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I’ve learned how to make biscotti. It’s become one of our favorites. Rosy our dog thinks they’re worth drooling over. This recipe uses Hermann starter. If you don’t have any sourdough starter you can use a store bought yeast version of starter posted below. Sourdough starter can be tricky to start yourself. The version below has to convert to the wild yeast if you want to keep a supply of starter going.

Sourdough Biscotti
1 cup Hermann starter (similar to Amish starter w/less sugar)
1/4 cup butter, melted
2 eggs
1 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla
Mix everything together.
Add in dry ingredients:
2 1/4 cup flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 cup nuts in small pieces
1/2 cup mini chocolate chips
You can use almonds or raisins too.

Mix the dry ingredients in one bowl then mix up wet ingredients in a separate bowl. Combine wet and dry ingredients. Add nuts and chocolate chips or other flavorings if desired. Dump dough onto a greased cookie sheet. Make into two logs. I make mine about 11 inches long and 3-4 inches wide. The dough will be sticky. I use a knife to shape it. It will puff up when baked. Bake at 325 for about 20-25 minutes. I bake mine on the middle of the oven since the bottom burns on a lower shelf. The top and outside should be evenly brown. A toothpick should come out clean when done.
Cool 20 minutes.
When cool, cut into 1/2 inch slices. Inside should be done all the way through. Put sliced sides down. Watch closely. Bake again at 250 degrees. Turn after 12 minutes then turn again. Bake 12 more minutes, then turn off oven and leave them in the warm oven. You can check them in about 15 minutes. If still not firm, reheat oven briefly to 250 and turn off. (Don’t forget to turn it off!) Leave them in the oven and remove from oven when firm. You can serve plain or cover tops with icing. Keep them in an airtight tin.

Lemon Icing
Good with almonds!
Use real lemon juice thickened with confectioners sugar.

Chocolate icing:
Melt in microwave :
1/2 square bakers chocolate
1 1/2 tsp butter
Stir in
1 TBSP milk,
6 TBSP confectioners sugar or mix in double boiler.

Sourdough purists would disapprove, but you can make a starter with yeast in a pinch. You’ll need to make it a few days before using it. If it’s the consistency of gravy and bubbly all the way through, you can use it sooner.

Shortcut Hermann Starter
In a medium sized glass or ceramic bowl, mix together:
2 TBSP warm water (not too hot)
1 1/2 tsps yeast in water
When dissolved, add:
1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup sugar (the Amish version uses 1/2 cup sugar)
1/2 cup unbleached flour

Stir with a wooden spoon. Don’t worry about lumps. They’ll dissolve. Cover with plastic wrap, cheesecloth or a towel and keep at room temperature.

If you want to keep feeding it, you’ll need to make enough extra to feed. When I made this shortcut yeast version before, mine didn’t keep longer than a couple weeks then went bad. The store bought yeast has to convert to the wild yeast in order for it to keep reproducing. If you want to try to catch some wild yeast, start with this recipe and check it every day stirring daily. If it smells OK and has bubbles all the way through, it’s fine. You can refrigerate it after it’s working well or freeze it for later use. It needs to be fed every three days at room temp or once a week in the fridge. I keep mine in the fridge unless I have just fed it. I leave it at room temperature until some bubbles form on the surface. Measure out 1 part starter, 1 part milk, 1 part unbleached flour and half as much sugar.

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Here are a few of our family’s favorite Christmas recipes.

Pound Cake
I got this recipe from an Asheville NC cookbook my sister gave me called Mountain Elegance. I’m not wild about most pound cakes, but the cream cheese in this one makes it especially good. It would be very good for someone who’s trying to gain weight. The recipe is called Fuller’s Finest Pound Cake. I made a few minor changes to the original recipe. Note, there is no leavening in this cake so it feels pretty heavy. It’s good toasted for breakfast with some extra butter!
3 cups sugar
3 sticks butter, melted (original recipe has 2 sticks margarine, 1 butter)
1 8 oz Philadelphia Cream cheese, soft
8 eggs
1 tsp vanilla (original recipe also has 1 tsp rum flavoring)
3 cups flour

Cream butter and cream cheese together. Add sugar and mix well. Add the vanilla and blend in the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add flour gradually and blend well. Grease and flour two bread pans. Bake at 225-250 degrees for 2 hours.

