Spinach Dip

Spinach Dip

 

There are as many versions of this recipe out there as there are people who make it! This is how I generally make it but sometimes I don’t have all the ingredients on hand and will just wing it. If I don’t have the Knorr’s Vegetable soup mix on hand I use Vegetable Bovril to taste.

Sourdough bread (which I now make from scratch)
1 cup Sour Cream or Plain Greek Yogurt
1 cup Mayo
1 pkg Frozen Chopped Spinach, thawed and well drained (squeeze excess liquid out with hands)
1 pkg Knorr’s Vegetable Soup Mix
 in Australia Continental Spring Vegetable Simmer soup
(optional)1 can Water Chestnuts, diced
(optional) 1 can Artichoke Hearts, drained and chopped
In medium mixing bowl, stir together sour cream or plain greek yogurt and mayo.
Add well drained, chopped spinach and stir well.
Stir in vegetable soup mix and if using, chopped artichoke hearts and diced water chestnuts.
*Cover and refrigerate for at least two hours.
Remove top of sourdough loaf, tear into bite sized pieces; remove  bite sized chunks of bread from loaf and place on serving tray.
Place hollowed out sourdough loaf on serving tray and fill with  Spinach Dip.
Arrange bite sized pieces of sourdough bread around the loaf and serve.
* If taking Spinach Dip to an event, put spinach dip in a container with an airtight lid and refrigerate. Spoon dip into prepared sourdough loaf just before serving.

My Sourdough Journey

I use my paternal Grandmother’s ancient tea towel to cover my resting bread dough. So much Love.

While in the Fraser Valley I gave away some Sourdough Starter so I thought I would share with you how I use my Starter.
I tend to use a Sourdough Hybrid recipe which requires a bit of yeast because I live at higher elevations and it is pretty dang cold up there sometimes too! I love the look of the Cobb Sourdough Bread, love it’s crispy exterior but I find that when I split the dough and make two loaves I can make heaps more sammies with the same amount of dough. Right?
Then again, I often make up the Sourdough, cook off half of it as a loaf and the second half I make into Pizza! hmmmmmPizza! Sourdough Pizza Crust is the bomb!
I make Sourdough Pancakes too. I am still experimenting with that; the recipes I have used so far come out a little too flimsy and flat for my liking. Or am I just spoiled by my yummy, fluffy, oh so good but not so good for you Pancakes? So now I am drooling on my keyboard…
There are so many things you can do with Sourdough Starter and I have only just barely scraped the top of the iceberg! Sourdough is supposed to be good for you too; ah, yea! Bread that is good for me? Sign me up!  You can read about it here
https://iquitsugar.com/why-sourdough-bread-good-for-you/

I will give you the recipes and processes I use. I would love to know how your Sourdough Bread journey goes!
If I gave you a bit of Brittany Blue, please do try to take care of her. You need to feed her now and again. She does prefer to get used  in yummy baking, so use her often!

Brittany Blue
4 liquid ounces Water
4 weighed ounces Flour

When I make bread I use 1 cup of starter so I pour some Brittany Blue out then add the water and flour, stir well to combine and put her back  in her spot on the counter.
Let’s talk about where the starter lives:
I keep Brittany Blue on the counter because, frankly, my kitchen is often quite cool.  In the Summer when temps tend to be a lil warmer I put Brittany Blue out in the Cold Room where she seems to do quite well.
I do use Brittany Blue once a week so I tend to feed her the day before I want to use her, two or three days later and then once more the day before I use her to make more bread.
I don’t always use the 8 fluid ounces of starter that I remove; sometimes I just chuck it in the compost.

The two recipes I always use:

This one  I make into two loaves or a loaf and a pizza crust

https://www.kingarthurflour.com/recipes/rustic-sourdough-bread-recipe

Sourdough Bread Loaves make very yummy sandwiches
Sometimes I make one loaf of Sourdough Bread and use the remaining dough to make Pizza

This is the recipe I use to make a cobb of Sourdough Bread and it is damn delicious! No to ways about it! And the sound of that crackle when it comes outta the oven? Devine!
http://www.katie180.com.au/recipes/how-to-make-sourdough-step-by-step/

Sourdough Cobb in my Cast Iron Dutch Oven, easy peasy!

