Yeast Reflections; or, Misadventures in Proofing

So, last night I was feeling ambitious and decided to make some nice fresh Whole Wheat Bread.  I wasn’t sure what “proofing” is, and just decided to wing it.  I followed Wes’ directions, and added the yeast to the butter, molasses, and milk (I used almond milk).  I stirred it around, and got a little foam on top, and figured that was it.


I discovered two important things, just a little bit late, that I missed by using the end yeast packet (the one with nutritional info) instead of the middle one:
1) There are actually proofing instructions on the yeast packets.  (you are supposed to let it sit for 10 minutes before continuing your recipe)
2) It is now 2015.  Which means that the yeast I thought was good until April, actually expired many months ago.

Not all unleavened bread is from heaven.
Not all unleavened bread is from heaven.

So… I got this.  A sad, heavy squishy biscuit bread.  Not liking to waste food, I went to sleep trying to think of ways to use it… Hide-a-Key… Street Hockey…Yoga Block… This morning, I finally settled on slicing it very thin and using some of it as a crust for muffin cup frittatas.  I threw the rest away.

Then I started again, this time really reading the instructions first, and using a much newer packet of yeast. After 10 minutes, it looked like this:

yeast foaming in pot
The proof is in the Pot!

I was already way, way ahead.

Risen bread dough
I think we need a bigger pan!

Since I had used up most of my whole wheat flour on the first try, I used a combination of wheat, organic white, and even a little bit of oats.  This time, the dough rose beautifully, all the way up to the edge of the pot, and baked the way it should.

Fresh baked bread.
No brick this time! Perfect to go with my dirty rice, which I made in the crock pot.

Scalloped Potato Trio

These are a few of Gran’s Recipes that I have just rescued from the “drafts”  pile… enjoy!

Scalloped Potatoes
From: me (printed in my distinctly careful c.mid 1990’s style, when I trained myself to curl the bases of my “t”s)

Heat oven to 350 degrees.
In a 2 qt saucepan mix:
1 can cream of mushroom soup
2/3c evaporated milk (regular whole milk ok too)
1/2c grated cheese (cheddar 🙂 ) yes, the original recipe includes the smiley emoticon. Not having been to Europe yet, I had not yet discovered the full scale of the cheese world and cheddar was my favorite. Such simple times…

½ tsp salt
Dash of Pepper
Sliced onion
Heat carefully until cheese melts, stirring.
In a shallow greased 2 qt baking dish, alternate layers of thinly sliced potato with mixture, spreading evenly. Top with more grated cheese.
Bake one hour covered, then bake uncovered until top is brown. Serves 4.

Comments: Great, if I do say so myself.  Use your favorite cheese, my choice now for scalloped potatoes would be a nice havarti or swiss.
The only problem is that I neglected to say how much potato you need… ah, well, you’ll figure it out.

Crock Pot Ham & Scalloped Potatoes
From Gran

6-8 slices ham
8-10 medium potatoes
2 onions peeled & thinly sliced
1 c grated cheddar or American cheese
10 oz can of cream of celery or cream of mushroom soup.
salt, pepper, paprika to taste

Put ½ ham, potatoes, and onion in Crock Pot. Sprinkle salt & pepper, cheese, repeat. Spoon soup over top, sprinkle with paprika.
Cook on low for 8-10 hours, or hi for 4 hours.

Quick Scalloped Potatoes
From Gran

6 medium potatoes
1 medium onion, sliced
3 tbsp butter
3 tbsp flour
Salt & pepper
1 ½ c milk

Heat sliced potatoes, milk, and seasonings to a simmer. Turn into greased casserole. Sprinkle grated cheese on top. Bake at 375 degrees for 30 minutes.

Comments: I remember this one the best, as it is possibly the oldest of the three. We used to burn the edges of the casserole on purpose, so you may want to watch to make sure it cooks to your liking. Burnt cheese was like gold at our house, and we would often fight over who got to scrape the pan. Now that I think of it, my mother probably encouraged this behavior as it made washing the pan that much easier!

Mint Chip Chiffon Pie

1 prepared chocolate crumb crust
2 pkgs knox gelatin
2 c Half and Half, split (3/4 c cold, 1 1/4 c boiling)
2 eggs
1/2 c sugar
1 tsp mint extract
1/3 c mini choc. chips
1/4 tsp green color
1 c heavy cream
1 c ice cubes  (in the handwriting, this looks like “one cucumber”!)
 2 Tbsp sugar
1 tsp vanilla

No instructions came with this!  Going by the previous recipe for chocolate chip pie, this is my best guess:
In blender, sprinkle unflavored gelatin over cold half and half; let stand 3 minutes.  Add hot half and half and process at low speed until gelatin is completely dissolved, about 2 minutes.  Add eggs, sugar, flavoring and color; process until blended.  Add ice cubes, one at a time; process at high speed until ice is melted.  Chill blender container until mixture is slightly thickened, about 10 minutes.  Fold in chocolate.  Turn into prepared crust; chill until firm.  Garnish if desired, with whipped cream*.  Makes about 8 servings.