Fannie May Fudge

A friend shared this fudge recipe with me. It’s supposed to be the original Fannie May Fudge recipe. It’s very easy to make and is wonderful. Many people have asked me for the recipe. I don’t make it every year anymore, but my boys loved to “help” when they were little and would carefully count out all the marshmallows for me. Be careful during the boiling stage because it splashes and can burn you.
4 cups sugar
1 cup milk
1 cup butter
1 tsp vanilla
13 oz. milk chocolate chips (I use an 11 1/2 oz bag for both)
13 oz. semi sweet chocolate
2 oz unsweetened baking chocolate
25 large marshmallows
(3/4-1 cup pecans or walnuts if desired)

Melt butter, add sugar, milk and vanilla. Then boil for two minutes. Remove from heat. Quickly add marshmallows and then baking chocolate. Stir well. Add in the other two bags of chocolate chips. Apply heat if necessary to melt chocolate pieces.
Pour into a greased 9 by 13 glass pan. Cut when slightly hardened.

The following recipe is from Joy of Cooking. I substitute a little more white sugar for some of the brown called for in the original recipe because the full amount of brown sugar turns almost to taffy around the edges and it is harder to put the icing on. Joy of Cooking calls them Pecan or Angel Slices. She says “One fan says her family is sure these are the cakes St. Peter gives little children at the Gates of Heaven to get them over the first pangs of homesickness. Her family has dubbed them Angel Cookies…” We call them “Angel Bars”.


Angel Bars

First you make the pastry layer.
Cream together:
1/2 cup butter
1/4 cup white sugar
Beat in:
1 egg
1/2 tsp vanilla
Add in:
1 1/4 cup all purpose flour
1/8 tsp salt
Press into a 9 by 12 glass pan, adding more flour if necessary. Bake 10 minutes at 325.

Mix together:
2 beaten eggs
1 1/4 brown sugar (Joy of Cooking has 1 1/2 cups brown and no white)
1/4 cup white sugar
1/2 cup flaked coconut (3 0z)
1 cup chopped pecans
2 TBSP flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla
Mix all ingredients together. Pour over the pastry. Bake at 325-350 for 20-25 mins.
When cool ice with:
2 cups confectioners sugar
enough lemon juice from fresh squeezed lemon(s) to make a spreadable icing. Let icing harden before slicing and serving.

I found an interesting blog yesterday written by Stephanie O’Dea.   She has a cookbook that will be released this fall.   She loves to use her Crock-Pot and made a new year’s resolution in 2008 to cook with it every day.

http://crockpot365.blogspot.com/2008/06/crockpot-meatloaf-recipe.html

There are lots of recipes to try on the left sidebar. I don’t use my Crock-Pot very often, but I might try out some of these recipes.  She also has a selection of recipes that are gluten free.

http://crockpot365.blogspot.com/search/label/gluten%20free

And God said, Behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed, which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree, in the which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed; to you it shall be for meat.  Genesis 1:29

Awhile ago, Heidi, wrote a post about amaranth. I have been meaning to write for some time about some of the other wonderful grains that God has provided for our use. They are equally obscure and interesting.

Kamut: Kamut is an ancient high protein grain-approximately 17% protein, and is a relative of durum wheat. It has never been hybridized. Studies have shown that around 70% of people that are sensitive to wheat are able to use kamut. Kamut flour can be used in any recipe without altering the amount of any of the ingredients, except that slightly more liquid may be needed. Although it is considered a high gluten flour, it has less gluten that wheat. While that is no problem in most baked goods, yeast breads will have slightly less volume.

