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Crockpot Bread

What is a baker’s kid supposed to do when her oven has been on the blink since early summer and she really, really has to have some homemade bread?

Sure, could use the bread machine that my neighbor gave me last year but I just am not happy with the results of it(and it just doesn’t seem to rise properly).

The one gadget I use almost daily is my crockpot.  A simple one with no fancy gizmos attached to it…actually the glass lid of it broke(shattered when I had a meal in it) two  years ago…so I have been using a double layer of foil on top ever since…works fine.

The crockpot it is…

Last week I made a loaf in the crockpot…didn’t realize I barely had enough flour and I had  already added the water/yeast mixture…so had to add instant potato flakes and oatmeal to make it the right consistency(actually that bread was pretty amazing…dense, moist and great tasting…especially toasted.)

I had gotten a new bag of flour and since I had a day off today(plus it was a miserable damp day…definitely a fresh bread kind of day), I experimented once again.

This makes one loaf.  Now, cosmetically, this is definitely not my father’s loaf of bread…the top of it will not be brown.  If you have an oven, you can put the bread in there under the broiler for a few minutes…but today I found another way..will explain that in the recipe.

I am definitely going to do this again…might do my father’s holiday bread recipe this way…I might actually make one up next week to take to my brother’s for when we go there for Thanksgiving.

(Note: this works if you want to just buy some frozen dough…just make sure the dough has been defrosted and do the rising of the dough in the microwave…same concept.)

Basic Bread Made in the Crockpot

Ingredients:   1 Tablespoon of dry yeast with 1 teaspoon of sugar)

1 cup of warm water

4 cups of flour(I just used basic white flour today…you can add other ingredients to this to make it up to the four cups…ex. 3 cups flour and 1 cup of something else like I did last week…the potato flakes and oatmeal…you could add whole wheat, some cornmeal, flaxmeal, experiment…

1 Tablespoon of oil/margarine/butter

salt(1/2 teaspoon or more if desired)

a. In a measuring cup, take the one cup of warm water, add the yeast and sugar mixture to it.  Let it sit until it is frothy.

b.  Warm your mixing bowl by putting hot water in it…dump the water out and place your flour, oil/margarine/butter, and salt in it.

c. Start the mixer with the dough hook and gradually add the yeast mixture to the flour until well incorporated.  Keep mixing it until it is as soft as a baby’s bottom.  If you have other ingredients in your mixture, it may require more water…if that’s the case, have some extra warm water and add to the flour mixture a little at a time.  (and vice-versa…if it’s a little watery, gradually add a little flour to it).

d. When you are satisfied with the texture, place the dough in a greased bowl and put it in the microwave until it rises double in size(I use the microwave because it is a small contained space and is amazing for raising your dough…you aren’t turning the microwave on…you are just letting your dough sit in there).  When it has risen to double size, it is ready for the crockpot.  Punch it down.

e. Prepare your crockpot by greasing it…the bottom and sides. Turn the crockpot on HIGH.   When the dough is ready,  and let the crockpot warm up a bit before putting the dough in.

f. Put your dough into the crockpot and rub a little oil on top of it.  Place the lid(or in my case, the foil) on top and  set your timer(whether a regular timer or if you have a timer on your crockpot) for an hour.  After the hour you are going to check if it is done(if it feels doughy when you put your finger on it, it  needs more time…set it for another 1/2 hour then).  When it feels done, you can do one of two things…take it out and put it under the broiler til the top is brown, or do what I did today…take your bread out and put it back in the crockpot top side down for 15 minutes.  Put the lid on again.  When the fifteen minutes are up, take it out of the crockpot and place it on a rack to cool thoroughly.  Do not cut the bread until it is cooled…

Enjoy…I hope you will try this…it really is good.

Let me know if you do.

til next time…Eva

 

 

Update:  December 14, 2016

I have been making the bread regularly(weekly or more often) and have been enjoying a version similar to my dad’s holiday bread.  Basically the difference to the basic recipe is additional ingredients:  2-3 T of brown sugar, 1.2-1 t of cinnamon, 1 t vanilla, fruit and nuts of choice(1/2-3/4 cup).

