I Make Bread

The other evening Husband and I were on a hot date to the grocery store. You understand that is sometimes how it is after nearly 20 years of married life.  We were wandering along when he said, “I left my glasses in the car.  Surely that doesn’t say $5.39 a loaf.”  It did say $5.39 on the little tag under the loaf of bread he was pointing to.

“That,” I replied, “Is why I make our bread.”

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Beside that, it makes the house smell good and gives me a great feeling of satisfaction.  And, it only costs about a $1/loaf.

Here is my basic recipe.

BASIC, GOOD BREAD

Makes four loaves (easily make two with a half recipe–good for rolls, also)

4 c warm water

2/3 c sugar

4 c whole wheat flour (You can make with all white flour, too, or even a higher proportion of whole wheat.)

2 T yeast

2/3 c vegetable oil

1-1/2 T salt

1/2 c powdered milk

6 c all purpose flour

Mix first four ingredients.  Let sit for 10 minutes.  Then add the remaining ingredients to make a soft dough. Knead until smooth.  Let rise until double.  Divide into four sections. Shape each section into a loaf and place in greased pans.  Let rise.  Bake in preheated 375F  oven for 35 minutes.

If I make this while people are at home, one loaf gets eaten right away, hot with butter and jam or honey.  One is for sandwiches and the other two are frozen for later in the week.

If you want to have the fancy tops, score with a sharp knife just before putting in the oven.

The Week Before Christmas

The school the children attend and at which I teach is a charter school.  As such, a few things are done a little differently than is traditional in American public schools.  One of them is Intensive Week.  Every year the week before Christmas break and the last week of the school year May are designated as Intensive Weeks.  Rather than go on a typical subject rotation of English, Science and Math, the students choose from several different seminar-style classes and attend the same subject all week.

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Very fun for the students.  A lot of work for the teachers.

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I am running a class we are calling Microwave Cooking:  Beyond leftovers and popcorn.  Basically, we imagine being in a dorm room  or very small apartment with a microwave, refrigerator and very limited kitchen  equipment.  How do you survive?

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Today we cooked three simple recipes:  Cheddar Eggs (no picture) , Mini Pizzas and “Baked” Apples.  Yummy!

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All went remarkably well.  More culinary fun coming tomorrow.

Cathead Biscuits

Husband is from Georgia, the deep south of the United States.  They take their biscuits seriously down there, but these, made by a Western girl, earned respect over time. 

Even if you don’t consider yourself a baker, give biscuits a try.  The two tricks to success are:  First, don’t skimp on the baking powder.  I know it seems like a lot, but it is important.  Second, don’t over work the dough.  This isn’t bread that you knead.  If you spend more than about one minute on it, you will have hard biscuits.

So, enjoy a tasty luxury easy enough for every day.

CATHEAD BISCUITS

We use a large tumbler to cut the biscuits to about the size of a cat’s head (Husband’s term).  But they still taste good “standard size.”
 
To make about 8 biscuits very large, or about 12 normal size.

Preheat oven to 425F
 
2 cups flour
2 T baking powder
½ t salt
1/2-3/4 c shortening
1 c milk (either standard cow’s milk or buttermilk.  If buttermilk, cut back on the flour just a little)
 
Mix together flour, baking powder, salt.  Cut in shortening until blended well.  Pour in milk.  Mix lightly.  Knead about a dozen times.  Press with hands or roll with rolling pin to about 1” thick.  Cut out biscuits.  Cook at 425F for about 15 minutes or until they raise and are golden brown on top.

Split open and apply large amounts of butter and your favorite jelly or jam.  Eat while as hot as you can stand them.

S’more Bars

If you have not yet discovered the delightful cooking and philosophy blog Mennonite Girls Can Cook, it is time you did.  Here is a recent recipe from their daily collection, which I only altered in minor ways, doubling the size and reducing the flour and sugar just a bit.

S’MORE BARS

 http://www.mennonitegirlscancook.ca/2012/05/smore-bars.html

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups graham wafer crumbs
  • 1-3/4 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 1-1/3 cups brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 cups marshmallow creme, or about a 7 ounce jar
  • 2 cups chocolate chips, I  use semi-sweet
  1. Line an 9×16″ pan with foil leaving a slight overhang. Spray foil with cooking spray. Don’t forget this important step.
  2. Beat butter and sugar until light, beat in egg and vanilla until well combined.
  3. Whisk together flour, cracker crumbs, baking powder and salt.
  4. Turn mixer to low and add dry ingredients to the moist ingredients mixing until well combined, as for a cookie dough.
  5. Press half of the mixture evenly into foil lined pan.
  6. Spoon marshmallow fluff on cookie base and gently spread it out, spreading it is easier if you dip the spoon in hot water.
  7. Sprinkle chocolate chips over the marshmallow.
  8. Scatter remaining cookie base over the top in clumps.
  9. Bake in 350º for 30 minutes, until golden brown.
  10. Cool completely, then remove from pan using the foil overhangs to lift it out.
  11. Cut in bars and serve

These are rich and delicious. 

The reason I call Mennonite Girls Can Cook a “cooking and philosophy blog” is because of their weekly feature, Bread for the Journey. Here is my favorite entry ever: Greatest Thing Since Sliced Bread.

 

Dump Dump Stir

I am most fortunately blessed with a helpful husband.  He is a good cook and willing to help carry the load around the house when the load gets heavy, as it has lately (more on that story soon).

One of Husband’s specialities is known as Dump-Dump-Stir.  It used to be called Five-Cans-Of-Stuff, but the new name is more descriptive. Because sometimes the ingredients don’t come from a can.

The recipe is simple. Basically you take whatever you have, dump it in a pot, stir, cook for a while and call it dinner.

This particular variation was a sort of Cuban-ish Chicken Stew with lime.  Leftovers…elevated.

The name might be odd, but the results speak for themselves.