Unfortunately, I have never seen a co-op, much less a store, that carries kamut flour. So, that leaves us kamut users to grind our own. This is pretty much the case for all of the grains that I will list in this post.

Barley: Barley is one of the cereal grasses, and has a bran similar to rice bran. The bran contains all the vitamins, minerals, and oils. Without refrigeration the bran will turn rancid, so be sure to refrigerate. Pearled barley has part of the bran removed. It is white, and is almost pure starch. Most of the nutrients of pearled barley is removed, so it is advised that you purchase hulled barley at your health food store or through a co-op. Barley also has a low gluten content for those who have to watch out for that.

Some of my favorite barley recipes:

Barley-Vegetable Saute’

2t. butter

1 large onion, chopped

1 medium yellow or red bell pepper, chopped

1 clove garlic, crushed

4 cups cooked barley (1 C.dry barley to 4 C. water boiled and simmered for about 50 minutes will do the trick)

2 T. chopped fresh or 2t. dried thyme leaves

1/2 t. salt

1package (16oz.) frozen corn, thawed

1 package (10oz.) frozen lima beans, thawed

1. Melt butter in 12-inch skillet over med.-high heat. Cook onion, bell pepper, and garlic in butter about 2 minutes, stirring occasionally, until bell pepper is tender crisp.

2. Stir in remaining ingredients. Cook about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until hot. Serve.

Beef, Barley and Kale

This is ridiculously easy.

In a large stockpot place I pound of ground beef and 1 cup of barley. Add 4 cups of water. Bring to a boil, turn heat down and simmer on low for about 45-50 minutes. During last 5-10 minutes of cooking place on top of beef and barley, 6 cups of chopped kale or cabbage if you prefer. Cover and let steam for remaining time. Season and stir. Recommended seasonings are, salt, pepper, garlic, parsley, or whatever you prefer. My husband adds hot sauce to his. Serve hot.

Millet: Millet is the seed of an annual grass. It is high is amino acids, protein, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, and potassium, as well as lysine which makes it a more complete protein. This grain is very alkaline, helping an acidic system to become more alkaline. Few people are allergic to it. I have read that a person could live indefinitely on nothing but millet if they had to. We make millet as a breakfast cereal and I also use it in a stew recipe. It is very versatile and it used to be the staple grain in Asia, before rice took over.  It is a gluten free grain and is also a good bird seed I’m told.

Hot millet

1 Cup cracked millet (millet is a soft grain and can be cracked in your blender)

3 Cups liquid (water, milk or whatever you prefer)

Bring liquid to a boil. Add millet. Boil. Turn down heat. Simmer 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Serve hot with one or more of the following: honey, nuts, fruit, milk, juice, cinnamon etc.

Millet Stew

4.5 Cups broth or water , 1/2 cup celery, chopped

1Cup millet, whole hulled, 1/2 tsp. thyme, dried

1 onion, chopped, 1 tsp. salt

3 medium potatoes, diced, pepper to taste

1 large carrot, diced

Mix all ingredients in 2.5 quart casserole dish.

Bake at 350* F. for 1.25-1.5 hours.

~ I add 1 pound of ground beef or chicken to this recipe to add more flavor and make it a complete meal.

Quinoa: (pronounced “keen-wah”) Quinoa is a grain-like plant that was used by the Incas, and is about 16.2% protein. It is also high in lysine, making it a more complete(usable) protein on its own. It is also high in essential fatty acids-13.5%, calcium, iron and B vitamins. Also gluten free.

While this is all very marvelous and fascinating, the one thing I can tell you for sure is that I do not like it. It has a very strange taste. I have tried to dress it up in all sorts of ways, but is still tastes like quinoa, ugh. I was glad that I had only ordered a 5 pound bag from the co-op!

I learned a lot of useful cooking information from a cookbook I ordered a few months ago called “Wow, this is allergy free”. Even though some of the recipes are a little strange, I found it to be very informative and a great help. Besides the info on the variety of grains, there are also a lot of ideas for substituting ingredients, which I found helpful. My oldest son is allergic to eggs, so I never use them in baking. I was given several other options in this book, and I have had great success in baking with them.


