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baking Brian family Food Thoughts

On to the Good Stuff

I was talking to a friend in the TechSAV Slack this morning about people running around without masks and being aggressively ignorant about it online and in person and as I was about to spiral into anger and sadness, I just decided… I don’t want to.

Instead, I decided to hop over here and write something about all the good stuff that’s happened while I’ve been stuck at home with my family – the happy accidents, the intentional accidents, and the successes (both intentional and accidental).

  • The Wire: The Ringer has a new podcast recapping every episode of my favorite show of all time. I used this as an opportunity to get Brian to watch the show with me, and he has! We’re now several episodes ahead of the podcast, but he’s really into the show, so I’m fine plowing ahead.
  • Home Haircuts: Brian has been growing out his hair since 8th grade (he’s just finishing 10th). The other day, he said, “I’m thinking of shaving my head.” I asked him 3-4 times if he was sure he wanted to. He said yes, so we grabbed the clippers and a chair, and went to the backyard. It was surprisingly fun to take all that hair off his head.
  • Exercise: I was doing pretty well on the bike last fall and then just stopped… and I can’t remember why. But, I’m back! I closed the Move ring on my watch every day last week, and am on to closing it this week too!
  • Gardening and the Barter Economy: I decided it was time to try gardening again, so I planted a bunch of seeds and did the whole “throw scallion ends in a jar” thing. The scallion trick works great, by the way. The seeds? Not so much. But, I have a friend who loves bread and is an amazing gardener, so I’m trading her a loaf of sourdough for a bunch of seedlings that will get planted this weekend. I even set up a table for gardening in the backyard that will hopefully keep the terrible weeds from my dilapidated raised beds away from the new plants.
  • Cooking With Constraints: We’ve been trying to only go to the store every 2-3 weeks, which means towards the end of that time, we have to get creative with our meals. We’ve been trying all kinds of recipes, and it’s been a lot of fun tweaking them to use the ingredients we have instead of running to the store. My favorites so far have been Bang Bang Chicken and Scallion Pancakes.

There are probably more things, but that’ll do for now. I hope you’re staying safe and as happy as you can be.

Categories
baking Baking With Kevin

Baking With Kevin: Sourdough

Due to the outrageous demands of about three people, I did another episode of Baking With Kevin, this time about sourdough and walking through my all-time favorite recipe (including the tweaks I’ve made to it over the years I’ve been making it).

This was my first time trying out Facebook Live and other than the video being portrait, it wasn’t horrible. I could actually see peoples’ comments and questions as I was working, which was easier than the previous Google Meet-based (OK, totally calling it Meetspace from now on) episode. It’s still really weird essentially talking to myself.

I posted these to the Facebook event before I started the video, because the process takes so long, the only live demo part was dividing the dough and forming loaves. So, now you get to see them, and the video at the bottom! Lucky you.

A levain sitting in the mixing bowl waiting to get turned into bread dough
I mix up my levain in the mixing bowl, because… why dirty more than one bowl?
The inside of a mixing bowl full of shaggy bread dough.
After mixing all the ingredients together, I let it autolyse (give the flour more time to absorb the water) for an hour, which is twice as long as the recipe calls for. I’ve found it makes kneading a lot easier.
A shaggy mess of kneaded dough in the mixing bowl.
This is what my dough looks like after kneading. It should be sticky. I usually pry it out of the bowl with my hard spatula.
Freshly kneaded dough in an oiled bowl
Hey, there’s my awesome spatula! And some dough ready to bulk ferment!
A tripod, bowl with a towl over it, spatula, two brotforms and a dutch oven on my kitchen counter
Everying in its place, ready to film the episode.
Two gorgeous loaves of pain au levain on a cooling rack.
And here’s the final product! I meant to take a picture of the cuts before baking, but I forgot. Next time.

The next episode will probably be Michael Ruhlman’s sandwich bread, since so many people are baking now just to pass the time, and avoid going to the store. If I can help them get a little more comfortable making bread, I guess that’s something.

Categories
baking Baking With Kevin The Carolina Housewife Project

Baking With Kevin

It’s weird what we come up with when new constraints are added to our daily lives. I never would have thought of doing a Google Meet with friends while I baked bread and talked to myself. Never. But, here we are. Last Sunday, I did a Google Meet with my friend Jes and her three small children where I showed them how to make pizza dough, and taught them about yeast farts. I made the mistake of posting a photo my wife took of the process to Facebook, which resulted in people asking me to do it again. Which is how we got here, I guess.

