Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Behold, my raw materials

This is what I'm working with this week, in terms of fruits and veggies. Of course I'm filling in the blanks with quality proteins and carbs where applicable.

If I write down what I have to work with, it helps me remember what's lying around and prevents me from finding limp brown celery at the bottom of the crisper in a month. So far, we've only completely crossed off "kale" because I made a batch of my one true love for lunches. The little guy and I made great progress on the green beans, onion, mushrooms, and cucumber tonight, but haven't completely wiped them out yet. Our oven stopped working--it doesn't come up to temperature and smells like gas when it's on--so I'm trying my best to work with stovetop, slow cooker, Foreman grill, and microwave (last resort_ as much as possible. Lucky for me, little man prefers his veggies raw.

Tomorrow I plan to use the celery, remaining bit of onion, carrot, brussels, and last few mushrooms to make chicken noodle soup with some leftover frozen rotisserie chicken. The forecast shows more rain and the potential for my least-favorite weather EVER (hint: it rhymes with NO!) for the next few days, so it'll be a nice addition to the menu.

Got any brilliant ideas for sweet potatoes? My preferred prep is thinly sliced and baked/broiled, but that's obviously out.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Clean Eating Wheat Bread

The past few weeks around our house have been all about getting creative with the meat in the freezer, using the all the veggies languishing in the crisper, and making do with what we have. I've gotten tired of shopping when the first layer--the "good stuff"--gets used up, leaving the same old rock-hard roasts and soggy celery dreaming of their chance in the spotlight.

OK, maybe I'm dramatizing the contents of my kitchen just a little. But for real, we did need to start using what we already had. Some unexpected expenses this fall have made me very aware of where our money is going. Bonus, I've always loved the nerdy satisfaction of using something up completely, whether it's toothpaste or a loaf of bread. Maybe it reassures me that I can provide for my family without going overboard or leaving them up a creek. In the name of provision, tonight I found myself making bread. Because a hunk of frozen lunchmeat just isn't very tasty by itself.

As I was making this, and a loaf of GF bread for The H, I wondered why I got away from homemade bread to begin with. The recipes are so simple! They come together remarkably quickly. And they saved me about $10 off the grocery budget this week.

I posted a link to this bread recipe years ago, but recently discovered it no longer works. Here is the recipe, from Clean Eating Magazine, with my minor tweaks at the end.

Whole Wheat Bread
3 cups whole wheat flour
2 teaspoons yeast
1 tsp kosher salt
2 Tbsp honey
2 Tbsp olive oil
Warm water

Mix 1 3/4 cups warm water with the flour and yeast. Let this mixture rise until doubled in size, approximately 30 minutes. Add salt, honey, and oil to the dough and stir in completely; dough will be sticky. Let rise another 30 minutes, then knead or stir and let rise for 30min once more. Bake at 350* for 40 minutes. Slice and serve.

Tweaks: I know, from making this in the past, this has the texture of primordial ooze and will not tolerate kneading. It works well to simply punch/stir instead of kneading. Also, I moved 3/4 of the dough to a greased loaf pan before the final rise and made a flat focaccia out of the leftover. Tonight I was out of olive oil, but substituted blood orange infused oil with amazing results. Place a baking sheet under the loaf pan just in case.