Sunday

Danish Rye Bread - An Update

I have baked many batches of Danish Rye Bread since this post.

With few exceptions, everything I wrote then still stands. This new post contains a few corrections, but it's mostly about a bread mix that I never thought I'd have to use... until I spent the summer in Montreal, leaving all my breadmaking ingredients behind, but not my desire for one of my favourite foods.

So it was with only a bit of skepticism -- after reading some good reviews of the product online -- that I put a box of Ikea's Brödmix Flerkorn in my shopping cart at the Saint Laurent store the other day.

At a mere $5 (Canadian!) for a large loaf (or two smaller ones, as I prefer to make), the bread is a steal.

Add to this the fact that you only need to add water -- the instructions suggest that you use the box itself for mixing, but I do not recommend this, at least not the first time.

When you pour the mix into a bowl, you can see how much settling and separation of the ingredients has taken place in the box.














I prefer to make two smaller loaves instead of a larger one because:
  1. It's a lot easier to get the loaf to cook right through the centre;
  2. It's easier to slice;
  3. I prefer the smaller size for my open-faced sandwiches.
Since I also didn't have my equipment with me, I just purchased some aluminium loaf pans at the dollar store.

This is the size that I used.

After baking, I washed them and used them over and over before putting them in the recycle bin.

It's easy to divide the mix if you have a kitchen scale, but you could also use a measuring cup.

Just follow the directions on the package for the resting time -- don't be disappointed if the dough doesn't rise, this step is strictly for rehydrating the grains and flours, not for creating air. As I indicated in my earlier post, you do not want this bread to have lots of air spaces. Look at Ikea's photo, that's what you want.

A Successful Experiment


On my most recent batch, since I was making two loaves, I thought I'd play around with one of them. I thought of adding nuts but I didn't have any. However, I had some golden raisins and some sugar, so to the second loaf I added (stirred into the dry mix, before adding the water):
  • 2 tablespoons of white sugar
  • 1/4 cup of golden raisins
Here are the results. The top slice is the regular recipe and the bottom one is the sweet(ish) one:


The reason the bottom slice is flat on top is that due to the sugar it did rise a bit, but then it fell back down after I poked it (see #3 below).

Honestly, they are both delicious and next time I will definitely try adding some walnuts to the "sweet" loaf.








Final Advice


This advice summary is based on all the batches of Danish Rye Bread that I have made since the beginning of the year. I hope it helps!
  1. Use a thermometer to check the inner temperature of the loaf - around 200-205 F (96 C) or you may end up with a gooey mess.
  2. Make sure your oven temperature is as exact as possible - you especially don't want it to be too hot. 
  3. To avoid large air spaces, some experts recommend poking loaf all over with a skewer or chopstick before baking. I did that to my "sweet" loaf this time.
  4. Large air spaces are undesirable because they make the bread too crumbly to slice.
  5. This is what you do to avoid a hard crust -- trust me, a crunchy crust is not a plus for this kind of bread: once your loaf has cooled slightly, wrap it tightly with plastic wrap. This will redistribute the moisture, ensuring the right kind of crust. Let the loaf cool at room temperature, then refrigerate, still in its plastic wrap.
  6. This bread tastes better the next day, and even the day after - so even though it's hard to resist having a taste while still warm, you won't know how good it really is unless you leave it to do its thing for a while.
  7. Speaking of refrigeration, this bread keeps for weeks in the refrigerator. Keep it well wrapped in plastic to prevent drying out.
  8. Even though I show a knife with teeth in my first post, I now know that it's better to use a very sharp knife with a plain blade for getting a nice slice, and as thin as you want.
  9. Another of my tricks is to flip the loaf upside-down for slicing. The bottom crust is always softer and thinner, easier to pierce.
  10. Forget about toasting it.
  11. In case you're not sure about all the different ways to enjoy your new favourite bread, just google "smorrebrod recipes"!
Velbekomme! (Bon appétit! in Danish.)



Saturday

Can You Make Danish Rye Bread in The Maritimes?



