Easy-Breezy Granola at Home

(Time to freshen up this old post made 10 years ago. Enjoy, my pumpkins!)

Who knew granola could be so easy to make? So versatile? So delicious that it will make your head spin and sparks fly from your ears? Well, if you were a cartoon it would.

I was eating my bananas and yogurt and wished I had some crunchy granola to top it off. That would have made it my favorite breakfast ever. (oh wait, or was sticky buns my favorite breakfast ever? Or baked peach french toast? Or apple nut muffins?Well, never mind about that) Fruit, yogurt, granola. The sum is far greater than the parts, I kid you not. I usually use Trader Joes maple-pecan granola when I have it. But I didn’t.  I have had a hankering in the past to make granola and here was the perfect opportunity. Especially since I make sure I always have oats on hand.

Anyone can do it. That’s why it’s called “easy-peasy”.

TOSS DRY INGREDIENTS TOGETHER IN A LARGE BOWL.

Old fashioned rolled oats, shredded coconut and nuts. Coconut can be sweetened-or not. It can be all organic-or not. Pecans, walnuts, sunflower seeds, pepitas, etc. Mix and match.

Notice the Wooden spoon. Must be wooden. You don’t want granola fairies bringing you bad dreams do you?

MIX THE WET INGREDIENTS TOGETHER

Oil, sweetener & flavor. So this could be veggie oil or melted butter or melted coconut oil. (if its summer, its probably already melted anyway, right?). Brown sugar or honey or maple syrup or a mix of all. If I have applesauce already opened in the fridge, I might put some of that in too. Then cinnamon, vanilla, almond oil or your favorite flavoring. Set these out to mix together. You can stir them up in a little saucepan on the stove until melted and combined or in the microwave.

TOSS TOGETHER, SPREAD ON A BAKING SHEET AND BAKE

Details are below, but pour the wet into the dry and mix thoroughly. Pour out onto a baking sheet. I line it with parchment or a Silpat. Place in the oven. Stir a few times while baking. When it looks a light golden brown and smells like heaven, its ready. Take it out and let it cool before adding any dried fruit.

There is no lining in this pan for this batch because it is a stoneware pan. They do not stick as bad because they do not get uber hot like metal pans do.

DRIED FRUIT

Once its cooled, then you can add things like dried cranberries, raisins, chopped apricots or dates, dried cherries. Or no fruit at all. Take your pick. Mix in and nibble-nibble-nibble.

Store in a ziplock or mason jar or some other container.

This batch turned out on the dry crunchy side, which I thought was fine. Some recipes call for more liquids. I saw a recipe that used pomegranate juice! I imagine the more liquids you use, the more it comes out sticky like caramel corn or in bigger chunks. I might try something a little different next time, just for fun. But I will never go back to buying it premade. This is just too dang easy!

  • 3 cups rolled oats
  • 1 cup shredded coconut. Sweetened or unsweetened.
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped nuts and seeds.
  • 1/2 cup of oil. Either melted butter, coconut oil, your favorite vegetable oil or a combination of them. I often mix butter with oil.
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup honey or maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup applesauce (optional)
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp flavoring. If its vanilla, use 1/2 tsp. But maple, almond and others are stronger, so I use less
  • pinch of salt
  • dried fruit of choice. (also optional, although usually added. Some people add chocolate chips. Not this girl, but some people)

Preheat the oven to 325. Using a baking sheet, line it with parchment or a silpat. Something to keep the granola from sticking as it bakes.

Take the butter, oil, which ever you are using, the sweeteners and flavorings and put them into a saucepan on low heat, just warming until the sugars are dissolved. Or put in the microwave for the same results.

In a large mixing bowl, add the oats, coconut and nuts/seeds. (I even added some rice krispies once, just for fun.) Mix with a large wooden spoon. (Why? Because wooden spoons are cool. Sigh, all right, use your plastic spoons if you must.)

Pour in the wet ingredients and mix with said spoon until fully mixed in. Then scoop out onto your prepared baking sheet. Pop into the oven and please set the timer so you don’t forget its in there. After about 8 minutes, pull it out and give it a gentle stir. Once should do it.

Put back in the oven. The total time should take anywhere from 15-20 minutes, depending. Sometimes its taken longer. With the electric stove I have to work with here, it goes faster then when I used to use a gas stove.

When its golden brown and smelling like heaven, you can bring it out and set on a cooling rack. It might still look damp. Its okay, it will solidify as it cools. It crisps up as it cools too. Ummm.

Once cooled, break up into your storage container and now its time to add your last ingredient: the dried fruit. I use cranberries but cherries, apricots, raisins, etc work. Toss, toss, toss. Mix, mix, mix.

Then take some in your finger and snack on it. Snack some more. Put it on ice cream. Or yogurt. Or just eat it out of hand.

Enjoy.

Bacon Pecan Sticky Buns from Southern Living

Hello all my sweetums! 

Aren’t sticky buns just the absolute epidemy of decadent luxury? Not something to be made lightly or often. But enjoyed slowly with heavy sighs of contentment. Knowing that while yes, they are fattening and, yes, maybe they wreck havoc on your body, they do help feed the soul with happiness, peace, joy and all those other warm fuzzies. 

You can find my regular, more intensive holiday-worthy sticky bun recipe here.

Or the cheater sticky bun recipe over here. 

Bacon Pecan Stickies!

But for now, I’m sharing the recipe I recently ripped out of the southern living magazine. I love those guys! Even before moving to the south, I was making their Hummingbird cake for family, friends and co-workers. (who are friends too, yes?).

makes 12 muffins, baked in a muffin tin.