Add the sugar, cinnamon and vanilla in the beginning when you are starting to mix the bread dough.  Towards the end of the process, add your fruit/nut mixture(I had found packets that had a mixture of raisins and dried cherries plus the nut mixture was mixed as well).

Continue with the crockpot as above.

It. is.yummy!  Enjoy!

Fun with Mason Jars!

I’ve become a fan of Mason jars lately.  I’d been noticing various items on Pinterest about Mason jars for about a year now but never got around to actually buying the pint-sized jars.  Two weeks ago I noticed a box of 12 American made pint-sized jars at the local Dollar store for $7.99.  That was my chance!

I smiled all the way home in anticipation of the orderly refrigerator I would have…clear jars filled with colorful salads, fruit and whatever else I would come up with.  All ready to grab and eat. (My joy in all of this reminds me of a cartoon from a while ago…the woman is standing looking out of her front window when her teenaged son walks by…”My new washer and dryer are coming today!  I have been this excited in a long time!”  The son walks back to his father and says, “Dude, you have to try harder!”

Washed and dried the clear jars and was getting the ingredients out for the salads.  If you are doing the salad in a jar, just remember that the heaviest items must be on the bottom and the fragile lettuce on the very top(otherwise you will have wilted salads).

If you want your dressing in the jar(I prefer putting mine on my salad when I am eating it), pour 1-2 Tablespoons of the dressing on the very bottom. Then you will be layering the rest of your ingredients:

Dressing

Heavy items that like to be in the dressing(protein..beans/fish/meat)

Chopped veggies(peppers, onion, tomatoes, cucumber, cooked veggies, etc.)

Lettuce

Herbs

Close your jar and you are set to go.  Depending on what protein you have on the bottom, it will last in the fridge for several days.

When you are ready to eat, just dump your salad into a large bowl/plate, add the dressing if it’s not in the jar, croutons, cheese, bacon bits…whatever you desire…and ENJOY!

I also cut up my melons and put the chunks into the jars…what a pleasure to be able to grab a jar and a fork and eat something healthy.  This is great for everyone…people who live alone of all ages, people who are on diets and want to have something healthy to grab when they are hungry, families with varying schedules, etc.  My daughter says it’s so nice to just be able to grab a jar when she comes home and is famished after work.

I find it’s also great for leftovers…the jar could be taken into work and dumped into a bowl to be heated up.  I’ve seen recipes for breakfasts(basically an oatmeal) and also “instant” soup which is made up of cooked leftovers(chicken, rice/noodles, and veggies along with an instant broth).  When you are ready to eat, you pour hot water on top of it and let it stand for a few minutes to warm up.

What I love about this concept is how it keeps the refrigerator tidy…lines of jars.  If you need larger jars(family size), use the quart sized.  Great for two people or a picnic.

I will say that my hubby isn’t as enthused as I am presently…but I promised him I would try more “interesting” stuff soon…like trifle in a jar, cheesecake in a jar, yoghurt parfaits…oh my, the ideas are limitless!

Please  let me know if you have tried this and what is your favorite meal/dessert in a jar.

til next time….Eva

 

Snowy Day

006picture by Eva…two little bread men…2014

It was a snowy day today…unexpected by us all.  Schools were closed and many of us could not get out of our houses to get to work.  I become restless when my schedule is changed so I knew I needed to do something before I drove myself crazy.

I decided to try out the recipe for the little bread men and as you see above, two happy fellows with their raisin eyes and buttons.  I didn’t have any lemon peel, so I used orange…and I am happy to say, I will definitely use this recipe again.

I adapted the recipe from my other post and halved it…it made 4 bread men and 5 rolls…and it was definitely yummy.

