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Posts tagged ‘bread’

Last night we had a very special evening. The Hoodview Church ***link*** had an Agape Feast and communion. It was a potluck-style supper of fruit, bread, and soup.

I wish I had taken my camera, but I didn’t think about it until later. The room was beautifully arranged by one of my friends. There were a number of rectangle tables arranged in the shape of a cross, with extra round overflow tables around it. On the tables were decorations of candles, crosses, and almost two dozen of this very beautiful resurrection garden, made by various church members. (I’ll see if my friend who took pictures can get me a picture later–otherwise follow the link.)

After supper, we sang two songs, “At the Cross” and “Jesus, Keep Me Near the Cross.” Then we had a short homily by a young man that I assume is a pastor-in-training (we haven’t been to this church for a long time, so we are a little out-of-touch with what is happening there). Then we broke up for footwashing preparatory to communion, at which point we went home. It was almost 8:00 by this time, and Manny was what I like to call “tired wired”–you know, when toddlers get hyper because they are actually tired.

Before leaving, I asked if we could take a little communion bread and grape juice home. I hadn’t participated in communion for a while, and I didn’t want to be cheated of the experience on account of the kids!

Once we were home and the kids were in bed, my husband crashed on the couch and searched for a Bible passage to read, while I set out the communion meal and prepared a basin, water, and towel. Then we shared communion together.

By this time, we were both tired, so we went to bed. However, I woke early this morning. I remembered how the last time we participated in an Agape Feast at Hoodview, the pastor had walked around the cross, meditating out loud on the various wounds of Christ and His sacrifice for us. So in the wee hours before sunrise this morning, I lay quietly and did the same in my own mind. It moved me to tears. What love Jesus has for each of us!

Today we go back to celebrate his resurrection. Sure, it’s a day early, but since we don’t worship on Sunday, it is more convenient to do it today. There will be a potluck brunch, ministry booths in the foyer, followed by a musical, dramatized reenactment of Jesus’ death and resurrection. I am looking forward to it!

How are you celebrating Christ’s sacrifice and resurrection this weekend?

Well, about a week ago I decided to make rye sourdough. I found a very simple sourdough starter recipe, and after about a dozen exchanges of emails with the author of that site, I came up with a starter that I had to refrigerate last Thursday because Manny had a doctor’s appointment Friday morning and I knew I wouldn’t have time to work on it.

Without going into all the details of exactly what I did (just read the instructions in the link above if you want to know), I mixed up more flour and water and a little salt with a portion of the starter that I had revived by doubling it, kneeded a bit (which was hard, because it was a VERY stiff dough), then divided it into roughly half. You see, I wanted to compare how it would look and turn out in a round loaf verses a bread pan. Half went into the bread pan and half onto a cookie sheet (I would have used a clay stone or pizza stone if I’d had one).

About 3 hours later it had risen a little, but it was almost 9:00 pm, so I gave up and baked it for half an hour. Knife inserted in the middle came out clean, so I knew it was done inside. The round loaf came off the sheet right away, but the one in the greased glass bread pan didn’t want to come out right away. I had to let it sit a few minutes before it would release without sticking too much (in spite of all the oil I smeared the pan with before putting in the dough).

Oh, you want to see pictures? But of course! This first one shows a bird’s-eye view of the two loaves, plus a portion of the 100% rye bread I made a few days ago (yeast-risen–this recipe). The pan I used to bake both that and the sourdough to the right is on the far right.

Top View - Middle loaf is not sourdough

This picture shows the sides of the three loaves, with the bread pan in the back for size comparison. The funny edges on the top of the middle one are because it overflowed the pan and I had to break those pieces off, so it looks a little funny. It was a 4-cup loaf of bread, but surprisingly rose well–melting butter soaks through because it is so light, comparatively. I’m not exactly sure how much flour went into the other two loaves in cups–it was somewhere around 700 grams, if that means anything.

Side Views - Sorry, but I ate them before I got the camera!

Now, for crumb views. Sorry the flash makes it so bright, but I don’t have optimal lighting nor a fancy camera, and I was too much in a hurry to dig up the tripod. Click on pictures to enlarge.

