Honey Whole Wheat Bread

>> Saturday, September 29, 2012

When I was a kid, my mom and I used to bake bread together often, using the Better Homes and Gardens cookbook. In fact, one summer we baked so much bread that I could see my arm muscles developing from the kneading. I bet we didn't buy a single loaf that year. These are wonderful memories for us.

Baking bread is much more fun if you have some friends to help you. Bread-baking takes time, but the dough-rising periods are great times to sit back with a cup of coffee or tea and have a good chat. This classic recipe comes from my friend Becky, who bakes every week.

One step in the process, towards the end, is where Becky rolled out the twice-risen dough with a rolling pin. She then began to roll up the dough jelly-roll style before putting it into the loaf pans. We asked her why she did it that way, and she said, "I don't know. That's just the way my mom taught me."

Later, when I sliced into my finished loaf, I found that the rolling pin pressed down the large air bubbles, and the resulting loaf had tiny, evenly-spaced bubbles and a hint of a spiral pattern towards the center of the loaf. Her mother is a wise woman.


3 cups warm water (110-112 degrees)
1 (.25 ounce) package active dry yeast or 2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast from a jar
2/3 cup honey
3 cups whole wheat flour
3 tablespoons butter, melted
1 tablespoon salt
3 to 3 1/2 cups white flour
2 tablespoons butter, melted


In a mixing bowl, stir together the warm water, yeast, and 1/3 cup honey. Stir in the wheat flour until well combined. Allow to rest for 30 minutes, until the mixture has large bubbles forming on the surface.

Stir in 3 tablespoons melted butter, 1/3 cup honey, and salt. Stir in 2 cups of the white flour. Sprinkle flour on a flat surface and knead until the dough is sticky to touch and but does not stick to the flat surface, using the rest of the white flour as needed.

Grease a bowl that is at least twice as large as the volume of dough. Place the dough in the greased bowl, and then turn it over to coat the other side of the dough. Cover with a damp dishtowel. Let rise in a warm place until doubled in size, about 1 to 1 1/2 hours.

Punch down the dough and divide it in half. Sprinkle a flat surface and a rolling pin with flour. Roll out half of the dough into an 8x12 rectangle. Staring at one of the short ends, roll up the dough jelly-roll style, tucking in the sides occasionally, and pinching the end shut. Place it in a greased 8x4x2 loaf pan. Repeat with the other loaf.

Cover the loaves with a damp dishtowel and allow to rise until dough has doubled - about 45 to 60 minutes. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Remove the towel and bake at 350 degrees for 25 to 30 minutes, until the crust is golden. Remove from the oven and brush the tops of loaves with 2 tablespoons melted butter. Turn out of the pans and cool on a baking rack. For best results, slice it at room temperature.

Makes 2 hearty loaves.


Cucumber Salad two ways

>> Thursday, September 13, 2012

Jessie and Jenn, this is that salad you gobble up every time I make it. Grandma used to make it all the time when I was a kid, usually in the summer after we picked a big load of fresh cukes. Of course I had to add my own modifications because that's what I do. I like it both ways but the sour cream version is my favorite.

The ingredients list and directions are at the end of the photos.

Step 1
Step 1. Peel three medium cucumbers. Usually I peel them lengthwise while leaving 1/2 inch wide strips of peel between, but when cucumbers have thick dark green peels, the peels often taste bitter. I took it all off these cukes.

Step 2
Step 2. Cut off the ends of the cukes, then slice them very thinly. A really sharp knife helps. Put the slices into a mixing bowl.

Step 3

Step 3. Add chopped herbs. This herb is lovage, which tastes somewhat like celery and is a little sharp-tasting. I'm guessing you wouldn't like it, but I added to my salad when a friend gave me some from her garden. I also added some chopped fresh chives and parsley from those herb pots on my windowsill. Put this in the bowl with the cukes.

Step 4
Step 4. Cut the ends off a small white onion and cut off the outside peel. I like white onions for this recipe because they are milder and sweet tasting. If you use yellow onions, you'll probably need less because they have a sharp taste. Cut the onion in half through the rings, then place the cut side down on the cutting board. This helps prevent the onion from rolling while you cut it into very thin slices. I like a lot of onion. You add as much as you like. Put this in the bowl with the cukes.

Step 5
Step 5. Sprinkle the bowl with salt, pepper, garlic powder, and dill. Stir it all up.

Step 6
Step 6. Here is where you decide which salad you want to make. The one without sour cream is definitely healthier. To make that one, add 1/4 cup vinegar and 1 teaspoon sugar. I like the apple cider vinegar for this salad, but use what you have.

If you want to make the sour cream version, use 1 teaspoon sugar and 1 tablespoon vinegar. Stir it together with 1 cup of sour cream and 2 tbsp crumbled Gorgonzola or blue cheese.

Put the salad in the fridge and let it marinate for 1 or 2 hours before serving.

Step 7
Step 7. Remember how I always say that things taste better if they are in a pretty container? Put the salad in a pretty bowl before serving. You can sprinkle it with a little dill or put a piece of parsley on top as a garnish.


3 medium cucumbers
1 small white onion
1 tsp chopped dried chives or 2 tsp chopped fresh chives (optional)
1 tsp chopped dried parsley or 2 tsp chopped fresh parsley (optional)
1 tsp chopped fresh lovage (optional)
1 1/2 tsp chopped dried dill or 2 1/2 tsp chopped fresh dill
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1/4 cup cider vinegar and 1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon sugar, 1 tablespoon vinegar, 1 cup sour cream, and 2 tbsp crumbled Gorgonzola or blue cheese


Peel and thinly slice cucumbers and onions and place in a bowl. Sprinkle the chopped herbs, seasonings. sugar, and vinegar over the vegetables and stir well. Stir in sour cream and gorgonzola, if using. Cover and let marinate in the refreigerator 1-2 hours before serving. This will taste best if you take it out 1/2 hour before serving and let it warm up to room temperature. Stir before serving.


Jalapeno Jam

>> Sunday, September 2, 2012

Unfortunately, this recipe did not make it into Angela's book, The Complete Guide to Food Preservation. But it's a tasty and colorful green-and-red jam that's an unusual way to use up end-of-summer peppers. This jam makes an excellent appetizer when warmed slightly and poured onto a brick of cream cheese or other soft cheese. Serve with crackers, vegetables, pita wedges, or toast rounds. The jam also makes a delicious glaze for poultry or pork.



1/2 cup jalapeno, chopped and seeded
2 cups green bell pepper, chopped and seeded
1/2 cup red bell pepper, minced
1 1/2 cups cider vinegar
3 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 package pectin



Place jalapeno and green bell peppers in a food processor or blender. Pour in vinegar and process to a smooth consistency Pour into a saucepan and add sugar. Slowly stir in pectin. Bring to a boil and cook for 15 minutes, stirring frequently, and scraping the sides. Add red pepper and boil 1 minute longer.

Pour the jam into the prepared canning jars, leaving 1/2-inch headspace. Dampen a kitchen towel and wipe around the rims of the canning jars. Screw the canning lids onto the jar just until finger-tight. Process in a boiling water canner for 10 minutes.

Yield: About 6 half-pint jars.

If you have ever wanted to learn how to can foods, check out our post on "canning basics", titled Canning With Friends.

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