100% Whole Wheat Bread in 5 minutes a day ala Mother Earth News

Here is a link to an article in  Mother Earth News. It reminds me of Katie's method because you refrigerate it and take out only what you are going to use today.
I haven't tried it yet, but the thought of the aroma that a fresh hot loaf creates is very tempting.



So today when I was making these (which is entirely a different post).. I realized that I was out of mayonnaise. And I had some more in the basement but I thought, why not try making it myself. And I knew just the book to get off of my shelf. The Julia Child book that my husband got me for Christmas. The tricky thing about mayo is that you have to follow the directions pretty closely. I remember my mom making it when I was young and remembered that it is a delicate process... So I'm going to quote Julia on page 87 from her book.

"Points to remember when making mayonnaise by hand (although i used a food processor).

Mayonnaise is easiest to make when all ingredients are at normal room temperature. Warm the mixing bowl in hot water to take the chill off the egg yolks. Heat the oil to tepid if it is cold.

Egg Yolks
Always beat the egg yolks for a minute or two before adding anything to them. As soon as they are thick and sticky, they are ready to absorb the oil.

Adding the Oil
The oil must be added very slowly at first, in droplets, until the emulsion process begins and the sauce thickens into a heavy cream. After this, the oil may be incorporated more rapidly.

The maximum amount of oil one US Large egg yolk will absorb is 6 ounces of 3/4 cup. When this maximum is exceeded, the binding properties of the egg yolks break down, and the sauce thins out or curdles, If you have never made mayonnaise before, it is safest not to exceed 1/2 cup of oil per egg yolk. Here is a table giving proportions for varying amounts of sauce:


Number of Yolks 2
cups of oil 1 to 1 1/2
vinegar/ lemon juice 2-3
Amount of Finished sauce 1 1/4 to 1 3/4 cups
1/4 teaspoon dried or prepared mustard
1/2 tsp salt

Hand-beaten Mayonnaise (again i used a food processor)

Note- The following directions are for a hand- beaten sauce. Exactly the same system is followed for an electric beater. Use the large bowl, and the moderately fast speed for whipping cream. Continually push the sauce into the beater blades with a rubber scraper.

Warm your bowl in hot water. Dry it. Add the egg yolks and beat for 1-2 minutes until they are thick and sticky. (again- since i used my food processor i just added them to the plastic container... and it worked fine and my yolks were pretty whipped)

Add the vinegar or lemon juice, salt, and mustard. Beat for 30 seconds more. The egg yolks are now ready to receive the oil, and while it goes in, drop by drop, you must not stop beating until the sauce has thickened. A speed of 2 strokes per second is fast enough. You can switch hands or switch directions, it makes no difference as long as you beat constantly. Add the drops of oil with a teaspoon, or rest the lip of the bottle on the edge of the bowl. Keep your eye on the oil rather than on the sauce. Stop pouring and continue beating every 10 seconds or so, to be sure the egg yolks are absorbing the oil. After 1/3 to 1/2 cup of oil has been incorporated, the sauce will thicken into a very heavy cream and the crisis is over. The beating arm may rest a moment." (ha! she is hilarious!)

Anyway- it is creamy and delicious... and i'm not even a mayonnaise person. enjoy!



Remember the recipe for the playdough that i posted a few weeks ago? this is what I made for my three year-old's preschool class for Valentines day. I think it was a hit!

Simple Pancakes

We make pancakes at our house 3-4 times a week. It is something that I know my kids will eat and not be hungry like an hour later. As most of you know pancakes aren't hard but as I was watching the food network one day I got a few tips from them that really made a difference.

1/2 cup white flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 cup milk
1-2 teaspoons vanilla (mmm... vanilla)
2 egg whites
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar

Start warming your griddle to 325- ish. or if you are using the stove top set it to about three. Mix the dry ingredients together, and then add your wet ingredients EXCEPT for the egg whites of course. Set batter aside. With your egg whites and cream of tartar beat until they have peaked (that is the right word, right?) and when they are white and fluffy- and when you pull out your beaters they will stand on their own they are done. Fold the egg whites into pancake batter.

