Photo: Great grandparents at their farm in Blandinsville, IL, with five of their six children .. my grandpa was yet a twinkle in grandma's eye. Stable boy and governess also pictured. Hodges farm, circa 1903-4

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Mystery ice cream flavor revealed:

Name: Winning name suggestion ... Banana Float (submitted by Patrick)

Ingredients: half and half, whole milk, sugar, rennet, ripe banana, birch (or root) beer extract.

The double blind fold test came back: Successful flavor! Good color, texture, taste, aroma!

Recipe: Makes 1/2 gallon

3 Junket (brand) rennet tablets
2 tablespoons cold water
3 cups of whole milk
2 cups of half and half (or heavy cream if you want to fatten your thighs ;)
1 cup of sugar
2 teaspoons birch or root beer extract
1 soft/ripe banana (no brown bruises please;)

Directions are here using the standard vanilla recipe .. of course substituting root beer for vanilla flavoring. Add a well smashed banana to the mixture during the last ten minutes of hand crank or electric freezing.

Inspiration: As a child I favored the banana and root beer freezer pops often eating one bite of banana followed by one bite of root beer. The mixture of flavors is quite good.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Scientific experimentations have been going on in The Thrifty/Garden Home's test kitchen

yesterday and today. Starting off with a new recipe for Italian bread (akin to French bread ;) .. , mystery flavored ice cream (I have to do a double blind test on a few lab rats ... ahem, I mean family and neighbors before I reveal this flavor) ... could be a hit with Ben and Jerry if the mystery is revealed too soon .. and I don't want to give them reason to worry about competition ;) ... chocolate zucchini bread, peach butter, peach pie fillings, and something else that will come to mind later (I'm sure). I'll let you know what flipped and what flopped. Pictures, recipes and results to follow. Oh, IT came to mind before hitting 'publish' ... a big jar of refrigerator (Claussen type) pickles.

Pics: Mrs. Mac's kitchen 'pretties' , a few lovable 'lab rats', the experimentation chair.

Friday, August 14, 2009

It's been a while since I've had to purchase bread. Once I got into the routine of making a few loaves each week, even sticking some in the freezer for an emergency, it's been rather nice to offer my family some home baked goods. Even forcing me to find the time .. but, I have to admit, the stuff off the sprawlmart shelves can't compare. Here's another recipe I've been perfecting .. and can make with ease after a few go-arounds.

The same bread book that is mentioned in this post was used. If you don't want to make the bread the old fashioned way (by hand), you can use a stand mixer with a dough hook to do the kneading, or tweak the recipe to use in your bread machine (see below).

Challah Bread .. makes two loaves

4-1/2 to 5-1/2 cups unsifted flour
2 tablespoons sugar
1-1/2 teaspoons salt
1 package active dry yeast (about 2-1/4 teaspoons)
1/3 cup softened butter*
pinch of saffron
1 cup very warm tap water
4 eggs (at room temperature)
1 teaspoon cold water
1/4 teaspoon poppy seeds (optional)

In a large bowl thoroughly mix 1-1/4 cups flour, sugar, salt, and the dry active yeast. Add the butter.

Dissolve the saffron in very warm tap water. Gradually add to dry ingredients and beat two minutes at medium speed of electric mixer (I used a hand mixer (Kitchenaid) with just one beater), scraping bowl occasionally. Add 3 eggs, 1 egg white (reserve yolk for later use), and 1/2 cup flour. Beat at high speed two minutes, scraping bowl occasionally. Stir in enough additional flour to make a soft dough. Turn out onto lightly floured board; knead until smooth and elastic, about eight to ten minutes. Place in greased bowl, turning to grease top. Cover; let rise in warm place, free from draft, until doubled in bulk, about 1 hour.

Punch dough down; turn out onto lighly floured board. Divide in half. Divide each half into 2 pieces, one about 1/3 of dough and the other about 2/3 of dough. Divide larger piece into 3 equal pieces (you're going to be braiding ladies/gentlemen). Roll each piece into a 12-inch rope. Braid the ropes together; pinch ends to seal. Divide the smaller piece into 3 equal pieces. Roll each piece into a 10-inch rope. Braid the ropes together; place on top of large braid. Seal braids together at ends. Place on greased baking sheet. Repeat with remaining dough to form second loaf.

