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Ontario, Canada
I am a wife, mother and grandma who enjoys the many aspects of homemaking. A variety of interests and hobbies combined with travel keep me active. They reflect the importance of family, friends, home and good food.
Cook ingredients that you are used to cooking by other techniques, such as fish, chicken, or hamburgers. In other words be comfortable with the ingredients you are using.
--Bobby Flay

For Your Information

Please watch this area for important information like updates, food recalls, polls, contests, coupons, and freebies.
  • [January 15, 2016] - It's National Soup Month so this month's posts will focus on soups. Yum!
  • [February 1, 2016] - An interesting report on why you should always choose organic tea verses non-organic: Toxic Tea (pdf format)
  • Sticky Post - Warning: 4ever Recap reusable canning lids. The reports are growing daily of these lids losing their seal during storage. Some have lost their entire season's worth of canning to these seal failures!

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Monday, February 26, 2007

Chicken Loaf

There is nothing better than comfort food when the wind is howling bringing freezing rain and snow. Yesterday we were still under the effects of the Colorado Clipper as it made its way northwest. I decided a chicken loaf combined with homegrown peas, pickled beets, oven baked potatoes and Asiago cheese would make a nice comfort meal.

Chicken Loaf

I started with 6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts but you could use other chicken pieces, deboned with skin removed. I ground them twice then proceeded to make the loaf. This is a recipe I created and will likely tweak a bit more.

This firm loaf is moist, tasty and low fat. It slices nicely, just perfect for making sandwiches the next day.

Chicken Loaf

6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 2 lb)
2 tsp poultry seasoning
1 carrot, grated
1 small onion, chopped
1 tsp carrot powder
2 tsp zucchini powder
1 tsp onion powder
1 c dry bread crumbs
1 egg, lightly beaten

Cut the chicken into strips, grind twice with food grinder. Mix in the other ingredients well. Place mixture onto silicone baking sheet or parchment paper on a baking sheet. Form into a loaf. Bake at 350ºF (325ºF convection) for 40 minutes or until golden brown and firm. Remove from oven and let rest 5 minutes before slicing.

My notes: I intended to add shredded zucchini as well but it was in the garage freezer and I didn't feel like going out in the freezing rain. Next time I will add about 1 c drained zucchini and reduce the zucchini powder to 1 tsp. The vegetables keep this loaf moist and tasty.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Homemade Meatballs

Meatballs are everyone's favourite not only because they are so tasty but because they are very versatile. They can be made with different kinds of meat or poultry so the possibilities are endless. I bought the Kitchen Aid food grinder attachment mainly for grinding chicken, turkey and pork. The availability of these ground meats tend to sporadic here and while we get ground pork when we buy a half pig, there never seems to be enough ground pork. My husband has a poker game today so I decided it would be the perfect time to try out the grinder.

Kitchen Aid Food Grinder Attachment

The food grinder attachment comes with two grinding plates, fine and coarse. It is easy to assemble and comes appart for easy cleaning. The parts are dishwasher safe with the exception of the knife and grinding plates. The wooden food stomper has now been replaced with a combined heavy plastic food stomper wrench that is dishwasher safe as well. An additional food tray can be ordered to provied a convenient surface of additional food. When doing bigger lots it would be quite beneficial. This grinder can also be used for grinding cooked meats, firm vegetables, dried fruits, cheese, and bread for crumbs. The food processor is already starting to sulk!

Grinding meat works best when the meat is cold and cut into long, thin strips. It is best to work with a well sharpened knife. For this ground meat I used a 5 lb shank roast bought from the butchershop. This was the cut recommended for lean ground beef.

Once the roast was cut into strips, I started grinding. My only problem was having to stand on a wide based step stool in order to feed the strips into the hopper. After the first pass through using the coase grinding plate, the meat was again ground using the fine grinding plate.

Fresh Ground Shank Roast

Surprisingly, grinding twice which is recommended did not take much time at all. I think it helped that I've used a manual food strainer for quite some time so the method was basically the same only a lot less work. I will definitely be buying the Kitchen Aid food attachment shortly to replace my manual one.

