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Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Baking bread: Whole Wheat and Oat

I love homemade bread. Back in the day, I used my bread machine A LOT. My bread machine has since gone to the big appliance graveyard. Burned out the motor finally. The great thing about making bread is you don't need a bread machine. Does make the process a no-brainer, but anyone with a sturdy stand mixer can make bread. If you want to build burly arms, you can even knead it by hand. I'll stick to my stand mixer for this chore, thank you.

This is a 100% whole grain recipe: white whole wheat and rolled oats. Lots of fiber and a good wheat-y flavor. The oats keep it moist. It has a close grain and slices well, making it good for sandwiches. Not too dense though. That can be an issue with whole grain recipes - they resemble bricks.

I like to use white whole wheat, which is readily available in supermarkets now. It has a lighter color and a sweeter flavor. Many 100% whole wheat breads have a lot of added sugar to compensate for the slightly bitter flavor of "regular" whole wheat. Using white wheat means you can get away with less added sugar.

This recipe makes two loaves. Don't eat bread that fast? Wrap the second loaf well in plastic and stash in the freezer. Bread freezes beautifully. Keep it wrapped up as it thaws on the counter to prevent drying out.

Whole Wheat and Oat Bread
(makes 2 1½ pound loaves)

2 Tablespoons sugar or honey
1 ¼ cups lukewarm water
1 ¼ cups lukewarm milk (skim to whole, your choice)
1 Tablespoon instant or bread machine yeast (use 1 ½ Tablespoons at sea level)
5 ½ oz. rolled oats
24-27 oz. whole wheat flour, preferably white whole wheat
2 teaspoons salt
1 large egg
¼ cup vegetable oil

Combine the sugar, water, milk, yeast, and oats in the bowl of a stand mixer. Let stand for 5 minutes. Using the mixer blade, mix in the remaining ingredients. Start with 24 oz. of flour. Mix for 3 minutes. If the dough is very sticky, add another ounce of flour and mix some more. Repeat as needed. Too sticky is when you poke it, and the dough sticks to your fingers. The oats and the flour take a while to absorb the moisture, so be patient. It may not form a nice ball at this stage. You should err on the side of a bit too much moisture than too little.

Scrape off the mixer blade and replace with the dough hook. Knead for 5 minutes. Let rest for 5 minutes, covered with a dish towel. Remove the towel and knead for another 5 minutes.

Turn the dough out into a large oiled bowl. Cover with a towel, place in a warm, draft-free place, and let rise until tripled in volume. This could take 1 ½ hours or it could take 45 minutes. It depends on the temperature of your kitchen. Punch down. Divide into two equal pieces. Shape into two 9"x4" loaf (they will be rather flat at this stage). Place in two loaf pans.

I don't usually grease the pans because I've never had bread stick. As a precaution, you can spray the pans with non-stick cooking spray.

Cover loaves with a dish towel and allow to rise until about doubled in volume. The dough should come up to the edge of the pan. Again, the time will depend on the temperature of your kitchen.

Bake in a preheated 350°F oven for 45 minutes until nicely browned. The best way to confirm it is done is with an instant-read thermometer. The bread should have an internal temperature of 190°F. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 5 minutes. Remove from pans and let it cool completely before attempting to slice. Though, this can be pretty hard to do because the bread will smell incredible.

Adapted from

Monday, December 14, 2015

Trader Joe's Flavored Olive Oil Sale

Oil: looks like a Christmas tradition at Trader Joe's. Since this is only the second Christmas season we've had a Trader Joe's, I can't say for sure. I'm hoping they keep doing it every December, because just like last year, this is a great deal.

You get three flavored extra-virgin olive oils for $9.99. Each bottle is 250 ml, which is not too much to use up before next year's sale rolls around. :-)

The flavors are:

  1. Hot Pepper EVOO: flavored with chiles. Trader Joe's says good for bread dipping, eggs, and steak. I say good on chicken, pork, fish, and veggies too!
  2. Lemon EVOO: I love lemon flavored olive oil. I have been buying it for years. It's great mixed into a vinaigrette, though I usually cut it 50/50 with unflavored olive oil. Also delicious on chicken, fish, seafood, or veggies. Or as a dip for bread, drizzled on hummus.
  3. Rosemary EVOO: Add anywhere you want a boost of rosemary. Obviously, roast chicken and pork immediately come to mind. Trader Joe's says drizzle on pasta, then add black pepper, salt, and some grated cheese. That sounds good to me!
Here's the entry in the Trader Joe's flyer on these oils:

Last year's nut oil collection is available now too, but the price isn't quite as good at $14.99.

Monday, December 7, 2015

Tis the season for pumpkin, pumpkin pancakes

Is everything pumpkin this time of year? Seems so. Last month's Trader Joe's flyer was pages of pumpkin. Why not jump on the bandwagon?

This is a tasty way to use up part of a can of pumpkin puree, something that I find shows up in my fridge this time of year. Again, my pancakes are not very sweet. You can serve them with maple syrup or honey to sweeten them up.

You can also use pumpkin pie spice instead of the separate spices in the recipe, if you have that in your pantry. Use 1 Tablespoon to replace the cinnamon, ginger, allspice, and cloves.

You don't need to add the granola (see photo below), but it adds some nice crunch. I like using Nature's Path Pumpkin-Flax Granola but you can use whatever granola you have, including my recipe made with some pumpkin seeds. :-)

Don't crowd these pancakes because that makes them harder to flip

Pumpkin Pancakes
(serves 5-6)

Dry Ingredients
2 cups flour (can use 1 cup all purpose and 1 cup whole wheat pastry flour)
1 teaspoon baking powder*
¾ teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground ginger
¼ teaspoon allspice
¼ teaspoon cloves

Wet Ingredients
2 eggs
2 Tablespoons vegetable oil or melted butter
2 Tablespoons packed brown sugar
½ cup pumpkin puree
2 cups low fat buttermilk

oil for greasing griddle
about 1 cup pumpkin seed granola (optional)

Combine all the dry ingredients in a medium bowl.

In a large bowl, beat together the eggs, fat, and brown sugar until smooth. Mix in the pumpkin puree and buttermilk. Stir in the dry ingredients until the flour is incorporated with the wet ingredients. Some small lumps are OK.

Heat a well-seasoned or non-stick griddle over medium heat. Brush lightly with vegetable oil. Use a scant ¼ cup for each pancake, spreading out the batter to a 4" circle. It's fairly thick so it doesn't spread much on its own. Sprinkle on about 1 Tablespoon of granola, if desired. Don't crowd them in the pan. They can be tricky to flip. Flip when the bottom is nicely browned and the edges have set. Repeat greasing and pancake-making until batter is gone. Serve hot with maple syrup or honey. They are best hot from the griddle, like all pancakes. But if you find you have extra, they can be refrigerated and reheated, either in the oven at 300°F or in the microwave.

* This is the proper amount for Boulder elevation, about a mile high. If you live at sea level, use 1½ teaspoons baking powder. The amount of baking soda does not need to be adjusted.