  • 4 Tbsp butter, melted
  • 1 lb bacon, chopped
  • 1 1/2 cups brown sugar/DIVIDED
  • 1/4 cup pure maple syrup (I actually used Cracker Barrel syrup which is maple and cane syrup together, awesome!)
  • 1/4 heavy whipping cream
  • 1/4 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 (17.3) oz pkg. frozen puff pastry sheets, thawed
  • 1 Tbsp cinnamon
  • 1 3/4 cups chopped pecans/DIVIDED (or as I think of them, “a bunch”)
  1. preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Spray or grease in your favorite way your 12 cup muffin cup pan. I do not suggest paper muffin cups for these. Put this pan on a baking sheet and line that sheet with parchment because this stuff gets MESSY!
MESSY!

2) Cook the bacon in a saucepan, stirring occasionally until almost crispy, but not cooked through, 8-10 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, put the bacon onto a paper plate of paper towel lined plate. Save the bacon drippings.

3) Reduce the heat under the man to medium low and add just 1 cup of the brown sugar to the bacon fat. Cook, whisking, until sugar has melted and no longer looks grainy, just a few minutes. slowly add in the maple syrup, whisking constantly, until combined and bubbling. Whisk in the cream and salt. Remove from the heat and cover to keep warm.

4)unfold both sheets of puff pastry. It helps to put them in the fridge the night before. Or let them sit out about an hour. unfold and run a rolling pin (I like those little double ended ones from pampered chef) lightly over them to smooth out the crease. Brush both sheets evenly with melted butter. Stir together the remaining 1/2 cup brown sugar with the cinnamon in a bowl (or measuring cup) and sprinkle evenly over the buttered pastry sheets.

5) Sprinkle this with 1/2 cup of the cooked, chopped bacon and 1 cup of the chopped pecans. Press this into the sheets with your palms. Tightly roll each sheet up away from you, forming 2 tight logs. Using a sharp knife, cut each roll into 6 even pieces.

6) Pour about 1Tbsp. of bacon, caramel sauce into each muffin well. Sprinkle each well with 1 Tbsp of bacon and 1 Tbsp of pecans. Place 1 Rolled-up pastry bun, cut side down, into each muffin well, gently pressing down (smooshing a bit) but trying to keep them round. They kind of stick out of the pan at first.

This is pre-squished buns. I gently pressed them down, after filling the pan.

7) place the baking sheet with muffin pan in the preheated oven. BAke until caramel bubbles and buns are deep golden brown, 25-30 minutes. Remove from the oven. Working quickly, while they are still hot, run a small spatula or knife around the sides of the buns, just to make sure they are loose. Then invert them onto a baking sheet. Maybe the baking sheet you used under the pan, but mine was such a mess, I dropped them into a clean baking pan. Spoon any leftover goo over the buns and serve warm. These came out very hot and I burnt the roof of my mouth, so maybe count to 10.

I also think I would have cooked the bacon a bit longer. I baked these in the oven, you see. Its in a special “baking bacon pan”. Then I poured the bacon fat into a saucepan to make the goo, otherwise known as the caramel sauce. I was concerned about over baking. In the end, I’d rather have it under cooked then cooked too much. Because they keep cooking in the oven with the buns.

But there you have it. Some day I might try these in my regular sticky buns, for Christmas. I wonder how they would do in Monkey bread? If you are squeamish about using all the bacon fat, you can pour some out and sub in some butter. Or use all butter (4 Tbsp) to make your goo. It wont have that smoky bacon flavor running through it quite so much though.

They weren’t quite brown enough so I put them in for 6 more minutes. Now I’m thinking it should have been for 4. A bit scorched on top of some.

Sweet & Salty Coconut Rice

Hello my dumplings!

I wanted to add this to my recipe collection because its so delicious, I want everyone to know about it!

You can now find it all over on the web. I found it originally in a cookbook a girl at work loaned me. It was by Chrissy Teigan, who I’m sorry Chrissy, I’d never heard of. But I’m old so…In fact, that book had lots of great recipes. I might get myself a copy some day. Hang on, I’ll go buy it now!

Okay, done. Anyhoo- this rice is easy to make, dressing up a plain rice side dish and turning it into something fabulous. Its sweet! Its salty! Whats not to like? Serve with fish, dumplings, teriyaki anything, stir fry…I’ve never had it with meatloaf. I wonder how that would fly? Would grandma turn over in her grave? (I almost wrote gravy! HA!)

It takes about 20 minutes. I haven’t tried it with brown rice. Let me know if you do and how it turns out.

  • 1 1/2 cups Jasmine, Basmati or other long grain rice
  • 1 can coconut milk. (Not lite. Not the beverage. The can found in the international aisle. or even Trader Joes, if you’re lucky enough to have one around.)
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp kosher salt.
  • Maldons flaked sea salt for garnish (optional)

Chrissy liked to top with toasted shredded coconut. I’m not that fond of shredded coconut. In my yogurt, yes. But thats about it. Oh, and one cookie recipe. (I don’t even like it in german chocolate cake frosting. I know! Whats wrong with me?)

Rinse the rice and put in a saucepan that has a lid.

Add the can of coconut milk and then fill that can with water. Personally I don’t fill it all the way. I leave a 1/2″ at the top. But add a mostly filled coconut milk can of water. Stir in the sugar and salt, blending everything nicely. Start the heat, lid off the pan, and bring to a simmer. Then add the lid, turn the heat to low, just enough to keep it at a low simmer. Set the timer for 15 minutes and check it. It should take about 20 but if you check and you see craters in the rice with no excess liquid, its probably done. You can always taste test it for texture.

When its done, fluff it with a fork, remove the pan from the stove, lay a towel over it and put the lid back on for another 5 minutes. This absorbs the extra steam and helps fluff the rice, instead of sogging it down.

Serve with a sprinkle of Maldons sea salt or a twist of cracked salt. Or skip it and dig in.

Enjoy!

Baked Peach French Toast

Nothing says ‘summer’ like a fresh, local peach

Now here is a blast from the past. Since it is summer and peaches are plentiful, i thought I’d dust this recipe off from 2010! One of my first blog posts! Enjoy.

