Archive for January, 2010

Sprouted Wheat Crackers

For a while, I’ve been wanting to make sprouted wheat bread. You can buy this stuff at a health food store but it’s really pricey. Besides, I like to do things the long, drawn out way in the kitchen.

The first step is to sprout the wheat. Put 2 cups of wheat berries in a jar and cover them with water. Let them soak overnight. The next day, pour off the extra water (strain through a cheesecloth or use a handy-dandy sprouting lid on your jar) and rinse them.

Rinse them a couple times each day. Mine sprouted within 2 days. When they have a tiny “tail”, they are ready.

Spread the sprouted wheat on a cookie sheet and dry it. I used my oven set on 200 degrees. I let it dry for a few hours and that did the trick. While it was drying (baking?), the house smelled so good — really malty and toasty.

After drying, grind the wheat (this is complicated, eh?). I use a grain mill. If you don’t have one, you are out of luck. Maybe you could grind the wheat a bit by bit in a coffee grinder? Or a super high-powered blender? Or maybe just skip this recipe. My yield was just over 3 cups of flour.

At this point, I had several days invested in my sprouted wheat loaf. I was getting closer to baking time so the excitement was building. I used my regular pizza dough recipe to make the loaf. I kept mixing and kneading (and kneading….and kneading). The dough had no “spring.” There seemed to be no gluten development.

At this point, I knew a loaf of soft, fluffy bread was not going to happen. Time for another plan. So, I made crackers.

I rolled the dough thin, brushed with water & sprinkled with salt and then cut them into squares & pricked them with a fork. After baking for 20 minutes at 350.

And they are good. Very good — tasty accompaniment to homemade soup. Were they worth all the effort? Not really.

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Soup Base

I love soup! Really, I do. I could eat it every day of the year. However, I am picky. I do not like canned soup so I end up making lots of pots o’ soup myself. Often my soups have a chicken stock base (homemade, of course) but there are times when I do not have stock on hand. Then, the soups have a water base. Which, you know, makes a pretty insipid soup. I have never gotten into the habit of using bouillon cubes but have, in the past, used soup base. I like it but it’s pretty expensive and can be full of equally as mysterious ingredients as bouillon. When I saw this recipe for a homemade veggie bouillon, I thought, “why the heck not!”. I had to run out and buy all the ingredients because, you know, celeriac and fennel are not normal veggies in this house. Neither are shallots.

The recipe came together pretty quickly.

According to the recipe, I should have had around 3 and a half cups. I wound up with way more than that.

It smelled pretty good but, man, was it salty tasting! Which should be no surprise since this is just a base — you add a teaspoon for every cup of water in your soup. I was left wondering if this would really work.

Meanwhile, I put all the veggie peelings and leftover bits in a stock pot to boil.

Then strained it and had even more stock to play with.

Finally, I made soup. Using some veggie stock and a few spoonfuls of soup base, I cooked up a pot of cream of broccoli soup.

It was the best soup ever! I think I’m going to like this homemade soup base. And, fortunately, I have tons of it so I can make (and eat) soup every day!

And just for some fun math (oxymoron?), I figured out the cost of the soup base. To buy all the ingredients cost around $10.33 (leeks, fennel & celeriac are pricey) not including the salt….but that would be cheap anyways. If you use a teaspoon of soup base per cup of water, my size batch (a little more than 6 cups) should yield around 288 cups of soup for a cost around 3 cents per cup. That seems impossible to me but, then again, I could seriously have screwed up the math. So this stuff is good and cheap and soup! My favorite things!

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Big Day

Guess how many days my kids have been in school this year?

I can hardly believe it has been that long. It seems like school just started.

To mark the occasion, we needed a special lunch-box treat. Mojo helped me make them — she had the idea to use a shot glass to cut out the zeros. Our hands were covered with melted marshmallow and rice krispies by the time we were through. This was one time when cleaning up was the best part!

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Elderberry Syrup

This winter, I’ve been dosing my kids up with Sambucol — an herbal black elderberry extract that supposedly helps combat colds and flu. I don’t know if it really works but my kiddos have been pretty healthy over here. I thought making my own elderberry syrup was out of the question because, well, I have no elderberries (do they grow here?). Then, I stumbled upon this blog, and her recipe which used dried elderberries to make syrup (also with photos of the steps along the way). I got all excited and ordered some dried berries from a local health food store. Then I made some syrup — my recipe is slightly different from hers since I had less honey on hand and slightly more elderberries in my bag — there are many recipes out there in google-land, which use varying amounts of water, berries, sweetener & spices. I just did what seemed to make sense and it worked.

I used 2 oz of elderberries — this was about 2/3 cup.

Add 3 cups of water and bring to a boil.

Let it simmer for about 15 minutes, then cool. Strain the berries out (I was left with almost 2 cups of liquid) and add some sweetener. I only added 1/2 cup of honey (it was all I had on hand).

Bottle your syrup.

While this syrup is not nearly as thick as the store bought kind, it is delicious!! This will make a healthy (and yummy) addition to smoothies. It would also be tasty in tea. I popped the bottle in the fridge (and the extra half bottle in the freezer). Now it’s time for me to kick back and take a tea, errr, medicine break.

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Trash Picked Treasures

I love this chair. I’ve had it for a few years (yes, another John find). I wish the seat wasn’t so ripped up because I am crazy about the orange upholstery. For years, it sat in our bedroom with a sheepskin covering the tattered seat.

I decided last week to give the chair new life in our family room. I’ve been long considering reupholstering it but I’m daunted by the tufted back. I took the easy way out and made a slipcover. For $9 worth of fabric & $3 of twill tape, the chair is transformed.

Maybe one day I’ll be brave (or experienced) enough to do this chair justice. In the meantime, I think I’m going to like it like this.

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More Mitts

John was out of town all week. When he’s away, I usually go crazy with some household project. I wasn’t too crazy this week. While I had grand plans involving paint and power tools, reality intervened (or maybe it was the start of classes for me that intervened). I only completed a few projects.

Knitting — in keeping with my practice of knitting a pattern until I’m sick of it, I made a pair of fingerless mitts for DNA. Now he can match his buddy and this makes him happy.

I’m still captivated by this pattern so expect a few more pairs to be shown. Oli wants a pair but I’m having trouble figuring out how to downsize the cable pattern for small hands. Math challenges for mommy. Sigh.

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A Tavern in the Hills

While I was out of town for my Grandmother’s funeral, we all took a break and went out to dinner. There aren’t many options in the area where Gram was raised. We went to the biggest restaurant in town. This restaurant is smack in the middle of nowhere, deep in the hills of Southwest PA. There’s nothing special about it from the outside — it’s a tavern that looks kind of cobbled together and ramshackle. Imagine my surprise upon entering and seeing this —

The owner traveled to Africa several times to go on safaris. He apparently like to shoot things. Lots of them. As stunned as I was by the number of stuffed real animals, I was equally puzzled by the number of stuffed play ones on display. The stuffed Christmas moose right in front of the gazelle being suffocated by a lion just made it all seem kinda creepy and weird to me. There were artifacts all over the place, too — hooves in the bathroom, on lamps, strange footstools, and equal amounts of fluffy toys. Bizarre.

The food was good. And cheap. Makes one wonder how so many trips to shoot and kill were funded by $3 BLTs.

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