Tuesday, March 8, 2016

New York Style Bagels, for the Home Baker

Greetings!  I thought that all you fine people might like to make some bagels.  These are a New York Style bagel, a recipe I adapted for home bakers, without exotic ingredients you can't find, or measurements in grams only (ugh), and without the assumption that you have a giant walk-in-cooler that can accommodate sheets full of perfectly formed bagels.  And, just to be nice, I have included Nutrition Information and Weight Watchers SmartPoints.  This recipe was tested using All-purpose Ultragrain Blend unbleached flour, for both the bagels and in the sourdough culture.

The taste is phenomenal. They are chewy, crusty and delicious right out of the oven, or can be toasted if any happen to last until the next day (they won't). The sourdough gives it wonderful flavor and a nice tang.

New York Sourdough Bagel

My suggestion is that you try this out first with a small batch (4 bakery size bagels).  There is a bit of a learning curve, and some trial and error may depend on the conditions of your kitchen, your flour, your sourdough starter, etc.  So there may be a few tweaks you need to make.  Then double this recipe if you want a batch of 8. If possible, I suggest that you weigh your ingredients, such as flour and water.  The volume measurements given here are approximate.  If your dough feels too dry, add a few drops of water.  If it's too wet, add a little flour. If you are not weighing the liquid, please don't use a regular measuring cup to measure liquid.  Use your Pyrex liquid measuring cup.  They are different.    

Here's what you need: 

10 1/2 oz. (300g) or approximately 2 1/8 cup High Protein Flour
1 tsp. Salt
1 1/2 tsp. Sugar (or malt powder)
5 oz., or 150 ml (150g) or approximately 2/3 cup Water
1 oz. (30 g) or approximately 1/8 cup active sourdough starter

Whisk together the flour, salt and sugar. Add the water to the sourdough starter, and work it into the flour.  Knead by hand for AT LEAST 5 minutes, preferably 10.  When the dough is smooth and elastic, form into a ball, and oil a bowl lightly.  Plop the dough in, and turn it over, oiled side up.  Cover with plastic wrap and set out to rise overnight. 

Next day,  carefully divide your dough into 4 equal pieces.  Note that the dough should have risen, but probably will not have doubled.  That is ok.  Form the bagels into their shape by rolling into a smooth rope, and pressing the ends together and rolling to seal.  Be sure to make the opening wider than you think it should be.  They will puff a lot, and your hole might close up, and then you will have a bagel with the hole removed.  Those cannot be eaten, I'm told.  

Oil a baking sheet and set the newly formed bagels on it, cover with plastic wrap and leave them there for 2-4 hours.  They should look puffy and risen.  The time will depend at this point on the conditions of your kitchen and temperature.  Do not allow the bagels to over-rise or under-rise.  The boiling water test to follow will help you determine the precise rise time on your next batch. 

Preheat your oven to 500 degrees F and set a large pot of water on the stove to boil.  Add 2 tablespoons of sugar (or malt powder) to the water.  Carefully, add the risen bagels to the boiling water, no more than two at a time.  The bagels should sink to the bottom, and float up to the surface in about a minute or two.  If they take longer to float up, or don't float at all, they didn't rise long enough.  If they float immediately or never sink, they rose too much.  In any case, once they float up, boil them one more minute, flip them, and boil another minute, and carefully remove them (I use the handle of the wooden spoon through the hole).  This is the time to add toppings, or brush with egg wash if you want to. 

Take some of the boiling water and put it in a smaller pot and place it on the lower rack in the hot oven.  Bake the bagels on a baking sheet on a rack above the boiling water.  Bake for 15-20 minutes. 


Nutritional Information: 

Calories: 257
Fat: 0
Sodium: 587mg
Potassium: 122g
Carbohydrate: 54g
Fiber: 3g
Sugar: 2g
Protein: 8g

Weight Watchers SmartPoints: 7

Sunday, March 6, 2016

It's a cracker. That's all.

I've been thinking about protein lately.  Specifically, how to get more of it, without eating more animals.  See, I've been pursuing a primarily plant-based diet of unprocessed whole foods.  Original, I know.  Me and everybody else I know.  Of course! So that's why you are still reading this blog post with the stupid title, right?

