Real Food
Savor the flavors of everyday real food, fresh from the garden or stored on your pantry shelves.


Recipes from the Spring Garden: Radish Toasts, Pea and Mint Risotto, and More

multi-colored spring radishes 

Bountiful spring radishes
Photo by Unsplash/phillippecollard

Its spring and harvest time has started in the early garden: the first radishes are ready, new asparagus spears knife their way out of the ground, and leaves of green garlic wave above their straw bedding. Depending how cold your winter was this year, there may be tulip petals coloring your salads while dandelion fritters and wild sorrel soup fill your foraging thoughts. Visit BouquetBanquet to find some ideas on using spring flowers in your meals.

The first early peas will be ready to harvest soon, while baby spinach and spring cabbages come along at the same time. Spring can be such a neglected time of year in the garden as people wait for consistent warmth to start planting.  Step away from the crowd and start your garden early each year so you can try these delightful recipes. If you planted late greens of cold-hardy varieties to overwinter you’ll be ready to harvest and cook even earlier!

Radish Toasts

 Ingredients:

  • 1 baguette
  • Butter, softened
  • Large spring radishes
  • Salt and pepper

Directions:

1. Slice the baguette thinly and toast lightly in the oven.

2. Slice the radishes thinly as well.

3. Spread butter on the bread slices, top with a radish slice, salt and pepper. Eat up—you’ll find it’s hard to stop!

Deep-Fried Overwintered Kale

Ingredients:

  • Several handfuls of overwintered kale, cut into 2 inch strips
  • 1 ½ cups beer (vary the taste with different types of beer)
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 2 cups lard or peanut oil
  • Lemon wedges
  • Sea salt

Directions:

1. Dip each strip of kale in beer, then dip in flour.

2. Set aside on a rack for 15 minutes

3. Heat lard or peanut oil in a cast iron Dutch oven.

4. When sizzling, drop in several kale strips at a time and remove as soon as they crisp.

5. Serve immediately with a squeeze of lemon and sprinkle of sea salt.

Pea and Mint Risotto

Ingredients:

  • 3 quarts water
  • 3 Tablespoons Kosher salt
  • 3 ½ cups spring peas
  • 5 cups chicken stock
  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 garlic, peeled and halved
  • 1 shallot, peeled and minced
  • Salt to taste
  • 1 ½ cups Arborio rice
  • ½ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • ½ cup fresh mint chiffonade

Directions:

1. In a large pan, bring water and salt to a rolling boil over high heat. Add peas and cook for one minute, drain, and rinse in cold water.

2. In a saucepan, heat chicken stock to barely simmering.

3. In a large, high sided skillet, gently cook the shallot and garlic in olive oil for 3 minutes.

4. Remove from heat and discard the garlic.

5. Add the Arborio rice and stir to coat well.

6. Over medium low heat, add warm stock one ladle full at a time stirring until absorbed before adding more.

7. When all the stock is absorbed, remove from heat, stir in Parmesan, peas, and mint.

8. Serve immediately.

 Floral snap peas with sesame

Floral snap peas
Photo by Sheryl Campbell

Floral Snap Peas with Sesame

Ingredients:

  • ½ cup calendula flower petals
  • 2 Tablespoon radish flowers
  • 4 cups freshly picked snap peas
  • ½ cup snap pea flowers
  • ¼ cup dark sesame oil
  • ¼ cup light sesame seeds

Directions:

1. Cook snap peas for 2 minutes in boiling water, drain well.

2. Cool by running cold water over them in the colander for a moment.

3. Toss the peas with sesame seeds, calendula petals and snap pea flowers.

4. Pour sesame oil over everything and toss lightly. Serve cool.

lemon parmesan asparagus salad

Lemon parmesan asparagus salad
Photo by Pixabay/ludwigwilliams

Lemon-Parmesan Asparagus Salad

Ingredients:

  • Two handfuls spring asparagus, sliced longwise, very thinly
  • ¼ cup Parmesan cheese, shredded
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 3 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • Salt and pepper

Directions:

1. Whisk the oil, lemon juice, and salt and pepper together.

2. Place the thinly sliced asparagus and Parmesan in a bowl, pour dressing over-top and toss lightly.

3. Serve immediately.

Minty-Orange Spring Peas

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups freshly shelled English peas
  • ¼ cup butter, melted
  • Zest of one orange
  • Handful of fresh mint leaves, chiffonade

Directions:

1. Cook peas for 4 minutes in 2 quarts boiling water. Drain well.

2. In a small bowl, mix melted butter, orange zest, and mint chiffonade. Pour over peas and toss lightly.Serve warm.

Pair any of these lovely spring salads and vegetable dishes with chops of spring lamb grilled to perfection. Add a bottle of Chianti or Malbec for the perfect spring al fresco dining experience. What’s coming out of your garden this month?


