Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Breads and Biscuits

How to Make Plain Bread

Every nomadic tribe in the world makes its own bread variant. You can make bread using any implements, any heat source, and any combination of ingredients. Corn, wheat, barley, oats, millet and rice have all been used to make flour for varieties of bread. Salt, sodium bicarbonate, yeast, beer, wine and simple air fermentation have all been used to make a lighter, fluffier bread. Oils and eggs provide elasticity to your bread dough, but they are not necessary to make a basic, palatable, life-sustaining bread.

Fluffy Southern-Style Biscuits
The secret to these fluffy biscuits is the ginger ale. When mixed with the self-rising flour, the dough becomes lighter and more pliable. This recipe was created specifically for use in a toaster oven. The original recipe uses bacon grease, but you can substitute vegetable shortening or applesauce if you are on a vegan or low-cholesterol diet. These biscuits puff to almost three times their thickness, so put them on a lower rack in your toaster oven.

Parsley-basil Garlic Biscuits

Despite the summer heat, making biscuits means you and your family get nutrient-packed, delicious, easily-digested foods. Making parsley-basil garlic biscuits takes a little patience if you want fluffy inside texture and a crunchy exterior. Make a double batch of biscuits at a time so that you only heat the kitchen once. Parsley-basil garlic biscuits will bake in an oven, toaster oven, electric skillet or on a grill equally well, with a few minor modifications.

Chai Spice Corn Cake

I moved this recipe from my Bukisa account to here because I feel Triond does a great job promoting articles and creating community. This moist corn cake uses no milk or eggs. If you decide to omit the butter, use an extra 1/2 cup of coconut oil. The ginger ale makes this cake light and fluffy. While it does contain gluten if you use self-rising white flour, you can make it gluten-free by substituting five cups amaranth flour and one tbsp. baking powder.

Mom’s Bread Pudding

My grandmother gave my Dad an old chest freezer when she closed her candy store in Brewster, Ohio. We’d go to the Schwebel and Nickles Bakery thrift stores and load up the trunk of Dad’s Dodge Dart GT with loaves of day-old bread at 10 to 20 cents a loaf to fill that freezer. For weeks afterward, we’d have toasted cheese sandwiches with homemade tomato soup, French toast and bread pudding.

Mother’s Day Recipes: Homemade Giblet Stuffing

My mother has always made the most of every bit of food available. Some of her specialties were bread pudding, giblet stuffing, zucchini bread, macaroni and cheese, Spanish rice and homemade spaghetti sauce. In her honor, as we approach Mother’s Day, I will post her recipes as I remember them, along with a few changes that she and I and my daughters have made over the years. Thanks and Happy Mother’s Day, Mom!

Canned Ham Skillet Omelet

This hearty meal makes a delicious breakfast, brunch or date-night dinner and costs under $2 per serving. Enjoy it on your patio as you watch the birds and butterflies flit among your herbs and flowers, or make breakfast trays and eat in front of the fireplace while your favorite carols play in the background.

Preheat the skillet for three minutes on medium heat. Cut the teardrop ham into 1/2-inch cubes and toss them in the skillet. Stir-fry the ham until the scent begins to permeate the kitchen and the surface of each ham cube turns golden-brown.

Crush 2 cloves of purple garlic. Add the garlic and 1/2 cup of chopped onion to the skillet. Stir-fry the mixture until the onion turns golden around the edges.

Add 1/2 cup green, red and yellow pepper strips to the pan and stir-fry them for 3 minutes. 

Crack the eggs into a small mixing bowl and whisk them to a uniform pale yellow color. Add 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda and whisk again until the soda disappears into the eggs.

Add the eggs to the skillet and tilt it back and forth to evenly distribute them. Put the lid on the skillet and allow the mixture to cook on medium-low heat for two minutes.

Remove the lid and run your spatula around the edge of the omelet to create a ditch. Tip the pan to let any egg that has not become solid flow into the ditch. Continue tilting the skillet back and forth to evenly distribute the liquid egg.

