Baking, Baking Biographies

That Gluten Question

With so many people searching for answers to the ‘gluten intolerance problem’, I thought I’d share some of my research.  This video is a quick look at sourdough and why it’s The Healthiest Bread.

The process of making bread using the wild or natural yeast that is already around us is just an AMAZING thing.  Flour and water to start, add a little salt and more flour and watch the transformation!  Smell.  Taste!  WOW.

At This Granny’s House, we are happy to share bread with you!  Bread has been known for millennia as ‘the staff of life’.  The number one grain for bread is wheat.  And it is this grain that has come under the most attack.  Yes, there are chemicals now; yes, there are GMOs now; but slow fermenting natural yeast is still master over those nasty attacks.  To better help us, using organic, regional, and fresh milled flour, insures maximum health benefits.

There are so many wonderful folks out there who have learned so much more than I have on this subject.  In the course of my own studies, I’ve grown in my fervor to share great bread with as many people as possible.

Here are some excellent resources:

sourdough nutrition

health benefits of sourdough

top 10 reasons to eat sourdough 

I truly hope that this little glimpse into the world of sourdough has helped you.

 

as always,

your friend, Cristina

aka Granny

 

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Baking, Baking Biographies, Show and Tell

Singing Bread

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​I am beyond excited that the bread that I made actually sings!  You will have to turn your volume up all the way to hear it.  Listen carefully.  Did you hear it?  Oh, how I wish you could smell it!!

Let me tell you the story… a while back, when spending time studying about baking, I came across an article recommending great bread baking books.  I read the reviews and decided that this book was for me.   Secrets of a Jewish Baker: Authentic Jewish Rye and Other Breads by George Greenstein.  Immediately, I felt as if I was sitting in his bakery watching and learning.  Oh! the aroma!

Here’s what Master Baker Greenstein wrote to open his book,

The author of this book is a master baker who has spent his life working with his hands in pursuit of the perfect loaf.  What is the perfect Bread? How does one know when it has been found?  Who is qualified to judge?

One night, working alone while the others were asleep, a baker was standing in front of a huge oven.  Behind him was an wire rack containing more than 200 loaves, hot, just removed from the oven.  All was still in the bakery that very first time when he heard the rye bread sing.  He turned, stood listening, at first without comprehension, then he smiled, recognized the sound — for him, a melody!

Occasionally when making bread everything comes together in harmony.  The dough is flawless and the surrounding conditions are ideal.  When the rye bread is removed from the oven, the crust begins to crack in the cooler air and form a finely veined alligator-like appearance.  To the baker’s ear the almost imperceptible crackling, multiplied a hundredfold, is a song of praise for the perfect loaf.

So, yesterday, I made Mr. Greenstein’s Rye Sourdough bread.  The timer rang, and I took the loaves out of the oven and set them on the cooling rack.  I’ve made bread so many times, I really can’t even count.  (27 years worth)  And as I was preparing the next batch, I heard it!  The bread was singing!!  I ran and grabbed by phone to share with you. Never before had I even noticed.  Maybe, I’m paying more attention now or maybe as Mr. Greenstein wrote about.. finally… a perfect loaf.

Baking, Baking Biographies

Baking is . . .

love made edible bannerI love to read.  I’ve always loved reading.  When I was a young girl, I spent most of my summers reading.  And when I discovered a summer reading program my sixth grade year – I was overjoyed!  The school gave their students access to the library for a handful of hours each Friday to encourage the students to be better readers.  I saw this as a summer filled with adventures.

I happily walked my younder siblings to our little library and we carried full book-bags back home just in time for lunch.  It was a first in summer reading programs.  It was the summer of 1980.  I read Florence Nightingale’s biography and the entire “The Great Brain series by J.D. Fitzgerald.  (I don’t know why I loved that series, but I did.)  In seventh grade, I was enrolled in a speed reading class.  I really enjoyed that class!  I learned how to read the important words and disregard the rest.  I learned to retain the information to do well on comprehension tests.  I read fast.  I did well. I joined a Bible Quiz club and learned memorizing skills and studied with furvor. (my spelling, however, was always a struggle)  Math? Science? P.E. Class?  for the birds .. I did my best, but my best wasn’t so hot.  Learning about History or the biography of those scientists – wonderful!

Fast forward to a married young woman with little ones, homemaking, and cooking.. I could read at and follow a recipe with ease; but didn’t find much, if any, joy in cooking.  It was like science class of sorts .. follow the formula and get an edible outcome.  Boring.  But our little family  needed to eat .. every day.  The more I cooked the better the meals became.  I loved to set the table, talk at the table, and laugh with family and friends.  I saw that aspect as the enjoyment of meals more than the cooking.