Next use about 2-3 tablespoons of butter to grease your griddle/pan. this will give it a pretty golden brown color... (that is one of the tips from the foodnetwork- the other one was the egg whites) They were good tips and they make your pancakes sooo fluffy! yum.

Blueberry Pie

I bought a few cartons of blueberries at Costco so that I could make blueberry jam. Well a week or two went by and all of the sudden it was time to do something with those bad boys... and so I decided to make a blueberry pie. This was my first attempt at making a blueberry pie and I think that it turned out rather well. Mine was a little bit runny- but next time I will know to add more flour.

The pie crust is easy breezy lemon squeezy. :)
- 2.5 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup shortening
10 tablespoons butter
10 tablespoons ICE cold water (up to 10 tablespoons)

Mix the flour, salt, shortening, and butter in a mixer or blender until the butter/shortening is about pea sized. Then add ice water one tablespoon at a time. I think that the original recipe (which I can't find anymore. I think I got this recipe from King Arthur flour... but now i can't find it) only called for 7-9 tablespoons of water. But for some reason or another 10 works for me in my altitude... or something.

Anyway you want to make sure that you make this in advance (i try to do it the night before) so by the time I'm ready to use it- it is nice and pliable. If you haven't done it the night before give it 2-3 hours to chill.

5-6 cups (ish) of fresh blueberries
3/4 cup flour (maybe add another 1/2 ish cup because they are so juicy)
3/4 cup sugar
2-3 tablespoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon lemon zest
1 teaspoon salt

Make sure your fruit is washed- and then kind of blot it with a paper towel to get some of the water off. Then fold in ingredients. Then assemble your pie. I like to do these fancy cookie cutters from Williams-Sonoma. I heart them.

Before you put on the top of your pie add a few tabs of butter... it just makes it THAT much better. (i got that tip from my friend, Caralee- Hi caralee. :)

Anyway- the pie turned out it was a little soupy but super tasty.


Frosting a birthday cake

Here is a fairly simple* tutorial on frosting a birthday cake, that I have horded in my head all these years and didn't realize no one else knew. I got my information from a professional cake decorator, Liliana Bair, who did many wedding and birthday cakes in her home.
*This post looks longer than simple, but it takes some extra explaining, in case you feel like you need the "For Dummies" version, which I need quite often.

So you have to make your cakes at least a day ahead, and be sure to grease and flour your pans before baking. When they come out of the oven, let them cool for 10 minutes on a rack to make sure the bottom cools as well as the sides.

While waiting for the cakes to cool  make a glaze and prepare a place for a cake to sit for freezing and later frosting. This would be a stiff piece of cardboard covered with tin foil or a plate.

For the glaze: combine the following ingredients and stir vigorously until well blended: An electric mixer or food processor will get all the lumps out.
2 cups confectioners sugar
3 Tablespoons milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla or other flavoring (optional) Mexican Vanilla is most delicious unless you plan to flavor your final frosting another flavor, like mint. . .

If the cakes have a bump in the middle that is higher than the sides caused by uneven heat in the oven, this would be the time to make the cake level by gently sawing off the bump, keeping your very long, preferably serrated knife level with the pan sides. The top of your cake will become the bottom when the final frosting is done. The kids will be very happy to eat these scraps, especially if you have any frosting left over for them to use. Or not.