(recipe makes two large loaves of double stacked, braided bread .. with that picture in mind, it's not all that hard to make this recipe .. see photo of unbaked bread)

Beat together remaining egg yolk and 1 teaspoon cold water; brush loaves with egg mixture. Sprinkle with poppy seed. Let rise in a warm place, free from draft, until double in bulk, about 1 hour. (a closed oven with no heat will work).

Bake at 400 F, 18-25 minutes, or until done. Remove from baking sheets and cool on wire rack.

The taste and texture is similar to a croissant roll .. just not as buttery rich. Makes delicious toast and good sandwiches.

Here's a challah bread recipe I've adapted for the bread machine.

3/4 cup water
3 eggs
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons sugar
3-3/4 cups of unsifted (bread) flour
1-1/2 teaspoons rapid rise yeast
1/4 cup butter (cut into chunks)*

either make this single loaf dough and bake as directed above or bake at a medium setting following your bread machine directions.

*since challah bread is a Jewish egg bread, the original recipe called for using margarine .. which is kosher ... I'm not fond of margarine .. and am not Jewish nor kosher .. so prefer butter ;)

Sunday, August 09, 2009

Potato Bread

Last week a friend left a comment asking for my potato bread recipe.

This recipe is adapted from a booklet titled: Fleischmann's Bake-it-easy Yeast Book (printed about 1972). It is a very good, detailed book ... my copy was published before 'rapid-rise' yeast and bread machines became so popular in the early 1990's ... it's worth scouting out online or at book sales.

Old-Fashioned Potato Loaves (makes two loaves)

1 medium potato
hot tap water
2 packages active dry yeast (equal to 4-1/2 teaspoons of traditional dry yeast)
2 tablespoons softened butter
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon salt (I use 2 teaspoons)
1 cup warm milk (105F-115F 40C - 45C)
6-1/2 to 7-1/2 cups unsifted flour (I use organic, unbromated, unbleached)

Peel and dice the potato ... boil in water to cover until tender, approximately 20 minutes; reserving liquid. Add hot tap water to potato liquid to make one cup; cool to warm (105F-115F. 40C to 45C) Mash potato; set aside.

Pour warm potato water into large warm bowl. Sprinkle in yeast; stir until dissolved. Add butter, sugar and salt. Stir in mashed potato, warm milk and three cups flour; beat until smooth. Stir in enough additional flour to make a stiff dough. Turn out onto lightly floured board; knead until smooth and elastic, about 8 to 10 minutes. Place in greased bowl, turning to grease top. Cover; let rise in warm place, free from draft, until doubled in bulk, about 35 minutes.

Punch dough down; turn over in bowl. cover and let rise again about 20 minutes.

Punch dough down. Turn out onto lightly floured board; divide in half. Roll each half to a 14 x 9 inch rectangle. Shape into loaves. Place in 2 greased 9 x 5 x 3 inch loaf pans. cover; let rise in warm place, free from draft, until doubled in bulk, about 50 minutes.

Dust loaves with flour. Bake at 375F (190C), 35 to 40 minutes, or until done. Remove from pans and cool on wire racks.

I actually enjoy kneading the dough ... it's great exercise for your hands and arms. Don't be shy .. give it a try without a bread machine/mixer with bread hook :) This is how our grandmother's kept their hands in good shape.

As you can see from my photo, I baked one loaf in a bread pan .. and the other I baked on a cookie sheet .. somehow my nice bread pans got misplaced when we moved and I am making do with what I have on hand.

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Filler Up ... (the freezer that is)

Winter is (well, not often talked about once the snow melts .. but is just around the bend) coming .. time to get the pantry, larder, and freezer stocked. Come winter, it's nice to be hunkered in as the snow piles up outside. Work from the summer months is stored away and only steps from the kitchen to prepare. Summer is a hectic season .. but winter brings much needed rest. We are in the process of stocking up for the coming months .. months without the backyard garden. Canned goods are being made .. veggies frozen .. berries preserved .. jams made .. all in preparation for winter. That time of year that warms the soul with good soup, good company, and more time to relax than in the summer.

How do you prepare for winter?