Sheryl Campbell is an heirloom gardener, shepherd, and edible flower educator who owns Bouquet Banquet in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley. Read Sheryl’s previous blogging with Mother Earth Gardener and Grit and read all of her MOTHER EARTH NEWS posts here.


All MOTHER EARTH NEWS community bloggers have agreed to follow our Blogging Guidelines, and they are responsible for the accuracy of their posts.

A Base Bone Broth Recipe for Culinary Riffing

 

Bone broth ingredients simmering
Photo by Taylor Goggin

Have you ever made your own bone broth before? You know, that clear, protein rich liquid you can make at home that's loaded with infinite health benefits?

Homemade bone broth is as simple as simmering meat bones in water with select vegetables and herbs of your choice for enhanced flavor. Bone broth made at home tops any broth you buy at the store. Generally, packaged broths contain artificial meat flavors, a lot of sodium, and are loaded with MSG. 

In order to make your own broth purchase grass-fed bones from your local farmers market or perhaps the meat department in a supermarket will have them as well. You can also use bones from an already cooked chicken.

As stated on Dr Axe, simmering the bones causes the ligaments to “release healing compounds like collagen, proline, glycine, and glutamine that ave the power to transform your health”.

Gelatin is a powerhouse for your body, shown to restore strength of the gut lining. The broth seals openings in the gut lining that cause inflammation also known as “leaky gut syndrome”. With the help of gelatin your gut heal those open seal and can function smoothly properly digesting your food without inflammation.

Your gut is also known as your “second brain” when you have a happy gut you have a happier mental state! These gut supportive benefits contribute to a healthy immune system. Consuming bone broth creates a positive rippling effect in your body.

The key here for making bone broth is cooking it low and slow.

Homemade Bone Broth

Ingredients:

  • 1 leek
  • 1 red bell pepper
  • 1 onion
  •  bones
  • Bay leaf

Directions:

Chop leek, onion, and bell pepper. Oil a pan and sauté chopped vegetables. Add bones.

When veggies become slightly golden add purified water to completely submerged the mix (almost to the top of the pot). Add bay leaf. Cover and let mixture simmer on low for at least 2 hours.

Readers can follow this recipe to a tee or alter to your culinary preferences. Example of alternations you can feel free to add are carrots, celery, garlic, fresh herbs, and or black pepper. There are hundreds of bone broth recipes out there and this recipe is yours to tailor to your palette.

Store your broth in jars, glass bottles, any type of Tupperware you can have handy and ready to use for recipes! Make sure the broth has cooled completely before pouring it in glass jars. If you have made a large batch, throw half of it in the freezer to have for future dishes.

Bone broth is extremely versatile and can be used in so many ways! After you make your own batch, it can be used as a base for soups, stew, risottos, pasta water, etc. Replacing water for broth as a base for recipes will take your cuisines to the next level in terms of flavor and add a kick of nutrients. 

Easy to digest, nutrient-dense, and rich in flavor. Gather your ingredients and tag us in your bone broth recipes.


Taylor Goggin is tropical gardener in Florida who gained her skills in cooperative agriculture while work-trading with a World-Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms (WWOOF) program on the Hawaiian Islands. She now grows papaya, banana, avocado, fig, tomatoes, and medicinal herbs to make into inventive plant-based recipes. Connect with Taylor on Instagram, and read all of her MOTHER EARTH NEWS posts here.


All MOTHER EARTH NEWS community bloggers have agreed to follow our Blogging Guidelines, and they are responsible for the accuracy of their posts.

