Friday, January 24, 2014

Banana Bread.

Can't-mess-up banana bread. We use butter instead of shortening, and olive oil instead of butter. Works great no matter which one I use.

This recipe evolved from one I got from my Grandma...

I used to grate carrots into this bread, when Thor was little and was very finicky about his food. I have added Quaker oats to the recipe, and wheat germ, and I don't even measure the banana any more, just use 2 of them. It takes a while to bake this one, because it's a dense bread. 

I never have buttermilk, and never remember to buy it, so I just add a tiny bit of vinegar to 2% milk. It works for me.

Banana Bread.

1/2 cup butter
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
3 tbsp buttermilk
1 tsp lemon juice
1 cup bananas (or a couple of them. I never measure the bananas)
1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 Quaker oats
1/4 cup wheat germ, or not. up to you.
1 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 cup chopped nuts. again, up to you. my kids are not fans of this idea, so I don't.

Preheat oven to 350. Grease a loaf pan, or muffin tin. Mix butter, sugar, eggs, buttermilk, lemon juice and bananas (pastry cutter works great for this).Add dry ingredients and mix well. Add nuts. Or not. Bake for 45 minutes until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Muffins will take a lot less time, the loaf pan will take at least 45 minutes. 

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Curry Glazed Chicken. Yum.

Another favorite recipe that I have been tweaking lately. It started out with 3 pounds of chicken and a stick of butter in a roasting pan, which, gross. That is way way too much fat for me. And it used orange marmalade, but again, hard to find an version with no preservatives, and it's way cheaper and easier to use tangerines. I also went from using large pieces of chicken - breast, thigh, drumstick, etc -- to using small pieces of boneless, skinless chicken breasts and thighs.

As almost always, I am not precise in cooking this. I usually double it, because this is one of those recipes that tastes even better the next day.

I use a couple of chicken breasts, or 5 or 6 chicken breast tenderloins, all boneless skinless. I have no idea how much chicken thigh I use, because I buy those six packs of fresh boneless skinless chicken thighs from Costco. So I use one pack. Half a pound, maybe? Quick hint, if you buy those six packs of chicken thighs or chicken breasts from Costco, don't just throw them any which way in the freezer. Lay them flat until they freeze. Last time we bought the chicken thighs, one of us (cough cough Mark cough) dropped them in the freezer and they froze in unfortunate and hard to separate shapes...

Tangerines -- I peel and separate the sections, then dice them up. Before I put them in the pan, I "juice" them by flattening them with the side of the knife against the cutting board.

It's not hot curry, just flavorful curry.

Curry Chicken

6 - 8 ounces bacon (uncured, no nitrates or nitrites or anything, if you want to really cook like me, otherwise            just regular old bacon works. But thick sliced is better, although not crucial.)
a big white onion
3 tbsp flour
3 tbsp curry powder
2 cups chicken broth
3 little tangerines, or a couple oranges, peeled, cut up into bits
2 tbsp ketchup
2 tbsp lemon juice

chicken -- cut up into bite sized pieces. Or use 3 pounds of chicken pieces

Saute the chicken pieces in a little oil, so that they start to brown.I use a pan that can go in the oven, but you can use a frying pan for this part, and transfer everything to an oven safe pan.

Cut the bacon into 1" chunks and fry it til it starts to crisp up a little bit. Chop up the onion and cook it with the bacon until it gets tender. Blend in the flour and curry powder, and stir in chicken broth. Cook over medium heat until it thickens, stirring constantly. Add the diced tangerines, the ketchup, and the lemon juice.

Preheat to 400. Dump the sauce over the chicken, stir it around a little, make sure it's all coated, and bake it for 45 minutes or until the top gets brown. It should get pretty brown, because that's when it starts to taste really really good.

Serve over rice. We like to cook down half a head of cabbage in a little olive oil (maybe a tablespoon or less), til it gets soft and some of it browns, and add that to the rice and curry.

This one I have made at least half a dozen times recently, because damn. It is that good.

Next up, banana bread. Again, super easy and super delicious.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Cinnamon Bread. So super simple.

Make the dough I posted yesterday. Knead the dough, but instead of splitting it into two loaves, just drop it into the mixing bowl for the first rise.

I actually just rubbed some butter around the inside of the bowl before putting the dough back in it to rise -- there was some dough residue, but I just buttered it and it worked fine.

After it has doubled, dump it out onto a floured surface and pull it out into a rectangle. Mine was about the size of a 9x13 pan. Don't worry about it being even, and if you tear a hole in it, just smash it back together. It can be lumpy and uneven. Add pats of butter, maybe an inch and a half, two inches apart, across the whole thing. Sprinkle cinnamon and sugar over it. Or be like me and coat the thing with cinnamon. I love cinnamon. And some sugar. This one is up to you...I have no idea how much sugar I added. But remember there is only one tablespoon of sugar in the bread dough, so the dough itself is not sweet. Maybe a quarter cup of sugar for the whole loaf? I guess that would be a starting place, and the next time I make it I will measure.