Good morning sweetie! Guess whats for breakfast? No, not choco-crunchies, guess again. No, not left over pizza try aga…forget it. Its a wonderful concoction we call baked peach french toast. Smell it? Its almost done. Ummm, warm, slightly sweet with peaches and real maple syrup. Crunchy bites of nuts. Try it and write back to tell me if you loved it. I’ll be so excited to hear if you tried it.

  • 1 loaf of french bread that you slice about 1″ think. I used less than a whole loaf.
  • about 3 oz. cream cheese
  • 1 29 oz. can sliced peaches, drained (or use sliced fresh ones if you want)
  • 1/4 cup chopped nuts like walnuts maybe
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/3 cup maple syrup
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 Tblsp melted butter
  • 1 Tbsp sugar
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. vanilla

Preheat oven to 400.

Spread cream cheese on both sides of bread. The first side is easy, but when you flip it over to do the other side, yikes! it wants to stick to the cutting board. I just used a mini spatula to lift it off and set in the pre-sprayed 9 x 13 baking dish.

Once the bread is cheesed up and set in the pan, poke holes in it with a fork, having a spoon  handy to push the bread down if it tries to stick to the fork.

I like to dice up the peaches a bit, Slices were too big. So, put your peaches over the bread and top with nuts.

Combine remaining ingredients in a bowl with a whisk. Pour over the bread.

Pop into the oven for about 25 minutes or until egg mixture is set and it looks, um, toasty?

fruit, nuts, bread, dairy all in one delicious recipe.

(You can also cut the recipe in half  and use an 8 x 8 pan. use 2 eggs and half the rest. You will have to eyeball half of 1/3 cup of syrup. Use the smaller can of peaches)

Peach Chess Pie

Hello ya’ll from the south. And not southern California. But middle-of-Alabama south.

And the south means peaches, baby!

I’m so excited. Yet another reason to love it here in the south, all these peaches, soft, ripe, sweet. I remember one year back home in the land of dry-n-crispy, I was so desperate for a good sweet peach, I ordered a box from a farm in central coast CA. I don’t even want to remember what that must have cost me. Our stores sold something they called peaches. And they looked just like a peach, on the outside. But when you try and get them ripe, you find out, like a wolf in peach clothing, its a fake, they just turn brown inside.

So halleluiah, I got me some real peaches! I’ve already made a peach crisp, put peach slices under yogurt and crunchy granola and just noshed on them plain. We went to Clanton and ate peach ice cream, peach hand pies and bought peach butter. And now I can once again make ‘Peachy-Q’ sauce.

Now I found this recipe for peach chess pie and I’m stepping out into unknown lands. The lands of “I’ve never even had chess pie, let alone Peach chess pie” and “Is it SUPPOSED to look like this?”

But thats half the fun. I hope the other half of that fun is eating a delicious pie, not throwing an embarrassing mess into the trash.

Also, ahem, (buffing finger nails on shirt) I made the pie crust from scratch. My family is totally okay with the roll out crust from the refrigerated section of the grocery store. But now that the nearest grocery store is 11 miles away, (or was it 15?), I figured, meh, I have all the ingredients anyway. It was messy, but fun. All I needed was a bottom crust.

OKAY, HERES THE TRUTH OF IT. I MADE THIS, THEN I THREW THE RECIPE AWAY.

It turned out awful looking, burnt brown. Might have been my oven, but it didn’t look anything like I expected. “Well, how did it taste?” I can hear you asking already. It was great actually. But just didn’t look appetizing.

see…

Yes, I burnt it

Where are all the peaches that should have floated to the top? All I see are bony peach skeletons! Clearly I did something wrong. But hey, not the first time, right?

Now I’m not going to blame the source of this recipe, bless their hearts. (And if you want to go to the real source of this recipe and see how its supposed to turn out, go to “Peach Chess Pie Southern Bite“) This struggle is between me and this here oven. The oven says ‘I’m just fine thank-you-very-much.’ But my burnt and over done results tell me otherwise. So we have learned to compromise. I turn the dial down 10 degrees and start watching a bit earlier than usual.

How is your relationship with your oven?

Is yours electric or gas? Thats another thing. I’ve never worked with an electric oven. Maybe thats it.

Anyhoo- here is the recipe, in case you want to show me up, show me how its done. Feel free, make it and wallow in your glory. I dare you.

PEACH CHESS PIE

  • 1 unbaked 9″ pie crust
  • 3 peaches, peeled and sliced thinly
  • 1 cube (1/2 cup) butter, room temperature
  • 1 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp almond flavoring
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 Tablespoon cornmeal
  • 1/3 cup buttermilk

preheat oven to 350. (unless you are using the oven here at the lake house. Then turn it to 340.)

Place the peeled, sliced peaches in a cutsie fashion into the pie crust.

Mix the butter, sugar, salt and flavoring together well.

Beat in the eggs and cornmeal.

Add the buttermilk until smooth.

Pour over your cutsie peaches. Put into the oven. If I were you, I’d put a baking sheet under it to catch any potential spills.

Bake 55-60 minutes. CLEARLY I should have checked it sooner. As it was, I took it out a solid 15 min early. So mind your temperature and your time my ducklings.

Easy, right? It’s not a complicated recipe. And yet…

Harrumph.

Yeah, I could have skipped showing this recipe. I didn’t have to share with my friends and family my semi-failures. But that wouldn’t be very real, would it. We all mess up in the kitchen at one time or another. We drop something just as it comes out of the oven, we forget a vital ingredient, we burn things (often ourselves, Ouchy!) If we knew it was coming out flawless every time, it wouldn’t be as fun, eh? What kind of challenge would that be? (I can tell not everyone is agreeing with me on this. ‘yes, flawless every time would be just fine, thank you.’) Baking and cooking is an act of creation. And everything created comes out a bit different. Like people. No two are the same. Similar, but not the same. (And sometimes not even remotely similar). Enjoy the differences. The lumpy loaves of bread, the lopsided cakes, the runny pies. Oh well, we eat them and move on. We learn from our creations.

