theCOZYgreenCOCOON

Headed towards back to the basics living.


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Baking Bread | Week 4

Finally, I’m blogging on week 4. I’ve been running a bit behind. Actually I’ve been running on hardly any sleep. And when that happens, blogging doesn’t. I made bread, I just didn’t blog. It all started about 4 weeks ago when my little girl started noticing the world around her. And I mean she noticed everything. Which meant eating went down on the list of priorities for her. So…she ate at night. Almost every 2 hours. Sometimes even less. Now if I told you I got 8 hours of sleep everynight you’d think “wow!” but they were broken up into little chunks. Not exactly energy inducing cat naps, let me tell you. I counted on DH letting me catch up on the weekends. But he had to work last weekend. Which meant the days and nights went on and on. Then about 3 nights ago she suddenly started sleeping through the night again. I had only been asleep about 5 hours when my eyes popped open. I sat up automatically. And then realized it was quiete in the room. Too quiete. My feet hit the floor. I rushed over to DD and there she was snoozing away. I tried to lay back down but man after 5 hours I was feeling energetic. (not something I would had said a few months ago after only 5 hours.) It has been blissful sleeping ever since.

So all that to say I finally feel pulled together enough to share my sandwich bread experience with you. This recipe comes from HBin5 again. I know, I know, I need to try out some different recipes but I tell you. This dough is convenient. It works for a mom with a little baby. The basic directions for the dough are the same so it makes it quick and easy to put together.

I’ve made this bread a few times and every time it turns out fantastic, including this one.  I would claim it as my new go to bread but I really want to find a recipe that doesn’t call for 5 eggs. Yeah. I know. Not too bad when you had almost a dozen chickens. But this does mean dipping into the egg selling profits.

Here the goods needed to make this bread:

5 C. whole wheat flour

2 1/2 cupes unbleached  all-purpose flour

1 1/2 T.  granulated yeast, or 2 packets

1 T. Kosher Salet

1/4 c. vital wheat gluten

2 1/2 cups lukewarm water

1/2 cup honey

5 Large Eggs

2/3 C. neutral flavored oil or unsalted butter

And here’s the Grind:

  1. Whisk together the dry ingredients.
  2. Mix together the wet ingredients.
  3. Combine using a heavy duty mixer. No kneading is necessary.
  4. Cover (not airtight) and allow to rise for approx. 2 hrs.
  5. Use immed. or regrigerate and use over the next 5 days.
  6. When ready to bake, lightly great a bread pan.
  7. Place a cantaloupe size piece of dough into the bread pan. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and allow to rest for 90 minutes (40 minutes if using unrefrigerated dough).
  8. Preheat oven to 350 degrees 30 minutes prior if you use a baking stone. Otherwise only about 5 min. preheat time is needed.
  9. Bake for 45 to 50 minutes.

And I thought I’d share a few things I’ve learned about bread making so far in my experience:

  • Bread really needs a warm place to rise. Not just on the counter. My kitchen just isn’t warm enough. DH’s aunt told me she puts it on her heated massage table. (She is a massage therapist). Taking a cue from her, I started putting my rising dough about a foot away from the fire. Ever since my bread has started turning out sooo much better. Don’t have a fireplace? Consider a heating pad or maybe in the sun.
  • If at first you don’t succeed, try and try again. The more I work with bread dough the more I become familiar with what works and what doesn’t for me. It seems that everybody has a different experience with the same bread. See this negative experience the author over at Kitchen Stewardship had with HBin5 with this same bread. Which brings me to my next point.
  • I’m beginning to think that a bread recipe chooses you, not the other way around. Every bread recipe I read has some positive and some negative reviews. So I’m beginning to think its the user that makes the difference in the outcome most of the time.
  • For me the crust has to be much darker than I used to think it did, in order to get the bread completely done all the way. You can also check the internal temperature of the bread using a meat thermometer. At 200 degrees its supposed to be done.
  • And for this particular bread, if you put it in a sealable bag and leave about an inch opening the bread will get a super soft crust without drying out the rest of the bread. A good mix for sandwiches!

