31 March 2009

Constitution: Preamble

Since it seems that most of our Congress hasn't read the Constitution, and someone has to stand up and defend it (We the People), and, even though I've read it, I don't remember it that well, I thought I'd post sections a few times each week.  Right now I'm copying and pasting it into several posts and will read it along with you as it posts.  I do have the Preamble memorized, thanks to Schoolhouse Rock:
We, the People of the united States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, ensure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the united States of America.
I was planning on discussing it, but think I'd rather do that in the comments.  It's not that difficult to understand and I'm not expert enough to teach others the finer points of it.  Please join with me in discussing in the comments.  I'd love to hear your thoughts.


24 March 2009


(This is for you, Cora!  If you have any questions, let me know!)

I started with a basic recipe and then researched how bread works and tweaked and tweaked and tweaked (I'm still tweaking, but the foundation is solid).  This is for the Bosch, but it can be cut down and made by hand (see instructions below).


4 C warm water
2/3 C neutral oil (I use grapeseed or safflower)
2/3 C honey
4 eggs
3 1/2 T instant yeast
3 1/2 T dough enhancer
1/4 C wheat gluten
2 T salt
approx. 5 lbs. freshly-ground whole wheat flour (I like Prairie Gold best.)


Add all the liquid ingredients to the Bosch (set up with the dough hook).  Turn on low.  Add all the dry ingredients except the wheat.  Slowly add the wheat until the dough cleans the sides of the bowl.  Turn the Bosch to the second speed and knead for about 10 minutes (until a small glob of dough can be stretched thin without breaking).

Divide the dough into 6 lumps (mine are about 1-1/4 lb. each).  Using a rolling pin, roll out each lump on an oiled counter; roll into a loaf (similar to making cinnamon rolls) and place seam-side down in a sprayed or oiled, 1-lb loaf pan.  Cover with a tea towel and let rise until at least doubled in size (mine get even bigger).

Preheat oven to 325˚.  Place a metal pie plate or cake pan on the bottom rack.  When the oven is heated, toss 3 or 4 ice cubes onto the pie plate (the extra steam helps the bread to rise higher).  Bake loaves for 28 minutes.  When they're done, flip them out of the pans and onto a rack to cool.  When cool, place in bread bags.  I freeze whatever we won't be using in the next day or so.  Remember, there are no preservatives.

I sometimes brush an egg wash on the loaves and sprinkle with sesame seeds.  I also sometimes add 1/4 C non-instant dried milk for extra calcium.  

This dough can be used for cinnamon bread.  Make the dough as instructed.  Roll out enough for a loaf very thin; sprinkle brown sugar and cinnamon on the rolled-out dough.  Roll up and bake as directed.  (You don't want to put cinnamon into the dough itself as it will inhibit rising.)

I also add herbs and olive oil and sometimes substitute white bread flour for some or all of the flour.  I have a baguette pan that I'm eager to try.

By Hand:

To make without a Bosch, halve the recipe (it's pretty hard to stir that much dough by hand).  Place liquid ingredients into a large bowl.  Place all dry ingredients into the bowl (except flour).  (Even though most recipes tell you to proof the yeast in water and sugar or honey before adding the other ingredients, when I was first learning and doing it by hand, one of my recipes explained it the way I've explained it and it turned out better.)  

Add the flour a cup at a time, stirring with a wooden spoon until it's too hard to stir.  Dump it out onto a well-floured counter and continue to add flour until it's got enough (the amount of flour used varies, depending on your weather and the moisture content of your flour).  Once you have enough flour, continue to knead by hand, adding as little additional flour as you possibly can.  Kneading develops the gluten, which traps the carbon dioxide released by the yeast, which makes the bread rise.  It's also a great time to pray about worry or frustrations.

