Baking Bread on Sunday

I have been using this book for more than a year now, and tried almost every recipe. The ciabatta loaves are one of my favorites.

Our family schedule has changed in a way that has made it difficult for me to bake bread during the week. So now, Sunday is the day that I make sure to indulge my love of fresh sourdough bread. Most of what I know about baking sourdough bread comes from Jim Lahey’s Sullivan Street Bakery Cookbook. I have baked a few duds along the way. Patience is definitely the main ingredient. Yesterday, however, I came close to achieving perfection!

Instead of covering with a damp cloth, I put my dough in the bottom oven with the light on and a pan of warm water.

I keep my biga, (a drier, thriftier form of sourdough starter,) alive in my refrigerator. Since I didn’t remember to start some dough on Saturday night, I chose a recipe that doesn’t take as long to rise that I could still start on Sunday morning. Mr. Lahey offers two ways to make the ciabatta dough, the slow, no mix method, or the fast, use your mixer method. I used my mixer. After three hours I had a glass bowl full of bubbly bread dough that I turned out onto a board, folded in half, and cut into two loaves. I left them to rise for three hours in my bottom oven.

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My Secret Brownie Recipe

My twist on a classic brownie recipe is to add some spice and switch butter for coconut oil.

I have an old McCall’s cookbook from my mother’s house. I go to it frequently to find a standard recipe for something that I have never made before. I like to start out doing things the way everyone else does them, and making something that someone, like my husband, will taste and it will be be just what they expected it to be. But it’s just not in my nature to keep doing something the same way as it has always been done. Thus, today, I am going to tell you about two brownie recipes.

My much loved and beaten classic recipe book.
The original brownie recipe that I built upon to create something a little different…

The first recipe is the standard brownie recipe that you see in this photograph of my cookbook. I have made brownies going exactly by this recipe and they taste like…. brownies! Perfect every time. When I bake, I always use raw sugar because I just think it has so much more flavor than white sugar. (I buy it ten pounds at a time at Costco.) I also use Happy Cow butter from G&G Retail at the South Carolina Farmers Market. I’m sure that the quality of my ingredients makes them more delicous.

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Cucumber Salad

Cucumber Salad to keep in the fridge.
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Sometimes when a cucumber vine gets going some of the cucumbers grow too large and turn yellow. When that happens I cut it from the vine and leave it there in the garden. It creates the opportunity for the cucumber to reseed itself and become a late season cucumber vine. Now in late October, I have one growing in the kitchen garden. It’s good timing because just a week or so ago I finished the cucumber salad that I prepared in early summer.

Cucumbers are cooling, which I’m imagining might be good for hot flashes (waking me up early lately.) Dr. Lee told me that cucumbers are better than lettuce for women (and lettuce is very good for men). Since most everything he has told me has turned out to be helpful, I’m taking his word for that.

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Even More Ways to Preserve Eggplant

I’m always seeing hearts in my vegetables…

A month ago I was writing about what to do with eggplant because I had so many in my kitchen. In that post I talked about making fried eggplant and eggplant parmesan. When eggplant love is new it tastes so sweet and delicious. After a couple months of eating and freezing the stuff, I start to think about other vegetables again. My husband stopped watering his garden about a month ago, after he harvested everything else. He left his eggplants to their own devices while it was very hot and dry. We had almost no rain that whole time. But to our surprise, the eggplants have thrived while gardens have withered all over the Upstate.

We have trouble giving eggplant away. Our friends and neighbors mostly don’t like or never tried an eggplant and don’t show any signs of changing their minds. I was tempted to just let those eggplants go to seed, but they looked so big and beautiful; it would have been a shame and a waste. So yesterday I went down in the field and picked most of them, and also dealt with them very quickly after looking for some new ideas online and finding a couple at FreshBitesDaily.com.

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Flirting with Fermenting

The thing about fermenting is that even though your culture takes a long time to get to its climax, it isn’t very demanding of you. It’s like having a very forgiving boyfriend. You don’t have to be punctual. Whenever you show up with a little sugar will pretty much always be the right time, as long as you don’t wait so long that you create the circumstances for an explosion.

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