Homesteading In The Pacific Northwest

Saturday, January 12, 2013

White Bean Soup In A Jar(s)

It was cold and damp earlier in the week and some bean soup with cornbread sounded like a good plan for dinner.  As long as I had all the ingredients out I decided to make up some jars to have for the next time.

The Ingredients
For the jars:
3 cups white beans (I used Cannelini since that is what I grow; you could use Great Northerns or Navy beans as well)
Freeze dried onions (1 tbsp), celery (2 tbsp) and carrots (2 tbsp)
Thyme (1 tsp), sage (1/2 tsp), celery seed (1/2 tsp), granulated garlic (1 tsp), ground black pepper (1/2 tsp), and 2 bay leaves

At time of cooking:
1 quart chicken stock (I could add bouillon to the spice mix but but the ingredients in bouillon are nasty!)
1/2 pint canned ham

For the bean and veggie jars:
Place 3 cups of beans into a quart canning jar.  Place the freeze dried veggies and herbs into a small plastic sandwich bag and place the bag on top of the beans.

Put a lid on the jar, vacuum and seal with a Foodsaver (you could add an O2 absorber ... I don't if I'm pretty sure I will be using this within a year).

Now our ingredients look like this ... just 3 jars.

There are two ways of going about cooking the soup.  The traditional way ...
Place beans in a large stock pot with water to cover 2 inches above beans; cover and let soak 8 hours or overnight. Drain, discarding the water. Add 2 quarts of water and 1 quart chicken stock to the beans.  Bring to a boil; cover, reduce heat, and simmer 2 hours or until beans are tender, stirring occasionally. Use a potato masher to break up some of the beans to make a thick soup. Add the contents of the plastic bag and the jar of ham and cook for another 1/2 hour.  Serve with cornbread (recipe coming soon.)

And then there's the quick way ... just about an hour from start to finish.  Place the dry beans in a 6 quart pressure cooker ...

Follow the directions for cooking dry beans that come with your cooker.  I use the one above made by Presto.  I fill the post half full with water and add 1 tbsp olive oil (keeps the beans from frothing up and blocking the steam valve).  I put the cover on, bring up to pressure on high heat and cook the beans for 20 minutes.  Remove the pot from the heat and let the pressure drop and drain the beans.  The beans look like this ...

Add 1 quart of water, 1 quart of chicken stock and the use a potato masher to break up the beans.  Add the contents of the plastic bag and the jar of ham.  Cook on medium for another half hour to 45 minutes.  Serve with cornbread.


Wednesday, January 9, 2013

My Super Easy Artisan Bread Idea!

Originally Published Nov. 27, 2012

Updated Jan. 9, 2013

I love bread.  Good bread.  Crisp crust on the outside and chewy inside.  But I don't like the additives in most bakery breads ... YUCK!  When I first found Jim Lahey's "No Knead Artisan Bread" recipe I was ecstatic!  Now I could make my own, but .... I often forgot to start the dough the day before I wanted to have the bread (I'm an old fart ... memory is an issue) and dumping that super soft dough into the hot pot was always a case of hit or miss (and missing was messy!).

Next I found the "5 Minutes A Day" Artisan Bread recipe.  This one eliminates the memory issue (the dough can stay in the fridge for up to two weeks) but the sliding the dough off a pizza peel onto a hot stone was easier said than done and the hot water into a hot pan in the oven was tricky.

Last week, as I was preparing for Thanksgiving I was getting out my turkey roasting pan and an idea started to form ... what if I combined the No Knead method with the 5 Minute method?  YES!! It works!

So here is Deb's "Super Easy Artisan Bread" recipe.

3 cups warm water
6 1/2 cups flour
2 tsp sea salt
1 1/2 tbsp instant yeast

(this is essentially the "5 Minute" recipe except it was way too salty so I cut the amount of added salt)

Dump all of the ingredients into a mixer bowl and mix on slow speed just until all the ingredients are combined and form a soft dough ...

