Growing up I always loved when my mother would have chocolate éclairs bursting with fresh whipped cream for desert. They seemed so decadent – or rather they were and still are, but now as a baker, having baked éclairs I wonder why they weren’t more commonly on the desert plate since they are really very easy to make (and that’s not overselling it).
For those that think whole grain translates into blah, well this is a great recipe to demonstrate that finely ground whole grain flour can and will wow.
The first domestic scale stand mixer came about in 1918 as a product from the Hobart Company. That machine when tested earned the moniker – KitchenAid. This is pretty much that original design – one that has a separate motor rather than one built into the unit. I picked this one up in rough shape cosmetically but otherwise in excellent physical condition. For those who might be interested in seeing more details of this
really cool machine – working with it betrays it’s commercial lineage – I’ve got a bunch of photos here.
Vintage Hobart C210 Stand Mixer
Front view Hobart C210 Stand Mixer
Hobart C210 Stand Mixer Side View
Hobart C210 Stand Mixer – back view
Motor Tag – Hobart C210 Stand Mixer
Hobart Sticker on C210 Stand Mixer Motor
View of the foot of the c210 Stand Mixer
View from underside of c210 Hobart Stand Mixer base – bolt holding head to base
Hobart c210 Base (bowl removed)
Bowl holder showing a good example of the pinstriping
There’s good reason why biscuits were an essential part of pioneer cooking fare – they are quick and easy to make, are incredibly versatile and especially when warm right from the oven – like most fresh baking – make any meal go from whatever to wow! They were the perfect tool for the busy pioneer wife to pull together to make her meals special. Not so surprisingly they fill that same role today just as well. Between work and school and a myriad of other things that fill our modern lives the busyness while different is likely often just as much of an issue today as it was a hundred years ago – so any modern baker – male or female, hitched or not – should have a good basic biscuit recipe to turn to in times of need. This happens to be a great and versatile one.
So Libby’s just announced that due to wet weather production of canned pumpkin this year would be half the previous year’s quantity. I love pumpkin in recipes but this news doesn’t particularly distress me and hasn’t sent me on a panic buying binge – I can my own pumpkin.
I actually buy the sugar pumpkins for canning, but they are just as cheap as they have been in previous years at about a dollar each – which nets more that a can worth of pumpkin – which on sale averages about $1.50 and considerably more on a day to day basis.
Cutting the rind from the pumpkin
Now you may be wondering why bother canning at all, why not just let the pumpkin sit on the shelf since as a winter squash they should last. Alas, while some winter squash are great at avoiding rot for prolonged periods – my favorite being Seminole squash, which in addition to tasting great have to be some of the toughest vegetables out there – not only in terms of the fruit lasting but also the vines which are rock solid. Unfortunately, they do require a rather long season for Eastern Ontario… if you are in a more temperate locale you definitely need to give them a try – but divergence aside – pie pumpkins seem to want to rot fairly soon after picking, which means to use them requires canning. If I had a larger area I’d probably just dispense with rot prone pie pumpkins and grow winter squash that make meals and pumpkin baking every bit as good if not better than sugar pumpkins, but given my relative lack of space buying less shelf stable goods and preserving them is a sensible balance.
Jars of canned pumpkin
Fortunately preserving them is easy. You’ll need to cut the pumpkin up, clean out the seeds interior guts, remove the outer skin and then cut the meat up into chunks about 3/4″ to 1″ square and then put it in a pot of water that you bring to a boil for 2 minutes. Then you’ll hot pack and pressure can. The full instructions can be found on the appropriate page at the National Center for Home Food Preservation website here.
The pressure canner needed to carry this out is an investment, but here’s another example of making that purchase earn it’s return. I put back the equivalent of 30 cans of pumpkin saving roughly $30. Now that may not seem like much but given the pressure cooker costs $400 that savings is enough to pay for around 7% of the total cost for an evening worth of invested time, that’s probably better than your stock portfolio did, and it will likely taste a whole lot better.
