Wednesday, May 11, 2022

The Poof is in the Honey.

 The watering stations, in the backyard, are beginning to see more activity.  Honey bees are finding their way back, with flowering plum and apricot trees to provide pollen as well.  Around the stations are a plenitude of flowering, what some call weeds, but are pretty flowers to me.  The bees do not complain, so why should I?

I am hoping that some of these bees are relatives of the ones saved in June 2020.  Cindy and Mack Smith helped rescue, and introduce, them into their existing hives.  Since then, the Smiths have given us a jar of their precious, and most delicious honey each year; and we are so very grateful for the generosity.

In our home, the honey is never wasted as it sweetens are tea, is used for cooking, and most definitely for baking, especially bread products.  When baking up bread, even rolls, that require yeast, some sort of food is needed to feed the yeast, a sweet food.  Most recipes call for sugar, but, in comparison, honey makes it more flavorful, and sugar is, well, sort of bland.  Now many will agree, and many will disagree, and that is perfectly alright as taste is in the mouth of the person eating.  However, I know many who will drizzle honey over their sugar infused bread, and they are making my point, honey makes it better!

As I have stated many times, I like it easy; easy recipes, easy preparation, and easy techniques.  Recently I came across a recipe for 5-Ingredient Bread with the yeast being fed by honey…perfect for me!  While it makes an airy white bread, I played with the recipe and introduced potato flour to the all-purpose flour.  The first batch was terrible.  While the outside was crusty and golden brown, the interior was a complete mushy mesh.  What went wrong? 

Potato flour is not the same as boiled, mashed potatoes apparently, even though the flour is made from, what else, potatoes.  Potato flour is made from potatoes that have been cooked, dried to remove all water, then ground; however, it retains the starch.  Adding mashed, wet potatoes means it is retaining the starch which makes the bread denser, but liquid has to be limited.  Potato flour sucks up water like a sponge, so additional water needs to be constantly added to the mixture for a dough to eventually form.  Too much water though, and the bread will bake on the outside, but leave a wet mess inside.  It seems to be a matter of trial and error.

How to fix this?  For every 3 complete cups of all-purpose flour, only add ¼ cup of potato flour.

Back to the honey.  While waiting for the yeast to grow inside the mixture of warm water and honey, expect to be amazed.  In 15-20 minutes, the entire mixture will simply grow and grow!  I used a 4-cup bowl, and good thing a clean towel was over it, as the mixture had doubled and would have been dripping over the sides.  Oh, and the smell of the yeast and honey is intoxicating!

Now to the recipe; try it as written, but I definitely suggest adding a little potato flour to the mixture.  The bread will be slightly denser, so you will think you are eating cake, instead of bread.  As is, or with butter smeared over, is lovely. Toasted, with butter and jam, jelly or marmalade, now we are talking heavenly.

 


5-Ingredient Bread

Ingredients:

2 cups warm water (105F-110F)

2/3 cup honey

1 and ¾ Tbsp. active dry yeast

1 and ½ tsp. salt

5 cups all-purpose flour (or 4 and ½ cups all-purpose plus ¼ cup potato flour)

 

 

 

 

Preparation: 

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together warm water and honey until honey is dissolved. Add yeast, and cover with a towel. In about 10-20 minutes, mixture will be frothy and double in size.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Stir in salt, and add flour one cup at a time.  Flour hands, remove dough to board, or clean counter, and knead for 5 minutes. Place kneaded dough in a large, greased bowl and cover with towel.

After an hour, dough should have risen to almost top of bowl. Punch the dough down once, remove to board or clean count; knead again for 5 minutes. Divide into two lightly-greased loaf pans, cover with towel; allow dough to rise for 30 minutes.

Bake in a preheated oven at 325F for 30-35 minutes. Many bread recipes use an oven at 350F, but 325F works better when using honey.

 Makes two loaves.


To freeze a loaf, wrap completely in plastic wrap, place inside a freezer type plastic bag, and label with date as it will only keep for 3 months.  That is if it can last that long before both loaves are eaten.

Enjoy baking and eating this bread, and remember to always be kind to the bees.

Mary Cokenour

 

 

 

 

 

Tuesday, May 10, 2022

Best Banana Bread Recipe Ever!

 Sometimes I play with a recipe.  Add more of something, take away a little of something; add something new, maybe two.  This time though I believe I have the ultimate banana bread recipe.  It makes three loaves, and to freeze them, just wrap tightly in plastic wrap, and freeze for up to three months.  That is if they'll even last that long.