As you can see, the first two, the sourdoughs, didn’t rise much, but they did rise some. The last one was yeast risen and really rises a lot. It has a very wet dough, too wet to kneed, but very stiff to stir (which is what you are supposed to do with it anyway). I should try baking it in my bread machine pan sometime, just to see how much it will actually rise (because it likes to overflow the glass bread pan, which is much shorter). I couldn’t possibly kneed it in the bread machine, though!

Yes, I didn’t get pictures of the loaves before cutting. Why? I was hungry. I had baked it the night before and taken it out too late to eat any. So as soon as breakfast rolled around, I ate several slices. Yummy! It has a nice sour taste that reminds me of the kefir bread I made over 2 years ago. It’s even better toasted. It’s been a long time in coming, but now that I have a working starter, I can keep working with it, so I can make all the sourdough I want. Yay! Whole grain and wheat free.

Now if I can just get it to rise a bit more… But if not, I can use the yeast rye bread for sandwiches and this for, well, all other bread cravings. Wonder if it would go over well at potluck once I perfect the recipe… which means getting a better scale that weighs in at least 5 gram increments and is more accurate than the one I have (which could be off by as much as 20 grams or more).

Yeah, making bread by weight is a whole new level of breadmaking. But I like it. It means I don’t have to worry about having or doubling a recipe–because weights are accurate–if the scale is.

Okay, enough. Go make a starter. Or come visit and I’ll share a slice with you. If there is any left!

Rye Sourdough

When I first tried sourdough many years ago, I fell in love with it. The tangy flavor really appealed to me. I especially liked the crusty edges (even though I rarely eat the heels of regular bread). Unfortunately, most sourdough is 100% white flour, and I have been trying to avoid white flour as much as possible. In fact, I managed to go 4 or 5 months here in Aloha without it. When I did buy it, it was for a recipe for my husband to take to work for his coworkers. And with the leftovers, I attempted to make playdough (that turned out to be a failure–the recipe with cornstarch was much more like the real thing). But now I’m rambling…

Since I have developed an allergy to wheat, I try to avoid it for the most part. That means no more bread at potlucks, for instance. So all the fancy sourdoughs that show up there don’t show up on my plate. And I don’t buy it, white or whole grain or otherwise.

But I thought, now that I’ve found a good recipe for 100% rye bread, maybe I could find a recipe for 100% rye sourdough, and a way to make a starter.

Sure enough, I found a site that explains exactly how to make a rye sourdough starter, and then how to make bread with it. Granted, the recipe it shows in those steps uses 50% wheat, but I wrote the author, and he shared a sort of recipe for 100% rye (something about 78% hydration, 1% salt and 1% caraway, I think it was). I still have a lot to learn, it seems.

But I can’t do anything until I have a ripe starter, and that will take the better part of this week, it seems, so I have plenty of time to figure that out. I had everything I needed except for distilled water and a kitchen scale. Apparently, the kitchen scale is very important, because the water and flour need to be mixed in equal weights–such as 50 grams each–and it’s very difficult to be accurate with measurements. And when it comes to actually making the bread, the only way one could figure out 78% hydration, which means more flour than water, so that instead of 50:50 rye:water it’s now 100:78. It seems I’ll get to use some math for the process–my favorite subject it was, so that will be nice.

Anyhow, I stopped at the Goodwill on my way home from shopping today and found a small kitchen scale for $1.99! I also found a number of other things I hadn’t planned on buying and ended up spending over $25, but that’s okay, because they were all things we more or less needed. Okay, the $10 family-sized swimming pool probably wasn’t really needed, but then, the neighbors loaned us their kiddie pool, and it got a big hole and it’s not fixable, and it was worth $10, so now we can replace it, so I guess it was needed after all.

Oops, I’m rambling again. Sorry…

So I picked up a gallon of distilled water and mixed up 50 grams each of 100% organic rye flour and water in a widemouth canning jar, screwed on a lid (a plastic one–not too tight), and set it in the kitchen.

My only concern is that the temperature of the house fluctuates dramatically. Right now it is about 80 degrees (the A/C doesn’t work), but this morning it was 65 (thanks to all the open windows). I hope this doesn’t negatively affect the culture. Maybe it will just slow it down at night.

