The gratification one gets from creating a fresh, warm, comforting loaf of bread from scratch is one of indescribable measure.
Amazingly hard working yeasts, fluffy flour, sweet maple syrup, soothing oats, and a little salt of the earth are the basic ingredients in one of the culinary delights of man. Combine these with the raw element of hand mixing, kneading, and rolling the dough, and one feels like a true creator.
Slicing into the bread yields a gentle puff of steam and a whiff of that insanely delicious fresh bread smell. One taste makes your mind stop for a moment to enjoy this simple pleasure of life. Ahhh, and this is the end result of your love, patience, and hard work.
To try your hand at bread baking simply follow the recipe written on the back of a King Arthur bread flour bag, or you can check out their website at http://www.kingarthurflour.com/. They are a great resource for all things baking.
Bread is easy to make. It just takes a little love and patience.
Baking bread from scratch, and I mean no bread makers or Kitchen Aids, is something that everyone should try at least once. The main issues are to make sure your yeast is alive and fresh, that the water you use to dissolve the yeast in is the proper temperature, and that you have patience.
After you mix the ingredients you have to knead the dough by hand for about 10 minutes, or until it becomes as smooth as a baby's bum. Then you let it rest and rise. Next you may have to punch it down and knead it again or simply shape it into a loaf and put it in your bread pan.
Then you let it rest and rise. Once it has risen about two inches over your loaf pan it is ready to bake.
Don't be scared of the dough. Just follow the directions, experiment, release some stress, and most of all have fun!
There are many products on the market that are pre-made for our convenience and budget, but not for our health. These foods generally contain preservatives, food colorings, added salt and sugars, low quality ingredients and many other miscellaneous additives in order to make them tasty and inexpensive.
Most of these pre-made foods are actually quite easy to prepare, and all it takes is little bit of time, initiative, and knowledge. So, let me educate you on some common pre-made foods that are incredibly ease to make and will leave your body, tastebuds, and wallet happy.
Store bought salad dressing is a common item that I see at many friends and families homes. Have you ever stopped to look at the ingredients label in one of these?
One commercial raspberry hazelnut vinaigrette had the following ingredients in it: water, raspberry juice, soybean and olive oil, sugar, corn syrup, vinegar, salt, hazelnuts, onion powder, xanthum gum, sodium benzoate, sorbic acid, calcium disodium EDTA, propylene glycol alginate, citric acid, caramel powder, natural flavor, red #40 and blue #1.
Do you really want to be eating this stuff when you can make your own at home with all natural ingredients?
There are many recipes available on the Internet but one recipe for this dressing is as simple as mixing olive oil, a vinegar, and raspberry jam. Salad dressing is silly simple to make. The Italians simply dress a salad with a good quality extra virgin olive oil and sea salt, and I must say that it is divine.
Basically salad dressing is made with olive oil, a vinegar, maybe Dijon mustard or lemon juice, spices, and a pinch of sugar. Why ingest chemicals to save a few minutes?
Another item I see in a lot of pantries is pre-made trail mix which contains added sugar and salt, food coloring, artificial flavors, and even added oils. Save your body and make your own by purchasing the ingredients separately, from bulk bins at the grocery store, and mixing them together.
It takes a couple more minutes, but you can make a big batch and it will keep for a while. Try mixing nuts, dried fruits, seeds, and high quality chocolate chips for the sweet tooth. Simple and healthy.
I could blog for days on make your own pre-made foods, but that is another project. There are many recipes available on line for easy to make foods such as hummus, pesto, salsa, spaghetti sauce, pizza, hot cocoa, granola, frosting, and cake just to name a few.
I hope to one day have a searchable database on this subject. Until then, feel free to email any questions you have regarding recipes for pre-made foods and I will be happy to help.
One of my favorite ways to celebrate love (on Valentine’s Day or any day!) is by creating sensual and tantalizing treats to indulge in. Think rich chocolate sauce, fresh whipped cream, gooey caramel, a plethora of juicy ripe fruits and (if you really want to explore the senses) a blindfold.
With a partner or on your own, you can go on an adventure of the senses when you take away the dominant sense of sight. Touching, smelling and tasting these simple treats can be turned into an exotic feast right in the comfort of your home.
Here are some delicious vegan recipes to get your sensual tantalizing taste adventure started:
Vegan Dark Chocolate Sauce: Whisk together ½ cup cocoa powder, ½ cup room temp maple syrup (add more if you want the sauce sweeter) with ¼ cup melted extra virgin coconut oil. Keep at room temp. If you refrigerate it will harden up a bit.
Coconut Whipped Cream: take one can of full fat coconut milk and place in the fridge overnight (can also sub coconut cream). The next day scoop out the thickened cream (save water/milk for smoothie) into a chilled bowl. With an electric beater, beat the cream until thick and fluffy. Add vanilla or almond extract to taste along with organic confectionary sugar to sweeten.
Vegan Salted Caramel Sauce: In a saucepan over medium heat combine 1/2 cup coconut (or brown) sugar with ¼ teaspoon salt and ¼ cup almond milk. Cook until the sugar dissolves then increase the heat to medium high and bring it to a boil. Stir often until the mix thickens but is still gooey. Remove from heat and stir in 1 Tablespoon Earth Balance butter or melted coconut oil and a ½ teaspoon vanilla.