After cakes have cooled and middles are leveled, with a thin knife or flexible spatula carefully loosen the sides to make sure nothing sticks. Place your plate or tin foil-covered cardboard over the top of pan. Grab bottom of cake pan (it should be cooled enough to be able to handle with bare hands, but if you are chicken, put on oven mitts) and the cardboard/plate and make sure these are firmly grasped in both hands and flip it over, set  on counter and gently tap bottom of pan, testing carefully if the cake is loosening from the pan. If not, you may have to invert it and do more coaxing and gently loosening the sides with knife or flexible spatula. Continue to tap pan until cake has satisfactorily been transferred to the plate/cardboard. If you have a hard time loosening, you haven't floured the bottom of the pan enough, so you know for next time.

Pour glaze over cake and spread evenly on top and sides.

Now freeze the cakes. When frozen, this glaze will act as a barrier between frosting and knife and will not allow crumbs to shed.

The next day, when ready to frost, make sure your frosting is all made up ahead of time, and remove cakes one at a time (if you are doing layers) from freezer. Frost the cake with a flat frosting knife starting on the top middle and finishing around the sides. You will find the frozen glazed-covered brick, which is your cake, will not shed a single crumb and will not fall apart. The cold from the cake will help to solidify the frosting and will make it easy to make it very smooth. Use a wet knife to smooth over the frosting to get an even smoother finish. Repeat with next layer, making sure you have a generous supply of frosting between the layers. This is when you can apply a raspberry flavored center for a chocolate cake, if desired. Continue with all layers until you have the desired height. I would not recommend more than three layers without getting an additional tier.

Now you are ready to decorate with all sorts of beautiful piped edges and flowers.

ed note: If for some reason you have experienced a disaster and are ready to give up making birthday cakes forever*, try this:
Freeze your disaster right now, and try adding more frosting in an hour or two. It will require defrosting before adding candles, but you may be able to save it. *I love you Jenny.


Big, Fat, Chewy, Chocolate Chip Cookies

I got this off my friend Jessi's blog. They were fantastic!
Big, Fat, Chewy, Chocolate Chip Cookies


2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 egg
1 egg yolk
2 cups semisweet chocolate chips


1. Sift together flour, baking soda, salt. Set aside.
2. Cream together melted butter, and both sugars until well blended. Beat in vanilla, egg and egg yolk until light and creamy. Mix in dry ingredients until just blended. Stir in chocolate chips. Refrigerate dough for 30 minutes. Until dough is stiff.
3. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Lightly grease cookie sheet. Drop cookie dough 1/4 cup at a time onto prepared cookie sheet about 3 inches apart.
4. Bake for 15-19 minutes or until edges are lightly toasted. Cool on baking sheets for a few minutes before transferring to wire racks to cool completely.

*hint the top of the cookies will appear slightly uncooked when you pull them out but will harden up a little while they are cooling. Yields 15-18 cookies.


Simple Hand Made Noodles

Don't be intimidated by the thought of making egg noodles. It's not commonly done, but it isn't really very hard, and you don't have to have a pasta maker to do it.

I should qualify that a little. Most of the recipes that I have seen originated on a farm, or maybe in the army and they make huge batches of noodles. This used to be a way of using/storing eggs. If you lived on a farm, your chickens would lay grundles of eggs in the spring and summer, and then production would fall off to almost nothing in the fall and winter. So, smart farm wives would make a lot of noodles when there were a lot of eggs, and once they were dried, they would keep for months. However, none of us lives on a farm, and eggs are available all through the year. So why make noodles - well because they taste great, and sometimes you might run short on pasta.



The ratio that I like to use is 1/2 cup flour to 1 egg, and a pinch of salt (1/16 tsp or so ).

Put the flour in a bowl and break the eggs into it. Add the salt. Mix with a spoon until you can knead it.

Remove the noodle dough from the bowl and put on a floured surface. Sprinkle a little flour on top and roll it to ~1/8" thick. Re-dust with flour, fold it back onto it self and add a little more flour and roll it out again. Keep repeating this folding, flouring and rolling until the dough is pretty dry and not sticky at all.

Then, one final time, roll it very thin- as thin as you can and cut it into strips with a pizza cutter.