Oil a large bowl; place the dough in it and then flip the dough over.  Cover with a tea towel and place in a warm place until the dough has at least doubled in size (an oven, heated to 150˚ and then turned off works very well).  Punch it down.  You can either flip it over and let it rise in the bowl again, or you can go straight to forming your loaves.  An extra rise will make it more fine (less coarse).  Bake as directed above. 


14 March 2009

Pizza Crust

I've been thinking about posting this recipe for awhile, but have had a fire lit under me by a friend who lives in Tucson.  Thanks, Amy!  I don't remember exactly where I got this recipe (somewhere back in the deep, dark days just after the birth of the internet), but it says it's a knock-off of Pizza Hut's crust recipe.  I happen to think it's much, much better.  I've tweaked it a bit and we divide the dough into 12ths for individual pizzas.  [Edit: I miscounted - I split the dough into 16ths.  Those of us with smaller appetites have one, and we have extra for those of us (teen-aged boys) who have huge appetites.)  We also like them thin and crispy, so I roll them out thin with my marble rolling pin.  Since we like it thin, I've cut the yeast in half and we're planning to cut it again (possibly even eliminate it) to see if it makes any difference in the final product.  I'll post the recipe as written with my tweaks in italics.

2 packages dry yeast (I used 2 T instant yeast, but have recently cut back to 1 T and will try 1/2 T tonight)
2/3 C warm water
2 T and 2 tsp sugar, divided
2 C cold water
3 T corn oil (I use olive oil)
1/4 tsp garlic salt (I use fresh chopped garlic.)
1 tsp salt (I like sea salt.)
1/2 tsp oregano (We're big basil fans, so we skip the oregano and use fresh basil if we have enough, or dried basil if we don't.)
6 1/2-7 C all-purpose flour (I don't measure in the Bosch and tonight I'll be using fresh flour, finely-ground from Prairie Gold wheat)

In a large bowl, add 2 tsp sugar to the warm water, then stir yeast into the sugar solution.  Let stand until bubbly (about 5 minutes).  Add the rest of the liquid ingredients.  Add the garlic, salt, and herbs to the liquids.  Slowly add in the flour, mixing well with a wooden spoon after each addition, until you can no longer stir the dough.

Empty dough into a floured counter and begin to knead, adding more flour as necessary.  Knead until the dough is elastic.  Place the dough into a greased or oiled bowl, flip it over so the oil coats the top and cover with a tea towel; let it rise until about doubled in size.  The bowl (if it's heat-proof) can be placed in a warm oven: heat the oven to 150˚, turn it off, then place the dough in the oven.

When dough has doubled in size, oil your fist and punch it down (from here on out, you don't want to add more flour to the dough, so use oil, but a little goes a long way).  Split the dough in two and roll out on oiled counter into two 15" round crusts.  Let rise for 20 minutes.  Bake at 450˚ for 20-25 minutes on oiled pizza pans or stones that have been sprinkled with cornmeal to prevent sticking.

Top your pizza and bake until cheese is melted and toppings look just the way you like them.

The way I do it: place all ingredients except the flour into the bowl of the Bosch with the dough hook.  Mix together and begin adding flour, until it cleans the sides of the bowl.  Knead until the dough is elastic and stretches without breaking (about 10 minutes).  

Divide dough into 12 pieces (some of mine are larger and some are smaller, but my kids are also larger and smaller, so it works).  Roll out each piece very thin; poke holes with a fork to allow steam to escape.  If the dough doesn't want to roll, let it rest for 10-20 minutes, then roll it out.  Grill or bake on pizza stones at 500˚ for about 5 minutes each.  Allow each person to 'decorate' his pizza and place back in the oven (at 400˚) or onto the grill until cheese is melted.  Using a pizza peel, we put the pizzas directly on the oven racks for this second baking or directly on the grill.

Slice and enjoy.

This is a great dish to make when having people over.  Our favorite times of hospitality have been when we've invited new friends over and we put them to work in the kitchen.  It's so fun to cook together.  Working together seems to break down barriers to relationship better than almost anything we know.