Home Brewing Kombucha

mother
Pixabay/timolivermetz

What is all the hype about this funky tea known as Kombucha? Kombucha most likely started in China and spread to Russian over 100 years ago. It is often called mushroom tea because if the scoby that forms on the top, resembling a mushroom. Scoby is actually an acronym for symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast.

Kombucha contains multiple species of yeast and bacteria along with the organic acids, active enzymes, amino acids, and vitamin C. According to the American Cancer Society "Kombucha tea has been promoted as a cure-all for a wide range of conditions including baldness, insomnia, intestinal disorders, arthritis, chronic fatigue syndrome, multiple sclerosis, AIDS, and cancer. Supporters say that Kombucha tea can boost the immune system and reverse the aging process." I will caution you however that there is little scientific evidence to support such strong claims.

16300454_687754011401750_8396411134126221054_o

For us Kombucha is fun to make, and is highly recommended among many of my holistic friends. It is naturally fermented with a living colony of bacteria and yeast, which is helpful for digestive health. I think it smells a little strong, but is actually pleasant tasting.

Instructions for Making Kombucha Tea

Ingredients

14 cups water
1 cup sugar
8 tea bags
1 cupstarter tea or vinegar
kombucha culture

Directions

1. Combine hot water (14 cups for 1 gallon) and sugar (1 cup) in the glass jar you intend on using to brew the tea. Stir until the sugar dissolves. The water should be hot enough to steep the tea but does not have to be boiling.

2. Place the tea or tea bags in the sugar water to steep. Use 8 tea bags for a gallon of tea. I prefer the flavor of green tea, but you can also use black tea. Try to find an organic tea. If you use loose tea leaves use 4 tbsp for a gallon of tea.

3. Cool the mixture to room temperature. The tea may be left in the liquid as it cools. Once cooled remove the tea bags.

4. Add starter tea from a previous batch to the liquid. If you do not have starter tea, distilled white vinegar may be substituted. If using vinegar use 2 cups for a gallon of tea.

5. Add an active kombucha scoby (culture).

6. Cover the jar with a towel or coffee filter and secure with a rubber band. Ants can smell sweet tea a mile away.

7. Allow the mixture to sit undisturbed at 68-85°F, out of direct sunlight, for 7-30 days, or to taste. The longer the kombucha ferments, the less sweet and more vinegary it will taste.

Keep the scoby and about 1 cup of the liquid from the bottom of the jar to use as starter tea for the next batch. You will have the “mother scoby” that you added and a new “baby scoby” that will have formed on the top. You can reuse your mother scoby, and gift your baby.

Souza_Kombucha_004-3-300x204

The finished kombucha can be flavored, or enjoyed plain. Keep sealed with an airtight lid at room temp for an additional 7 days with added fruit if you like a fizzy drink like soda.  Otherwise store in the fridge to stop the fermentation process.  These little bottles of “hippy tea” have been popping up all over grocery stores for about $3 a bottle, but you can make it at home for about $1 a gallon. I'm not sure that it's a cure-all, but at worst you have a delightful and affordable probiotic.

Melissa Souza lives on a 1-acre, organically managed homestead property in rural Washington State where she raises backyard chickens and meat rabbits and grows plums, apples, pears, a variety of berries, and all the produce her family needs. She loves to inspire other families to save money, be together, and take steps toward self-reliance no matter where they live.


All MOTHER EARTH NEWS community bloggers have agreed to follow our Blogging Guidelines, and they are responsible for the accuracy of their posts. To learn more about the author of this post, click on their byline link at the top of the page.

This Indigenous Corn Pinole 'Smoothie' Recipe Packs a Punch

pinole drink resize

Pinole smoothie by Renee Benoit

Pinole (Pin-Nole) is my new favorite smoothie. It’s a Southwestern food staple made out of native corn that has been roasted and ground into a fine powder. From my experience I have found that it’s best when mixed with milk and sweetened with honey for a creamy drink much like a milkshake. It can also be added to other foods as a supplement or thickening agent or even eaten alone. Try it when back packing or hiking just like Native Americans did when they were on the go. It’s light weight and durable and doesn’t mold or rot if you keep it dry.