Among the many “exotic” foods that you can’t find in my present coin de pays is the kind of dense, dark and strong German or Danish rye or pumpernickel bread that I really like as a vehicle for smoked salmon and many other delicacies.

So I went online, hunting for recipes. Most of them required a sourdough starter, so I mixed one up and crossed my fingers that the gods of wild yeast would feel magnanimous.

So far I have tried two recipes; one of them requires a sourdough starter, and the other uses yeast, beer and buttermilk instead.

Regarding the latter, even if the blog owner's attitude had been less arrogant when I asked her a question, I found it so much more expensive to use beer and buttermilk instead of sourdough, that even though the bread was acceptable (though too bitter for my taste), I have decided I won't make it again.

The recipe that I describe in this post uses sourdough; it's from Nordicfoodliving.com. Their article includes a short video.

I started out by following their own starter recipe (there's a link in their Ingredients List). While this was brewing, I went looking for a local supplier for all the different grains and I found a local stone mill that works strictly with organic grains. Yay!

I put the soaker ingredients together on Thursday, and baked the bread yesterday. Then I let it mature overnight.

In other words, this is a three-day recipe, so plan ahead.

Recipe Notes


1. The first problem I had with this recipe is that the ingredients are in cup and deciliter measures, that is to say, by volume instead of by weight. I noticed other readers complained about this, so I hope that someday the blog author will add the weights.

For now, I did the conversion myself, but as everyone knows, when it comes to flours especially, the method of filling the cup can make a huge difference in the final weight. I used the one where you spoon the flour into the cup, which results in a smaller amount, but next time maybe I will use the other technique - the one where you use your measuring cup to dip into the flour directly. 

For the purposes of this article, I did an experiment with whole wheat flour. First I scooped the flour into my measuring cup with a spoon, then I evened out the top and weighed the flour.

Then I took the same measuring cup and dipped it into the bag of flour, evening out the top as before. This latter method is called "dip and sweep".

The difference was a whopping 19.6%! 127 grams (4.4 ounces) vs 152 grams (5.3 ounces). 

For a complete description of this phenomenon, see this Serious Eats article. Because flours also vary in fluffiness, the difference can attain 50%, according to the article.

They recommend "dip and sweep", by the way. I'm not sure I would agree when it comes to cakes and pastries, but it sounds reasonable for bread, and I'm thinking that this may account for my dough being runnier than in the video, and also for the finished loaf having more holes than the example. I do believe this bread should be really dense.

I will certainly try "dip and sweep" next time.

Loaves cooling upside-down

2. The second problem I had was that I am used to figuring out if my bread is cooked through by taking the internal temperature with my small instant thermometer. I asked the recipe's author but he said he just knows when his bread is ready. Which is fine when it's your recipe and you've done it countless times, but for a beginner? No, so I went searching for other recipes and yes, most of them do mention the temperature they look for. 205 F (96 C) seemed to be the average so that's what I used for this batch.

At that temperature, my loaves were cooked but still sticky. See what happens to the knife after just one cut, a whole day after baking.

Bread knife after only one cut...


And you absolutely have to wash it off, or the next slice will be a mess!

So, definitely, the next time I make this bread I will either cut down on the liquid or increase the amount of flour by measuring it differently.

There is another method that I've seen recommended for allowing the steam to escape: just before baking, you poke holes all over the dough with a tool like a large bamboo skewer. I'll try that too, next time.

Another way I've found to get those dense loaves to dry out better in the centre, is to make smaller loaves. So next time, I will make three loaves with the same amount of dough. 

And I will pull each one out of the oven at different temperatures: 205 F, 210 F, and 215 F 96, 99 and 101 C).

3. The third problem I had is a very minor one: my bread is too dark -- I find it unnaturally dark. It's darker than the sample in the video. The recipe does say that the gravy browning (caramel colouring) is optional, and I don't think the author used it in the one he photographed. I won't use it next time. Cocoa is often used for the same purpose, and I may just try that in a future batch. Or not. Those breads are very dark by tradition more than necessity, I think. To me, the darkness covers the individual grains, and I like to see them in my grain breads.

