Sunday, September 29, 2013

Homemade Pizza

I've been using my standard bread recipe to make pizza dough with. Mostly because I couldn't find any semolina flour that wasn't cost prohibitive - if I could find it at all.

Bingo! Finally found it.

When making this for the first time, I realized that the dough is crazy sticky. I looked at the glop in the mixing bowl and had doubts that I could reliably count to 2. A quick double check on my fingers assured me this was not the case - but the dough still looked funny to me. I put way more flour & semolina on the board than I'd usually use and worked the dough till it was mostly absorbed.  A good solid half cup or so.

Are you ready?

1 3/4 c warm water
1 Tbsp Sugar
1 packet Yeast (no it doesn't have to be the Pizza yeast packet)

Let the yeast get all foamy and happy.

Add in:
1 c Whole Wheat flour
1 1/2 c All Purpose White flour
1 c Semolina Flour
1 tsp Adobo Crillollo (Garlic salt..if you're gonna use salt why not one with a flavor)
1 Tbsp Vital Wheat Gluten 

Start the mixer on low/medium. Let it go for about 3 minutes then...

Add in:
1 Tbsp + 1 tsp Olive Oil
2 tsp Italian Seasonings (I like my dough to be pretty)

Keep mixing for another 5 minutes or so. Let the doughy glop rest for 10 minutes before turning it out onto a seriously floured board. I used a mix of white and semolina. Knead the dough until it absorbs most of the flour. It should hold together nicely and be a little springy. Place your dough bomb into a greased bowl - spray it with more grease and let it rise for 30 mins.

** this dough is supposed to turn out better if it's left to sit in the fridge overnight. I dunno, never got a chance to let it.**

Punch it down and let it rise again while you gather your pizza fixings.

I use Hunt's Garlic and Herb tomato paste, straight outta the can as my pizza sauce. Yum!

This dough makes two medium pizzas. Cut it in half and roll it out as thin as you can get it without tearing it. Sauce it up and deck it out for nommage.

Bake in a 350 degree preheated oven for 22 to 25 minutes.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Pumpernickel Hot Pockets

I took photos for this, but they were a gnarly pile of suck. I'll use them sparingly.
This recipe made a dozen hot pockets.

And we're off!
Pumpernickel Dough (from my post here)
3 cups of cooked Turkey Breast
3 Macintosh Apples - peeled, cored and shredded
1 Cream Cheese block - or the light version
1/4 c Ken's Sweet Vidalia Onion Salad Dressing
2 cups Fresh Spinach leaves

Mix the cream cheese and Ken's until you have a creamy paste.

Grab a chunk of dough about the size of your fist. Roll it out until it is a little bigger than the length and width of your hand on a lightly floured board.

Spread 1 or 2 tsps of creamy wonderfulness onto your dough, leaving about a 1/2 inch without all the way around. Layer the turkey, apples and spinach on top.

Gently bring both long sides together and seal em. Then fold the ends in. It should look like this:

Yeah, I KNOW what it looks like. ;) Hehehe Naughty, naughty. Now back to the food.

Let them rise for about 20 minutes then bake at 350 degrees for 22-25 minutes.

Ready to get down? Nom nom nom!

Pumpernickel v2 - this time with vital wheat gluten!

I made a turkey breast in the crock pot. It came out amazing and I've been itching to do some more hot pockets. They send in pack lunches So nicely. Baby's working extra this week, so might as well fortify him with some groovy grub.

Time to try Pumpernickel again!

Last time, it came out a little cat head-ish, so this time I'm adding more liquid and vital wheat gluten. That being said, this is in no way GLUTEN FREE. Not even a little. Matter of fact, I'm adding extra gluten to it.