Transfer the dough to a 5 quart container and cover leaving one corner open (the piece of foil on my container is to remind me.  If you close the container completely condensation will form on the lid and drip down onto the dough making it slimy).  Set the container somewhere warm to rise for 2 hours (it can go longer ... I've forgotten and left it overnight.  The bread was fine, just a little denser).

After 2 hours it should look like this ...

At this point you can pull out a chunk of dough and start a loaf or refrigerate the dough for up to 2 weeks, baking a loaf whenever you choose ... it will take about 1 hour from the time you start until your loaf comes out of the oven ... really!

This is the dough the next day ... I have sprinkled quite a bit of flour on a work surface and plopped a chunk of dough on it ...

I formed the dough into a loaf shape ...

... placed a piece of parchment paper onto a cookie sheet ...

 ... and set the loaf on the paper (I set the work surface with the flour aside ... I'm going to use it later). I then set the oven to 450 degrees, set a baking stone on the top oven rack, set the lid from my turkey roaster on top of the stone and closed the oven door.

I set a timer for 30 minutes.  When the timer went off I sprinkled the rest of the flour onto the risen loaf and made 4 slashes in the dough with a serrated knife (this allows the dough to expand as it is baking).

At this point I opened the oven door and (using pot holders) set the roaster lid aside (I just set it down onto the open oven door).   I slid the parchment paper with the loaf from the cookie sheet onto the hot baking stone (no cornmeal, no pizza peels and no trying to transfer sticky bread dough into a hot pot!)

I set the roaster pan lid over the loaf ...

... set the timer for another 30 minutes (and when it went off I lifted the roaster lid off of the stone and set my bread on a rack to cool.

Isn't it beautiful?

For a round loaf I formed the dough into a ball ...

... let it raise for 30 minutes while the over warmed up, then dusted the loaf with flour and slashed the top into a tic-tac-toe pattern...

... transferred the dough onto the hot baking stone and covered with the hot lid (actually I used the bottom of the roaster for this loaf ... when I baked the first round loaf the top came out flat and I realized that the round loaf rises higher and had hit the top of the lid while baking.  Not a problem ... the bottom of the roaster works fine).

After 30 minutes I removed the bread from the oven and set it onto a rack to cool ...

Ta Dah!

Update: Jan. 9, 2013

We've had some foul weather lately with power outages and I got to thinking about this bread.  I am now baking almost all of our bread  myself but if the power goes out the generator will not run the oven on my stove.  So I wondered about baking it in the fire place and yesterday I gave it a try.  

I let the fire burn down to a good layer of coals and then moved them over to the right of the fireplace.  I set the lid of a larger Dutch over on top of the coals (makes it easier to lift the baking oven  out of the hearth) and set a small Dutch oven with its' lid in to preheat for 30 minutes while the loaf rose.  

Wearing heavy welder's gloves (I had these to use with my kiln when I'm enameling) I lifted the Dutch out of the fireplace, removed the lid and set the raised loaf into the pot.  I set the pot back into the fireplace.  After 15 minutes I checked it and decided to turn the pot around (I could tell that the right side was cooking faster).  After another 15 minutes I removed the Dutch oven from the fireplace and ...

Ta Dah!  A perfect loaf of bread :)

And since I already had the fireplace all set up for cooking I decided to start a mess of ribs ...

... but that will be another story ;)

1) The recipe makes 3-4 smallish loaves (perfect for the two of us here).  If you make larger loaves increase the baking time by 5 - 10 minutes.
2) During our cool winter months here in Western Washington I am able to store the dough container outside on the porch so it doesn't take up room in the fridge.
3) For Thanksgiving Dinner I formed the dough into a dozen small balls (about halfway between a golf ball and a tennis ball), set them in a group in the middle of a piece of parchment, let raise, slashed as for the round loaf above and baked for 20 minutes ... perfect dinner rolls!


Friday, January 4, 2013

Decisions, Decisions ....