There are your noodles. Drop them into boiling soup or boiling water. If you have extras, drape them over a large kettle or bowl and let them air dry. You might want to warm the oven just a little when you put them in - maybe 120-150 deg F.

Tonight I used 1-1/2 cups of flour and used 3 eggs, and I made enough soup for Annie and I to eat a couple of meal from, and still had almost half the noodles drying in the oven.


Super Easy Chili

In preparation for a family get-to-gether I made a batch of chili. It was a pot luck and three people were asked to bring soup. I didn't have a lot of time, so I thought this would fill the bill and be easy enough to do.


1 lb of ground beef (or pork sausage, or ground turkey)
2 cans black beans
1 can Mexican style canned tomatoes
2 cans diced tomatoes
dried onion - 1tablespoon
chili powder 1tsp
garlic powder 1/2 tsp
black pepper 1/4 tsp


beef bullion instead of salt - to taste.
cumin to taste.
bell peppers, diced

Brown the ground meat. Drain off the grease.

In a saucepan or kettle add the canned beans and tomatoes. Slowly bring to a boil, stirring so it doesn't stick to the pan.

Add the onions, measured spices and the ground meat. Let it cook for 10 minutes or so to let all of the flavors start to mix.

If you want more of a chili taste, without the peppery heat, add more cumin than chili powder. For a medium hot chili, add only chili powder and no cumin. For a really zippy chili, add one or two jalapeno peppers. If you are truly insane, add habenaro peppers and don't be surprised at anything. And don't touch your eyes.

You can easily multiply this recipe out until you are feeding an army. You can also add leftover spaghetti sauce, or even spaghetti, tomato based soups..... lots of things in the fridge. The key to chili tasting like chili is the cumin. If you have a little oregano, basil or other tomato friendly spices in the mix, it won't hurt a thing. Rice and canned corn are good to add to. Have fun


Cinnamon goodness

I sent this recipe to someone on facebook and then decided that it may as well be my blog post and then i won't have to re-do it. So take it or leave it... but if i were you i would take it.

I got this recipe from Peter Reinhart and his book is called, "Artisan Breads Everyday".

Start this the night before.
All- purpose sweet dough

6 1/4 cups unbleached all purpose flour
(I add 6 tablespoons of gluten which then makes it bread flour for less of the cost of actual bread flour)
2 teaspoons salt
6 tablespoons sugar
5 teaspoons instant yeast
2 cups plus 2 tablespoons lukewarm whole or low fat milk (and i just realized that I used water... oops)
1/2 cup vegetable oil or melted unsalted butter (i used salted butter)
zest of 1/2 lemon, or 1 tablespoon lemon extract, or 1/2 teaspoon lemon oil

3 tablespoons ground cinnamon
3/4 cup sugar
melted butter or vegetable oil for brushing
1 cup raisins, or to taste (i didn't use these)
1 cup chopped walnuts or pecans, or to taste (i didn't use these either)

But the topping that I used was a little bit different I got about 3/4-1cup brown sugar, cinnamon and then mixed a little bit of butter in with that... oh and nutmeg.

So this technique that he uses is genius! And i have been successful every time i make these.

Mix your dry ingredients- and the lemon zest and then make sure that your milk/water isn't too warm and then slowly mix in the wet ingredients. Mix in your mixer or hand knead for at least two minutes. (but i do it for 5 minutes to assure that your gluten is being activated... or whatever you call it.) Next, put the dough in an oiled bowl- cover and let it rest for five minutes. After five minutes pull the dough from right to left and then top to bottom and then one more time (kind of like in a Y shape) and let it rest for another 10 minutes. Repeat this process four more times in the next hour. Then put it in the fridge over night. It will keep up to four days although the dough quality will decrease after that. (that is what Mr. Reinhart says).

The theory behind it is that not only does the gluten need to be mix enough to be activated- but the dough also has to properly ferment for it to turn out. This goes for all bread.

