impossibleway: (Winter)
I'm super-excited that this week Tammy has suggested we ask questions and give each other answers.  I'm sure we'll all learn something new.  Here's my story. . .

I love baking breads and the braided ones like Challah add a beautiful touch to an otherwise everyday food.  My favorite, by far, is Tammy's Apple Ladder Loaf.  I've made it three times, so that's six loaves total and all have this funny aesthetic issue.  My question is this: Can anybody give tips for getting the ends to stay tucked under?  Mine seem to pop up during baking, so I end up with one smooth end and one that's a little umm. . . sticky-uppy.  See in the picture--one nice end on the right and one funny end on the left.  What can I do to get that bread dough tucked in and stay in place through baking?



impossibleway: (Default)

When I was young in the mountains, Fall came and my mother and father and I set to work readying pumpkins for the pressure cooker.  My mom cleaned, my dad chunked and I peeled.  After the pumpkin was all peeled, it went into the pressure cooker to cook into soft yellow cubes of Autumn delight.  Then there was the mashing and draining afterward.  It was an arduous task, but we loved pumpkin pies, so we knew what we had to do. 

Then I read in Martha Stewart about an easier way!  Clever Martha, she suggested cutting the pumpkin in half, scooping out the insides, and roasting it in the oven.  So simple!  Just place the cut sides down and roast at 400 degrees until the skin is deep orange and the flesh is very soft, about 30-45 minutes.  You can test it with a knife stuck in the skin.

When it's done, let it cool and flip the pumpkin over.  Scoop out the insides with a big spoon and mash as desired.  There's no draining and the pumpkin can go straight into your favorite recipe--pumpkin pie, pumpkin pancakes, pumpkin cake, pumpkin truffles. 

Here's another tip:  Use a small hand saw from your hardware store to saw the pumpkin up!  If I had taken a better picture, I would have shared.  Find a small, pointy on the end saw.  Usually it comes with a couple blades that snap to a metal handle.  This is perfect for cutting out the stem and cutting the pumpkin in half.  Much easier than a giant knife of questionable sharpness. :-)

Find other Kitchen Tips by clicking on the link at the top!
impossibleway: (Autumn Fern)


Last week I posted about flavoring plain foods, like yogurt, with homemade jams and jellies.  Little did I know I'd be embarking on such an adventure after some of you gave me your homemade yogurt tips (and a yogurt maker to borrow).  I sought out local milk and crossed my fingers.

That's right, I've had. . .



SUCCESS!!!!

So, with the help of those who helped me, I present a few tips for making your own yogurt at home.  I'll also solicit a few too, since Kitchen Tip Tuesdays are all about learning to run a better kitchen. ;-)
  • I used whole raw milk, but you can use any fat content that suits your family. [info]wetkneefarm makes hers with skim milk. 
  • Do not use ultra-pasteurized milk.  It's devoid of practically everything.
  • Use an instant-read thermometer to make things easier on yourself.
  • Heat your milk on the stove to around 185 degrees by stirring it constantly in a heavy-bottomed metal pot.
  • Let it cool to around 110 to 115 degrees (also the perfect temperature for yeast growth in bread) before your add your starter cultures.
  • Start with either a store-bought culture or a yogurt you really like to get things going--a couple tablespoons per quart.  You may need to supplement with more store-bought yogurt, as the starter can lose strength over time.
  • Place your yogurt in a commercial maker, like the one above, or put it in a quart jar and wrap with heavy blankets to maintain the temperature for 4 to 6 hours.  Other methods are shown here at Mother Earth News.  Thanks, Jo!
  • Let your yogurt sit at around 100 degrees until it curdles.
  • Place in the fridge and enjoy as desired.
I made mine overnight and just checked on it as I woke.  I opened up a little jar and checked the texture with a butter knife.  Mine took about 11 hours in the maker shown above.  I'd love any extra tips about yogurt-making you all may have.  The maker is on loan, so one day I'll be on my own for insulating it.  :-)



Yay!!

Special thanks to [profile] wetkneefarm[profile] topieces and Jo at An Agrarian Journey.  :-)
impossibleway: (The Little House)


Love flavored yogurts but dislike all the miscellaneous ingredients that come in them?  Have a major aversion to corn syrup?

Fear no more!  If you like to make your own homemade jams, or know someone who does, then you can use them to jazz up more than the average piece of toast or hot, buttery biscuit. . .

Here are some examples:

Use a tablespoon or so in with your plain yogurt to add a genuinely fruity flavor without all that fake stuff that comes in grocery store pre-packaged yogurts. 

Plus, buying yogurt by the tub is much less expensive and allows you to have the amount you want.  Some flavored yogurts come in amounts that are way too much or way too sweet!  You'll cut back on packaged foods, too.  Use small reusable cups with lids to hold the yogurt if you're packing a lunch and save on all that plastic! 

Also, there are seemingly infinite uses for the big empty tubs:  covering plants from frost, picking more berries for more jam, sending leftovers with guests. . .



Jazz up breakfast foods by stirring in your favorite jams.  At right, I have toast covered in my own flavored cream cheese.  I had some left over from making Tammy's Pumpkin Sheet Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting and it was still soft.  So, I stirred in some jam to taste, placed it in a resealable container and we've used it for the past week.  Super simple and yummy!

You may also add jams and jellies to oatmeal, oat bran and cream of wheat hot cereals for a fruit flavor that's, well, real.  No more freeze-dried, artificially flavored fruit bits.  Add some jam and sweeten (or not) to taste.

And a little encouragement about homemade jams--they're simple to make!  If you can follow directions, you can stir some up.  Freezer jams are even simpler.  :-)

Check out more Kitchen Tips at Tammy's Recipes by clicking on the link above! 

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