Banana Bread 

Ingredients:

3 and 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (+ 3 Tbsp. for high altitude)

1 and 1/2 tsp. baking soda

1 and 1/2 tsp. salt

1 tsp. each cinnamon and nutmeg

2 cups sugar (or sugar substitute equal to 2 cups sugar)

2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter, softened

4 large eggs

2 cups mashed very ripe bananas

1 cup sour cream

2 tsp. vanilla extract

Additions: 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips, 1 cup chopped walnuts, or ½ cup of both.

Preparation:

Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease 3 -8.5 x 4.5 inch loaf pans generously with butter or nonstick butter flavored cooking spray.

Into a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg.

In a large bowl, beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the flour mixture and mix on low speed until just combined (will look exactly like a bread dough). Add the mashed bananas, sour cream and vanilla extract; beat until dry ingredients well combined, but not overmixed.

Bake for 50-60 minutes, or until toothpick comes out clean. Cool in the pan, on a wire rack, to cool completely.  To freeze, wrap in plastic wrap, will last 3 months.

Makes 3 loaves.

Yes, this is a short, but sweet, blog post. I was just so excited on how deliciously awesome this banana bread came out, I wanted it written up immediately.

Mary Cokenour

Wednesday, May 4, 2022

If We Believe Henny Penny.

Just Mathias Thiele was a Danish scholar and librarian who published the Brothers Grimm fairy tale, of Henny Penny, in 1823.  Henny Penny (Chicken Little in the USA) was pecking away in the farm yard, as chickens do, when a rogue acorn bounced off her head.  Being not too bright, she immediately stirred up mass panic amongst the other farm animals by proclaiming, “The sky is falling! The sky is falling!”  Well, the other animals told her to run to the king and warn him, that is until she met a sly fox, Foxy Loxy.  To keep all the fowl safe, he suggested they follow him into his nice warm, and dark, den.  Of course, being a fox, his idea of safe meant eaten and digesting in his very full stomach. Depending on the version of this story, Foxy Loxy eats all the poultry; or Cocky Lockey is in time to warn Henny Penny, and only they two get away; or they are both, in time, to rescue all their compatriots of the fox’s true intentions.

Moral of this story?  That depends on what is happening in the world.  At the time of its origination, the lesson to learn was, “have courage, even when it feels like the sky is falling.”

During times of war, “fear-mongering weakens the war effort and costs lives.”  …and when it comes to life, in general, “Don’t believe the hype, and hungry foxes can’t be trusted!”  Thinking back to the end of 2019, and up to current days, do any of these morals apply?  Seems like all three, to me.

Recently the news featured stories about the avian flu which is forcing thousands of domesticated chickens and turkeys to be euthanized.  Wild fowl can carry and transmit the virus to domestic species, but not become ill themselves.  This, in turn, is also creating a shortage of eggs, and egg related products; a domino effect that will cause mass consumer shortages in the long run.  One solution could be to breed and cultivate stronger strains of the wild fowl, but, of course, this will not protect them from stronger strains, of the avian flu, developing over time as well.  As for eggs, there are excellent egg substitute products on the market, but they are pricey, and prices will increase due to the demand for them.  Definitely, this is a time to have courage!

Discussing the world’s affairs with my hubby, I suggested that, perhaps, we are seeing a circling back to a more agrarian society.  An agrarian society, or agricultural society, is any community whose economy is based on producing and maintaining crops, and farmland. Instead of paying farmers to leave their land fallow, or shipping the harvests to foreign countries, we now become more self sufficient within our own country.  As the saying goes, “everything old is new again.”  which leads into my vegetable lasagna recipe.

Typically, when you hear the word "Lasagna", images of long, tender noodles holding layer upon layer of meat sauce and mixture of Italian cheeses might come to mind.  This new recipe I am sharing is about a lasagna without meat, no typical red tomato sauce, and very little cheese.  It has the same long, tender noodles, but instead there are layers chock full of sautéed vegetables, fresh spinach leaves and a béchamel sauce.  Béchamel is a white sauce, but since I did melt in a fair amount of shredded Parmesan cheese, it becomes an Alfredo sauce.

Even though the noodles are undercooked slightly, they will be pliable and not fall apart.  Will they cook evenly while baking?  Yes!  The sauce, plus natural liquid from the vegetables, will finish cooking the noodles; they will be tender and absorb flavors of both the sauce and the vegetables.  The Alfredo sauce allows the vegetables to retain their individual flavors and truly enhances them.  