As You Like it Granola

I have been making Granola for years. The tried and true recipe I have been using is heavy on the fat and sugar which is probably what makes it taste so darn good! No word of a lie, I could sit down with a Modular Mate Round #2 full of Brown Sugar and eat the entire contents, no worries! I’d pay for it afterwards but man,  it sure tastes good going down! ( I may be drooling on my keyboard as I type this and also thinking of making Caramel Corn…)
We moved off the grid a year ago where I have continued to make my fave granola recipe but yesterday, for some reason, I decided to try something different. Oh, right. We are in the shoulder season out here in the bush, with limited sunshine these days so no rays to power our batts…that’s what prompted me to open an actual cookbook to source a Granola Recipe. When the Batts are running low we conserve energy in every way possible which means no turning on my computer. I usually just open up my old fave Fruit and Nut Granola .
I can cook to my hearts content because that is propane fuelled…well, let’s not go crazy there…still have to have the propane in the 100lb tanks to operate the stove and heat the water.
Yes, I could have looked in my treasure trove of hand written recipes but I have this Skinnytaste Cookbook that I paid good money for so I thought I might as well flip through the pages.
On Page 26 you will find the recipe for her Good For You Granola. I’m calling it As You Like it Granola because you can really make all kinds of substitutions…which I did…and it will still turn out wonderfully!  The thing that drew me to making this recipe is the drastic cut in fat and sugar! I didn’t think it could possibly taste as good as my old recipe but I was wrong. It is AMAZING!
I searched for her recipe online but couldn’t find it so I will write it up here for you but I strongly suggest you head over to SkinnyTaste to check out all of her fantastic recipes!  To be sure, I double the recipe and I am very glad that I did!

As You Like It Granola from Skinnytaste (Good-for-You Granola p. 26)

Because I doubled the recipe and found it to be the perfect amount for the two of us (regular Granola consumers) I am going to list the doubled amounts. And I am going to list my subs…coconut flakes, hemp hearts, pecans and as for the fruit? Your call!

1/2 cup Quinoa
3 cups Old Fashion Rolled Oats
1/2 cup Coconut Flakes
1/2 cup Hemp Hearts
1/2 cup Slivered Almonds
1/2 cup chopped Pecans
1/2 cup dried Blueberries
1/2 cup dried Cherries
1/2 cup dried Peaches, cut/torn into bite sized pieces
1/2 cup dried Strawberries

1/2 cup Honey
2 Tablespoons Coconut Oil, melted
2 teaspoons Vanilla
2 teaspoons Cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon Nutmeg

Preheat oven to 325F.
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper – preferable to silpat because you can chuck it away.
Rinse quinoa thoroughly under cold water in a fine mesh sieve; drain well and pat dry with paper towels.
Spread quinoa, oats, and coconut out on the baking sheet.
Toast in the oven, stirring once, until golden, about 10 minutes.

Meanwhile gather together the fruit and nut combo that you prefer, toss together with the cinnamon, nutmeg and salt; set aside.
In another small bowl combine the honey, melted coconut oil, and vanilla; set aside.

Remove quinoa/oat mixture from the oven.
Pour the fruit/nut and spice mixture over top and gently mix in.
Drizzle wet ingredients over all and gently toss with a large metal spatula, spreading the mixture evenly over  the entire baking sheet.
Return to oven and bake until golden brown, about 10 – 12 minutes, stirring once at the halfway mark.
Remove from oven , give it a gentle stir, and cool completely on the baking sheet before transferring to a container with an airtight lid.

Makes about 8 cups of Granola
Store in airtight container for up to a month….if it lasts that long!

Honey Whole Grain Bread

Fresh out of the oven Honey Whole Grain Bread!

There is nothing better the smell of homemade bread permeating you home except maybe that first slice off that fresh outta the oven bread! Now I know there are some that say that you ought to let your bread sit for 24 hours before slicing into it but seriously? Who can wait that long? And besides, butter doesn’t melt into day old bread! It just doesn’t.  And toasting slices of day old bread so the butter DOES melt doesn’t even begin to compare with butter melting into that steaming slice you have just cut from the fresh out of the oven loaf of bread. Okay, I maybe wait 10 minutes because let’s face it, that loaf of bread is HOT when it first comes out of the oven. And having worked in a few bakeries where we made bread? I’ve burned my fingers, wrists, forearms on hot bread and hot bread pans more times than I can remember!

For this Honey Whole Grain Bread I have made adaptations to a recipe I found in my pilfered copy of Betty Crocker’s New Cookbook. Let’s see if I can find the recipe online? Fourth recipe and lo and behold! Woot! So you can go on over to Betty Crocker’s page and follow that recipe for Old-Fashioned Honey-Whole Wheat Bread to the T if you like. I don’t think I have ever made it exactly as specified. For one, I often halve the recipe to so I only make one loaf; if I had a freezer I might make the whole recipe so I don’t have to make bread so often. Wait! What did I just say? Making fresh bread is pretty simple so I actually prefer to make it often so I have fresh, fresh, fresh bread. That’s me though. Oh, and sometimes I make the whole recipe and use half to make bread rolls to go with a soup or stew that I might have simmering on the stove.

Now you go ahead and use an electric stand mixer if you like. Since moving off the grid I find I actually prefer to make bread by hand. The weather can be so fickle so half the time I can’t even use the mixer anyway – no sun or wind equal power conservation! Anyway, I find the kneading process pretty relaxing; 10 minutes of kneading, or 2 1/2 songs, as it turns out, and you have yourself 10 very rewarding minutes!