Cover the pan and allow the omelet to cook for another two minutes on low heat, or until the egg no longer looks shiny or wet. Slice your teardrop ham omelet into six or eight wedges and serve it with sliced Italian bread and brown mustard.

Ingredients and Equipment

1 canned ham
2 cloves purple garlic
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup green, red and yellow pepper strips
1 dozen eggs
Small mixing bowl
1 loaf sliced Italian bread
Brown mustard

Save empty cans and lids from your hams to make a container herb garden

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Tofausage Scramble

Reducing animal-based fats and protein sources can help lower your total LDL cholesterol (so-called "bad" cholesterol). Moving from a meat-heavy diet to a vegetarian or vegan one does not have to mean facing a lifetime of boring meals, though. Once you figure out which fruit, vegetable and grain combinations result in complete proteins, creating tasty meals is a snap.

Extra-firm tofu is a complete protein, which means that it contains all of the nine essential amino acids. Its texture -- chunky and crumbly -- makes it a great substitute for eggs and sausage. Firm tofu, on the other hand, is missing methionine and cysteine, so mix it with complementary fruits and vegetables for optimum effect on your overall health.

Tofu's bland flavor can be a big turnoff for the carnivores in your family. Marinating tofu without turning it into a pile of goo takes practice, but it results in a tastier dish.

Start with a package of extra-firm tofu. I used International brand, distributed by Fuji Natural Foods of Ontario, California. Their tofu comes in 19-ounce packages, divided into four single-serving bricks. Each brick is 135 grams, which is just a little over 1/2 cup of tofu. According to the package, each brick has 120 calories, 60 from fat. Since that fat is from soybean oil, it will help you raise your level of HDL (so-called "good") cholesterol.

We poured off the liquid and placed the tofu bricks in a large, square-sided mixing container that had just enough bottom surface area for all four blocks to sit side by side without touching each other. We poured just enough double-black soy sauce over the tofu to cover it. Double-black soy sauce contains molasses, which is a good source of iron. It has a rich, caramelized flavor and clings to the tofu better than regular soy sauce.

I used Koon Chun Sauce Factory brand, which I bought at Mekong Market, a local Vietnamese grocery store. Each single-tablespoon serving has just 15 calories, and provides 20 percent of your daily iron needs, 8 percent of your daily vitamin C and 6 percent of your daily iron needs, according to the nutrient data on the label.

We wanted the tofu to taste like sausage, so we added ground sage, black pepper, garlic powder and onion powder to the sauce. I also chopped one whole yellow onion into quarter-inch bits and added that to the marinade. We gently rocked the container back and forth to blend the sauce and spices together, then marinated the tofu overnight.

The next afternoon, we poured the marinade into a pan, brought it to a rolling boil, then let it cool back to room temperature. Once cool, I poured it into a small container and put it in the freezer for the next batch of tofu.

We broke the tofu into ragged, one-inch to half-inch chunks so it would resemble bulk sausage in texture, but you can cut the tofu into long, small blocks or strips if you prefer. Breaking it makes it feel more like scrambled eggs while cutting it thin makes it feel more like bacon or pork patties.

I added four cups of a mixture of chopped onion, minced garlic, diced green and yellow bell peppers, chopped celery and chopped Roma tomatoes before stir-frying the mixture in a little extra-virgin olive oil, which is another source of HDL (so-called "good") cholesterol.

The results? A breakfast or brunch dish that is high in HDL cholesterol, low in LDL cholesterol, contains all nine essential amino acids and provides calcium, iron, protein and vitamin C in abundance. Enjoy!