4. The original recipe calls for baking for 1 hour, but to attain the temperature I wanted I had to bake them for an extra half hour (an hour and a half total). My oven is reliable, I have a thermometer inside of it, and it's a normal oven without convection. After an hour, the internal temperature was a mere 185 degrees F (85 C) and a toothpick inserted came out covered with raw dough.

5. Finally, the order in which the ingredients are put together needs to be changed. It's very hard to incorporate salt into a thick dough. It should be added to the flours. Similarly, why add liquids like malt syrup and gravy browning to the thick dough instead of the soaker, the day before?

The instructions would then read as follows:

DAY ONE

Take one cup (250 grams) of sourdough starter from jar in fridge, and add ½ cup of water, ¼ cup of rye flour and ¼ cup of white flour to it. This will add up to exactly the quantity required in the recipe. Mix well and leave out overnight.

DAY TWO

1. In a large bowl, make a soaker by combining:

  • whole rye kernels, if using (I plan to add some at my next trial)
  • cracked rye kernels
  • cracked wheat
  • flax seeds
  • sunflower seeds
  • water
  • sourdough
  • gravy browning (if using); and
  • malt or dark syrup
2. Mix well, cover and leave to soak for a minimum of 8 hours. This can be done in the evening, so that you can continue the morning after.


DAY THREE

1. In a separate bowl, combine the all-purpose flour, the rye flour, (the cocoa, if using), and the salt together. Stir well with a wisk.

2. Stir the soaker well, and stir in the dry ingredients. Mix until totally combined.

3. Cover and let rise for 2 hours. (I place mine in the oven with the light on, which results in a temperature of 80 degrees F - 27 C)

4. Butter bread pans and divide the dough equally between them. Do not fill the pans too much; you don't want the loaves to have a dome once they are baked (as mine did).

5. Let the loaves rise in their pans for 1 to 2 hours. Don't allow them to rise too much.

6. Bake at 350 F (180 C) for half an hour, then turn the pans around and bake another half hour. Then measure the temperature in the center of the loaves. It should be at least 205 degrees F (96 C). Leave another 15 minutes and take temperature again. Turn the loaves around again if they're not browning evenly around the edges. Keep checking the temperature. My total baking time was an hour and a half.

7. When done, remove the breads from the pans and let them cool to lukewarm, on a rack. At that point it's a good idea to wrap them in plastic if you want to keep the crust soft.

Nutrition Information


I'll leave it up to you to find the complete nutrition information for all that good stuff. What I'm mostly interested in are the calories because I track all my food as a way of keeping my weight stable.

It's easy to calculate the calories in any recipe by looking up the number of calories in each ingredient, adding those up, and dividing by the total weight of the finished product.

The total weight of the finished loaves was 68 ounces (2,060 grams), and the total number of calories was 3,800, so 3,800 by 68 = 56 calories per ounce, or 3,800 by 2,060 = 1.8 calories per gram.

This is interesting, because plain white bread (like baguette) weighs in at 70 calories per ounce, and the whole grain bread that I make at home, 75 calories per ounce.

This morning, a thin slice of this bread -- that kind of bread is always sliced thin -- weighed 1.5 ounces (42.5 grams), i.e., 84 calories.

Conclusion


The taste is fine, and I expect it to improve over the next few days, as is usual with those complex breads.

The texture of this particular bread is lighter, less dense than I like, however, and this could affect its ability to keep without going bad -- even refrigerated. The loose texture could be due to the excess liquid described above, and this can only be determined with further testing. Before I do that, I will try other recipes. Stay tuned!

And, to answer the question: Yes, you can make real Danish Rye Bread here!

Postscript

It's been a week and I'm happy to report that the stickiness problem seems to have resolved itself -- i.e., the bread has dried to just the right degree of moistness, so now I'm not so sure if the planned adjustments are all going to be necessary... 

