Friday, February 25, 2011

Recipe time!

     Being winter and all, baking has been a frequently occurring event for the Hoffman homestead.  Besides goodies ( mmmmm, goodies) there has been bread baking as well!  I never in a million years thought I would be able to bake all of our family's bread, but for more than a month now I have been doing just that!  Prior to this, we had been eating Giant eagle's light wheat bread, which lists an insane amount of fiber in its nutrition data (more than all those super chunky grainy breads even, which always made me think it must be a typo).  It was fairly healthy compared to many products, especially since two slices were a serving size and other breads are one slice = one serving.  Still, I found ingredients listed that I couldn't pick out in a crowd and knew that many were probably preservatives as that bread stayed fresh for a long time.  So, I embarked on a quest to find a recipe that met my general recipe criteria: very few ingredients, healthy ingredients, inexpensive ingredients, easy to make, will actually be eaten by my family.
     I fiddled around with different concoctions, tweaking as I went and this is what I have come up with so far.  Here's the thing with making big changes, it is best done incrementally for me.  So, at first I baked bread for a treat, still using store bought bread for sandwiches until I found a recipe that met my demands.  I started off with a mostly white bread and substituted whole wheat more and more until I got to a point where the bread still sliced well for children's sandwiches and didn't weigh 12 pounds.   Now, I know I could go more wheaty, and most likely will as time goes on, but currently I am satisfied with this ratio because it allows me to make a bread without added oils (although I typically add a mist of olive oil to the crust) and 1/2 tsp. sugar per loaf.  That is great.  We eat all whole grain pasta, brown rice, oats, etc... so we do routinely get other whole grains in our diet.  I may try using honey instead of sugar next time and see how that goes but 1/2 tsp. is really minute.  I bought an inexpensive food processor with a big bowl and dough blade and it takes about 5 minutes to make this.  I still knead it for a short time because this is a sticky loaf and then I can add just enough flour at the end, telling by feel when it is right.  I have made this with my ancient kitchen aid mixer and it works up similarly with just longer kneading time in the machine.  It can be made by hand, but that is a labor of love and would not allow me the time to make the 4 or more loaves we need every week.  I make two batches individually, but then put it together when I knead and do the first two risings.  I freeze one of the baked loaves until we need it and it defrosts easily on the counter.  I make the dough about 9:30 in the morning and it bakes around 3 pm, but my house has been about 62 degrees, so maybe this will be faster in the summer.  So here it is:

Hoffman Homestead Bread
(Makes one loaf,  directions for food processor)
1 1/2 cups warm water (about 110 degrees)
1/2 tsp sugar
1/2 TBSP active dry yeast
1/2 TBSP salt
1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
2 cups all-purpose flour 

1.  put 1/2 tsp sugar and add 1 1/2 cups warm water (about 110 degrees, which is my tap water when run to its hottest).
2.  Sprinkle 1/2 TBSP active dry yeast over the water and wait for one minute before mixing gently (I use a chopstick so less surface for the yeast to stick to).  This should proof for at least 5 minutes and be frothy and yeasty smelling.  Here is a link to an article on proofing yeast.
3.  Put about 2/3 of the flour and the yeast-water into the processor and pulse for about 30 sec.  I let it sit while I gather my trusty old cookie sheet with a little flour sprinkled on it and a large bowl greased with olive oil.  
4.  I add 1/2 TBSP salt and pulse for about 15 seconds.
5.  Add the remaining flour and pulse for about 45 seconds.  Then I dump it onto my floured cookie sheet .
6.  I knead it, adding a little flour here and there if I stick to it.  I knead it until it is "as smooth as a bambino's behind"  which is how one recipe author described it and I find it a rather accurate description.  The cookie sheet keeps the flour in one spot and makes for fast clean up.  Here is a link to an article on kneading bread dough.
7.  Put the dough into the oiled bowl.  I wet a tea towel and cover the top of the bowl with it.  Since it is cold here, I put it in the oven (oven is off!!!!!!!)  with just the light bulb on, as it creates some heat and helps it rise faster.  Wait until it doubles in size, depending on the temperature and barometer (rises faster during stormy weather) it will be an hour +.
8.  Punch the dough down, recover (moisten towel if dried out) and rise again as before.
9.  Punch down and shape into a loaf.  Here is a video on shaping dough. Put into an oiled loaf pan and recover with the tea towel.  Let rise again until it is an inch above the pan.
10.  Heat oven to 450 degrees and bake for 15 minutes.  Lower temp to 350 and finish up for 15 more minutes.  The top should be golden and the crust should have a hollow sound when tapped (especially after you turn the loaf out and tap the bottom.  Before I turn it out, I give a light spritz with my olive oil mister to the top of the bread, but that is just my preference as it keeps the top sort of soft.  I turn the bread out onto a cooling rack and try to let it cool on its side without eating it all!

     This next recipe is modified from a recipe my Grandmother had.  I suspect that it would work well substituting most of the butter with applesauce, but haven't yet tried it.  This is a great recipe because, if you only want a little, it freezes really well.  It reminds me of sara lee frozen banana cake from my youth, which we ate frozen and right out of the carton.

