Monday – a great day to start nesting!!


Normally I would write about musical things on a Monday, a trip on a Tuesday, and then about running most of the rest of the week.  But TODAY is the day when I start cooking to fill my freezer for when the baby comes (not hard to fill since the freezers are small in the UK! But I have an extra freezer from the US Government which gives us a bit more room 🙂 ) Nesting at its best, because it means yummy food for us with very little effort in the future.  I don’t do much preparation for a new baby because there’s too much going on with the other kids to really worry about it, but the one thing I do every time is put food in the freezer that my family and I like so we’re not reliant on fast food, prepackaged meals, or others’ generosity (which sometimes results in food that we normally don’t eat) for the few weeks after I deliver.

So this week I’ll post recipes every day during the intervals when I need to sit and when my hands aren’t dirty 🙂  Today I’m baking two types of bread and making black beans and rice for dinner.  One of the types of bread is a new dinner roll recipe with which I’m using soaked freshly ground flour – so we’ll see how it turns out! It’s to go with the Honey Bourbon Pulled Chicken I’ll be making in the crockpot one night, so I’ll wait til that day to post the roll recipe.  For today we’ll stick with the sandwich bread (also a new recipe) and the black beans.  First, though, about my run, from which I’m recovering on the couch for a while before shackling myself to the kitchen counter for the next few hours 🙂

Mondays are the days I normally have a mother’s helper from 10am-5pm, so they are always one of my run days, and the days we get caught up on laundry and other projects like floors or bathrooms.  Of course today it is pouring rain.  Oh well, after last week’s commitment to run regardless of the British weather, I knew I was going to run no matter what.  It was one of those runs, though, where the baby was feeling really low, and my breakfast was feeling very high, and my get-up was making me feel short of breath (The raincoat really adds to the weight of everything and makes me feel a bit stuffy.)  So I only did 2.55 miles, at 12:12 pace (wow that’s slow!!) and felt not-so-great the whole time.  At least it let up enough to allow me to pull my hood off at the turn-around point. I have to say one thing for the weather, though — I am SO THANKFUL it’s not hot, because running this far along (36 weeks) would be not only difficult in the heat, but dangerous.

Okay – off to the kitchen!

Today I tried a new bread recipe which I sort of found on the Kitchen Stewardship blog.  I altered it quite a bit to suit our tastes, and she had changed it already to fit her needs, so I will be sure to give my complete recipe at the end of the photos.  At right here is a handful of Hard White Wheat berries which I combined with Hard Red Wheat Berries (in the green cup.)  In total, about a third of my wheat was red.  Both are “whole grain wheat,” and they get their names based on the color of the berries, and the hardness, etc.  Last night I ground up the wheat and soaked it overnight in the liquids to be used in the recipe.  Here’s a picture of my awesome wheat grinder (a Whisper Mill – although when this one goes I’ll be switching to a Nutrimill), doing the work for me 🙂  I soaked it in a combination of the water called for in the recipe, along with some buttermilk, and then the oil and honey for the recipe – all the recipe’s liquids were necessary to get to a 2:1 ratio (almost) of flour to liquid.  I have found through trial and error that I can’t soak flour in a higher ratio or it is too stiff. (Example: 4 cups flour needs 2 cups liquid.)  So basically I had 9 cups of flour soaking in 4-ish cups liquid, which is a little under my ideal ratio.  Some of you may be anti-gluten (not just gluten free, but you perhaps think it’s bad in general and don’t eat the stuff) or anti-whole grain, but from my research I have settled on soaking my whole grain flour in an acidic medium (click on that phrase for a great summary on soaking whole grains) such as buttermilk, lemon juice, whey, or vinegar, in order to neutralize most of the phytic acid in the wheat germ which appears to be the main culprit in making whole grains undesirable.  In this case I used about 2 Tbsp of Buttermilk per cup of water the recipe called for (which meant reducing each cup of water by those 2 Tbsp.)  Generally speaking if I’m using one of the other options I substitute 1 Tbsp of the water with vinegar or lemon juice.  I had to show you a picture of the striated cup of liquids since it turned out so cool 🙂 I poured in the E.V.O.O. first, then the honey, which sunk to the bottom, and then the buttermilk, which settled in the middle.  How cool is that!?! (Note: there are 3 “extra” Tbsp of buttermilk due to a Tbsp of yogurt in the original recipe which I tripled to make three loaves.)
Here’s a picture of “soaking” flour – in case you pictured it swimming in liquid, it’s not.  When you soak it, you need to make sure all the flour is incorporated so that none of it is left dry (freshly ground flour goes bad if left to sit out.)  Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and leave it on the counter overnight.

This morning I put the soaked mixture into my Bosch, along with the Lecithin, gluten, and salt and gave it a stir.

Since the liquids in the recipe are not warm as they would be had you made it all in one day, I always “proof” my yeast with a little warm water and honey.  Here is a picture of what the yeast looks like after it had been sitting on the counter about five minutes while I was getting the rest of the ingredients into the Bosch mixer.  Once the yeast mixture looked like this, I added it to the flour mixture in the Bosch and kneaded it about 15 minutes.  Here’s how it looked after the kneading (at right), ready to go into a slightly warm oven to rise.  Next is a picture of the dough after rising about 25 minutes in the oven.  It definitely doubled in size!! I like to use an oiled metal bowl for the rising, and I always use a glass bowl for the soaking.  A creature of habit.  I don’t have pictures of rolling the dough out on the counter to make it into loaves, but in the photo below you can see the successful results 🙂  Next time I make bread I’ll make sure to get a picture of forming the loaves and will insert it then.  We’ve already eaten half a loaf as a snack 🙂

Here’s the recipe from which I started:   but as I said, I changed it quite a bit.  Hers is not written for soaking, although she did do a soaked version and blogged about it.  Also, it is for 1 loaf in a bread maker, while mine makes three good-sized loaves.

Soak:  2 1/2 cups water

8 Tbsp Buttermilk

6 Tbsp E.V.O.O.

9 Tbsp Honey

9 cups freshly ground flour

The next day:

Proof the yeast: 1/4-1/3 cup warm water

1/2 tsp honey

2 Tbsp yeast

The rest of the ingredients:

3/4 cup vital wheat gluten (or 1/4 cup gluten and 1/2 cup all-purpose flour)

1 Tbsp salt

2 Tbsp Lecithin

sprinkle of ground ginger

Mix the groups of ingredients together and knead until the dough can pass the windowpane test.  Let rise once to double its size in a bowl (about 25-30 minutes.)  Shape into loaves and allow to rise again to double (about 20 minutes).  Bake at 350 for 30-35 minutes until the loaf sounds hollow when you take it out of the pan and thump the bottom.

My recipe makes three loaves – a strange number I realize, but it worked well for me to essentially triple her recipe.

I also made black beans and rice for dinner, for which I think I will make a separate post, even though it was going on at the same time 🙂  Hope you get to try this recipe — it was declared “the best bread you’ve ever made” by my husband, QUITE the accomplishment!  Of course the kids and I loved it, too 🙂

What is your favorite bread recipe?

Do you run in the rain?