Category Archives: Food

Week 6: Fun with Kamut

Last week I didn’t even make it to the grocery store, but I did try something new: making bread with Kamut flour.
Six months ago, I didn’t even know there was such a thing as Kamut, but I saw a segment about it on the Fusion Grain Cooking show (which I have mentioned before). That show got me interested in trying some new grains, and I bought some Kamut berries at the health food store back in November. And there they have sat ever since, along with my good intentions.
So finally last week, after we ran out of bread, I decided that now was the time to try it out. Don’t ask me how it worked out that I didn’t have the energy to go grocery shopping, but I had the energy to make bread. Sometimes it just works that way.
Anyway, here’s a look at the berries.

They mostly look like plumper, yellower wheat berries. I ran them through my NutriMill grinder just like I normally do with regular wheat berries. I used this recipe with the following modifications.
1. The recipe says that the resultant loaf is sweet enough that there’s no need to add any “honey or other fancy ingredients.” Well, I am inclined to disagree that it is sweet enough without any fanciness added. I don’t think it needs much, but I added 2 tablespoons of sugar to the yeast and water mixture.
2. The recipe calls for 2 tablespoons of salt. That makes for a pretty salty loaf. While it was a nice salty-sweet combo when eaten with blackberry jam, the bread turned out to be a little too salty for eating alone or on a sandwich. Halving the salt to 1 tablespoon makes a much mellower flavor.
3. I did not knead this dough for 20 minutes. Maybe 8 minutes at the most. I used a light touch, added more flour as needed, and slammed it down maybe 3 times to, as the recipe says, develop the gluten.
4. I checked the loaf after 35 minutes, and it was perfectly done. If I had waited until the recommended 45-50 minutes, it would have been torched.
Here’s how it looked, after all that.

It had a nice crust and a dense but not heavy texture. It did taste slightly nuttier than regular wheat, and the loaf ends up a bit more golden in color than a regular old brown wheat loaf. It’s not a cheap grain, but it’s definitely tasty. Chef Brad says it makes delicious waffles, too, so I may have to try those next.

Week 5: Wherein I allow myself to roam the grocery store.

I have to say that it was a nice feeling to go to the store this week and only need to buy milk. I don’t think I’m super organized about my pantry or food storage (or anything, for that matter), but because I have just tried to pick up essentials here and there when they are on sale, I have a decent stock of food on hand. Now that I think of it, though, I probably should have bought more cheese.

In any case, because I had $20 burning a hole in my pocket and only a $2.50 gallon of milk on my list, I decided to give myself a little leeway at the grocery store this week and see if there was something non-perishable that looked fun or interesting or super cheap. Normally I would have splurged on candy or ice cream or more candy, but this caught my eye (and was on clearance) as I went down the baking aisle.

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It's a friend of the heart--how could I say no?

I have never made anything with graham flour before, so I thought perhaps I would try making some homemade graham crackers. Don’t ask me why. I don’t particularly love graham crackers, unless they are sandwiching a layer of chocolate frosting. Maybe that was the appeal: that graham crackers in my mind necessitate chocolate frosting, and how is that ever a bad thing?

At any rate, I looked up a bunch of different recipes, most of which used a mixture of whole wheat and all-purpose flours (and some included wheat germ). But since I had the graham flour on hand, I decided to use it and come up with a recipe using others as a rough guide.

HOMEMADE GRAHAM CRACKERS

3-1/2 cups graham flour

1 t baking powder

1/2 t baking soda

1 T cinnamon

1/4 t kosher salt

1/2 c (one stick) unsalted butter, softened

1/2 c packed brown sugar (can use a little more if desired)

1/3 c honey

1-1/2 t vanilla extract

1/2 c milk

Whisk together 3 cups of the flour, the baking powder, soda, cinnamon, and salt.

In another bowl (or mixer bowl), cream together the butter, sugar, and honey until light and smooth.

Add the vanilla to the milk. Add the flour mixture to the butter/sugar mixture alternately with the milk/vanilla, beginning and ending with the flour mixture. Add up to another 1/2 cup of flour, depending on the consistency of the dough. Refrigerate dough for at least 2 hours.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Divide the dough into quarters or eighths. Generously flour your work surface (you can just use all-purpose flour) and gently roll out the dough. It can be quite sticky, so don’t be afraid to use the flour. Roll it out very thin (about 1/8″) and cut into shapes with knife or cookie cutters. Place on ungreased cookie sheets (line with parchment or Silpats). Use skewer or fork to poke holes on cookie tops. If desired, brush very lightly with water or milk and sprinkle with cinnamon sugar or sugar crystals. Bake for about 12 minutes or until nicely browned. Cool on wire rack.

Makes about 4 dozen.

They turned out pretty good. They are not super sweet, but for me this is not an issue, as I plan to make chocolate frosting for them as soon as I am done here. Since Valentine’s Day is coming up, I decided to use my heart-shaped cookie cutter, because why make something like this…

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…when you can make this?

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Week 4: Here’s how much I didn’t want to cook this week.