Learning is fun.

Forever keep learning, my lovelies.

It turned out quite yummy and we ate it all up. But it wasn’t the prettiest princess in the castle.

Multigrain Sandwich Bread

I am looking at this recipe for the first time in a while and realize it is over 10 years old! Time to freshen it up a bit. I found this recipe in a magazine by Cooks Illustrated and now I have it in the Cooks Illustrated Baking book as well. But just in case I loose both sources (anything can happen) I like to have it on my blog site. I also like it here for my family and friends to refer to. So lets set to and freshen it up with new photos! And new thoughts on flour’s.

A lots happened in the last 10 years, (probably for you too, right?) especially in the past year. In a nutshell, I now live in Heaven Alabama. No, its not really named Heaven, but I’m pretty sure it sits right outside the gates of. Of course, come August I might be thinking its sitting right outside the gates of the other place, when the heat and humidity kick in. We can feel some kicking in the air starting in as its in the high 80’s with equal parts humidity. But THANK YOU JESUS For Air Conditioning!

I’ve recently received a shipment of fresh milled heritage grain wheat from Sunrise Flour Mill.  I had been eyeballing their site for a while, trying to rationalize buying more (and pricier) flour when I’m baking less then ever. I saw it was Heritage grains. That sounded promising. And organic. Always a plus. They not only sold flour but the whole wheat berries for you to grind! Plus, plus they labeled the bags when the wheat was milled and packaged!

Then when they were giving away a bag of flour with every order, I mean it would be the height of stupidity to not take advantage of that, right? I’m not that stupid!

Ahhh. Heaven for the flour nerd.

My wonderful next door neighbor, Betty Lynn has a flour mill she generously offers for my use, so I bought some white wheat berries for milling. White wheat berries makes a soft whole wheat good for pancakes, cookies, coffeecake, brownies, etc. If I want, can blend that with red wheat to make bread flour. Red wheat is a stronger wheat that is used to make bread. Now these berries and the other wheat flours from SFM are heritage grains. That means you are getting the wheat that they grew like in Little House on the Prairie times.

Up in that photo is the 7-grain cereal I’m using for this bread, red whole wheat, white wheat berries, a bread blend of red and white whole wheat bread flour and heritage grain white all purpose flour. For this recipe I am using the all purpose and the red whole wheat. They say they use a technique to grind the wheat that was used in the 1930’s, grinding it finer, so less cutting sharp wheat bran to be cutting up the gluten strands we are trying to create.

These are not to be confused with ancient grains. Ancient grains would be Einkorn or spelt for example. I have Einkorn berries (a Christmas gift) that Betty Lynn ground up for me too. Einkorn is the first known type of wheat the ancient Egyptians used. Or so they say. Its harder to make bread with. Not impossible, but its like learning bread making all over again. So I tend to mix it in with other grains. (Just today I mixed up a batch of Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies with 50/50 Einkorn and White Whole Wheat. As an experiment. Will keep you posted. Its ‘marinating’ in the fridge until tomorrow).

But why use heritage grains? I mean, don’t I like the Wheat Montana all purpose flour I’ve been buying in big 10lb sacks from Walmart? Yes, I do! But, I also like the idea of using grains that fed our men and women going into WWII. The breads people ate before more advanced hybridization, pesticides, glyphosates, etc. that caused lots of people to become allergic to it. Why should bread make us sick? As a baker, I want to know! And have been studying for some years. Anyway, Heritage grains, like ancient grains, are easier to digest and, for people with wheat sensitivities, this can be an answer to prayer. Similar to ancient grains, but easier to work with. I had to try it!

(So far there are no Genetically Modified wheat on the market. In Linda-land, of skittles and rainbows, may it always be so.)

Here is the recipe for Multi-grain bread. This makes 2 loaves. Eat one/freeze one. Or give one away. Or for those bigger families, just stand back and throw sticks of butter at the mobs.

If using a brad machine for mixing, cut the recipe in half. (hahaha! I meant ‘bread machine’ but instead of correcting, it made me think of a machine that makes duplicates of Brad Pitt, so I kept it, because, Brad Pitt…)

  • 1 1/4 cups-6 1/4 oz.) 7 grain hot cereal mix (I have use Bobs Red Mill 7 grain and more recently Sunrise Flour Mills 7 grain.)
  • 2 1/2 cups boiling water
  • 3 cups (15 oz.) all-purpose flour (Bobs Red Mill, King Arthur, Sunrise, Arrowhead mills. Please avoid store brands)
  • 1 1/2 cups-8 1/4 oz. whole wheat flour
  • 4 tbsp honey
  • 4 tbsp butter, melted and slightly cooled (calls for unsalted, but I never have that around.)
  • 2 1/2 tsp yeast
  • 1 tbsp salt
  • 3/4 cup pumpkin or sunflower seeds
  • 1/2 cup old-fashioned rolled oats (Optional)

also optional: Using potato water from unsalted boiling of potatoes or a couple of Tbsp of left over mashed potatoes or 2 Tbsp potato flakes. If using, add in with the honey and butter.

Place the 7-grain cereal in a large bowl and pour the boiling water over it, stirring occasionally. Let it sit for about 1 hour, making sure it is not more then 100 degrees. (use your instant read thermometer) If you are using a standing mixer, put the cereal mixture in that mixing bowl.

Once it has cooled, you can add the melted and cooled butter and honey and yeast. Mix it in. (I like using my Danish whisk for this step)

In another bowl, mix the whole wheat and all purpose flours together.

