Mommy Cafe

Vegetarian home cooking, kid tested and approved

Seven Grain Cereal Bread

Once upon a time I liked to make no-knead breads.  It resulted in the health benefits of homemade bread without the sore wrists.  I was willing to sacrifice the light and airy sandwich bread for the dense but hearty whole wheat variety (which, no matter what I did, would never fully rise).

Then I met this beauty, worth every minute of hand-kneading!

Despite the need to knead, this is a relatively simple bread to make.  It contains few ingredients, the most out-of-the-ordinary being seven grain cereal, which I’ve decided needs to become a staple in my home anyway.  Mix it, rest it, knead it, rise it, shape it, bake it.  Nothing to it!  Kudos to Bread World, my new go-to for all things baked.  I found that it took closer to 3 cups of flour to get the right consistency, and next time I might add a little more honey and a little less water for a less subtly sweet taste.  That said, following the recipe exactly got a beautiful rise and a perfectly airy loaf.

I let Will stay up a little late tonight just to have a slice.  He took one bite and loudly exclaimed “This is the best thing I’ve ever eaten!”  Pretty sure the neighbors heard him.  He then proceeded to give me a monster hug that nearly knocked me into the still-hot oven, thanking me for letting him have a slice before bed.  Really?  An unsolicited hug and thank you??  This bread is a keeper.

Seven Grain Cereal Bread

Makes: 1 loaf

2 to 2-1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1 envelope (or 2 1/4 tsp) RapidRise Yeast
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup water
1/4 cup milk
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons honey
2/3 cup seven grain hot cereal

Combine 1 cup flour, undissolved yeast and salt in a large bowl. Heat water, milk, butter and honey until very warm (120o to130oF). Stir in cereal; let stand 2 minutes. Gradually add to flour mixture. Beat 2 minutes at medium speed of electric mixer, scraping bowl occasionally. Stir in enough remaining flour to make a soft dough. Knead on lightly floured surface until smooth and elastic, about 8 to 10 minutes. Cover; let rest 10 minutes.
Divide dough in half; roll each half to 7-inch rope. Place ropes side by side in greased 8-1/2 x 4-1/2-inch loaf pan. Cover; let rise in warm, draft-free place until doubled in size, about 1 hour.

Bake at 400oF for 25 to 30 minutes or until done. Remove from pan; cool on wire rack.

November 8, 2011 Posted by | Baked Goodies, Recipes | , | Leave a comment

Day 31 and Beyond!

October is over, and some of you may be wondering how I fared with my challenge to eat only unprocessed foods for a month.  I talked to my dad the other night and he brought up my bumpy road post and jokingly wondered if it had only gotten worse.

To be perfectly honest, I did have a few slip-ups.  Some were intentional.  When a girl is sick and put in charge of pizza delivery, one can expect certain liberties to be taken with said pizza.  Other slip-ups were discovered at the very end of the month.  Who knew chili powder would have anti-caking powder and “natural” flavors?

Overall, I think I did pretty well with keeping my diet in check.  I diligently read labels, I shopped exclusively at the local co-op, I gave away my refined/enriched/preservative-laden foods.  I even donated a nearly full case of Vanilla Coke to the needy (i.e. friends with a very busy toddler).  And you know what?  I feel fantastic!

Yes, it takes more work to bake my own bread than to buy a loaf at the store.  Sure, it’s a tad annoying to grate my own cheese rather than buy a bag of already shredded.  Of course I still miss my soda… but not nearly as much as before.  In exchange for opting out of these conveniences, I have more energy, I sleep better, and my concentration is improving.  The memory thing is taking a little longer, but let’s not expect miracles here.

Perhaps my biggest success story, or at least the one that is most fresh in my mind, is that I went trick-or-treating with my son and have yet to sneak a piece of his candy.  He even tried tempting me this afternoon, listing off each variety saying “You know you want it!”  (Incidentally, where does an 8-year-old learn this sort of taunting?)  Each time I said no thanks until finally, frustrated, he said “Don’t you like any kind of candy??”  Honestly, none of it appealed to me.  Not in the least.