Right now I am eating part of a Totino’s Party Pizza for dinner. Pepperoni. And do you know what I hate? Totino’s Party Pizzas and pepperoni. It has just been one of those days…well, several of those days.
Let’s just say that wondering if you are pregnant and finding out that you’re not (once again) can make you really not care what’s for dinner or want to rummage through your large pile of craft materials to make something. It can also make you not want to go to the grocery store, even though you have been out of milk since Thursday morning.
So this week I am grateful for easy food and a freezer with things like burritos and pizzas for times like this. I am also grateful for cheese–the main component of the one meal I actually felt like cooking this week. Sometimes you need therapeutic chocolate; other times you need medicinal cheese.

The cheese sauce is a simple white sauce with cheese. It was tasty and mood elevating.

Cheese Sauce
2 T butter
2 T flour
1-1/2 to 1-2/3 C milk
About 2 C shredded cheese (I used: 1 C shredded gruyere, 3/4 C shredded cheddar, 1/4 C grated parmesan)
Dash of nutmeg, garlic powder
Melt butter over medium heat in small saucepan and sprinkle in flour, stirring well. Add milk, stirring constantly until the sauce thickens (a few minutes). Remove from heat and add cheese, stirring until melted and smooth. Add nutmeg and garlic powder, as well and salt and pepper to taste. Serve with cooked pasta or vegetables.

I hope next week is better.

Best Dinner This Week

Shockingly, it was not the chili dumped on a baked potato that I threw together last night (although that was kind of tasty).
On my lovely friend Kellie’s advice, I checked out Mel’s Kitchen Cafe, which had tons of recipes to choose from. After a few minutes’ perusal, I settled on the Chicken Pillows, mostly because I had only heard tell of such things but hadn’t actually tasted them.
Here’s the glamour shot.

They required a bit of work and planning ahead, but they were definitely worth the effort. I thought, “Oh, I’ll make a bunch and we can freeze half of them.” Except there are only two left.
I will say that the chicken filling in the middle is a bit bland for my taste and could use a little punch of something–curry powder, chili powder, or maybe some veggies. But the crescent roll on the outside is probably one of the best bread items I have ever tasted. Ever. EVER. Find that recipe here.
There are two main keys to the rolls’ deliciousness: 1) a cornmeal and milk base (polenta, basically) and 2) butter.
I used fresh ground popcorn for the cornmeal, which is extra tasty. (Note: While your NutriMill might indicate that you can grind a nearly-full hopper of popcorn at one time, the reality is that it takes a long time, which means that your grinder will actually get hot enough to partially pop some of your kernels. Lesson learned.) I also added the leftovers (not quite 2 cups) of the whole wheat flour I had ground last week for bread, and the rolls were still very light and tender.
Oh, and for the parmesan sauce, I left out the sour cream–I didn’t think it needed it–and added a little cheddar cheese as well, since that’s Greg’s favorite.
So if your find yourself with plenty of time to plan ahead for dinner, this is a yummy option. Or just make the rolls and try not to eat them all in one sitting. Either way.

Finally living off the fat of the land.

Well, we’ve planted the fat, anyway.

We might be a little bit behind this year, but then again, so is the summer weather. So hopefully it will turn out ok and we’ll have melons to crack open in the dog days ahead.
I’m excited to have plants in the ground, and perhaps one day I’ll figure out the tricks necessary to avoid killing them off. I was like a kid in a candy store at the greenhouse. I wanted to buy every kind of start they had available, but Greg had to remind me that there are only two of us, and we don’t need 6 varieties of pumpkins. What does he know? I did manage to get out of the store with 4 varieties of tomato plants, though. So…call me in a few weeks if you need some.
I’m really trying to learn as much as I can. I have even purchased a couple of gardening books: The Vegetable Gardener’s Bible by Edward C. Smith, and The Essential Guide to Gardening Techniques by Susan Berry. I’ll let you know if I learn anything good.

Target's finest composition notebook

I’m also taking a tip that I keep reading and hearing about, which is to keep a garden journal. I have listed what starts and seeds we bought, the information on when/how to plant, when we planted them, and drew a diagram of our rows. I should probably make a note that it was a crazy year for spring rain and that mid-May (the normal start of planting season for these parts) still felt like winter.
So even though I’m still a total garden poseur, I feel like I’m developing my green thumb already. Heck, I even have a real farmer’s tan for once in my life.

What’s not to love? Well…

If you walked into Albertson’s and saw a display of this, you’d buy it, right?

Chocolate oatmeal! A dream come true!

Well, it was only a buck, and it was chocolate oatmeal. How could I go wrong?
I bought a couple of boxes, and they’ve been untouched in my pantry for the last month. This morning I thought I would try it out. As someone who sometimes puts chocolate milk on cereal, I was sure it would be tasty.
I followed the directions (dump in water and microwave for 2 minutes), and this was what came out.

Delicious? Not so much.

Was it delicious? Well…no. More like “watered-down Jell-o instant pudding with oatmeal stirred in.” Bleheheheh. Guess what’s going into the “emergency only” food storage box.
Next time I think chocolate oatmeal sounds like a good idea, I’ll just make the regular kind and stir in a spoonful of Nestle Quik.