Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Wellness Wednesday and Soup

Last week I was busy taking care of sick children and didn't get posted for Wellness Wednesday. Today I stepped on the scale and was disappointed to see that I had gained 3 pounds and I now weigh 315#. :o( Well, instead of dwelling on it, I'm going to use it as an opportunity to get busy. I refuse to let it start climbing back up.

It isn't too much of a surprise because this last week I had a candy binge. Well, I'd rather not be writing this or posting my weight increase, but hopefully if I am honest,The strange thing is that it doesn't taste that great to me anymore. I can taste all the chemicals and it is not satisfying. But my body goes through periods of craving it and I don't mean that I emotionally crave it; I physically crave it! This is something I don't quite understand. Two things I have noticed though, the cravings seem to be worse when I have been too tired to make homemade bread and that after I eat processed sugar my glands become swollen. As for the bread, I am guessing that because I am using fresh ground flour, I am getting vitamins and trace minerals that I don't otherwise. As for the glands, it is well documented that sugar decreases immunity.

As for exercising, the pain in my knee increased and so I had to stop. It is feeling a little better again. So, now I need to work up the gumption to get started again. If you feel led, please pray for me in this.

Now for soup... We had wonderful turkey barley soup after Thanksgiving. It was so good that I'm thinking about doing another turkey at Christmas so that I can make more!

Today, I made soup for dinner. This is a great, thick soup for a cold fall or winter day. First I started with the broth from the beef roast I cooked in the pressure cooker yesterday. Then the fun began. In the Vitamix I blended up some frozen spinach, green onions, celery stalks, a large bunch of broccoli and 4 cloves of garlic. This made a thick green paste that wasn't overly appetizing to look at. I poured it in the pot with 2 bottles of organic spaghetti sauce, 2 packages of frozen veggies, 2.5 cups barley and 6 cans of diced tomatoes (that I blended in the Vitamix to make tomato sauce), then I began adding herbs -savory, oregano, basil, rosemary. Oh, I had half a jar of organic tomato juice in the fridge that I added too and one pound of cooked ground beef. This soup lends itself well to cleaning out the fridge! :o) It cooks up nice and thick more like a chili than soup. It's definitely a hardy dinner and my Hubby likes to take it for lunches. It could be served with cheese or sour cream on top and with fresh bread or corn bread.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Wellness Wednesday and Turkey

Well, the scale didn't budge even though I walked 3 miles this last week. I would have been walking more but my family decided to hide all my exercise DVDs from me! I was not a happy camper. It wasn't on purpose but it was very frustrating! It takes a lot of mental energy to get yourself back exercising after a long break and I certainly don't need help finding ways NOT to exercise! LOL The DVD was found last night, all was forgiven and my girlies walked with me this morning. While I have the physical energy to push ahead further and do 2 miles or more, my knee begins to complain by the time I hit one mile. Not so sure I can keep heading off that surgery. Sigh...

Monday I made our turkey. A lot of people think that is strange I know, but we don't have anyone coming over to see what it all looks like and it takes a lot of pressure off me to do it ahead of time and then I can enjoy Thursday more. I tried cooking my turkey breast down this year to keep the white meat moist and it seems to have worked.

It doesn't look very glamorous I know! :o) I make a paste by melting 1 stick butter. I've tried olive oil but it just doesn't taste good for turkey. In my cuisinart mini chop, I chopped up one bunch of fresh Rosemary (leaves only) and one bunch of fresh sage. Hmmm... this smells so good. I couldn't find fresh Thyme so I put in some dried Thyme, salt, pepper and about 6 garlic cloves. After this is chopped I add it to the butter and even if the butter is still warm and liquidy, it returns to solid state when it touches the cold turkey. I slather the outside, the cavities and underneath the skin of the breast on each side.

We couldn't afford an organic turkey, so I bought a "natural" Kosher turkey at Trader Joe's. That was the CLEANEST bird I have ever cooked! But if you use giblets, there won't be any - they're not Kosher! No issue for us.

I carved the turkey Monday night and made a packet of white and dark meat for Thursday and put it in the freezer. I will rewarm this, likely in the oven with a pan of water below it to steam it and keep it moist (we don't generally microwave). The other meat I divided into quart freezer bags in meal sized proportions - sandwich slices, meat for stir fry, meat for a casserole or enchilada, etc.

Next I took the carcass... half went into my 8 quart pressure cooker and half into the roasting pan on the stove. Because of the large quantity of fresh herbs, it really flavors the broth. It tasted so good without the need of adding any bouillon or flavoring except salt. The meat juices and broths I let cool over night. This way I can remove the fat.

Yesterday I made soup. It was a huge hit with my family... everyone except my son who doesn't eat much of anything... I'm not sure he will even eat turkey for dinner! LOL I used my 5 liters of broth which I made plus 3 liters of organic, free range chicken broth from Trader Joe's (I just didn't have enough of my own for the amount of soup I wanted to make). I cleaned out the freezer - a package of corn, peas left over from stir fries and rice and a package of "California Style" veggies (cauliflower, broccoli, carrots and green beans) which I chopped a little smaller. For a little flavor kick I added some of my chopped up and frozen red peppers. Then I added some fresh onion and garlic, chopped up turkey and 3 cups of Pearl Barley.

I love Barley. As a child when my Mom and I were moderately poor, I loved Campbell's Scotch Broth soup. What an odd choice for a child, but it was my favorite. I don't use boughten soup now due to the MSG and other chemicals, but I haven't lost my taste for Barley. In the past I have tried brown rice, white rice, macaroni, shell noodles and egg noodles. Nothing really satisfied. Barley was the missing ingredient. The soup sat on the stove for about an hour and a half. I felt this was safe because most of the items were frozen and the pot was cold to the touch. This gave the time for the barley to expand, then I cooked it about 1.5-2 hours on the stove.

My five year old girls loved it so much they asked for it again and Hubby says it tastes even better today! :o) After dinner I had 6 quarts to go in the freezer and one quart left in the fridge.

Tonight I'll probably make pies and tomorrow I will have free time to get everything else ready to eat mid day. For a treat tomorrow night as a family, we will have leftovers and watch the movie Wall-e together. I can't wait.

I took off my tshirt that had turkey grease on it. Abbie promptly curled up and went to sleep. Probably smelled like Heaven for a kitty! :o)

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Holiday Freebie from Sue Gregg

Go here to my other blog for the links.

Wellness Wednesday

Welcome any visitors and newcomers. On my old blog I had a weekly Wellness Wednesday post where I checked in with my weight loss progress and discussed other health and nutrition information. For those of you new here, I am NOT dieting. I am only trying to be healthier in food choices and exercise. This is the best way for me and so far I have been fairly successful with it. It's slow going but the changes are long lasting!

