Friday, February 25, 2011

Whole Wheat Bread

Yesterday, Luke and I spent the day in the kitchen baking.  I made whole wheat bread and hamburger buns, and he made pita bread, raviollis and egg noodles.   I think I am gaining weight now that Luke moved back home.  He is a great cook, and I am an enthusiastic encourager.  The other night I told him I had been thinking about the Stromboli he had made us several days before.  A couple of hours later (bedtime to be exact) he came up stairs with a fresh, out of the oven, plate of Stromboli and homemade Bruschetta.  Needless to say, I did not give my waistline a thought, I simply devoured...(expect a post on dieting, exercise and loosing weight from me in the near future) Haha.

So, Todays post is my favorite whole wheat bread recipe.  It is what I make most of the time when baking bread..... and a few pictures of our baking and cooking day together.
The first of Luke's egg noodles drying.

Pita Bread fresh out of the oven.

 Whole wheat bread rising.

I think homemade bread is beautiful, not only to taste, but also to look at.  I  think a loaf of whole wheat bread looks like a classical painting.  About 12 years ago, Steve bought me 2 machines that I have loved.  One is a Grain Master Whisper Mill, and the other is a Bosch Mixer. 
Look at that pretty wheat.  I didn't get a picture of my wheat grinder, but I did have this picture.

The Whisper Mill is a convenient electric grain mill  which  can easily grind wheat (or other grains) fresh every time I make bread or desire flour.  I can store my wheat berries with no worries of spoilage and yet still have whole wheat flour when I need it (once berries have been ground into flour, the germ is exposed to oxygen, and will soon begin oxidizing, causing the flour to become rancid in a short amount of time. Mass marketing in the 20th century brought us flour with the germ removed, which gives a longer shelf life, but cheats us out of vital nutrients contained in the grain.  This is why I love to grind my flour fresh as opposed to buying it.  .  We recently started grinding some wheat berries that we had in storage for over 10 years.  The grains were fresh, clean and ready to grind.  The flour made delicious bread.  Wheat berries if stored in a clean, fairly cool environment, will actually remain nutritious and intact for thousands of years.  Wheat berries which were discovered in Pharoah's tomb were found to contain all vitamins and minerals still intact,  and were able to be sprouted and also ground for bread after 5000 years. God sure knows how to package and preserve food doesn't He?

There are several good quality mixers on the market, but for making whole wheat bread, my favorite, is my Bosch Mixer, which is a wonderful heavy duty mixer that allows me to mix and knead  dough in large quantities (5-6 loaves at a time), without worries of burning up the motor, which incidentally I did with a couple of bread machines years ago from excess whole wheat bread making.  
The first mixture of bread dough sponging in my Bosch machine.

The recipe I use for my basic whole wheat bread is one I got from the little bread making supply store that we bought these machines from.  They were located in Denver but I can't even remember their name now... they are no longer in business. Everyday they did demonstrations for grinding wheat, making breads, buns, rolls, pizza etc. I have been using the recipe ever since.

Basic Whole Wheat Bread

Grind approximately 10 cups Wheat Berries in your Wheat Grinder. This produces about 16 or 17 cups of flour.

In your mixing bowl put:

6 cups of very warm water (when it is hot to the touch, but not scalding)

1/3 cup oil (I use olive oil... you could use whatever you like)

1/3 cup honey (if you use the measuring cup for your oil first, then measure the honey, the honey comes out of the cup easily)

2 tablespoons yeast (I use instant or fast acting yeast)

5 cups wholewheat flour

Mix together and let sponge 10 - 15 minutes.... until bubbly.

Turn on mixer and add:

1 1/2 tablespoons salt

1/3 cup gluten (this gives the bread a softer, airier, stretchier texture; in recent years I have been leaving this out. I sometimes add a cup or two of white flour if I am craving that softer airier texture).

Approximately 9- 1l cups more flour) Each time you make bread, your flour measurements can be different, depending on the moisture in the flour or the moisture in the air, or whether the flour is freshly ground, or has been ground previously (the flour will be more compact, the longer it is stored as flour). The best way to determine if you need more flour is to watch as you put in each cup. Once it no longer sticks to the sides of the bowl, you have enough.

Add ins may be added at this point... such as sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, oatmeal, dill or caraway seed what ever you like.

Knead for 5-6 minutes if you have a Bosch Machine, or 7-10 with a standard mixer (if using a standard mixer, cut this recipe in half or 1/3), 13-15 minutes for hand kneading (not for me).

Put bread dough onto an oiled surface (this keeps the bread moist, where a floured surface can dry out whole wheat bread). Cut dough into portions for each loaf pan, pat them nicely into a log shaped loaf and place into oiled pan. This recipe makes 4-5 large loaves, or 5-6 medium loaves. I also use the dough to make pizza, cinnamon buns, hamburger buns and rolls.

I grease my bread pans with natural shortening or Pam type spray or you can also use a mixture of oil with a little bit of liquid lecithin as described below: Also, a narrow sided bread pan is best, in order to support the rising bread dough, providing better chance that your dough will not collapse in the center.

1 Tablespoon lecithin (this adds to the non-sticking quality of the oil)

2 Tablespoons oil

You can keep a mixture of this in your fridge for ready use.

Allow bread, or rolls time to double in size (this will vary depending on the temperature, and also the size of what you are baking.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Bake bread approximately 25- 40 minutes depending on the size of your loaf.  You may use a thermometer to check the internal temperature; you will want it to be about 195 degrees.  I don't ever use a thermometer, but take it out once it is lightly golden.