19 ounces firm tofu
1 C double-black soy sauce
1 T ground sage
1 T black pepper
1 T garlic powder
1 T Onion powder
4 C chopped, mixed salad vegetables (onion, bell pepper, celery, garlic and Roma tomatoes)
2 T extra-virgin olive oil
Large, flat-bottomed plastic container with tight-fitting lid
Skillet or wok
Wok tool set

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Hummus Burgers

Limiting LDL cholesterol (so-called "bad" cholesterol) from your diet overnight takes a lot of planning. Rather than making the person eating the low-cholesterol diet feel deprived, we decided to use an empowered approach. We looked at all the foods that fit into a minimal LDL cholesterol diet. We used the Self Nutrition Data site to see what nutrient values each food had then used the University of Maryland Medical Center Complementary and Alternative Medicine Guide to look up what each nutrient in that particular food item does for the body. Then we created a list of ingredients that would help lower total serum LDL cholesterol intake.

Chickpeas (garbanzo beans) and Tahini Paste Photo by Jack V. Sage 08/30/2015
To make the radical changes we needed, we decided to experiment with the ingredients and see what tasty alternatives (or total disasters) resulted. Today's recipe started out as a batch of simple, homemade hummus. While I was mixing it, the dog started pestering us, and I realized it was because the mixture smelled good enough to make some almost-real, protein-rich veggie burgers. Only later, while the burgers were baking and I had time to look up chickpeas and sesame paste did I discover that garbanzo beans are a complete protein all by themselves, with more iron and calcium than a standard quarter-pound hamburger made from 85 percent lean ground beef.

Hummus Burgers Photo by Jack V. Sage 08/30/2015

Our handheld egg slicer made it easier to mash the chickpeas. It took about 10 minutes longer than a food processor would have taken, but it left the hummus with a better texture. After taste-testing, we decided that our next attempt would include at least four cups of cooked, whole lentils for added texture.

Egg Slicer Photo by Jack V. Sage 08/30/2015

Egg Slicer Photo by Jack V. Sage 08/30/2015
We used the hamburger press that we bought last year at Harbor Freight to make the patties. Each burger is one cup of hummus pressed about 3/4 inches thick.

Harbor Freight Hamburger Press Photo by Jack V. Sage 08/30/2015

Harbor Freight Hamburger Press Photo by Jack V. Sage 08/30/2015

This recipe requires a #10 can of chickpeas (close to seven pounds) a 16-ounce jar of tahini paste, one small lemon, 1/4 cup of onion powder, two tablespoons of garlic powder, one tablespoon of ground black pepper, one teaspoon of coarse sea salt and one tablespoon of paprika. You will also need a colander; a large 8-quart mixing bowl; an egg slicer, potato masher or food processor; a hamburger press, a vegetable grater, two cookie sheets and a pancake turner.

Drain the chickpeas in a colander for five minutes, rinsing with cold water at least once. Force the drained chickpeas through the egg slicer one small handful at a time until all of them are mashed, or whirl them in a food processor until coarsely ground. Add the entire 16-ounce jar of tahini paste and all the spices.

Slice the lemon, pulse it in the food processor or blender until finely ground and add it to the chickpea and tahini mixture. Mix all the ingredients together by hand until well-blended.

Wipe the inner surface of the hamburger press with olive oil to prevent the hummus mixture from sticking to it. Wipe olive oil onto the two cookie sheets as well. Place the bottom ring of the hamburger press on the first cookie sheet, starting in one corner. Fill the ring with as little as 1/2 cup or as much as one whole cup of hummus mix. Press the top down gently, twisting it into position as marked on the ring, to make a 1/4 pound, 1/3 pound or 1/2 pound burger.

Brush the top of each burger with olive oil, and then sprinkle each burger with sea salt, black pepper, and paprika.

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Place the burgers in the oven and bake for 15 minutes. Switch to "broil" and broil for 10 minutes until the tops brown. Makes 10 to 12 burgers.

Allow the burgers to cool on the cookie sheets, and then freeze them overnight. Place each burger in a zipper bag and keep frozen until ready to use. 

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Bananaloupe Orange Crush

It's Hell No O'Clock here in Arizona, so hot meals are just not going to happen today. Instead, we took advantage of the abundance of cantaloupe, oranges, and bananas that we froze over the past few weeks. Gypsy opted for last week's Cucumber Citrus Breakfast Crush for lunch, but I wanted something different. This recipe needs no sweetener, thanks to the banana.