The last 3.5 months I have not been able to exercise due to tearing the meniscus in my left knee. Until a day or two ago I was ready to give in and have the surgery to repair it, but then I realized that a lot of my pain is coming from hip bursitis and accompany Ilial-Tibial Band Syndrome (tightening of the bands between the hip and knee), which has been magnified by the sore knee. So, I cancelled the PT appointment that I had for today because it was to decide about sending me to the surgeon. I will reschedule that so that I can have a week or so to begin the strengthening process of the Ilial-Tibial band and see if that eliminates many of my issues.

Today was the first step. I walked one mile with Leslie Sansone from the two mile walk DVD that came with Walking The Walk: Getting Fit With Faith. In reality, I likely only walked a half mile because I was very slow pokey, but the important thing is not speed or distance, but moving without causing further damage. It was a good way to get my toes wet and it felt good! So far, several hours later, I am not feeling any adverse effects. Now, I'm actually a little bit excited.

This morning I weighed 312#, which surprised me since I haven't been eating a whole lot, but I also haven't been eating as many live foods and was sick the last week, so less active. Still, while I gained back a couple pounds, I actually don't weigh any less than when I stopped exercising.

That last sentence is pretty boring for anyone else. But, for me it is exciting and victorious! In my nearly life long battle with weight, I have never maintained a weight loss after stopping exercise. This may seem like a small thing to many of you but for me it is HUGE! I am so excited! This is a sign of God's healing work in my body and in my emotions. He is transforming me and it is amazing to me! This gives me hope to keep on going!

So, I hope someone will check in here and comment, and I hope to continue posting on a regular basis besides Wellness Wednesday!

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

A Fun Tool and A Great Store

Earlier this year I found Down On The Farm where Marci blogs about her interesting adventures on Amazing Graze Farm. Marci also has a great little store, which I believe is a new adventure this year.
She has quite a collection of items, tools and goods that are useful for healthy cooking and living. Recently I purchased some Sue Gregg cookbooks as well as Wrapping It Up, by Vickilynn Haycraft who is on a couple yahoogroups with me. I do not know her personally but she seems nice and always has such helpful suggestions. I'll be writing more about my positive experiences using her tortilla method soon!
The fun too I purchased at Amazing Graze General Store is the Natural Peanut Butter Mixer. This is one of those feats of engineering where you scratch your head and say "Why didn't I think of that?!" I love natural peanut butter, having grown up on homemade or Adam's Peanut Butter. I can't stand the regular kind - it actually gags me! I wasn't sure if this little device would work but wanted to give it a try since we always end up with a dry brick of peanut butter on the bottom that has to be chiseled out.
It WORKS! It's so awesome. We can use the jar all the way to the bottom. The tool does not actually fit on the lids of the jars we have from Whole Foods Market (Their 365 brand of crunch peanut butter is so awesome, the best and freshest tasting I've ever had - but the organic has sweetening - ICK! So, we don't buy that.) It would fit on Maranatha, Laura Scudder or Adams pint jars. Hubby puts it in and holds it over the jar (so theoretically this might also work on a bigger jar?) and turns the handle. The screw like device turns and churns inside the jar, mixing the peanut butter and the oil back together. We have used it on two jars and it stays mixed in the fridge, so we are quite pleased. This makes peanut butter eating much more pleasant.
I like to support good people starting out with their own businesses. If you are on the lookout for any of the things that Marci carries, I definitely recommend Amazing Graze store. Not only are the products of high quality, but the prices are competent and the customer service is awesome!

Pressure Cooking

Sorry for the funny photo... I'm not very glamorous at staging foods. This is some chicken broth and it is HOT, that I made in my pressure cooker. I am still amazed at how good chicken broth tastes this way and also what a great way to save money it is!
I put 3 chicken breasts and 6-7 thighs in my 8 qt pressure cooker. Next I added one gallon of water and because I'm not supposed to be up standing a lot on my knee still, I didn't put fresh onion and garlic, but usually I do. This time I used dehydrated onions and granulated garlic. (The sediment you see on the bottom of the jar is the onions, garlic etc.) After that I tossed in Cumin, Salt, dried Cilantro, red pepper flakes and Cayenne Pepper. Well, in my brain I was thinking of paprika, not Cayenne and I ended up with chicken broth so HOOOOOT that it's almost unbearable! LOL It's going to have to be thinned down with some store bought broth.
I cooked this at pressure for 5 minutes and then let the pressure go naturally, which was supposed to take 5 minutes but I think it took ten. Chicken cooked this way is moist and tastes great. It is an excellent way to make shredded chicken for Mexican cooking and salads.
Generally I use the broth the next day to cook rice in the pressure cooker, but since it was so hot, I'm holding off on that for awhile! :o) I will freeze some of it though for later use. In the future I will start canning that. Making broth this ways uses NO BOUILLON! This means NO MSG. Yeah!
In the spring I purchased this Fagor set and really love it. First I did research and after reading an article reviewing their performance at America's Test Kitchen, I chose Fagor over some of the more expensive Swiss sets because they said it performed just as well as a set 3-5 times the price and had gread safety measures built in - which as a Mom, is important. I love it so much that I will be getting another one next spring when we get our tax return - a larger one to do more stuff! This will also give me two lids so that hopefully I can use two pots at the same time. Currently I have two pots but only one pressure cooker lid. They are made really well of high quality stainless steel, which was a priority for me as well.
On one of my blog hopping adventures I found The Veggie Queen and ordered her DVD, hoping to learn more. Imagine my surprise when she was using my very same pressure cooker! I did learn a lot of tips watching her but for less money could have bought her cookbook that has a couple chapters on pressure cooking. She is vegetarian and gave a lot of great ideas.
You don't need to be vegetarian to enjoy it. In fact one of our favorite things is to make a fork tender pot roast in 45 minutes! I have found that I can use cheaper roast cuts and they will be more tender cooked in the pressure cooker.
Our favorite thing to cook in it though is rice. It is so much easier and makes brown rice so much more enjoyable than the steamer (which leaves it chewy/crunchy).
The best pressure cooker specific cookbook I have found is Pressure Perfect by Lorna Sass. I also have her book Whole Grains Every Day, Every Way, which I haven't used yet, but plan to in the near future. I would love to explore more nutritious side dishes than just having potatoes or pasta all the time. And I am hoping to experiment with Legumes, which aren't a favorite in our family but we are trying to do some more healthy foods and so we (the big people) are willing to try! :o)
Do any of you use a pressure cooker? If so, do you have any favorites or tips to share? I'd love to hear.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Spicy Pear Cake Goodness

This afternoon I was wandering around craft and sewing blogs and wandered onto this post at All Buttoned Up. I don't know this blogger but have followed links and ended up at her blog several times, enjoying her sewing projects and adoption posts. (Her kids are ADORABLE!)
So, when I saw the pear cake post, I had to try it with a couple languishing Bartlett pears I had in the fridge.

