Bake Your Own Bread? Yes You Can!

This is the post I’ve promised!

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I started baking my own bread about 4 years ago.    I needed to get rid of the preservatives in commercial bread and I had noticed that the companies I had trusted for years had begun to use artificial sweeteners (YUCK!).   At the time I was running a “healthy eating club” as part of my local MOMS Club.   One of the members suggested that I try baking my own bread.    I actually laughed out loud at her.   I had NEVER even thought about baking bread myself.    I had all these visuals of  being covered in flour and kneading dough.   I baked, but things like cookies, quick breads and the occasional pie.     Not anything hard – nothing that would take yeast!

She laughed at me and told me it was so easy Grant (who was 2 at the time) could practically do it.   WHAT?   I was really skeptical.   She promised she’d bake bread for our next meeting, I could try it and see if I ever wanted bread out of a package again.

A month later she showed up on my doorstep with a beautiful loaf of artisan wheat bread  – still warm.    It had a hard crust and insides that just melted in my mouth.    It was FABULOUS!    But I was still skeptical.    Could I do this?    Well, yes it turns out that I could and so can you!    The best part of the whole deal?   You can do it all in about 5 minutes of hands on time a day!   No joke.   It really is that easy.

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The secret comes from 2 wonderfully gifted people named Jeff and Zoe.    They have written a series of books based on the fact that you really can make Bread In Five Minutes a Day.     Now we are talking hands on time, that five minutes doesn’t include rise times.  But this is fresh, beautiful, DELICIOUS bread that you can make AND accomplish your to-do list too!   The one I use most frequently is Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day.

Here’s the gist of it.    You make up a batch of dough which will take you about 5 minutes.   You let it rise for 2-3 hours (depending on the recipe).    You put it in the fridge and pull out and use when you want bread (or pizza crust, buns, breadsticks)  within the next 2 weeks.   It takes about 3-5 minutes of hands on time to form a loaf and then you let it rise and bake it.    It’s super easy and extremely versatile.  Not to mention good for the budget!   Heck,  these guys even went so far to figure out how to cook bread in your crockpot so you didn’t have to turn on the oven in the summer!

So are you ready to try?

Artisan Bread in Five’s Basic Recipe

Artisan Bread in Five’s Whole Wheat Brioche Recipe  (which is to die for!)

Here’s the process in pictures:

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This plus some water is all it takes!

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Measure and mix.   It’s a good work out for your arms.   Sometimes I will use my hnds to get the last bits of flour worked in.

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The mixed dough will still be pretty wet.   That’s OK!

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This stuff really grows!

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The risen dough will become flat on the top.

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Form  your loaves.   You can make them as big or as small as you want!  And let them rise again!

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Risen loaves, washed, scored and ready for the oven.

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And 30 minutes later you have this!   YUM!

The recipe that I baked today is  “100% Whole Wheat , Plain and Simple”  from Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day.

I was lucky enough to get to take a class with Jeff before we moved from the Twin Cities.    This was just before the release of their third book Artisan Pizza and Flat Bread in Five Minutes a Day.     It was a wonderful class and the breads of course were divine.      Type A me learned a great lesson from him to!

A Lesson from Jeff – It doesn’t have to be perfect.
I was working hard to make everything look like it came from the grocery store.    Make the pizza crust perfectly round.    Shape the loaf of bread just so.     Jeff reminded me that people are much more concerned with how the food tastes than how it looks (with in reason).     Does anyone in my house care that their pizza looks more like an amoeboid than a circle?    Not at all – I actually score more points with my kiddo when they look weirder!   Same goes for the breads.   So what if no two loaves look the same.    It’s ARTISAN baking, therefore take each loaf as it’s own piece of art!

A couple of notes:
Don’t feel like you have to go buy a lot of equipment to do this.   Any big covered tub (I started with a Rubbermaid) will work just fine.    I still don’t own a bread wisk.    A baking stone is essential if you want the hard artisan crust, but if you don’t have one just use a cookie sheet.   Your crust won’t be quite as hard but the bread will still be great.    Until you have a stone, the peel doesn’t matter.   If you have a stone but no peel,  just use a cookie sheet!