 


Vegetable Lasagna Rustico

Ingredients:

For the Lasagna Filling:

12 Lasagna Noodles (full size, not the no-cook variety)

¼ cup olive oil

1 large onion, chopped

1 red bell pepper, julienned

1 green bell pepper, julienned

½ lb. shredded carrots

½ sliced mushrooms

1 large zucchini, cut into ¼ inch slices

1 large yellow squash, cut into ¼ inch slices

2 Tbsp minced garlic

2 Tbsp Italian herbal mix

½ lb. spinach leaves; divided into 1/3 portions

5 cups Alfredo sauce

For the Alfredo Sauce:

Ingredients:

8 Tbsp. butter

8 Tbsp. all-purpose flour

6 cups hot milk

1 (8 oz.) package shredded Parmesan cheese

1 Tbsp. salt

1 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg

Preparation:

Prepare noodles according to package direction, but undercook by 5 minutes to leave the noodles pliable.

Prepare the Alfredo sauce which should be kept warm until ready for use.  In a large saucepan, heat the butter over medium heat until melted; gradually add the flour, stirring until smooth.  Cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture turns a golden-brown color, about 6 to 7 minutes; this is the roux.

Add the hot milk to the butter mixture one cup at a time; whisk continuously to avoid burning or clumping. When mixture is completely smooth, add the cheese and whisk until smooth again; remove from heat; season with salt and nutmeg.

 

Prepare the vegetable filling; in a large skillet, heat olive oil over medium-high heat; add onions, red and green bell peppers and carrots; mix and let cook for five minutes.  Add in the mushrooms, zucchini and yellow squash; mix and let cook for five minutes.  Mix in garlic and Italian herbal mixture; remove from heat.

 
Preheat oven to 375F and lightly spray a 4-quart baking dish with non-stick cooking spray.

Begin the layering process: one cup sauce spread over bottom of baking dish; three noodles alongside each other; one third of the vegetables from the skillet spread over the noodles; one third of the spinach leaves spread over the vegetables; three noodles; one cup sauce spread over the noodles; lastly top with remaining two cups of sauce.



 


-  Or - 

One Cup Sauce

3 Noodles

1/3 Vegetables

1/3 Spinach Leaves

3 Noodles

One Cup Sauce

1/3 Vegetables

1/3 Spinach Leaves

3 Noodles

One Cup Sauce

1/3 Vegetables

1/3 Spinach Leaves

3 Noodles

Top with remaining two cups of sauce.

 

 

Bake, uncovered, for 40-45 minutes; until golden brown.  Let rest for 20 minutes before cutting into portions.


Makes 9 servings.

Mary Cokenour 

Wednesday, April 27, 2022

Enjoying Garlic Goodness.

 Garlic was worshipped by the ancient Egyptians, chewed by Greek Olympian athletes, and thought to be essential for keeping vampires at bay. It is also good for zapping bacteria, keeping your heart healthy by lowering cholesterol and high blood pressure, regulating blood sugar in diabetics, and warding off coughs and colds. For example, if you have a cold, put lots of chopped garlic into chicken soup, or even just the broth (if you cannot down the noodles and veggies in a soup).

Being spring, or third winter, here in Monticello, the health aisles at the stores are running short on cold and allergy medications.  Once again, not feeling up to downing a bowl of soup, then let your nose do the work for you.  Create a steaming broth of garlic and hot peppers, place a towel over your head and the bowl, and breathe in deeply.  Only do this for a minute, or the vapors will irritate your eyes.  It is your sinus passages you are trying to clear out, not your eyeballs.

I have grown garlic; it is very easy, and takes little space in a garden; each small clove will give you a whole new head!  Purchasing garlic braids not only adorns your kitchen, but garlic is just in your reach.  Make sure the garlic on the braids have not been treated with a wax, or painted with an acrylic coating.  This is done to keep them from rotting, as this means the braid is meant for decoration only, but it is unhealthy, perhaps deadly, to ingest.  Often sold in farmers’ markets, the intent is definitely for ingesting, not décor.

Rather have the garlic already minced, chopped or sliced for use, then that can be purchased at any local or super market.  The garlic is usually immersed in water or olive oil, and can be kept in the refrigerator after opening the jar. Of course, the olive oil will coagulate once it becomes cold, but it does not affect the consistency nor taste of the garlic.

When garlic is roasted in the oven, the cloves become very soft and sweet; it can be used as a spread, in dips, salads, etc.

Roasted Garlic Bulb

Ingredients:

1 head garlic

1 tsp extra virgin olive oil

Preparation:

Preheat the oven to 425F.

Remove the outer papery covering of the garlic. Slice off the top of the head so most of the cloves are exposed. Place on a square of aluminum foil for easy cleanup, or select the smallest baking dish you have. Drizzle the oil over the cloves.

