Monday, December 22, 2008

Best bread ever

Amelia Hohl’s Sourdough Bread

NOTE: for my wheat bread, I just use home ground wheat flour, pour an arbitrary amount of natural pumpkin seeds, brown and golden flax seeds, and whole oats into the mixture. Occasionally I put in crasins. I have also rolled olive oil, salt and herbs into the regular sourdough loaves. My favorite is olive oil and sage.


Takes 5-10 Days to get it started. Get a large plastic pitcher with a lid that opens and closes completely.

Mix 1 Tbs. Yeast

½ cup warm water

1 Tbs. sugar or honey

Stir with wooden spoon and let sit for 10 minutes

Add 2 cups warm water or milk

Add 2 cups flour and let sit for 5-10 days.

Pour off extra liquid, close lid and sore in the refrigerator

To replenish

Add 1 cup milk, 1 cup flour and 1 Tbs. sugar (you may add as many cups as you need to fill the container about ¾ full. Mix thoroughly with a wooden spoon. Leave out for a couple days or until you can tell the fermentation has spread throughout mixture. Store in refrigerator. Pour off liquid and skim top when necessary.

Bread recipe (in kitchenaid mixer)

Two heaping Tbs. yeast, not fast rising.

4 Cups warm water

1 Tbs. Sugar sprinkled on top. Do not stir yet

Let activate for 5 minutes

Add 2-3 heaping cups of sourdough starter

1 heaping Tbs salt

½ Cup sugar

½ Cup oil

4 Cups flour (to begin with)

Handful of instant potato flakes if you have them.

Mix on low until everything is combined (make sure yeast comes up from bottom of bowl)

Begin to add more flour until it just starts to pull away from the sides. Seriously under-add flour even though it may look really runny. Put on low/medium speed for at least 20 minutes. Pour mixture out onto a well floured surface. Dough will be pretty runny. Knead dough until it’s just firm enough to form into balls. Divide dough and set in greased bread loaf pans. Preheat oven at 350. Put loaves on your warm oven and let rise until dough just reaches top of your bread pan. This bread has a lot of yeast, so it will rise quite a bit more in the oven. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes, but check to make sure it’s cooked all the way through. I usually have to cook it longer because I make huge loaves. Take out of pan immediately and put on a cloth and cover to cool. Enjoy!

Candy canes and more...

Today I didn't get ready, Henry still has his rat nest in the back of his hair and his pajamas on and Bea took all her naps in the Bumbo on top of the kitchen table because I was cooking all day long! This morning I woke up and made bread, then I made two batches of cherry jam, then my friend Trixie came over and we made three batches of candy canes. They were so delicious this year and they came out perfect. The three flavors were peppermint, spearmint and cherry lemon. I just put them up all over our tree and Henry and I have been eating them all afternoon. I'm hopefully making yogurt tonight. Oh, and we also made home-made pizza for lunch. I had the dough all made though beforehand, but we still rolled it out and made it from scratch. I love days like this:)

The candy cane recipe we used was from this website

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Gingerbread ornaments

One of my favorite things to bake over Christmas is gingerbread ornaments. The recipe you use isn't that important because most people get sick of them after eating one or two, so it's just important to bake them enough so they get really hard. The frosting is just Royal Icing and you can use eggs or merengue powder if you're worried about salmonella. The one thing you have to be careful of, though, is that you don't put them too close to the window if you live in a humid environment because when it rains, they all get soft and fall off the tree.

I always make ones that spell the kid's names. I already put Henry's on the tree so this is Beatrice's. I didn't realize how long her name was! Next year maybe I'll just stick with Bea.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Jammin' good

One thing I love to make more than anything in the world is jam and jelly. I have these really cute jars that I get from the Specialty Bottle Company and I even had some friends help me make labels for some of them. I named my jam Hohlberry, which has more significance than you would think because my Grandma Berry taught me how to make raspberry jam which started this all. She died a few years ago and we really miss her! Her spirit lives on in my jam though and I hope she's hanging out with me in the kitchen while I cook. The jams in the photo are, from left to right, sour cherry jam, peach, sugar-free peach, grape, and pomegranate jelly. I'm making some more sour cherry jam tomorrow. It's the best of all the kinds. Yum!

I don't really have any special methods for making jam. I just do what they tell me on the box of pectin. I do, however, use my rice cooker to process my little jars and since I've been making jam so often, I can whip out a batch of jam in about half an hour from start to finish. I can even make bread at the same time and have hot fresh ground multi-grain, wheat bread with my hot cherry jam. Now if I could just learn to make the butter, I'd be set! Have any of you ever tried to make butter? Someone please tell me that it's really easy and I should start making it too. I'm going to make a batch of yogurt this week for my guests and we'll see how it turns out. I can mix it with my jam and serve it for breakfast. Yes!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Thanksgiving feast

This year I went to Dallas for Thanksgiving and had a wonderful time preparing Thanksgiving with my family. It's always nice to have a few cooks in the kitchen who are all on the same page as me and who all expect everything to turn out perfect. We brined our turkey overnight which made the meat so moist and aromatic so I think I'll do that from now on. It looks like it got burned, but we cooked it on a super high heat for a half an hour to sear it, but the insides melted in your mouth. Here are a few pics of my family cooking in the kitchen...I'll post some of the recipes soon...