When I first started making homemade naan several years ago I did the mixing and kneading by hand. It’s a bit of work to say the least. But, now I let the bread machine do the work. You’ll need to “trick it” to get the job done but it does an excellent job. A stand mixer would perform equally well not doubt – as long as it can handle making heavy bread dough.
So, what’s the “trick”? Well, a standard bread machine cycle won’t kneed the dough well enough – so you need to put it through the initial mixing and kneading cycle a few times. I usually find it’s three cycles on my double paddle machine – but your mileage may vary. But the result you want to achieve is the same slightly shiny stretchy dough.
Whole wheat naan on baking sheet
Apart from the need to put the bread machine on the dough cycle and reset it twice – allowing it to continue with the full dough cycle on the third go – making awesome whole wheat naan is easy and fast. It’s a great way to accompany Indian food such as the slow-cooker butter chicken we posted. Like the butter chicken you can prepare your naan dough the day before and if you don’t bake it right away you can put it in a ziplock bag in the refrigerator until you roll it out and bake it the next evening, so the two make a great pair – folks won’t believe you didn’t take the day off to slave in the kitchen when you put a meal like this in-front of them.
Finally, there are a bunch of ways to bake your naan. You can do it on a skillet or frypan on the stove top – flipping it over to finish both sides, you can make it in the pizza oven, or you can bake it on an overturned cookie sheet either in the oven or on the gas bbq. I usually favor the oven method since it allows me to bake the half dozen naan all at once, rather than doing one or two at a time. You still will need to flip them over halfway thorough the baking process even in the oven. The actual baking time is under ten minutes total.
In the time that it takes me to roll out the naan, the oven to heat up to temperature and the naan to then bake is just about what it takes for the rice to finish cooking and the table to be prepped – a pretty efficient meal plan all told.
Give it a try and you’ll be all smiles. Click on the show title for the full recipe.
Ok, so “the best” is a pretty high standard given I’ve been able to have a lot of butter chicken over the years – but this is it. What’s even better is it is dead simple to prepare and it’s a slow-cooker recipe so you’ll be able to walk away in the morning knowing you’ll return at meal time to a fantastic meal ready to serve in the 20 minutes or so that it takes to prep the rice and naan.
I usually do the little prep work that is required the night before put everything into the slow-cooker crock and then slide that into the fridge. Before I leave in the morning it’s as simple as putting the crock into the slow-cooker and turning it on low. That’s it, and that’s part of why I love it.
Butter chicken ingredients in the slow cooker
The prep the evening before is easy enough – and usually gets done while a show or video plays in the background. Cut up your chicken and onions and fry them up on medium heat until the onions are translucent. While you are doing this you can put the remaining ingredients into the slow cooker and mix and stir in the chicken, onions and butter when those are ready. If this is a night before prep then the whole slowcooker pot gets put into the fridge overnight – and pulled out in the morning to be put on low for the eight to ten hours that you are off working or living. It can also be prepared faster on the high setting which cuts the time just over half – to 5 to 6 hours.
The work is little but the results won’t betray that. Even picky eaters will be salivating at the prospect of this meal – and the leftovers the next day will make your classroom or office mates jealous.
As easy as pie – just a bit longer to realize the result. Seriously. Really. You just need the right tools (which are reasonably priced) and to gain some insight into how to pull everything together with smart techniques.
Not really much different than baking a pie – and there are lots of folks who are seriously intimidated by the thought of pulling together a great pie crust and that perfect filling.
But, that’s why cookbooks and cooking shows are so popular – they provide both guidance and the insight into the techniques needed to effectively convert the ingredients into the finished product. Once you’ve done it once that initial hurdle of getting those techniques down is breached and going from making an apple pie to a peach torte is comparatively a breeze. That’s no different with metal working – get a handle on how to pull one project off and you’ll be well on your way to having the skills and confidence to pull off much more complex projects.