Though I have learned to appreciate dark chocolate.  Mmm.

So the big question I’ve been getting lately is “How long are you going to keep this up?”  The big answer is “For as long as I want.”  This is my new food lifestyle.  I don’t plan to be as strict as I was last month.  But I will still check every label before purchasing food.  White flours and sugars are limited to the rare special occasion.  High fructose corn syrup will have no place in my home.  I’ve switched to natural sodas and am only consuming them on my weekly “indulgence day.”  When I do indulge, it will be with intention, acknowledging that, while not good for my body, every once in a while the soul deserves a little treat.

November 2, 2011 Posted by | Food for thought | , | Leave a comment

Days 4-6: A Bumpy Road

Day 4.  Ugh.  How many days left??  I’m getting sick of spending all my time in the kitchen.  Not to mention the dishes.  And the mishaps that abound.  And the constant cleaning and rearranging of my counter tops.  And the dishes.  And daily grocery store trips.  Have I mentioned the dishes?

To be fair, I brought today’s struggles on myself.  I volunteered to make dinner for friends who were too sick to slice bread.  I knew exactly what I was going to make by noon (Poblano Jack Pizzas, made from fresh garden peppers!!), and planned to make the same for dinner at home as well.  However, once I got home I failed to double-check my recipe for the most-awesome-pizza-ever to see how long it took to make it and exactly what ingredients went into it.  I also forgot to check my dough to see if I had enough for two pizzas.  Which I did not.  Dumb, right?

I needed corn.  I always have frozen corn in the freezer.  Except, of course, for today.  So I cheated.  I found a can of corn in my cupboard, and I cracked it open.  Don’t ask why I even had canned corn in my cupboard, because I don’t know the answer myself.  But there it is.  I ate 1/4 cup of processed canned corn.  Sigh.

The pizza was delicious, by the way.  Horribly misshapen, slightly doughy crust, but delicious.  Recipe to follow… after the dishes are done.

Highlight of the day:  I bought a 2 liter of Ginger Ale for above-mentioned sickos and managed to deliver it without cracking it open for a sip!

 

Day 5.  After so many hours in the kitchen these past several days, I promised myself a day off.  I cooked a double batch of beans the night before so as not to be tempted to worry about it tonight.  With plenty of leftovers in the fridge there was no concern for what to eat for dinner.  So the most labor-intensive kitchen moment for today was tossing a fresh veggie salad with homemade vinaigrette.  Ahhh.

So what did I do with all this free time?  Cleaned.  Yep, I had so much energy that would otherwise have been devoted to cooking that I decided to sweep and mop the floors and give my bathroom a good scrub.  Livin’ it up!  I also managed to avoid anything that resembles a grocery store.  I’m starting to feel normal again!

Highlight of the day:  Ate lunch next to an open bag of Sun Chips (my mouth is watering just typing the words) and didn’t sneak a single one.

 

Day 6.  I wasn’t sure I was feeling the positive effects of eating unprocessed.  Until today.  I had a business lunch meeting this afternoon.  I was nervous about grilling the waitress (ha!) in front of a client, so I did some homework in advance.  I checked out the menu online and then called the restaurant to see what items were made in-house.

Thinking I was pretty clever, I ordered a salad (hard to go wrong there) with local bleu cheese, grilled chicken (don’t tell Will!), and walnuts.  I knew that all their dressings were house-made, and I asked for plain walnuts instead of the candied variety.  Well… the chicken was so salty that I just pushed it to the side.  And the dressing was so sweet that I found myself looking for undressed lettuce.  So very unlike me.

So, try as I might, this meal was another bump in the road.  Not surprisingly, shortly after lunch I faced a sugar crash.  Big time.  In fact, I’m still not recovered at 9pm!

I think it’s safe to say that eating clean, while not an easy road to travel, is a more enjoyable journey.  One which I can have the energy to appreciate!