I don’t claim to be a bread expert-at all-but I’m having a lot of fun learning as I go. And I just know that somewhere out there is the perfect sandwich staple bread for us so I’m going to keep on searching. Basically, I want it to be whole wheat, only requiring typical bread ingredients, simple directions and not requiring a bread machine. Know of a recipe that sounds like that????? Please email me with the recipe! I’m all ears-or eyes or something like that….

HAPPY SATURDAY Y’ALL!


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Baking Bread | Week 3

This last week I realized that the beautiful organic pears we purchased the previous week were ripening much faster than I previously thought.  I needed some sort of recipe to use them up and hopefully avoid waste.  And thus the journey (and I do mean a long journey) of the pear tart began. To be fair, I did mess up the bread portion of the recipe from HB in Five by forgetting to add the water the first time I tried to make this so the journey was prolonged by my own mistake. But still this pear tart had way more steps than I like in a recipe. And to be honest, although the flavor was good I think I would have been more satisfied with putting all that effort into a homemade pie. Did I mention it really only seemed yummy when served warm a la’ mode? (Pie is just delicious when cold in my opinion.)

There were a few things I did like about this pear tart though. It was quiete pleasing to the eye and I got to use a cast iron skillet in a way I never had before. The pears are carmelized first in the skillet and then the dough placed on top. The skillet is then placed in the oven. Once done, the whole thing is inverted onto a plate- a bit like a pineapple upside down cake. Another good thing about this recipe was that the bread portion was whole wheat brioche. So at least it was probably healthier than a pie crust made from shortening would had been.

And in case you’re wondering, like I was…Brioche just means a highly enriched French bread. Typically with egg and butter. It is thought to have originated in Romania.

I have some leftover Brioche dough and with that I’m going to be trying some cream cheese stuffed pinwheels this week since the dough can be stored for 5 days in the fridge or 2 weeks in the freezer. Will keep you posted on the results-they sound easier and perhaps, just perhaps more yummy???

Oh, I’m going to be posting on the best sandwich bread I’ve tried so far. Stay tuned for more…


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Baking Bread | Week Two

Bread + Berries + Honey Butter = good for you yumminess!

Do I really need to say more?

Do you think I could actually resist? No? Okay I admit it: When it comes to blogging I can usually produce an eye-ful of words! I just love to write and this healthy breakfast type bread full of anti-oxidants makes it easy. The recipe comes from Healthy Bread in Five Minutes, again. I’m just loving their variety of recipes and the simplicity of them! I do plan on trying out other sources for bread recipes btw.  I just happen to have this book on hand. I’ve also only tried out a few recipes from there so it makes for lots of new recipes to try! (i.e. I’m all about new!)  So if you have a great bread recipe or even one you’ve never actually had I’m willing to be the guinea pig for you. Just email me.

So on to this week’s trial, Whole Wheat Berry Bread (or muffins). Now, I must advise you in advance that this isn’t going to make a very sweet bread. Don’t expect muffins that taste like the ones that come from a box. We did, and we we’re disappointed. Not because the bread wasn’t good, actually it was quite good with a smear of honey butter, but this is the grown-up version of breakfast breads/muffins. If you’re still addicted to sugar like we are then you should definitely plan on making the honey butter to go with this. It makes me think of how people add icing to cinnamon rolls. The great part about the butter and bread both is that neither calls for actual sugar. Honey is used as a sugar substitute. Agave nectar can be used also, but just keep in  mind it might alter the flavor a bit. Tequila anyone?

So, here’s the recipe.

The Goods

-The Bread

  • 4 C. White Whole Wheat Flour
  • 4 C. Unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1.5 Tbs. granulated yeast
  • 1 Tbs. Kosher Salt (or decrease to taste)
  • 1/4 C. Vital Wheat Gluten
  • 2 1/4 C. Lukewarm Water
  • 1.4 C. Honey
  • 3 C. Mixed Frozen Berries and their juices, defrosted
  • Egg Wash (1 beaten egg with 1 Tbs. water) for brushing on top crust
  • Raw sugar for sprinkling on top

-Honey Butter

  • 4 Tbs. unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 2 Tbs. Honey
  • 1/4 tsp. pure vanilla extract

The Grind

(These are just the very basic steps. If you want lots of detail and hints/tips you should check out the book. It’s very inspiring!)

