Archive for November, 2009

Cooking Always Starts A Conversation

Monday, November 9th, 2009



(Don’t forget to leave a comment to enter the OPC Christmas Giveaway. Go to the Welcome Page to see the gift basket that will go to one lucky winner. OK, now read on!)



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When you find a store that has it all – charm, variety and uniqueness, with a kind and doting proprietor and assistants, you have to spread the word. Such is the case with Kaye’s Gifts at 8605 S. Western, just south of I-240 in Oklahoma City. Pam, Sharon and Joan will treat you as family and make suggestions that will get your creative juices flowing.

The store is stocked full of Made-in-Oklahoma products as well as all kinds of delicious confections from all over the country. Top these off with absolutely beautiful porcelain, knick-knacks and various other collectible items and you have the makings of a gift basket deluxe. And of course, they carry the Oklahoma Pastry Cloth™ as the single package or in our various gift bags.

Friday and Saturday was Kaye’s Gifts annual Christmas open house and anyone who attended received a lovely Christmas ornament with any purchase. I joined in with a demonstration “In My Own Little Corner on My Own Little Chair” (thanks to Rodger’s and Hammerstein’s Cinderella) where I met many fun and interesting people and got to talk about my favorite subject: cooking! Since the store is packed with tasting stations throughout, for the festive weekend, I introduced my recipe for blueberry cobbler made with Shawnee Mills Blueberry Muffin mix. It was a hit. The men, especially, seemed to gravitate to the cobbler. Ladies, it really is true – “The way to a man’s heart is through his stomach.” There are a lot of men out there who cook, I discovered, but they will head toward a home-cooked treat everytime!

Thanks to everyone who stopped by, who purchased the Oklahoma Pastry Cloth™ and gift sets or who just took the time to chat. It was a great weekend. And “thank you” to the three lovely ladies who make Kaye’s such a special place to shop.

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The sun shone brightly on Kaye’s Gifts at 8605 S. Western in OKC

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A nostalgic Santa Clause and inviting place to sit

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Joan mans the juice and soup tasting.
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Sharon is the Cookie Expert.
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Pam (the owner), Joan and Sharon


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A countertop full of Oklahoma Pastry Cloth™ gift sets
~~Introducing the Child’s pastry cloth cooking set~~


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It was a pretty tight squeeze, but just enough room to dish out cobbler, bread sticks and chit-chat


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Sourdough Bread on the Oklahoma Prairie (and recipe)

Tuesday, November 3rd, 2009

Sourdough bread is the oldest kind of leavened bread known to man. It is earliest recorded in Egypt around 1500 BC, but how it was discovered is total conjecture. There are all kinds of good stories regarding the discovery of the potent dough, but it is anybody’s guess how the first person suddenly decided to use wild yeast to make their usual flatbread rise to a fluffy loaf. Of course, with all of the brewed products available back then, like wines and beers, it is conceivable that some might have spilled into flatbread dough or that dough was left out and attracted the plentiful wild yeasts to produce a bubbly sponge, but I’ll leave you to your imagination to come up with “the story” of how sourdough starter was discovered.

My own imagery conjures up a man who stumbles home after a night out with the boys, precariously grasping a clay jar of strong Egyptian beer (brandname Pharoah’s Choice), and occasionally managing to find his lips to take another swig. As he wobbles into his humble abode, he finds his dutiful wife on her knees, mixing a batch of dough to bake for the next day’s flatbread allotment. Mr. Ancient Egyptian lunges toward his wife to give her a drunken hug, as she stands to greet him, and as if in slow motion, the clay jar of suds pitches out of his loose grip, flies through the air and lands squarely on the floor, shattering to pieces and sending waves of dark ale into Mrs. Ancient Egyptian’s bowl of flour and oil. Mrs. Ancient Egyptian lets loose with a string of hieroglyphics and cries over her ruined bread. The mess goes into the trashbin, also made of pottery, and the angry wife stomps off to bed. Next morning, she awakens to find an oozing, bubbly live thing, growing in her trashbin and out of curiosity, the Mrs. pours the doughy sponge into her floured breadbowl because she didn’t have an Oklahoma Pastry Cloth™, picks out any bones that had also been thrown into the trash from dinner the night before, adds some flour and then bakes the dough in her 400 degree brick and mortar oven. Out comes a tall, fluffy confection that she tentatively samples. A smile gradually replaces her angry frown and she comments, (in ancient Egyptian of course) “This bread is tangy and light – a veritable pastry worthy of royalty! I would think that it would be quite good with jam and tea.” As a result, she forgives her husband and encourages him to come home and drop his ale into her bread on a regular basis. I’m sure that it happened that way.

