Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Honey Whole Wheat (almost) Bread

I'm reading this book right now called "Angela's Ashes" by Frank McCourt. It is a memoir about his life growing up in Ireland: very poor. It's a heart wrenchingly sad book and I'm not sure why I'm compelled to keep reading. Maybe it's to broaden my horizons about what life is like for others, to have more compassion for the world outside of my small view of things in happyville.

The reason I bring this book up is that this family struggles daily for food, coal to boil water, and every necessity in life. (Partly because his father likes to drink the pints.) Anyways, Little Franky was given a few pennies and bought a "sweet" for himself and he savored every moment it was in his mouth. What would that be like?

We have ease and luxury at every fingertip. Even as I type this post. I have in my view a digital camera, a cell phone, a cordless phone, and a computer. And I think we are broke!! We have gotten SO used to the easiness of life that we think it's actually HARD!

I'm just as guilty. I raised my kids on chicken dinos, mac n cheese, and fishey crackers. And now I balk at them when they turn their noses up at a kidney bean. In an attempt to make life "easier" we have actually made it harder. Our kids aren't satisfied with simple these days. They want physodellic fruity puffs, chocolatey gramwacked squares, and IPODS, PDAS and IMACS. Believe me, I do too.

But I can't help but think, what if we ever have to go through a real depression? I guess we will learn all too quickly what REAL problems are.

But there are times, especially lately, that I want my life, my cooking, my happyville to be simpler. Like on Little House, when the kids would jump for joy if their Pa brought home a piece of honey candy, one for each. I think that's why I bake bread. I feel connected to the past. Connected to Ma and Pa and to the simple times when you went to bed at sundown and you rose with the crow of the rooster.

I love it when the kids come home from school and get excited about the loaves of homemade bread on the counter, hot from the oven. I feel like I'm nourishing their souls.

...just somethings I think about when I'm baking bread. (click for my recipe)

Friday, September 19, 2008

Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls

Are you in a baking mood? Man, I am. It must be the cooler days teasing us - fall is here, even though in California it is a mild change, those of us that live her definitely feel the subtleties in the weather. So I have this Sweet Yeast Bread Dough recipe from a cookbook by Bryanna Clark Grogan (who is by the way an amazing culinary genius) and I decide to whip up a batch of her FAT FREE Cinnamon roll dough.

What's that you say? FAT FREE Cinnamon roll dough? Sounds disgusting?
Well, my friend it is indeed not. But you be the judge.
I dare you to try it.

So the first day I made the rolls for the kids
with earth balance, brown sugar, and cinnamon.

They ate. They yummed. I watched.

It wasn't fair.

So here comes day #2. I decide to stop sitting on the sidelines and make some I can enjoy as well. But what could I put inside them that would be moist, flavorful, yet not sickeningly sweet (as sometimes happens when you don't use fat in baking)

My hero. Pumpkin Butter. You have been sitting in my fridge for a few weeks now, patiently being spread on toasted Ezekiel bread. It's not glamorous - but it was a divine thing we shared everyday at 3pm. I loved you even then - in your simpler days - but now your day in the hot sun has come at last!

After making the dough, follow the directions for rising in the fridge overnight. Don't skip this part - the dough does need to be cold to work with.

Next, divide the dough into 2 equal parts. And roll out about yay big.

Next spread on luscious topping of choice. (Enter Pumpkin Butter stage left)
I also sprinkled a little brown sugar and cinnamon. But wouldn't a bit of pecans or walnuts be good? mmm...

Or, for the kids, hubby (or you) the traditional: butter, brown sugar and cinnamon. I used Earth Balance for the butter.

Next, roll up and cut into pretty generous rolls. Mine were almost 2 inches. I got 11 rolls per roll of dough - making 22 rolls total.

Carefully place them on a baking sheet about this close together. You want them to be kissing each other by the time they get out of the oven. The cozier the better.

The ones in the front look better because they aren't slippery with the pumpkin butter. But they still turned out rockin' and rollin'.

When they came out of the oven, I drizzled more pumpkin butter on the tops (of mine) and made a simple icing (EB, powdered sugar, vanilla & rice milk) for the kids'.

Here they are. Little bundles of gooey sweetness. They were awesome, and I loved the savory/ sweet combo the pumpkin added - it was a nice balance.

So, really, come on, can you believe this little fellow is actually harmless? Neither could I (or my neighbor or friends for that matter) It isn't right that more people don't know that you can have your Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls and eat 'em too!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

French Toast Frenzy

I am continually amazed at the fact that you don't HAVE to cook with eggs, butter and milk in order for something to taste delicious. I think it's the old fashioned way of thinking (not that I have anything against old-fashionedness) I personally think we have so much to learn from those simpler days, but we're talking about food here, and in the olden days they had farms and they used what was available. (Plus they worked in them farms and worked off all the fat they were consuming or else the winter cold stripped it off their bodies like butter off a warm plate).

Where was I?

Oh yeah. Cooking without dairy products. It can prove to be a challenge - unless you learn a few tricks. Here is one of them: nuts. They are so darn useful I could just shout a big THANK YOU from my roof top to the person who created them. (and we all know who that is).

So I had this loaf of Sunflour Bakery's Cinnamon Bread that my sweet neighbor gave me (the day old bread her dad picks up for the Senior Center - gets handed down to me when there is a surplus) and I was thinking it would make terrific french toast. Problem? We don't do eggs. But I remembered a trick I saw in a McDougall Cookbook about making cashew milk. Well I didn't have any cashews but I had walnuts. So this is what I did: click here for recipe

VIOLA! A super yummy coating for french toast - that is SUPER good for you too!

ALL of my kids AND my sister-in-law (who lives with us) were pounding it! They LOVED it! They said it was better than "regular old-fashioned" french toast. It even browned a beautiful color with a crispy outside and soft inside. They used powdered sugar to top it off. But you could also slice bananas on top or use syrup if you wish.

Happy Breakfast!

How it all began...

It all started about 11 months ago, when I wanted to shed a few pounds. I decided to go the healthiest route: the very best nutrition and a bit o' exercise. A few months later, my website passthepotatoes.com was born. I wanted a way to share what I had learned along with all the recipes I had been trying on my family. You see I believe that nutritious food that is GREAT for you doesn't have to taste like cardboard! Those who know me know that I love to cook, and I love to eat and I love to bake for my family and friends - and I WILL find a way to make it healthy or I will cease to enjoy life. Because one of the greatest pleasures in life is delicious food and great people to enjoy it with - for many years to come. I can help you with the first part -but your on your own with the second!

So I hope you enjoy the ramblings of a mom about what goes into the mouths of her family on a daily, weekly or maybe monthly basis. (We'll see how much time this takes.) Here goes nothin'...

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