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.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Potatoes Au Gratin

At a Christmas lunch with my friend Sonia, we had some yummy potatoes au gratin. A table mate asked for the recipe and the head chef came out and explained that their recipe would call for 100# of potatoes and would not convert to home cooking. She explained what ingredients were in it and that explained why it was so rich. I liked the taste but it was a bit greasy for me. I thought I would try my own version. It uses heavy cream. Tonight I tried it with half and half and that just does not cut it. You would have to add more cheese if you used half and half and that defeats the purpose so I think I will go back to using heavy cream. I asked my Hubby about our meals and which ones he liked and did not like. When I asked him which think I make that he does NOT want me to eliminate, he did not hesitate to say these potatoes. So, they will stay in the menu, though not frequently as they are high calorie. This is part of our plan to not uses boxes and mixes. Really, this takes no longer than making from a box and does not contain dehydrated potatoes and chemicals.

Here are all the ingredients - Heavy Whipping Cream, Havarti Cheese, Red Potatoes, Leek or Green Onions, Garlic, Salt and Pepper and Organic Salt Free Seasoning.

First I grate the potatoes, skin and all in an 8" square pan. I do it the old fashioned way with a hand cranked food processor that I will probably never give up for a Cuisinart!

Layer the potatoes about half way up the pan as in picture.

Sprinkle finely chopped leeks, minced garlic, salt and pepper and seasoning over the potatoes and toss gently with a fork to distribute the flavoring.

Pour 1 cup of Heavy Cream over the top of it, distributing it evenly in the pan.

Place four slices of Havarti cheese over the top of the potatoes.

Here you can see how it looks in the pan, so you will know if you did it right.

If you don't like it browned on top, you can cover with foil, removing it for the last 10 minutes. This was baked at 375* for about 45 minutes. Recipe below:

Potatoes Au Gratin (serves 4-6)

4-5 red potatoes

1 cup heavy whipping cream

1 medium leek, diced

3 garlic cloves, minced



salt free seasoning

4 slices Havarti cheese

Preheat oven to 375*

Wash potatoes and leaving peelings on, slice in pieces using a food processor. If hand cutting, slices are about 1/8" thick. Place potatoes into an 8" square glass baking dish.

Salt the potatoes generously and pepper to taste. Use about 1 teaspoon of salt free seasoning. If you use a seasoning salt, adjust the salt amount accordingly. (This is also good with Italian seasoning or your favorite herbs. I have done it with Rosemary and Oregano as well.)

Wash and dice up the white part of a medium sized Leek. Green onions could be substituted. Place on top of potatoes.

Mince 3-4 cloves of fresh garlic. Place on top of potatoes.

Take a fork and gently toss the potatoes to distribute all the seasonings. Next pour 1 cup of Heavy Whipping Cream evenly over the top of the potatoes. Place 4 deli-sliced pieces of Havarti Cheese over the top of the potatoes. You can also use Fontina or another favorite softer cheese.

Cook in oven at 375* for about 45 minutes. Your time may vary. The potatoes need the time to cook through, so if you don't want your cheese to brown so much, you can cover with foil for part of the cooking time.

NOTE: I like to serve these with a lighter meal as they are pretty "heavy" on their own. If you want more sauce, you can use more cream. When they are made with cream you do not have to make a bechamel or add flour like most recipes for au gratin. Please feel free to use my recipe but do not post or distribute without permission. Thank you.

Wellness Wednesday #13

This is reposted from my main blog Stitches of Grace (link at right).

Hello Everyone! Here in northern California the temps are beginning to warm and we are having blue skies again! I'm glad I have that to cheer me up because when I stepped on the scale this morning I had a surprise! 323#! OUCH!!! I am really hoping that it is because of my time of the month/bloating and NOT because I've been enjoying too much homemade bread! I hope next Wednesday will bring a better report.

However, I did start the day off right. Even though hubby needed to sleep an extra half hour to prepare for an important interview, my body woke me up at 5:30 AM without an alarm and I got dressed and walked with the DVD all by myself! So in spite of what the numbers say, I am feeling overall victorious this week.

I've been walking.I've been doing more reading about nutrition.I have not had any cookies, no donuts at church, no extra treats.I managed to alter my bread recipe to use no white flour and ALL of my family likes it!I have been finding time to dig into God's Word every day.

