Saturday, December 31, 2011

Pita bread

Now that I feel somewhat confident about making edible bread by hand at home (edible, not necessarily delicious!), I thought I'd expand my repertoire. My copy of Vegetarian Cooking (the vegetarian's Joy of cooking!) offers lovely recipes, and one of the ones I stumbled upon is pita bread. I had no idea it could be made at home.

Here's a simplified version:

1 1/2 cup warm water
2 1/4 tsp yeast
1 tsp agave/maple syrup/sugar (honey if you're ok with it)
1 3/4 tsp salt
2 T olive oil
1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour (with flakes of bran in it)
2 cups all-purpose or bread flour

Mix water, yeast, and sweetener, stir, and let sit for 10 min. Oil another bowl.

Add salt and oil to yeast, then flour until smooth. Add rest of flour 1/2 cup at a time until incorporated, removing from bowl to knead. Knead until it's a smooth dough, not tacky. Place in the oiled bowl and turn to coat. Cover with a damp towel and set in a warm place (a kitchen window is good) for about an hour to double in size.

Punch dough down and separate into 10-15 balls. Separate balls and then cover with a towel about 15 min. Preheat oven to 475oF with pans inside.

Roll each piece into a circle less than 1/4 inch thick (that's pretty chubby, don't roll too thin! if you made 10 balls they should be about 8 inches across each). Don't stack the breads.

Carefully place as many pita rounds on the baking pans/sheets in the oven as you can and bake 3 minutes. They should start to puff. Remove and place  in a tray and cover with a towel, then put more in oven until they are all done.

*NOTE: mine didn't puff all the way but my yeast turned out to be old and I did roll them a bit too thin. Still, they are far more delicious than store-bought ones.

Serve warm (reheat in oven or microwave or gently on stovetop) with hummus, bean-dip, baba-ganoush, or any other dip.

To make pita chips, separate them into two layers, cut into triangles, sprinkle with oil and spices, and bake in the hot oven until crisp!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Cooking and JOTting

Despite being AWOL for unmentionable months, I have actually been doing bloggy things and following up on my JOTs (just one thing's). And now, my head hung in shame for not having posted for this long, I jump in, with apologies.

For example:
We made the above tree using recycled materials and various preschool-created ornaments. It's a floppy, soppy ode to all things crafty and eco-friendly :)

I spent an evening up until 2 viewing various crafty blogs (you know, jumping from one to the next to the next, list below) and making note of the projects I intend to do with my son (or make him watch). My friend Pippa suggested making up an Advent Calendar of projects, which we did for this month, and now we have a shoebox full of projects on slips for the coming months, one a day! This week, we have strung up all our holiday cards across the living room, made a Kwanzaa wreath in red and black and green from Little One's handprints, and put photos in old CD frames and taped them up around the house.

The list, for inspiration and lots of procrastination:

I have also been cooking up a few things, notably:

  • apples - once again transformed into jam and spicy pickle and applesauce (frozen into "popsicles")
  • lemons - again as marmalade, and as spicy pickle, and dried into...
  • herbal tea - a mix of rose petals and mint and hibiscus (a bit for color) is divine (Rose Mint), as are lavender and chamomile (Lavender Chamomile), or dried oranges and lemons and cloves and cinnamon (Orange Spice!)
  • halloween pumpkins - into bread, which is really cake, a recipe from my friend Janice
  • persimmon related items due to various Hachiya persimmon donations. I normally don't eat those, but turned out they are FANTASTIC sliced (while still hard) and dehydrated to near-crispness. They also make unbelievably soft and cloudy cookies and decent pancakes.
  • granola and yogurt - we have a routine now, a weekly granola batch. my little one is a good helper, thanks to the dishwasher.
  • cupcakes - I won't go there, but let's just say various tubs of sour cream (ie not vegan) are now transformed and in my freezer and awaiting mouths (anyone?)
  • bread - my breadmaker gave out earlier this year, so after I left town and came home to no more wild yeast, I bought a jar, and have been making handmade bread ever since. So much more reliable, and I can make it however I want. We made cinnamon rolls and loaves and dinner rolls and rosemary holiday bread. Loving it!

So there you have it. My end-of-the-year summary. Wishing you happy holidays and many more posts to come!