Pinole has been a staple food for a very long time in northern Mexico and the southwestern United States but corn wasn’t always the familiar corn we’re used to. Archeao-botanists believe that corn was developed over thousands of years from “teosinte” grass. Teosinte was cultivated in Mexico and Central America and selected to eventually become corn as we know it. It’s not common but farmers in Mexico still let wild teosinte plants grow around the edges of their cornfields because they believe that it makes the domestic corn plants 'stronger'. Early types of corn then made their way through trade to the Southwest U.S. by 4,000 years ago.

corn teosinte resize

Corn teosinte, Photo credit: Nicolle Rager Fuller, National Science Foundation

Back in the days when travel was on foot or horseback, Pinole was the preferred food. It was easy to carry because it was dry and needed only a little bit of water to be satisfying and nutritious meal.

It’s a concentrated source of vitamins, minerals, fiber and antioxidants. Just two ounces of pinole provides 7 grams of fiber, 40 grams of complex carbohydrates, and 100 milligrams of anthocyanins; a specific antioxidant that may help reduce rates of cardiovascular disease and cancer and boost cognitive function.

Let’s make a Pinole Smoothie!

Making pinole is very easy. Just add 3 tablespoons (more or less to taste) pinole to 8 ounces of liquid of your choice: milk or nut beverage is best in my opinion but fruit juice is also very good. I tried mixing it with water but found too bland for my taste so experiment with what tastes best to you. I mixed mine with soy milk because I don’t tolerate cow’s milk very well. It was delicious.

You can add a bit of raw sugar, honey, cinnamon or vanilla. I found that honey mixes well. If you use raw sugar let it sit for a while until the sugar dissolves otherwise you have a crunchy texture! You can also blend it with ice in a blender for an iced drink. You can also add any jam that tastes good to you.

Pinole makes a great supplement! You can also add it to hot cocoa, hot cereal, pancakes, waffles, cakes, cookies, muffins, or pudding. You can also sprinkle it over ice cream or yogurt.

The great thing about Pinole is that it’s a food stuff that is derived from grains that are adapted to the environment and that means another way to tread lightly on Mother Earth.

You can buy pinole from Ramona Farms in Sacaton, Arizona.


Renée Benoit is a writer, artist, ranch caretaker and dedicated do-it-yourselfer who homesteads a small ranch in the southeast corner of Arizona near the Mexican border. Connect with Renée at RL Benoit, and read all of her MOTHER EARTH NEWS posts.


All MOTHER EARTH NEWS community bloggers have agreed to follow our Blogging Guidelines, and they are responsible for the accuracy of their posts.

Making Hemp Milk Is Easier Than You Think

Hemp Milk DIY

Photo by Amanda Nicklaus

Recently I watched a comedy bit about the overwhelming amount of milk choices offered in coffee shops, and while it was quite exaggerated, humor is rooted in truth: there are a lot of plant-based alternative “milks” available in coffee shops and grocery stores, and trying to make a decision can turn into a much more complicated choice than necessary.

What’s more, often people choose plant milks because they believe they are healthier than cow’s milk, but if one reads the nutrition label on cartons and bottles of plant milks, they will see a lot of extra ingredients added, including cane sugar. If you are like me and are not trying to get your daily sugar dose in your milk, you might be frustrated at the offerings of your local co-op or grocery store. There’s good news, however: it can be incredibly easy — and cheap — to make your own plant milk.

How to Affordably Make Hemp Milk

There are plenty of seeds, nuts, and other plants you can try your hand at: soy, coconut, almond, cashew, macadamia, rice, oats, flax, even quinoa and pea. But my favorite, and one of the easiest to make from scratch, is hemp milk. Hemp milk has more healthy fats and proteins than many other plant milks (and no, it cannot get you high—hemp seeds do not contain THC). It has a slightly nutty flavor and creamy yet subtly chalky consistency.

And hemp seeds are incredibly affordable: 12 ounces of hemp seeds can cost between $10-15, which is a lot of milk: about 12 cups, which is a much better deal than the standard plant milk quart-sized carton which is about four cups of milk. So if you buy hemp seeds in bulk, you’re getting an even better deal.

Hemp Milk Recipe at Home

Hemp milk is amazingly easy to make: just mix hemp seeds and water in a 1:8 ratio respectively in a blender for at least one minute. If you want it creamier, strain it through cheesecloth to catch any residual seed particles. That’s it! You can also make it sweeter if you do like your milks sweetened, and the beauty of it is that you can control what type and how much sweetener you use; monk fruit or maple syrup is generally healthier than refined cane sugar.