 

So what are you waiting for – go bake some bread already!

 

© Alicia Myers Leifheit and FoodisaJourney.com, 2012. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Alicia Myers Leifheit and FoodisaJourney.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Holiday Overwhelm

After having a sick kid for the better part of the last 2 weeks (and who’s still really needy), I’m slowly attempting to get caught up on everything since Thanksgiving.DSC_4440

I feel like pulling my hair out or sitting down and crying (depending on the moment).  My house feels like it’s exploded.    It’s a hysterical mix of nothing getting done because of a sick kid and Christmas decorating in progress.    As I sit in my office typing the only visible space on my desk is what’s required for the mouse.    Time for a deep breath.    (Insert audible inhale and exhale here.)

Am I the only one?   Doubtful.    I think we all need to take a deep breath and look at what we are doing for the holidays and what REALLY needs to be done.

I was reminded today Colbie Caillat’s song “Happy Christmas” what the holiday season is really supposed to be all about.    Giving, Caring, Sharing, Being Selfless, Friends and Family.     ( A huge shout out to the hubby who hooked me up with slew of Christmas music!)

I’m taking a minute to make a pledge.

I will not try to remake all of my cookies recipes Gluten Free this year.   I will pick one favorite and try a couple new  (and already tested) from other bloggers I love.

I will sit in front of the fire and read Christmas books daily with Grant.

I will search for a volunteer opportunity that we can do as a family.   It’s time for Grant to learn not everyone is as lucky as him.

I will make sure to take my Vitamin D every day to ward of the grumpiness from the grey.

I will slow down enough to enjoy the magic of the holidays through the eyes of my son.

I could go on and on.    But putting it out there for the world sort of helps hold you accountable.   If you don’t hear from me quite as often this month, you’ll know why .

My Challenge for you this week is a simple one.   Slow down and ENJOY the holiday season this week (and beyond!)   A family snuggle in front of the tree with egg nog anyone?

© Alicia Myers Leifheit and FoodisaJourney.com, 2012. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Alicia Myers Leifheit and FoodisaJourney.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Persimmons & Pomegranate – Oh My!

You probably remember that when I challenged you to “eat something scary” that  I had persimmons ripening on my counter and was a little scared of them.    I’m a bit behind in reporting back and got a gentle nudge (thanks Michelle) to give you my thoughts.

Let me tell you – there is NOTHING about these little beauties to be afraid of!

My friend, Jeannie, told me just to let them ripen to a bright orange, then peel and eat.  That’s exactly what I did.

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These are beautiful, sweet fruit and not at all what I expected.    I guess because it sort of looked like a tomato, I expected the internal structure to be more like one too.   Nope!    The texture is more like  a plum (but no pit).   And my oh, my are they juicy!

The next day I was visiting my favorite grocery store, Central Market, and what caught my eye?  The latest issue of Edible Seattle with a persimmon on the cover!

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I try desperately not to buy magazines any more because I rarely get them read, and I have a small (ok – huge) issue when it comes to send food magazines to the recycling bin.    There might be a recipe I need…..

This article brought me up to speed on the persimmon.   The fruit’s tree  is native to Japan, but has become popular in the pacific northwest.     Hmm, I could grown one in my backyard (I can hear my hubby groaning).   They are several  varieties – Fuyu (what I had) and Hachiya  being the most popular in the US.    Most are seedless but not all.

Fun note:   Although not there yet, it seems most back issues of edible Seattle  are available online.
www.edibleseattle.com

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When I got both persimmons and pomegranate in last week’s farm box, I had a feeling it might be a yummy combo.   Don’t you just love it when you’re right?  I do, and I certainly was this time.   The tangy bitterness of the pomegranate plays wonderfully off the sweetness of the persimmon.

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And can you say GEORGEOUS?  I love food as pretty as it is tasty.   This goes on my must have list.
No more fear of persimmons!