Sourdough starters are made with a variety of ingredients. Depending on the taste desired, milks, potato water, sugars, and various types of flours are incorporated to create a “sponge”. This sponge is continually “fed” to keep the yeast alive and thriving and as it is nursed, it develops its own particular flavor. Personal taste determines which characteristics are desirable or not.

Just a bit of historical trivia: According to www.kitchenproject.com, during the gold rush days in San Fransisco, California, a bakery run by the Boudin family from France used sourdough culture to create a unique and famous bread that miners enjoyed every morning. Since 1849 they have been using the same sourdough culture, which they call a “Mother dough” and the same recipe. So important is their “Mother Dough” it was heroically saved by Louise Boudin during the Great San Francisco Earthquake of 1906. Here in Oklahoma, sourdough starter has been used on the prairie through days of wagon trains, landruns and cattle drives to produce biscuits, pancakes, muffins and bread. It doesn’t take long to find a class here, where one may learn to create these morsels in a dutch oven nestled in the coals of a campfire.

Every sourdough sitter considers their starter to be the best. As in the case above, many starters have been handed down through generations of bread bakers. However, it is possible for you to start your own legacy and tweek it to your own taste. You can make the base recipe that follows, and then divide it to keep some going as a pristine culture and experiment with various additives like milk or potato water instead of just plain water on the rest. Also, as your culture becomes exactly what you like, it is a good idea to pour some onto wax paper and allow it to dry into a flat sheet that can be broken into small pieces and stored in a tightly sealed jar. If something horrible happens to your live culture, you can start over by adding two tablespoons of dried culture with 2 tablespoons of water to reconstitute and bring to room temperature and then start your usual process over again with this base.

If you are not going to use your starter for a time, you can put it in a jar with a tight fitting lid and store it in the refrigerator. I have also had luck with freezing cubes of my starter to then thaw to room temperature and start the process over. And one last tip that I use: I use bottled spring water to hydrate my starter, as city water has chlorine that kills the yeast and well water can have bacterias that ruin the taste.

I have tried a variety of starters and have come up with my favorite that is very, very simple. If you wish to be truly “pioneer”, then you would omit the yeast and let this starter stand for three days, stirring once each day, to capture any wild yeast in the air. When you start seeing bubbles, you start the “feeding” process. I personally like the flavor achieved from adding a little powdered yeast to get started. Again, if you wish to be “pioneer” in making the true, slow, sourdough bread then you would follow my bread recipe, ommitting the yeast and allow your dough to rise for as long as 24 hours, but I am including in the recipe, two teaspoons of yeast in case you do not wish to wait that long to have bread and still have the sourdough flavor.

Starter Recipe

3 tbsps whole wheat four
2 1/2 tbsps warm water
1 tsp powdered yeast

In a crock container or other opaque glass jar, mix ingredients with a wooden or plastic spoon. Do not use any metal utensils or containers. Allow to stand overnight, covered with cheese cloth. Next day, stir in 2 more tbsps of flour and 1 1/2 tbsps water. Stir and let stand overnight. Continue this process each day of using 2 tbsps flour (you can use white flour at this point) to 1 1/2 tbsp water until you have approximately 1 1/4 cups of starter. At that point, you have enough to make a loaf of bread. You must have enough starter to be able to remove 1 cup and still have some left to continue feeding for the next time. As the starter grows, it should be bubbly and pungent. Overnight, if a liquid rises to the top, just stir it in and continue feeding. Each time you make bread, it is a good idea to transfer all of the starter into a clean jar or bowl and wash the container that houses the starter to keep mold from ruining it. Dry the container and return any culture that is left after removing a cup and start the feeding process again.