The last one is the most important in my opinion. I am not one to place a heavy yoke on a person that they must read so many chapters of the Bible a day or at a certain time or certain way. But, I do believe that taking in God's Word is our best nourishment! Paul writes in Romans that faith comes by hearing the Word of God. My Grandma Hopkins instilled that in me. If I only remembered one thing she taught me, that would be key.

This week I have been reminded of this. Since I got a new Bible at Christmas with one of my gift cards (This one for my old eyes!), I started out reading through the Gospels. Currently I am reading Luke and was reminded in Luke 3 and 4 how first Jesus was filled with the Holy Spirit after John baptised Him (I believe that all Believers in Christ are given the Holy Spirit with salvation) and then he was tempted by the enemy (who I won't credit by naming) for 40 days in the desert. When Jesus answered his enemy's temptations and accusations, He always used the Scripture and reminded him that "Man does not live on bread alone." (Luke 4:4)

I am taking that to heart and applying it to my life. Part of becoming "Well" or "Whole" is being spiritually whole. This journey would be impossible without faith in Him. Just as my body needs fuel, so does my spirit. So, the last two weeks my routine has been to walk with hubby at 5:30, take a shower and then spend about a half hour reading in my Bible. Sometimes I pray then, but mostly I am reading, soaking in His Word. I am amazed, though I shouldn't be, at how many times during the day, something from what I read that morning comes to mind and is applicable to my life. And you know what else? The more I read, the more I want to read. Some mornings I do not want to stop. I believe that faith is like a muscle - use or lose. Just like you don't physically lose a muscle, just the strength, not practicing or feeding your faith will make it weak.

So my challenge to you all this week is to take Jesus' example - he frequently went off by himself to pray and commune with God. Try to find some quiet time to fuel your spirit. This is certainly better food for you than any other. Does this all sound strange to you? Do you not know about who Jesus is? Don't be afraid, many don't. If you would like to know more, please feel free to email me or you can also click on the red "ready?" button at the right.

And one last thing I wanted to share with you that I read in Perfect Weight America by Jordan Rubin. I had been concerned and kind of knocking myself that I have not been eating enough fresh food, other than some smoothies. Then I read this and it made so much sense.

From Page 69:

Winter: Eat 75% cooked foods and 25% raw foods. Eat warming foods like fish, chicken, beef, lamb and venison. Also eat potatoes, onions, garlic and eggs.

Spring: Eat 50% cooked foods and 50% raw foods. Tender, leafy vegetables are now available such as Swiss Chard, spinach, romaine, parsley and basil.

Summer: Eat 25% cooked foods and 75% raw foods. Most of the fruits are in season and fresh.

Fall: Eat 50% cooked foods and 50% raw foods. Look for more warming fall foods like root vegetables, garlic and onions.Doesn't this make sense? This is how God provides the food to us!

I will be double posting this over at My Journey To Wholeness where I plan to be posting more recipes and ideas in this new year. You are welcome to join me over there if this interests you. Thanks for joining me again for another Wellness Wednesday. Remember that if you post a comment, I will be praying for you this week. And if you lurk - I pray for you too because He knows who you are. God bless you all in your journeys this week!

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

More On Bread

This is starting out with the hard red wheat berries (in jar at right). The downfall to using the Vita-Mix for making flour is that you can only do 2 cups of grain at a time. On the other hand it's extremely fast so not really that inconvenient.

This picture was taken after counting to five, so you can see it happens fast.

This picture was taken after 35 seconds - Voila! Fresh ground flour!

Today I ground spelt berries to make flour. Spelt is a relative to wheat, but I find it makes a little lighter flour and has a natural sweetness to it. It seems to cut the slight bitterness that can sometimes occur with Whole Wheat. Yesterday I made a batch of my beet bread using some spelt flour I had. It wasn't really rancid, but wasn't fresh either. Then I realized that I had bought it at the farm where it was grown in Eastern Washington. I was last there in August 2006! So, this was 18 months old. That's old especially in our hot climate. I did have some spelt berries of unknown age, but younger than the flour! So today I ground fresh flour from them and that was the key! It truly is amazing, even when your flour is fresh from the store, the difference in taste between fresh ground and purchased flour.

