Sunday, July 29, 2012

Roasted Tomato Glory

I'm going to keep this short and sweet. You must absolutely find some fresh ripe homegrown tomatoes. When you obtain these tomatoes simply wash, core, slice in half and roast them in the oven for approximately an hour. I went ahead and roasted them for 45 minutes at 400 degrees. Then I stirred them around, added some garlic and fresh herbs and continued the roasting at 300 degrees for another 30 minutes. After cooling for a bit, put into a blender, add several splashes of balsamic vinegar, olive oil, sea salt and pepper and then blend. The end result is the most amazing flavorful tomato sauce you have ever imagined. I am literally in roasted tomato heaven right now!

Roasted beauty combo of yellow and red tomatoes.

Pureed awesomeness!

Placed on top of simple grilled eggplant = an epic delight!

Friday, July 27, 2012

No-Knead Crusty Bread

This is it folks. The easiest, simple, tasty, crusty bread you will ever make. It takes some planning out and time to develop this greatness, but the actual hands-on time is very minimal. I urge you to try it out real soon!

Into a large bowl go:
345 grams cool water
250 grams whole wheat flour
150 grams unbleached all-purpose or bread flour
8 grams salt
2 grams instant yeast

Simply combine with a large wooden spoon until you have a wet sticky shaggy dough. Cover this and let sit at room temperature overnight for 12-18 hours. 

Due to the above average room temperature in my humble abode my dough is looking quite nice after only 10 hours. You want to see obvious bubbles on the surface and it should be doubled in size.

Next you will heavily flour a work surface and dump your dough out onto it. Using a bench scraper stretch the one end out at a time and fold onto the dough. Repeat with each of the four sides. This is called folding the dough. I let mine sit for about 30 minutes and then come back for the final shaping. Remember this is a wet dough but you don't want to add too much flour so that you get chunks of it inside the dough.

For the final shaping, I folded it again and then rounded the loaf. Place a tea towel into a bowl and sprinkle with corn meal. Place rounded dough into bowl seam side up. Allow to rise for an additional 1-2 hours. When second rise is complete it will be near doubled again. When lightly pressing fingers into the side of the loaf it should hold an impression. If it springs back it needs more rise time. 

This bread can be baked most optimally in a cast-iron dutch oven type heavy pot with a lid. However, I do not have one of those so it is also okay to use a regular bakers stone in your oven. Make sure you pre-heat whatever baking apparatus you plan to use in the 450 degree oven for 30 minutes. We want it to be nice and hot for the dough.When the final rise is complete, gently turn out the dough onto the stone or into the dutch oven that are sprinkled with more corn meal. 

If using a dutch oven with a lid put the lid on and bake for 30 minutes. The lid will trap the steam from the loaf inside and assist in the crusty crust formation. After 30 minutes remove the lid and continue baking for an additional 10-20 minutes lowering the temperature to 425 until it is deep brown color, but not burnt.

If using a stone add steam to your oven by spraying a squirt bottle of water into the oven to create steam. Bake 30 minutes. Lower the oven temperature to 425 and bake an additional 10-20 minutes until a deep brown color is achieved.

When complete carefully remove from the oven and allow to cool on a wire rack.

Today I think I over-proofed my dough by getting distracted so it was a little more flat than I would typically desire. However, after properly cooling and cutting into the bread, beauty is found.

A little slice of heaven. This is the reason I could never truly go gluten-free.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Money In My Blender

Praise the Lord; we got about half an inch of rain last night! Now 1/2 an inch will really not do much for the 10 inches of rain that we are lacking for the year but it still makes for a beautiful morning. Last evening I rode my bike across town to a political forum and during this forum I could hear something stirring outside. Sure enough when I exited the building to get on my bike, it was raining with lighting and thunder still going on. My ride home was a little treacherous considering I still haven't gotten my flashing light fixed, I was wearing a skirt and sandals, and the possibility of me hitting something or being hit by something was probably pretty likely in the dark. However, I made it home safely, got wet, and loved it! Seriously, now if only we could blessed with about a week of steady slow rainfall we could possibly do something about this drought. But today I'm thankful for what we did receive.

To celebrate the rain this morning I went all out and made a smoothie which I haven't done in quite some time. This mornings creation is definitely money in a blender and money in my body. It is soooo tasty!
  • 1 small frozen banana
  • 1/2 avocado
  • 1 large spoonful of cocoa powder
  • 1 small spoon of raw, local honey
  • 1 spoonful of almond butter
  • 1 cup raw whole milk
  • 5 ice cubes
This is seriously money folks. I might add that using raw whole milk makes this thing amazingly creamy and frothy. The awesome fat in there has this amazing power to really froth up in a blender. I purchase my raw whole milk from a grass-fed dairy so it is of exceptional quality and I love it. If you don't have your own source of raw dairy products, I encourage you to purchase as close to home as possible. Now go get it!

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Go Walk America

Many of you know that this past spring I had the opportunity to travel from Gainesville, Florida to Atlanta, Georgia with Mr. Barrett Keene as he walks across the country on his mission to support orphaned and abandoned children. His specific walk, Go Walk America, has led him roughly half way across the United States so far and will continue to lead him to San Francisco as he meets with folks along the way to spread the word about the Global Orphan Project. Their work aids orphaned and abandoned children by providing school uniforms and orphan care as well as providing jobs for adults in those areas producing the uniforms in newly established sewing centers.

This past weekend I had the blessing of hosting Barrett and his current walking partner and van driver, Michael. As I speak they are entering the world of western Kansas, enduring the 105 degree repetitive daily temperatures that we are experiencing here. Yet even as I walked with them on Saturday across Dickinson County in the sweltering hot sun, Barrett's comment to me was, "Kansas isn't as bad as I thought it was going to be." I'm not sure what he was expecting but to hear that 100 degrees temps with no cloud cover and very few trees really isn't so bad I'm quite impressed. One can learn a lot from the interactions with this dude about the power of a positive attitude and a complete trust in God to provide daily needs. Every day is a new adventure and definitely provides stories worth writing home about. 

It was my joy to host Barrett and Michael in my own humble abode. I'm pretty proud to report that I successfully got Barrett to eat not only several meals including zucchini but even a breakfast frittata with swiss chard in it. Whoop! Whoop!

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Zucchini Hummus

Here's another inspiring summer squash recipe. My plants are still going strong although I have started to notice the squash bugs presence. It won't be long before they start to die off, but I'm okay with that. I recently was inspired by a recipe for summer squashummus.

I started out by sauteeing about 5 cups of chopped zucchini. No need to peel the squash first, just saute until nice and soft. Added it to the food processor with 2 Tablespoons tahini, along with 1/2 teaspoon salt, about 1 teaspoon cumin, 1 teaspoon paprika, 4 garlic cloves, and 1 Tablespoon lemon juice.

Pretty tasty. It is definitely more liquid like than the hummus that I'm used to, but it was fabulous with my no-knead overnight bread dipped in it.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Sauerkraut Production

Yesterday my mother and I got busy in the kitchen after a harvest of her red and green cabbage. I get so excited thinking about eating the product of our toil and the work of fermentation. We put together three different sauerkraut recipes and I'm pretty pumped about all of them.

We used a purple garlic sauerkraut recipe from Holistic Kid. 
Our roasted jalapeno and garlic sauerkraut recipe came from Balanced Bites
One giant bowl of shredded cabbage.

I love garlic and there was certainly copious in these krauts!

Into the basement for fermentation to do it's magic.

One crock of plain sauerkraut