Rustic Oat Bread

Rustic Oat Bread

It’s that time of the year here in the Northeast. Our ovens become our winter friends.  They heat our kitchens,  fill our homes with wonderful aromas, and help us produce delicious comfort foods that warm our souls.

I love making homemade bread, and a chilly day with snow in the air gives me just the reason to do it.

What could be better than a warm slice of bread without any preservatives, and topped with fresh butter?  Hmmm… maybe a piece of toast  slathered with homemade strawberry jam that was made with plump berries from Silver Queen Farm in Trumansburg, NY.

Homemade Strawberry Jam

Rustic Oat Bread

3/4 c. milk

3/4 c. water

2 tbsp. butternut squash seed oil

3 tbsp. brown sugar

1 c. oatmeal, plus extra for topping

1/4 tsp. cinnamon

2 1/2 tsp. yeast

1 tsp. salt

2 c. all-purpose flour, plus 1 cup for kneading

2 tbsp. honey

In a small saucepan, add milk, water, oil, and brown sugar.  Bring to boil; stirring constantly.  Once boiling, remove from heat.

In a large bowl, add oatmeal, salt, and cinnamon.  Pour milk mixture over oatmeal; mix ingredients.  Let stand until lukewarm.

Add yeast and flour; mix completely.  On lightly floured surface knead dough by hand for approximately 7 minutes.   Place in a large bowl greased lightly with squash seed oil.  Cover with plastic wrap.  Set in a warm place and let rise until doubled.

Turn dough onto lightly floured surface.  Cut in half,  briefly knead each half into a ball.  Place each ball a distance apart from each other on a floured cookie.  Cover with a clean dish towel and let it rise until doubled.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Brush each ball of dough with honey, and sprinkle lightly with oatmeal.  Bake for approximately 25-30 minutes until bread is golden brown, and sounds hollow when tapped.  Transfer to wire baking rack to cool.

*Baker’s note – I made this hearty bread with Stony Brook WholeHearted Foods Butternut Squash Seed Oil that’s produced in Geneva, NY. I like using squash seed oil because it gives food a deliciously light nutty flavor.  If you don’t have squash seed oil you can always substitute it with olive oil.

Homemade Rustic Oat Bread & Strawberry Jam

Here is a question for you local foodies.  Will Stony Brook WholeHearted Foods  and Silver Queen Farm be nominated for a Finger Lakes Foodie award this year?

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Holiday Gift Ideas with Pumpkin Cheese Bread

Country Living magazine is one of my favorites.  I receive it as Christmas present every year and I always look forward to finding it in my mail box each month.  Magazines make great gifts because they are relatively inexpensive and the recipient can enjoy them throughout the whole year. Think about that when you’re can’t decide on a gift for that hard to buy for person on your list.  Country Living happens to have great recipes, decorating ideas, clever craft projects, and information on the hippest collectibles. (Note - Country Living is not compensating me to say this.  It’s just the truth.)

I have a couple other great gift suggestions that I’ll get to by the end of this post, so please follow along.  (None of the other companies are compensating me either.  It’s just the truth too!)

The November 2011 issue of Country Living sports some pretty delicious looking recipes that remind us readers of next months anticipated feast – Thanksgiving.  I was particularly enamored by a recipe for Pumpkin Cheese Bread, a rustic, wholesome looking bread with an intriguing line up of ingredients.

Because this recipe caught my fancy, I decided to make the bread, or should I say a slightly modified version of it.  I LOVE the way the bread turned out.  The flavor and light, soft texture are perfect. I know it won’t be long and I’ll be making more. It’s going fast – too fast!  With a few tricks up my sleeve I modified the recipe so is not identical to Country Living’s printed version.

Ingredients:

3 1/2 c. all-purpose flour + 1/4 c. for 1st kneading

1 tbsp. light brown sugar 

1 tbsp. yeast

1 1/4 tsp. salt

1/8 tsp. Aji Amarillo chilies, dried and minced fine

1/8 tsp. Vietnamese cinnamon

1/2 tsp. butternut squash seed oil

3/4 c. pureed pumpkin

1/2 c. sharp cheddar cheese

1 c. water

In a large bowl; add flour, brown sugar, yeast, salt, dried pepper, cinnamon, squash seed oil, pumpkin puree and cheddar cheese.  Lightly stir ingredients until blended.  Pour in water and mix by hand until all ingredients are combined. * I did not use a mixer for this recipe.

Turn the dough out onto lightly floured surface (using the 1/4 cup of flour you set aside).  Knead dough until it forms a smooth ball.  Place ball in a greased bowl and cover with plastic wrap.  Set in draft free location and rise until doubled.

On lightly floured surface; punch dough down and roll into two loaves.  Place in greased bread pans, cover, and let rise until nearly doubled. 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Bake for 23-25 minutes, or until loaves sound hollow when tapped.  Turn onto cooling racks and brush with butter.

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If you really want to make the most of your bread then make a fresh sandwich with it.  This sandwich is complete with turkey, lettuce, tomato, Hellman’s mayo, Naples Valley Brand Mild Mustard, and black pepper.

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Now, I promised to share some more great gift giving ideas with you.  These ideas are perfect for the foodies in your life.  The ones that like to eat, and the ones that like making good eats.