Anyway- they say to get it out of the oven 2.5 hours before you are ready to cook it. Let the dough rest for 20 minutes before you do anything with it. And then on a floured surface roll out the dough. (i cut the dough in half and did it in two batches and it filled two 9x13 pans) butter the dough and put the cinnamon & brown sugar goodness on top. Roll the dough and cut. (i use dental floss). and place them in a greased pan. Paint with butter and let them rise for two hours.

So I made these last night and when i do the dough i set it in the oven and turn on the oven to 400-450 for one minute and then let them be in this nice warm environment... but i totally forgot about them for a few minutes... and i thought for sure i was toast. I had taken them out of the oven and i just started to watch them to see if they would indeed rise. And they totally started to rise. They kind of went crazy. I was thrilled but now the other batch wasn't rising. So I had an amazing idea... i put them in the microwave and put them on "warm hold" and they rose in like 20 minutes. it was amazing.

(sorry for the tangent)

And on to the frosting:

8 oz cream cheese
4 tablespoons butter
1 1/2-to taste powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 vanilla bean (optional but it is worth it)
2 teaspoons lemon juice

mix- and if it isn't enough powdered sugar just add more- if it is too thick add a little bit more lemon juice (like 1/2-1 teaspoon at a time).

Bake at 350 for 10 minutes. And then turn the pan around in the oven- and cook for another 5-15 minutes. All in all i think that it was 25-30 minutes of pure baking time. you want the top of one of the rolls to sound hallow when you tap it...




My kids LOVE playdough- and I had just been buying it until I went and visited my mom a few months ago and she made some for my kids. And guess what, they LOVED it. And I have been making it ever sense.

Let's talk about how cheap it is to make. It seriously costs next to NOTHING and takes about 5 minutes to make. Not to mention that you can choose the color AND you can add some kind of flavoring to make it smell yummy. And let's be honest- who doesn't want to smell something yummy? :)

Here is the recipe- it is SO EASY.

2 cups of All-Purpose Flour
1 cup of Salt
4 teaspoons Cream of Tartar
2 Tablespoons Oil
2 cups water
-food coloring and flavoring of your choice

First thing is first- have everything ready because it goes pretty fast. I have everything all set out- and pre-measured so that i can add everything when I need to.

Start with your dry ingredients and then mix in the water, oil, food coloring, and flavoring. And you put it on a medium heat and stir constantly until it has thickened and then once it is a dough consistency take it off of the heat and knead dough for a few minutes. It is warm but not that warm and it has yet to stain my kitchen counter... so don't worry about that part. However do it at your own risk and I will not take responsibility for any stains on your counter top. :)

But note the color of my counter and the color of the playdough... it hasn't stained anything yet so I wouldn't worry so much.

Jenny's Whole Wheat Bread

2 1/2 cups warm water
1 TBSP yeast
(proof with a dash of sugar) *I added 1/2 c sugar
1/2 cup honey or brown sugar
1/4 cup oil
1 TBSP vital wheat gluten
1 TBSP salt
6-8 cups whole wheat flour (I can't remember how many cups it is because I do mine by feel and texture.  This is my best guess.)

Kneed until gluten is fully formed and flour hydrated.  Rise in oiled bowl for at least one hour or until doubled.  After risen, shape into two loaves and rise again for another 30 minutes or until loaves have doubled in size.  Bake at 375 degrees for 35-45 minutes or until brown on the bottom and hollow-sounding.


Here goes nothing...

Well- Most of you don't know that this blog is even here. Hopefully I will commit enough to it to send out invites to those of you who want to participate. And then actually keep it up. I don't know why but sometimes I have a hard time committing to things.. but that is a whole different issue that we won't discuss at this time.

I have made a lot of stuff in the past few weeks. And at first few recipes I remembered to take pictures of. And it is all down hill from there. :) But don't worry I have a good menu planned for this week and will remember to take more pictures. But I will try to put all of the recipes up that I have used this past week. Alright, enough with the blabbing- and on to the main event!

