvious, but few people, I believe, think about it. Even on a reduced carbohydrate and sugar diet, you eat more than you realize. Whenever you eat some processed food or even fruit you are consuming a lot of sugar. You sneak some bread now and have some oatmeal and maybe a something else. Soon, you are no longer consuming anything low. You’re back to where to were.

The third thing I have noticed as well as my wife is that everything tastes sweeter. If my wife forces me to eat some type of candy I will immediately notice how sweet it tastes. Our Christmas cookies, well, they appear quite sweet. I had a celebratory cake at the neighbors and it was too sweet for me. The upside to this is that when my wife or I make a meal where sugar is added, we don’t add as much and still get the sweet taste. That could be the reason why I had trouble enjoying Chicken Marsala as the wine is sweet.

If you enjoy foods being less sweet then you’ll also begin to not crave or desire sugary foods. This also applies to bread and pasta. I am surprised how I can forgo these foods. Take soda. For me, I could drink a two liter bottle without any problems other than belching. If we had a can in the fridge and we do, I would crack it open and drink it. We’ve had a case since before Christmas and I have had no desire to down a can. Obviously, you need some willpower as the old habits are ingrained in us.

When it comes to health this is where we get the huge noticeable benefits. I am not constantly tired during the day even when I don’t sleep well. Last night, for example, I woke up about twelve times but not exhaustion for me. I have more energy than when I was consuming the large amounts of carbohydrates and sugar. By removing this immediate energy I have more energy.

Numbness and pain. Interestingly, some of us on this new diet have had certain ailing pains vanish and one person now has feeling in their feet that was numb before. Mind you, that person isn’t diabetic or even considered prediabetic. They are supposedly healthy all over when you look at the annual medical results. These people were quite skeptical when they began this diet much like I was. There have been changes in our bodies that indicate an increase in health something the low fat diet I was trying didn’t do. In fact, none of us noticed any benefits from the low fat diet.

Weight loss is another thing we all noticed. Before, I was eating low fat and exercising with NO weight loss. In fact, my weight increased and my health was showing signs of getting worse. When I began to change the way I ate and lived two years ago I noticed changes. When I decided to reduce my carbohydrate and sugar intake my weight dropped like a rock. Now I am reaching a point where, understandably, weight loss is slowing down but I don’t care. I’m at a comfortable size.

There are the effects that have been noticed though likely not every effect. My diet is nothing special but is one born out of necessity. I don’t consider it to be a keto diet even though it is a low-carb diet. Keto was not the impetus for this change in my lifestyle. My health is the reason.

What I am not doing is eating considerable amounts of fat. My consumption of cheese has increased and I no longer worry about fat but the consumption of beef remains the same. Eating vegetables and fruit also hasn’t changed, but what I can say is that for two years I struggle to get in the five servings of fruits and vegetables. I simply don’t eat that much.

What they consider as a serving

  • 1 C raw leafy veggies
  • 1/2 C of other veggies cooked or raw
  • 3/4 C of veggie juice (which I don’t and have never consumed)
  • 1 medium apple, banana, orange, pear
  • 1/2 C chopped, cooked, or canned fruit
  • 3/4 C fruit juice (I no longer drink)

At most, I may eat 2 servings a day. There are some days where I eat double the recommended but that is unusual. The Minestrone soup was one of the exception periods where I ate a bunch for several days. I simply don’t eat that much as I eat from one to two times a day. I say throw out the pyramid and these recommendations.

When it comes down to lifestyle changes you need to select what is right for you and one that you will continue to follow. My change is to be that grumpy old guy who isn’t constantly visiting the cardiologist and shuffling along. I want to be that 88 year old lady who can out exercise most everything in the gym. The low carbohydrate and sugar diet has been very beneficial for me as well as those other people who adopted my diet.

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