Take it Straight from an Italian Girl… Bread and Pizza Dough

My daughter-in-law comes from a large Italian family. When I watched her whip up a loaf of fresh bread, I was taken back by the ease at which she went about it. It was a hot summer day, so she would have no problem with the yeast rising. We went hiking in the Arboretum while the dough rose and when we got home, she stuck it in the oven. We had fresh bread for dinner.

When I bake bread, I make four loaves. It is a big deal and consumes a lot of my day and my time. But today, when I pulled out an Italian cookbook and looked up pizza, I found my answer. The recipe calls for one cup of warm water and one pound of flour. I looked up the equivalent of one pound of flour and found that it was only two cups. I got out a big wooden bowl and prepared the dough. It was so much easier than the eight cups of flour I usually have spilled over my kitchen counter. The recipe was for pizza dough but I can use the same simple recipe for making one little loaf of bread at a time. Here’s the pizza recipe:

2 cups of flour

1 tsp salt

1 cup lukewarm water

1 cake yeast or 1 tablespoon yeast granules

1 tablespoon honey

1 tablespoon olive oil

In a large bowl mix the salt, yeast, honey, olive oil and lukewarm water. (I used a rubber spatula.) Add the flour. Mix and knead it for about fifteen minutes. Shape it into a ball and cover the bowl with a clean dishtowel. Set it in a warm spot on your counter for about three hours until it doubles in size.

After it has risen, oil a cookie sheet (or pizza pan if you have it) and spread the dough onto it. Add your toppings, sauce and cheese and bake it at 400 degrees for 30 minutes. If you like it browned, lower the oven to 350 degrees and bake another ten to fifteen minutes.

Suellen Ocean is the author of many books on diverse topics. Her books are available here:  http://www.amazon.com/Suellen-Ocean/e/B001KC7Z78

First Thing in the Morning… a Sharp Knife and a Good Cutting Board

In the morning, before I get up, I think about what I’m going to fix for breakfast for my hubby and myself and what kind of sandwiches I’m going to make for his lunch. Because I am still half asleep, when I get downstairs to the kitchen, I like a sharp knife and a large wooden cutting board. Standing at the counter cooking at 7:30 in the morning is one of many things I do to keep healthy and energized and having a sharp, long, slender, serrated steel knife that slices through tomatoes quickly, on top of a stable, wooden cutting board, gets the job done. The sooner I get the breakfast routine done, the sooner I can move on to things I really enjoy, like gardening, writing and ironically, cooking and baking… once I’ve woken up.CreatespaceAcornsAndEat'emFRONTCOVER

Suellen Ocean is the author of many books on diverse topics. Her books are available here:

http://www.amazon.com/Suellen-Ocean/e/B001KC7Z78

The California Drought… the Winners and the Losers

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Let me start with the losers, that’s easy. Anything that sucks water. The winners are the little things… lady bugs, lizards, aphids… birds. These tiny creatures are at the bottom of the biotic pyramid but just as important as creatures at the top. Without lady bugs we’d have too many smaller bugs eating our produce. Same with lizards, they eat insects. And birds, wow. Some baby birds eat fourteen feet of worms in a day. Oh wait… we like worms, they build beautiful soil. But then imagine a world without worm predators, they’d be everywhere and they’d probably grow really large but worms like moisture so I’ll not worry about that… yet. I’ll just sit back and enjoy the proliferation of birds and honey bees that are sucking the nectar out of an abundance of wildflowers the drought has brought on in my neck of the woods. It’s dry out west, yes, and it’s not near as pretty a spring as usual. And in Lake County, some of the oak trees are suffering. That’s bad news. But it is what it is. When you need some good news, look deeper into nature…for the little things. There are always winners. Suellen Ocean is the author of Acorns and Eat’em, a how-to vegetarian cookbook and field guide for eating acorns available as a FREE download from Ocean-Hose. Find it here: http://www.pacificsites.com/~oceanhose/

Vegetarian Cooking… Try Something New for Breakfast

Next time you’re putting together a tofu scramble, try using soy flour instead of tofu. One-quarter cup of the dry flour has 10 grams of protein, 10 % of the daily requirement for calcium, 25% for iron, 14% for phosphorus and 30% for magnesium. I find that very impressive for something that is also quite tasty.

In a small cereal bowl, take a couple tablespoons of soy flour and add equal parts water. Mix it well with a fork. Add two raw eggs and mix well. Add a tablespoon of salsa and scramble that in. Cover the bowl with a small plate and microwave it for three-and-a-half minutes. When done, drizzle soy sauce on it. Serve with whole-wheat toast and fresh avocado slices. Suellen Ocean is the author of the vegetarian cookbook, Poor Jonny’s Cookbook. Available here:

http://www.amazon.com/Poor-Jonnys-Cookbook-Suellen-Ocean/dp/0965114031

eBook or computer download through Smashwords:

https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/260122

eBook through Barnes & Noble:

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/poor-jonnys-cookbook-suellen-ocean/1102338251?ean=2940016618609

People Who Eat High Fiber Diets Live Longer and Have Less Disease

Last night I heard a radio newscast that said that people who eat high fiber diets live longer and have less heart disease, diabetes and cancer. This is good news because food fiber is readily available, inexpensive, satisfying and can help with weight loss because it’s filling. How can we get more fiber? Fill your refrigerator with fresh carrots, apples, potatoes, sprouted wheatberry bread, broccoli, cabbage, grapes and other fruits and vegetables. Go to the natural foods store and purchase wheat bran and wheat germ. Add the wheat bran to your cornbread recipe and add the wheat germ to your favorite yogurt. Cook a lot of brown rice and stock up your cupboard with other grains like quinoa and polenta. Keep a wide variety of beans in your cupboard so you can make tasty vegetable soups. When you choose breakfast cereals, choose oats and if you go for packaged cereals, read the labels and only buy those with 100 percent whole grains and no added sugars or chemicals. These high fiber foods will leave you feeling full, give your body energy, and according to the radio newscaster… give you many more years of life.