You are going to add the flour 1/2 cup at a time. I start mixing in with the Danish whisk, shifting to the standing mixer when the going gets tough. If doing this by hand, you can use the whisk, switching to hand kneading.

Add the flour until the dough makes a cohesive ball. Cover and let rest for 20 minutes. This is Important my sweeties! Its call autolyze and it gives those whole grains time to absorb the liquids. They take longer to do so then all purpose flour. Like getting behind an old, doubled over person using a cane, going up the stairs. They take longer and you just have to be patient.

Now you add the salt. (thought they forgot this ingredient, huh? Salt is a yeast inhibitor and I guess they wanted to give the dough a chance to rise without it. DO NOT leave out this ingredient, or you will be sorry. This is the voice of experience speaking here). Knead the salt into the dough and continue kneading with the mixer for for 6-8 minutes. If using mixer and dough is not leaving side of the bowl and looks too sticky, add a little more flour, 2-3 tbsp at a time and continue mixing. If kneading by hand, knead longer, at least 10 minutes, until it feels bouncy.

During the last minute of kneading add in the sunflowers or pumpkin seeds. (Unless you are out, in which case, don’t worry about it.)

Transfer to a floured work surface to continue kneading by hand, dispersing the seeds throughout the dough and the dough forms a smooth, taut ball. I like to finish the dough off on the counter with my hands. I get a feel for how the dough is working. Too wet? Too dry? Just right? Add a mist of water or flour as needed.

after first kneading

Cover the dough in the bowl with plastic wrap. I usually spray the dough with an oil spray first, then cover with plastic or a plate over the bowl. Let it rise about 45-60 minutes, until about double in size.

Spray 2 -8 x 4 loaf pans with nonstick cooking spray. (Or rub Crisco shortening in them. I tell you, Crisco is the best for greasing pans although probably not for much else. The loaves practically leap out of the pans).

Transfer the dough to the floured board you used earlier and cut in half. You can weigh it at this time with your kitchen scale to get even measurements. I didn’t do this yesterday. I just held them up and went “yeah, hmm, okay, ” and consequently ended up with a big loaf and a little loaf.

Pat each half into roughly a 9 x 6 rectangle and starting at the 6″ side, roll up ‘tautly’. Pinch the ends down. I take the sides of my hand and kind of push the ends down and tuck in as needed.

Before putting in the pan there is one last step. The oats.

Sprinkle the oats onto a plate. Brush (or spray) some oil, water or a fork beaten egg white into the shaped dough and roll in the oats. (Or you can use oat bran, wheat bran or nothing at all.)

Place your shaped oaty dough into the prepared loaf pans, turn the oven on to 375 to pre heat, cover the loaves again with plastic wrap. Let them rise 30-40 minutes. Pop into the oven when they have risen, not quite double and bake for 35-40 minutes. Do not, I repeat, do not get busy typing on a blog and ignore the timer when it goes off. If  you do, you may have over browned loaves. Not the end of the world, but still.

They should read about 200 degrees on your instant read thermometer. (if you do not have one, click on it to see why you can’t live without this) Run a knife around the edges of the loaf and tip them out of the pans, putting them on a rack to cool. Let them cool before slicing or it will mush up when you cut. Most all bread is that way. Let it cool as much as much as you can stand. Then slice, butter and ummm!

Bread 2010
Bread 2021

Enjoy my friends and sweeties.

Love, Linda

(from Linda-land)

Where I live now, with my Aunt and Uncle on a lake just outside heaven.

Feeding Sourdough Starter

Great Day for Ducks

Hello my friends and family! My Pookies and Apple Dumplings! I am going to share with you how I maintain my sourdough babies. (Although my oldest, Tiffany Bubbles, is probably 20 years old?)

I am no longer baking in ‘la petite kitchen’, having moved to Alabama. (there’s a whole other story which you may already know about. ). I had been thinking of starting a new blog site with a different name. I used the name “la petite kitchen’ because I worked in such a small kitchen. I figured, if I can bake all this in this little kitchen, you can too. But what would I call the new one? How about “Recipes of mine for when I’m dead and buried.” Because that’s kind of why I do this, so my loved ones can go back and see how I made things. But the idea of starting over, with a new blog, it just doesn’t ring my bells, know what I mean? So I’ll stay here for now. (Probably updating some lazy recipe writing I’ve done in the past).

These days I am at the lake house kitchen and this is whats going on outside today. We have an appetizer of showers, and entrée of serious steady rain served with a dessert of wild-thing downpour, to flood low lying creeks and such. It will be bouncing back and forth between those three today. With the side dish of a possibility of tornado. Hmm. No thank you, I’m full.

Lets get to business.

I’m going under the assumption that you have some starter. Maybe you got it from a bakery or a friend. Maybe you bought some or even started your own. But you’ve got it and now aren’t quite sure what to do with it. There are lots of opinions out there and you may hear conflicting ideas.

I am here to sooth away those conflicting ideas. Just do it my way.

Okay, I’m just saying I’ve been maintaining sourdough now for a couple of decades at least and I’ve tried a few things. Some work better than others. I will show you what I use and what your options are and how it may turn out. So cuddle up with your jar of sourdough and lets get started.

This is Tiffany Bubbles, my oldest jar of sourdough and the one I started myself.

I like to keep my pet sourdoughs in little 1 cup/8 oz mason jars. I used to think you had to keep a cup at least on hand and each time you fed it, you were using up cups and cups of flour. It distressed me to waste so much flour. Because I would end up throwing some of it away each feeding. Sometimes I would turn the throw-away dough into pancakes or biscuits. But not always. Besides, mason jars? Who doesn’t love using mason jars? Cheap, cute and easy to get replacement tops if you want. Dishwasher safe, need I say more?