The ground meat was so fresh looking! I usually make meatballs in large batches then flash freeze to keep separate, package into meal sized bags and vacuum seal. These are always handy for quick meals. Because I will be using the meatballs in various ways, I tend not to season a lot. The meat will later pick-up the flavour of whatever sauce I use. I also do not like using any fillers in my meatballs.

Milk is used as the binder resulting in a very moist, meaty meatball.

5 lb lean ground beef
1 - 2 tbsp Worchestershire sauce
1 tsp onion powder (optional)
1 tsp ground cumin (optional)
milk - about 1 c
grapeseed oil

Start with very cold ground meat. Add seasonings and mix well with your hands. Gradually mix in milk until the meat will hold shape when pressed into a ball about the size of a walnut. Pour about 1 tbsp of grapeseed oil into a large sautee pan and heat. Form meatballs using a meatball former. Carefully add to the pan as they are made. Turn the first ones as browned then removed when browned through. Continue in this manner adding newly made meatballs, flipping and removing until all the meatball mixture is used.

Once all the meatballs are cooked, if freezing, flash freeze them then package. If using right away, proceed with your favourite sauce.

Hawiian Sweet & Sour

I will admit to cheating with this sauce. The meatballs were destined to travel to today's poker party. The host specifically reqesting this particular sauce that he had had before but could not find which foiled my plans for my homemade sweet & sour sauce. I found some at Sam's Club so decided to use that. The sauce is Mr. Yoshida's Hawiian Sweet & Sour. It was just mixed into the meatballs in the crockpot then the cold meatballs were packed into a cooler for travelling. Still my husband declared them quite good even though they were still cold. All he has to do is plug the crockpot in when he gets there and part of their all day snacking. Warning: Poker parties are hazardous to your waistline!

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Cheese Sticks Are Up!

Cheese sticks make great snacks and can really accent a meal. They look fancy but are oh so easy to make! They are perfect for that lazy winter night served with homemade tomato soup. Talk about comfort food.

Cheese Sticks

This recipe is actually for pizza dough but I decided to see what else I could do with it. This is one result. The recipe is for a breadmachine however it could easily be adapted to do by hand or using a Kitchen Aid. Once the pizza dough has proofed, it is cut into chunks, rolled into long strands and covered with cheddar cheese. You can use other cheeses but our family likes them made with cheddar.

If you want to use this recipe for its intended purpose, beer will result in a thicker crust while substituting water will give a crispier crust. We prefer the crust made with beer. It will yield enough dough for two large round pizzas.

Pizza Dough
1 1/2 c beer
1 1/2 tbsp butter
3 tbsp sugar
1 1/2 tsp salt
4 1/8 c white flour
1 1/2 tbsp instant yeast

ABM - add ingredents to pan as per your manufacturer's instructions. Set to dough setting. Remove dough when timer sounds. Then proceed using the instructions for either cheese sticks or pizza.

Handmade/Kitchen Aid: Mix 1/2 to 3/4 the flour with the rest of dry ingredients. Pour in liquid and mix. Slowly add in rest of flour 1/2 c at time until dough cleans side of bowl. If continuing by hand, remove from bowl and hand kneed until smooth and elastic. If using Kitchen Aid, kneed 2 minutes. Cover bowl and let rise until doubled.

Cheese sticks - When finished, turn into cheese sticks by cutting into chunks. Roll and stretch into a long strand. Roll the strand in shredded cheddar cheese until well covered. Place on parchment lined baking sheet. Allow to rise about double. Bake at 400ºF until golden brown.

Pizza - When finished, divide the dough and form into two large rounds to fit your lightly greased pans. Top with pizza sauce, toppings and mozzarella cheese. Bake at 400ºF 25-30 minutes or until crust is golden brown and cheese is bubbly.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

White Cake

A simple white cake recipe is always perfect recipe as everything is usually on hand. It is pure and simple pantry cooking! It doesn't require fancy toppings or icings either. We like it with a little fresh whipped cream and berries.

