Monthly Archives: February 2011

My Awesomeness is a Brand

Okay, so technically it’s not really ME, but it is my name; their products are all natural and totally awesome, so that has to count for something, right? There’s even mention of farming…um hello?!? Danielle Snacks awesomeness is further displayed by their charitable contributions to programs that educate and feed children. Be still my little heart! I am so treating myself to one of their cotton shopping bags, which happens to have my name on it AND arrives full of chips (double score), and helps to feed and educate less fortunate children.

Earlier today I purchased their honey banana chips along with the royal sweet potato chips. I wish the spicy carrots were available because I am dying to try them! I’m completely enamored with their chip bag art! Simple and stunning, no? Seriously, I want little giclee prints to hang on my wall!

**Disclaimer** I was in no way compensated by Danielle Snacks for rambling on about their product. But should they feel the need to add me to their fruit & veggie chip tasting panel I would happily oblige.

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18 Hour Bread

Yes, you read that right, this bread took 18 hours to make. Now before you get all “this chic is a crazy person” or “who in their right mind has that kind of time?” it was not an 18 hour labor-intensive bread. Honestly, I probably have about 45 minutes of total work time invested. For the most part it sat around doing its thing, while I went ahead and did mine!

I’m a bit intimidated by what really goes into making true artisan bread. I’ve been coveting this book for some time now. I mean the love, the commitment, the skill. It’s a bit overwhelming and don’t even get me started on the science behind it all!

I decided the time had come for me to take this challenge on. I wanted to start out slow instead of diving into the deep end, getting way in over my head and failing miserably. That is how I ended up finding this no-knead recipe. I was a bit skeptical that these four little ingredients would result in such a beautiful outcome, but I was ready to give it a whirl.

Jim Lahey’s No-Knead Bread {via}

3 cups all-purpose or bread flour, more for dusting (I used 1 1/2 cups of each)
¼ teaspoon instant yeast
1¼ teaspoons salt
Cornmeal or wheat bran as needed. (I used oat bran)

1. In a large bowl combine flour, yeast and salt. Add 1 5/8 cups water, and stir until blended; dough will be shaggy and sticky. Cover bowl with plastic wrap. Let dough rest at least 12 hours, preferably about 18, at warm room temperature, about 70 degrees.

2. Dough is ready when its surface is dotted with bubbles. Lightly flour a work surface and place dough on it; sprinkle it with a little more flour and fold it over on itself once or twice. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rest about 15 minutes.

3. Using just enough flour to keep dough from sticking to work surface or to your fingers, gently and quickly shape dough into a ball. Generously coat a cotton towel (not terry cloth) with flour, wheat bran or cornmeal; put dough seam side down on towel and dust with more flour, bran or cornmeal. Cover with another cotton towel and let rise for about 2 hours. When it is ready, dough will be more than double in size and will not readily spring back when poked with a finger.

4. At least a half-hour before dough is ready, heat oven to 450 degrees. Put a 6- to 8-quart heavy covered pot (cast iron, enamel, Pyrex or ceramic) in oven as it heats. When dough is ready, carefully remove pot from oven. Slide your hand under towel and turn dough over into pot, seam side up; it may look like a mess, but that is O.K. Shake pan once or twice if dough is unevenly distributed; it will straighten out as it bakes. Cover with lid and bake 30 minutes, then remove lid and bake another 15 to 30 minutes, until loaf is beautifully browned. Cool on a rack.

Yield: One 1½-pound loaf.

I could not have asked for better results. The crust was crispy and beautifully browned; the inside had a light and chewy texture with perfect little pockets of air!

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Filed under Baking, Vegan

Hazy Shade of Winter

It’s February, it’s cold, there is snow on the ground. In my head, however, the birds are singing, bees are buzzing, flowers are blooming and sunshine is abundant! I am a master when it comes to organized chaos. As you can see from the picture above I am deep in the throes of garden planning. I struggle with seed selection because I just want to grow them all! Realistically, do I need 8 varieties of carrots?? Probably, most definitely, yes I think I do.
I’ve spent a good portion of this month happily submerged in seed catalogs, studying plant varieties and calculating germination, frost and harvest dates. There is an air of excitement whirling around that only thoughts of Spring can unleash.

