Best Thing Since Sliced Bread

I’ve never been a huge bread fan. At least not when it came to the store bought kind. I ate it when I was a kid because…well, I ate everything when I was a kid. But I much preferred a pack of Lemonheads or a piece of fried chicken. Now though, I kind of like some of the store kinds. Not the ones in the bread aisle; they still suck donkey toes. But I love how so many grocery stores are now branching out into making artisan breads or at the very least, they stock more than an occasional loaf of stale French bread.

The problem with the fact that stores have gone gourmet is that I now bake less (as the lack of posts shows). When it’s so easy to grab a loaf of fresh rye bread or fresh Vienna bread at ones local Kroger, it is easy to become lazy. And since lazy and I are friends from way back (I could tell you stories about my mother being convinced that I would never ever learn to keep a house clean. Mom, wherever you are, I’m sure you’re tickled that I now keep a clean home and am actually pretty anal about it.), I’ve been lazy. And being me, I have felt guilty about being lazy. I haven’t been giving my family the baked goods they love nor keeping up in here. But now, with the weather getting colder, I, like so many of you, am back to baking. Yay for baking! You will not however, be getting the recipe for the pumpkin sticky buns I made the other day because they pretty much stunk. I have another version I will be trying and posting. Todays homemade bread though? Yep; you’re getting that recipe. This comes form the cookbook Bon Appetit, Y’all” I love this cookbook. Good southern cooking and the writing is sweet in parts, funny in others. There is a recipe in there for Honey Whole Wheat bread. Since I’ve been trying to eat better, I wanted to make this as opposed to say, one for “There is no nutrition whatsoever in this bread” white bread. Though I’m not sure the home made honey butter I slathered all over my piece helped the cause of nutrition hehe.

This is easily made. I don’t have a stand mixer so I did the mixing part by hand. Do your arm exercises; this is a heavy dough 😛 The original recipe calls for shaping this and putting it into loaf pans but I wanted a more rustic look so went for hand shaped freeform loaves. Now this is NOT a light airy loaf so if that’s what you’re looking for, this isn’t the recipe for you. This is a heavy, fairly dense loaf. It’s also chock full of flavor and nutrition from the whole wheat flour and wheat germ. I also added some of this Harvest Grains Blend  from King Arthur Flour which upped both the flavor and the nutrition. if you can buy some of this, do so. It’s a wonderfully tasty addition to many baked goods.

Honey Whole Wheat Bread

  • 3 1/4 cup warm water (no hotter than 115 degrees; about 110 is optimal for blooming yeast)
  • 1/3 cup good quality honey
  • 2 packets dry yeast
  • 4 cups bread flour
  • 3 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup wheat germ
  • 1/2 cup Harvest Grains Blend (optional- could also throw in a mix of say, sunflower kernels and flax seed)
  • 2 tablespoons sea salt (yes, 2; sea salt takes more than table salt to get the same flavor)
  1. In a large measuring cup, mix together the warm water, yeast and honey. Stir to dissolve then set aside while you mix the other ingredients.
  2. In a large bowl, mix together the whole wheat flour, bread flour, wheat germ, salt and grain blend (if using)
  3. Pour in the yeast mixture (it should be nice and foamy by now). Mix this together well; either by hand or if you are blessed to have a stand mixer, on low speed with the dough hook. Mix just until it is well combined.
  4. Dump the dough (and any dregs in the bowl) out onto a lightly floured board (kitchen counter in my case). Knead the dough well, adding a LITTLE more flour at a time if sticky, until it forms a cohesive mass. Continue to knead for about 10 minutes. You want dough that is smooth and elastic and that, if you poke it, is somewhat springy.
  5. Plop the dough into an oiled bowl. Turn the dough to make sure all of it is oiled, then cover with plastic wrap or a clean dish towel and put in a warm place to rise until it is doubled in bulk.
  6. When risen, divide in half and either shape into loafs and put into oiled loaf pans or as I did, make into 2 freeform loaves. If you do this, put each one onto an oiled baking sheet. Let rise until doubled in size, about 30 to 45 minutes.
  7. While they are rising, preheat your oven to 400. If your oven runs hot, go down to 375. The bottoms on mine got a bit too brown at 400. Bake until nicely browned, about 45 minutes (again; ovens are different so check after about 30 minutes). They should sound hollow when tapped on top.
  8. If in loaf pans,  cool in the pan for 5 minutes, then invert onto a wire rack.
  9. Serve with every bad for you spread you can think of 😀

Print Friendly and PDF

Not Your Daddys Oldsmobile (Or Your Mommas Potato Soup)

I wonder how many of my readers are too young to even remember that advertising campaign. Twas back in the ’80’s I believe with the premise being that the “new” oldsmobile (looking back at what now would be an antique car lol. Damn, I’m old) was so modern and improved that it was nothing like what your daddy drove and no longer had the stigma of being dowdy and old fashioned.

