From harvest to table ~ what's cooking now?

This blog shows where all those garden goodies I grow end up. I call this little eating area next to the stove my "chef's table" because at all the best restaurants it's a privilege to be invited to dine in the kitchen where the chef reigns supreme. So here I am "reigning" and you are all invited. :-D

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Steamed up

Yes, another spelt sourdough post.  So sue me. LOL

Like the last batch I used the same flour combination.  And, since I'd gotten a higher rise on the loaf that I'd covered, I bought another loaf pan so I could cover both loaves this time.

I did something new this time (hence the seemingly redundant post).  I took and misted the inside of the lids AND the top of the dough before covering and putting them in the oven.

I've read that steam changes the texture of a crust, helps create those flaky little steam blisters.

I didn't know if just covering the loaves with another tin would actually keep any of the steam inside.

Another thing I did was not UNcover the loaves with 10 minutes left to bake.  That way the crust wouldn't get as toasted as the last batch.

When I pulled out the loaves I was surprised to see steam escape!  Nice. The lids DID keep moisture in.

And just look at that rise.  Sure the crust burst, but not out of the side, just the top.  I also like the bottom crust better now that I'm not just greasing the tins with coconut oil, but dusting them with rice flour.  

The loaves sliced better this time as the upper crust wasn't has hard due to the steam.  Instead it's thinner and more flexible.

The bottom pic shows this current batch (left - covered/misted) versus the last batch (right - covered/not misted).  You can't miss the difference.  Now I can enjoy an even bigger sandwiches!  :-D

Okay, okay.  Enough sourdough bread posts.  Unless I try something else new.  

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Saturday, April 16, 2016

This product SUX!

And I'm lovin' it!  I am tired of sucking air through a straw when I prep things in zipper bags for freezing.

I remember way back I used to have a Seal-a-Meal freezer bag sealer maybe 20 years ago.  Don't know what ever happened to it.

There is a lot of hype about the Food Saver brand.  I checked them out.  KA-CHING!  Then I found out Seal-a-Meal is still around and is now also vac/sealing.  But I couldn't locate one locally and I HATE buying stuff sight unseen online.

Walmart had a Ziploc brand vac/seal.  Priced about $50 and bag/rolls for $15, I decided to see what's what.

No on/off button.  Simple instructions.  But how did I know when it was ready to use.  I called the 800# and got straight away to a VERY nice rep about the unit.  We chatted for over 10 minutes: how to use mine, how she uses hers, tips for freezing liquid items, little tricks with the unit, etc.  Basically while I'd already bought the product, she SOLD me ON the product, if you know what I mean.  I felt good about it.

Anyway, I had a turkey to break down.  The bones/gell where frozen in regular Ziploc gallon bags for later broth making.  Some of the meat put in the fridge for weekend consumption.  The rest I portioned out in sandwich bags, then stuffed them in 2 of the 3 sample bags provided with the unit.  Nice tough bags.

Took a couple of tries to get the lid locked down (she said it would be hard at first since the rubber gaskets would be stiff when new), but after that, I pressed the button, the indicators lit up, suction happend, stopped, then sealed.  

Niiiiiiiiice.   

Looking forward to other large prep cooking for freezer and the upcoming veg harvest later in the season.

Hopefully, no more freezer burn/frostbite on even the double-bagged foods (like pic #3 - chickpeas). 

Nope, pic #4 from now on.

Here I am, finally in the 21st century.

Nice thing is, I can open the sealed bags, pull out food (pre-portioned in sandwich bags or just loose veg, etc) then RE-SEAL the bags.  Gotta love that.

How about you?  Do you have a vac/seal?  Which kind, do you use it often, do you like it and getting your bang for the buck?

Any tips you'd like to share?  I'm all ears.... 

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Experiments:  Watched some YouTube showing how folks use regular baggies to vacuum pack items.  Trick is to use the removed 'zipper' as a channel allowing the air to be vacuumed out.  There are always food items that I would like to use this little trick on:

Here's what I tried.   

1st. Took a couple time to realize that I needed to use only one side of the zipper, else it's too thick to melt/seal.  Took a couple tries but sealed up some extra carrots.

2nd.  How about banana?  Sometimes I only need half today, half tomorrow.  Let's see how it stores in the fridge vac'd.

3rd.  The REAL test.  Avocado.  This things start browning real fast left to their own devices.  Will be watching this one closely.

Notice the zipper strips in the bags.  The strips have to reach down and touch the foods and extend out past the top of the bag.  Gotta love YouTube.   

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Monday, April 4, 2016

Flour power

I used to think flour was flour.  How much difference could a brand make?

Take my journey into sourdough spelt bread.  I've always used Bob's Red Mill wholegrain spelt.  I mix it with some sifted (white) organic spelt from Small Valley Mills. I've made some good bread with this 60/40 mix (60/white 40/wholegrain).

There was sale on Arrowhead Mills wholegrain spelt.  Even marked down, though it was near 2ce the price of the Bob's Mill.  But I bought 4# to try anyway.  Does organic or brand make a difference?

Yesterday I made up 2 loaves using the Arrowhead mills.  Everything else was the same as the previous batch.  (I did, however, forget to add a vitC tablet.)

The dough stretched and folded the same as the previous batch.  Then I covered the 2 bowls overnight.  I was up at 2:30 for a bit so checked the bowls and saw that the folded dough had softened and spread out.  It was looking good. (7 hrs at that point)

At 7:00 a.m. (12 hours) both bowls had risen significantly!  The highest rise to date.  There were even bubble bumps! I dumped the bowls, folded the dough and filled 2 tins (slashing both tops).  I let them rise for another 1.25 hrs in a warmer oven (75F).  Again, they smoothed out and had more rise than previous batches.  And there were some bubble bumps again. (Note, this time I not only greased the tins with coconut oil, but powdered them with rice flour.)

Next, I popped them into a preheated 400F oven and, just for fun, I covered one of the tins with another tin, to simulate a dutch-oven effect.  Would it make any difference in the loaf?

After 35 minutes I took off the top tin and let both loaves go for another 10 minutes.  There.  Done.  And gee. The top tin DID make a difference! Instead of the side blowing out like the uncovered loaf, the covered one rose up from the middle.  And got higher.

When sliced, both loaves showed way more air pockets than previous loaves (lower right) and was much more springy.  Flavor was excellent (although no more excellent than previous batches; Remona is a mature starter and full of flavor).

So it goes to show.  Change things up.  Try to approaches. Keep 'experimenting'.  

Now I have to figure out if I want to pay 2ce as much for wholegrain spelt.  Also, I see that Small Valley Milling has an organic 'bread' spelt flour.  I'm going to have to check that out too.

Meanwhile, *munch* *munch* someone pass that butter!

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