1 cup warm Water
1 packet Yeast
2 Tbsp Brown Sugar

Throw it in the bowl and let it sit there for about 5 minutes to proof.
It should look like this:

Then toss in:
1 1/4 c Rye Flour
1/4 c Ground Milled Flax
1 c Whole Wheat Flour
2 Tbsp Cocoa Powder
1/4 tsp Salt
1/4 c Molasses
2 tsp Ground Caraway Seeds
1/4c Brown Sugar
2 Tbsp Vital Wheat Gluten

And beat it a little. My cheap behind does not have a dough hook for my dearest vintage Kitchen Aid. Maybe this xmas, since I'm doing so much bread. :)  It will look like a bowl full of sloppy what-the-hell. It's ok. No worries, man.

Add in:
1 egg beaten into 1/4 c oil. Then beat it a little more to combine.

Add in:
1/2 c brewed Coffee
1/2 c Milk (or almond milk)

Beat it some more.

Next is:
1.5 c All Purpose White Flour

Add it in 1/2 c increments, beating a little after each addition. You should end up with a still gooey pile of brown doughy stuff.
Like this:

Dump the sticky mess onto a well floured board and roll it in the flour to coat all sides. If you miss any spots, you'll know. It will stick like crazy. Then knead the dough until it becomes more elastic than sticky. Yes, if you stick your little puddin' fingers deep into the center it will be sticky. Just fold and knead, guys. Don't be afraid to toss some more flour on your board if the dough absorbs what you have.
Almost finished kneading looks like this:

When you've got the dough nice and smooth and looking, you're there! Spray grease a bowl and set your dough into it, then spray grease the dough. Cover with a wet papertowel to keep it moist while it rises for the first time.
It should look like this:

Let her rise for about 30 minutes - unless you're speeding up the process with a warm oven or hot sunny day. And you get this:
The top looks white because of the wet paper towel that was sitting on it during the rising process. All is cool.

Punch down the dough, coat the bowl and the dough with spray grease and let it rise again.

This is planning time. What cha' gonna do with the dough? Rolls? Loaves? Me? I'm making hot pockets! You have two more rises to get all your goodies prepped and ready for action.

Punch the dough down for the SECOND time. This time, if you're making loaves or rolls, cut the dough into what you need. In half for two loaves, in 32 bits for rolls. or 16 for hoagie buns or hot pockets.

The THIRD rise is the last before you slide that sucker into the oven.

This should make 2 loaf pans of pumpernickel. Bake at 350 for 30 minutes or so. Take a look around minute 22 to see how dark the crust is. No burning the bread! All ovens cook at different speeds, it's just like that - deal with it.  Rolls take less time to bake, about 12-18 minutes.

If you're curious about how my Hot Pockets turned out, I'll be posting that next.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Part 2 - Newfangled Idiot Boxes and You in the console gaming continuum.

So, where were we? Oh yeah - eyeballing the options. We hit a major chain store to pick up some stuff and wandered over to look at the flatscreen television options and get a good feel for what's available.

Mr. Gamer-guy immediately started tripping out that the 32's were not big enough for his gaming needs. It's ok, logic and measurements will only get you so far, I guess. *facepalm* I'm shopping for his pleasure - gotta get what makes babycakes smile.

I'm not having much luck finding a 720p 60hz 37" LED flatscreen that is within price parameters. (read: not more expensive than a bargain 40") and very little luck finding a 39 or 40 on a sales floor that has the resolution and speed that my research has said is the best bet.

Guess I'll be rolling through some pawn shops to see what I can find. The one closest to me is darned near impervious to haggling. *gasp* Dude, I'm a haggling jedi. Finding folks who refuse to dicker is amazing to me. Pfft - I'll find my price - bet on it.