What the heck does this have to do with food you ask? Whadda ya mean; you didn’t ask?! Why are you here then? So for those of you who ASKED (hmmppphhh to the rest of you). Well, it’s the same with foods. There are some things that get ostracized from the foodie world because they are seen as dowdy and old fashioned. When have you seen a post praising liverwurst/braunschweiger ? or one touting Pickled Herring as the best movie time snack? Once upon a time, both of these things, among many others, were considered delicious every day foods. And while I personally happen to love both, I know I’m in the minority. Foods get pushed aside for the newest trend, a fact I’ve mourned more than once in this blog.

One thing though that seems to have held on through the test of time is potato soup. Oh sure, you can look and find some strange ones that use truffle oil and caviar or ones that have the calorie count required by an amoeba as well as the taste of a piece of cardboard. But good old fashioned creamy potato soup seems to be loved by most. There are a few weirdos out there but they also ate school paste as kids and we won’t count them. Their taste buds are still glued together.

But even the old can be made better (other than Joan Rivers and Meg Ryans plastic surgery attempts; there are some things that can’t be fixed *shudders*). Witness said Oldsmobile :-P. And you all know me; if it can be changed, I will do it. Not a drastic change mind you; I like continuity and sameness too much. But just enough change to take something that at times can taste like Elmer’s glue (I seem to have a glue/paste fetish going here today. Hmm)

So I played with potato soup today. Ok, that came out wrong but you know what I mean. And I must say, I think I have made some pretty darn delicious soup. It’s thick, creamy, rich without being overwhelming, meaty, chock full of potato flavor with a burst of texture from onions and potato chunks. All in all, I think this will become my standard way of making potato soup. It takes a bit more time than just dumping dry potato flakes in a pot and adding milk (did anyone elses mother do that?), salt and pepper but it’s still very easy. So go buy some taters.You’ll like this. This makes a large pot of soup so cut in half if need be or soup freezes well. Also, I used Bob Evans Brand mashed potatoes; just a personal preference; use your favorite. This recipe is all me btw… just played around with the basic idea of potato soup

Creamy Potato Soup (Worlds Best 😛 )

  • 5 medium potatoes, chopped into small pieces (peel or not; your choice. I like the peel)
  • 3 cans good quality chicken broth
  • 2 medium onions, chopped (about 2 cups)
  • 1 cup chopped leeks
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • 2 stalked celery, chopped fine
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 lb smoked andouille sausage (I used Aidells brand )
  • 8 ounces bacon, cooked and crumbled (go ahead and throw a teaspoon or so of the bacon drippings in there too. I won’t judge.) plus a few extra cooked slices for garnish
  • 1 package refrigerator style ready made mashed potatoes (I used the sour cream & chive flavor)
  • 8 ounces cream cheese, cubed (I had to laugh when all I had was 1/3 less fat. Don’t think it helped much in this 😛 )
  • 8 ounces Gruyere cheese, shredded
  • 8 to 12 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 2 cups half and half
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 3 green onions, sliced thin and more for garnish
  • extra chicken broth if you prefer a thinner soup
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • GARNISHES- our cream, bacon, green onions, more cheese
  1. Combine your chopped potatoes and the 3 cans of chicken broth in a large (preferably non stick) pot. Bring to a boil, then turn heat down to a low simmer.
  2. While potatoes cook, in a large saucepan over low heat, saute the onions, leeks, shallot, celery and garlic. You’re not wanting to brown the veggies, just sweat them out and soften them so keep your heat low. When veggies are nice and tender, dump them into the pot with the potatoes.
  3. In the same pan you sauteed the veggies in, add the sliced andouille. Turn the heat up to about medium high and cook them until nice and crispy on both sides. Toss them into the pot too making sure to get all the drippings in the pan in there too.
  4. Add in your bacon (don’t forget to save some for garnish) and the refrigerator mashed potatoes
  5. Stir well until the mashed potatoes are smooth and let this all simmer together over low heat (keep an eye on this and stir frequently to prevent sticking) for about 30 minutes.
  6.  Add in your shredded cheese and the cream cheese. Stir constantly until the cheeses are smoothly incorporated into the soup.
  7. Add the half and half. Continue cooking the soup just until it’s heated through. You don’t want to bring it back to a boil because that can break down the cream and sour cream and make the soup very unattractive and curdled looking.
  8. Ladle into soup bowls and garnish with your favorite toppings. We had this served with a buttered dark bread and it was a fantastic, filling EASY meal.

Print Friendly and PDF