Now our children are adults, many are married, and Curt and I are empty nesters.  I have time to reflect on how my cooking has progressed through the years and the course it will take in the future.  I have time again to read just for me.  During our children’s growing up years I didn’t really have the time for pleasure reading.  We homeschooled k-12 and read aloud for the children.  Now .. now the house is in a new season .. what could I read?

I found a book at the library with an intriguing title:  The Splendid Table by Lynne Rossetto Kasper.  The title was so lovely — so splendid.

The greatest joy in this book has been the people who made it possible.  I want to wrap my arms around the entire region of Emilia-Romagna in appreciation.  She and her people shared so much, not only in tangible information, but in the intangibles:  the spirit of her hospitality, the way light moves across her plain and her deep passion for her own culinary heritage.      ~Acknowledgements, The Splendid Table

How could I not join the author on her journey?  This isn’t just a book of edible formulas; it is a beautiful adventure.  Immediately, I saw the countryside, I felt the warm sunshine, and could smell the aromas beckoning as breads baked, meats were grilled, and fruit ripened . . . can you smell the freshness?  The author brought to life a cookbook in a way I’d never read.  This wasn’t a list of ingredients like a ‘to-do’ list.  This was a rosy cheeked loud grandma with her sleeves rolled up, dirty apron, showing you the right way to cook.  Having you taste and taste again ..

And so I began to read about soups, breads, pastas .. such a familiarity .. Garlic, butter, tomatoes, beef, olive oil .. hey! these are my favorite foods .. hey! .. a light bulb .. my maternal grandparents cooked like this .. my mom loves these .. and then I knew it .. I had come home .. I suddenly realized that food was more than for survival.  There was something more than the nutrients it possesses, it is meant to bring JOY TO YOUR TABLE.

He causeth the grass to grow for the cattle, and the herb for the service of man: that he may bring forth food out of the earth; and wine that maketh glad the heart of man, and oil to mke his face to shine, and bread which strengtheneth man’s heart.                                                                                                                              -Psalm 104:14-15

I began to search out cookbooks that told a story, authors and bakers that invited the reader to join their family dinners, hear the laughter, and taste the delight found written on the pages.  As I read, I learned.  As I read the more confident I became as a baker and it began to show at our table.  My perspective on food was brought back to where is should be .. making our table a place of joy and not getting through another meal with dishes and complaining; but rather taking the time to enjoy and cherish the moment with those whom we ‘break bread’.

I’ll leave you with the following hashtags for you to consider:  #slowliving  #bringbreadhome  #homemade  #freshfromtheoven #splendidtable #family #friends #gatheringtogether  #morethanjusteating #lovemadeedible #nosciencehere #allheart

Are your meals #madewithlove ??

until next time,

~Cristina

Baking, Show and Tell, thrifting

Thursday Thrifting

thrifty nifty banner

It’s Thrifty Nifty Thursday!  This week has been a good week in general.  For that I should call today THANKFUL Thursday.  (the kitten is just for #CUTENESSOVERLOAD) 

It’s funny how we feel the need to categorize our stuff, maybe that helps us with a sense of order in this crazy world.  Or maybe it serves as a reminder to stop and smell the roses, as it were, to admonish ourselves to remember the good things, those thing that bring a smile to our face, and just be grateful.

There is an amazing Bible verse that helps to keep our mental stuff in its proper perspective.  Philippians 4:8

Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.

And with that, I’ll move on to something lovely and of good report!  It was the end of May,  my husband and I were out running errands and decided to make a quick stop at a thrift shop on the way home.  It was actually a shop we had not visited before and so it was exciting .. treasure hunting, you know.

Most of the time, I have a running mental list of things I may be interested in, if the price is right and IF I have the funds.  We usually start looking at the kitchen things.  New, kitchen things are expensive and always worth the investment…but if you can find it for a fraction of the price .. SCORE!

So I’m looking at baking pans and my eye catches the outline of something that I’ve been dreaming about.  I walk quickly, but not too quickly as to draw attention to myself and the excitement whelling up in my heart. It’s a KitchenAid mixer! At the thrift shop?  Those are well sought after and hard to find second-hand.  Just the week before, while at a yard sale, I found a little KitchenAid mixer in working order and the owner wanted $300! at a yard sale?! It was the smallest one KitchenAid makes and came with a pasta maker attachment, but still .. $300? at a yard sale? I come from the era of yard sales that people still charged less than $20 for big items and nickles and dimes for the small stuff.