Bread Men and Rolls

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F

1 cup of hot water

1/4 cup sugar(you can use more to taste…up to 1/2 cup)

1/4 cup of butter(I melted mine)

2 teaspoons of vanilla

1 egg beaten

peel from one orange(or lemon if you wish)

1/2 teaspoon of salt

2 1/2 teaspoons of dry yeast

3 Tablespoons of milk

4 cups of flour

raisins for the eyes and buttons(soak in hot water)

granulated sugar to sprinkle on top

foil/oil for baking pan

—————————————————————————————————————————————————————–

a. put the hot water, milk, 1/4-1/2 cup sugar and the yeast in a bowl and let sit til frothy.

b. Pour into bowl(or bread machine with the dough setting) along with the flour and salt.  Mix well.  Add egg, vanilla and orange peel.  Mix until a soft dough.  Let rise once, punch down and rise again.

c. After second rising, cut a piece off to make the little bread man.  Make a rectangle and place it on the oiled foil.  With a knife, shape the head and cut for the arms and the legs…shaping along the way that gingerbread men look.  When done, brush with oil and put the raisins in for the eyes and the buttons. Sprinkle granulated sugar over the little man…and let rise til he’s chubby.  Do this for the others.  You could continue making little men or you can make buns with the rest like I did.  Stick raisins all over the top of the buns.

Let rise and bake for 15 minutes…until they are brown.

I was thinking about adding some fruitcake fruit/citron to the batter next time for a little more festivities for the buns.

They are yummy!  Let me know if you try it and how you liked them!

til next time, Eva 007The buns…some icing would be nice on top of these if you like….:)

Gingerbread Men(by many names)

007a   I went to a church rummage/holiday bazaar today and came across a hand shaped gingerbread style bread decorated simply with raisin eyes and some crushed sugar.  When I asked what they were, the smiling lady, in her heavy Swiss accent, informed me that today was St. Nicholas’ Day and these were “Grattimannenm”.  I bought one to take home for my hubby and me for tea time.  I knew of St. Nicholas’ Day being celebrated in the Netherlands because I used to have a penfriend there who always sent me presents on St. Nicholas’ Day.

Being me, I had to look it up(unfortunately, I didn’t take a picture of it before we ate it…thus the silly photo above…)  Grattimannenm , Grittibanzernm, Stutenkerl, Weckmann,Baselmann and Nikolaus are all names for a tradition for St. Martins Day(November 11) and St. Nicholas Day(December 6).  They traditionally have raisin eyes, caps and fancy vests made from the bread dough.

”  Made from a sweet yeast dough formed by hand into the shape of a plump, approx. five inch (12 cm) tall, “bread man”, Weckmaenner often have eyes and a mouth made with raisins, buttons made from raisins, slices of almonds or dried cranberries, and, although sometimes the figures are miniature works of art, they are usually more like a simple rather chubby gingerbread man.

A custom that began in the early days of the Christian church when blessed but not consecrated bread was given to those who did not, or could not, take part in Eucharist, over time it became known as ‘image bread’, Gebildbrot, because the dough was made into a shape that fitted to the holiday or celebration.

In Germany the Bread Man first became a popular treat just during the festive season, and it was called a Nikolaus for St. Nicholas Day on December 6, but the tradition now begins on November 11th, for St. Martin’s Day.  “(http://www.bellaonline.com/articles/art26434.asp)

Grattim comes from the High German word “gratsch beinigm”  meaning stick man.  It is thought that Grattim were made to represent Nichola’s helper Schmutzlim and the German Kneckt Ruprecht servant of St. Nicholas.

Edible animal and human figurines apparently goes back to the ancient celebrations in which they were used as the substitutes for live sacrifices.

Gingerbread in its’ early form can be traced back to the ancient Greeks and Egyptians who used it for ceremonial purposes.  In the 11th century it made it’s appearance in Europe when the crusaders brought the spice Ginger back from the Middle East.   Gingerbread is considered an art form in Nuremberg, Ulm and Pulsnitz in Germany, Torun in Poland, Tula in Russia, Pest in Hungary, Pardubice and Prague in the Czech Republic and Lyon in France..where gingerbread baking guilds were sanctioned by the government starting in the Middle Ages.

The bread man I had today was very simple…didn’t have the hat, vest and pipe described here…he simply had two raisin eyes and a sprinkling of green crystal sugar.  I found two recipes online and the Weckmann recipe with the lemon sounds like what this one was.  http://www.bellaonline.com/articles/art26434.asp

The second recipe seems plainer…so if you don’t like lemon flavoring, you might like this one. http://www.csmonitor.com/1982/1112/111232.html

I ate mine plain but my husband put butter and jam on his.  Since I don’t eat much sugar anymore, this may be a great alternative to the richer gingerbread man recipe…according to the bellaonline recipe, it makes 10…I’ll let you know if I attempt it…wonder if I could freeze them?