© Alicia Myers Leifheit and FoodisaJourney.com, 2012. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Alicia Myers Leifheit and FoodisaJourney.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Parmesan Roasted Cauliflower

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It’s hard not to like this simple dish.    It’s even won over a few cauliflower “haters” I know.   It works just as well for a weeknight dinner as it will Thanksgiving and is easy to double or triple the recipe.   I can’t tell you how well it reheats, there’s never been any left to find out.

Parmesan Roasted Cauliflower

1 head cauliflower – chopped into 1 to 1.5 inch florets
Olive Oil (for coating – 1 or 2 tbsps)
Garlic Powder
Sea Salt
Fresh Ground Black Pepper
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan or Romano cheese

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.   In a 8×8 glass Pyrex dish toss the cauliflower and the olive oil.   Sprinkle with garlic powder, salt and pepper.    Roast for 20 – 30 minutes or until tender and starting to brown.    Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and roast for an additional 7-10 minutes until cheese is melted but not crunchy.   Serve warm.

© Alicia Myers Leifheit and FoodisaJourney.com, 2012. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Alicia Myers Leifheit and FoodisaJourney.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Let’s Veg Out on Thanksgiving

Oh, if only I wasn’t talking about food…  but alas, I am.

Earlier this week I talked about changing up your Thanksgiving menu.  Here are some of the yummy things I’ve been testing for my contribution of side dishes.

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This is the Wild Rice, Fruit & Pecan Stuffing that I had mentioned.   It’s not my recipe – I stumbled across it and OMG and I glad I did!   This stuff is WONDERFUL!    Crunchy, sweet,  nutty…. it’s a downright party in your mouth.    It’s SO good no one will even care that it’s healthy!

A couple of notes:
1.   This has the recipe wonderful benefit of never having to see the oven and can be partially prepped the day before.

2.   Wild Rice takes a long time to cook and different brands cook differently.    Make it ahead (it reheats great) and plan to babysit it a bit unless you already know how the brand you are using will cook.

3.   You may want to make a double batch(or second if you don’t have a big enough pan to double).   This stuff will go really fast.  And if not, aren’t leftovers the best part of thanksgiving?

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This is my yummy Parmesan Roasted Cauliflower.   Simple and easily multipliable.   It doesn’t look like much, I should have put it in a pretty bowl, but trust me it’s great.   Glenn would never eat cauliflower before and now even asks for seconds!

I’ll leave you with a few more delicious things that have hit my inbox this week.    Watch this weekend for Cranberry recipes yet to come.

Here are some other great recipes to try…

Vegetarian Thanksgiving  – Take Part

Brussels Sprout Salad with Red Onion and Pecorino  – Not With Out Salt
(Brussels Sprouts are still on my “Scary” list and this still looks good!   I’ll have to try it after we get back from Thanksgiving!

Sweet Potato Casserole (Grain Free / Paleo) –  Deliciously Organic

A Grain Free Thanksgiving – Against all Grain
I really want to go to her house for Thanksgiving!  Great recipes for every course!

Holiday Recipe Guide – Klesick’s Family Farm

And some resources:

EWG’s Healthy Thanksgiving Guide

10 Ways to Healthify  Your Thanksgiving, Stay Sane and Eat Like Royalty  – Fooducate

© Alicia Myers Leifheit and FoodisaJourney.com, 2012. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Alicia Myers Leifheit and FoodisaJourney.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Challenge #4 – Cleaning Up Thanksgiving Dinner

A lot will be different for us this Thanksgiving.    It’s the first time we’ve had to fly instead of drive.   It’s our first year with Grant & I being gluten-free.    And, it’s the first year I’ve really pushed to clean up the Thanksgiving menu.    It’s a lot – and honestly it’s feeling that way.

scan0001It’s hard dealing with food allergies and different ways of eating when you travel, let alone over the holidays.    It’s takes research, organization and planning.