Sometimes when homesteading and trying to accomplish ambitious DIY goals, we overlook the simplest things, or think that something is much more complicated than it is and save it for special occasions. I’ve bought hemp seeds twice in the past couple of months and have used hemp milk nearly every day! Before making my own, I was buying a couple of cartons of hemp milk almost weekly. It is so empowering to find simple swaps to make and cut down on your weekly grocery budget. Plus, it tastes so much better knowing I’ve made it myself, and that it is always fresh! Making hemp milk is just one more way to feel connected to the earth and all it has to offer.


Amanda Nicklaus is a writer and aspiring urban homesteader based in Minneapolis. She spends her free time trying new recipes, going to farmers markets, and writing about everything she learns. Read all of Amanda’s MOTHER EARTH NEWS posts here.


All MOTHER EARTH NEWS community bloggers have agreed to follow our Blogging Guidelines, and they are responsible for the accuracy of their posts.

The Basics of Starting a Homestead Canning Business

 

Marie's products feature prominently on sales location Photo credit by Rosemarie Garrison

Few things in a baker's kitchen rival the smell of hot fresh bread coming straight from the oven. As hot loaves are being carefully pulled from the oven racks, most will have already decided what they'd like to put on a slice or two.

In my opinion, homemade bread at the peak of freshness deserves a spotlight all its own. I would not want to risk spoiling the experience by putting too many ingredients on the bread. Instead, a light touch of butter with fresh jam hits all the right notes!

It just so happened that one morning while enjoying a simple breakfast of toast with jam, I noticed that the delicious jar of mulberry jam was getting close to half empty. Concerned, I wondered if I would be able to order another jar, because my son had purchased the jam from another city four hours away. I noticed a website address printed on the lid of the jar. After leaving an email through the website, I received a prompt reply with phone numbers for further communication. I was very hopeful that I would reach someone personally and that the company was still in existence.

Marie's Story of a Home Jam and Jelly Business

Meet Rose Marie Garrison, owner of Marie's Jelly Jams & Herbs. Marie operates the canning business from her north Florida homestead. Before starting her business, Marie had been making jams and jellies for family and friends for well over 35 years. Over the phone, Marie shared with me that she had not seriously considered the idea of going into business, because she was satisfied with making the jams and jellies and giving them away as gifts, for free.

It was not until friends and family, especially her kids, suggested that Marie start selling her jams and jellies, that she began to seriously consider turning something that she enjoyed into a business. From there, Marie received the necessary training and licensure to operate her delicious homestead canning business.

Marie began her business selling jams and jellies at a local Farmer's Market. Marie answered a few  questions that I had about her business and I learned interesting pointers. I have shared that information below, along with basic considerations when starting a homestead canning business.

In 2014, Marie contacted a local neighborhood improvement association, which guided her through the necessary preliminary steps to open and operate her business. Although a Cottage Food License permits preparation of products from a home kitchen, there are times when Marie will use a local commercial kitchen to prepare and package large quantities of products.

Marie grows her own fruit, herbs and peppers in her backyard garden. She's especially fond of a particularly cold hearty variety of lemon, known as a Meyers lemon. The fruit is added to some of her products for taste and acidity. When it comes to pesticides, Marie prefers a general purpose pesticide, mixing crushed garlic, water and a mild liquid soap solution, which she adds to a sprayer.

Not shy about foraging, Marie will ask neighbors who do not appear to be fully utilizing their fruit trees if she may take some of the fruit. Oftentimes, those casual contacts will become reliable sources of seasonal fruit for her operation. Marie will source tropical fruits, such as mangoes, from relatives living in areas where the fruit grows abundantly.

When I asked Marie if she could change anything about the canning business, she simply answered, "more jars." She further explained  that the lack of jars and lids are sometimes unavailable, due to the increasing popularity of home food canning.

I was curious if Marie was satisfied with current size of her business and wondered if she had considered scaling the size of her business up or down? Marie said that she's perfectly happy with the size of her business as it is. She has 40 flavors of jams and jellies and occasionally will offer special flavors for a limited time or make custom recipes to suit individual customers.

