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February 13, 2012 in cake, desserts4 comments

Fairytale Gingerbread Cake

fairytale gingerbread cake

When I told Mom I was thinking of making gingerbread cake, she told me she wasn’t a fan. Which didn’t surprise me a bit. She’s very spice-averse, particularly the warm spices: cloves, nutmeg, ginger. (However, she doesn’t realize that in the past several years she’s become much more tolerant of them. Don’t tell her I told you!)

Then Mom said something that set off happy little bells in my head.

“My mom used to make gingerbread and it was the best thing ever with canned peaches and whipped cream on top.”

Speak of the fruit-devil! I had just opened up a jar of peaches the other day and they had me hooked. They have me hooked. We’d just canned peaches again last summer and I vowed to actually eat them this winter. Damn, nothing better than home-canned peaches in February.

Now, toss those luscious, home-canned peaches atop moist, whole-grain gingerbread? Spray some fun canned whip cream on top?

Where do I sign up? Oh, that’s right. Here! Read more on Fairytale Gingerbread Cake…

April 18, 2011 in desserts, vegetarian8 comments

Birthday Beignets, Anyone? A Whole Wheat Beignet Recipe

beignets3.jpg

Sugar beets are a communal crop. It’s rare for one farmer to have both the specialized harvesting equipment and the manpower required to harvest all of his sugar beets by himself. It’s also a busy crop: as the beets are pulled from the ground by the mechanical harvester they are dumped into a truck driven alongside it in the field, and they need to be driven to the sugar plant ASAP. As a result, several farmers work together in the fall to get everyone’s sugar beet crop in on time. Read more on Birthday Beignets, Anyone? A Whole Wheat Beignet Recipe…

March 8, 2010 in breads, how to, vegan, vegetarianno comments yet

whole wheat levain, day 4 and on

whole wheat levain, day 4

Some of you have been expressing…concern…as to what happened with the whole big levain/sourdough plot. I’ll tell you what happened. A winter storm happened. Unripe levain happened. Flat bread happened. And a possibly unconnected but mysteriously coincidental horrible sinus flareup happened.

By day 4, I had a feeling the levain was ripe and active. Compare the above pic to day 3 and see how much the yeast activity made the levain rise in 12 hours. So I put it back into its normal container and fed it again that evening and planned to bake whole wheat sourdough the next day.

When I checked it in the morning, I frowned. Read more on whole wheat levain, day 4 and on…

February 17, 2010 in breads, how to, vegan, vegetarianno comments yet

whole wheat levain, day 3

whole wheat levain for sourdough, day 3 - marker

How about a nice tall glass of levain?

Today is Day 3, when we begin feeding the levain twice a day versus the once per day of days 1 and 2. That pic is at 3.5. I’ve put the levain into a tall, clear glass and marked it. In 12 hours we’ll see how much the yeast activity has made it expand.

whole wheat levain for sourdough, day 3 - stirred

Notice all those bubbles, made by that friendly wild yeast I’ve attracted. The catnip is this simple flour-and-water combination, at room temperature. The levain is sticky, and stretches when I stir it before discarding/feeding.

Its developed a slightly fruity, tangy smell, yet still with that sweet and fresh smell to it. I tasted a bit of the levain and yes, there was a hint of sour to it. Fingers crossed — it seems to be coming along nicely. Let’s hope I don’t eff it up somehow. Read more on whole wheat levain, day 3…

February 16, 2010 in breads, how to, vegan, vegetarianno comments yet

whole wheat levain, day 2

whole wheat levain, day 2

This is your brain on SmokeMonster!Locke.

Okay, it’s just the whole wheat levain before stirring it up on Day 2. You know what that liquid is on top? Sourdough breadmakers have a highly technical term for it. They call it hooch, because it’s about 15-20 proof. It’s a result of the fermentation process of the yeast. That would be the wild yeast that I set out this lovely catnip of flour and water to attract. There’s nothing wrong with hooch, so go ahead and mix it back in.

You can tell from the hooch that something’s going on now, but there isn’t a lot of bubbling or expansion going on yet. The levain has a comforting, sweet and fresh flour smell. Read more on whole wheat levain, day 2…

February 15, 2010 in breads, how to, vegan, vegetarian1 comment

whole wheat levain, day 1

whole wheat levain for sourdough, day 1

Sis told me yesterday she began the starter for Amish friendship bread, which apparently involves mixing flour, sugar, and yeast and letting it sit on the counter. After it develops for several days, you can make sourdough bread from part of the starter, keep the rest of it going, and continue making bread.

I’ve always been a bit meh on the whole sourdough concept. It’s been a rare occasion when I’ve really dug a sourdough bread, but on the times I have, I’ve really, really dug it. The King Arthur Flour Whole Grain Baking cookbook has a whole chapter devoted to whole grain sourdoughs. I’d avoided it because the whole process seemed so wasteful (I’ll explain why shortly). However, a few months back I bought a different brand of whole wheat flour that was such a coarse grind that I found it incredibly difficult to bake with. I stuck it in the freezer, labeled it “coarse ww flour,” and forgot about it, figuring some use would arise for it sometime.

That time is now. Read more on whole wheat levain, day 1…

daring bakers: nanaimo bars

nanaimo bars stacked

The January 2010 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Lauren of Celiac Teen. Lauren chose Gluten-Free Graham Wafers and Nanaimo Bars as the challenge for the month. The sources she based her recipe on are 101 Cookbooks and www.nanaimo.ca. Recipes for whole wheat graham crackers and Nanaimo bars at the end of the post.