October 6, 2011 Posted by | Food for thought | , | Leave a comment

Day 3: Feeling challenged.

I knew it would be a rough day when I woke up and thought “I could sure go for a vanilla Coke, a bag of chips, and some cookies.”  Yep, that was 8am.

Here’s how it started.  Last night as I was falling asleep, I heard the pitter-patter of footsteps approaching my bedroom.  Sure enough, Will was sleepwalking and found his way to my bed.  After a short discussion about what he was doing and why (which he does not recall whatsoever), I ended up with what seemed like at least a dozen flailing arms and legs in my bed for the night.

Needless to say, I was not ready to wake up this morning.  At all.

But we had errands to run, a newborn baby to meet (yay!), cookies to bake (you can’t visit a newborn without bringing goodies for mom), and a house to clean.  So I eventually rolled my crabby self out of bed.  After all, I needed to check the status of my sour cream experiment.  Food is such a good motivator!

I head to the oven where I’d left my setting cream to find that it was the same goopy consistency as when I mixed the cream and buttermilk yesterday.  Annoying.  Maybe it will set up in the fridge, I thought, and optimistically placed it where the sour cream lives.  As of the last check, I still have goop.  Super annoying.

Cookies would make me feel better, I reasoned.  So I decided to make a batch of my favorite White Chocolate Oatmeal Craisin cookies.  Oops, doesn’t make the cut, thanks to brown sugar.  That’s okay, because I found a cool recipe for honey almond cookies.  The ingredients, in addition to honey and almond, are egg whites.  That’s all.  Three whole food ingredients.  Can’t go wrong!  Thirty sticky minutes later, I learned that it could indeed go wrong.  Tasty, but consumption required a fork and knife.

Other kitchen struggles of the day included too-thick-to-stir hummus that nearly killed the blender, running out of olive oil after just returning from the store, every single homemade skinny french fry sticking to the pan (when they’re skinny, there is no room for potato loss!), and dishes, dishes, and more dishes.

Where’s my caffeine??!!

I realize that challenges are called such because they are meant to be challenging.  I realize that not every day will be easy and craving-free.  And I realize that most days will be.  My silver lining for today came at dinner when Will, tremendously pleased with the homemade ketchup (something finally turned out as planned!), said “Mom, we should always eat unprocessed foods in our house.”

Proud mama.  He is completely forgiven for last night’s restlessness.

October 3, 2011 Posted by | Food for thought | , | 3 Comments

Biscuit Muffins

At Suzy’s request, here is the recipe for the muffins that I made to go with our tuna salad picnic lunch.  These muffins look and taste just like biscuits, so they make a great side to soups or stews.  And apparently salads 🙂  These are fantastic with honey, and I imagine they’d be just as spectacular with some homemade strawberry jam (hint, hint!).

I feel a little contradictory posting this recipe during my unprocessed month.  It certainly doesn’t pass the test!  To make it a more healthy muffin, I would use white whole wheat flour instead of all-purpose, and replace the sugar with 1/6 cup of honey.  Yes, I know it’s hard to measure a sixth of a cup.  Eyeball it, and go short on the honey if you can’t get exact.

This recipe came from The Muffin Cookbook: Muffins for All Occasions.  Sure enough, picnics in the park are one such occasion!

Prep time: 10 minutes   Cook time: 20 minutes   Estimated cost: Way less than $1 for 12 muffins

Southern Biscuit Muffins

  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 T baking powder
  • 3/4 cup cold butter
  • 1 cup cold milk

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Grease 12 muffins cups.  (These muffins brown better on the sides and bottoms when baked without paper liners.)  In large bowl, combine flour, sugar and baking powder.  Cut in butter until mixture resembles course crumbs.  Stir in milk just until flour mixture is moistened.  Spoon into muffins cups.  Bake 20 minutes or until golden.  Remove from pan.  Cool on wire rack.

Makes 12 muffins

October 3, 2011 Posted by | Recipes, Vegetarian | , , , | 1 Comment