  1. Whisk together the dry ingredients.
  2. Combine the water,honey and berries, then add to the dry ingredients without kneading.
  3. Cover, not airtight and allow to rest at room temp for approx. 2 hours.
  4. You can use dough immed. or refrigerate in a lidded, not airtight container and use for the next 5 days.
  5. Whenever you decide to bake the dough, grease a bread loaf pan.
  6. Cut off a 2 pound piece of dough.  Enough to fill the pan about 3/4 full. Shape into an oval.
  7. Place in pan. Allow it to rest loosely covered with plastic wrap, for 1 hour and 45 minutes, or one hour if you’re using fresh unrefrigerated dough.
  8. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. If you have a baking stone you can use it, but its not necessary.
  9. Paint the top with the egg wash.l
  10. Place near the center of the oven.
  11. Bake for 45 to 50 minutes.

It makes for a very pink flavored dough. Reminds me of Berry Cap’n Crunch cereal and the way the milk gets tinted by the time your done eating breakfast. Except this is flavored from actual berries! What a concept (hargh, hargh).

Add some protein and maybe some coffee or milk if you can digest it and your breakfast is set for the week.

**Please forgive the lack of a picture of the finished product. It’s night time and I had to decide between a horrible unappetizing nightime picture and not getting this posted for another couple of days while waiting for a great daytime pic.  My baby is not feeling well and not sure what kind of night and day we have coming up. Hope you are all surving the coming storm in the southwest/midwest area! Brrr, stay warm out there!


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Pop, pop, pop….Homemade Popcorn

Not too bad after a little sea salt and some melted unsalted butter.

Okay, I know for some people they are probably thinking: “You’re writing a post on homemade Popcorn? That’s easy to do! Why write about that?”

But as someone trying to go from mainstream junk food happy america to real food I’ve never made homemade popcorn. Unless you count the popcorn we made when I was little with the popcorn machine we had. That was years ago. I’ve always found the idea so intimidating for some reason. It seemed hard because  DH and I have eaten microwave popcorn for years. So easy. Unwrap the plastic, unfold the bag, and pop it in the microwave. And besides, what could the harm be with a bunch of corn kernels? (Ha! I forgot I live in America. We even know how to make fruits and vegetables unhealthy. How sad. )

Well, I recently read an article in a newspaper

that I found outside our local Whole Foods Market called Natural Awakenings, that had me thinking I would give HM popcorn a go. To put it simply, some microwave popcorn bags contain a coating called perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA). This is a substance known to cause cancer/and or lung disease in laboratory animals. There is also some controversy on the “butter” used in many microwave popcorns. It is thought that some of these “butters” contain diacetyl, a common food flavoring agent  that can cause lung disease. Scary!

So…..bring on the organic homemade popcorn. I just used the general directions in the article I read about microwave popcorn.

Oh boy!

I’m more of a recipe kind of gal.

Getting ready to heat up my Canola Oil. I used 4 Tbs. of oil and heated on medium heat in a medium size sauce pan.

I know the lids not the right size. I grabbed it in a panic because I forgot to add a lid to start with. Uh oh!

But in the end, it was pretty tasty and pretty inexpensive. A quarter cup of seeds yielded a HUGE bowl or popcorn. And did I mention how easy it was?

 


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Baking Bread | Week One

So this I week officially began my self-imposed bread challenge which is to make some sort of bread product every week. The end goal is to be able to make all our bread and not have to buy any. I’ve heard that when you make your bread at home you can save so much money! Just buying the ingredients  and making it from scratch will save you money. Take it a step further and buy the ingredients in bulk, you save more money. Then take it one step further and….grind you’re own wheat that you bought in bulk (or your brother bought for you) and you’ve just saved even more money and upped the nutrition as well as flavor. Thanks to my big brother I now have enough wheat to bake bread to my heart’s content and use freshly ground flour. He drew my name for Christmas this year so of course we had to set up my new grinder and try it out while all the family was there.

Here’s me giving it a go. Let me tell you, grinding your own wheat really gives you a work out!

Here’s my niece grinding away! She wasn’t even tired afterwards. Oh, to be young and energetic again!

Here’s the end result:

And there’s my brother holding Teddi while we continue working on the flour later that evening. He look’s a LITTLE scared! Hehe!