When it comes to her business, Marie has always preferred quality over quantity. This core principle has served her well with repeat business and strong customer relationships.

Listed below are 10 foods which have long expiration dates:

  • White Rice
  • Honey
  • Salt
  • Soy Sauce
  • Sugar
  • Dried Beans
  • Pure Maple Syrup
  • Powdered Milk
  • Hard Liquor
  • Pemmican

Considerations When Starting a Homestead Canning Business

Name. Carefully select a name which best suits the product and/or communicates some aspect or philosophy of the business.

Licenses. Obtain all necessary licensure.

Add a complimentary mix of products to jump start sales. Photo credit by Rosemarie Garrison

Products. Fruits and pickled vegetables are ideal foods to start with, due to their high-acid pH values. The higher pH value foods are safer and have longer shelf lives. Also consider adding a customized mix of seasonings to shelf-stable foods, like salt. Combining other shelf-stable ingredients to create an original recipe of seasoning salt. Keep in mind that products may not stay as shelf-stable once other ingredients are added.

Sourcing.You may be able to grow your own fruit and vegetables for your products with adequate land space for your operation. Raised beds and pots may address poor soil conditions. Vertical gardening may allow certain plants to be grown in tight spaces.

Negotiate acceptable pricing at local retail and wholesale farmer's markets. Follow best practices when selecting quality fruits and vegetables. Keep in mind that a gently bruised tomato may be perfectly acceptable for use in some marinara sauce recipes, but totally unacceptable when used in pickled tomato recipes. Negotiate your best price according to quality and use the degrees of ripeness of quality produce wisely.

Demand. The extent of which there is favorable response to the product. Collect data to get an idea of the potential demand for your canning business.

Sell-ability. Factors which make the products highly attractive to customers and their ability to be sold.

Profitability. Product profitability depends on many factors. Primarily, the overall cost to produce the products versus the actual sales generated by the products. Profitability factors may be influenced by demand, associated business costs, availability of products, past, present and future sales performance should be carefully considered.

Keep business and personal banking accounts separate. Photo credit by Pexel 

Feasibility. Generally, the product is feasible if the effort required to produce the product is adequately rewarded. Each person's feasibility threshold is different. Ask yourself are the products relatively easy to obtain, produce and sell repeatedly?

Seasonality. Are there known seasonal sales periods characterized by high or low sales? Are there ways to offset poor sales or capitalize on the profits? Plan and prepare for these periods accordingly.

Marketing. Consider broad and narrow approaches to effective marketing opportunities. Monitor Google search and other factors influencing customer accessibility. Make sure that labels are visually appealing and appropriate for the product and provide customer service contact information.They should also include any necessary product information, as well as any promotional information about the product as desired.

Online Sales. Use a visibly attractive, highly functional website. Promote/act on favorable branding opportunities.

In Person Sales. The shop should be set-up to perform and function well and its appearance should positively reflect the brand. The shop should always strive to be customer friendly.

Location. Choose the best possible location for your type of business. Make sure that your signs are performing their jobs well at all times. Make adjustments as necessary.

Customer Service. Adopt a "customer first" approach with many aspects of your business. Strive to make the entire process as seamless and as satisfying as possible for customers. Make every attempt to resolve any issues with courtesy, fairness and respect.

Hardware for Business. Consider all available sources to purchase quality phones, cell phones, tablets and computers which support your business. You may find suitable used or refurbished models with acceptable data options for typical business functions, performance, capability, etc. Select the quality and design of packaging, printed custom labels with contact information. Choose your best delivery /or shipping methods. Select mobile pay terminals that accept different payment types. When starting out, carefully/conservatively order custom printed paper, packaging, labels, receipts, etc. If possible, you may want to use standard, non-customized paper products at first. This allows time to work out any kinks in the beginning stages of the business. Later, you may choose to invest more in this area of the business.

Software for Business. Start with a quality website that is visually appealing, organized, with well-spaced text and has a shopping cart feature. Use high quality, well-lit digital images. Select an effective business and tax software for all record keeping. Make sure to keep business and personal banking separate by establishing a business bank account. Compare mobile payment terminals that accept and link multiple forms of payment to your cell phone, tablet, computer, etc.

If a homestead canning business is what you desire, give it your all. Learn all of the safety concerns regarding home canning, experiment, have fun and you will be on your way. Wishing you much success and may your favorite jam jar never reach the half empty mark, but always stay half full!


