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Amish Friendship Bread Experiments

That Man brought the dreaded gallon-sized bag of goo home from work the other day.  You know, the one you have to feed every 5 days and try to dump several bags of new goo on your friends and family.  Eventually they all start running in the opposite direction because they don’t want anything rotting on their counter.

So I end up doubling recipes, making tons of cake that none of us need.  On the bright side, it doesn’t tempt me at all, but the girls sure don’t need a bunch of rich cake to eat every day.

Besides, it’s always bothered me to put a box of artificial pudding in “Amish” bread.

So I googled and found all sorts of recipes that use the Amish starter for REAL FOOD.  This site had tons of recipes (both with pudding and without).  I had no idea that there were so many options!  Not just sweet stuff, but pancakes, biscuits and breads — anything where you’d use sourdough.  The Amish starter has a cup of sugar in it (each time I feed it), but I figure after 5 days or so, very little of the sugar is probably still there, although it’s definitely going to be sweeter than regular sourdough.

The first thing I tried didn’t turn out so well.  I made a chocolate cake using my fresh-ground whole wheat flour.  However, I don’t think I ground it quite fine enough, so the cake was a bit grainy and very heavy.  It also wasn’t sweet enough for the family, and not really chocolately enough.  They ate it, but it stuck around on the counter for days instead of disappearing.  Next time I’ll put chocolate chips in it, extra cocoa, and maybe a little more sugar.  I’m also getting better at grinding the flour.  I actually set a timer for a full 60 seconds in the VitaMix, because I just won’t grind it long enough if I don’t.

Tonight, we decided to have breakfast for supper:  pancakes and bacon, the monsters’ favorite.  I hardly ever eat pancakes, especially white flour ones made from a mix (again, family favorite is the “Pioneer” mix).  However, tonight they sounded really good.  I pulled out my Jane Brody cookbook and found my favorite multi-grain recipe (fresh-ground whole wheat and oats), but I tweaked it to incorporate the Amish starter.

At lunch, I put in 3 T of starter, along with the milk and flour for pancakes according to the recipe.  Mixed it in a bowl, and then set the whole thing in the oven with the light on to ferment all afternoon.  The recipe said to let it sit all night but I figured a couple of hours would be fine (although next time I’d probably use more starter if I didn’t have all night to let it work its magic).  Then for supper, I made the rest of the recipe like usual.

Man they were really tasty!  My favorite way to eat them is with a cup of no-sugar applesauce and a pat of real butter.  So good!

Have you ever made anything with the Amish starter?

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Chicken & Dumplings

This is a rather slow process.  Although you could certainly used canned chicken broth, fresh “carcass” broth tastes soooo good!

History:  at Granny’s (my mom) house for Thanksgiving, it’s tradition that we have a light supper before us kids all head home.  We call it “Carcass Soup” and quite honestly, I’d rather skip the turkey dinner and go straight to the soup.  When she makes it, she uses the turkey carcass and boils it while we visit all afternoon, and then uses the leftover stuffing and mashed potatoes to thicken the broth.  She also adds homemade noodles, which are incredible.

I’ve adapted that idea to just a chicken, something we eat more often, and the kids are just as happy with dumplings, and they certainly don’t take nearly as long to make as homemade noodles.

Chicken & Dumplings

Prepare 1 whole chicken–boil, broiled, rotisserie, etc.  Eat for a meal and save some of the breast meat (or add enough breast meat for soup).  After the legs, thighs, etc. are removed, throw the carcass bones into a large pot, cover with water, and simmer.  Add onions, celery, and carrots to taste.  Boil at least 1 hour, but as long as 2-3 hours is fine.  Strain (I use a pasta pot that has a built in strainer).

Pick over the leftover chicken meat and add to the pot.  Season with poultry seasoning, thyme or sage (I prefer sage because Granny always put the stuffing into the soup), and add celery salt, salt, pepper to taste.

Add diced potatoes, carrots, celery, and whatever frozen veggies (I added corn).  Simmer approx 30 minutes until the veggies are tender.

Meanwhile, make the dumplings.  I use Old Pioneer buttermilk biscuit mix (aside:  today I accidentally used their pancake version which was sweeter) and the recipe on the box.  It’s about 2 cups of mix, 2/3 c. milk, and 1 tsp. poultry seasoning.  Basically biscuits with seasoning added.

I stir 2-3 T flour in cold water and then dump into the soup and stir until thickened.  Then I begin dropping the dumplings into the hot broth by tablespoon.  Although everyone loves dumplings, I can’t make a double batch in my stock pot — they need a little room in between to let the steam rise.  Cover and let steam about 10 minutes.

Our favorite way to serve:  a scoop of mashed potatoes in the bowl, topped with thick, yummy soup and a dumpling.

Stick to your ribs good.

Dessert tonight was homemade bread slathered with homemade apple butter and it was soooo good!!

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Cooking Insanity Continues

Thanks to Bethanie’s comment about canning, and Suzanne’s terrific post on how to make apple butter, I’ve got a pot of apples cooking on the stove too.  I don’t think this will make so much I’ll have to worry about canning–I’ve had the apples a couple of weeks and had to throw a few out.  I’ve never really cared for apple butter before, but I’m thinking a bit on some of my homemade bread may be to die for.

Oh, and the monsters went next door to play with a neighbor, That Man is glued to football, and I’m caught up on dishes…

So I’m going to work on finishing my Day Sheet for the MF.

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A Cooking Fool

I’m sick and tired.

I let everyone in this family tell me what they want for dinner.  Of course, nobody can agree.  Since I’m an amiable (people pleaser), this puts me under stress.  Sounds ridiculous to be stressed over dinner, but I am, because it’s impossible to please everyone.  One person upset makes me upset.

I’m tired of trying to make healthy dishes for myself and whatever the monsters/That Man want.  Basically cooking two dinners a night.

I’m tired of being tired after a long day at the Evil Day Job and That Man or the monsters putting up for takeout.

I’m certainly extremely sick and tired of seeing how much we spend on said eating out.

All because I don’t have a plan and I don’t stand firm to that plan.

So this weekend, we made a trip to Sam’s Club, I renewed my expired membership, and I bought a ton of food.  Today, I threw two chickens in the oven to slow-roast while we were at church.  We ate one chicken for lunch.  We tore apart the other one:  legs, etc. in a bag for later in the fridge, and all the breast meat in another.  I’ve got both carcasses boiling away on the stove with veggies, and later today I’ll make chicken and dumplings for dinner.  I thought that was too much chicken in one day, but everybody begged for dumplings.  If I play that right, I’ll get two meals out of the broth/white meat and a quick meal for the kids tomorrow night (That Man is going to be away for business and I don’t eat dark meat, so there’s plenty left).

I’ve got a roast I’ll throw in the crock pot Tuesday.  I’ll get at least two meals of it by using the leftovers for stroganoff.

In the oven right now, I have a huge pan of meatballs and another pan of meatloaf, both made with extra lean hamburger.  I’ll freeze them both once they’re cool.

I have homemade bread rising on the counter, and another batch bubbling in the big bowl that I’ll store in the fridge for up to two weeks (but it won’t last NEAR that long–I seem to make bread about every couple of days).

It may not all be “diet” food, but it’s homecooked and I’m making smart substitutions where possible.  And if anyone dares whine and moan about having to eat at home, why, they can make their own @#&*$ dinner.

Now, of course, I have a buttload of dishes to do.

Unfortunately, between the website move, a lovely visit from My Beloved SIs and Papa from Mexico yesterday, and all this cooking today, I haven’t even thought about the Mayan Fantasy.  Back to Dark & Early tomorrow.