And as for the flavour, oh my, it's still the best bread of its type I have ever made!













Wednesday

DIY Hamburger Buns

Whenever I make a batch of multigrain bread, I set aside a small amount of dough for hamburger buns.

Once the dough has fermented in the fridge for about two days, I weigh it and take out whatever I want to turn into buns. I divide the rest in two.

I make the 2-oz portions into balls, then cover and rest 30 minutes. Then I flatten them with a rolling pin, to about 4 inches in diameter.


Because of the extra deflating, they are not ready to bake until the main loaves have been taken out, so that works out quite well.

They don't rise a lot before baking, but that's okay because they literally puff up in the oven, leaving a nice air pocket inside for the components of your burger, be it carnivore or not. 

This also means that your buns are not so full of calories. At 75 calories per ounce, mine average under 150 calories each.

You could also use them as mini pitas while they're still hot.


I use the same hot stone and steam method as my freestanding loaves to bake them, at around 450 degrees F.

To keep them soft, throw them in a plastic bag as soon as they're cool.

This works with any bread dough that I have ever used.




Monday

Blog Revived!

Good news!

Google has finally made it possible to re-publish this blog, though under a slightly different name.

It is now called: the-cooks-corner-blog.blogspot.ca

If you are receiving this, would you mind putting a few words in the Comments section to that effect?

Thank you, and hoping to see you all again very soon with some new, exciting content.

Gina

Tuesday

How To Get A Good Cup Of Coffee From Your Keurig "My-K-Cup"

Today I landed by mistake on an amazon.ca page for something called "Disposable Filters for Use in Keurig Brewers" and my first thought was "Somebody has stolen my idea!"

I chose the Cuisinart Keurig system single brewer because it came with its separate "MyK-Cup" assembly to allow one to avoid paying some outrageous price for a cup of coffee made at home. At the time I was very happy with the quality of the coffees I was using, at a reasonable 10 cents per cup.

However, before long I realized that the system is really meant for use with their prefabricated little pods, and my reaction was similar to these very eloquent customer reviews on the amazon disposable filters page:
"… hated the coffee sludge..." 
"No need to bang filter basket to get grounds out…"  
"…now I just pick up the paper filter and throw it all in the compost bin…" 
"...not getting sludge in my mouth…" 
"I hate how it leaves a grainy soot at the bottom of the cup..."
Not only that, the oils in the coffee soon blocked the tiny openings of the small permanent basket, and the quality of my cuppa declined by the day. Before long, I was on the phone to the Keurig customer service, who advised me that the so-called "permanent" filter had to be replaced every three months!

It was by taking apart one of the samples that had been supplied with the machine that I realized that what was missing was thin layer of paper.

So, if you'd like to improve your own My K-Cup brew, and make your filter last forever, you can now buy tiny paper filters, but they will cost you anywhere from 3 to 5 cents each.

Or you can follow these instructions, and make your own for a little over a penny.

And if you drink as much coffee as I do (about 6 cups a day but they're only 6 ounces), you will save up to $87 a year. (In my case, that pays for 870 cups of coffee!

Here's how I do it:

1. Buy the small 4-cup paper filters from the dollar store.

Cost in Canada: $1.25 for 100, a little over a penny each.







2. Assemble your materials:

- paper filter
- filter basket
-an old film can







3. Center the paper over the basket, then push with the film can to fit it inside the basket.

The film can is the exact size to get a perfect fit with a perfectly flat bottom.






4. Cut all around the basket with the scissors, hugging the basket loosely as you do so.








Alternatively, you can weigh your coffee first, then place the basket inside the K-Cup base, then trim.

5. I weigh my coffee -- I like 10 grams for 6 ounces of water -- that way I always get the strength I prefer.








6. Drop the basket into the base, screw the lid on and brew your coffee.


7. I also measure my cream: 1 TB is exactly right for me!










Hopefully, with these instructions you will get a better cup of coffee and a fatter wallet!