I wish we had "smellovision" or some such thing because this is just heavenly! I adapted All Buttoned Up's recipe to fit our family's eating habits. I used fresh ground flour, healthier sweetener and Allspice (I LOVE Allspice!!!) because we have family who are allergic to nutmeg, so I just have never had it in the house. Shhh! Don't tell anyone it's whole wheat, they'll truly never know! Thank you All Buttoned Up, this is going into the family cookbook as a regular! :o)

Spicy Pear Cake a la All Buttoned Up

In medium mixing bowl, combine:

2 c (280 grams) fresh ground soft white wheat (whole wheat pastry flour)

3/4 t Baking Powder

3/4 t Baking Soda

1/2 t Salt

2/3 c Turbinado (I may try Sucanat next time as it's less processed)

1/2 t Allspice

1/2 t Cinnamon

In a second bowl, mix:

1/2 c oil (I used EVOO)

1 egg

1/2 c yogurt

1/3 c raw honey

2 small pears, diced.

Once the wet ingredients are mixed, add to dry ingredients and mix gently. Spray 8x8 pan, pouring mix in. Bake at 350* for 30-40 minutes. (I used a glass pan and next time I will probably use either a metal pan or turn the oven down and cook a little longer. It developed a little bit more of a crust than I would want if I was serving it to company - but, I didn't want it to be raw in the center). This could be done with apples, easily or All Buttoned Up suggested using peaches and using ginger instead of the nutmeg! NUMMY! I may have to try that one next!

If you try this, I'd love to know how it went.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Baking Day

Traditionally Monday is washing day, but this week it was baking day. This stemmed partially from the need to bring treats Tuesday for Bible study and partially from being stir crazy having to sit so much for healing of my knee! So Monday morning before we did school, I ground up soft white wheat berries into flour and started baking.

First I made cornbread. Oh was that good made with fresh ground corn!

Next I made 5 loaves of banana bread from the extremely ripe bananas that were scenting our kitchen.

Healthier Banana Bread - Large Batch

-1200 grams (about 8 c, I may reduce this slightly next time) soft white wheat, freshly ground flour

-1 t salt

-2 t Baking Powder

-4 t Baking Soda

-2 c chopped walnuts

In a separate bowl, combine and mix smoothly:

-4 eggs

-2 c Sucanat

-1 c Honey

-4 c sour milk, buttermilk, Kefir or yogurt or a combination (I used 3 c Kefir and 1 c yogurt)

-8 mashed overripe bananas

Combine wet and dry ingredients thoroughly. This went into 4 4x8 loaf pans plus 1 slightly smaller loaf pan. The amount will vary on the size of your loaf pan. I fill the pans about 3/4 full. Bake about 50 minutes at 350*. Remove from loaf pan and cool. The loaves that are not immediately eaten can be wrapped and frozen.

Last but not least, I made chocolate chip cookies which I blogged about before, but have tweaked the recipe some more and wanted to write down the changes before I forget!

Healthier Chocolate Chip Cookies

Cream together:
-2 c butter at room temperature
-2 c Turbinado Sugar
-1 c Sucanat
-1/2 c Honey

Add and blend until smooth:
-4 eggs
-2 t Vanilla

Mix in:
-600 grams (about 4 c regular flour) fresh ground soft white wheat flour
-1 t salt
-2 t Baking Powder
-2 t Baking Soda

When smooth, add:
-4 c Old Fashioned Oatmeal
-2 packages (24 oz) chocolate chips (we love Trader Joe's chocolate chips)
-2-3 c chopped walnuts

Bake about 10 minutes at 375*F. This dough freezes well.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Organizing In The Kitchen

Finding room in my kitchen is always a challenge. Adjoining our kitchen is a small dining room, which at one time used to be my sewing and craft area, but alas, priorities have taken over! Now it stores some of my craft items, but also contains the portable dishwasher, an upright freezer, grain storage buckets, some of my sewing and knitting stash and adjacent to my refrigerator, a 6 foot tall bookcase.

My friend Susan from church has challenged me to find ways to organize from a sitting position while I recover from my knee injury. So, today I took a comfortable folding camp chair and sat down in front of the book case and sorted things out.

First of all I weeded through my many cookbooks. I love cookbooks and have a hard time saying no to them! :o) The top short shelf is used to store all my smaller cookbooks like the Sue Gregg series and then I placed ones I am more likely to use at eye level and worked my way down, grouping things in like categories. Amazingly I even pulled a few out that I won't use anymore and many are relegated to the bottom shelf. I am pleased to announce that the few baking and sweets books that I kept are down there on the bottom!

Another problem in the kitchen was spice storage. Not only is my kitchen small but the space is poorly planned. By the way, did you know that the most common places that people store their spices - in over the stove cupboards or in custom drawers next to their stoves or ovens - are the worst places to keep them? Yes, the heat diminishes their potency and can make certain items go rancid. It's a good idea to go through your spices and sort through them. If it is long past a sell by date (because they usually give several years for spices and herbs) or it doesn't have a date and you don't recall buying it or worse yet, it looks "vintage", it's probably a good idea to toss it.

Over the last year we have been replacing the herbs and spices with organic counterparts. I have been purchasing the Simply Organic brand and plan to later refill with bulk spices. That brand has nice jars! :o) They are sorted by type - Italian, Mexican, General, Baking etc. I have also read that they should not be exposed to light. Do you think that I should tack a little calico curtain across their to protect them?

On the shelf next to the herbs and spices, is room for my recipe box, an old recipe box of my Grandma Hopkins' and my Kitchen notebook which I am working on filling. Grandma always used to say "Cleaning Is Creating Beauty" and today it felt good to get a little organizing done and to me, it is a beautiful little corner in my home!

Sourdought English Muffins and Pancakes

When I went to Washington this summer, my friend Shelley gave me a sourdough starter that is a legacy of her late Mother. While we were in a cabin at the ocean, she made us scrumptious sourdough pancakes and then sent the starter home with me. A couple months and a thousand or so miles later (which makes me wonder how far these things traveled in the days of old), I pulled it out of the refrigerator and "refreshed" it. I have always wanted to try sourdough, but had not gotten that brave. Even after this foray, I am still feeling like I don't know much of anything! But, it was fun and a little exciting to be trying something new in the kitchen.

In addition to the gift of the starter, I was prompted by my recent purchase of Cooking and Baking With Fresh Ground Flour by Christine Downs, reportedly the importer of the Family Grain Mill. Ironically this last weekend I was given the gift of a hand family grain mill along with a flaker (for making oatmeal etc) by one of my scrapbooking friends who had great intentions but not enough time to follow through. It has no instructions so I am going to track those down. Anyway, on page 61, I was enticed by the recipe for Sourdough English Muffins.