This is the wheat flour along with the sprouted, ground flax I found at Costco. I'm hoping this is okay to use. I was going to fresh grind flax seed as well. (Initially this recipe called for whole flax seed) But, the reading I have been doing lately suggested that sprouted grains are healthier, so I thought we would try this. I don't know for sure whether it is any better or not!

This is the beet/water/oil/honey combo in the Vita-Mix. Isn't it pretty? I don't like beets, so the smell is pretty horrid to me.

This is halfway through the mixing. The first ingredients are put together, yeast is added and allowed to rest. Different brands of canned beats seem to differ in color. This one is average. Another brand I used (but can't remember) produced beautiful raspberry dough. I let it rest for 20 minutes at this point in time, then come back and add the rest of the ingredients and the salt. This is supposed to enhance the yeast performance.

After the dough is needed in my Kitchen Aid Pro5 mixer, I put it in this large stainless steel bowl and set it on my stovetop. We have a gas stove and the heat from the pilot is vented to the top as well as through the vents. It is warm enough to aid in the proofing process but not too warm to kill the yeast.

While the dough is proofing you can read a book, sing a song, do a dance or visit with your damsel (A has a pink damsel's hat on but her head is tipped so you don't see it) who is playing with Mater!

After proofing, shape into loaves and allow to double in size again. This part, I'm still quite amatuer at as you can see from the shapes of my loaves. I have not figured out yet what size and how many to do and I think I have been proofing them too long because they collapse a little on top. At first I thought it was too much moisture, but that was not the problem with the dough today and after reading I found too much proofing can do this. I think I might need to just go back to doing 3 loaves and not using the small one, but am not sure. I did eliminate my large pampered chef pans. :o( I have three glass pans - all three are different sizes!

Here they are, ready to bake. Just behind the brown pan (part of a baking set I bought in Germany in 1984 and it makes a "cutie little loaf" as my Grandma would say) is an oven thermometer. My oven seems to be running 25 degrees lower than what the knob reads. I still did not adjust the temp. 375* on my oven is really 350* and if you adjust 25* for glass, that would be right anyway. I take the smallest loaf out at 30-35 minutes and leave the rest in 5-10 minutes more. That works for these sizes. I used the full 50 minutes when using big loaves.

Here are all 3 loaves, a little lumpy but very yummy. My daughter J would not eat the bread when I made it with white flour, but will with the spelt added. I think it has to be the sweetness of the spelt covering the slight bitterness of whole grain. This recipe, when fine tuned might be the keeper. It's a miracle that all 3 of my kids AND Hubby like this bread!!!

Here is a closer picture showing the nice texture. My adjusted recipe is as follows:

Beet Wheat Spelt Bread

Set Aside: 1/2 cup warm water

1 t honey

2 T Instant Yeast

Blend: 1 - 15oz can beets

1/3 c honey

1/3 c light olive oil

2 1/2 c warm water

Mix: 5 1/2 c whole wheat flour

1/2 c ground sprouted flax or flax meal

2 t Lecithin granules

Yeast Mixture

Beet Mixture

Mix only until combined and let set 20 minutes.

Add: 3 1/2 c spelt flour

1 1/2 c whole wheat flour

1 T salt

Knead in mixer for 4-5 minutes. If dough seems too sticky, add more whole wheat flour a little at a time. I added an additional 1/3 cup whole wheat flour. Placed in oiled bowl and cover with a towel. Let rise in a warm place until doubled.

Divid dough into 3-4 loaf pans, depending on your size. Let them raise until double again.

Bake at 375* or 350* for glass, 30-50 minutes depending on loaf size. Remove from oven and release from pan. Brush olive oil on crust to keep tender.

Serve and Enjoy!

(Feel free to enjoy my recipe but please be kind and give credit where credit is due. This is shared to enjoy, not to be sold or copied without permission. Thank you!)

Friday, January 11, 2008

Instant Yeast - UGH!