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To make bread:

1 cup sourdough starter at room temperature
3/4 cups warm water
2 tsps yeast
2 tbsps honey or sugar
1/4 tsp baking soda
2 tsp dough enhancer (lecithin)
3 cups high gluten flour either whole wheat or white or combination of both


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Sprinkle yeast over the surface of the 3/4 cups warm water and allow to “proof” or dissolve in the water and bubbling to the top.


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In a mixer with a dough hook, place starter, honey or sugar and yeast water along with one cup of flour, salt, enhancer and soda. Mix to blend.


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Dough enhancer can be purchased at Sonrise Grains


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Gradually add second cup of flour. Continue mixing. Add third cup in stages because you may not need all of it. The thickness of your starter will determine how much flour you use. Your dough should pull away from the sides of the bowl. If it does not, add more flour. If it appears too dry, you may add a little more water. This picture shows the dough too dry.


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This is better


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Using the dough hook on low speed, knead the dough for 8-10 minutes. It should be smooth and easily formed into a ball.


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Put the dough out onto the Oklahoma Pastry Cloth™ and form into a ball. Wrap in plastic wrap and allow to rest for 10 minutes.


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In a bowl, pour a tablespoon of olive oil into the bottom and place the dough, topside down, into the oil. Turn right side up to coat the dough ball in oil.


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Cover with a warm, damp towel and allow to rise until doubled. If not adding yeast, allow to rise in a bowl that is covered with a wet towel and then covered in plastic wrap. Rise for anywhere from 8 -12 hours until doubled. The longer the rise, the stronger the flavor.


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When risen, punch the dough down and put out onto pastry cloth and pat out to 1 inch thick. (If not using yeast, knead in a little flour.) With oil on your hands, wipe the dough with oil and then begin rolling toward you like a jelly roll, firmly pressing the edges into the dough. Continually oiling your hands, continue rolling until loaf is created. Tuck ends under. On a cookie sheet or Italian loaf pan, oil the pan and sprinkle with corn meal. Place loaf onto cookie sheet or into pan and cut diagonally with scissors to make slashes. Cover with warm, wet towel and let rise until double. (If not using yeast in the recipe, cover with towel and spray water mist onto the towel occassionally to keep it moist as it rises for 1 to 4 more hours.)
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Spray the bread with a mist of cold water before placing into oven and then bake for 20 minutes until browned. Turn bread over in the Italian loaf pan and bake 4 minutes longer to brown bottom.


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Remove from oven and cool on rack. While hot, you can brush melted butter over the bread. Cover bread with towel as it cools for 30 minutes to make the crust soft yet crunchy.


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Slice and serve. And it IS good with jam and tea!!


Happy baking.

MB

New and Exciting!

Tuesday, November 3rd, 2009


There are new things happening at the Oklahoma Pastry Cloth™ digs. A whole group of new items have just been uploaded to the shopping page just in time for Christmas (thanks Jon!!!). There is a whole new line of gift sets and baskets including a set just for the little ones that can actually be used for mixing and serious baking, apron included.

There is a whole new line of Oklahoma Pastry Cloth™ Frontier Fixin’s bread mixes and soup mixes, ready to warm your tummies as the temps outside grow colder. Dips and spreads are also new on the list and a whole range of unique kitchen items is available to make your baking experience easier and more enjoyable. Just for Christmas, there are two unusual cookie cutter sets with icing equipment and instructions to offer conversations pieces to any holiday party.

AND DON’T FORGET TO ENTER THE OPC CHRISTMAS GIVEAWAY BY LEAVING A COMMENT ON ANY POST. Go to the WELCOME page to see the gift set to be given on December 16.

If you are in the Oklahoma City area this weekend (November 6-7), come by Kaye’s Gifts at 8605 S. Western Avenue to the Christmas Open House. I’ll be doing a demonstration. Come with an empty tummy because there is lots and lots of good food to sample!

That’s All Folks! And Happy Baking!