This particular recipe has been a family favourite for years. I've tweaked it to where I have it the way I like. It is a rich cake that stands up nicely to fresh berries in syrup. What is nice about this recipe is it makes a smaller cake or 6 large cup cakes.

White Cake
source: unknown but tried and true

1 1/2 c flour
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 c shortening
1 c granulated sugar
1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
2 eggs
3/4 c milk

Mix the dry ingredients together. In a separate bowl, mixt shortening, sugar and eggs. Add vanilla. Add dry ingredients and milk alternately. Beat until smooth. Pour into an 8" x 8" well greased cake pan. Bake 45 minutes at 350ºF (325ºF convection). Top as desired.

My Notes: This recipe works well using silicone pans.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Soughdough Muffins

Sourdough starter can be used for more that bread. Sourdough muffins are a nice way to perk up your morning and are just a delight anytime.

Pictured here are the sourdough muffins I made today. They were enticing enough my husband snitched the top off of one just before I took the picture. This batch was made using sultana raisins but cranraisins could be used instead. For a stronger rye flavour use a rye based sourdough starter.

Sourdough Muffins
source: Susan Jane Cheney, Breadtime. 1998. Pp. 180.

1 1/2 c whole wheat flour
1/2 c rye flour
1/2 tsp sea salt
1 tsp baking soda
1/3 c vegetable oil (recipe specifies sunflower)
1/3 maple syrup (100% Pure Canadian)
1 egg
1/2 c milk
finely grated zest of 1 orange
1/4 c orange juice
3/4 c sourdough starter
1/2 c raisins or dried cranberries
1/2 cup coarsly chopped pecans (optional)

Preheat the oven to 400ºF (375ºF convection). The instructions said to gease the muffin cups but I was using silicone so omitted this step. Mixt the flours, salt and baking soda with a Kitchen Aid or sift together. Zest the orange then squeeze the juice from it. Pour in the liquid ingredients if using a Kitchen Aid otherwise mix the liquids together then stir into the dry ingredients along with the raisens and nuts. Fill the muffin cups. Bake for 20 minutes or until center tests clean with toothpick.
Makes 12

Note: I modified the instructions to use the Kitchen Aid mixer and I tinkered just a bit with the ingredients. This is a nice hearty muffin!


Garden Gnome
© 2007

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

My Burger!

My husband wanted to go out for Valentine's Day. We don't normally celebrate this day but after the last couple of disruptive days I was fair game. So he told me to name the restaurant and he would make the reservations. I surprised him by wanting to go to our favourite burger joint. The burgers here are quite large. The service is always wonderful too and we always have an enjoyable time. Now there was a method to my madness as I really didn't feel like getting dressed up and needed comfort food. This really fit the bill!

My husband makes burgers that are even better than this so I should have asked for that but hey we both needed a break. Watch for his burger recipe as I will be posting it later this month. It is best using homemade buns from the white bread recipe already posted but for that entry I'll likely do a repeat if only for the method.

Garden Gnome
© 2007

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Recipes & Fancied Up Sheppard's Pie

It is cold, icky and we are under a winter storm warning here. The weather turned about 2 pm today and has been getting steadily worse. Right now I can barely see the road. The good news is the gas installer showed up this morning so I was able to get to huge loads of laundry done in half the time the old machines would have taken per load and since they hold almost three times as much the time savings was even greater. My house has been in an uproar with getting this new washer and dryer set up. Last night my husband decided we were eating out and I was just so thankful! I don't do disruptions well. Anyway we had a lovely steak dinner with the fixings and while I normally take the camera for pictures, I was so exhausted that I simply forgot.

A note on any recipe posted here: Any recipe I post has been tweaked by me and is tried and true. In most cases these are family favourites I've used for years. You may have to do a little tweaking yourself as I tend to go lighter on both sugar and salt but the recipes will be fine the way they are written. For some entries you will see the actual recipe as I found it then in my notes what I did to change it. I am getting a fair amount of email requesting certain recipes as well. What might not be apparent from my blog is I make the recipe, take the picture and update the blog all in the same day for about 95% of the entries. For that reason there may be a day like yesterday where the blog is not updated because I didn't do a whole lot of cooking. So be sure to check back as entries are based on the cooking I do.