UGH! I just read at What's Cooking America's yeast page that Instant and Rapid Rise yeast, which is often used in bread machines, is genetically engineered from different strains of yeast! You are supposed to use 3/4 of the amount when using them as you would regular dry yeast. No wonder my bread has a nice fluffy texture and raises easily! Also Instant yeast does not need double proofing, which I have been doing. I am going to go to the health food store today to get some lecithin and Ascorbic Acid powder to use as dough enhancers. It looks like I might need to get some regular yeast too. That's another thing, the SAF Instant yeast I was using has Ascorbic Acid in it as well, which could explain why my bread had nice texture. But it also has sorbitan monostearate - what's that? (see below)

This Bon Appetit article by Alton Brown, one of my favorite foodies/scientists, has some good general information about yeast. It does not mention genetic altering, just that the yeast is dried in such a manner that less yeast are killed, making more active and available. I have not found any info on genetic modification anywhere else by googling so I emailed the LeSaffre company who makes SAF Instant yeast and asked them directly. I'm not expecting an answer, but you never know. I also checked Cook's Illustrated (and had to sign up for a free trial membership). They had articles on using it and they evaluated it as the "cleanest" yeast to use in breads that don't have lots of milk and sugar to cover up the taste that comes from dead yeast which is found in active dry yeast (they die because of the drying process and this is normal).

Next I looked up Sorbitan Monostearate and Wikipedia does not paint a pretty picture. This site describes it as an emulsifier and it is found in a lot of things from cake mixes, puddings, imitation whipped cream etc to hemorrhoid cream! This PDF with FDA information says that it is used in yeast as a re-hydrating agent and cannot be more than 1% by volume of yeast. At least now I know why it is used, but I still don't know if it's "freaky but safe" or "best to avoid." Anything chemical sounds a little scary. The Center for Science in the Public Interest lists it as safe. They have an interesting list on that page, but I noticed they also list Splenda as thought to be safe. Further googling shows that it is considered safe for use in Canada, Ireland and Europe. Sometimes they ban things that we use here ( like GMO fruits and veggies and some additives).

I find this rather frustrating. The more you know, sometimes the less you want to know! :o)

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Using Dough Enhancers

One of my commenters suggested using dough enhancers and I asked about that on my Wellness Wednesday post yesterday, hoping to hear from one of you who uses them for whole wheat bread. Deborah recommended soaking the flour in yogurt or Kefir over night as this helps the wheat protein to be more digestible. This is the recommended course of action in the Nourishing Traditions book. It does make a lot of sense and I want to try it too, I just have been battling a migraine for three weeks and haven't been up to a lot of experimenting - just sticking to the tried and true.

Today, curiosity got the best of me and I had to google. I found this Bread Machine site that had a lot of good information and gave me some ideas. I have been interested in using Lecithin as I have read that it also is what helps keep cholesterol from sticking in your arteries - that is why eggs are not the evil food that some make them out to be. They are high in cholesterol but they have Lecithin too. It's like God naturally designed the perfect package to take care of things. Recently I "met" Teresa (we connected through mutual home school blogger Amy) and she recommended Bread Becker's. They have a lot of information on their site, including free recipes and others which you can purchase. Teresa has been using their bread recipes with success after hearing them teach at a homeschool conference. (I wish we had speakers like that at our conference!) Our local natural food co-op carries Lecithin granules in the refrigerated section, but it does not say what their source is. I want to avoid soy as it is bad for Thyroid and for other health reasons with soy.

Back on topic! Lecithin is supposed to keep the bread fresher, longer, working as a mild perservative. It also works with the gluten and can be used 1 Tablespoon per cup of flour.

Ascorbic Acid works as a preservative, deters mold growth and makes a good environment for the yeast. It comes in a pure crystal form or you can use Fruit Fresh or a crushed Vitamin C tablet. It's about 1/8 teaspoon per loaf of bread.

I was surprised to see that Ginger can also be used and it is good for a number of other reasons. 1/4 teaspoon per loaf will not change the flavor of your bread and will act as a yeast booster, helping it keep working. Bread will stay fresher longer and it deters mold and bacterial growth.

1 Large Egg replaces about 1/4 cup of liquid in a recipe. Eggs have Lecithin in the yolks.

Buttermilk helps yeast grow quickly and vigorously while softening the texture. I have had success using this for my whole grain biscuits and I use it in my banana bread recipe, in which I also substitute 1/2 whole wheat flour without any recognizable difference. Buttermilk helps the bread stay fresher longer and deters mold and bacterial growth. If you do not want the slight tartness buttermilk brings, you can add 1/2-1 teaspoon of baking soda.