In terms of how high that bar to entry is – with modern power tools it really isn’t much more difficult than baking that pie in a home oven. Wire feed welders are not only easy to master but also low cost – as I write this Harbor Freight has their welders on for $110 for the smaller unit to $180 for the midsized one that I adore. Their angle grinders start at $20 for a 4 1/2″ “heavy duty” one that will do for the work you have to carry out on the project to $45 for a versatile 7″ unit all the way to $65 for a top of the line 9″ unit – but those prices are all before you apply the 20% off coupons that always seem to be floating around. Another $20 will get you the needed drill.
Homebuilt Grain Mill, Tortilla Press and the required tools
Add in the consumables and hand tools and even if you are starting your shop from scratch you’ll be able to buy the tools and the materials needed for the grain mill build and have money left over compared to buying a comparable mill with 6″ diameter burrs.
Now the economics of building your own tortilla press isn’t nearly as compelling – but if you’ve got the tools… well then building it is a breeze.
Of course, the prime advantage in my opinion isn’t the grain mill, or the tortilla press, ore even the nicely equipped shop – but the change in perspective that you’ll gain once you’ve seen how achievable these metal working projects are. That shift will see you empower your independence, and that
Waffles are decidedly the high class alternative to the pedestrian pancakes. Sure, they are slower to produce but they are a great treat for a breakfast or brunch.
Breakfast fixings, barley flour waffles, strawberries, bacon and maple syrup
While a variety of whole grain flours can be used to pull these healthy waffles together my favorite is unquestionably barley. There’s a sweetness to barley that plays perfectly in this recipe – and by that I mean you’ll be hard pressed to make enough to satisfy the crowd at your table.
You may be hard pressed to find barley flour in your local grocery store – it will probably take a trip to a specialty retailer if you don’t have your own grain mill. If that’s the case why not consider building a grain mill – it isn’t much more complex than the baking you are already doing, just in a different domain.
That said, like all whole grain products it will fill you up and keep you going – you won’t be getting hunger pangs mid-morning after a hearty breakfast where these are featured.
So oil up your waffle iron, get it heated up and get ready to wow with these whole barley flour waffles.
I enjoy making this bread whenever I have leftover mashed potatoes that need to be used up. BUT, I will make mashed potatoes specifically to be used in this bread when I’m going to be making toasted bacon and tomato sandwiches.
Toasted Bacon and Tomato Sandwich on Whole Wheat Potato Bread
The mashed potatoes do a couple of things. First off since they don’t contain gluten we get a somewhat denser bread. I say somewhat because it is nowhere as dense as a rye, triticale, spelt or barley loaf. The reduction in gluten is to some extent mitigated by the easily converted starches that give the yeast an extra boost. At the same time we get a moister loaf. The combination makes for a great toasting bread – and great toast is the foundation of a great bacon and tomato sandwich!
Originally potato bread was used to stretch more expensive wheat flour but today the bread merits being included in your baking rotation on its own merits alone. That said, it remains a great way to put that little bit of mashed potatoes remaining after some meals to good use in your daily bread!
Super chocolaty brownies made with whole barley flour
These brownies are crazy awesome good. Frankly they are soooo chocolaty that it masks most (but not all) of the sweet nuttiness that I love from the whole barley flour. These are really really good, and so quick to prepare that you’ll be able to whip them up and have them in the oven in under five minutes – washing your bowl will take as long as the prep.
This recipe is also a great one to hand to new bakers (of all ages). Unlike cookies which are fun but can be a bit time consuming these brownies are pretty close to instant gratification and there is really little chance of it being screwed up.
If you have younger bakers you might find the mixing a bit of a challenge with a wooden spoon. Pick up some Danish Whisks and the kids will be able to do all of the mixing themselves. Once you’ve got them in your kitchen drawer they will end up being your default mixing tool they are that good.