Dough waiting to be oiled, and divided into loaves and rolls.

Rising Loaf

Rising Hamburger Buns

I added sunflower seeds to this batch of bread and rolls, which is a variation we enjoy.

Cinnamon rolls and sticky buns are a yummy way to enjoy healthy, wholesome, bread.

Cinnamon Buns rising

Look at that wholesome chicken salad sandwich with mounds of fresh veggies heaped onto the whole wheat bread.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Origami Boxes, and gifts of the heart

For Valentines, our son Luke made origami boxes.... well, rather it went like this.  Luke made some really wonderful origami boxes one evening and I thought they were so delightful I asked him if he would make up several of them for Valentines, so that I could put my truffles in them and make a pretty table.  He obliged.
  He's such a sweet lad.
 Aren't they pretty?  
I decided that I would post them as one of the 52 weeks of projects.
 Those little truffles fit in there perfectly (recipe in previous post).

 Luke is also a great cook.  He added this to our Valentine Schmorgesboard (my spell checker says this is not a word).

My Meatloaf doesn't look quite as pretty as his pizza, even though we put it on a lovely crystal plate.

 Another of Luke's accomplishments.  Croissants... they were delicious. 

We had fun this Valentines Day, cooking and decorating together.  During dinner, we watched Dean Martin on You tube singing "That's Amore".   All we needed was our little grandsons to dance with. Our Favorite version of "That's Amore"  is the one where Jerry Lewis joins in.  Eddie didn't know who Jerry Lewis was, so we decided we needed to update his education.  No child should go through life with out at least one Dean Martin, Jerry Lewis Movie don't ya think?

Don't forget to scroll down and pause my playlist music before you press the start button

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Valentine Dinner

This year our Valentines dinner is a family affair.  Romance is still waiting for Steve and I .... some day somewhere... Yes, Hawaii, that is our promise we are going to Hawaii... one day to recharge our romantic batteries and make sure we don't end up looking like this couple.  We tried to get there on our 20th anniversary, then our 25th, then our 30th.  I can picture myself there on Valentines day too; we're not particular.   But, oh well, perhaps next year. This year, there will be 4 of us ages 50,  50, 28 and 15, and we will be home with the dogs and the cats and the cows and the snow....  but it can still be romantic don't you think? Here's the menu:

Heart Shaped Meatloaf 
Mashed Potatoes
Iced Tea
Chocolate Oreo Truffles (see recipe below)
How can you go wrong with that.... at least not around here, where meatloaf and mashed potatoes are always in high demand

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Chocolate Oreo Truffles

I first tasted these at my Dad's house.  Kathy gave me one of these choice morsels on  my last visit.  They were one of the most scrumpious treats I have ever had.   They make a wonderful Valentines Day treat.  Here's the recipe:

1 16 ounce Package Oreo Cookies
  I used "Newman's Own",  he doesn't use hydrogenated oil in his
8 ounces cream cheese 
softened to room temperature
16 ounces of semi sweet chocolate chips 
or you can use milk chocolate, white, or mint flavored for a contrasting mixture
Toasted almonds, shredded coconut, chopped nuts, or cookie crumbs, cocoa, candy sprinkles, or alternate colored chocolate or frosting to add variation and decoration


  1. Place cream cheese in a bowl, and allow to soften.
  2. Crush Oreos in a food processor.  
  3. Add  the oreos to the cream cheese and mix thoroughly.  
  4. Roll into walnut sized balls and place on a waxed paper covered cookie sheet.  
  5. Place in refrigerator until cold and firm.
  6. If you want to add nuts or an almond to the inside, you can add now.
  7. Meanwhile, melt chocolate chips in a double boiler ( I saw Paula Dean using a glass Pyrex bowl over a pan of heating water on the stove top..... I liked that). 
  8.  When the truffle balls are cooled and chocolate is melted, dip chocolate balls into chocolate extended from a tooth pick, skewer or fork.  
  9. Place on wax paper to dry. 
  10. If desired, sprinkle with additional cookie crumbs, sprinkles, nuts or drizzle with contrasting colored chocolate.  
  11. Place each in a cupcake paper to give it a nice touch. 
  12. Try to keep them out of sight until ready to serve... they may not last.

Soothing Bath Salts for Valentines

A nice Valentine soak in the tub to soothe and calm the nerves is what sounded nice to me this year for Valentines.  As a gift or a romantic indulgence, bath salts seemed like a nice idea to try.

 I found Dead Sea Salts, dried Lavender flowers, dried  Chamomile  and baking soda in the bulk section of the health food store (quite inexpensive).

 Put them in the blender and pushed the button.

Spooned the delighful smelling powdered bath salts into clear Valentines Bags.

 Tied off the plastic bag and placed into a homemade bag.  Tied with pretty ribbon.

Gave them to my girlfriends and indulged myself in a trial bath.   So soothing to the skin, and  smells so good.

Soothing Bath Salts
4 cups Dead Sea Salts
2 cups Baking Soda
1 cup Dried Lavendar flowers
1/2 Cup Dried Chamomile Flowers or Calendula petals
Blend all ingredients in a blender and breathe in the delightful smell.
If you don't care for little petals floating in your bath water, consider putting a large scoop of the bath salts into a coffee filter. You can seal all openings by sewing edges together  like a little envelope or 
tea bag; or pour into a nylon stocking, tie off and add to bath, or add essential oils instead of flowers.

Other optional ingredients:
Oatmeal (soothes itchy skin)
(be sure to grind it fine first and mix it with the other ingredients once they are ground
Powdered Milk (a beauty treatment used by Cleopatra)
Essential oils