For tonight's dinner I decided to do a fancied up sheppard's pie. Now some will say this isn't sheppard's pie because it does have lamb but that what we call it so that's how I'm going to present it. This is an easy comfort food, kicked up just a bit and perfect for a snowy, cuddle on the couch day. Oh and this is my own special creation, one that my family loves.

Fancied Up Sheppard's Pie
source: recipe by Garden Gnome

7 med potatoes, peeled and cubed
2 med carrots, peeled and cut into chunks
1/2 c cabbage cut into small chunks
1/2 c cream cheese
1/2 c sour cream
1 tbsp butter
2 lb lean ground beef
4-6 large fresh mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
1/2 small cooking onion, diced
1 c beef stock
1 tbsp cornstarch
1/2 c frozen corn niblets
1/2 c frozen peas
bread crumbs
sprinkling of chopped chives or sliced green onions

Combine potatoes, carrots and cabbage is large pot. Bring to a boil then reduce heat and allow to cook until potatoes and carrots are tender. Drain. Place the vegetables in a Kitchen Aid bowl or mixing bowl. Attach the flat beater. Add butter, sour cream and cream cheese. Mix until just smooth. Set aside. Brown ground beef, drain then stir in mushrooms and onions. Return to heat and allow to cook until the mushrooms are cooked. Make a slurry of the water and corn starch. Stir into the meat mixture and allow to thicken. Pour the meat mixture into a large casserole dish. Top with corn niblets and peas. Spread the potato mixture evenly over the top. Sprinkle on bread crumbs, a small amount of butter if desired and chopped chives. Bake until warmed through.
Serves 8

Garden Gnome
© 2007

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Aged Beef & Creamy Coleslaw

Gallagher's Steakhouse
New York-New York Hotel & Casino
Las Vegas, Nevada

On our recent trip to Las Vegas we stayed at the Golden Nugget in the old downtown area of the city. We took our friends on a tour of the larger theme casinos. One of the stops was at New York-New York Hotel & Casino. I couldn't resist taking a picture of the beef dry-aging in the window. Unfortunately since it was just after lunch we did not eat at Gallagher's Steakhouse this trip. It is on our list of stops for our August trip. If the steak is as good as the meat looks it should be a nice meal!

Salads are a key component for a lot of our meals and while a lot tend to be leaf type salads once in awhile it is nice to deviate to a another type of salad. A homemade creamy coleslaw is a nice change. This is one of our our family favourites. It travels well and will keep for a few days in the fridge. I like to make it a day before serving to let the flavours meld.

Creamy Coleslaw
source: unknown but tried and true, used by me for years

3 c shredded cabbage
1/3 c finely chopped onion
1/2 c mayonnaise
1 tbsp organic or granulated white sugar
1 tbsp vinegar
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp celery seed

Prepare the cabbage and onion. Stir together in mixing bowl. Blend the rest of the ingredients together. Pour over the vegetable mix and stir well.

Notes: I used Miracle Whip® for years in this recipe because it adds a nice tang. Mayonnaise will give nice results with a little less tang. I also like to double dressing then just add enough cabbage and onions mix to the desired texture.

Garden Gnome
© 2007

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Banana Bread & Homemade Chicken Noodle Soup

Comfort food is always appreciated but more so when you aren't feeling well. That usually means a nice homemade bread and homemade soup here.

Banana Bread
This is the banana bread recipe I have been using almost from the time we were wed. It is a nice breakfast, desert or snack bread just perfect for using up a couple of well ripened bananas. While the original recipe calls for white flour, I've made a few modifications. Whole wheat flour gives good results so be sure to read the notes section for this recipe.
Banana Bread
source: unknown but TNT using modifications in notes section after the recipe

1 3/4 c flour
1/4 tsp baking soda
2 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp salt
1/3 c shortening
2/3 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 c mashed bananas

Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Set aside. Cream shortening and sugar. Add eggs, beating after each one. And bananas and blend. Add flour mixture a bit at a time blending after each addition. Pour into a well greased loaf pan and bake at 350ºF (325ºF, convection) for 50 minutes or until toothpick inserted in centre is clean.