Thursday

Teaching An Old Dog New Bread Tricks

I've been making bread for 40 years, but it wasn't until this month that I dared to venture into sourdough territory.

Wow! Am I ever glad I did.

Here is a photo of a couple of ficelles I made this morning:


A ficelle is a skinny baguette. These are about 2 inches across. It's my favourite format for sandwiches. Ham and swiss cheese with sweet butter and dijon mustard. Or prosciutto or serrano ham with or without swiss cheese, and sweet butter, hold the mustard. Salami, when I can find a good one.

The Recipe?

Last week, I made a sourdough starter using this recipe:


Then I made a couple of loaves of "Norwich Sourdough Bread" using this recipe from the Wild Yeast Blog.

I halved the recipe, but otherwise I followed it to the letter and - what a surprise! - this was the best bread I have ever made! I should say "the best non-multigrain bread", because as a daily bread I am extremely fond of the multigrain sandwich loaves that I have been making for several years now. Once a month, I bake four of them and freeze them. Each loaf lasts me one week.

This Norwich Sourdough Bread has all the qualities I was looking for: it's not so wet that you can't handle it, it bakes up light, with some nice holes,

Cross-section of ficelle I made today.

the crust is crunchy but not too thick, and the aroma… ah the aroma! And the flavour… just sour enough… divine!

Another advantage of this recipe is that if you have some sourdough starter ready to use, you can start the bread in the morning and eat it for lunch - about six hours later. I have found very few breads able to develop that kind of flavour and texture without a cold fermentation, but this one did.

Still, sometimes I want to start my bread in the evening, and so yesterday I did all the steps up to and including the two folds, then I slipped the bowl into a plastic bag and put it in the fridge.

This morning, the dough had risen somewhat, and in fact it looked just like it did last week at the same stage.

I left it on the kitchen counter for an hour, and then I proceeded with the recipe.

Success! the resulting flavour and texture were the same as last week.

So if you've been putting off trying sourdough, don't wait 40 years! Try these recipes today.


P.S. If you have been subscribing to this blog, this may be the last post you ever receive! Google has been reminding me that I have to renew the domain on November 26, but the instructions they are sending me for doing so are not working. I am hoping that they will rectify the situation, but if not, I want to thank you for your interest. I have registered a new domain: www.cookscornerblog.com (very similar, but without all the hyphens) and may start posting at that URL if necessary.


Sunday

A Sweet Cheese To Make At Home: Ricotta



When I lived on my ranchito in Mexico, if I had to go to town (Dolores Hidalgo) I would try to get there early enough to find the ricotta man on his corner, selling his fresh ricotta of the day. It was so delicious, and so cheap! Considering that traditional Italian ricotta (which means "twice cooked") is made from the whey leftover from making other cheeses I can't believe how expensive it is at the supermarket. And the stuff they sell in this village is quite disgusting.

This old man's ricotta tasted just like the stuff I used to buy in Montreal, which has a large Italian community.

Many Mexicans make their own queso fresco -- the fresh white cheese they crumble over many dishes, and a few people make their own Oaxaca cheese too -- a stringy mozzarella-like cheese that melts beautifully. But not everyone makes ricotta with the whey. Maybe my ricotta man had Italian blood!

I threw an ice cream party last week, and had a quart of whole milk leftover, plus about half a cup of rich soy milk that I had extracted for making silken tofu, and I happened to have some citric acid in the pantry, so I decided to make ricotta cheese using the recipe in Ricki Carroll's Home Cheesemaking. (Actually, the recipe she gives here is a better one, and I will follow it next time. And by the way that's what's wrong with the book: I think it was published before they had all the recipes tested thoroughly, and I keep finding totally revised versions of them on their website.)

Ricotta is a very pleasant, sweet, small-curd cheese, and the homemade kind is better than most brands you can find at the supermarket, though not as good as the bulk ricotta found at real Italian stores.



After heating the milk and watching the curds form, the latter are ladled into a double layer of butter cloth (or several layers of cheesecloth), and hung up to drain.