Anywhooo… back to my story… I look at the mixer skeptically as I search for the price.  Some thrift shops are getting mighty proud of the donations they receive…I find the tag .. I ask my husband to look at the tag to make sure I read it correctly.

32D0EA6D-8F46-4EEF-A800-2AEA05D3AEED

Yes, you read that correctly.  $34.99!  Well, did it have all the pieces? Check.  Does it work? We hefted it into the cart and went over to ask the clerk if we could plug it in and make sure it worked ok.  IT WORKS!  Calm down, Cristina, calm down...I kept telling myself as we were checking out.  By the time we reached the car, I was doing the dance of joy!!  This Kitchen Aid mixer is my preferred color of white, it has all the pieces, it is the ‘professional’ model, and it WORKS!!  AND I had the funds to purchase it!  My birthday was the week before and our sweet children (who know how much I like to treasure hunt) had given me birthday money.

Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning

-James 1:17

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D861ED4B-ECED-4CED-B804-DFD0A9EB664C

that little scuff on the front is the only blemish .. there are no dings nor nicks.  I am beyond thankful to the LORD God who set this mixer aside for me to find.  He gave me a lovely birthday present!!

I have since used it to make my cookie dough and royal icing.  Beautiful.

What treasures have you found this summer?  Talk to the LORD, he knows what you have need of, and he loves us to walk with him and delight in his ways.  He will direct your steps if you let him.

By the way, I have my favorite tools and resources linked to Amazon.  So if you need something quickly or you haven’t found it at your local thrift shop or yard sale, you can get it on Amazon.  By purchasing your supplies via this page you are supporting my blog and little bakery .. Thank you!

 

You deserve some sweetness in your day!

~Cristina

Baking, Baking Biographies, Show and Tell, thrifting

the Adventure Begins

the adventure begins

Hello Dear Reader! and thank you for joining me on my little bakery adventure as I have officially opened my online neighborhood bakery.

This blog has a two-fold purpose: first, to share with you my adventures in baking and life and second to encourage in the daily stuff.  We all need a little joy and encouragement to help us get through the mundane, stressful, or unsure days; as well as sharing the hopeful, cheerful, and good days. I hope my little blog can help you.

iphone photos 2016 to spring 2017 724

homemade pretzels! gone in a flash!

 

I think I have a plan.  They say you should have a plan.  I grew up making lists, my dad is the king of list making.  So, I suppose that my plan can be like my list for the the blog.  It should keep me on track, right?

MONDAYS:  I’ll share a preview of the week .. upcoming bakes .. maybe a vlog .. something to get the week started right.

TUESDAYS:  Show and Tell! I love show and tell! PHOTOS! recipes .. links .. and some DIY

WEDNESDAYS:  The WORD on Bread :  seeking for and finding the substance and nourishment of God’s written Word.

THURSDAYS:  Thrify Nifty Reviews :  treasure finds, bakery tools, cookbook reviews, and dressing your mealtime table.

FRIDAYS:  Baker’s Biographies : I love to hear about and read stories of those who have paved the way for the next generation.  We’ll discover together the history of baked goods, stories from Grandmothers and Grandfathers, and even meet some of today’s sweetest bakers.

Along the way, you may have to humor me as I share bits about quilting or knitting, or posts about how much I love our children,  our grandchildren, and sheep.  There might even be a mention or two of my moto-adventures with my best friend, my handsome husband. 🙂

There will be affiliate links to Amazon in order for you to have easy access to some of the treasures we share here.

Baking, Show and Tell

Beautiful Weddings

fondant flowers and leaves 042017

Our family has celebrated another wedding and that is the reason for my lack of posting lately… ya know .. wedding stuff ..

Our youngest daughter got to have her outside wedding.. she did a beautiful job in planning and execution of her vision.  A small wedding in our oldest son’s backyard was the perfect setting for the celebration.