Place three slices of frozen orange (with peel) in the blender jar, followed by two cups of frozen cantaloupe chunks and one whole, large, ripe banana. Add 100 percent juice of your choice (I used apple) until even with the top of all the cantaloupe chunks. Pulse until the solids liquefy, then blend until smooth. Makes one 30-ounce smoothie.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Cucumber Citrus Breakfast Crush

If you have tried and liked Prevention Magazine's original cucumber-lemon Sassy Water recipe floating around the internet, then you will enjoy this blended wake-up version. I buy lemons and cucumbers when they are on sale. I give the cucumbers a quick, three-sided partial peel, so they have a variegated look. I then crinkle-slice the lemons and cucumbers and freeze them on cookie sheets. Once they are frozen, I bag the slices separately to use in smoothies.

Last week, cucumbers were six for a dollar at Food City, and each one weighed almost two pounds, so I wound up with close to twelve pounds of cucumbers for less than the price of a jar of store-bought pickles. Lemons were $2.99 a bag at Sam's Club, 10 to a bag, with nearly unblemished skins. I sliced and froze them all right away. I did not have any ginger in the house, so I stopped at Haji Baba to buy a jar of minced ginger paste for $5.99, a way better deal than I could have gotten on the same weight of fresh ginger.

Start by placing two frozen orange slices and five frozen lemon slices in the blender jar. Fill the blender three inches from the top with frozen cucumber slices. Add a tablespoon of dried mint and two teaspoons of ginger paste. Add 1/4 cup honey or one large, ripe frozen banana (or substitute your preferred sweetener). Fill the jar with 100 percent apple juice until even with the sliced fruit and cucumber but at least one inch below the top of the blender jar. Put the cover on the blender and hold gently to ensure that it does not get pushed up while you pulse everything two or three seconds at a time until the majority of the fruit and cucumbers disappear into the liquid. Stop the blender, remove the top and use a wooden spoon or rubber scraper to push any large bits down into the blender jar.

Start pulsing again until you are sure that all the solids have shredded. Hold the pulse button down and grind the contents until you no longer see any large, green flakes of mint or cucumber skin. Serve right away. Makes two 24-ounce smoothies.

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Grandma's Sweet Apple Dill Pickles

For those of us of a certain age, homemade pickles sat on every table for every Sunday dinner or holiday. The pickles started with fresh cucumbers picked that same day, with maybe a little onion, celery or hot chili pepper thrown in for extra flavor. Taking a riff from pickles my grandmother, Virginia Stapleton, used to make, and a riff from Gypsy Wilburn's memories of Aunt Irene's bread and butter pickles. We came up with these festive, flavorful, sweet dill pickle slices.

Cucumbers were six for a dollar this week at Food City, so I picked out the six biggest, freshest ones I could find, total weight almost twelve pounds. Food City also had Red Delicious apples on sale at four pounds for a dollar, so I bought eight pounds. This recipe uses eight pounds of crinkle-sliced cucumbers and two pounds of crinkle-sliced apples.

8 lbs. cucumbers, partially peeled, crinkle-sliced
2 lbs. Red Delicious or Gala apples, crinkle sliced (do not peel)
1/2 C packed brown sugar
1/4 C dried dill
1 T sea salt
3 T onion powder
3 T garlic powder
4 cups apple cider vinegar
Large mixing bowl
1-gallon clear plastic container with screw-top lid

Toss the cucumbers, apples, dill, salt, brown sugar and spices together in a large mixing bowl until evenly coated with the spices. Pour the apple cider vinegar over everything in the bowl, stir and allow everything to marinate for 10 minutes.

Transfer the marinated cucumber and apple slices to the one-gallon plastic container. Pour the marinade over everything. Fill the container the rest of the way with cold water, until it just barely covers the fruit and vegetable slices. Screw the lid on tight, invert the jar and shake to ensure that the water and the pickling marinade are evenly mixed. Place in the refrigerator on the lowest shelf. Allow the pickles to rest for two to four days before eating them.