I found out that you only need, really, to keep a tablespoon or so on hand. That was mind blowing, let me tell you! Liberating. I really only have to keep a tiny bit on hand? YES! I have about 3 tablespoons worth of starter in my jar and I keep the jar hibernating in the fridge. (I had the two, Tiffany and Dazzle, in an ice chest driving out here from California to Alabama, with a banjo on my knee.) Its all the seed you need to feed indeed. (hee-hee)

I last used Tiffany Bubbles to make sourdough bread, so Dazzle has been feeling neglected. Even if I don’t plan on making bread (which of course I am) they all need to be fed now and again. I can keep them in the fridge for months on end. They will begin to look slumbery with a gray liquid slowing building up on top. That liquid is called ‘hooch’ and you can drain it off or mix it in, it doesn’t matter at all. So about every 3 months or so I get them out to feed them, usually making some bread in the process.

Oh, I also have Sourdough Sam now as part of the sourdough family. It was a dry powdered starter my aunt brought back from Alaska in an envelope that is now a jar in the fridge. He’ll get fed next.

This is back at the Inn, when I lived and worked at the Mistletoe Bough. There is more of this starter as you can see. He is still a baby.

So I’ve fed Dazzzle…

She will be sitting out all day. I will keep an eye out for bubbles forming. That’s the nice thing about using glass. You can see what’s going on in there. Peek in the sides and watch as bubbles form.

So, get out your starter. Get out a glass bowl (ceramic is fine. plastic in a pinch.) You will just need some water and flour.

ABOUT FLOUR

All you need is flour and water and I don’t really have to talk about water do I? Its tap or bottled or filtered, room temp. That’s it.

I have organic Arrowhead Mill white flour (it was on sale) so I am using that. Sometimes I use Wheat Montana. But organic is best, if you have it. King Arthur, Bobs Red Mill, Lily White bread flour, whatever. I steer clear of store brands. It just makes me cringe a bit inside. But I’m a flour snob, so take that into account and decide for yourself.

Some people recommend using a 50/50 blend of white and whole wheat flour. (Tartine bakery for one) They use that to feed their starter and make the bread. Go for it if you want. I once tried a full on 100% whole wheat starter. It died a miserable moldy death. Since then I’ve been afraid to use whole wheat. But I’m thinking a 50/50 blend should be good. I use white for the starter and add whole wheat in the bread itself, sometimes just a little for flavor, sometimes a lot. This is what I’m comfortable with. Its one of those “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” things. Of course, I now have three sourdough babies. So the day may come when I try a blend to feed it. (Don’t worry Tiffany, I won’t experiment on you.)

You’ve got your starter, the bowl and flour and water on hand? Lets pull out the starter into the bowl.

Then I add water. About a half of my little jar is what I use.

Yes, that jar will get a good cleaning.

Now I mix it up until it is a milky white soup looking thing. More like a chowder really.

Start scooping in the flour. You do not need to measure. You are going to learn to do this by feel, looks, texture.

Ooo, Georgia peaches!

I add 2 heaping scoops from a large spoon and mix.

This is what I refer to as Goopy starter

I add a little more until I have this thick goopy dough. Thicker than pancake batter.

Now before we continue, lets stop and have a talk about our friends, the bacteria.

You see, there are two kinds of main bacteria living in your starter, hand in hand with the wild yeast. (The acid is, in fact, given off by the yeast. I don’t want to say ‘yeast waste’ or ‘yeast pee’ because that would be gross.)

That would be Lactic acid and Acetic acid. Warmer starters kept at room temperature and more runny, liquid starters tend to have more lactic acid and are milder in flavor. This is how I used to keep my starter because I didn’t know there was any other way. Cooler, less wet dough tends to grow more acetic acid, which is more sour. At Tartine bakery, they like it less sour, make bread every dang day and have the starter at room temperature and, while not runny, definitely goopier. Cool and groovy.

I bake sourdough less often. I must needs to keep the starter in the fridge or I would be wasting an enormous amount of flour feeding it every day, sometimes twice a day. I also like a more tangy sourdough flavor. Hence, I keep my starter in the fridge between bakes and I keep a firmer dough.

If you made lots of bread, at least twice a week, then you will probably be keeping your dough out at room temperature. So thats a factor in favor of lactic acid. If you keep your dough looser, thats also a plus for lactic acid. Firmer starters, like silly putty and chilled starters favor the acetic, sour taste.

Any questions?

What if you want a less sour taste but need to keep it in the fridge because you don’t run a bakery and don’t bake bread every day? Don’t worry my little sugar lumps. That’s easy. Keep the dough more jiggly, looser. The rest will happen during the break making process, when you bake the loaves. For example, I frequently ‘retard’ the bread dough by putting it in the fridge over night. This chilling and aging stimulates acetic acid. I bake it the next day and it has more flavor. So if you don’t want it more sour (and its really not all that sour in the end) then don’t do this. Don’t retard it. Don’t chill it. But thats not until you get to the bread stage. We are still at the ‘feeding of the starter’ stage.

Besides, don’t over think it. The bread will be awesome either way. The more you make it, the better idea you will have on what you like. You probably have bigger things to worry about then what kind of acid is in your starter anyway.

See that picture above? How the dough is pretty thick, leaving a trail in the bottom of the bowl?

FROM HERE ON OUT, YOU ARE IN THE SAFE ZONE.

You can do no wrong. If you leave it like this, its good.

If you add more flour to thicken it like so…

…its still good. You can stop here and let it grow bacteria babies.

or

Adding more flour still, heaping spoons at a time.

Add even more flour until you can knead it a bit.

ITS ALL GOOD. WHAT EVER WAY YOU DECIDE, IT WILL WORK.

I’m just saying that for those nervous Nellies out there who think they may be ruining it.

The best way to ruin starter is to overheat it. That will kill it. Because its alive. If you are trying to keep it warm in the unlit oven with a lightbulb on because its winter and you are giving it a ‘push’, then you forget and decide to bake chicken for dinner and preheat the oven without removing the starter because you forgot it was in there, yes, that will kill your starter baby. If you mix it with really hot water (over 110 degrees), you will kill your starter baby.