For this one you need loaf pans. I have a 12 inch loaf pan I got from my aunt, which works super great, but otherwise I would use two regular loaf pans.

Roll the dough up. Line the pan with parchment paper or butter it real good. Cut the roll in two if using two loaf pans, or if you have a great loaf pan like mine, just drop it in there. Let rise for half an hour in a warm place, and bake at 435 for 10 minutes, then at 375 for another 25 - 30. Dump onto a rack to cool.

Again I used part whole wheat flour and part unbleached white flour.

Last night I made french toast for supper. I used the fritter recipe from my 1950's Better Crocker cookbook for the batter, and it was pretty good, although as usual, the very center of my french toast was not quite fully cooked. So figuring out how to make better french toast is on my list for this year. Any hints?

The fritter recipe...2 eggs, 1 cup milk, a bunch of cinnamon, a dash of salt, and 1/4 cup flour. Beat together, coat the slice of bread, and fry in a bit of olive oil. But maybe my bread was sliced too thickly, because the middle didn't quite cook thoroughly, like I said.

Since there are so few commercial breads that I can eat -- all the regular brands have preservatives, and almost all the organic ones use sulfate. I am allergic to sulfates, natural or not, so making my own bread is so much easier and cheaper than trying to find bread I can eat.

Which is also why about every six months I make a batch of doughnut holes. I use the recipe that my Betta (my paternal grandma) and Aunt used, because there is no commercial pastry, no grocery store or bakery pastry, that doesn't have preservatives and dough conditioners and other bad things.

Tomorrow...Curried chicken. So easy. So good.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Amazing bread. Or at least really decent bread. Now with a small amount of knead.

There are various recipes out there for no knead bread. I have tried several, and like them, although I think not kneading bread dough affects the texture. So I have modified one of them, so that it's still super simple, but adds 3 or  minutes of kneading at the most.

Also. Cinnamon bread. Awesome and you can do it.

First the recipe. This one uses 2 1.5 quart pyrex bowls or the equivalent to bake the bread.

Easy Bread

2 tsp salt
4 cups or 1 pound 2 ounces flour.
2 cups lukewarm water
1 tbsp sugar
2 tsp yeast, or 1 packet

Preheat oven for one minute. Turn it on, then turn it off a minute later. Just warm enough to help the bread rise. Prep your bowls -- coat the inside of each 1.5 quart pyrex bowl with butter. Be generous, because it tastes good, and the bread will fall out of the bowl.

Mix salt, flour, sugar, and yeast. Add the water. Stir it together, dump it out onto a floured counter or board, and knead it until it's smooth. Or a couple minutes. Don't add a lot of flour, but use enough flour to keep it from sticking to every surface.

Divide the dough in 2, plop in the prepped bowls, and put it in the warm oven with a damp dishcloth over the top. Let it rise til about doubled, or at least an hour, preferably an one and a half to two hours (or if you forget like me, three or four hours).

Punch the dough down - just pick it up and handle it a little to make it deflate somewhat. Drop them back in the bowl, add a dab of butter on top, and let rise for half an hour
(it should be at the top of the 1.5 quart bowl). Preheat oven to 425.  Bake for 10 minutes. Reduce heat to 375 and bake for another 25 minutes. Tip out onto cooling rack and try to wait 10 minutes to cut into it.

Now the notes.

I use about 6-8 ounces whole wheat flour and the rest unbleached or bread flour. Apparently you are not supposed to have the salt mix directly with the yeast. I dunno, but I try not to dump the yeast right on the salt.  Lukewarm water is easy. Make it body temperature...if you stick your fingertip into it and can't feel the water (try it before you scoff), it's the right temp. I use regular sugar or sugar in the raw, doesn't matter.

Kitchen scales are your friends. I love mine, it's bright red and I got it at Costco for 20 bucks, I think. It's so much easier to put the mixing bowl on the scale, zero it out, and dump the flour into the bowl. So easy. And way less messy. (Also really helps me track my eating, which I am tracking with my FitBit. Amazing how few Kettle Potato Chips are in a serving. Good thing Mark is the one who likes those, not me.)

This recipe makes two cantaloupe-sized loaves of bread, and according to a recipe calorie calculator, if divided into 10 servings, it's 165 calories per serving.

And, when hot out of the oven, a smear of butter and a sprinkling of Sugar in the Raw on a slice of this bread makes a great dessert...The Sugar in the Raw has bigger grains than regular granulated sugar, so it's crunchy.

PS. My own personal PSA: Don't use margarine. Don't use highly processed foods at all. The amount of butter in this recipe is tiny. It amounts to a tablespoon for both loaves, if you butter the bowl and put about a teaspoon on top of the loaf before baking.

Tomorrow...super easy cinnamon bread. Same basic recipe, with some simple tweaks!

Saturday, June 08, 2013

I used Tess's old wagon to make a planter. The rooster is from a flea market. I had totally different plans for these plants, but I love them in the wagon.

Now I just have to figure out how to winter the perennials.