Suellen Ocean is the author of the vegetarian cookbook, Poor Jonny’s Cookbook. Available here:

http://www.amazon.com/Poor-Jonnys-Cookbook-Suellen-Ocean/dp/0965114031

eBook or computer download through Smashwords:

https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/260122

eBook through Barnes & Noble:

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/poor-jonnys-cookbook-suellen-ocean/1102338251?ean=2940016618609

Food and Cooking… How Long Should You Cook Acorns?

If you have reached the point where you are about to cook up some acorns, congratulations. It means that you have probably hiked out into the yard or countryside and bent over many times and picked up acorns. Then you shelled them (which isn’t always easy). And you must have ground them and leached them and now you are ready to cook them so you can add them to your favorite recipes.

Acorns do not need a lot of cooking and I would not cook them at high heat because they will stick to the bottom. Just a little simmer, for about five or ten minutes will do the trick. Don’t overcook them, you may lose flavor that way.

Suellen Ocean is the author of Acorns and Eat’em, a how-to vegetarian cookbook and field guide for eating acorns. Find it here: http://www.amazon.com/Acorns-Eatem-How–Vegetarian-Cookbook/dp/1491288973

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Dieting Is Painful This Time of Year… Let’s Eat Pie

This time of year our self-control gets put to the test. Believe me, I know. I’ve got a box of Sees candy in the fridge given to me as a gift. If I open it, all hell will break loose. I’m the one who went through two boxes of Tofutti Cuties in about four days. I bought them for some teenagers who were coming to visit but didn’t show up. If you haven’t tried non-dairy ice cream sandwiches, you are missing out. But I can’t do that all the time. But I can still enjoy desserts, one of my favorites is pumpkin pie. In the summer I grow lots of pumpkins but you can buy pumpkin in the can and still make a nice pie. Where I save on calories is in the crust. What crust? That’s what I should say but hey… it works. I take a glass pie pan and sprinkle the bottom with about 1/3 cup of whole wheat flour. That’s it. I pour my pumpkin pie mixture into the pie pan, over the flour and I bake the pie. It’s really good. I keep the filling ingredients low calorie too. It makes a wonderful dessert, especially with a hot cup of tea. Suellen Ocean is the author of the vegetarian cookbook, Poor Jonny’s Cookbook. Available here:

http://www.amazon.com/Poor-Jonnys-Cookbook-Suellen-Ocean/dp/0965114031

eBook or computer download through Smashwords:

https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/260122

eBook through Barnes & Noble:

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/poor-jonnys-cookbook-suellen-ocean/1102338251?ean=2940016618609

 

Cheesecake With a Little Acorn Meal… Blueberries On Top… And a Hot Cup of Coffee

The thought of it gives me chills. Acorn cheesecake is that good. And it’s easy to make. Something about acorns, whether it’s the texture or the traces of tannic acid, makes everything more favorable. But there is nothing I’m looking forward to more for Thanksgiving than that acorn cheesecake. Luckily I’ll have relatives to share it with otherwise within a few days I will have consumed the whole cheesecake myself. There is nothing better to wake up to than a slice of acorn cheesecake and a hot cup of coffee or tea. You’ve just enough time to gather some acorns and leach them. If you need a little attention at Thanksgiving, anything with acorns in it will do the trick.  Suellen Ocean is the author of Acorns and Eat’em, a how-to vegetarian cookbook and field guide for eating acorns. Find it here: http://www.amazon.com/Acorns-Eatem-How–Vegetarian-Cookbook/dp/1491288973

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What’s a “Poor Jonny’s Weekend”?

It’s what I’m going to have come Friday night when the bills and mortgage are due and I have company coming. If I run to the store and stock up, my bank account will run short. So instead of going out on a limb and “puttin’ on the dog,” I’m going to pull out my Poor Jonny’s Cookbook and plan old-fashioned meals that will nourish and bring back memories of the good ‘ol days. Because I had a garden this summer, I have pumpkins so I’ll make some “Corn Pumpkin Harvest Bread.” I’ll get some wheat berries sprouted so I can fix a “Spicy Sprouted Wheat berry Dish” and then for desert I’ll bake a “Coconut Walnut Five Spice Cake.” We’ll sit around the fire and drink hot tea with the spice cake, laugh and talk about life and the good times it brings.

Suellen Ocean is the author of the vegetarian cookbook, Poor Jonny’s Cookbook. Available here:

http://www.amazon.com/Poor-Jonnys-Cookbook-Suellen-Ocean/dp/0965114031

eBook or computer download through Smashwords:

https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/260122

eBook through Barnes & Noble:

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/poor-jonnys-cookbook-suellen-ocean/1102338251?ean=2940016618609

You Are What You Eat? Really?

You are what you eat? Really? Yes! You sure are. There’s nothing like a fantastic diet to generate stamina and maintain health. Junk food days can add up as the years go by but the body responds well to “turning your life around” and there’s no better time than the present to begin to do that. Whole grains instead of white, a little 100% maple syrup instead of sugar, no candy, fresh vegetables (steamed not fried) and fresh fruit. You’ll never be sorry. Suellen Ocean is the author of the vegetarian cookbook, Poor Jonny’s Cookbook. Available here:

http://www.amazon.com/Poor-Jonnys-Cookbook-Suellen-Ocean/dp/0965114031

eBook or computer download through Smashwords:

https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/260122

eBook through Barnes & Noble:

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/poor-jonnys-cookbook-suellen-ocean/1102338251?ean=2940016618609