So here it is.  I don't want to buy crackers.  They are expensive, and also the dreaded "processed" food, even if they look like compost and a medical doctor invented an marketed them. But I love crackers.  Eating hummus just off my fingers isn't the same.  I think I probably NEED crackers. Ok, want.

And another thing.  You know those health-food crackers in the store?  They almost all have nuts and sesame, to which I am allergic.  Which also underscores the problem, posed in the first sentence of this blog post with the stupid title, that I need protein.  Plant sources.  So here's your cracker.

Amaranth-Flaxseed-Quinoa Crackers

1/3 cup amaranth, ground (you can use a coffee mill grinder, or buy amaranth flour)
1/3 cup flax seeds, ground (ditto)
1/3 cup quinoa, ground (ditto)
2 cups whole wheat flour
1/4 cup each of whole amaranth, whole flax seeds, whole quinoa (raw), and dry roasted, unsalted sunflower seeds
2 tsp sugar
2 tsp salt
1/4 cup olive oil
1 cup water

Yield: 100 crackers
Serving size: 10 crackers

Here's how to make them:
Preheat the oven to 450 F.
Mix the dry ingredients together (first seven).  Mix the oil and water.  (Ha-ha).  Add the oil and water to the dry ingredients, and work into a dough. Divide the dough in half to have a workable lump. Lightly flour a work surface and pat and roll the dough out to about 1/8 inch thick and cut into squares.  Transfer the squares to a baking pan.  Repeat the process with the other lump of dough.
From here, you can lightly spray the crackers with water and salt the tops, or add additional toppings of your choice (this will change the nutritional information to follow).
Prick the crackers with a fork, and bake them for 12 minutes.
Now wasn't that easy?

Financial Analysis : This is the equivalent of at least three boxes of special health-food crackers. That saves you about $20.

Nutritional Information:
Calories: 319
Fat: 14.54g
Saturated Fat: 1.76g
Polyunsaturated Fat: 6.25g
Monounsaturated Fat: 5.7g
Trans fat: 0g
Sodium: 705mg
Potassium 372mg
Carbohydrates: 40.29g
Fiber: 8.59g
Sugar: 1.47g
Protein: 10g

Weight Watchers Smart Points: 9

Fringe benefits: High in Omega 3 fatty acids, folate, and calcium.
Also perfectly fine to serve for dinner, with hummus, if you don't feel like making anything else.  Store in an airtight container at room temperature, for up to a week.

Friday, February 12, 2016

Electrical cord repair DIY

It's happened to the best of us. You run over your vacuum cleaner cord with the power head.  Or, you have a dog.  In our case, both.  I didn't know how easy it was to repair a frayed cord, especially when it was not just damaged, but completely severed.  When my husband graciously offered to repair the cord on my steam cleaner machine, which had been nearly completely severed by our dog, I decided to make this tutorial video, in the event that someone else could benefit from learning this easy and inexpensive repair.  Or mainly because I would forget how and I might need to read my own blog next time I need to remember....speaking of which...hold on a sec while I check on the dog...ok he's fine.  For now.
Here's the situation:

Nice, huh?  Remind me never to let the dog get bored.

Here's what you need to fix it: 

1. Replacement appliance cord (only required if you are making the cord longer, or plug end is damaged)
2. Terminal Wire connectors
3. Heat shrink tubing
4. Crimping tool
5. Scissors
6. Pocket knife
7. Needle nose pliers (maybe)
8. Hair dryer or heat gun

Approximate cost of consumable supplies:  $3.33
Approximate cost of appliance cord: $10.50
Approximate cost of crimping tool: $9.98
Approximate amount of time: 20 minutes

Step one: 

Remove damaged end of cord, slip heat shrink tubing over one end of either the original cord or the new cord that you will connect.

Step 2: Splice the wires using the terminal wire connectors.

Here's a picture of what you need: 

Here's the video process: 

Splice the broken wires

Step 3: Add heat shrink tubing and finish up


Isn't he nice???  I know this is certainly not the only video on the web for how to do this, but it is certainly the most entertaining and features the best looking guy. My opinion, but feel free to make it yours.

All the best!

Amy & Craig