Friday, December 16, 2011

honey wheat sandwich bread

As I've mentioned before, I love love love my KitchenAid Stand Mixer. Reason #157: I can make 3 loaves of true bread - yeasted, kneaded, risen, formed - in less than 15 minutes hands-on time.

The recipe I use most comes from my friend Kathryn, of Forsyth's Frosted Fancies. I've made it so often now that it has become habitual and second nature, which probably cuts my hands-on time to somewhere around 10 minutes or less. It's a little sweet, so the children love it. We use it most for sandwiches and breakfast toast, but I've also used the same recipe for pizza crust and dinner rolls, both of which turned out to be excellent.

Ingredients (for 3 loaves)
2 cups warm water
1/4 cup sugar or honey
1 Tbls. dry active yeast
3 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

2 Tbls. oil or melted butter
1/4 cup sugar or honey
2 tsp. salt
2 1/4 cups wheat flour
1/4 cup "extras" (wheat germ, flax seeds, sunflower seeds, oats, etc.)


Combine the warm water, the first 1/4 cup sugar or honey, the yeast and the all-purpose flour in the mixer bowl.

Using the dough hook, mix until smooth on lowest speed (marked "Stir" on my mixer).

Remove the dough hook, cover loosely and let sit until dough has doubled in size. (30 minutes or so)

After dough has doubled, add oil, the second 1/4 cup sugar or honey, salt, wheat flour and extras.

Using the dough hook, mix on the lowest speed while carefully watching. If the dough is sticking to the sides of the bowl, add a little more flour, a Tbls or two at a time, until the dough is staying in a ball on the dough hook and no longer sticking to the sides. We call this the point where the dough is "cleaning the sides of the bowl."

When the dough cleans the sides of the bowl, turn the mixer to Speed 2.

Allow the mixer to knead the dough for exactly 2 minutes. I always set the timer to be sure I don't allow the dough to be over-kneaded.

Remove the dough hook. Rub a little oil on top of the ball of dough. Flip it over gently inside the bowl and rub a little oil on the other side to cover the whole ball.

Cover the bowl loosely until it has doubled in size. (45 to 60 minutes or so)

Prepare your bread pans by greasing with butter or oil and dusting with flour.

When dough has doubled in size, gently remove it from the bowl and place it on a floured surface.

Cut it into 3 roughly equal portions, then shape each one and place it in the prepared bread pan. Remember to be gentle with the dough at all times!

Cover the bread pans loosely and let the dough rise in them until it has doubled in size (about 30 minutes).

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Bake the bread loaves at 350 for 25-30 minutes. Do not overbake!

Remove from the oven and immediately turn each load out onto a cooling rack.


Setting the kitchen timer takes even more work out of making bread for me - I don't even have to keep track of time! But this often makes the difference between success or not on a project that stretches out over a couple hours, like this one, so I would highly suggest using your kitchen timer to remind you when to check on your dough.

To get thinner slices from a loaf of freshly baked bread, refrigerate it first, then cut it when it is very cool.

If you don't have wheat flour on hand, or you don't like wheat for certain things (like pizza crust), you can use all white flour in this recipe as well.

Monday, December 12, 2011

tomato gravy

Last week, when we were visiting Karla, my Amish friend, she mentioned that they often have tomato gravy over eggs for breakfast. This was the second time she had talked about "tomato gravy" and it sounded so interesting, I had to try it.

From what I gather, it's an Amish thing. It makes a regular appearance at meals at all times of the day, and it's quite versatile. You can serve it over eggs (which I did last Wednesday and let me just say - YUM. It's no wonder her family eats eggs every morning if she's serving tomato gravy over them!), you can serve it over rice (did that tonight), you can put it over toast, over noodles, over biscuits, over roasted chicken....and many more, I'm sure.

I'm going to give you my ingredient list, which is different from hers. Hers calls for a can of diced tomatoes (roughly 14 oz.). For mine, I used tomato juice.


3 Tbls. butter
3 Tbls. white flour
tomato juice (about a cup)
whole milk or cream (about a half cup)
3 Tbls. sugar
salt and pepper to taste


Melt the butter over medium heat.

Whisk in the flour until it begins to brown.

Pour in the tomato juice and milk all at once.

Whisk until smooth and thickened. If it is too thick for your liking, add more tomato juice.

Stir in the sugar and salt and pepper.

Serve with a variety of side dishes or meats, but especially with eggs.

garlic and ginger black beans

Black beans and rice are staples in our pantry - we almost always have some on hand. Tonight, Sassy (my eldest daughter) asked for "plain rice with butter and salt" for supper. I put together a black bean dish to go with it that featured some of our favorite spices. Water chestnuts added the crunch that made everyone ask for seconds.


1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 onion, finely chopped
1 bulb garlic (about 10 cloves)
1/4 cup freshly grated ginger root
1 can sliced water chestnuts, rinsed and drained
2 Tbls. salsa
oil for sauteeing
salt and pepper to taste


Separate and peel the cloves of garlic. Finely chop each clove. Try the 10 second garlic peeling technique if you haven't yet. (yes, it really works)

Saute the onion, garlic, ginger and water chestnuts until the onions are soft and the water chestnuts are no longer white.

Stir in the drained and rinsed black beans and the salsa. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Serve with rice or tortilla chips.