I started seed saving last year and I’m very excited to see how those particular varieties develop as the season progresses. I’m especially curious to see if my wax beans produce a yellow, green, purple or marbled bean. I’m anticipating a certain amount of cross-pollination to have taken place due to my inability to ensure genetic isolation. Who knows, maybe I’ll develop a funky rainbow-bean hybrid!

Images and content copyright © 2009-2011 Danielle R Limoge.

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Homemade Pop-Tarts (and a mini rant)

Yes, you heard me right, homemade pop-tarts. Trust me, they are ridiculously awesome and the reason I’ve turned into a gym rat for the past several days. Having to run an extra 4 miles per workout just to counterbalance the ultra-buttery light and flaky crust is totally worth it and why I will probably never make them again. Who am I kidding, I’m gonna whip up another batch this weekend and then sign up for a triathlon!

Looking on the positive side of these tasty pastries, they are smaller than their chemically sweetened, preservative laden, store-bought cousins. I filled mine with nutella and an assortment of my low-sugar homemade jams. Which by the way, low-sugar (in my opinion) does not produce a less sweet jam, it just allows the natural sweetness and flavor of the fruit to shine through. For the dough I used clarified butter. I love butter, but not its artery clogging capabilities, that is why I’ve been clarifying my own butter for the past 4+ years.

**WARNING**Soapbox Speech straight ahead. You can skip to the recipe if you prefer to stay in blissful ignorance. Trust me, I’ve been there, the view wasn’t bad…for a while anyways.

My only shameful addition to this recipe is I used shortening. Crisco’s claim is that their product is “all natural” because it is derived from vegetable oil. Hydrogenated oil is on the ingredient list (so not natural!). This does not sit well with me AT ALL! Hydrogenated oils are oils where the essential fatty acids have been chemically converted into a more shelf-stable version. This is done by forcing hydrogen gas into the oil at high pressure. What this does is change unsaturated fat (a healthy form of fat) into trans fat (a very unhealthy form of fat).

To my knowledge, this application of Crisco is the only form of hydrogenated oil I’ve ingested in a very long time. Hydrogenated oils are running amuck on grocery store shelves! I am a “make it from scratch” kinda gal. I do not purchase or consume processed prepackaged junk. Is it a lot of work? Sometimes, yes, but in more of a planning and education kind of way. Is it worth it? Absolutely! There are times when I come home from work and have nothing ready-made to eat. That sucks, especially when hunger pangs are in full force! What I do have is an assortment of dried beans in mason jars, a vast array of flours and grains, a canning closet and freezer stocked full of my homegrown organic veggies along with the determination to step back in time to a world not saturated in plastic convenience. Okay, I’m done. My rant is over.

I will be trying out an amended version of my dough over the weekend and hopefully it will yield the same flaky crust! I’ll be sure to let you know! Soooooo without further adieu, here is the recipe for homemade pop-tarts.

Homemade Pop-Tarts

1 1/2 c Pastry flour

1/2 tsp salt

1/4 c shortening, cubed

1/4 c butter, cubed

2-3 Tbsp cold water

jam, nutella, or your desired filling.

In a large bowl mix flour and salt; cut in shortening and butter until a crumbly mixture is formed.

Next add cold water (one tablespoon at a time) and mix until a slightly sticky dough forms. Separate into two equal sections. On a well floured surface roll the dough out until it is about 1/8″ thick. Cut out a strip of dough approximately 3×6 and spread 1 Tbsp of jam, or nutella on the one end. Trust me, this is enough filling.

Fold the dough over and crimp the edges closed, I used a fork. Bake at 425 for 9 minutes. Remove the cookie sheet from the oven and allow pop-tarts to cool completely before removing. Try to not eat them all in one sitting!

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Filed under Baking, Vegetarian

Rodent, You Had Better Be Right

I am pleased with the rodent’s report; Puxatony Phil did not see his shadow! Translation, we can expect an early Spring. Hallelujah! However, judging by the looks of things outside one would assume otherwise. I should really hold my tongue on this issue, especially since last year I talked smack on Phil and we were bombarded with 3 back to back blizzards during the month of Feb. After a slightly bitchy conversation with Farmer Josh he owned up to being partially responsible for one of them. That made me feel a little better.

I will admit, it is a bit difficult to be garden planning with all this snow and ice on the ground! At least a warm fire and a mountain of seed catalogs is a welcomed distraction from the world outside!

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