                                                                   Granny Shanny Bananny Bars 

1/2 cup butter, softened
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 eggs
1 cup yogurt (I use lowfat vanilla, plain would work just as well)
1 tsp vanilla
2 cups whole wheat flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
2 Tbsp cinnamon
3 medium bananas smooshed (I freeze them in their peels when they go brown and just nuke them for 10 seconds when I need them.  Then they squeeze out like tooth paste, already mashed for your pleasure)

1 package of cream cheese (8 oz.)
1/2 cup butter or margarine softened
2 tsp vanilla extract
3 3/4 - 4 cups confectioners' sugar 

1.  Mix 1/2 cup butter, softened and 1 1/2 cups sugar.
2. Add 2 eggs, 1 cup yogurt, and 1 tsp vanilla.
3. Mix in 2 cups whole wheat flour, 1 tsp baking soda, 2 Tbsp cinnamon and 1/4 tsp salt
4.Mix in 3 medium bananas smooshed.
5. Pour into a greased 9" x 13" baking pan and bake at 350 degrees for 35-40 min. A toothpick inserted in center should come out clean.
6.  Let cool and proceed to frosting it in the pan.
7. Beat cream cheese, 1/2 cup butter or margarine softened and 2 tsp vanilla extract
8. mix in 3 3/4-4 cups confectioners' sugar until desired consistency
9.  lick beater like no one is watching.
10. Spread over top and enjoy! (Refrigerate this cake as it has cream cheese frosting, and it is really good  cold)

Old School Kettle Corn

1/4 cup veg oil
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 cup popcorn kernels

 Put 1/4 cup veg oil in a large pot with cover and drop 3 corn kernels in it.  When all 3 have popped, pour in 1/3 cup sugar and 1/2 cup popcorn kernels.  Cover and shake the pan in a jiffy pop style until the popping stops.  Quickly (the sugar will very quickly burn once the popping stops) and carefully (ever get hot melted sugar on your skin?  You won't soon forget the experience!) pour the contents into a clean paper grocery bag and salt as desired, close bag and shake.  Enjoy!!!

Now I have to make veggie swedish meatballs again so I can write down a rough estimate of what I did.  I totally winged it last time and will have to try hard to recreate it!

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Right now

This was originally posted by Amanda Soule at her amazing blog, Soulemama.  I was inspired to try it too.

right now, I am ...
:: marveling at how utterly overdosed on garlic I am.  Courtesy of Niko's greek restaurant.
:: revisiting being a barber :)  I have slacked majorly this month.  I promised my patients haircuts tomorrow and I bet they are already lined up and waiting!
:: plotting a June wedding on a zero budget.  Must use all super powers.
:: finishing  the first sock I have ever knitted.  It will be for Matty.  He has 2 feet.  They are roughly alike.  This means I must finish and then duplicate this sock.  Alas.
:: stopping and smelling the roses.
:: wondering  how fab my Mom-in-love's kitchen will be post-makeover!
:: listening to nothing.  I heart silence.  Yes, I am old.  Now get off my lawn.
:: queing amazing free knit and crochet patterns at  My sister started crocheting during her visit.  Jas, Robs, Matt and I were all crocheting together.  Sew much fun!
:: feeling sad that my Sister Robs is headed back to Cali.  I petition we move it closer.
:: loving that my sweetie, Matt has tried his hand at yet another craft and rocked it's sox off.
:: hoping to cut 45 hairdos tomorrow, but I doubt I have the stamina.  The wheelchairs are so low, my back will give up first I think.  My garlic breath could scare some off though.
:: wanting my breath to not be fiery hot with garlic.  How much did I eat!?  Geiger counters are going off.
:: thinking about paper dolls.  They were cool.
:: reminding myself to be positive even though today had a lot of challenges, particularly with dealing with logic-impaired  individuals and "timesaving" devices that complicate things and make them take longer.
:: making all our bread now!  Haven't bought any in about a month!  I did not think I could do that.  Nice surprise!
:: planning on playing a few rounds of mah johng solitaire.
:: wishing  Jas would find a wedding dress she likes and feels pretty in!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011


Just a smattering of goings-on:
     The invisibility cloak was a big hit!  Lots of Harry Potter and Doogie the Dugong games have been played since it was owl-delivered.

I found a wonderful sled for Olivia on a tree lawn, on it's way to being landfill fodder when there was nothing wrong with it and it was simply darling.  I hate that idea. She can sled in her very own bluebird next winter!

I had fun decorating a gift for a special sis-in-love with some recycled items (not the spoons, they were new, gosh)
I decided to embroider the tag I found

Let me tell you something... A LOT OF FUN can be had with some dollar store googly eyes if you are a big enough donkey!

A very special episode of Dairy Godmother...

     I must confess that I have a very specific disorder.  If one must choose to have a handicap, I will recommend it to you, as it really isn't all that disabling, especially if you are hobotic.  My condition is facialvisuaspatialcookie-cutter blindness.  I am completely unable to visualize cookie cutters as decorated cookies if the have a face involved.  
     I made groundhog cookies today with a sweet little cookie cutter that I couldn't wait to get my hands on.  I frosted them with chocobrown icing and they looked nice enough.  But then things got ugly.  I decided to embellish them.  "I'll just put some features on them" I thought.  I studied the cookies and determined that it was sort of a side-view of the little whistlepig, ergo, there would only need to be one eye.  Lord.  That was when all hell broke loose.  The eyes looked like cyclops' eyes if potatoes could be cyclopses.  So I tried a mouth, which aggravated the condition.  Finally, I said, "Screw it" and gave them all handlebar moustaches, which seemed to help a bit.
Moral of the story:  Moustaches make everything better.

An Army of whistlepig mutants
No, he isn't pooping, simply oozing.

I call him Three-mile Island Thaddius.