Put each of these sauces into small bowls and serve with fresh ripe fruit such as strawberries, cherries, apples, pears, and mango. You can also have pieces of brownies, vanilla pound cake, or angel food cake available to dip into the sauces.
Use your fingers instead of toothpicks so you can feel the variety of textures and truly explore your senses. Indulge, experience, enjoy and celebrate the sensuality and beauty of love.
Here is a list of the basics needed to cook up delicious and nutritious plant based meals:
GRAINS: Brown rice, wild rice, rolled oats, quinoa, cornmeal, buckwheat grouts and flour, spelt or whole wheat flour; moderate use of whole-grain pasta, soba noodles, rice noodles, couscous, bulgur.
LEGUMES: Dried, low-sodium preservative free canned, frozen or fresh - black beans, kidney beans, pinto beans, garbanzo beans, white/navy beans, adzuki beans, green beans, wax beans, lima beans, lentils, split peas, sweet peas, sugar snap peas, snow peas, edamame.
NUTS AND SEEDS: Unsalted and raw nuts - walnuts, almonds, brazil nuts, cashews, peanuts, pecans, pistachios. Unsalted and raw seeds - sunflower, pumpkin, flax, sesame.
SPECIALTY FOODS: Preservative free coconut milk, pure peanut or almond butter (no hydrogenated oils, sugar, or preservatives added), capers, olives, artichoke hearts, sundried tomatoes, unsulphured dried fruits - apricots, figs, raisins, dates, prunes.
OILS, CONDIMENTS, AND SEASONINGS: Extra virgin olive oil for drizzling or dressings, olive oil for cooking, sesame oil, flax oil, safflower oil, coconut oil, vinegars - balsamic/white wine/red wine/rice/apple cider/white, nama shoyu/tamari, tahini, maple syrup/agave nectar, nutritional yeast, dijon mustard.
HERBS AND SPICES: Sea salt, black pepper, cumin, cayenne, crushed red pepper flakes, paprika, ground coriander, curry powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, ground cloves, dry and fresh ginger root, cardamom, dill, rosemary, basil, oregano, thyme, parsley, garlic, onion.
FRUIT: Seasonal fresh or frozen fruits to your liking - apples, avocados, pears, bananas, oranges, mandarins, grapefruit, berries, peaches, plums, kiwi, pineapple, mango, melon, grapes, etc. Keep a fresh supply for quick snacks. Also, good to have on hand are lemons and limes for cooking with their juices.
VEGETABLES: Items used often- green onions, potatoes - red/yukon/russet/sweet, bell peppers, carrots, celery, tomatoes, greens - mixed lettuce/arugula/chard/kale/spinach, fresh herbs - parsley/basil/mint/cilantro/rosemary. Keep a fresh supply of local, seasonal vegetables for your meals. Mix it up and try to get a good variety in your diet - broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, squash, mushrooms, seaweeds. cucumber, eggplant, brussel sprouts, radishes, beets, asparagus, leeks.
Most grocery stores and even super Target and Wal-Mart are carrying organic and high quality foods now. And surprisingly you can get gourmet foods at places like TJ Maxx, Home Goods, Marshalls, and Job Lots. Happy shopping!
Tonight I decided to end my last Wednesday of 2016 with an auspicious and adventurous meal.
I scanned through my favorite raw food recipe book, "Raw Food for Everyone" by Alissa Cohen and decided upon a dish called Buddha Bowl. Buddha is the enlightened one so I thought maybe this meal would bring me some good luck and enlightenment in the new year. Wishful thinking!
The dish consists of what Cohen considers a broth of dates, fresh ginger, scallions, jalapeno chili, garlic, and coconut milk (its consistency did not remind me of broth but rather of a thick creamy sauce) and a variety of mixed fruits and vegetables that are tossed into the broth.
Produce such as ripe mango, avocado, daikon, carrots, spouted mung beans, bok choy, snow peas, and fresh herbs were included. I took her basic recipe and cut down the amounts in the broth, deleted the jalapeno chili and added red chili pepper flakes, and used sugar snap peas instead of snow peas (which was not a good idea because sugar snap peas are too fibrous raw).
The dish looked lovely and tasted good, but really did not speak to me. I realized that as much as I enjoy raw desserts year round, I do not enjoy raw meals in the winter in New England. So, I decided to be creative and cook this meal instead.
I heated some oil in a stir-fry pan and added the cut up daikon, carrots, sprouted mung beans, bok choy leaves, sugar snap peas (much better cooked!), mint, and cilantro. I left out the mango and avocado all together and added baby spinach.
This stir-fried for a few minutes, then I added the original broth mixture along with peanut butter and cayenne. The result was much more to my liking. The warm, lightly cooked food felt better in my body and I really enjoyed the added peanut flavor.
Tonight's meal reminded me to listen to the needs of my tastebuds AND my body. I used a recipe as a guideline but added my own creativity and a little adventure to create something that was delicious and nourishing.
In this new year I hope you experience good luck, nourishement, and adventure in the kitchen as well as in every part of your life. Get creative, have fun, listen to your body and COOK, COOK, COOK!
This blog is an exploration of life, love, adventure and art primarily through the medium of food.