I have been doing A LOT of bread lately. My husband got me these bread books for my birthday and I have only done one of the recipes in it but I have been pouring over them and the more I try the better the outcome. (practice makes perfect, right?)

The book (one of them) is called, "Artisan Breads Every Day" by Peter Reinhart. He has such a great technique on how to make bread. I have always dreaded mixing the dough- and kneading the dough enough so that the gluten will form. And even when I would mix the dickens out of it the bread still just wasn't quite right. It didn't have a great crust, and it was still crumbly. Well gluten wasn't the only thing that was going into the picture. I never even took into account that the yeast needed more than two hours to ferment. And so begins my very long journey into that perfect loaf of bread.

*I am not claiming that I know anything about bread- only what I have recently learned so bare with me.

Peter Reinhart's theory of bread making makes so much sense- I don't know why I never knew about it sooner. But the whole thing is that you have to let it rise long enough for the dough and the grain of the bread to reach it's full flavor. Makes sense, right? Well- you should go to the library and check this book out. It is loaded with the "how to" of bread making and not so much a recipe book- which I actually like a lot better.

Anyway- on to the recipe

This is called "Lean Bread" and time does most of the work with this bad boy. (which i think is fantastic) And like I said, all you have to do is a little bit of planning.

(I have used both bleached and unbleached and the unbleached definitely turned out a lot better. I also don't use bread flour because it is so much cheaper to buy gluten and then add that to your flour. So I am going to tweak this recipe the way that I did it.)

5 1/3 cups unbleached flour
5 Tablespoons of gluten
2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons instant yeast (and please do me a favor and make sure your yeast is active before you go to all of this work. :)
2 1/4 cups lukewarm water (about 95 degrees) (if you test it on your wrist you will have an easy time "eyeballing" it instead of actually having to us a thermometer)

So the next part is easy- you mix the dry ingredients for 2-5 minutes. (I mix for closer to 5 minutes) and then you set the dough in a oiled bowl and let it rest for five minutes at room temperature. The dough should be tacky and not sticky. But it shouldn't be dry. (You should be able to stretch it).

After the five-ish minutes are up you pull the dough from right to left, top to bottom and then one more time. (kind of in a Y shape) and then you let it rest for another ten minutes. Repeat this process 4-5 times over the next hour. After that hour is up place it in the fridge (covered with plastic wrap). Make sure you put it in a big enough bowl so that it will have enough room to rise.

The next day

The next morning try to contain yourself as you check on your BEAUTIFUL dough. (well that is how it is for me anyway). Make sure the surface that you are working on is clean and dry. Then add about 2 Tablespoons of oil to the surface and with wet or oiled hands take out your dough. Cut into two pieces and form into loaves.

Next (this is how i let my loaves rise) preheat your oven to 400-450 for one minute and then promptly turn off. Let your bread rise in your oven for two hours before baking. And when it comes time to bake your bread (this is also the way I do it- and not necessarily the correct way) take the dough from the oven... carefully people- it is fragile. Place a cookie sheet with a lip on it or a 9x13 pan and then preheat your oven to 550 (this is from the book so don't think that I'm crazy). When the oven and the cookie sheet is preheated- take one cup of cold water ready to pour into the cookie sheet. (i use a glass measuring cup so that it is easy to pour and so you don't burn yourself). Remember to put your bread back in the oven BEFORE you give the steam bath. Then of course pour the water in the cookie sheet. (I think I made it more complicated than it really is.)

Turn the head down to 450 degrees and bake for 10-15 minutes. I usually check on it then (because it won't be done yet) and set for another 10-15 minutes. Keep a close eye on it because you don't want it to burn.

When you are finished place the bread on a cooling rack and let it rest for one hour (if you can last that long- good luck). and enjoy!