Anyhow, I can’t wait for morning to see if it has any bubbles. I’ll take a picture then–it’s late now and I’m ready for bed. It’s been a long day!

All I can say is that a rye sourdough starter looks a whole lot easier to make than a wheat one, so maybe it’s a blessing I became allergic to wheat. And there’s nothing better than rye bread with caraway. Unless it’s more rye bread with caraway!

If you have any interest in rye sourdough, I would encourage you to take a look at the site I found. They have a lot of interesting information, including pictures of the bread they have made. It looks so good!!!

Have you noticed that food prices have been going up? Even with all the bulk buying that I do, it seems that it is getting harder and harder to stay within my budget. Some months I have to supplement a few dollars of my personal money to get us through the month–or ask my husband for a little of his.

There are certain meals that are rather popular in our family, but some of those are a little pricier than others. For instance, we all like scrambled tofu on sweet potatoes, but sweet potatoes are not cheap. I almost always buy them for my son, who is on such a limited diet that I get him whatever he can eat even if it’s not exactly cheap (and since he’s little, he doesn’t require large quantities, thank goodness!), but for the rest of us, I change things around.

So instead of tofu over sweet potatoes, I’ll cook some cornmeal the night before and put it into a glass bread pan. In the morning, I slice and bake. Voila! Baked cornmeal!

Another favorite meal is seasoned oven fries dipped in sunflower seed sour cream mixed with avocado. When avocados get too expensive, I use tomatoes and cilantro instead (if my daughter liked spicy hot, I’d throw in a serrano pepper, but she doesn’t yet). When I run out of red potatoes (the best kind for oven fries) and money is short, I cook a pot of savory oatmeal. That is, I use a powdered chicken or beef style powdered broth to make it savory, then pour the plain sour cream over it, and add some onion rings. These onion rings are sauted in little oil with a couple dashes of salt and a quirt of lemon juice. My daughter does not like onions, but she loves this style, because the lemon juice takes the oniony taste right out. She calls them worms. That makes a rather tasty and nutritious breakfast that sticks a little longer than the oatmeal/milk/fruit breakfast that most Americans eat. Of course, we still eat some fruit if we have it, just not in the oatmeal.

When I get tired of regular lentils, I grab some spices and change the flavor. Add curry powder, cumin, tumeric, and ginger powder to the fresh onions and garlic and celery that I would normally put in a pot of lentils, and suddenly they are Indian style lentils! I like to put some extra cayenne pepper on mine, especially on a cold day (of which Oregon has had a lot this summer). Serve over rice. I especially like to do this with red lentils, though it will work for just about any kind of lentil.

When I decide I can’t afford to buy tofu and I’m too busy or lazy to make it (right now I have a good excuse–my tofu mold is an hour’s drive away and I don’t have a car), I make a soy souffle. This I serve over millet or quinoa or buckwheat or whatever whole grain I feel like cooking up (those 3 are our favorites for eating with souffle, though I suppose you could use rice or Bulgar wheat too).

We like to eat eggplant sliced and breaded with pasta, but I only buy it once or twice a month. Pasta alone does not satisfy my husband–he needs more protein. So I found a delicious recipe for Italian white beans. My slow cooker is about 10 feet away from my tofu mold, so I just cook the white beans in my pressure cooker, add extra water and all the other ingredients, and cook on low for about half an hour or until my husband gets home. He is picky about white beans, but loves this style. I use dried tomatoes I get in a bin at the grocery store instead of the ones canned in oil, because they’re cheaper, so I find that soaking them in hot water for a while while the beans cook helps (and I can add the water to the beans too). I also use manzanilla olives instead of the olives they call for (because that’s usually what I have on hand, other than regular black olives, which would add nothing to the flavor!). Rice pasta (since I’m trying to avoid wheat) with a cheap pasta sauce doctored a little (usually extra onions and dried basil, maybe some mushrooms or olives if I feel like it) and these beans makes a complete meal.