*** Edited ***

Alrighty, I hit the Pawn Shop and got lucky. The lady had a 42" lcd with one dead pixel and no remote for $139, hidden in the back. A little bit of dickering got her to drop the price from $175 to what I paid. Being the cheap ho that I am (not to mention Mr. Hotness standing next to me giving me the puppy eyes) we jumped on the deal. A fast Ebay search netted an original remote for $14, including the shipping. It's a Dynex, which is the Best Buy house brand before they chose the name Insignia for their house brand. We've had quite a bit of good luck with Insignia products, so I'm not complaining. With steak tastes and a hot dog budget, I've gotta take chances carefully. A 42" new telly is running about $300-$400 on the low end. I got this one at about 50% of market retail, which fits within my thrift parameters. The size is WAY bigger than I'd even considered. OTOH, after setting it up my darling was chanting "It's So big! It's BIG. I love it.Oh, it's huge." till I wanted to put him in a rainbow shirt. *cymbal crash*

So far, we've tested out movies and games and it looks brill. The remote should be showing up in today's mail, so that's when I'll do my final tweaking.  He's happy, so I'm happy.

Xbox Frustration

When it comes to streaming via game system, Xbox is my go-to girl.

Baby, you gotta lick a little to the left. Just a smidge, cause you're almost there!

I've been dragging the tech boards to find out why the Youtube app keeps kicking me back to the start or flat out hating on me. I love to watch Will Wheaton's Table top, PewDiePie and Drunk Kitchen -among other gems in the YouTube Continuum. That gets tiring when you can only watch 2 minutes (if that) at a time before the app crashes. As I said, I went looking for answers.

Short Story -
You're boned. Wait it out, the geeky tech gurus will find a solution or the app will get fixed on the developer's end. Stop laughing, I'm serious. WAFO, bro.

How did I reach this conclusion?
First, I went LAN rather than WI-FI. The boards are full o' folks talking about how wi-fi is for guests, occasional users or tech (like tablets) that it is totally uncool to have tethered to a cord.  Ok, that's an $8 solution to my creative cursing. I like it. Let's try! Um... no fixee the problem.

Next, I read that you need to fine tune your MTU. (My what?) It's the Maximum Transmission Unit. Basically, how big the chunks of data are that flow through your router to your Xbox. I've got a Linksys EA2700 Smart Router, his name is Edgar and I love him. This is the link that helped me. If your chunks are too big, it causes problems. Too small and you're wasting the space you have available. Did it fix my problem? Nope.

Then I took a look at another board which told me how to further fine tune my router settings. Which also didn't work.

There was an Xbox Help answer that told me that doing speed tests on your Xbox does not give you an accurate accounting of how much bandwidth is being used. Basically, it no workee. Yeah, you'll get numbers - but they don't mean what you think they mean.

Another person mentioned that you can use the IE app to backdoor your way into YouTube. I was amazed! It worked even worse than the app - which is saying something. *grumble*

Maybe my problem is partially due to my 3.0 MBPS speed and the amount of users I have, all eating bamwich at the same time.  Won't know until I can upgrade to 6.0. That's a monthly bill addition centered on a "maybe". Ummmm. If AT&T will let me upgrade, then I'll test it out. If not... wah-wah... staying boned and not liking it.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Nookie Pork - Oriental style!

I'd planned on cooking Egg Rolls earlier in the week, but the plans fell over. :( This left me with an odd assortment of items in the larder. After a few days, it was time to get creative with my ingredients.


Pork so good you'll be craving it an hour later with foodie lust throbbing on your tongue. Yeah, it's got an oriental groove happening. Yummy.

It go like this, here it go...

Nookie Pork

1 24oz Garlic and Herb Pork Sirloin from Hormel
1 Plum
1/4 c Apricot Preserves (or 1/2c Dried Apricots)
3 Tbsp Soy Sauce
1 Tbsp Sesame Oil
1/4 c Brown Sugar
2/3 c Apple Juice
1 Tbsp Rice Wine Vinegar
1/2 Tbsp Lemon Juice
1 tsp Onion Powder
1 tsp Five Spice Powder
2 tsp Minced Ginger

Crock Pot or Oven, either way that you prefer. Oven style gets covered and cooked at 350 for 1.5 hours. Try to flip it at least once halfway through. Use your thermometer, the interior temp needs to be at least 170 degrees.

Unwrap the pork and set it in your crock or pan.