But adding more or less water or flour will not kill your starter babies. Of course, they could starve to death if you put them in the fridge and forget about them for, oh, a year. But I’ve heard of people taking them out of the fridge after 6 months and feeding them, waking them up and they are still alive. I prefer to feed them at least every 3 months. (But since I don’t keep it written down anywhere, who knows? I should mark the date on the jar when I feed it. Yes! Brilliant! I will start doing that now.)

Your starter is fed. Now what? Let it sit in its bowl at room temperature to grow. The wild yeast is growing in the starter. It may be slow and sluggish at first, especially if its been in the fridge for a great length of time. The hibernating yeast is waking up, eating sugars found in the breakdown of the flour, winking at other yeasties and making yeast babies. By the end of today I should start seeing bubble action. At that point, tonight, I will take half of the starter out and either throw it away, or put it in a jar in the fridge to make pancakes or something out of it.

Out of whats left in the jar I will now add more flour and water. I have more to start with so I will add less water and flour. But I will get it back to the consistency I like. Runny, sticky, pasty, whatever. For me, thick and pliable. I will let this sit until morning.

NOTE: YOU NEED TO REPLACE THE JAR STARTER FOR NEXT TIME.

When do I put some back in the jar to hibernate again?

Good question Sonny-Jim.

After its showing signs of life and has been fed, so lets say after the second feeding. I fed mine this morning, thats the first feeding. Tonight will be the second feeding and they should be waking up by then. (especially Tiffany. Shes an active lady.) I wait a couple of hours after the active starter has been fed, then I take a scoop out, Put it back in my clean, sterilized jars and put it back in the fridge.

If I take starter out right after feeding, the yeast has not had time to wake up and multiply. If I wait too long, until its time for another feeding, there may not be enough flour food left to maintain the starter through hibernation. So

Second feeding, let sit 2 hours, take some out to replenish your starter jar for future loaves of bread.

So, recap. I will feed the starters again tonight, wait 2-3 hours then replace starter in my jars. At that point-technically I am done! I have fed my starters and replaced my stock. I can make biscuits or pancakes or cobbler or whatever out of the sourdough I have left.

Here are examples of Tiffany and Dazzle (before I renamed her). See how it looked when I first fed it? Back then I used a large mason jar. Then notice how it bubbled up? Thats some active wild yeast!

But I am going to make bread with it.

Well, to be more specific, I am going to use this leftover sourdough to make the leaven which goes in the bread.

But that is for another day.

Happy feeding my dears!

PS I sterilize my jars by either putting them in the dishwasher for a load OR I wash them by hand. Fill half way with water, put in the microwave for 2-3 minutes until it boils. The steam created by this sterilizes the jars. Then I don’t have to replace my cheap masking tape labels.

Irish Soda Bread: Deluxe & Every Day Version

(Some of the pictures are missing but this is the time of year for the Irish Soda bread recipe. Here is the recipe I used last year…and the year before.. So rather than reinvent the wheel, and because I dont have time to start from scratch, what with brownies in the oven and 8 loaves of bread cooling on the table, here is the re-run:)

“She’s sharp as a marble!”

“He’s tick-as-a-brick”

These are a few of the more polite sayings I picked up from an Irish gal I used to work with before the flood. She was a hoot, and I thought she was from another planet. She definitely took me outside my box. I doubt she even had a box.

Around this time of year, everyone has some Irish coursing through their veins. I know we do. We did the DNA test, so we know fer sure! And one thing we all can agree on is our love for Irish Soda Bread. The plain kind, craggy, warm, creamy on the inside with a hint of sweet. Or the deluxe version with rum soaked raisins and candied orange peel. 

We serve this up with a corned beef, potato and cabbage dinner (also called a New England dinner), or a stew or pot roast or shepherds pie. Leftovers are great warmed up in the morning and slathered with butter and honey or jam.

My recipe uses a mix of whole wheat and white all purpose flours. I also put in some ground oats. I have never seen an Irish soda bread recipe with oats, but the flavor and texture oats contribute are wonderful and toasty.

(Warning: I’m about to go on a small flour rant. You can skip it.)

For the wheat flour I have used regular whole wheat, white whole wheat and even whole wheat pastry flour, which is whole wheat ground from a softer lower protein winter wheat grown in the more moderately warmer southern states. It has lower protein which means less gluten. For cookies, biscuits, scones and so forth, you do not need a high gluten content. So whole wheat pastry flour works. Okay, I just erased a whole paragraph on flours. I realize that I will have to dedicate a post just to flours, or I will go on like this all day.

(Okay, back to business.)

The butter needs to be cut into the flour. You can use a pastry cutter, a food processor or even your fingers if you must. Here I am using a food processor to save time.

For the oats, you can chop them small with a large knife (Santoku works well with a rocking action) or if you have a mini grinder that you can pulse just once or twice. You don’t need oat dust. You are just making them small.

BY THE WAY: if you are using instant oats, which I have never used, don’t chop these up. they are already chopped fine. Thats what makes them instant..

Continue reading “Irish Soda Bread: Deluxe & Every Day Version”

Corned Beef and Cabbage

Happy spring to ya’! Shore and it should be time to find corned beef on sale at the stores any day now. This meal is no doubt the top #1 in the charts for my family overall. The one meal they all clamber for. And shall we talk easy? While you can glaze it or bake it, my go-to method is the slow cooker. Or, had I one, I would use an Instapot.  But I don’t. So lets talk about the crock pot method.

You will need some potatoes, like reds, whites or whatever you like, cut into halves or fourths, depending on the size of the potato. If they are russets, peel them first. And cut up some carrots too, an onion if you want. Put these all in the bottom of the crock pot. You will need about a half a head of cabbage cored and cut into wedges for later.