Here are the muffins after rising. The powdery stuff is my attempt at making cornmeal, which ended up being more like corn flour! I followed the recipe, except I omitted the vital wheat gluten. It is such a highly processed food, even more so than white flour, that I have just never bothered with it. My end product did not, in my opinion, suffer for it!

I cooked them in two pans so that I would not be standing all night (since I'm not supposed to stand at all!). Surprisingly, the ones cooked in my only Teflon pan, cooked the best!

The ones in the cast iron did fine though. I only have one large iron skillet.

Here you can see them after turning. I was so proud of the one in the center - it looked just like a store bought muffin!

Here are the final products. Some got a little brown on the outside but are fine to eat. They are very light and fluffy texture and honestly taste better than any store bought whole wheat English muffins I have tried. The sourdough taste is mild, but present. Hubby said they are definitely a "do-over"! That's his way of saying that we can keep them in the repertoire!

Afterwards, I made myself one large pancake with the whole wheat and corn flours I had left. First I made a small one and it tasted horrible. Oh yeah, salt! So, I added salt, but it was still thick shoe leather texture. DUH! I had forgotten to put in baking soda when I mixed up the pancake batter! This was my final effort and it tasted great with black berry jam on it! Not the greatest dinner, I suppose, but there were a lot of nutrients in that fresh ground flour. That's my story and I'm sticking to it! :o)

Hubby Bakes Bread Too!

My Hubby has been so good to me while I have been recuperating from the torn meniscus in my left knee. I haven't mentioned it on this blog, but most of you probably saw it over at Stitches of Grace (link to right), my regular blog. Making bread takes a lot of standing, so I taught Hubby how. This batch we did together, but he is learning and doing quite well.

I took this picture and was going to crop all the "stuff" out of it. Then I decided that I would show you what type of space that I have (or don't have) to work in, because some people might be saying "I'd like to do this, but I don't have enough room!" People, this is all the counter I have!!! To the right is the sink and then I do have about 20" to the left of the sink, but that holds the convection oven, so is not accessible for use. That's it! It's very crowded with my DLX and Vitamix there, but we make do. We could put the Vitamix elsewhere but figured that we would use it much more if it was left out where we could see it.

Here is the finished product - 5 loaves and two large rolls. We forgot to brush olive oil on the top, which tenderizes the crust, but it was still good.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Is Your Kitchen Efficient?

I found this movie about an efficiently planned kitchen while reading Little Jenny Wren's blog. Some might laugh at it... but man, I wish my kitchen had been planned so efficiently! :o)

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Tammy's Strawberry Shortcake

Since Christmas 2007 I have only used white flour one time and that was recently to make some half wheat/half white tortillas. The reason we did that is that we have not found a ww tortilla recipe yet that will remain pliable and not be shoe leather to make enchiladas and burritos to freeze. I'm still working on that one.

Our adventures in whole grains for cooking have been mostly a success though, including desserts. Awhile back I had printed out Tammy's Whole Wheat Strawberry Shortcake recipe and had planned on making it July 4th. Well, we were a day late but it was good.

Because I had flour left over from making spelt bread, I made it with spelt. Spelt is sometimes a little tricky to substitute straight across as it generally does not tolerate as much mixing/kneading and requires less liquid than wheat. However, it has a delightful taste and is not quite as bitter as wheat sometimes can be. I ground the flour fine in my Nutrimill and used 150 grams for the one cup, which is the weight I was told to use for fresh ground wheat per cup, so I don't know if this is accurate. You can see that it looks nice.

I found it needed a little less time to cook in my oven. So I had to use a long serrated knife to cut off some of the bottom. This tasted a little like 'Nilla Wafers and my son ate it with some chocolate syrup on it! Ick! :o) I used two layer cake pans, but would probably consider using one cake pan and cutting it in half next time. I wasn't sure how much it would rise in the pan, having never made it before and did not want to have a Mt. Vesuvius disaster in my oven! LOL

The secret to the light texture of this, was beating the egg whites stiff. This was the first time I have used the plastic bowl and whips that came with my DLX mixer and it worked extremely well. The whites were very stiff and looked like stiff whipped cream! They are folded into the rest of the mix, which makes a foamy batter. The texture of the short cake is not like angel food or the fake chemical shortcakes you find packaged in the produce section with the strawberries. It was somewhere between that and a biscuit, more like a coarse cake. There was a faint vanilla flavor but it was mostly neutral so you could enjoy the whipped cream in the layer and on top, as well as the strawberries.

I highly recommend organic strawberries as I have read several places that strawberries can be washed 12 times and still have unacceptable levels of pesticide on them!

Here is a slice. The kids wanted it with chocolate sauce. We have been buying an organic chocolate syrup from Trader Joe's and they love it. Hubby and I did not like it with the chocolate and felt it interfered with the loveliness of the berries. In the future I would like to make this with mixed berries but the cost was prohibitive this time. I think it would taste great with raspberries, blueberries and blackberries along with the strawberries. If you want to be decadent, perhaps a little more whipped cream. I used 1 cup of heavy cream to whip and it was just right to get a great taste without going over the top!

Oh, what I forgot to say is that you could feed this to skeptics. My Hubby said he would not have known it was made with spelt if I had not told him! And though he has been a good sport in all our nutrition changes, he is much more picky about the taste and texture than I am, so I think this is an accurate statement. Let me know if you try it!

Friday, July 4, 2008

Facing The Past... Looking To The Future

Sorry for the poor quality of this picture. This is me summer 1988 - 20 years ago! There is something I have always liked about this picture in spite of the big '80s glasses! I still had hair and lots of it (it's pulled back, was down to shoulder blades), I had life struggles, but was still young, free and pure. That spring I had faced a lot of "issues" and I was able to lose a lot of weight. Recently I had begun working as a pediatric medical assistant after graduating from technical school and life was moving forward.

That summer things began to change. A Christian woman, who I thought I could trust, introduced me to a young Christian man to date. At 22 I had never dated and honestly, looking back, I wish I never had. My husband and I feel that we will pursue the idea of courtship, NOT dating for our own children. Old fashioned, yes. But we feel it is more in line with God's plan for His children than the world's. This man betrayed me, broke me and abused me in many senses of the word. Because of all kinds of circumstances, I felt very isolated from both friends and family and was unable to find balance. Shame forced me to work hard to solve the situation on my own. Some things are never meant to do in our own efforts. I needed my Heavenly Father's love and guidance but I was so busy trying to work it out on my own that I dug my own hole deeper.