This is the same contraption that I use for making jelly, no need for special equipment, just a stick and a way of suspending the ball of curds.

Here is the finished cheese, with 3 cups of whey which I will freeze to use in my next batch of bread.

The yield from one quart of milk was exactly half a pound (227 grams), which brings the cost to about $6 a lb, cheaper and a heck of a lot healthier than the supposedly healthy gourmet PC Blue Menu "Ricotta Whey Cheese" whose list of ingredients is quite a bit longer.


If I can resist the temptation of eating it as dessert, I plan to put it in some lasagna or use it for stuffing ravioli, some time this week. 


On the other hand, it's so quick and easy to make -- less than one hour from start to finish -- I should start stocking whole milk just so I can make the occasional batch, as an additional menu option.

In addition to lasagna and ravioli, ricotta is the cheese of choice for all sorts of Italian specialties. I remember very fondly a ricotta pie that we used to serve in my first restaurant, way back when. It was topped with pine nuts. Here's a very similar recipe, from Lidia's Italy.







Wednesday

"Tourtière" -- The Meat Pie From Quebec

Where I come from, each family has its own tourtière recipe, but my mother never passed her recipe on so I've had to experiment to find the one that corresponded to both my memories and my grown-up tastes.

At one point, I tried the Galloping Gourmet's* recipe. He substituted mashed potatoes for the breadcrumbs. Sounded like a good idea but you had to pick really starchy potatoes or you'd get a watery pie.



Finally, I adapted Jehane Benoit's recipe from her little-known The Canadiana Cookbook. It was published in 1970 and I opened my first restaurant in London, Ontario -- Auberge du Petit Prince -- in June 1972 and tourtière was an instant success there.

Fifteen years later, I opened a French restaurant in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, and my tourtière was a hit there too. I attribute this to the fact that Mexicans love pork and that my recipe includes cinnamon, which is a favourite spice in Mexico, though as far as I know they don't use it in savoury dishes. On the other hand, maybe they just like good food!

The Pork Filling

For each pie:
1 lb ground pork (I buy shoulder and grind it myself)
1 small onion, finely chopped
2 ribs celery, with leaves if possible, finely chopped
1 small garlic clove, minced
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp summer savoury
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/2 cup water
1/4 to 1/2 cup breadcrumbs
Egg wash (1 egg, beaten with a teaspoon of water or milk)

Place all ingredients except the breadcrumbs in a saucepan. Bring to a boil and cook, uncovered, for 20 minutes, over medium heat.
Remove from heat and add a few spoonfuls of breadcrumbs.
Let stand for 10 minutes. If the fat is sufficiently absorbed by the breadcrumbs, do not add more. If not, continue adding breadcrumbs.
Cool and pour into a pastry-lined pan. Cover with top crust that has vent holes to allow steam to escape
Brush with egg wash.
Bake at 400 F (200 C) until golden brown. Serve hot, with red or green tomato chow chow (recipe below).

Cooked tourtières can be frozen 4-5 months, and reheated without thawing.

The Special Dough

For the crust, I remember being fascinated by the Galloping Gourmet's hot water pie crust, and I found the recipe in The Canadiana Cookbook too.

How could this weird recipe work when we are constantly reminded to handle the dough as little as possible? The secret is the combination of baking powder, vinegar and egg, which creates the flakiest, tenderest pie crust imaginable. It uses pork lard as a fat, and that is essential.

That became my crust of choice for all savoury pies.

4-1/2 to 5 cups all-purpose flour (increase by 1/2 cup if using cake and pastry flour)
4 tsp baking powder
2 tsp salt
1 lb pure lard
1 cup hot water
4 tsp lemon juice or vinegar
1 egg, well beaten

Combine flour, baking powder and salt in a large mixing bowl.
Measure 1-1/3 cups of the lard and cut into the flour until mealy.
Dissolve the remaining lard completely in the hot water.
Add the lemon juice or vinegar and the egg.
Mix these liquids into the flour mixture until dough leaves the sides of the bowl.
Turn on lightly floured board and knead about 1 minute or until all the flour is blended. (Really, you need to do this!)
Divide into 4 to 6 balls, flatten them and wrap them in plastic film, then refrigerate at least one hour, and up to 12 hours.