So, this time, we made my Caroline Rice and Wheat Bread recipe. Jes and her kids were there, as was John F. Croston. Other people tried to join, but something went wrong… next time.

Thanks to Google providing pro features for free during all of this, I was able to record it. And then I uploaded it to Vimeo. And now you can inflict it on yourself!

Categories
baking Recipes The Carolina Housewife Project

Reviving Old Recipes: Carolina Rice and Wheat Bread

I’ve had this obsession with old community cookbooks for a couple of years now, snatching them up whenever I find them at thrift stores, flea markets, etc.  There are two shelves on our big bookcase full of spiral bound journals of recipes from as early as 1933 and as late as 1991.  Honestly, I prefer the older ones.  Starting in around 1960, everything has at least one tin of salmon or tuna and a bucket of mayo in it.

Then I found The Carolina Housewife, which isn’t really a community cookbook.  It was published in 1847 anonymously, but most likely written by Sarah Rutledge.  I found a copy on Amazon, but it was just scanned pages, and almost impossible to read…  but what I read had me hooked.  No easy-to-read list of ingredients and step by step instructions.  Each recipe is a paragraph, full of lots of assumed knowledge (that I don’t have).  I was so fascinated, I found and ordered an old library copy on eBay and have this crazy idea that I’m going to take all the bread recipes, update them with modern ingredients and publish them.

But, I kept putting it off.  The recipes are intimidating.  But, I finally found my first one, Carolina Rice and Wheat Bread.  It took a few attempts, but I think I’ve got it.

The Original Recipe

 Simmer one pound of rice in two quarts of water until it is quite soft; when it is cool enough, mix it well with four pounds of flour, yeast and salt as for other bread; of yeast, four large spoonfuls. Let it rise before the fire. Some of the flour should be reserved to make the loaves. If the rice swell greatly, and requires more water, add as much as you think proper.

The Carolina Housewife by Sarah Rutledge

My Version

I didn’t attempt to make my own yeast for this, and it took a couple of attempts to get to this point.  Since I have no description of the taste, texture or appearance, I just baked them in loaf pans, and well, they turned out fine!  The long ferment in the fridge helps it develop flavor.  My first attempt didn’t really taste like anything.  This one, with the addition of the whole wheat flour and the longer ferment, still has a subtle flavor, but I think it’s really good.  And don’t worry about lumps of rice!  I have no idea HOW, but it all gets absorbed during mixing and kneading.

This recipe should make two large loaves.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup rice
  • 1 quart (4 cups) water (for the rice)
  • 1.5lb all-purpose flour
  • .5lb whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup of water (for the dough)
  • 2 tablespoons active dry or instant yeast
  • 1.5 tablespoons salt

Directions

  • The first step is to make the rice.  In a large saucepan, heat the rice, quart of water and a healthy pinch of salt over medium heat.  Once it starts bubbling, turn it down to medium low and simmer uncovered until the rice has absorbed almost all of the water and is really soft and sticky. 
  • Let cool to room temperature, or throw it in a bowl and refrigerate overnight.
  • Add the now-cooled rice to the bowl of your mixer, add the flours, yeast and salt and mix on low with the dough hook until the rice breaks up and the flour starts mixing with it.  Slowly add the water, about a tablespoon at a time until a shaggy sticky dough forms.  Depending on how much of the water is left in the rice you might not need all the water.  It should be just wet enough that all the flour gets absorbed into the dough.
  • Once you’ve got the shaggy sticky dough going on, turn up the mixer to 2 or 3 and knead until the dough gets smoother and pulls away from the side of the bowl, about 5-7 minutes.  It’s still going to be sticky, but hey, that’s the rice!
  • Scrape the dough into a large oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap or oiled aluminum foil and throw it in the fridge for 36-48 hours.  Check on it a couple times a day and punch it down if it looks like it’s going to jump out of the bowl.
  • Take the dough out of the fridge, cut the dough in half, form into loaves and put them into oiled loaf pans.  Let rise on the counter covered with a towel for 2.5-3.5 hours until they’ve doubled in size and a peeking over the top of the loaf pans.
  • Bake in a 350 degree oven for 40-50 minutes until they reach an internal temperature of 195-200 degrees, then take the out of the oven, remove them carefully from their pans, rub a stick of butter over the top of the crust, and let cool on a rack as long as you can stand it!
This is what my rice looked like after cooking.  It’s… not super appetizing, but it works!
Another view of the final product!

This recipe is still a work in progress.  If you try it, let me know how it goes!