If you want to add veg, now is the time to think about it. Broccoli, scallions, snow peas and thin slices of carrot is how I'd go. Just pick out what you like and scatter it around your meat. Feel free to throw some cashews in there, if you're feeling spunky. A few spicy peppers can change the flavors dramatically. Don't be skerred, it's just food, Dude.

Pit the plum and toss it into the blender or mini processor with all the spices and liquids mentioned above. Puree and pour over the meat and veg.

Cook that sucker.

When it's finished, let the meat rest for at least 30 minutes before slicing. I prefer to slice my roast and throw it back into the pot, tossing gently with a big spoon, to coat it with all the yummy goodness that has settled on the bottom.

If it doesn't POW, add a smidge more soy. 

Serve over rice, noodles or even rice noodles - whatever grooves you. Nomomnom!

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

6 Month Streaming Anniversary!

We've been off cable for 6 months. A-ma-zing! I've had cable in the house since the early 80's, so this is a big thing for me. There have been bumps and it's still nowhere NEAR perfect but it's passable and you can't beat it for the money. Not. At. All.

So far what I've learned is stuff I already kind of assumed, but didn't have the cheese or the gumption to make a reality.

Mo Bandwith, Mo Betta - If you're streaming on more than one unit plus have computer(s) in der haus, upgrade as high as your provider will let you and if'n ya gotta, switch providers to get the highest speed you can find. Yeah, affordability is a balancing act - how much cabbage you've gotta lay out vs how many times you can handle yourself or someone else in the home bitching about their electronic device creeping, freezing or puking. We're running at 3.0 Mbps which is horribly slow for what we need. Don't be me. Pay the money, man, just pay it.

Schedules and Time - Netflix will only allow you to stream on 2 units at a time. You want more? Pay more. (Cha, as if?!) Pops' system is considered in the house as "always on" and "Netflix hog". All other users have to recognize that there is a bandwith drain 24 hours in there and that there is only one other Netflix slot available at any given time. If I want to download, uh, stuff - I have to wait until there is nobody else using bandwith. We call it "eating your BamWich" thanks to an untechsavvy ex-roomie who thought that's what we were saying whilst complaining about lack of bandwidth.
*Huge shout out to the cast and writers of Charmed. You've kept an old man held warm in the embrace of your jiggly and giggly. Extra kisses to the wardrobe department! - Thanks, Dad.* 

Channels - With new apps coming available all the time, there are endless new channels to look at and realize they suck yak scrote. You will see groovy apps for HBOGO and Syfy, for example. HBO will not let loose of it's goodness unless you're market cost paying for it. She's an old whore who has experience that far outweighs the new kids and is still mighty good looking for her age, so no money-money?  No honey, Honey. HBO refuses to sign any agreement that will allow the streaming pay sites access to their content. (read:Netflix and HuluPlus). HBO refuses to offer a'la carte streaming service. Ain't gonna. No way. No how. Showtime does offer it's shows - the old ones - on Netflix. Again with the no a'la carte. Syfy will show you endless clips of behind the scenes stuff but not a single episode via their app. You can, however, stream most of their shows on your computer for free. This is a problem with HuluPlus as well. Some shows they will only allow you to view through the computer website, rather than on a streaming box or game system. Why? Dunno, though my best guess involves money. (Money is usually the answer to any question.) There are free movie apps that do show movies for free. Not generally films that I'd devote time to - but they're there.  Crackle is a pretty cool saving grace. I've found some fun tv shows on there and the occasional neat movie. It leans heavily towards the cult movie tribe, which is a great idea. I like I Heart Radio. It's a targeted radio app/channel that lets you pick from music stations all across the US. There is a premium aspect to it, if you choose to go that route, which offers more options for choosing artists and music. I'm doing fine with the free version. If a channel is free, I'm more than willing to give it a test drive and see if I like what it's offering.  More than half the time I'm noticing that the app really doesn't have what I'm looking for. Personally, some of these apps/channels from the big networks feel like placeholders - don't want to give away too much or make things too easy, but gotta gotta have at least something out there. The NBC channel has grown quite a bit in the last 6 months. Still not great, but I'm no fan of their webstreaming site, either.