Ingredients:

(Serves 4 and with enough for seconds)

  • 2 boneless chicken breasts/steaks
  • 1 Avocado (optional)
  • Low fat sour cream (optional)
  • 2 Bell Peppers (any colors you wish)
  • 1/2 White Onion
  • 1 bunch of cilantro
  • 1 Jalapeño Pepper (optional for spice)
  • 1 can diced tomatoes
  • 2 Limes
  • Grill Time (TM) Seasonings Chicken Roasted Garlic (or any brand of Chicken Roasted Garlic Seasoning)
  • Olive Oil or Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • Flour Tortillas for Soft Tacos
  • 1 indoor grill that is able to be placed on top of a stove (if you don’t have one, an outdoor grill or even frying pan will do)

Directions:

  1. Chop up bell peppers and onions into long thing slices and place in a large bowl. Finely dice about 1/4 of the cilantro as well and place in a separate bowl. (Here’s a tip to dice the cilantro: first make the cilantro into a loaf like ball, and then begin to dice).
  2. Cut the two limes in half, yielding 4 halves,
  3. Heat indoor grill or pan to medium flame.
  4. Cut chicken breast length wise into thirds (this helps the chicken cook faster). Take your Olive Oil and coat the chicken breast (this will help the meat from sticking to the pan). Using the Grill Time (TM) Seasonings Chicken Roasted Garlic, season the chicken well.
  5. Pour about 1/3 cup of olive oil into frying pan, or coat grill with oil using a basting brush (again so chicken doesn’t stick), then place your seasoned chicken onto the grill/pan. When chicken is about halfway cooked, squeeze 1 half of your lime onto the chicken until lime is completely used up. Then turn over chicken and squeeze the 2nd half of your lime over it. (It will make a sizzling sound and may pop so be careful). Continue to let chicken cook until done (I use a fork or knife to cut into the chicken to make sure the pink has turned completely white). DO NOT OVER COOK! Because then your chicken will be dry and not moist. Take chicken out of the pan/grill and place it in a baking tray, cover with foil.
  6. Grab your bell peppers and onion and place in a pan or wok with a drizzle of olive oil over medium heat (use the same pan as the chicken if that is what you used). Sautee and squeeze another half of the lime into the mix, also add a little bit of the seasoning used for the chicken. Cook until onions just begin to caramelize (turn a brown color) then turn off heat.
  7. Go back to your chicken and shred them with a knife into good sized strips for fajitas. (You’ll see that 2 chicken breasts go a long away), then place the shredded chicken in the same pan as bell peppers and onions, add your diced cilantro and mix together (I find tongs very helpful).
  8. (Optional) If you want to use your avocado cut the avocado in half first then use your knife to carve thin slicing lines. Take a spoon and scoop out the avocado and viola, you’ve got great thinly sliced avocados, use that last half a lime to squeeze onto the avocado so that it does not turn.
  9. If you want some spice to your fajita, rinse and finely dice jalapeño pepper and add to your own fajita as desired (be careful, less is more unless you really like it spicey!).
  10. Place your mix into a tortilla shell and add tomatoes, sour cream and avocado as desired, and enjoy!

1, 15-ounce can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
2 cloves garlic
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/3 cup + 4 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 cup (loosely packed) fresh Italian parsley leaves
Salt
Freshly ground black pepper
6 pitas
1 teaspoon dried oregano

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Dip: Blend beans, garlic, lemon juice, 1/3 cup olive oil, and parsley in food processor until coarsely chopped. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Chips: Cut pitas in half and then into wedges. Arrange wedges on a large baking sheet and sprinkle with remaining olive oil. A dash of balsamic vinegar is a nice touch, too. Sprinkle with oregano, salt, and pepper. Bake 8 to 12 minutes, or until toasted and golden brown.

Serve pita chips warm alongside bean puree.

Yield: Lunch for a steroid user; or makes enough for a nice party offering.

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