Friday, April 17, 2009

Breakfast Cereal Muesli

My son took an "around the world" cooking class, and for Switzerland, they made muesli. The teacher let the kids add whatever they wanted of the following ingredients:

rolled oats
rolled rye flakes
wheat germ
brown sugar
dried pineapple
dried cherries
chopped almonds
chopped dates
ground flax seed
chopped fresh apples
Coconut flakes

Then she let the kids pour milk or cream on top. It was really yummy! I thought I'd mix up a batch to have on hand for breakfasts. Here is what I mixed together:

8 rolled oats
1 c. barley flakes
1 c. triticale flakes
1 c. raisins
1/2 c. unsweetened dried cherries
1/2 c. currants
2 c. unsweetened coconut
1/2 c. ground flax seed
1/2 c. sucanat
1-1/2 c. chopped nuts (pecans, sunflowers, almonds, whatever)

The cool thing is that you can pretty much make this however you want. I found that about 10 cups of grain flakes, 2 c. dried fruits, 2 c. coconut, 1 to 2 c. nuts, 1/2 c ground flax and/or wheat germ plus 1/2 to 3/4c. sweetener worked out pretty well.

Other ingredients you could add:

rolled wheat flakes
millet flakes
rolled rye flakes
chopped dried apricots
blended or chopped dried bananas (use less sweetener if you add these)
blended or dried chopped apples

You can soak this overnight with a little yogurt for easier digestibility, but sometimes it's nice to have something quick. You can also cook it to make it warm if desired. Serve on top of yogurt.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Asian Salad Bar

This is adapted from a Family Fun recipe. It's very tasty, but we made it salad-bar style to satisfy the whole family. You can mix all the ingredients together and make a salad perfect for potlucks!

Set out salad-bar style:

Bag of coleslaw
1 c. cooked, chopped chicken
2 c. chopped broccoli
1 c. chopped sugar snap peas (or leave them whole)
1/2 c. chopped red pepper
3/4 c. chopped green onions
3/4 c. sliced celery (diagonally sliced)
1/2 c. roasted/salted cashews*
1/4 c. toasted sesame seeds, optional

Salad Dressing:
1/4 c. soy sauce (if using tamari sauce, use a little less)
2 tbs white vinegar
2 tbs natural style smooth peanut butter
1 tbs sucanat
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/8 tsp ginger
1/2 c. grapeseed oil
1 tbs sesame oil

Mix together in a salad dressing cruet and shake till mixed. Doesn't taste like peanut butter!

This is great served with spring rolls. Or on the rare occasion when I buy pre-made food, the Ling brand potstickers or spring rolls from Costco are pretty good (ingredients and taste!)

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Grain Mill

I used to wonder why on earth I'd ever want to go to the trouble to grind my own grains. Now my grinder is one of my most-used kitchen appliances! Here's why:

1. Store bought flour is pretty much always rancid by the time you get it. That's because flour gets rancid really fast.

2. Baked goods made with freshly ground flour taste so much better.

3. Baked goods are easier to make with freshly ground flour because the flour is already warm.

4. It's really not that hard to grind grains, it only takes a few minutes extra! Funny thing is that I had a grain mill for 6 months before I ventured to use it. And then I was amazed at how easy it was. I keep mine on the counter for easy access.

5. It's very cost effective. You can buy grains in bulk, which will make a lot of flour.

If you get a hand grain mill, you will not agree with me. Hand grain mills take FOREVER to make flour! However, a hand grain mill is nice to have on hand - just in case.

I have a Nutrimill, which has been wonderful. It doesn't sound like an airplane is landing, and it goes pretty quickly. The new name for this one is Wondermill. I'm sure there are other good mills out there, just do your research before investing.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Types of Whole Wheat

All the different kinds of wheat is confusing. It took me a while to figure out the difference, so here's a quick primer:

Hard Red Wheat - This is the wheat that most people know as whole wheat. It's great for making whole wheat bread and is high in gluten. Lasts in food storage for a long time.

Hard White Wheat - Lesser known wheat, but commonly found. You can also use this to make whole wheat bread, but it's not as high in gluten as the hard red wheat, so I've found that it helps to add gluten when making yeast bread.

Soft White Wheat - This is what whole wheat pastry flour is made out of. Doesn't last as long in your food storage as other wheat (a year or two.) Great for baking things like cookies, pie crust, quick breads, muffins, pancakes, etc. Not so high in gluten.

Unbleached wheat flour - this is white flour, with the bran removed. Buy the unbleached because it's a step up from bleached flour in nutrition. Often added in whole wheat bread to provide more gluten.

Kamut - Kamut is a relative of wheat. It has a fascinating history! It doesn't have as much gluten as wheat, and many people who have wheat allergies can actually tolerate kamut.

Spelt - Spelt is also a relative of wheat. It has been around for a long time, it too has an interesting history. It has more fiber and protein than wheat. It doesn't have as much gluten, and it doesn't need as much water in recipes as wheat does.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

1 hour Whole Wheat Bread

Yes, it really does only take an hour from start to hot fresh bread! There are a few ingredients that I try to avoid (like commercial yeast and white flour) but I figure this is better (and cheaper) than store bought bread. Many thanks to my sister for showing me how to make this!

9 to 9-1/2 c. freshly ground whole wheat flour*
1 C. unbleached white flour
1 TBS sea salt
3 TBS soy lecithin
3 TBS yeast
1/2 c. honey
1/2 c. applesauce
4 c. hot water

Put it all in a bosch machine, and knead for 6 to 7 minutes on low to medium. Dough should be stickier than normal bread dough, but not so sticky that it oozes off your fingers. While the bread is kneading, get out 4 bread pans and grease them. Grease an area about 18" square on your clean counter. When the dough is done, grease your hands really well (and remove rings). Split the dough into four equal sections. Pinch all the corners into the bottom to form a rectangle and then place pinched parts down into bread pan. Repeat for other 3 loaves. Put loaf pans in a warm place with a non-fuzzy towel on top. Next, set the oven to 350 degrees. Let rise for 15-20 minutes, or until doubled. That is the amazing part, it really does rise that fast! When done rising, put the pans in the oven and bake for 25 to 30 minutes.

You can brush the tops with butter if you like. Let cool and store in plastic bag.

You can also make raisin bread. When you have the rectangle smashed out, spread some butter on it. Then sprinkle with honey or sucanat, cinnamon and raisins. Roll it up.

Makes delicious rolls, scones, buns, focaccia, pizza crust, etc. For some recipes, you may want to reduce the amount of sweetener.

*If you use hard winter wheat, include 4 TBS of gluten in the 8 cup measurement. Hard red winter wheat won't need this. You can make this 100% whole wheat, but I didn't like the texture quite as well. Still working on that.