Fold the foil over the head to completely enclose it, or cover the baking dish with foil. Roast for about 45 minutes, until the garlic is completely soft and lightly browned.

To serve, separate the head into individual cloves, or squeeze out the cloves into a small serving dish. If you have leftovers, squeeze out the pulp into a small dish, cover with olive oil, and store, tightly covered, in the refrigerator for up to 1 month.

Now here's a recipe for a very easy to make meal which is garlicky and spicy.

What are soba noodles?  This is a Japanese noodle made from buckwheat flour and water. Sometimes a small amount of whole-wheat flour is added to keep the noodles from deteriorating.  If allergic to gluten, or simply not eating it, this is one product you will be avoiding. 

Cannot find soba in the store?  It can be purchased, in a dried form, online, or substitute spaghetti.  Looking for something vegetarian?  Use one of those new kitchen devices that can create noodles out of vegetables, and with my recipe, just omit the chicken.

 


Garlic Chicken with Soba Noodles 

Ingredients:

2 Tbsp sesame oil (if not available, use canola oil)

1 tsp hot red pepper flakes

3 Tbsp minced garlic

2 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves, cut into ¼” slices

½ cup soy sauce, divided in half

½ cup sliced mushrooms

½ cup diced red bell pepper

1 cup snow or sugar snap pea pods

1 cup chopped Bok Choy, Chinese cabbage (Napa) or white cabbage

12 oz Soba noodles, cooked and drained

Preparation:

In a Wok or large skillet, medium-high heat, heat the oil and pepper flakes for one minute. Add the garlic and let cook for an additional 30 seconds before adding the chicken and half the soy sauce. Stir fry until the chicken is thoroughly cooked; remove, set aside and keep warm.

Add into the Wok, or skillet, the mushrooms, bell pepper and pea pods; stir fry until bell pepper begins to soften. Mix in cabbage; as soon as it begins to wilt add in the remaining soy sauce, chicken and noodles. Mix thoroughly; stir fry for 2 minutes before serving.

Makes 6 servings.

Mary Cokenour 

Wednesday, April 20, 2022

Eat Cod, Your Heart Will Thank You.

 Welcome to Utah, a landlocked state.  For folks who enjoy eating seafood, this fact can be quite frustrating.  Unless you are lucky to live in an area, with lakes, stocked with bass, trout, maybe even catfish, and happen to enjoy fishing; the supermarket is your only source.  Even then, much of the seafood available is frozen and shipped in from other countries, many with dubious quality control standards.

However, you just might be lucky enough to have a butcher at your local market; one that brings in fresh seafood, and when the prices are reasonable.  At Blue Mountain Foods, in Monticello, UT, Josh is the head butcher, and he is making the effort to introduce fish to the community.  Fish, depending on the species, happens to be packed in nutritional value, and good for overall health.

Sidetrack here, while chatting with Josh, I happened to see his second in command, John, grinding fresh beef.  The rich, red color of the meat, mixed with the whiteness of just the correct amount of fat, enticed me to stock up that day.  Oh, yes, you are so welcome for my last recipe on copycat White Castle burgers.

Alright, back to fish.  Josh’s suppliers are on the west coast, mainly California and Oregon.  The fish he purchases can either be wild caught, or farm raised; but they are brought in fresh.  The fish, which is iced, not frozen, could be flown to Salt Lake City and trucked down the same day.  Or, overnighted in even less time, insuring the fish arrives fresh, and is sold the same way…fresh!  Are we seeing the pattern here?

My latest purchase was a beautiful 1 and ¾ lbs. slab of cod; one inch at the thickest part, firm and fresh smelling.  That’s right, if fish has a really harsh fishy smell, chances are it is not in its best condition.  Also note, if fish has been frozen, thawed and refrozen, the texture will change from firm to rubbery.  Chances are, no matter how it is cooked, that rubbery texture will remain.

4 ounces (112 grams) of cod contains:

    Calories: 90

    Fat: 0.5g

    Sodium: 79.5mg

    Carbohydrates: 0g

    Fiber: 0g

    Sugar: 0g

    Protein: 20g

Half of the fat content is Omega-3 fatty acids and DHA.  Vitamins in cod are B12, C, D and Iron.  While all this is good for the heart, and the diet, it is also good to know that cod is low in mercury, as opposed to a more popular fish…tuna.

Of course depending on how you cook the fish, and what ingredients are added, the carb and fat contain might go up.  I baked the cod with a seasoned panko topping and olive oil, so, yes, the carb and fat count went up, but not too drastically.