Happy St. Nicholas’ Day!

til next time…Eva

Deviled Eggs

002Whenever we go to my side of the family for any occasion(picnic, holiday, birthday) I am always requested to bring two things…one is deviled eggs and the other is chocolate covered pretzels.  And it never fails, the minute we come into the house, the first words from my nephew and my brother are, “hope you brought the deviled eggs!” and they dive into them immediately.  When my niece’s husband comes later, he always knows to look into the fridge and grab his eggs.

   Today was no different.  We went to a Labor Day picnic and I had made my eggs earlier this morning.  I thought I would put the recipe on here.  I had told my neighbor that I was to make the deviled eggs and she asked what I put in them…when I told her “curry”, her response was, “you are making them wrong…deviled eggs have mustard in them…”  maybe so…

   My deviled eggs have three ingredients.  Eggs, Mayonnaise and Curry Powder.  I have on occasion put a little lemon juice in as well.

   Hard cook your eggs.  Peel and let them get cool.  Cut in half lengthwise and scoop out the yolks into a bowl.  Mash them til they are as smooth as possible.  At this point add your cold mayonnaise to make the egg yolk mixture a creamy consistency.  Add curry powder to taste. Spoon the egg yolk mixture back into the egg and sprinkle some curry powder on top.  Refrigerate until serving time.

Note: to give you an idea of exact measurements that I used today…I made a dozen of jumbo eggs.  After I had mashed them, I put in about 3 heaping tablespoons of the mayonnaise.  We really like curry powder so it was close to 1 1/2 teaspoons of curry powder. 

   This is also how I make my Eggs Mayonnaise(egg salad)…but just chop the eggs up and add the mayonnaise and curry.

 

   Enjoy!  Until next time…Eva

 

 

Small Successes Mean A Lot…

   You know those times in your life that you apparently keep plodding along and everything just stays the same?  Certain areas in your life, although small in the scheme of things, tend to give you that sense of failure.  I’ve had three items that have weighed me down for a long time…one of them being….

   Banana Bread…I know, you are going to say to me as many others have, “what’s so hard about making banana bread?”  I have been having failures making banana bread for years…do you realize how embarrassing that is for a baker’s kid?  My banana bread would be this heavy sodden mess no matter what I did or what recipe I tried.  One of my elderly friends said, “what’s wrong with you?  You cannot mess up banana bread.”    Another one(my 93 year old friend Angie) said, “I was surprised at your banana bread problems…I would have thought the daughter of a baker would have a foolproof recipe.  I never had any problem because a banana only has to have a brown spotted peel for me to turn it into a bread ingredient.  Good luck to you from here on in!”

   I had four spotted bananas today and decided that for one last time, I was going to make it.  If it didn’t turn out today, then, baloney…I was giving up!  I went online to check on a recipe using oil.  Found one using both baking powder and baking soda.  Mashed up the bananas like I used to mash them up for my daughter’s baby food treat…did everything precisely cause I knew this was my last chance.

   Smelled good baking in the oven.  I was afraid to even open the oven to look at it so I didn’t.  When the timer went off, I very carefully took it out and left it in the pan for a little while before turning in on the rack.  Smells good.  Looks good.  But the other failures also smelled and looked good…until you cut a slice from them…

   A few hours later, I said a little prayer and cut my slice.  Not wet.  Not crumbly.  Could it be?  Finally?  YES!  Happy Dance Yes!  Hubby took a slice.  Smiles.  “Maybe next time you could add some walnuts?  I love walnuts in banana bread…”  (next time)  Yes!  Success!  One item off the list. 

   If you need a good recipe, try this one…  http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/banana-bread-recipe2.html

 

   2 cups flour

   1 t baking soda

   1 t baking powder

   1 t salt

   2 eggs

   1 cup sugar(I used 3/4 cup and it was still too sweet for me…so adjust accordingly)

   4 ripe bananas(thoroughly mashed)

   1 t vanilla

   1/2 cup oil

   1 t cinnamon

   350 degrees for one hour.

   a. Put all dry ingredients in a bowl and stir together.

   b. cream the eggs and sugar then stir in the bananas, vanilla and oil.

