Monday, January 24, 2005

So I'm making a nice long post about cool cooking stuff and Blogger eats half the post. :-( I don't have the heart to go back and rewrite it just now, but I do want to point out a bit of bad info from this post (and bad writing, too! What was wrong with me?).

In that post talking about making porridge, I said to use yogurt or milk - I should have said buttermilk. The point is to use something with active Lactobacillus cultures so you get the benefits of lacto-fermentation. Also, you have to keep the oats at room temperature so the cultures can work. Don't worry about it spoiling - the cultures keep that from happening. Another thing is to use old fashioned oats rather than the "quick" variety. I'm not sure why this is, the book just says to do it. ;-)

Nourishing Traditions has a section called "Mastering the Basics" that covers all the techniques Mrs. Fallon advocates and provides plenty of recipes, too. The first part of this section is on making your own cultured milk products, but since I don't have access to unhomogenized milk, I'm not able to do most of the things in that section, so I am continuing to buy my buttermilk and sour cream. I have been making my own yogurt from organic whole milk for a year or so, so of course I'm continuing to do that.

What I really wanted was to find something that I could do with equipment and supplies I already own, and with foods we already eat. Don't you just hate it when you try to start a new diet and it requires you to make and eat things you've never even heard of before? That's why I skipped over most of the book and went to the section on grains and legumes. We were already having oatmeal for breakfast most days, and all I had to do was to remember to soak it the night before. I used to buy the quick-cooking variety, so I finished up what we had and started buying the old fashioned kind instead.

That was an easy change to make, and so was learning to "sponge" the bread - to mix the whole wheat flour with buttermilk the night before I meant to cook it. I already had a bread machine and I had been making bread once or twice a week for awhile, so it was easy to change to the more nutritious way of preparing it. The hard part is remembering to do it ahead of time! Now the exciting part is that I've been looking for a recipe that makes good sandwich bread for years and I finally found it! You know what? Again, it's not so much the ingredients, as it's the technique. To make a good, hearty bread that can stand up to a knife-full of peanut butter, you just let the bread rise and punch it down and let it rise again several times. This makes a heavier-textured bread.

So the basic sandwich bread recipe uses your favorite whole wheat recipe, just start it in the evening - while you're cleaning up from supper, or before you go to bed. Put the liquid ingredients (you have to make sure that at least part of it contains active milk cultures - I use all buttermilk) plus the oil if your recipe calls for it, and the whole wheat flour into the machine and turn it on to the dough setting. When it's done, you can either leave it in the machine, or put it into a bowl and cover it with a towel, and let it rest overnight. First thing in the morning, add all the rest of the ingredients and turn it on to the dough setting again. My doughball is usually so stiff that I have to tear it into golfball size pieces and add it back into the machine that way to make mixing easier. Run it through the dough setting at least two times before you either set it on the basic bread cycle and let the machine bake it, or shape it into loaves and place it into your own pans to bake in the oven.

Of course, you don't have to have a bread machine to do any of this, it just makes the job a little easier if you do. :-)

I hope all of that makes sense - I feel so random tonight!

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