The website also had recipes for making dough enhancers, however they all used wheat gluten. Wheat gluten by itself is highly processed and if you are going to use wheat gluten you might as well just use some white flour!

Any input? I'm thinking of trying a combo of Lecithin and Ascorbic Acid as well as possibly adding some ginger. It might be trial and error, but it's important to me to get a good bread that my family will eat. It doesn't matter how health it is if it won't pass their lips! LOL Currently J will not eat the wheat bread. So, I give her some of my light rye wasa brod. Now, everyone will eat that but A. I feel like my Grandma used to say, "can't win for losing"!

Now can someone tell me about Instant Yeast??!!


Alie Edwards shared on her blog about choosing ONE WORD for the 2008 to signify your goals creatively and otherwise for the new year. There is a list of words if you are looking for inspiration.

It shouldn't surprise you that my word for the year is WHOLENESS. I will be using that word to screen everything that comes into my life. Does it contribute to it? Does it prevent it? Will it be helpful? It is amazing what you can say no to, when you have an effective screen!

When I chose "My Journey to Wholeness" as a blog name, it was with a purpose and concept in mind. For me, the changes I am making are not just about the large amount of weight I need to lose. They are about being complete, being the person that my Heavenly Father created me to be in the first place and allowing Him to heal me in all areas - physical, mental, emotional and spiritual. He created us as complex and marvelously wonderful beings and I don't see how it would be possible to extricate one facet of one's self to work on without it effecting the others. When I work on physical health it causes changes in my emotions, in my mind, possibly even spiritually and when I work on my emotions it is easier to make positive changes in my physical health. What binds it all together is my relationship with God. His Word (the Bible) is my primary guide book for my life, all of my life, including the physical aspects such as my body.

Now that the holidays have passed, I hoep to writ emore here. It helps me sort through things, keeps me focused and encouraged and I love the input I hear from you all.

So, I am wondering? Did you make any New Year's resolutions? Did you set goals? Below is an extract from my Wellness Wednesday post for January 2, 2008.

Happy New Year Everyone! I always love the change of the year as it seems like a fresh start. Have you seen those Valerie Bertinelli commercials for Jenny Craig where she is in near tears because she no longer has to make a resolution to lose weight? I know exactly how she feels! It has been on my perpetual resolution list!

Did you make resolutions this New Year's Eve? I did not. This year we had a wonderful sermon on December 30th which talked about having a Godly perspective. Hubby and I sat down and prayed together and then made a list of goals for the year. We prayed that our goals would have the proper perspective, that God would give us discernment in whether or not they were realistic and that the goals and/or the end result of the goals would be glorifying to God. It was a very satisfying process and nice to share that with Hubby.

Some of the goals are fairly ambitious, due in part to the fact that we are hoping to sell our trailer at the end of the year. There are a lot of things to do in preparation for that. Some of the goals are small and some of them are mundane and practical. Health is a shared goal for 2008.

In addition to making goals, we wrote down and prayed about the steps we would take to attain those goals. Goals are meaningless without a plan.

My personal health goal this year is to be under 300#. Today I weighed in at 320#. I think this is a realistic goal for someone who is not actually dieting but re-learning how to eat healthy. Naturally I hope that I will lose more, but I am going to work towards that 20# as a goal.How I will attain that goal:

1. Draw closer to God through prayer and reading His word, focusing on who He created me to be vs who the world says I am or should be.

2. Continue blogging for Wellness Wednesday and also at My Journey To Wholeness so that I have some accountability and encouragement. I also plan to pray for each and everyone of you who comments on these posts. We are in this journey together!

3. Work towards having a whole foods "repertoire" of meals to adapt or replace the old unhealthy menu.

4. Organize my pantry and settle into a rhythm of purchasing products for my kitchen and home.

5. Experiment with healthy whole foods, recipes and natural household products, including making some of my own.

6. Add walking with my Leslie Sansone DVDs when the weather does not permit.

7. Become more physically active, playing with my children.