       Stir in the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients 1/3 at a time.

   c. Pour into a large greased bread pan

   Bake at 350 for one hour.

   Let cool on a rack.

   Enjoy 🙂

   til next time!  Eva009

   

      

   

 

 

Mrs. Hoffman’s Pennsylvania Dutch Corn Pie

002

    I went to college in Pennsylvania Dutch country.  A friend of mine at the time lived close by and I would visit there often and was often invited to stay for dinner :).   Her mother cooked extensively Pennsylvania Dutch(aka Pennsylvania German) dishes and I would watch while she cooked/baked because they were so different from the dishes I grew up with.    One of her standbys in the summer time was Corn Pie. 

   Mrs. Hoffman grew a truck garden in the back of the house and when she would make her pie, would go out for the fresh corn to cut.   She also froze corn to have for her winter dishes.   She also made her own pie crusts by the dozens and froze them. 

   Her two daughters never seemed to have the time to learn how to cook from her and Mrs. Hoffman also didn’t write anything down…all of her recipes were instinctive…a pinch of this, a dash of that, a handful of that…   She died suddenly a few months before my friend’s wedding and one day my friend confided to me that she wished she had watched and helped her mother cook because she didn’t know how to make her corn pie.  I piped up, “I know how to make it…” and we went into the kitchen to make one…when her father came home from work that day and smelled the corn pie, there were tears in his eyes.  He later said that for a brief moment he thought his wife was alive again. 

   The thing about this corn pie is that it is quite versatile…I added ham to mine but you can add bacon, chicken or leave the meat out.  I use 2% milk but you can use whatever you wish…if you would like a richer pie, add cream.  My family loves onions so I use a lot of onions in mine. Traditionally it is a double crust pie…I make it a one crust pie.  Some use bread crumbs or cracker crumbs for on top.   There are a lot of recipes out there if you google it…this is the one I use from Mrs. Hoffman. 

Mrs. Hoffman’s Corn Pie

Oven temperature 400 degrees for 10 minutes, 350 for the rest of the time(approximately 30 minutes total.

Ingredients:  1   9 inch pie crust

                     2 hard cooked eggs(cut up into small pieces)

                     2 small onions (chopped) You can also add some red or green peppers for flavor

                     Corn from two large ears of corn(you can use frozen or tinned as well…)

                     herbs(I happen to like dill and basil…you use what you like)

                    1 cup or so of milk or cream

                    butter

                    flour(3 tablespoons)

                   4 ounces of meat(ham, bacon, chicken) if desired

                   salt and pepper to taste

                   Note: if you would like potato in your corn pie, take one large cooked potato and dice it

a. Saute the onion.  If you are using bacon, fry the bacon first and then sauté the onion in the  bacon grease. If you are using ham or chicken, sauté that with the onion.

b. When the onion mixture is done, add the corn, herbs and mix well.

c. Take half of the flour and sprinkle on the bottom of the pie shell(if you don’t do this, you will have a runny pie that doesn’t hold together and the bottom crust will be soggy…trust me, I have done this and it’s not a happy picture!)

d. add half of the mixture and then sprinkle the rest of the flour.

e. Pour the milk on the pie til it reaches almost to the top.

f. If you want the top crust, add that now and cut air slits.

g. If you wish to have a single crust and want the bread crumbs or the cracker crumbs, place them on top of the pie and put dabs of butter on top. 

h. Place in a 400 F degree oven for about 10 minutes and then turn the temperature down to 350 for the 20 or so minutes until the crust is nice and browned.

Tastes great served with fresh tomato or a salad and some fresh crusty rolls.

Note: some people like to make a white sauce first using 3 tablespoons of butter and 3 tablespoons of flour, adding the milk and then adding the rest of the ingredients.  In this way you are certain that you will not have a runny pie…

   Let me know if you try it and like it…Pennsylvania Dutch cooking has some unique recipes to add to your collection…some are Shoo Fly Pie, Sand Tarts, Sticky Buns, Potato filling and many others.

   til next time…Eva