My notes: I use whole wheat flour, Member's Mark® Organic Sugar and add 1 tsp of pure vanilla extract.

There is nothing like homemade chicken noodle soup when you are feeling under the weather or suffering from a cold. It is packed full of nutrition and it's soothing warmth will have you feeling fit as a fiddle in no time. My homemade chicken noodle soup is made from scratch and like most of my soups there is no set recipe. The list of ingredients for the most part remains the same as does the method as it it meant to pack in a lot of nutrition. This soup does freeze nicely even with the noodles added. If you want to can this soup do not add the noodles. Essentially this soup is made in two steps. Note, I use a 15 or 20 quart stock pot depending on how much soup I want to make. Once the noodles are cooked, that will leave about two or three inches headspace in the pot.

Homemade Chicken Noodle Soup

While this method looks complicated it really isn't. What you end up with is a wonderful homemade chicken noodle soup that will sooth both the spirit and body. Make enough to last you until you are feeling a better as it will keep a few days in the fridge. For little ones, instead of using broad egg noodles try alphabet noodles. It will be a big hit and make them feel very pampered!

Homemade Chicken Noodle Soup
recipe by Garden Gnome

Stage 1:
2 - 4 chicken legs with backs attached
1 medium unpeeled onion, washed with both ends cut off
2 stalks celery, washed with ends lightly trimmed, cut into 2 inch pieces
1/2 celery heart, washed with end removed (about 4 small stalks with leaves)
2 large carrots, washed, unpeeled, cut into 2 inch pieces
1 parsnip, washed, unpeeled, cut into 2 inch pieces
two pinches coarse sea salt
water to cover

Bring these ingredients to a boil, reduce to simmer and allow to simmer and hour or more. Cool then defatted. Remove the vegetables and meat and place on burner for stock to reheat. Remove the skin from the chicken and cut the meat from the bone. Cut meat into bite size pieces and return to stock. Place the bones and vegetables (optional) into a smaller sauce pan with just enough water to cover and bring to a rolling boil. Strain. Add this liquid to your stock. Repeat if desired or add one quart of homemade stock from your freezer or canning shelf to the chicken stock and meat.

Stage 2:
2 green onions, washed and sliced thinnly (or one medium onion, chopped fine)
fresh ground pepper to taste
a pinch of coarse sea salt to taste
3 - 4 splashes of Maggi (see note!)
1 package broad egg noodles
fresh or frozen chives, chopped

Add all the ingredients tasting stock except the noodles and chives as you go. Adjust any seasoning then bring the stock and meat to a boil and stir in the noodles. I just estimate so some batches will take the full package of noodles while others won't. When noodles are cooked, ladle into soup bowls. Garnish with a dash of Maggi, a bit of fresh grated pepper and a sprinkling of chopped chives.

My Notes: Maggi contains both peanut and corn protein so do not use this if you or anyone in your family is allergic to these products. Instead substitute your favourite soy sauce. I like Kikkoman but other soy sauces will work fine. It might sound like there is a lot of onions in this soup but really their is not. The first onion adds a nice flavour, nutrients and natural colour to the stock. The second addition adds flavour and colour.

Monday, February 05, 2007

Bean Sprouts

I woke this morning feeling positively aweful with a horrid sore throat. I must have picked up a virus during our recent holidays so while this entry was already written on bean sprouts, watch for tomorrow's entry on homemade chicken noodle soup. A batch is in the workings and I might chase that down with a nice hot toddy then snuggle into bed for the rest of the night!

Bean sprouts are nutritious, low in calories and add extra punch to breads, salads, sandwichs and side dishes. Sprouting beans is very easy with minimal equipment and space needed. I generally have a couple of containers on the go.

Equipment Needed

This is the equipment I use most of the time. While you can buy fancy sprouting containers, it really is not necessary. I simply use a disposable no name brand of container or recycle a sour cream container. A lid is helpful but is not used to seal the container.