Monica White is a freelance writer, member of the Georgia Air National Guard, and an avid runner and cyclist who loves the great outdoors and all things DIY. She divides her time between Tampa and her central Florida property, where she's growing a self-sufficient homestead. Connect with Monica on her outdoor lifestyle blog, on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Read all of her MOTHER EARTH NEWS posts here.


All MOTHER EARTH NEWS community bloggers have agreed to follow our Blogging Guidelines, and they are responsible for the accuracy of their posts.

Daily Bread: The Delectable, No-Knead Lahey Method

Homemade loaf

Daily bread. Few two words evoke such primal survival instincts, elicit universal ties to humanity or just make your mouth water, depending on who you are. They might conjure spiritual stirrings, bringing to mind the staff of life. You might recall your grandmother in the kitchen or salivate at the mere thought of your local bakery. For some the institution of bread and its associated rituals runs deep in their lives while for others, it is just another carb.

Around the globe and across time, most cultures have eaten a version of this staple to the extent that their bread has become part of their cultural identity. For many, this part of the meal is as integral as, yes, water. On the contrary, most Americans lack any semblance of reverence for the lovely loaf. Until I discovered The Lahey Method recently, I was like most Americans.

What is the Lahey Method of Bread Baking?

My Bread: The Revolutionary No-Work, No-Knead Method by Jim Lahey (published by W.W. Norton & Company) offered such an easy process of making bread that I couldn’t resist giving it a try. It especially appealed to me since my chronic wrist tendonitis takes kneading - and all of its related baked goods - off of my kitchen “to-do” list. Instead of all of the aerobic effort required by kneading, this method takes time and a little forethought. If you can manage those, you’ll be richly rewarded with surprisingly tasty loaves.

Mind you, I’ve had inklings of how enriching it can be to incorporate bread into your diet. We even tried growing wheat at the farm to make our own flour. When the ripe harvest of winter wheat was picked clean kernel by kernel by marauding deer and turkey, I rethought the romantic notion of crop-to-table. I’ve also had the privilege of glimpsing the paramount place bread can hold culturally. When I lived in France, bakeries brimmed with lively conversation as lines spilled out doors at day’s end when 9-to-5ers popped in for their daily loaf en route home to dinner. Baguettes along with traditional loaves of all shapes and sizes were snatched up with enthusiasm.

Back at home we have a renowned chef in our family, John Pisto of Monterey, California, who gifted my boyfriend the aforementioned cookbook which has enriched our meals with the staple that was missing from our menu. As Jim Lahey puts it, Good bread should be a masterpiece of contrast, crackling as you bite through the browned, malty-smelly crust, then deeply satisfying as you get to the meaty, chewy crumb with its distinct wheaten, slightly acidic taste. If that sounds appetizing to you, by all means try his method. Even loaves that I thought would be failures - when my attempts at following his steps strayed from his approach - yielded bread fitting his lofty description if I just kept going and got the loaf into the oven.

So, are you ready? Go to the source for his specific instructions, featured in his book replete with savory and sweet loaves, novel and traditional varieties and recipes that incorporate bread into sandwiches, soups and even desserts. He says: “The book is all about learning to bake with the Lahey approach, not robotically following instructions”. What follows is my interpretation of his approach.

No-Knead Bread Recipe Using the Lahey Method

Ingredients you'll need

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups bread flour      
  • 1 ¼ teaspoons table salt        
  • ¼ teaspoon instant or active dry yeast          
  • 1 1/3 cups cool water
  • Wheat bran, cornmeal or additional flour for dusting   

Directions:

Step One

Mix all ingredients into a bowl large enough to allow the mixture to at least double, making sure that the dough is very sticky to the touch. Cover the bowl and let it sit at room temperature (ideally 72 degrees), out of direct sunlight, until the dough has more than doubled and the surface is bubbly. This will take 12-18 hours. The fermentation occurring during this slow rise will impart the flavor, so be patient.

Mixed bread ingredients

First dough rise

Step Two

Generously dust a work surface with flour. Scrape the dough onto the board or surface, using floured hands or a bowl scraper to nudge and tuck the dough into round, or the shape of your baking vessel (mine is oval).  The dough will be very sticky and resemble batter as much as dough. Do not add flour to this loose, sticky mass. Just shape with floured hands.