Thank you Jesus, that you are so patient with me. The Holy Spirit is a gentleman who does not force us, but gently nudges us and encourages us to grow. It still brings up feelings of panic to write this and I do not write it as a "victim" or to dwell on the past or to play a sympathy card. I write this so that I can face FORWARD and continue on My Journey To Wholeness.

18 "Forget the former things;
do not dwell on the past.
19 See, I am doing a new thing!
Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?
I am making a way in the desert
and streams in the wasteland.
Isaiah 43:18-19 NIV
Today I post this picture as a reminder, that God did not make me broken, fat, unhealthy and out of shape. My body will never be "perfect" this side of Heaven. However, this picture reminds me that when He and I work together, good things can happen.
For the last month or so I have been doing a lot of walking with Leslie Sansone and I have added an exercise section with links on the right hand side. I even joined her walk club for a year. It's a good deal for $29.99 you get the membership with all it's online benefits plus the Walk Away the Pounds Book with a walking DVD. Truthfully I would be losing weight faster if I was also dieting, but I have decided not to ever do that again. I am focusing on eating healthier and less, but not dieting. The walking is awesome. I am already feeling an underlying energy that I have not had in a long time and my body is missing it on the days I take a break!
With God all things are possible.
I will survive.
He is making me WHOLE!

Spelt Hamburger Buns

Marci said my hamburger buns were getting stale - a thinly veiled hint that I should update this blog! So today I want to report that I made the spelt bread recipe from Sue Gregg's yeast breads cookbook. I made one small loaf (1# 6.6oz) and 12 hamburger buns. The hamburger buns were a hit. I never add any dough enhancers even though Vit C powder was recommended in this recipe. It's really not needed - the texture was marvelous and they have a neutral taste, which is what I was looking for in a hamburger bun. A lot of people use their regular bread recipe, but I like to have a variety of flavor, something different than the usual.

So, next I need to find a recipe for whole grain onion rolls because that is Hubby's favorite. Any suggestions?

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Baking Bonanza

Today was a "baking bonanza" day. I made a double batch of the whole wheat bread from Beth Holland's Bread For Life cookbook that I have been making weekly for our sandwich bread. I have been using white hard wheat and a double batch generally gives me 2 - 2.25# loaves and 3 - 1.5# loaves (12" and 8" pans accordingly).

This time I did it a little differently. I made a dozen 4 oz hamburger buns, pictured above. Next time I may make them 3 oz. It seems like an awful lot of bread to be eating at once. I make make them the same diameter but not as thick next time. Any input?

Here they are in a 9x13 pan, ready to rise. I used 1.5#, the same for a medium loaf of bread, as the recipe did not say. For the filling, I used about 1 cup of Sucanat, 1/2 cup of Honey and 1 cup of Turbinado. I find mixing natural sugars works better in most recipes. Then I melted two sticks of butter (1 cup) and 2 t of cinnamon. Chopped pecans were added on the bottom of the pan. These were actually sticky buns, not cinnamon rolls. The recipe would work for either, but you wouldn't need as much butter and sugar.

I spread about a third of the mix on the dough that was rolled out and the other 2/3 was on the bottom of the pan. I rolled the dough tightly and cut 14 1/2 rolls out using dental floss, which works like a charm! This is what they look like coming out of the oven. You can see why the Germans call them Schnecken! (Snails)

And this is the yummy result. I ate it this afternoon... you know the cook has to try out the experiments before letting others eat, right?! LOL

In addition to hamburger buns and sticky buns, I still had dough for a 12" loaf and an 8" loaf. Then there was exactly enough fresh ground flour to make Hubby his newly favorite cookies.

I can't believe it has been almost a month since I posted. I'll have to update with my bagel experiments soon!

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Spelt Buttermilk Biscuits

This one was a fun experiment because it came out really good! The warm ones were the best. They got a little denser when they were cold, but the recipe could be halved if you have a smaller family. In spite of the dark color that comes from spelt flour, these were light and fluffy and just as nice as when I made them with white all purpose flour. I have made them with other combinations of grain flour and they were really dense, not fluffy like these. Of course when I say fluffy they are not going to be like canned biscuits or ultra processed white biscuits, but they were pretty good. My son liked them better than the ones made with white flour which happies me since he is such a picky eater.

The recipe is adapted form Fannie Farmer Cookbook's Buttermilk Biscuits.

Spelt Buttermilk Biscuits

Preheat oven to 425*

4 cups Spelt flour (if fresh ground, use four heaping cups of flour)

1 t Salt

4 t BP

1 T Honey

1 t Baking Soda

1 c Shortening (I use Spectrum palm shortening)

1 - 1 1/3 c Buttermilk

Mix dry ingredients, honey and shortening until crumbly. (I used a mixer but could be done by hand) Add buttermilk until a wet dough ball forms. Drop by spoon fulls onto baking sheet. Makes 9 large biscuits (about English muffin size) or 12-20 smaller biscuits. Bake for 15-25 minutes depending on size. Eat warm!

Catching Up, Bread, Rolls, Biscuits and Cookies

Well you would think that all we ever do is eat bread around here since that is all I have posted recently. It just happens to be the area that I am working hardest on at the moment. I have lots of ideas and things I want to discuss but am going to wait and do a quick catch up post tonight.

I know I have shown lots of pictures of the Beet/Wheat/Spelt bread on here but I got a different brand of beets at a local grocery store and look at the color of this dough! As my daughter J says, "It's Bee-utiful!" I am trying to convert my recipe to make a big batch in the mixer for 5-6 loaves. Spelt does not behave quite like wheat, so I have had some challenges. Today I adjusted the liquids as spelt does not need as much liquid as wheat and my loaves have risen but then get lumpy/bumpy when baked. It was disappointing to have another lousy batch today but I believe I have figured out the other problem... Spelt should not be mixed as much as wheat. Another mistake may have been using two rises + rising after made into a loaf. This is what works in the next recipe I will talk about. But perhaps it is not a good choice for the Beet/Wheat/Spelt bread. Back to the drawing board. My kids actually like this bread and requested it.

Here's a chuckle though... I have never liked beets and apparently there are not enough people liking beets to warrant selling them organically by the can. I have looked everywhere for them and even Whole Foods only sells conventional beets, not organic. What's up with that? Has anyone else ever seen organic beets by the can? Eventually when I can have a garden I will grow my own and can them.

After the bread mess today, it was kind of depressing to see these pictures of this BEAUTIFUL bread! This is NOT white bread. This is white whole wheat bread made from a Challah type recipe that I found in Bread For Life, volume I by Beth Holland. You can see it made four loaves + rolls. The rolls we used for Sloppy Joe's the next day!

This bread tastes as good as it looks...the dented one is because I dropped it on the stove knobs when getting it out of the pan. This bread recipe is proof that you can make 100% whole wheat bread with awesome texture and NOT use any dough enhancers or vital wheat gluten or instant yeast. It was light and fluffy with a fine crumb, but not squishy like the white fake stuff whose name starts with a W!