You know how the day before the ceremony, everyone is bustling and decorating and there’s commotion at every turn .. now .. add to that a very unusual snow in the morning followed by sunshine and then a dose of hail in the afternoon for good measure … it was a day full of weather surprises, for sure! Despite all that ‘raining down’ on an otherwise beautiful outdoor wedding, everything went off without a hitch… well, except for the ‘hitch’ at the I Do’s — hahaha!  (sorry, I had to say it)

I was honored to make the wedding cake.  It was so much fun to learn how to make fondant (or sugar paste as is known outside the USA) flowers.  My husband’s niece helped me to bake all the cake layer and was such a blessing!!  We made 4 -14″ squares and 4-14″ rounds to create one giant heart!

iphone photos 2016 to spring 2017 886

Our second son’s girlfriend was my assistant decorator — another blessing!! Thanks, Noelle!  I definitely learned so much during that whole process!!  I suppose that’s a good thing.. to always be willing to learn and grow and improve..right?  We still have an abundance of Strawberry Cream cheese Filling!  In my endeavor to have enough, I made a gallon too much!  Into the freezer that went, I’ll let you know of future baking that may or may not have some extra Strawberry Cream Cheese Filling in it.

Our daughter and son-in-law loved the cake and that is what’s most important!
iphone photos 2016 to spring 2017 896

Here is the inspiration for the cake .

Would you like the recipes?  First let me explain .. no let me sum-up .. After several practice cakes, I discovered that our daughter is Goldie Locks .. and not just for her blonde hair .. but that she wanted her cake to be just right.  She wanted a lemon cake. Simple. or so I thought.  The first cake was a lemon pound cake made with cream cheese in the batter .. that was too dense.  For the second cake, I used a different recipe that omitted the cream cheese and used sour cream instead.  Beautiful.  Perfect sponge, perfect fresh lemon flavor.. but no .. not quiet right, said she.  I was resolved to make everything from scratch.  Our daughter’s wedding is a big deal and I wanted the cake to be superb.  In desperation for the perfect wedding lemon cake, I asked my niece for suggestions.  She had a recipe that used as it’s base boxed white cake.  She explained that the science of the boxed cake helped in the overall sponge of the cake.  OK.. At this point, okay, it just needed to be more light in texture.

We used her ‘doctored’ box cake recipe with lemon emulsion and Voila! Success!!

stay tuned for the recipe … I have to go find it …

 

you deserve some sweetness today,

~Cristina

 

 

Baking, thrifting

thrifty nifty

thrift shop

I just love to go ‘thrifting’ and ‘garaging’.  All those years ago, my mom dubbed going to yard/garage/rummage sales as ‘garaging’. She thought that was a better way to say “honey, I’m going to drive around and find some garage sales today.”   Today, it’s fashionable to shop thrift/ vintage shops and that type of shopping has been affectionately named thrifting .

garage sale sign

Of the two, I would say that my favorite, by far, is garaging.  When the weather warms up and folks get that urge to do some spring cleaning, wha – la! the garage sales signs begin to pop up with the tulips.  It’s a lovely sight.  Many years back someone cleverly made a bumper sticker that read ‘caution: I stop for yard sales‘.  It made me smile. I don’t see that sticker too much anymore, but that hasn’t stopped the garagers from mapping out neighborhoods and loading up their personal cargo vehicles with the discards of one to become the treasures of others. OH, the joys of warm sunny days visiting old neighborhoods and even some of the suburbs. (side note: from my travels in garaging, I’ve found that generally suburbs are still too proud of their stuff and find it harder to part with their items. I prefer the older established neighborhoods.)

But if the weather is too cold or rainy, one is relegated to shop the thrift stores. Although still a fun adventure, (if you like shopping) for me, it doesn’t have quite the same flair. One reason is that the thrift stores aren’t very keen on negotiation or haggling.  I love to bargain for a better price.  I think I would do just fine at another country’s street markets. We just don’t have that here in our area.

img_0408-1sourdough bread made in my forgotten cast iron dutch oven 

This brings me to my show and tell.  This past winter, I have been collecting cookbooks from my jaunts to our local thrift shops.  And I’ve been finding some real jewels!  With each book read, I am improving my baking skills.  So you could say that I’ve spent a good part of this winter at Granny’s Bakery School.  I’ve baked yummy breads and sweets for many years and LOVE that I can always learn and improve.  To smell that delightful aroma filling the kitchen, to open the oven and take out the beautifully baked bread, to hear the oohhs and aahhhs from my family, and then to taste said bread spread with real butter and … y u m!

I must interject that I did actually purchase a new book this year.  It was from Amazon, so that’s okay, right?  The How to Hygge book inspired me to really slow down and enjoy the things that the LORD has provided.  The concept of hygge resonates with me. It’s about making even the littlest of things enjoyable and shareable for others, it’s about not being so busy that you forget to smell the roses. It’s about being content with whatsoever things you have and taking those things to make your home a haven, cozy, and welcoming.  That is definitely a godly thing to pursue.  Too many times we need to be reminded to settle down, slow down, take a walk, enjoy and be grateful for what the LORD has put in our days.  As it is written,

“Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.”