You cut open the corned beef package, plop the meat and any juices and seasoning into the crock pot over the veggies, and put in about 1-2 cups of water. It doesn’t need much. Turn it on low for about 8 hours. (I will show you variations to the basic down below). Now other recipes tell you to wash off the corned beef. But no, I have never washed off all that seasoning.  Keep it right in the pot.

Fast forward 8 hours.

Take out the meat and veggies and put onto a platter, which can sit in a warm oven or cover with foil. Put the cabbage, cut into a wedges, into the crock pot, cover and turn it on high. It should be soft enough in about 20-30 minutes. I sometimes put the cabbage in a large saucepan, pour juices from the crock pot over it and steam it on the stove top. It feels faster to me and I can start that before the corned beef is even done, just spooning out some juices from the crock pot.

So where were we. The veggies and meat are done. Slice the meat. (always make sure to let the meat rest before slicing, which you already did here). Serve the cabbage with the rest. I serve some of the juices in a measuring cup to pour over the plates for those who want it. (I’m being real with you here folks. Measuring cup. Yes, I do have gravy boats too, but this is too watery. Keep it simple).

Now about those variations. I discovered Trader Joes garlic mustard and love to slather that over the corned beef before cooking. Some people pour beer into the crock pot, some put brown sugar or apple juice or both into the water. I don’t. But some do.

What if you don’t have a crock pot or waited too long?? No worries little lady (or gent, or me). Especially if you are not used to the time change and “dang” its time to cook already and didn’t we just eat lunch?” Just get out your big ol’ pot, put the meat in with water to cover, bring to a boil, then turn it down and let the meat simmer for about 3-4 hours. Then add your cut potatoes and carrots to the pot for the last 20 minutes, then top with the cabbage wedges and steam the whole kit and caboodle another 20 min. until tender.

I like to buy flat cut. And do not think that leaner is really better. I made that mistake. Now I always make sure there is some fat running through it. I am picky and look through all the corned beefies until I find just the right one, or two, or three. Flat cut, some fat, not too much, but not too lean. Too lean makes it makes it too dry, tough or something undesirable. There is also point cut, which some people swear by. They seem to be a lot fattier, but if you pick through and find a good one, go for it.

And you really can’t over cook the darn thing, even if you tried. You could crock pot it 10 or 11 or 12 hours on low and it would still be wonderful beyond belief, melting in your mouth. Gosh I am hungry. I haven’t had lunch and now all I want is corned beef. If you have any leftovers. (like we ever do), you can slice thin for sandwiches. Or if you are feeling real ambitious, you can make corned beef hash for breakfast, a favorite of reenactors.

CORNED BEEF IN THE SLOW COOKER

  • 1 corned beef, not too lean
  • small potatoes, red, gold or white. amount depends on size of slow cooker and number of people eating
  • several carrots, peeled and cut into 1″ chunks
  • mustard (optional)
  • water

Wash the potatoes, but don’t peel. Unless all you have are russet potatoes. You might want to peel those thick skins. But it you have thin skinned ones, don’t peel. Cut them into largish bite size pieces.

Put the potatoes and carrots in the bottom of the pot.

Open the corned beef and slid it and any juices and spices over the vegies. If it has a seasoning packet, open it and stand by.

Brush a bit of mustard on the top of the corned beef. (totally optional). Sprinkle on the spices now, if you have them.

Put about a 1/2 cup of water, apple juice or beer into the pot. You do not need much because as the meat “melts” away, its juices fill up the pot enough to cook the vegies in. 

Now set on low for 8-9 hours or on high 5 hours. Any less and it might not be fork tender. 

During the last hour (if on high) or two hours (if on low) add the slices of cabbage to the top of the pan. You might have to tuck into the sides. But the meat will shrink up, so it should fit.

There, that’s it. I hope this helps. Enjoy! (and don’t forget your slices of Irish soda bread!

Hummingbird Coffeecake

Half a coffeecake for now, half in the freezer for later!

(Just a refresher for anyone wanting to make this again. Its kind of hummingbird season. Or brunch season. And little squares or wedges of this little cake are, as aunty would say, fabulous!)

Welcome to a Pandemic Quarantined bakers petite kitchen! Or maybe you have one of your own? Apparently loads of people who hitherto (yes, hitherto) have not had time to bake are now shoveling breads and pastries in and out of their ovens at breakneck speeds.  I figure this must be the case since flour shelves (and yeast and baking soda and …) were empty in every market and online for so long. This is a good thing. Bake away! Go wild! Try something new! I myself been turning out loaves of sourdough, challah, cookies and cakes faster than we can eat them. Thank goodness for freezers!  Even my  youngest made a loaf of Japanese milk bread and just yesterday a pan of peanut butter brownies from the back of the Bobs Red Mill label. All delicious I might add!

Baking is therapy. Its zen. Its soul filling.  It’s comfort brought by working with your hands to creating something new and unique. Because each batch of anything you make is unique, brought into this world, created by you to fulfill its destiny!  It’s knowing that this thing you create will nourish your family (or at least put a smile on their faces).  Measuring and chopping, toasting and mixing. Listening to music. Or getting a child to help in the kitchen. Is this goo really going to end up brownies? Is this lump of dough really going to bake into bread?  There’s a lot of faith in baking and cooking too. Spiritual.

But then the flour bucket runs low.

Chaos! Mayhem! Neighbor turning against neighbor! Fire! Explosions! Screams in the night!

Oh wait. That was Die Hard I watched the other night with son. Retro 80’s movie night. Ah-hem. Now its just nail biting anxiety. What if I feel the need to bake? What if we run out of bread? (In the back of my mind a voice was heard saying “that might not be a bad thing ms Hippy-hippy-shake!) Continue reading “Hummingbird Coffeecake”