 


Panko Baked Cod

Ingredients:

Olive oil

1 and ¾ lbs. cod (cut into 5 portions=3 and ½ oz./portion)

1 and ½ cups panko (Japanese bread crumbs)

½ tsp. fine sea salt

½ tsp. ground black pepper

½ tsp. dry dill

½ tsp. dried, crushed parsley

½ tsp. paprika

Preparation:

Preheat oven to 400F.

Drizzle olive oil into baking dish, or metal nonstick pan, and place fish, bottom side down, onto oil.  Drizzle oil, about teaspoon, over each portion of fish.

In a bowl, mix together panko, seasonings and herbs.  Press on top of, and along sides, each fish portion. 

Bake for 20 minutes.

Makes 5 servings.

As a side dish, I baked asparagus in foil, topped with butter and garlic, in the same oven. However, previous to placing the fish and asparagus into the oven, I had prepped some potatoes for roasting, and started those a half hour before.  So, all three items were ready to eat at the same time.  As to the overall carb and fat content, out the window those flew, but it sure did taste great!

Here are a few bonus recipes of mine, and, of course, no decent list of recipes would not include English Style Fish and Chips.  Eat your fish, not just for health reasons, but because it tastes so good!

 


Baked Cod and Squash

Ingredients:

1 small zucchini, cut into 1/4 inch slices

1 small yellow squash, cut into 1/4 inch slices

1/2 cup olive oil, divided in half

2 Tbsp. Italian herbal mix, divided in half

2 tsp coarse sea salt, divided in half

1 tsp garlic powder

2 (6 oz) cod fillets, one inch thick, bones and skin removed

1/4 cup fresh lemon juice

Preparation:

Preheat oven to 400F.  In a 1 and 1/2 quart glass baking dish, spread the squash slices over the bottom.  Drizzle 1/4 cup of olive oil over the slices; sprinkle one tablespoon of the herbal mix, one teaspoon of sea salt and the one teaspoon of garlic powder over them.

Lay the cod fillets (skin side up) on top of the squash; drizzle with remaining olive oil; sprinkle remaining herbal mix and sea salt; drizzle lemon juice over all.  Bake for 25 - 30 minutes; until cod is opaque and flakes easily.  Remove one fillet and portion of squash to plate; spoon liquid from baking dish over all.

Makes 2 servings.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


 

Baked Cod in Foil

Ingredients:

2 tsp lemon juice

1 Tbsp. olive oil

1/4 tsp minced garlic

1/4 tsp dried parsley

1/8 tsp salt

1/8 tsp ground black pepper

1/4 tsp paprika

1 (6 oz) cod fillet, 1 inch thick, skin removed

Preparation:

Preheat oven to 350F.

In a small bowl, mix together all ingredients except the fish.  Brush skin side of fish liberally with the mixture; place skin side down in center of large square of aluminum foil.  Pour remaining mixture over fish; fold long sides of foil together several times before folding up ends to make a packet.  Make sure foil is not folded too tightly around fish or steam from baking may cause it to burst open.

Place foil packet onto small aluminum baking tray; bake for 15 to 20 minutes; fish will be opaque.  Remove to plate; spoon liquid over fish and over a portion of steamed vegetables or small baked potato.

Serves one.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 


English Style Fish and Chips

Ingredients:

2 cups flour, divided in half (1 cup for batter, 1 cup for dredging)

2 eggs

¾ cup beer or ale

¾ cup milk

¾ cup white wine

½ tsp. cream of tartar

½ tsp. baking powder

¼ tsp. each salt and pepper

Peanut oil

6 large potatoes (red skinned or golden yellow), cut roughly into 1” pieces

2 lbs. cod, or any other white meat fish (pollock, flounder), cut into 4” pieces

Preparation:

In a large bowl, combine 1 cup of flour, eggs, beer, milk, wine, cream of tartar, baking powder, salt and pepper. Mix well, cover and chill for 1 hour.

Fill deep fryer to maximum line, or large skillet ½ way up, with canola oil; heat to 375-400F. Cook potatoes until just lightly browned; drain on paper towels; season with salt; transfer to cookie sheet. When done frying, place potatoes in oven (set at 200F) to keep warm.

Remix batter; dredge fish pieces into remaining 1 cup of flour; dip into batter and place in hot oil (3-4 pieces at a time). When batter turns golden brown and begins to puff, drain on paper towels.

Serve fish and chips with tartar sauce, malt vinegar or any other desired condiment.

Makes 4 servings.

Mary Cokenour