-James 1:17

I started my own sourdough starter in November 2016 and it’s beautiful!  So when I found this Sourdough Cookery book, you can understand my excitement.  Written in the 1970s, it is filled with delightful, gotta-try, recipes.  I will be posting my the results of my baking.  The little Baking Made Simple book also has wonderful recipes.  This book joins this Granny’s House bakery library from the UK.  I’ve heard many times that English food is bland and boring, I truly don’t know how or why that saying came about.  In all my baking studies…well… they KNOW how to bake some beautiful bakes!!  I am happy to make room on the shelf for this cookbook.

That’s all dear Reader, for today’s post.  I am so thankful you stopped by for a bit.  I am still figuring out how to get all the links that I would like to link functioning.  I’m using my son’s computer for now until mine is repaired AND I’m learning how to use a new-to-me blog platform in WordPress.  I’ve used Blogger for so long that this is an adjustment.  I’m also working on setting up Amazon Affliate links directly on my blog and you can shop some of the great treasures at your leisure.

Have a wonderful day,

Ciao for now,

~Cristina aka Granny

Baking

Coming Soon : This Granny’s House Bakery

Grannies seem to be synonymous with yummy baked treats. Well, that’s what I’ve heard, anyway. I didn’t really grow up around my grandmothers. One didn’t bake at all and the other made box cakes .. sometimes. But she made THE best Italian panatone ever. It is this grandmother (my mother’s mother) whose father was the town baker.

My Abuela was a seamstress and didn’t like to spend time in the kitchen, if she didn’t have too.  My mother is an excellent baker! Breads and cinnamon rolls are her specialty and my mom carried on the tradition of baking THE best panetone, even better than Abuela’s.  So far, I’ve been to chicken to try it. But I will.

I’ve been baking since Curt and I were married, 28 years now, since 1988. But in the last year, I’ve been learning so much! I’ve made my own wild yeast and now I can make a beautiful sourdough bread.

I’m so thankful for the folks on YouTube who graciously share their knowledge, experience, and tips to help others improve in their baking skills. (I’ll link my favorites in a sec.) I’ve also been reading some lovely cookbooks. The kind of cookbook that is written more like a biography than a list of recipes. Where the reader embarks on a culinary adventure, learning the history, the families, and gatherings surrounding the foods we eat.  I love feeling like I’m there, in the kitchen, watching, smelling, and tasting. Such a delight! This is loving to learn. 🙂

As I’ve been practicing these lessons in baking, I discovered that I really, REALLY love to bake! It must be in my genes, as they say. *giggles*  Seriously, I was brought up to apply oneself to the task at hand. Do it to your best ability. If you don’t know, learn.

I am able to do homemaking tasks, well.  Well, maybe not the bathrooms. . .just being honest.  I enjoy most handwork, like quilting, knitting, and embroidery. I like the thought of and beauty gardening more than the keeping of said garden. Cooking for big family gatherings, awesome. But .. baking .. now that, I LOVE❣

I’ve observed that the forbidding of foods is has a right and a wrong. It just that society appears to have it all mixed up. Calling good evil and evil good, even in our daily bread. All puns intended. The Bible talks about that, by the way. If you receive your food with thanksgiving unto the LORD God, then he it is that takes care of you. I actually made a little grocery list of foods the Bible say are GOOD for you and that man say are bad.  [watch for more on that in  another post]

Take note, dear Reader, when I learn about these nuggets of truth, I like to pass on the information.

I’ll leave you with this truth found in John 6:35

    “And Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst.”

A few of this Granny’s favorite youtube bakers :

  • CupcakeJemma | London based purveyor of awesome cakes and cupcakes.  Classic bakes, tips and tutorials.  This gal is a great teacher, fun to watch, and inspirational!!
  • Breadtopoia | Easy to follow bread baking tutorials.  I first learned to make my sourdough watching his beginner videos.
  • Julia M Usher | Everything cookie!  Julia has a long list of accomplishments in the pastry world.  It’s wonderful that she gives us the opportunity to share in her knowledge and beautiful work.
  • Entertaining with Beth | Easy recipes elegant enough for entertaining, but simple enough for a weekend meal.  I enjoy learning from Beth. Her videos are welcoming and joyful.  I made her lemon pound cake after watching her .. and .. it was Y U M M Y !