Pouring out the dough

Dough shaped on towel

Step Three

Place a cotton or linen tea towel (Lahey cautions against terry cloth) on your work surface and generously sprinkle with wheat bran, cornmeal or flour. Gently transfer the loaf to the towel, seam side down.

Confession: I’ve combined Steps two and three, pouring the dough “batter” right onto a liberally dusted cloth/ towel and coaxed the shape more by folding the dough in and over on itself than by tucking alone. This reduced handling and avoided transferring and flipping the loose mass that tends to have a mind of its own.

Fold the ends of the towel loosely over the dough to cover it and place it in a warm, draft-free spot for 1-2 hours allowing it to nearly double. If you gently poke it with your finger, making the indentation about ¼ inch deep, the impression should hold.

Wrapped loaf for second rise

Step Four

A half-hour before the end of the second rise, preheat the oven to 475 degrees F, with the rack in the lower third position, and place your heavy cooking pot in the center of the rack. Lahey bakes the bread in what he calls “an oven within an oven”. He says to use an enameled cast-iron (Le Creuset), seasoned cast-iron (Lodge) or all-ceramic (Emile Henry) pot.

Confession: Lacking these pots, I use an oval ceramic casserole dish inside an enamel camping cookware roasting pot and have had success. Lahey says “don’t feel too uptight about any of this”, and encourages improvisation once the basic method is understood, so I trust he’d approve.

Step Five

Using pot holders, carefully remove the HOT preheated pot from the oven and uncover it. Unfold the tea towel, lightly dust the dough with flour or bran and quickly but gently either lift with your hands or “pour” the dough, inverting it into the pot. Cover the pot and bake for 30 minutes.

NOTE: Several times I’ve had the dough stick to the towel. Be not afraid: dust your hands with flour or coax the dough off the towel with a baking spatula and just keep going. Don’t worry if it is not neat and tidy. These loaves not only have flavor and texture, but they may develop personality, too! Fear not.

dough ready to bake

Step Six

Remove the lid and continue baking the bread 15-30 minutes more, until it achieves a deep chestnut color but isn’t burned. When done, carefully remove the loaf from the cooking pot with a heatproof spatula or pot holders and place it on a rack to cool thoroughly, about an hour. Resist tearing or slicing it until it is completely cool.

Freshly-baked bread loaf

Et voilà! Lahey suggests that you take your time with your first bite. He says: “Think of the first bite as you would the first taste of a glass of wine: smell it (there should be that touch of maltiness), chew it slowly to appreciate its almost meaty texture, and sense where it came from in its hint of wheat. Enjoy it. You baked it, and you did a good job”.

After you’ve delighted in the delectable fruit of your labor and wonder how to keep it fresh lacking an old-fashioned bread box, I’ve found that reusable beeswax wraps work great for preserving your homemade goodness.


Sarah Joplin has worked in art sales and publishing for more than 25 years. Having grown up on 50 acres near the Missouri River, Sarah’s extensive travels have made her appreciate her modest farm in Mid-Missouri all the more. Read all of Sarah’s MOTHER EARTH NEWS posts here.


All MOTHER EARTH NEWS community bloggers have agreed to follow our Blogging Guidelines, and they are responsible for the accuracy of their posts.







Subscribe Today - Pay Now & Save 64% Off the Cover Price

50 Years of Money-Saving Tips!

Mother Earth NewsAt MOTHER EARTH NEWS for 50 years and counting, we are dedicated to conserving our planet's natural resources while helping you conserve your financial resources. You'll find tips for slashing heating bills, growing fresh, natural produce at home, and more. That's why we want you to save money and trees by subscribing through our earth-friendly automatic renewal savings plan. By paying with a credit card, you save an additional $5 and get 6 issues of MOTHER EARTH NEWS for only $12.95 (USA only).

You may also use the Bill Me option and pay $17.95 for 6 issues.

Canadian Subscribers - Click Here
International Subscribers - Click Here
Canadian subscriptions: 1 year (includes postage & GST).


Facebook Pinterest Instagram YouTube Twitter flipboard

Free Product Information Classifieds Newsletters