Hardware - Wii is fine - in the little kids room. Or maybe for Grandma because she only wants to watch Netflix. Anyway, you can probably pick up a used/pawnshop Wii for cheaper than a Roku. PS3 and Xbox 360, well you know how I feel about that already. I likee the xbox for streaming - if you MUST stream on a gaming system. Roku eats the gaming system's lunches every time.
A good router is a very important link. My rule of thumb is the same for routers as for kids shoes, buy a size larger - they're gonna keep growing and buy quality, used if that's all you can afford. I absolutely ADORE the cisco router we have. It has a Smart Wi-Fi application that allows you to see who is on your router and turn off anything that is connected to it, even set times for wi-fi to turn on and off for each electronic item.

LAN vs Wifi - Before the cursing starts, do you own your home? Allowed to rewire stuff or drill holes in walls? Pining for the 70's when everyone had speaker wire strung up walls and across ceilings? If you answered "Yes" to any of those questions, LAN is going to be your new best friend. Hardwiring does not involve line of sight, it is faster and more reliable than wi-fi. Yeah, wifi is groovy and all. For friends who pop by and use your internet, tablets and phones. Or if you're renting your pad. If you have the ability to run ethernet cables in your house, do so. Cat6 is the new boy on the block and he's built for the future. Not much more expensive than the current standard Cat5e cable. Cat5 is fading into the background, don't bother using it. We're going to tackle this project in the next month. *shudder* It's been interesting trying to decide where to run the lines... above or below. I'm an ebay slut. I won't pay $40 for 50ft of Cat6 at a chain store when I can buy it out of New York and have it sent to my house for the bargain price of $12.

Timey Wimey - It's a work in progress, still. I don't have everything as tweaked as I'd like it to be. It's a big change. I can't tell what time it is by walking through the house. Hmm, the Today show, must be 9am. Ah, Colbert! It's 11:30! I like the gorge viewing part. It's how I read, so no wonder there. Cable cutting is becoming so prevalent that there are bills in the House over how to regulate it. Cable companies are peeing their pants, so we're doing something right. I think this is the start of a wave that is only gonna get bigger and more awesome. Time will tell...

Monday, September 16, 2013

Part 1 - Newfangled Idiot Boxes and You in the console gaming continuum.

Whoee. Just spent some time dragging the techie boards for my dearest. Our bedroom telly suffered a critical malfunction about two weeks ago. That area is where Mister does his PS3 crack. (Xbox is in the livingroom with a Wii riding shotgun)

As acquisitions maven and super-research woman, it's my job to find the closest to perfection that my clinically thrifty arse can buy.

First step: How big do you really need?

Bigger is not always better. I had Cap'n Sexy sit in his "optimal gaming area" and tell me where his peripheral vision maxes out, whipped out ye olde tape measure and got a length. Televisions are measured in diagonal inches, rather than height or length. I took a look at the specs for 5 different tv's, trying to find out where the standard width is compared to the diagonal. Bingo! 32" will be fine. 39" is just a tad too big unless he moves. Too big = can't see all of the screen and ends up dead a whole lot in first person shooter games. (bag o' suck!)

Fine Print Info: Tech specs and number babble

From what I have gathered on said geekboards, when you're looking at under 42", the differences are negligible when it comes to clarity. It's completely a "eye of the controller-holder" kind of groove. Unless - you're considering a ps4, then you wanna go 120hz. The Xbox and Ps3 game systems and games are set (currently) for a 720p output at 60hz. LCD is fading away in the face of LED. Plasma - new, not old - is the super best (but way more expensive) Old plasma tends to have burn in problems. The battle is still raging between 120hz and 60hz. Again, under 42" - pfft - go cheap. Lots of complaining about "soap opera vision" where the lines and blacks are SO crisp it looks super-real. Yeah, it's distracting to me as well, so I'm gonna try to avoid that.

Second Step:  Field testing!