My beans of choice to sprout are mung beans. These make for tasty and easy sprouting beans suitable for salads, egg rolls, breads and stir fries. I buy them in bulk from the Bulk Barn and store them in vacuum sealed mason jars for both rodent and insect control.

To start sprouting the beans pour enough beans into the container to cover the bottom. Rinse with filtered water then cover with about an inch of filtered water. I prefer filtered water. Let sit for about three hours then using the lid to prevent the beans from falling out of the container, drain and add a little fresh water. Place the entire container with lid just placed on top but not sealed in a dark cabinet. The next day, pour off any water and add fresh. Repeat this step daily until the beans sprout.

Just Sprouting

When the beans begin sprouting the water requirements change. While you will be able to water once daily, you likely should change the water a couple of times a day. Other than that there is little for you to do. At the first sign of sprouting is a good time to start another container of sprouts for a ready supply. For nice white and tender sprouts be sure to keep them in a dark cabinet. Leave the beans to continue sprouting. Within a day or so the cotlydons (embroyonic leaves) will appear. To keep these pale, be sure to keep your sprouting beans in a dark cabinet away from light.

Almost Ready

The bean sprouts are almost ready to use at this stage. The cotlydons are present and still pale from being in the dark cabinet. The height is about 3 inches. At this stage you can continue keeping the sprouts in a dark cabinet to keep pale or expose them to sunlight to develop the chlorphyll turning the cotlydons green. Use your sprouts when they are about 4 inches long before the second set of leaves appear.

To use sprouts, rinse and toss into salads or bread. Use in stir fries or as a filling for spring rolls or egg rolls.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Superbowl Party Recipies

Today is Superbowl Sunday so that means about 25 guys all giving me their undivided attention, at least when it comes to food and snacks. On the menu is venison chili, homemade buns, crudite tray, cheese tray, mexican layered dip, several snack type items, mulled apple cider, . Since there are a couple of recipes to be posted today, I'll keep the chit chat to a minimum.

Mexican Layered Dip
recipe by: Garden Gnome

2 8 oz packages of cream cheese
1 -2 tbsp miracle whip or mayonnaise
2-3 tbsp taco seasoning
4 - 5 tbsp homemade salsa (or store bought)
1 - tbsp homemade taco hot sauce (recipe in earlier entry)
2 large leaves of lettuce, chopped fine
1/2 small onion, chopped fine
1/2 medium tomato, chopped
8 - 10 olives, sliced (optional)
3/4 c grated cheddar cheese
nacho chips

Mix first two ingredients then add taco seasoning to taste. Spred the mixture evenly in a 8" X 11.5" casserole pan. Spread a thin layer of salsa and taco hot sauce. Layer with lettuce and vegetables. Top with shredded cheese. Serve with nacho chips.

PS. three of the other wives sent similar versions of this dish so we did have a lot! There certainly are a lot of versions of this dish.

Basic White Buns (ATM or Kitchen Aid)
recipe by Garden Gnome
1 2/3 c milk
2 tbsp butter
1 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp organic honey
2 tsp sea salt
4 1/3 c unbleached flour (+extra 1/3 c if necessary to get right texture)
1 1/2 tsp yeast

Use a breadmaker or mixer to knead the dough. Divide into about 15 balls. Set ball onto a cookie sheet. Cover and allow to rise until doubled. Bake at 400ºF convection heat for 15 minutes. Reduce heat to 350ºF convection bake until buns are golden brown.

Spiced Apple Cider

1/2 gallon apple cider
1 cinnamon stick
4-6 whole cloves
dash of nutmeg

Put the cider and spices into a medium size slow cooker. Allow to heat until hot then serve. You can put the spices into a cheese cloth bag if you would like but it really isn't necesary.

Note: I'm not sure what it is about hot apple cider but seriously I can only drink one cup without it affecting my vocal cords.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

New Kitchen Toys & Sourdough

I'd like to start this entry by thanking Taste of Home for their very flattering comments regarding my cooking blog. This is a real honour for my blog. I have accepted the invitation to include their Meal of the Day search box so please take the time to check them out for recipes and meal ideas. I'd really appreciate it. And to Tast of Home cheers to good cooking!