In my quest to find a substitute for wheat bread, I discovered this tasty recipe for 100% rye bread. I use carob powder instead of espresso powder, but other than that, I follow the recipe to a T. It looks like a lot of work, but actually, you only have to stir it for about 3 minutes, then turn it into an oiled mixing bowl and let it rise twice before transferring it to a greased bread pan to rise again, then bake it. It actually rises quite nicely, and the flavor is, well, if you like rye bread, you’ll love this! It holds together well enough to work for sandwiches, and it rises enough to not be too heavy (for me, anyhow). Sure, it’s not gluten free, but I don’t seem to be bothered by gluten. Just wheat. Hasn’t stopped me from eating it entirely, but I do best if I eat it no more than once a week (of course, if I stopped eating it completely, I’d probably do even better, but I’m doing well enough to be content for the moment). I buy organic rye flour in the 10-pound bag, so it’s actually really good bread. And even though rye flour is not as cheap as wheat, homemade rye bread is cheaper than a good loaf of whole wheat–or rye bread, for that matter!

Well, I think the souffle we’re having for tomorrow’s breakfast has cooled enough. That means I need to get off, go brush my teeth, and hit the sack. I hope you enjoyed my musings, and hopefully you’ve gotten some ideas on how you can save money when the end of the month hits again in a few weeks and there seems to be more month than food-budget money. If you’re in the habit of buying cheap food in bulk, you’ll be sure to make it!

I have a friend (Hi if you are reading this) who has a dream of learning to make good bread by hand. I admire her. But I do not share her dream. I love my bread machine! I mean, I have two little kids. That explains everything, right? To save time, I decided to make an audio post–a blogcast?–about it. I recorded it on my iPod, so you will need Quicktime to listen.

Here is the recipe I use:

1 c water (I use a scant cup)
2 1/2 c fleshly ground whole wheat flour*
2 tsp yeast
1 Tbsp soy flour
1 Tbsp gluten flour
1 tsp salt
1 1/2 Tbsp light Smart Balance spread
2 Tbsp molasses (or honey, or mix of both)

I put these into the machine roughly in this order. Of course, now I mix it first, so that there is no water to leak out of the pan. I set it to the fast rise wheat setting, which I have tweaked to allow a little more kneading time and a little extra rise time. Then when it beats it down after the 1st rise, I take the paddle and dough out, shape the dough, and put it back in, minus the paddle. Voila! Delicious bread with very little effort! Works for me!

Doesn't that look delicious?

* I actually use 2 cups of flour as finely ground as I can get it in my Champion Juicer grain grinder, and 1/2 cup of more coarsely ground flour–my husband likes it better that way. If you like lighter bread, use 1/2 cup white instead. When I make dinner rolls, I use 1 cup white and 1 1/2 cups wheat. I also find that I need to use a little extra because of the flour I use; maybe my wheat is more moist than store-bought flour would be.

Breadcrumbs

Have you ever decided to make a recipe, only to discover that you don’t have any breadcrumbs on hand—or not enough bread available with which to make some? I have, more than once. Especially when the recipe calls for fresh breadcrumbs. But now I almost always have extra bread for breadcrumbs, and I usually have some dried bread available too.

Growing up, my mom loved the heels of the bread best. My brother and I were glad to let her have them. Even now I don’t much care for the ends of the bread, but I also don’t want to waste them. If I let them sit around until I have enough to fill a cookie sheet to dry for breadcrumbs, they’ll get moldy. And I hate heating up the oven for only 2 or 4 slices—and heels and regular slices take different lengths of time to dry anyway. So whenever I finish a loaf of bread, I put the heels in a bag in the freezer.

It only takes a couple of minutes to thaw out the slice or two I will need to make my soufflé (which uses fresh breadcrumbs). And when the bag starts to get full, or when I get low on dry bread, I will fill a cookie sheet and put them in the oven at 250, checking them every 30-40 minutes (less as they get closer to being done). Once dry, I can blend them in the blender for breadcrumbs and store them in a jar, or I can put them in a corner of the breadbox in a ziplock storage bag for use however whenever. If my son could eat wheat, I would let him gnaw on them for teething. Though I would probably use the middle of the bread for that, not the ends.

So if you don’t care for the ends of the bread, don’t throw them away. Save them for a rainy day!

Works for me!