And the dinner rolls were light and fluffy and better than any in a restaurant or store that I have had. I believe even most picky eaters would at least try. For family reading, they remind me of Marilyn's a little bit, but a little bit lighter because of the white wheat instead of red.

And these are the delight of my husband! I altered the Urban Legend Cookie Recipe to use fresh ground hard white wheat flour, Sucanat/honey for the brown sugar and Turbinado for the white. They look a little dark because of the unrefined sugars but they are not overdone. They don't taste like your usual Toll House Chocolate Chip cookie, but once your brain gets beyond that, they are awesome. The recipe is huge and makes about 10 dozen small cookies, about 6 dozen large. I put the dough in freezer ziploc bags about 1"+ thick so that it thaws quickly. You can scoop them all out in portions, but to me that is extra work, so I put it in amounts that will roughly equal 12-24 cookies, which is enough for one time with this family of five. Your mileage may vary. I definitely recommend trying this one!

Friday, February 15, 2008

My Valentine Gift! (More Bread)

Yesterday the UPS man brought a box from Amazon. Today he came to the porch with my Electrolux Assistent DLX mixer and my Nutrimill grain mill. He is a new guy, regular on our route and said, "Wow, you're the shopping lady!" LOL So in spite of being sick, I did have fun playing today. First I made flour and then I made bread! I was pleased with how everything worked. The flour is definitely finer than what I can make in the Vita-Mix and I only used the medium setting for texture.

Naturally I had to christen my mixer with a batch of beet bread. I will have to write down the changes I made later. Lately there have been some frustrating batches and I realized it was likely because I switched from storebought Spelt flour to home ground, so the measurements were different. My digital scale came earlier this week (same UPS guy! lol) and so I got it out and learned how to use it. The recipe calls for 5.5 cups of flou for the first part, so I multiplied 150 grams (I read on one of my lists that that is the weight of a cup of storebought flour) by 5.5 and used that much flour by weight. Turned out to be 8 cups! WOW! Big difference. I have heard that Spelt is fluffier than other grains when ground. I measured my wheat the same and that seemed to work. This photo is my pink dough at the beginning before all ingredients were added.

The DLX does a great job of mixing, though it did walk and bounce a bit when it got off balance. It does not come with any instructions to speak of, but fortunately, a really kind lady lent me her video from Beth Holland of Bread For Life. Since I am visual when it comes to things like this, it did help to watch this before hand. While the way it works is quite different than a Kitchen Aid, it was really easy to pick up. I was told their might be a learning curve, but I don't think I had any difference in learning how to use it than I would have with any new to me product. The dough produced was noticably better as it was kneaded well. I was afraid that I would spend my Hubby's hard earned $$ and have it not be any better than the Kitchen Aid. Today it earned it's keep though! :o)

Here is the nice stainless steel 8 quart mixing bowl it comes with and the dough is rising. I decided to do a 3 rise bread after watching the video. Usually I do only 2 rises.

Again, I used the scale to see how much the dough weighed as I put it in. I found that my 4x8 pans (measurement may not be exact) take 2# of dough. I had been using 1.5# and getting tiny loaves with these three plus one other small loaf pan. The larger loaf pan, perhaps a 5x9?, took 2# 6.5 oz of dough. You can see they raised nicely.

And here they are out of the oven. These are the nicest looking loaves I have made to date.

I cut this loaf too soon, so this picture shows it mooshed together, but I just couldn't wait!!! It tasted nummy with butter and blackberry jam. This may not be my final recipe for sandwich bread, but at least I feel well on the way to getting what I was looking for and I can't wait to experiment more with my new toys!

Thursday, February 7, 2008

The Way It Should Be

There was a time when neighbors were neighborly and people helped each other out. I miss that! I try to be as friendly and helpful as possible to my neighbors but most of them keep to themselves, like we are all in our own little boxes and we only emerge to get in our car (another box) and leave! Maybe I feel this way because I live in a fairly large city. Maybe it's the sirens, police helicopters and the occasion drug deal or gunshot that make me feel this way!

This week, in the midst of some stresses and sick kiddos, we had a wonderful experience. My friend Trudy from church called and asked if I wanted to come pick some more tangerines and oranges from her trees in her yard. Yeah! So, my daughter J, who was yet to be hit with the dread virus, went with me and "helped". We picked tangerines, oranges, grapefruit and Meyer Lemons. That is a grapefruit, so you can see how big the lemons are!

I've never really gotten excited about grapefruit. Genetically you are either born with a like for sour or not. It's not a matter of wanting sweet, it's a matter of not wanting the "pucker power." But this grapefruit smells so wonderful, I'm going to try it for breakfast tomorrow.

When I have a garden, I wnat to call up people and say, "Hey, ya need some tomatoes, come on over!" :o)

Thank you Lord for the blessing of fellowship and for the gift of good home grown, organice citrus fruits for our smoothies!

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Where Does Your Organic Food Come From?

This pdf is eye opening! I've always wondered if organics really are organics or the same food as the regular, just with a different package. I suppose this is only natural in the industry world, but it drives home the point of eating the least amount of packaged foods is best!

Tortilla's Revisited

This week I made Ysenia's Flour Tortillas with hard white wheat and olive oil instead of shortening. I was able to roll them out a little thinner and they were much more pliable. The recipe made 18 tortillas. After I rolled the egg sized lumps, I let them sit ten minutes before rolling them out. This helped as well...I think! Yesterday I took the remaining tortillas and made chicken enchiladas with homemade enchilada sauce and they worked pretty good. Now, if you are used to having store bought and/or white only tortillas, you might not like them. However, they are pretty good that way and have a texture a little more like corn tortilla enchiladas, but not that flavor.

To be honest, I am shocked that my husband has taken to this so well, but he has noticed that he feels less sluggish since we have been eating better. I did mention that as soon as things became in season, I wanted to start introducing more raw veggies and maybe some vegetarian dishes. He got kind of a scared look on his face! LOL But later he admitted that it's a good idea, it's just the taste that he is fearful of! :o)

More On Meat

For anyone interested, my friend Deborah received some meat from U.S. Wellness Meats. They sell grass fed beef and other meat. I have to admit that since I have never mail ordered meat, it sounds a little strange, but Deborah's sister found this place and so they tried it out.

We are very fortunate to have a lot of local resources, but some of them don't have a huge variety of cuts, like this place. I think it's always best to get local products when possible, but also I recognize that some people have no local resources for certain types of food. I'm not talking about exotic fruit or such, but everyday organic foods.

Even if you aren't interested in ordering meat, I found this pdf helpful in understanding the different cuts of meat.