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Learned in Amish Country

I did some research a while back on how to make hard pretzels and couldn't really find any real recipe online. All I found were recipes for soft pretzels, but my visit to Amish Country this weekend proved very profitable because the Julius Sturgis pretzel bakery explained the whole process. This place is the oldest pretzel bakery in America and they have some pretty gourmet pretzel varieties such as spicy jalapeno and cinnamon sugar baked into the dough. Most pretzels these days are just dipped in some synthetic junk to give them overpowering flavor, but these pretzels had just enough flavor to not overpower the pretzel itself. So the process of making a soft pretzel is something you can look up anywhere online. You basically make a bread dough, let it rise a little, roll it out and shape it anyway you like, dip it in some sort of caustic solution, which these days usually means a boiling water and baking soda mix, and baking it in the oven at 550 degrees until golden brown. Then, you decrease the temperature in the oven to 200 degrees until the pretzels are hard. Super easy, right! I'll have to put it to the test.

The really fun thing about making hard pretzels over the holidays is that you can shape them anyway you like and even decorate your tree with them. You can make gigantic candy cane pretzels or pretzels that look like snowmen or snowflakes or make the manger scene all out of pretzel people! Well, maybe next year I'll attempt that one:)

I also have to mention that we visited the Wilber Chocolate Company before we found the pretzel place and as soon as we opened the car doors, our senses were flooded by the aroma of chocolate and I almost died! Even though we were in Hershey, that chocolate smell was nothing like this gourmet chocolate factory. Totally delish. I bought some chocolate molds, including a two sided cornucopia that I hope to use to make a chocolate centerpiece for Thanksgiving. We'll see if it works!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Pizza Napolitana Anyone?

Anyone who know us knows that we are Italian foodies, however I have never learned how to make pizza mostly because I know I could never make it as good as our favorite pizza, Grimaldi's, in Brooklyn, NY. When our favorite local Italian restaurant here offered a brick oven pizza class, I jumped at the occasion. I spent the entire evening with very lively and tipsy people and we learned how to make everything from the dough to how to turn the pizzas in the 1200 degree oven. Bea was strapped to me the entire time and was admired by all in attendance. The pizzas were incredible and a couple nights ago I tried to re-create my masterpiece at the class and the pizzas came out awesome. I do have a pizza stone, which is totally key, and we got fresh mozzarella, San Marzano tomatoes (you can get them in a huge can at Costco for cheap), Basil that I processed with olive oil and froze this summer which we drizzled over the top instead of fresh basil, olive oil and salt. We cooked our pizzas at 550 degrees and they turned out almost as good as the brick oven. One key is to let the pizza stone heat back up again in-between pizzas so the crust rises more and gets more soft on in the middle of the crust.

One tip I got from the class was to buy the largest pan you can find that covers the bottom of your oven, take it to Home Depot and get un-glazed ceramic tiles and have them cut them to the exact size of your pan, then set that on the very bottom of your oven (only if you have a gas oven) and keep it there forever. You can cook pizzas and bread right on top of that and it makes everything else you cook come out less "well done" and more "golden brown" on the edges. I can't wait to do it!

I am ashamed to admit, though, that I'm planning on using whole wheat dough from now on, which my teacher said ruins the whole idea of eating a pizza, mostly because I have a million pounds of wheat in my basement and I just got a new wheat grinder that makes the superfine flour that pizza dough requires. Otherwise it's like $5 for 5 lbs of pizza dough grade flour and that's just ridiculous when I have it for free in my basement. Sorry Larry!

Breakfasts are the yummiest

I am a hot cereal breakfast kind of girl, but since I'm usually in a hurry in the mornings I don't have time to boil water and wait for my oatmeal to cook so I have created my own way to cook it and my own yummy additions to make it special. I basically throw in...
an arbitrary amount of oatmeal into a bowl
1/4 cup golden and red flax seeds
a few tablespoons natural pumpkin seeds
and a pinch of salt
pour milk into it about a half inch above the dry ingredients and cook it in the microwave for three or so minutes.
I let it sit for an extra minute or two to soak up the milk and then add...
toasted coconut that I make myself (which I will hilight at some point)
fresh or frozen pomagranite arils(those are the red seeds which I will also talk about soon)
I also throw in whatever fruit is in season. Henry LOVES this breakfast and it has no sugar, plenty of fiber, and is hearty and delicious.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Me and my food

I had to start this blog because I was writing pretty much everything about my life and kids through Henry's blog and Bea's blog, but the one thing I was missing that seemed really important to me and that brings me great joy is cooking! I really enjoy the process of planting my tomato seeds to harvesting to preparing the food to eating it. I feel such a sense of satisfaction when I cook, especially bake, and I need to share my feelings with the world. I'll also post other crafty projects I'm doing on my blog from time to time, but this will mostly be a food blog and I hope you enjoy it and are inspired to cook by reading it!