My husband dragged me shopping yesterday under the pretext of having to buy a new tv for Superbowl Sunday then would put it in our bedroom to replace a smaller model. I'm not even going to go into that issue! The end result was he got the 37" digital LCD tv and I decided to get a couple of kitchen toys since I'll be doing the hosting for the superbowl party. The guys bring snacks but I make the main meal, breads and like to wow them with a few of my snacks. What better way to get the undivided attention of about thirty guys than cooking great food the will love.

One of my new toys is a Kitchen Aid Professional HD mixer. I debated over this purchase for ages and finally said what the heck. My kitchen is spacially challenged so any appliance I can get to do double duty or one that will eliminate one or more appliances is more than welcomed.

I need to buy a new food processor and my handheld mixer needed to be tossed. The breadmachine, while a true workhorse in my kitchen, will likely not last much longer and the last few years it is used to make dough only because I prefer the results of oven baked bread. With this one appliance, the handheld mixer was tossed and the breadmachine has been moved to the backroom. I've checked out the attachments I can get and the one that really looks appealing is the attachment kit that comes with the food grinder. There is also an attachment that would replace the food processor so I am considering that as well. Any attachment I buy will certainly take up a lot less room than the appliance version and since some of the attachments fit right in the bowl for storage, I will be freeing up cupboard space as well.

My other new toy is an Aroma rice maker. My old one was giving up the ghost and believe me as talented as I am with cooking certain things rice is not one of the. We eat a lot of rice so a rice maker is a must!

I have been asked so many times as to how I make sourdough starter. My simple reply is always mix one part water with one part flour. Other starters will add yeast, sugar, milk or any number of a lot of ingredients but this is not traditional starter. The only things you need for a good starter is water, flour and wild yeast. Stir well and set aside until bubbly. Now this picture does not do justice to the bubbly of the starter but it has the consistency of a very thick, foamy milk shake with a lot of bubbles and a nice sour smell. A starter is not ready to use unless you can smell it and it should not be used unless active (bubbling). I used 1 1/2 c of starter for the following loaf and 1/2 c for drying. When your starter is to the right degree of sourness always reserve 1/2 c for drying. This can be used to seed future batches. I ended up taking 2 c of starter from the original so replaced with 1 c flour and 1 c water. Since I really need this starter for Superbowl Sunday, it will be left until early Sunday then fed just before making a couple of loaves. But before that the starter had to be tested. Watch for the recipes made for this big event!

This was my first time using the Kitchen Aid Mixer and I do have to say I'm impressed. This is a small video clip of the dough making process. It was just as fast and efficient as the breadmaker. The nice thing is this appliance can do more than knead dough!

This is the first loaf of bread from the fresh starter. While the crust could be a little darker, for a sour dough french bread it came out just fine. My husband loved coming home to hot bread fresh from the oven. Me, being critical and wanting perfection for Superbowl Sunday, wanted more. The bread essentially came out as it should. However, I would have liked just a bit more of the developement of the sourdough flavour. By Sunday and given the traditional recipes I will use it should be fine. Since this was a test loaf I used an ABM recipe. All I was really interested in was the taste. This recipe does call for the addition of yeast and when making sour dough bread that is almost an insult as it means you do not trust your starter. But this recipe is really fine for getting the taste right before you make a loaf or two using no yeast. I only make the dough in the ABM but this time used the Kitchen Aid mixer. Either way, let the dough rise until doubled, shape then let rise again and bake.

Sour Dough French (ABM)

1 1/2 c sourdough starter
1/2 c water
1 1/2 tsp sugar
1 1/2 tsp salt
3 1/2 c unbleached flour
3 tsp dry yeast
1/4 c cornmeal
1/4 c water

Make the dough in ABM without using the last two ingredients. When dough is ready, shape then place on a cookie sheet sprinkled with the cornmeal. Place in pre-heated 400ºF for 30 minutes. Pour the 1/4 c water into a shallow baking pan and place under the cookie sheet. Bake until golden brown or loaf sounds hollow.

Note: This is a French style sour dough bread so the crust is expected to be hard, crispy and crunchy.