But right this minute? I have to go and shape the dough I have proofing in the oven. In the oven, you say? So in my current kitchen I have a propane stove that has a pilot light; that pilot light gives off just enough heat to make it the perfect place to both bloom my yeast and then proof the dough! Alright, dough shaped, proofed and baked. The bread rolls were great! The loaf of bread has cooled and is resting comfortably in a Tupperware container.

Alas, now it is too dark for me to read the recipe in the cookbook! I will have to come back to this tomorrow.

Honey Whole Grain Bread
2 1/4 cups very warm water (120F -130F)
2 pkgs (4 1/2 teaspoons) Active Dry Yeast
2 cups White Flour
1/3 cup Honey
1/4 cup (2 oz) Butter, cut into small cubes
1 Tablespoon Salt
3/4 cup Old Fashion Oats
2 Tablespoons Chia Seeds
2 Tablespoons Hemp Hearts
2 – 3 cups Whole Wheat Flour

Pour warm water into a medium to large size mixing bowl; add a pinch of sugar then sprinkle the active dry yeast over top.
Set bowl aside in a warm place to bloom the yeast; it takes about 10 minutes.
While yeast is blooming measure out the honey, butter, salt and white flour.
In a small bowl combine the old fashion oats, chia seeds and hemp hearts; set aside.
Once the yeast has bloomed, stir in 1 cup of white flour and stir vigorously; add butter and honey, continue stirring just until incorporated.
Add final cup of white flour, in a mound in centre of mixture; make a lil well in the centre of the mound and add salt.
Stir white flour and salt into mixture; stir vigorously for 2 minutes.
Add the oat, chia seeds and hemp hearts; continue stirring.
Add whole wheat flour, a cup at a time until you have a soft dough.
Turn dough out onto floured surface and knead for 8-10 minutes, until smooth and elastic; form into a ball.
Place ball of dough in a lightly oiled bowl, loosely cover with plastic wrap and a clean kitchen towel and let rise in a warm place for 40 – 60 minutes or until double in size. Dough is ready if indentation remains when touched.
Grease bottoms and sides of 2 loaf pans, 9x5x3 inches; set aside.
Punch down dough, turn out onto lightly flour surface, knead a couple of times just to create a rough ball; divide in half.
Flatten each half with hands or rolling pin into rectangle, 18×9 inches; try not to add too much flour to your work surface.
roll dough up tightly, beginning at 9-inch side, to form a loaf.
Press with thumbs to seal after each turn.
Pinch edge of dough into roll to seal.
Press each end with side of hand to seal.
Fold ends under loaf.
Place seam side down in prepared pan.
Cover and let rise in warm place for 25-50 minutes or until double.

Move oven rack to low position so that the tops of pans will be in the centre of the oven. Heat oven to 375F.

Bake bread 40 – 45 minutes or until loaves are deep golden brown and sound hollow when tapped.
Remove from pans to wire rack.
Brush loaves with a bit of butter, if desired.
Cool completely before storing in airtight container; will keep for 2 – 3 days, at room temperature.

Cilantro Lime Vinaigrette

So, this living off the grid thing? I find myself less inclined to look recipes up as often as I used to. I spend much less time at my iMac and way more time on my iPad because the iPad requires much less power to operate.

But today the sun is shining and the wind is blowing so our batts are charging and I am living large having both my iMac and my iPad going at the same time! Shocker, I know!

I had half a can of refried beans that needed using up; also had some flour tortillas hanging out in the cold room; oh, and a heavenly head of romaine lettuce! Set the brain to churning what to make with those ingredients? Quesadillas; have the tortillas, cheddar cheese, a tomato, green pepper and 4 green onions to go with the refried beans. Now, a Mexican flavoured dressing. Thanks Google! At Mel’s Kitchen I found what I was looking for: Cilantro-Lime Vinaigrette. Do I wish I had all the fresh veg to put together her Chopped Salad? You betcha! As it is, I used what I had in my cold room: that lovely Romaine, some black olives (note to self: remember to buy SLICED black olives) a yellow pepper, 1/3 of a long english cucumber. Do I have fresh limes on hand? Nope, but I do have lime juice so that had to do.

Cilantro-Lime Vinaigrette
Cilantro-Lime Vinaigrette

Cilantro-Lime Vinaigrette

1/3 cup Olive Oil
1/4 cup freshly squeezed Lime Juice
4 Tablespoons Red Wine Vinegar
2-3 Tablespoons Honey
1/4 cup fresh Cilantro, chopped
1/4 teaspoon freshly cracked Pepper
1/4 teaspoon Kosher Salt

In small jar with a lid combine all the vinaigrette ingredients and shake until well combined.
Add additional S&P, to taste.
Pour dressing over salad, toss; serve immediately.