*Whip 1 c of heavy cream with 2 Tbsp sugar and 1 tsp vanilla, spread on top to serve.

*Don’t blame me if I am wrong; but comment if this works!

John’s Flaming Hearth Pumpkin Ice Cream Pie

Pumpkin?  Ice cream?  Flaming Hearth?  Why I like ALL those things!!!
(Copied from a newspaper clipping; paper unknown)

2 c sifted flour
1 tsp salt
1 Tbsp sugar
3/4 c shortening
1/4 c ice water
Blend the flour, salt and sugar; cut in the shortening until the particles are the size of peas.  Add ice water and toss together.  Roll out and fit into two 9-inch pie pans.  Prick thoroughly, then bake in a 425-degree oven for 8 to 10 minutes.  Cool.

* if you are only preparing one pie, the other shell can be frozen for later.

Filling (per baked pie shell):
1 quart vanilla ice cream (less if your pie plate is not deep)
1 c cooked or canned pumpkin
3/4 c granulated sugar
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1 c heavy cream
Spread ice cream into cooled pie shell.  Place in freezer until thoroughly hardened.  Blend together pumpkin, sugar, salt and spice.  Whip cream until stiff and fold into pumpkin mixture.  Spoon into frozen pie shell over the ice cream.  Replace in freezer until ready to use.  When serving, cover with additional whipped cream and drizzle the following syrup over the top:

1/2 c brown sugar
1/4 c dark corn syrup
1/4 c hot water
1/2 tsp vanilla
Boil sugar, syrup and water until it starts to thicken (don’t let it get too thick).  When cool, add vanilla.

** Wes’ handwriting, at bottom:  “Graham Cracker Crusts, Spice = 1/2 tsp cinnamon, 1/4 tsp nutmeg”

Wow, definitely a “cheat day” recipe.  I would forgo the extra syrup to cut the sugar a little; it looks delicious enough without it!

It’s a Snap Cheesecake

From a Knox Gelatin packet:

1 envelope Knox Unflavored Gelatin
1/2 c sugar
1 c boiling water
2 packages cream cheese, softened
1 tsp vanilla extract (optional)
9 inch graham cracker crust

In a large bowl, mix unflavored gelatin with sugar; add boiling water and until gelatin is completely dissolved.  With electric mixer, beat in cream cheese and vanilla until smooth.  Pour into prepared crust; chill until firm.  Garnish, if desired, with fresh or canned fruit.  Makes about 8 servings.
* for a Lemon or Almond Cheesecake: substitute 1/2 tsp lemon or almond extract for vanilla.

Hot Dog Relish

Scrawled between two sheets of scrap paper, one a little more specific in instructions…

6 oz green pepper
6 oz cooking onion
¾ c BBQ IV*
¾ c BBQ II (See Chicken Fingers)
6 oz. prepared chuck burger
Sauté burger, grind veggies and meat, add to sauces, boil 3 minutes.

* BBQ IV: (from the Curmudgeon”s Cookbook) 1/3 c A1 Sauce, 1/4 c Heinz Ketchup, 1/4 c orange marmalade, 2 Tbs lemon juice, 2 Tbs. dehydrated minced onion, soaked a few minutes, one clove crushed garlic

There is a gourmet hot dog restaurant here in Pittsburgh.  This reminds me of a special “conundrum” dog they have, comprised of a vegetarian dog topped with beef chili.  Delicious.

Smoked Salmon Hors d’Ouvres

My uncle and aunt sent Mom a Christmas package this year that included smoked salmon.  As we sat down to a delightful Christmas morning brunch with cream cheese and sprouted wheat bagels, Mom raised her glass and said, “I have one thing to say… Happy Hanukkah” 

Smoked Salmon Hors d’Ouvres

½ 8 oz package soft cream cheese
2 tsp capers
1 shallot, sliced

Mix at room temp.  Spread on thin sliced Jewish Rye, cover with shaved salmon slices, top with sliced gerbin * cube, stab with toothpicks, cut into spears.

* I actually have no idea what this word is supposed to be; add what you like.