September 30, 2010

Simple Lives Thursday.... Artisan Bread

I've discovered an awesome site I'd like to share with you guys....    On Thursdays the website Sustainable Eats and three others, together host "Simple Lives Thursday"!! It is a wonderful way to share how we each try to make our lives simpler!! By sharing our ideas, we may find a few ideas to adopt into our own lifestyles!! It seems like a win-win situation to me! I've had fun browsing over the past few weeks of hosted SLT ideas.... there are some VERY CLEVER people out there!!

One of the things I like to do especially as the weather is turning cooler here in New England, it to make my own bread. I eventually will share my mom's awesome bread recipe, but this recipe & idea I got out of the book "Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes A Day".  I have shared this recipe here before but since the weather is cooling, it is time to share it again! It sure makes having hot, home-baked bread EASY!

Into a large container (with a lid that is NOT tight fitting) put 3 cups lukewarm water, 1 1/2 TBsp. yeast, 1 1/2 TBsp. coarse salt and 6 1/2 cups white flour. Using a wooden spoon, mix until there are no dry patches of dough but don't knead or over mix it! This entire process took all of maybe 10-15 minutes! This will make enough dough for 4 one pound loaves of bread. Let it sit on the counter for a couple of hours. It will rise and then collapse.... now it is ready for the refrigerator! This will keep for 14 days according to the author... I like to use it within a week or so. (The recipe may be doubled and stored for use within the same time frame.)

Here is why the book gets the name "5 Minutes A Day"... when you are ready to use it, sprinkle a little flour on top of the dough. Grab a grapefruit size chunk of dough (approx. 1 lb) and cut it off with a knife. Quickly form a ball with a little bit more flour sprinkled on it, elongate the ball and set it down on the floured pizza peel. In my case, I used a baking sheet with no lip. I thought I needed to get a pizza peel, but after using the baking sheet several times now, (I just put enough flour on the baking sheet so the raised dough will slip easily enough onto my baking stone in the oven) I'll stick with my method and save money! :) 

You will need to allow the dough rest for about 90 minutes if the dough has been refrigerated, 40 minutes if fresh. At this point the actual physical work time is probably 5 minutes. (preparing the peel, cutting off the dough & shaping it, putting the baking stone (on the middle rack) in the oven sprinkled with whole wheat flour (I've used corn meal with good results), a pan on the shelf below, and readying a cup of hot water for the last minute to pour into the lower pan.)
About 20 minutes before bake time, preheated the oven to 450* (with the baking stone lightly covered with corn meal & the broiler pan inside heating up too.) Just before putting it in the oven, I sprinkle just a bit more flour on top and make 3 slices across the top with a serrated knife. Then, as soon as I slide the dough onto the stone, I need to put about a cup of hot water in the broiler pan and shut the door! STEAM is one of the keys to successful artisan bread! Bake for 25-30 minutes.

Pretty cool huh!?! Give it a try and let me know how yours turns out!

PS..... after reading one of the comments/questions... I went back to my book to double check! YES, YOU CAN use a non-stick loaf pan for baking! I have not used this recipe that way, but if I did... I'd be sure to grease the pan with shortening and consider flouring the sides before rising the bread, and I'd use the broiler pan on the shelf underneath too! :) Oh ya, you can use wheat flour, part white & wheat flour... it is fun to experiment!

September 23, 2010

Talk About BIG!

I think this was the winner from our tomato plants this year!!
I actually pulled the scales out to weigh it...  
1 pound and 9 ounces!! 
And yes, it was delicious!

Apple Season is Here!!

Pete has planted maybe 7 or 8 apple trees over
the past five years. (Plus 2 plum trees and lots of blueberry bushes!)
Check this out....  
This year he has quite a few apples growing!
Aren't they pretty!! I think he said these were Gala, but I'm not sure....
He's planted a few different varieties!
This is our very sad, dead apple tree... not sure what went wrong, bur
for sure something did!!

September 21, 2010

A Cup of Tea...

What does a cup of tea mean to you? To some (and me sometimes) it is the jump start to the day... a coffee drinker's equivalent to aaahhhhh, caffeine!! :) Sometimes it is more then that... like when friends get together over a cup of tea (or coffee) to chat! It is the binder of communication!

That may be a rather strong concept, but, when I was a kid, my parents would have their cup of 'tea' (mom) and cup of coffee (dad) after dinner and have their time of catching up with each other. That was a part of the day they'd look forward to... a chance to relax and make sure that 'all is still right with the world' so to speak! So, in essence, it was and is a special drink!!

I wanted to share a my new tea cup with you! It is sooo pretty and it makes me smile each time I use it! It was given to me by a friend...  someone who may or may not know how much a cup of tea means to me!

One night at a Bible study, four of us were talking about tea. I asked them if they had a favorite 'brand' of tea. In my home, I like Salada and Pete likes Lipton... so I thought I'd ask out of curiosity. Sure enough, out came the favorites "Salada", "Lipton", Red Rose" and "Tetley"....  four ladies and four teas!! It was rather funny... and naturally, we all had our reasons!

Here's a bit of trivia for you... did you know that tea tastes differently based on whether you boil the water or just 'heat it up'? Yup, it is true... in my opinion, boiling it gets the oxygen out and makes a finer cup of tea! :)  But that is just my opinion.... what's yours?

September 12, 2010

Strawberry-Mango Jam September's STONE/PITTED FRUIT Can Jam

Back in February while I was looking for something to do with carrots, I
stumbled onto this recipe. It sounded amazing so I jotted it down
on the bottom of a carrot relish recipe! Now, the long awaited chance to
use a fruit I've only eaten fresh.... but never tried to preserve!

Here's the mango ...  doesn't look too special does it?
But, with a quick slice of the knife, peeling off the skin and
releasing it from the rather large, long & skinny pit, is the
lucious, sweet tasting fruit!
Two pounds of strawberries, washed and sliced ...  after mashing them
they equal approximately 2 cups!

 Here's the recipe!!
(I think it was from, but I'm not 100% sure!)
Makes about 6 eight ounce jars

1 Quart strawberries (washed, hulled and mashed to 2 cups)
1 1/2 Cups finely chopped, fully ripened mangos (about 1 1/2 medium)
1/3 Cup lemon juice
6 Cups sugar
1 Pouch Liquid Pectin

Combined the fruit, sugar & lemon.
Bring to a boil for one minute, boil hard.
Remove from the heat and add 1 pouch pectin.
Stir till well blended, bring to a boil again.
Skim off foam (if desired).
Ladle into jars and seal with lids & rings.
Process 10 minutes in boiling water bath.
 Here is the most incredible tasting jam I think I've made all year!
My family loves it and said if there was a country fair nearby, this recipe
would earn a blue ribbon! So, I think it is safe to say that this will become
an annual 'must make recipe' for the jams & jellies section of the pantry!