I had a sense of dread about even mentioning changing up my contribution  (veggies) to the Thanksgiving meal.    I’ve done Thanksgiving just about every year since I’ve been married with my husband’s family.    My first Thanksgiving with them I made Green Bean Casserole (the one with cream of mushroom soup and durkee onions) and Broccoli Casserole ( broccoli topped with velveeta, butter and ritz crackers) and have every year since.    It’s what I ate every Thanksgiving growing up.    Last year I made it a little better by moving to organic soup and crackers, but I knew it wasn’t the best option.

This year I knew I couldn’t do it.    It’s food that I know I can’t eat.  My body won’t tolerate all the additives and preservatives.    Both dishes also contain gluten, another no-no.    But it had become tradition, and I wasn’t sure if change would be embraced.

I started with an email to my mother-in-law asking about why we never had sweet potatoes and mentioned that I was thinking of changing up the veggies.     The sense of relief that I felt when she wrote back “I think it would be great to change it up” was enormous.  We’re still working back and forth to finalize some details, but here’s what it looks like we’ll be having:

  • Roasted Cauliflower w/parmesan cheese
  • Italian Style Roasted Zucchini (because Grant LOVES it)
  • Butternut Squash
  • Fresh Cranberry Sauce
  • Wild Rice, Fruit & Pecan Stuffing

(I’ll be posting  recipes yet this week)

I was also pleasantly surprised when I got an email from my mother-in-law saying that after reading my Facebook post (Food Babe: Toxins vs. Tradition – if you didn’t read it you need to! ) she went and sourced a local turkey!     Woo – Hoo!

Sometimes to make the change, all you have to do is be brave enough to propose it.

So I ask you, even it’s it’s one little thing, how can you make your Thanksgiving a little “cleaner” this year?   I’ll look forward to knowing your plans.

© Alicia Myers Leifheit and FoodisaJourney.com, 2012. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Alicia Myers Leifheit and FoodisaJourney.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Tuesdays and a Box of Good

DSC_3889Tuesday has become my favorite day of the week.    And yes, it has something to do with food.    I get my farm box, my “Box of Good”, delivered to  my door step at some point during the day.    I’m sort of like a kid waiting for Santa.   Is it here yet?   Is it here yet?  I drive Grant crazy on Tuesdays.

My “Box of Good” is just that, a box packed full of all of the best organic and GMO free produce  that’s in season provided by the wonderful folks at Klesick Family Farm.

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We we moved to Washington last winter, I had an angel guiding me to these folks.    I’ve used and loved traditional CSAs and the past but Klesick’s has taken it a step further to give you tons of flexibility AND they deliver.   That so totally ROCKS!

But when I think about it, I think I love the people behind this food as much as the food itself.   Tristan, the owner, has a passion for what he does.    He’s part of the change in the food movement.    The group of people at the farm have the same beliefs about food that I do – that it should be organic, GMO free and REAL.    It feels really good to know that the people providing my food agree with me.  It’s empowering and my  “Box of Good” is a weekly inspiration.

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How pretty is this!

So my wish for each of you is to find your own farmer.     Here are some resources to help you get started.

Finding a CSA
(What is a CSA?  Community Supported Agriculture.  You buy into a portion of the farm for the season and the farm provides you with a weekly share of what  is produced.   Prices vary depending on area of the country – as will the produce provided.)

Now is actually a great time to start researching CSAs as many start selling shares in January and February.

Local Harvest – searchable database for farms, CSAs, farmers markets and all things organic close to home.

Eat Well Guide  – searchable CSA database

How to Find & Join a CSA – great article with all the questions you should ask yourself before joining.

And don’t hesitate to ask around at your local farmers market.    A lot of these people run their own CSAs.  If they don’t, they  most likely know who you should talk to.

p.s.   No promotional fee has been paid for this post.  I just really believe in them and what they do.   If you would happen to sign up with Klesick’s,  I do get a free bag of coffee. 😉

©Alicia Myers Leifheit and FoodisaJourney.com, 2012. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Alicia Myers Leifheit and FoodisaJourney.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.