I've narrowed the field to a 32" 720p wall mountable LED tv, most likely 60hz. Time to go look at them in their natural habitat... Best Buy or Sears, maybe Walmart and Target. Currently, these sets are selling in the $200/$ 250 range on the lower end. I expect to purchase whatever extended warranty is available which tacks on another $50 give or take. (Time to find out who gets employee discounts where)

Part 2 - Newfangled Idiots Boxes and You will happen once a purchase has been made and we've run it for about a month.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Cheap Ass Chinese - Dumplings (dim sum)

Pops was always pretty good about bringing new food influences into the house and not being scared to try and replicate them. It gave me a cavalier attitude towards cooking. If it fails, feed it to the dog. If the dog won't eat it, try the cat. If the cat says, hell no - trash it and go get trashed, while laughing at your culinary wedgie. Yes, I have wrecked up bad enough that I was unable to in good conscience offer it to the critters. So, you skip two steps, it goes straight into the can and then, beer.

When I buy Dim Sum at the local chinese to-go, it's like $4 for 6 dumplings and some gingery soy sauce. Mama is WAY too cheap for that kind of action. I'm not so much caring about authenticity as I am about taste. The goal is to completely wreck your tastebuds, so that when you go out and just pick some up feeling lazy it tastes like cardboard.

The local grocery stores around here have ground pork for $2.50/lb. Flour is HOW cheap? Piffle, time to get out some recipes and make this worth the money. Yes, they can be frozen (before you cook them) to be eaten later. I'm not sure how long they can last... mine don't make it past the end of the week.

The Sauce v1 :

1 c Soy Sauce
1" Ginger knuckle - peeled and finely chopped
1 c Orange Juice
2 Tbsp Brown Sugar

Toss it in a pot and simmer until it's about 2/3rds of the original size. Strain if you have picky people who can't handle a bite or sight of ginger in their sauce. I keep a clean glass Salad dressing bottle to decant the sauce into once it's cooled.

The Filling :

1 Medium Carrot - grated
4 Scallions or Shallots if you prefer - minced
1# Fresh Ground Pork
2 tsp Five Spice Powder
1 Tbsp Crisco or Vegetable Shortening
1" Ginger knuckle - peeled and minced
1 tsp Soy Sauce
2 Tbsp Corn Starch

Dim sum is really a fridge cleaning easy chow. If you have elderly mushrooms, go ahead put em in. A squash that's about to turn? Shred that sucker. Wilting celery? Why not - chop it really fine.

Mix everything together in a bowl, cover it and stick it in the fridge until you're ready to cook em.

The Wraps :

What's the end goal? Do you want to fry them and then steam them? (That's potstickers) Then you'll need a thicker dough. Boil em in a soup? A little thicker than for steaming. Just steam them? Then you need a nice thin dough.

2 c Flour
3/4 c Boiling Water

Make a well in your flour and pour in the water, then stir. When you have a solid lump, knead it until it gets smooth and elastic. Yeah, it's gonna be warm, you don't have to burn your mitts off, tho.  Put the dough in a ziplock bag and let it sit on the counter for about an hour. You want to give the gluten time to develop. Some website I was on said that the dough should have the firmness of your earlobe. That's been working aces for me so far...

Assembly : 

Get your filling and dough out. A floured board and rolling pin, too. Snatch a chunk of dough outta the bag - about the size of a fat green grape. Roll it into a circle that's about as wide as a largish coffee cup rim. Or a big biscuit... Drop a tablespoon of filling into the center and pinch the sides closed. There are many different ways to make beautiful and creative looking dumplings. Bah - it's gonna be in mah belly soon enough, pretty can be for flowers. If you need a few drops of water to seal the dough, use em.

I steam mine in batches of 6 for 11 minutes per batch. If the center is firm, you're good. Don't want no raw pork, ain't gonna serve no raw pork. No way. No how.

