Wednesday, May 19, 2010

does sweating in an overly hot house while baking count as excercise?

I had to bake bread yesterday. Yesterday of all days where it was, like, 30 something-like-hell degrees out. I guess I didn't have to, but once I'm down to 5 slices of bread, there's no telling when it'll be gone and we'll need more. I can't judge that! I can't be like, oh well, I only need 2 slices each day for lunch and that'll take me to Friday, so I'll be good. Oh no. There's no telling when it'll all get toasted and slathered with honey at 11 p.m. for a snack. Naturally, I'm a little more upset about it because it rained last night and it's slightly cooler today. So, yeah. Thanks for the advanced warning on that one, weather.

Oh well. If I'm going to have to have the oven on for 30 minutes, I might as well use the hell out of it since it's going to heat up the whole house in those measly 30 minutes anyway. So along with bread, I decided to make granola and granola bars and eventually whole wheat chocolate chip cookies, though I didn't decide that until I realized sugar cookie bars with their 4 eggs and butter and sugar slathered with icing probably wasn't exactly a healthy sweet snack. Not like the cookies are either, but at least there's no icing and I used whole wheat flour and chocolate has some kind of antioxidants or whatever, right? and walnuts have healthy fats or something, right? Oh well. I had the butter on the counter all day. It was soft already, I had to do something with it.

This is for me. Something different for breakfast other than actually making a pan of baked oatmeal and eating it all week (which is really good and my favourite, but I'm starting to get bored with it). Now I can throw some of this in some plain yogurt and I'm good to go. It's pretty delicious in comparison to the store-bought granola I've been staring at in my cupboard for months now. I finally threw it out yesterday. That granola was just oats that had been honey coated only, no clusters or crunch with some extremely stale raisins thrown in for 'variety.' And by extremely stale, I mean, if they got even a little cold from coming into contact with cold yogurt, it would be even more impossible to chew them than if they were room temperature. That always makes me super nervous -- especially after I chipped a tooth once on a stupid popcorn kernel.

This recipe was really easy to make, and I loved that it didn't have stupid ingredients I'd have to make a special trip to the store to get. I hate those granolas, and that's usually one of the reasons I don't like to make my own in the first place. But another reason I usually don't make granola is because any time I make it, I either overcook it or undercook it. And guess what? This one was no different. I totally overcooked it. Mostly around the edges, so there's still some good stuff there and overall, it's really tasty. I want this recipe to work out so I'm going to try it a few more times. I really want to get it right. It's so much better than store-bought could ever think of being -- and I burnt it.

I actually dried my own apples for this recipe since I didn't have any actual dried fruit on hand. It doesn't take very long to do, though I'll admit they weren't completely done by the time I needed them. All you have to do is slice whatever fruit you want to dry as thin as possible and let it dry out in a 200 degree oven. Mine were getting to the slightly dry-sticky/spongy stage after an hour and a half. I didn't think that would be so terrible in a granola bar, so I took them out and cut them into bite sized pieces with some scissors.

I didn't overcook the granola bars, surprisingly; in fact, I think I might have undercooked them a little. It's so damn hard with granola! It goes from looking a little golden to burnt in a minute! Anyway, had I had any patience whatsoever by the end of the day, I would have put this in the fridge overnight to really cool. Being out on the counter for 4 hours in a 27 degree house wasn't enough to cool it to the point where I could cut it into obvious bars. The corners came out well, but the middle was a crumble-fest. Regardless, it was tasty and healthy and because of that, I'm going to try making it again when we need more. Just read what they put in store-bought granola bars. I guarantee you won't know what half the ingredients are, and that's enough motivation for me.

Whole Wheat Chocolate Chip Cookies

I think I have a winner in the CCC category. These are the ones I was experimenting with before, but now I think I've finally got it. It's based on a recipe I got here, and my new recipe doesn't stray too far from that. I just don't grind any oatmeal anymore (that was my biggest pet peeve) and instead I use 2 cups of whole wheat flour and (about) 1 cup of white flour. I could add more whole wheat in instead, but the regular flour acts better as a binder than whole wheat which is why I don't make 100% whole wheat bread either. I'd have to add close to 10 cups of whole wheat flour, knead it for half an hour, and it'd be tough as nails. Around 60% is always a good amount when it comes to whole wheat -- at least for at-home baking. I could have kicked myself after because I wanted to add some ground flaxseed into these cookies as well (since I had already ground a bunch of it for the granola recipes). Oh well, next time.

Blueberry Frozen Yogurt (or the beginnings of it)

On the cooler side, I did attempt to make blueberry frozen yogurt with some frozen blueberries I've had in the freezer for way too long. I used the recipe I mentioned here for the strawberry frozen yogurt figuring it would work with pretty much any fruit. So anyway, nope it doesn't. I think the concept does, but you really have to make sure to taste and figure as you go along. After we tried some last night, I realized it would have been a whole lot better had I put it through a fine mesh strainer after pureeing the blueberries (yay! weird tasting skin pieces and bits of stem), and I really didn't have to add that much sugar --  it probably would have helped if I had had the patience to wait for them to unthaw completely first which probably effected the amount of sugar they eventually absorbed. Anyway, it's good, but it definitely could be better.

Are you just as tired from reading about my yesterday as I am reliving it?

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