Monday, March 24, 2008

Beer bread

My version of Farmgirl Susan's beerbread.

Whole Wheat Beer Bread with Homebrew

2 C. flour (organic please)
1 C. whole wheat flour (organic)
1 T. of baking powder
1/2 T. sugar
2 heaping T. of dried oregano
1/2 (or 1) t. of red pepper flakes
1 C. (more or less) of hand-shredded parmesan (I buy it in large 1 lb hunks - none of that green can junk from the supermarket)
12 oz of beer. This it the part that brings it all home. I use a homebrewed Nut Brown Ale. It makes all the difference in the world. Our Nut Brown Ale is thick and brown and flavorful. It gives the bread a gorgeous brown color. A storebought Nut Brown ale would most likely work as well. (Those mass marketed large brewery beers work but I really recommend you just pony up the $9 for a good local microbrew.) When we bottle our beer, I save the extra that doesn't quite fit in a bottle in the fridge in a canning jar. Will keep for up to 2 weeks. Has no carbonation but that doesn't matter for this recipe.

Preheat oven to 375.

Stir together all the ingredients except the beer. Add the beer and mix - it will be thick and sticky. Let sit for 20 minutes so the flour can hydrate (very important step!!). Turn into an oiled loaf pan (I use a generous amount of vegetable oil). Bake for 55+ minutes. Remove from oven, cool on rack for 10 minutes, turn out onto rack. Cool completely. I store in a thick paper bag.

Keeps well. Makes beautiful sandwiches. Toasts well. Gorgeous breadcrumbs.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Homemade Yogurt Recipe

I prefer to use raw milk, if you can find it. Otherwise, organic milk is a must. I also like to use whole milk.

Find a plain yogurt that you like – I love Stonyfield Farm. This will be your starter.

Freeze your storebought yogurt in ice cube trays and store cubes in Ziploc bag. Each cube is approx 1T.

I like to make a large batch – we eat a lot of yogurt, so I use a ½ gallon of milk each time – which yields two quarts.

If using frozen yogurt as your starter, pull the number of needed cubes (see below) out at the start so they can thaw.

Gently/slowly heat 8 cups of milk to 180 degrees.

While the milk is heating, fill your teapot with tap water and bring to a boil. Make sure you have enough to fill 2 quart jars. Once the water boils rapidly, fill the jars, cover and put in a small cooler (like a 6 pack size) and insulate with an additional towel or two. I like to do this right at the beginning of the milk heating process because I have found that if the water jars are too hot in the cooler it retards the incubating process.

Once milk reaches 180, turn off the heat, cover and let cool to 116. Stir in 4 T of the thawed yogurt (4 cubes) or 4 T of yogurt from a previous batch. Stir gently but very well.

Pour warm milk into 2 quart size canning jars. Place in the small cooler with the (now warm/hot) water jars and close the cover and let sit for at least six hours or overnight. Chill. Keeps very well. Enjoy with fresh fruit, nuts, honey and raw oats (fabulous – let the oats sit for about 5 mins to absorb a little moisture), or just plain. Its also fabulous on a baked potato with fresh chives.

Feel free to use your batch as a starter next time. I only use the frozen cubes if I feel that my yogurt is losing its tangy-yogurtish taste.

Adapted from Liz at Pocket Farm, who unfortunately, has stopped blogged.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Homebrew and homemade pizza

DH and I bottled up 4 cases of homebrew this past week. This should keep us in suds for a bit.

We also took advantage of our kitchen day to make and freeze pizzas. I made a whole wheat pizza dough and we used some of our homecanned tomatoes from last summer for the sauce. The sauce was absolutely delicious. The toppings, alas, had some miles: a zucchini, some mushrooms, a can of artichokes. The garlic was homegrown. The sauce was homegrown/homemade. The crust was homemade - although the flour had some miles on it. We bought the cheese from a local creamery in Wisc and shredded it ourselves.

We live in Chicago (land of great pizza!) but we much prefer our homemade. We froze 4 pizzas for quick weeknight meals. YUUMM!

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Georgie, the barn cat

This is Georgie and she lives in our barn. She is an absolute cutie. I found her outside and had her spayed and then set her up in the barn. The horses are keeping her company.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Red, White & Blue

Aren't old barns beautiful?

No owls living in the barn anymore. They have moved on to other mice-filled barns. However, we've had a cat move in. Her name is Georgie. I'll post her picture tomorrow.

I'm hosting my knitting circle tonight. I think I'll start some holiday gifts for friends. I'm thinking about knitting them stockings for their cabin.