Once you have your little dumpling sealed and ready for the next step, that's the time to freeze what you want to save. I steam a batch - see if I want to add more ginger, salt or five spice - adjust the mix and test it again before I freeze keeper batches. Too late for wishing once the dumpling has been sealed. Way too late once it's frozen. Spray some grease on a cookie sheet and throw the dumplings on there while you're making them, then stick the pan in the freezer. Once they're solid, toss em in ziplock bags 6 at a time. You will have to steam them for longer if they're frozen and not fresh. Add another 4 minutes and test. You'll find the timing that works for your setup.

Serving :

Throw 6 in a bowl, coat with the sauce and Nom! Double dipping is encouraged! This recipe makes about 36 dumplings. Yeah, think about the costs for a second. All said and done, it should cost less than $8 to make $24 worth of dumplings. And you don't have to wonder what's in it.

You want to try beef, chicken or shrimp? Go ahead! You want to add dried mushrooms to make em a little more savory? Soak your mushies and mince away! I don't eat any kind of seafood, but I'm told that a blend of 2/3 pork to 1/3 chopped shrimp is the super-duper-bomb-diggity.

More than white flour, you got options.

Bread, so evil but so yummy. 

There are different things that can be done to a basic dough to give it your own special grooviness.

Sweeter dough? Add 2 Tbs honey or brown sugar or molasses.

Garlicky dough? Switch your salt for Adobo Crillollo and add fresh or powdered garlic. Maybe 2 tbsp of grated Parmesan for fun.

Prettier dough? Add finely chopped craisins or other dried fruit to a sweet dough. Italian herbs to a garlicky or pizza dough. Savory herbs like rosemary or tarragon or caraway seed or fennel spark up a hearty loaf.

Don't be skerred, it's just bread. Try your own additions, if you like it - yay!, if not, maybe something else will do it for you.

Bread dough is not just about the nifty additions, the flour you use is important to taste and texture as well.

All Purpose White Flour : Good enough to get away with, if'n that's all ya gots in the cupboard. It won't rise as high - it's got gluten but not the mad amounts you need for really pouffy bread.

Bread Flour : Now, we're talking! It's got a higher gluten amount than APW and all the Wonder Bread whiteness you could ever want.

White-Wheat Flour : About equal to APW when it comes to gluten, gives the bread a slightly more ivory tone.

Whole Wheat Flour : Yeah, it looks like your normal wheat bread color but has a bit less gluten in it than APW. It's also a little tougher, as it's a whole grain.

Semolina (Durum) Flour : This is the pizza/pasta flour. It makes your Italian bread chewy. You will have to hit a moderately upscale grocery to find it (or even get them to order it in) Higher in gluten than APW

Rye Flour : This is what gives Rye and Pumpernickel bread their distinctive flavors. It's easier to find than Semolina, but not by much. I'm working on my Pumpernickel recipe, will post when I've got it share-worthy. About the same gluten as Whole Wheat.

Oat Flour : I'm sure someone sells this - but I ain't buying it. Pfft, man, I'm cheap.  Get a box of your favourite Oatmeal and stick it in an electric mini chopper. Oatmeal keeps the bread moister and gives it a springy texture. About the same gluten as Whole Wheat.

Milled Flax Seed : Lots of positive health benefits. Thumbs up to the omega vitamins and whatnot. Very low gluten.

There are many many more types of flour... oh yeah. Do your research on what you wanna use and get down with it. If I've used it with pleasant results, I'll add it later. If not, have fun exploring...

Now that you've seen the list... how does it apply?

My personal bread recipe calls for 4.5 cups of flour like substance. I try to keep at least 2 cups of bread flour in the mix. Too much less and your bread won't rise as high. If you really need to use less than that, try to keep at least 3 cups of APW in the mix or add a packet of Vital Wheat Gluten. That's extra gluten you can sprinkle in to help the dough rise high.

The other 2.5 cups.... mix and match what works for you. I rarely go over 1/2 c of milled flax in my doughs. It has very low gluten. Get all mad scientisty about it. It's fun.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Homemade hot pockets! Zomg!!