You will find this dough incredibly easy to roll.

The Chow Chow

For a long time I used my mother's recipe for a quick fruit ketchup. It contained 1 can of peaches, 1 can of pears, and probably 1 can of tomatoes. To this you added onions, celery, vinegar, sugar and pickling spice. The advantage was you could make it all year, unlike our grandmothers who would preserve dozens of bottles of the stuff in season, to last all year.

Now I just buy it at the store and it's pretty good (look for the Habitant brand) but here is my recipe for the real thing, translated from Les Conserves, by Soeur Berthe (Editions de l'Homme, 1974):

TOMATO AND FRUIT CATSUP

18 ripe tomatoes
6 apples
5 peaches
5 pears
2 large onions
3 stalks celery
2 tsp coarse salt
2 TB pickling spice
1 cup white vinegar
1 1/2 cups sugar

Peel tomatoes and peaches by blanching them in hot water and cooling them quickly in cold water, then chop them - not too fine.
Peel apples and pears and cut into cubes.
Slice onions thinly.
Chop the celery.
Put all the above into a large, non-reactive pot.
Add vinegar, salt and spices (wrapped in cheesecloth).
Bring to the boil and simmer one hour.
Add the sugar and continue cooking until sugar is dissolved and right consistency has been reached.
Remove the spices and pour into sterilized jars, following your preferred canning method.

GREEN TOMATO CHOW CHOW

Here is the recipe that appears in The Canadiana Cookbook, in the chapter on New Brunswick. I have not tested it:

1/2 peck green tomatoes
6 large onions
6 medium cucumbers
1 head celery
4 sour apples
2 red peppers
3 lbs brown sugar
3 TB pickling spices tied in a bag
Cider vinegar

Cut tomatoes fine. 
Add 1/2 cup salt and leave overnight. 
Next morning, drain and add other ingredients. 
Nearly cover with vinegar (about one quart). 
Boil gently 1 to 1-1/2 hours. 
Pour in sterilized jars and seal.



* Graham Kerr used that name for his TV cooking show in the 60s.


Tuesday

Vietnamese Spring Rolls

I've been making these spring rolls lately, and these are the best instructions I have found.

I add julienned carrots and some of my homemade mung bean sprouts, for extra flavour and crunch.
Sometimes I use chicken or marinated tofu instead of the pork.
 The peanut sauce is delicious, I'm sure, but it's too fattening for me, so instead I make this other vietnamese sauce:

SWEET, SOUR & SPICY FISH SAUCE

1/4 up fish sauce
1/4 cup hot wter
2 TB sugar
1 lime, juiced
1 tsp garlic, minced
1 tsp red chili paste (I use Chinese hot chili/black bean paste?
2 TB grated carrots (optional)
2 TB grated daikon radish (if available - I omit them)
Combine all ingredients in a jar and shake.
Keeps in the fridge for a long time.

Monday

Of Radishes And Sprouts

QUESTION: Is there anything more delicious than a handful of freshly picked radishes?

Like these:



ANSWER: Yes, if you grew them yourself.

Like this:


I love the way French* radishes peek out of the ground, as if to say "Eat me, I'm ready!"

Round radishes don't do that. You have to poke around to check on their size.

SPROUT NEWS**

The first experiment is over. This is what the mung bean sprouts looked like this morning (day 5):



Not quite what I had in mind: they're skinnier than I'd like, and the leaves are overly developed.

They taste fine, though, and I'm having chow mein for lunch.

Now the goal is to get them fatter and straighter. There's also a way to grow them without those long thready roots.

Back to square 1.



* They may be French (this variety is "French Breakfast"), but the seeds are by McKenzie Seeds, from Manitoba.

** Radishes also make the best sprouts, but you have to buy special sprouting seeds. (Or let a few your own plants go to seed.)