Monday, January 28, 2008

What You Need To Know About The Beef You Eat

If you think buying organic dairy products is expensive, try the beef! We have been trying to switch over but it's not easy. Reducing how much meat we eat has helped as well as the fact that Costco has been carrying an organic ground beef. I read this article at Mother Earth News and EWWWW YUCK! I know there is a lot of anti this and that information out there, so sometimes it is hard to know who is telling the truth. However, this is a well documented and researched article and falls in line with other things I have been reading.

The article is long but at the end there is a great summary that I am going to print out and put in my Kitchen binder in the shopping section so that I can have a handy reference.

They also recommend that you look for local sources and link to Eat Wild, which is a new resource to me and Local Harvest, a great resource I have referred to in the past.

Another article at Mother Earth News speaks about the process of injecting meat with fluids and gasses to prolong its life and/or mask negative qualities.

I have to laugh. I grew up thinking that Mother Earth News was for Godless Heathen Hippies! LOL Now I'm reading it myself and learning. It is still not a Christian resources but it is a good resource for certain things.

Tortilla Attempt #3

This fits under the category "needs more work" but I think it is worth tweaking. All tortilla recipes are basically flour, salt, fat and water, but the proportions can make a difference. So, I have been trying some different recipes. I still have not been able to find hard white wheat around here so I have made mine with soft white wheat. Below I will write out my sister's flour tortilla recipe and then I will write what I did to adapt it.

What I liked: Rolled out in a nice smooth texture, tasted good when hot and supple.

What I didn't like: Dry the next day even though stored properly and they were a little "stiff" which I have found to be true using the Spectrum palm shortening when I used it for pie crust.

What I'll try next: I think I will use olive oil in this recipe to see if that helps and if i can find hard white wheat, I will try that.

Ysenia's Flour Tortillas

6 c all purpose flour (fresh milled soft white wheat)
2 t Baking Powder
3 t Salt
2 1/4 c Water
3/4 c shortening (Spectrum Palm shortening)

With hands, mix flour, BP and salt. (I use a dessert or salad fork that has the shorter tines. The shorter tines are more effective in mixing and squishing out lumps than a longer tined meal fork).

Then add shortening, mix thoroughly until mixture is crumbly (like making pie dough).

Add water a small amount at a time until a dough is formed. Knead the dough until smooth. Let rest for a couple minutes.

Pull of egg sized chunks and form into smooth balls. Start stove at medium heat, letting it war for 15 minutes. (I use a cast iron pan)

Roll Tortillas 1/16" thick. Cook on both sides.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Tortilla Happiness

Well, this is the latest creation! Hubby helped me and I am just blogging this quick so that I can get my recipe down before I forget. These are yummy and came about by a mistake I made. Yesterday I went to the Bread Beckers Forum and saw a couple different recipes for Tortillas in the Tortilla Maker forum and used the one from the Moderator.

I left out the honey ("real" tortillas are not sweetened, although if you use them for dessert it's good) and the Lecithin. We think it is the Lecithin we don't like when we have tried other recipes from Bread Beckers. When I made the hamburger buns, Hubby said "Yuck! Tastes like bread machine bread" and later we thought about it and it is the same flavor that we taste in commercial bread now that we don't eat it anymore.

Anyway, as I was reading the recipe I looked at the wrong line and accidentally put in 1/2 c olive oil instead of 1/3 c so I had to add 1 cup of King Arthur's bread flour (which is white), however I think it will be fine with all ww next time. The dough is a little sticky but as long as I rolled them out with some flour, it worked okay. Also, it helps that I have a 15" square slab of granite that my SIL gave me, the cut out from their sink when they got granite countertops. I'll write the recipe below and then I'll go and make taco meat so we can gobble them up! :o) We already tasted them and they are better than the ww tortillas we had been getting from Trader Joe's. The WW flavor is not overwhelming as it is in some recipes. We will definitely be repeating this one, although usually I tweak my recipes at least once!

White Whole Wheat Tortillas

1 1/2 c warm water
1/2 c light olive oil
4 c fresh milled flour (I used 1 1/2 c soft white wheat flour and 1 1/2 c hard red wheat flour and 1 c King Arthur's Bread Flour, because that is what I had left over today but I would like to try hard white wheat as soon as I can find some)
2 t salt
1/2 t BP

Mix dry ingredients and then add the wet ingredients, combining with a fork. As it forms into a dough, very gently fold it over and knead a couple turns in the bowl to incorporated all the ingredients together.

Heat cast iron frying pan. When you place the first tortilla in, give the pan a quick spray with olive oil, but subsequent tortillas should do fine as the pan will be hot.

Break off dough in balls, slightly larger than golf balls. This recipe made 12. Roll out on flour board until about 6" +/- and even thickness. Cook in iron frying pan, turning when a bubble forms or as edges begin to lift slightly. Do not overcook or they will be brittle. When cooked just right they are soft and pliable. Fill with your favorite tortilla stuffing and enjoy!

©2008 My Journey To Wholeness

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Home Management Binder and Wellness Wednesday #14

Some people read this blog but not my other one, so I would like to invite you to read my Wellness Wednesday Post at Stitches of Grace today. Usually I try to double post, but today's post was really long because I discussed my home management binder.

This is the outside of my kitchen book - a D ring view notebook from Avery with scrapbooking paper to decorate.

Inside I have sectioned it off with lots of organizing ideas. This photo just shows the opening and I am holding a specialized sheet protector that I can use like a "Pee Chee" (sp?) to hold odds and end things to file. Go read more at the above link!

Monday, January 21, 2008

Healthy-ish Banana Bread

Every family has its own recipes which are "sacred". In my family, it is the Banana Bread Recipe of my Aunt Grace. Her banana bread is dense but very moist and is not like the cake type of breads that most people make. It was a staple at all our family get togethers, especially Thanksgiving and Mother's Day which were generally spent at Grandma Hopkins' house. Hubby loves it warm with butter melted on top. I like mine cold from the fridge with cold butter spread on top! We still love each other! :o)

About Thanksgiving time I decided to try adding half store bought ww flour to make Banana Bread without telling anyone. I did and noone could tell the difference! Hubby was surprised when I told him. So, I got to thinking, what if I went all whole wheat? Then it dawned on me, why not substitute honey for the sugar? Well, the results today were pretty good. It doesn't hold together quite as well as the recipe made with at least half white flour, but it tastes good. What I find when I adapt some recipes is that it doesn't taste the same, but it doesn't taste bad either. I want to make whole foods that my family will enjoy - if they are not enjoying their nutrition at all, then what is the point? They'll just leave what I teach them as soon as they can! So, I'm trying to find things that will satisfy certain food cravings without making us sick and fat.

I loved being able to use the Vita Mix to mix up all the wet ingredients and blend in my cyrstalized honey, so that it was all smooth without grit!