It's one of my favorite times of the year ... the seed catalogs have arrived and I am exploring possibilities.  First and most important! ...

Why is the choice of the tomatoes for the year so hard to make?  Because we have one chance at it and if you pick the wrong ones we're stuck with it until next year (duh!)?  I'm rolling the dice and going with almost all new ones this year.  My goal is to come up with an early and a later season canning tomato (San Marzano fills one of the late slots), early and late slicers (Cherokee Purple is one of these) and early and late general salad tomatoes. (Here is this years' cast of characters and what the seed catalog says about them ...

OP : Early Season, 52 days. Determinate.
Developed by Dr. James Baggett of Oregon State University. Plants do very well in cooler climates producing deep-red, excellently flavored round, slicing tomatoes 8-10 oz. Very good flavor considering how early a tomato it is.

Bloody Butcher
OP : Early Season, 55 days.  Indeterminate
A sensational and very popular, early producing tomato variety. A good choice for a tomato as you wait for later varieties to harvest. Our organic tomato seeds produce indeterminate, vigorous, potato-leaf plants that yield copious amounts of 2", 4 oz, fruits that are deep-red color, inside and out. Five to nine fruits per cluster with a rich heirloom tomato flavor. Plant produces well until frost. A good tomato variety for cooler growing regions since fruits ripen quickly. A good canning tomato. 

Beaver Lodge Slicer
OP : Early Season, 55 days.  Determinate
Bred at the Beaverlodge Research Center in Alberta Canada. One of the earliest maturing tomato varieties (55 days). Our TomatoFest organic seeds produce short, compact, determinate, plants that are loaded with 2", smooth, red, round tomatoes that contain rich and well balanced flavors. A surprisingly big flavor for such an early tomato. This is a perfect tomato variety for growing in a hanging basket or in a patio container. A good choice for cooler and foggy growing regions like Northern California.

Heirloom : Early Season,  60 days.  Semideterminate.
An wonderful, extra-early tomato. This heirloom yields an abundance of deep red, 4-6 oz., smooth, cold-tolerant, round and slightly flattened fruits with a luscious, rich taste.

Heirloom : Early Season, 67 days. Indeterminate
French heirloom. Produces dependable heavy, clusters of 6-ounce deep red, slightly flattened, oblate fruits that are meaty, lightly lobed and contain an excellent, complex, slightly tart taste. I have found that this variety also does well in the cooler summer conditions of California's bay areas. An all-'round great tomato for slicing.

Black Krim
Heirloom : Mid Season, 75 days.  Indeterminate.
(aka Black Crimson and Black Crim) Originally from the Isle of Krim on the Black Sea in the former Soviet Union. This rare, and outstanding tomato yields 3-4" slightly flattened dark-red (mahogany-colored) slightly maroon, beefsteak tomatoes with deep green shoulders. Green gel around seeds. Fantastic, intense, slightly salty taste (which is great for those not wanting to add salt to their tomatoes).

Sam Marzano
Heirloom : Mid Season, 78 days.  Semi determinate
From Italy. Compact and prolicic producer of bright-red, slim, 2-3 inch, plum-type, fruit over a long season. A paste tomato with pointy end, heavy walls and little juice, so it's great for tomato sauce. Crack resistant. Better tasting than Roma.

Cherokee Purple
Heirloom : Late Season,  80 days.  Indeterminate
Heirloom from Tennessee cultivated by Native American Cherokee tribe.  Very productive plants producing loads of dusky rose to purple colored, 12 oz.-1 lb., beefsteak tomatoes with deep red colors to the interior flesh and dark shoulders. A very popular market variety because of it's rich, complex and sweet flavors. One of the best tasting heirloom tomatoes

I ordered all of my seed from TomatoFest this year ... mostly because the were the only place that had both San Marzano and Bloody Butcher and since they have a minimum order amount I just continued with them .... 

We'll see ... hope I'm not posting the "Attack" poster again later this season ....