Read more on daring bakers: nanaimo bars…

December 23, 2009 in cookies, vegetarian3 comments

chewy oatmeal cutouts

chewy oatmeal cutout cookies, dusted with cinnamon sugar

Time now to quit with the endless family stories and begin slamming out these cookie recipes. Today I made progress on this month’s Daring Bakers Challenge. It’s a secret, to be revealed on the 27th. Which is a shame, because it’s sort of festive. :p

cutting out some chewy oatmeal cutout cookies!

Also began filling the chocolate mint cookie sandwiches. Damn, those little chocolate disks taste just like Oreos. And I learned why Grandma made them so honkin’ big (I made them about 1-1/2 inches round instead) — the recipe made approximately 270 cookie halves. Yes, that’s 135 sandwiches. I’ll post a final total when I finish and get the recipe up. Of course, it will be a tad off due to shrinkage. Shrinkage in this case being little (and big) hands snatching them up and popping them into mouths during the filling process.

bake, gingerbread man, bake

ohnoes, the gingerbread man in searing 350 degree heat!

And tomorrow evening I’ll be decorating these chewy oatmeal cutouts with Justin and Maggie. What a pleasant surprise these were. Thumbs up from kids and adults alike, and that was just the ones I tossed cinnamon sugar onto. Crispy on the edges, chewy in the middle, easy to roll and a good deal of whole grains inside. Read more on chewy oatmeal cutouts…

July 23, 2009 in breads, desserts, vegetarian2 comments

whole wheat banana-chocolate chip muffins

whole wheat banana-chocolate chip muffins...mmm

Oh gods. Rotting bananas on the counter again.

I don’t want banana bread. I’ll just put half of it in the freezer and forget it’s there.

Oh! A recipe for banana-chocolate chip muffins. I like chocolate chips, yes I do.

whole wheat banana-chocolate chip muffins have neat insides!

And about 45 minutes later these babies came out of the oven, all gently crisped tops and warm, moist, finely-textured insides. Crap. That sounds really dirty.

Don’t act so smug. I know I’m not the only one who went there.

those moist, finely-textured insides have chocolate chips!

Sis said these muffins were like a spice cake with banana flavor. The brother-in-law only got a bite and wanted more, pestering Sis until she made her own (not this recipe, oddly) the next day. She used mini chips and liked that even better.

Personally, I like the extra depth the cinnamon and nutmeg lend to the hearty whole wheat, rottingly sweet bananas, and chocolate. But if for some wacky, crazy, insane reason you don’t, just omit them from the recipe.

one whole wheat banana chocolate chip muffin, so lonely

What do you like to do with overripe bananas, anyway? Read more on whole wheat banana-chocolate chip muffins…

July 20, 2009 in breads, vegan, vegetarian16 comments

whole wheat tortillas

whole wheat tortillas, all stacked up

Don’t you just get bored with bread sometimes? Bla bla sandwich, bla bla toast. Wouldn’t it be so much more fun to stuff egg salad or beans and lettuce or —

Stop the presses! Shut. Down. EVERYTHING. (We’ll intersperse some tortilla-making photos during this break.)

a rolled out whole wheat tortilla, ready for the pan

The latest casting news for the upcoming HBO production of George R. R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire fantasy series is OUT!

SOIAF, as the series is affectionately acronymed, is the first book series I’ve deigned to read that isn’t finished yet. Let me tell you a story about that. Several years ago people recommended I begin SOIAF. But I don’t like fantasy, I said. You’ll like this one, they said. But the series isn’t finished yet, I said, I’ll be left hanging for years after finishing the last installment. There is that, they conceded.

Plus, and remember this was years ago, there was worry about the Wheel of Time series. The series was dragging on much longer than originally envisioned, readers complained, observing that it seemed much like Jordan was planning to milk it for the rest of his ilfe. They also worried he’d die before finishing it.

That came true.

what a mess!

But, against my better judgement, I began SOIAF anyway. And was blown away, in spite of some over-the-top mustache twirling in the first book, e.g., “Look! They’re so evil they’d nonchalantly kill a little child!” And no, that’s not a spoiler, because as you discover, a heck of a lot of people get nonchalantly killed in this series…but that first one is groan-worthy.

So I read all four books in this trilogy-turned-septology (originally slated for three books, now the plan is seven, and what the hell, is that even a word?) and we’re now waiting on the fifth.

In the meantime, there’s been talk about some kind of movie or series based on the books. Finally, HBO signed on to do a series, and they’re doing the casting now for A Game of Thrones (the first book, slated to be one season, I believe), and we hear about it in dribs and drabs.

get to the SOIAF’ing point already

The news just came out! Guess who’s playing Ned Stark?

Boromir, er, Sean Bean, er, Ned Stark

Boromir! AKA Sean Bean. And I doubt he’s going to be plotting to catapult the ring into Mordor this time. Bean’s a great fit for the look of the character; in fact, all of the casting I’ve seen so far looks to be spot-on. It’s kind of scary.

Maybe I should call these Ned-tillas in honor of the day. No. Oh gods, that’s horrible. They’re whole wheat tortillas, and they’re totally easier than they sound. Seriously. It’s stirring. Then rolling-into-balls. Then rolling-out-balls and slapping-into-hot-pan for 2 minutes. In the middle of that there’s some resting. And the actual making of the tortillas is nearly half an hour stove time, kind of like when making risotto, except without all that tiring stirring.

P.S. These are really fresh, flavorful tortillas.

two more pointless photos of whole wheat tortillas

Did you ever think you’d be making your own tortillas? I mean seriously. I want to know. And before the break, here’s two more really neat pics of the whole wheat tortillas. Read more on whole wheat tortillas…