After mastering the art of carbolicious bready goodness, it was time to do something else with it.

Hot pockets? Sure! I've got leftover meat from a roast.

First step - whaddya want in it? Well... what'cha got? I like meat, cheese and veg in mine. Pick out what looks good to you.

Make the dough... go to my bread recipe to see how...

Filling example :

2 cups pre-cooked shredded Pork roast
1 Yellow Squash (shredded)
1 Medium Carrot (shredded)
4 scallions (cut into 1/4 bits)
1 can Tomato Paste w/garlic, basil and oregano
Ken's Sweet Vidalia Onion Salad Dressing
Adobo crillollo (spanish seasoned garlic salt)

Put the meat, cheese and veg into a bowl and toss with about 2 tbsp dressing and a few shakes of adobo.

Dough shaping and filling time! :

Take a lump of dough about the size of a tangerine, roll it between your hands to form a log. Grab the rolling pin and roll the dough on a floured board into a rough rectangle shape a little longer than your hand and about as wide.

Spread tomato paste to about 3/4 in from each edge. Coat it well, if you can see the dough add a little more. Put a layer of the stuffing onto the paste and pinch the long edges to seal it. Flip the short edges in over your seam and lay it on a greased cookie sheet seam down. Feel free to squidge the tube o' goodness  to make it a little firmer before you set it down. Spray with more spray grease and cover with a moist paper towel to keep them from drying out as you work.

Repeat until you're out of stuffing or dough.

Make sure to leave at least an inch between hot pockets, so they have room to rise.

Let em rise for about 20- 30 minutes then bake at 350 degrees for about 18 minutes.


Bread baking!

Back in the day, when I was spending more time at the commune than at home I used to try my hand at baking bread. The stoned bastards there would eat just about anything around 3am, so it wasn't hard to get rid of whatever I'd been experimenting on. Bread was my nemesis. I could buy the frozen dough loaves and make those perfectly, but that's not from scratch. From scratch, I ended up with what my father called "Cat Head Bread". It was dense as a brick and dry... oh, so very dry.

Recently, I found a recipe that worked for me. I passed it to my cooking chum and it worked for her as well. So far, I haven't found too much in the carb lovingest bread-land that I can't make with this dough as the base.

It go like this, here it go...

One packet yeast
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup milk
1 Tbsp sugar (white or brown, dealer's choice)

Warm the water to not hot and add to the yeast & sugar in your mixing bowl. Stir gently.

*If the water is too hot it will kill the yeast. I don't use a thermometer. Do the wrist test, if it's just a touch too hot for baby, you're there.

Beat one egg into 1/4 cup of oil. Set to the side.

Add 2.5 cups of flour to your foamy bowl o' yeast. I like to use 1/2 c ground flax, 1 c Whole wheat and 1c All Purpose Flour. Mix until combined.

Add the oily egg stuff and 1/2 tsp salt and 2 Tbsp sugar. Mix until combined.

Add 2 cups Bread Flour. Mix until combined.

Sprinkle more flour onto a board and flop your dough outta the bowl right on it.
Knead by folding the dough towards you, then spinning it 180 degrees and folding it again - whilst mashing it with the heels of your palms. Do this until the dough becomes smooth. Too much kneading will wreck your goodness, so keep an eye on what you're doing.

Grab your can of spray grease and grease up a new bowl. Toss the dough into it and spray the top of the dough. Cover with a damp paper towel and let rise in a warm spot for 20 minutes.

* I put the oven on 200 degrees then set the dough bowl on top of one of the turned off burners. There is usually enough heat bleed through the back eye to warm the dough nicely.

Grease your hands and grab your dough. Let it slump across your fist and tuck the edges under a time or two. Re-grease the bowl and throw the dough back in. Grease it, too. Remoisten your paper towel and cover the dough. Let it sit for another 20 minutes, then do it all over again.

Third time is for the shaping. This should make two loaves or 16 hoagie buns.

My fav thing to do right now is making homemade hot pockets.

Yeah, I'll post that recipe too...