This week I started with an olive oil recipe from Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day. One recipe makes about 4 pounds of dough and keeps in the fridge for about a week.   I made breadsticks (not pictured because we ate them all before I had a chance to photograph them. They we’re that good!

I’ve also made pizza crust…

and a smaller loaf of bread that we used to make patty melts with green chile on ground elk meat

and some regular sandwiches too.

We supplemented some ham & cheese sandwiches of days later with whole wheat store-bought bread after that was gone. That’s okay with me at this point.  In the past I probably would have just put a frozen pizza in the oven and eaten butter bread with our spaghetti-good but not as tasty as the breadsticks. Just one step at a time,right?


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I’m so excited…..I just had to share.

(Squeal) I’m so excited…and motivated…and pumped! I don’t know if you remember what my new year’s resolutions were, but one of them was to eat healthier and also another was to make bread once a week. Well…it looks like I am going to be able to head in that direction thanks to an awesome gift from my brother, a great bread book, and a link from a great friend which has lead me to another link and then another link and another and another….! Need I go on?

Any guesses what this is???

Up until about a week ago I had really been struggling trying to accomplish anything other than taking care of T. And I refuse to drop breastfeeding if its in my control. (That’s a whole different post and I will go there someday, but not now.) Now don’t get me wrong I think its a super important job and I love it with all my heart but I’ve really felt like other things, important things, have just been neglected. I’ve just been overwhelmed to be honest. How in the world can I keep my kitchen clean? How can I get all the laundry done and put away? Things like that. I’ve just felt such a strong pull to get my household in order in terms of food and health and cleanliness and yet not forget to enjoy and celebrate the special moments that are oc

curing before my eyes. I know these moments will go by so fast and I can’t get them back.

So I’ve been asking God to help me to find a way to accomplish the things that need to be done and just let the other stuff go when needed, and also wisdom to know the difference.It wasn’t long before I found Flylady and then a very good friend sent me the link to Kitchen Stewardship (I will be featuring somethings I try out from over there soon. Can you say homemade yogurt or whole wheat tortillas  and yummy warm soups?!?) Although they might seem insignificant sometimes, I do believe God cares about even the little things in our lives. The sudden influx of inspiration and links and connections has convinced me of this.  I hope you’ll join me as I explore them all here on my little blog. We’re going cozy and self sustainable and efficient!


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Weekly Menu Board & Whole Wheat Banana Bread

I’m still continuing with my pre-baby baking and have really been trying to figure out ways to make those first couple of months with a new baby a smooth one. So, I decided to make a Weekly Menu board inspired by this one I saw over at A Girl and a Glue Gun recently. Her version is quite a bit fancier than mine-its really  cute. I was going for simple and effective so I decided to do a week at a time and use dry erase markers on a picture frame. It erases like a dream on glass!   We’ve already started using it. So far so good. It really seems to help me remember to take meat out of the freezer to thaw for the next day and if there is an ingredient that we are wanting to use up we can write down the next meal using that ingredient for the next couple of days.

It’s also useful to use as a baking schedule like I’m doing this week. Today is Whole Wheat Banana Bread day . I use this recipe from Allrecipes.com. I found it a few months ago and haven’t gone back to my old recipe since. I love that it uses whole wheat (Yay for stable blood sugar!) and you can make it even healthier by using unsweetened applesauce in place of the oil and egg whites instead of whole eggs. I haven’t tried the eggs but have had good success using the applesauce instead of the oil last time I made it when I ran out of oil (eek!).

And did you know you can freeze whole bananas in their skins to use later?! It was a tip I read on allrecipes.com and tried it this last time when I was going through what I call my “junk phase” of pregnancy. You know Taco Bell, ramen, ice cream, chips. I’ve really tried so hard to keep eating healthy thru my pregnancy but sometimes those cravings have just won out. So anyways, I wasn’t eating my nanners so I just threw them in the freezer skins and all. They thaw enough to use in about 10 -15 minutes. I pull them out whenever I preheat the oven and they are ready to go when I put the recipe together. So easy and a great way to avoid tossing too ripe bananas but you’re not quite ready to use them yet!
Got any unusual baking tips you care to share????