This is what the batter looks like going in. It's a lumpy pancake batter texture.

Here are the loaves coming out. I should have taken them out a couple minutes earlier but had my hands tied when the timer went off and had a brain slip! It's okay, just a little darker crust on the bottom and sides.

It looks all "mooshed" together because we could not wait until it cooled thoroughly. Hubby thought it was a great treat since this is how he likes it anyway. Recipe Follows:

Theresa's Healthy Banana Bread

In a large bowl, mix together:

4 c white whole wheat (pastry) flour

1/2 t salt

1 t BP

2 t Baking Soda

2 c walnuts, chopped (optional or may substitute other "lumpy" ingredients)

In 2nd bowl mix wet ingredients, then add to dry ingredients:

2 eggs

1 1/4 c raw honey

2 c sour milk or Buttermilk (I actually used sour buttermilk)

4 over ripe bananas, squished

Put into 2 Large loaf pans or pans of varying sizes. Bake at 350* for 45-60 minutes depending on loaf size.

©2008 My Journey To Wholeness

Taco Pizza

Nummy! Nummy! This is what we had for dinner last night! After eating homemade pizzas I really cannot stand eating the ones from take out or restaurants. Sometimes they taste good going down but my stomach doesn't like it afterwards and they always leave an aftertaste. So, since we have been married, we have been making homemade pizza using a recipe from our Zojirushi bread machine booklet. I wanted to try making it even healthier and read about using hard white wheat berries to make flour for pizza dough. Our co-op only had soft white which is better suited to quick breads, pie crust etc. But I decided to try it anyway and will do some looking around to see if Whole Foods or another local store has it before I try to find an Internet source.

Our first wholegrain pizza attempt was scrumptious but could still use a little tweaking in the recipe. Maybe just finding the hard white wheat, which has a little higher protein will help. I'll put the recipe that I concocted below and would love to hear any hints and suggestions:

Whole Wheat Pizza Dough

First grind enough white wheat berries into flour for the recipe's required amount.

Add ingredients to your bread machine as they recommend or adapt to non-machine method.

1 1/2 c warm water

1 1/2 T olive oil

3 3/4 c white whole wheat flour

1 T honey

1 1/2 t salt

1 t Lecithin (optional)

2 t Instant Yeast

In the Zojirushi, I used the quick dough setting. This did not seem to be quite enough rising time so we set the pan on the top of our gas stove which is warm to touch due to the pilots. We allowed it about 15 minutes additional raising time, for a total of 1 hour of dough preparation.

Divide the dough in two and roll out onto a pizza stone. This rolls out quite thin. Let raise in warm place for another 15 minutes.

While the dough is resting, make pizza sauce. Since I was using seasoned taco meat from this recipe, I did not add a lot to season. I use one small can about 6 oz of tomato sauce and this time added dried minced onion and garlic powder. Usually I use fresh onion and garlic, but since I had them in the meat, I did not. Heat the sauce to a boil and turn off. This will not look like a lot of sauce. Too much sauce makes all your toppings slide around.

Spread the seasoned tomato sauce evenly over both crusts. Distribute the taco meat as desired and add any other toppings you like. We only used sliced tomatoes as this was for the children who don't like lots of "things" on their pizza (nor does their mother).

Generally I grate and use Mozzarella cheese, but was out, so since this was a "Mexican pizza" I used Monterrey Jack. I find that cheddar is too greasy. But you can use cheese to your liking.

Bake for about 20 minutes at 400*F

It doesn't look too exciting, but boy! It sure tasted good.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Whole Wheat Tortillas

I was so excited to receive my copy of the Bread Becker's Recipe Collection in the mail today. It has lots of suggestions and ideas. It's a simple, self published booklet, but is well done and is a good place to start. Just thumbing through it, my mind is going all different directions with ideas!

Since I had a few cups of flour extra from what I ground on Tuesday, I decided to try some whole wheat tortillas. That would solve two things: My desire to try something new and the age old problem of what to make for dinner. I figured if they turned out I could have tacos for dinner tonight.

In my early twenties, my stepsister Ysenia, along with her three boys, lived with my Mom and StepDad and after I moved out I visited a lot. I was really spoiled with her homemade tortillas, which were made with white flour and Crisco. Naturally they tasted wonderful, but I know they aren't healthy. She never used a recipe, just years of experience and the mentoring of her Grandma Cruz Cruz who raised her. One of my favorite things was to hang out in the kitchen with her. She made the tortillas and I made Sloppy Joe meat. We would put the Sloppy Joe meat and cheese in a raw tortilla, wrap it and then deep fry it. YUMMY! (also not healthy! LOL)

When Ysenia made tortillas, she used a little dowel about six or so inches long to roll them out. I remembered that she would pick them up and turn the direction so that they would be evenly rolled. Not having my own dowel, I chose to use the little rolling pin that was mine as a girl and also my mother's as a girl. It's about 6" long plus handles.

The directions are to make tortillas in a combination press/cooker that the Bread Beckers sell, but I don't have that so I rolled them in a ball, about golf ball size (First I sliced them as they recipe called for, which you can see in the photo above, but that was too small. I recalled Ysenia rolling them into balls first and that worked better.)

I cooked them in the iron frying pan. It was difficult to tell when they were done because unlike the white flour tortillas, they do not bubble up. The first one was too done (it will crack if bent) so I adjusted by that. Another technique I learned from Ysenia was to move the tortilla quickly with my fingertips. Be careful so you don't get burnt!

A was my "helper" in the kitchen. Often I have more help than I can stand! :o) A is sitting on a step stool that I have had for about 35 years. It was made by my Aunt's step father in law. It has a tall back to it, which you can see behind A's head, and in the back is a hand hole so that you can pick it up and move it anywhere. It is finished in "antique gold", a special technique, popular at the time, which my mother spent many hours perfecting on my bedroom furniture.

Here's my stack of 12 tortillas. Like my step Dad would say - They look like maps of Texas!

The real test is whether or not the family will eat them. I tasted them and thought they were "okay". I might try with white wheat next time (these were hard red wheat). However, the kids had bites and they LOVED it! They asked for cheese crisps for lunch. Or cheese crypts as A says!

D liked them too and he is my real "hard sell" for any food, let alone a healthier version of something he already eats. Praise God he loves my homemade bread and prefers it to the store bought. And he liked these!

J, my little "rock star" eats all kinds of things but is sometimes picky about bread products so I was glad that she gave it a "thumb's up" as well.

All and all I would say it is a good recipe. But, I will probably try some others. It is exciting that I can make this for MUCH less than I can buy it. I am anxious to try out some more things like hamburger buns, bagels and English Muffins. I made them years ago in high school but with white flours. Life certainly has been an adventure since we have been trying all these new things.