1.) MarxFoods.com offers the most unique line of specialty foods and ingredients I’ve ever seen in one place.  Whether your looking for dried chilies like I used in my recipe, truffles, edible flowers, whole spices, or frog legs, you will find it at Marx Foods.  Their orders ship the same day if you order by 10AM Eastern time, or you can choose your delivery date at checkout.  All of their prices include shipping. 

2.) King Arthur Flour is a US 100% employee owned/100% committed to quality company. They are located in Norwich, Vermont. They offer  top of the line baking supplies and tools. From secret ingredients like their robust boiled cider, to the Vietnamese cinnamon I used in my bread, to pre-made mixes of just about any kind,  or their cute cupcake wrappers, they’ve got you covered.  They also offer a gift card option which takes even more work out of your holiday shopping. View their catalogue on-line, or order yourself a hard copy and start your holiday shopping early.

3.) Stony Brook WholeHeartedFoods is small Finger Lakes company  located in Geneva, NY.  They produce the finest food grade roasted squash and pumpkin seed oils you will ever find.  This is a farm to table product.  The oils are processed in small batches and are a healthy, delicious alternative to olive oil. The uses for them are endless. The Butternut Squash Seed Oil I used in my recipe has a wonderful, buttery, nutty flavor that really enhances any recipe.  My suggestion – fill all of your foodie friends stockings with these oils, and don’t forget to buy a bottle or two for yourself.  Ordering is made simple through their on-line store, or look for a retailer near you from their website.

4.) Naples Valley Brand Products is a small company that hand-makes delicious products from their kitchen at the Bristol Mountain Winter Resort in Bristol, NY.  They offer jalapeno jams, sweet jams, marinated garlics, gourmet mustards, dipping oils, vinegars, sauces, seasonings, rubs and spices, and stuffed olives. Their products are available to order on-line, and their gift boxes are make a perfect gift choice.  Naples Valley Brand Products offers free shipping on orders over $50.00.  I am proud to say I’ve been buying their mustard since it first hit the shelves.

Hopefully, my suggestions will help make your holiday shopping a little easier.  If you make this bread please post it on your blog and share the link back here under the comments section.  We would love to see it!

Writing (and) Peanut Butter Cupcakes

Once a month I write an article for a local Finger Lakes publication where my assignment is pretty straight forward.  I meet small business owners in the area who  produce foods or wines.  Some businesses have been around awhile, some are new on the block. It’s not a bad gig.

So far I’ve written about a Blue Oyster Cultivation, a local gourmet mushroom farm that grows fresh, hearty oyster and shitake mushrooms.; Lively Run Goat Dairy, a family run homestead cheese maker who produces some pretty awesome artisan cheeses with goats milk; Eremita Winery, a new winery that opened it’s doors in a beautiful, old historic church in the Finger Lakes Region this past August; and most recently,  Stony Brook WholeHeartedFoods, a company that produces the most delicious food grade roasted squash and pumpkin seed oils you’ll ever touch to your tongue.

I enjoy the challenge of interviewing and relaying information I’ve garnered from those interviews to others.  I understand that I’m the eyes, ears, and conveyor of words.  It’s my job to process, write,, and share what I’ve learned in each interview.

Writing articles for publications isn’t typically that difficult for me.  But it’s not always as simple as writing posts for my own blog either.  There are several freedoms we take for granted when we write for ourselves, versus writing on a professional level.  

When you write (blog) for yourself you can pick the topic you want to write about.  There are no assignments.  This is an advantage because you don’t have to meet someone else’s expectations.  There is no pressure.

There are usually no deadlines involved – unless of course you are have a type A personality and enjoy creating strict deadlines.  My poor brain works against itself when I know I have to interview, write, and submit my work on short notice.  An unexpected deadline almost always leaves me with a case of writers block. I don’t get that same feeling when I’m sitting in my pajamas working on a post about a batch of peanut butter cupcakes that I just made and have decided to share with my readers (on the spur of the moment).

Another freedom we take for granted when we write for ourselves is the freedom to be a little quirky. So what If I got upset with the manufacturer of our (good for nothing) refrigerator that broke after only four years of use and I decided to tell the world about it.  Yes, quirky. 

Also, as bloggers, we generally don’t have to (speed) write clear and concise notes to review later on either.  In a professional setting it can be tough trying to keep up with what the person you’re interviewing is telling you.  Especially when you doubt your aging memory. 

So think about this the next time you’re sitting at your computer trying to figure out where to start your post - remember it’s not that bad.  Relax, throw on your pajamas, be a little quirky, and write freely.  It’s a freedom we have as blogger’s.

Now, I know I mentioned peanut butter cupcakes in my title and post so I must deliver.  These cupcakes are a perfect treat anytime!

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This recipe is adapted from Cupcakes! by Elinor Klivans

Peanut Butter Cupcakes

Ingredients:

1 c. all-purpose flour

1 tsp. baking powder

1/4 tsp. salt

3/4 stick of butter, softened

3/4 c. peanut butter, creamy

1 c. brown sugar

1 egg

1 tsp. vanilla extract

1/2 c. milk, any fat content

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line 3 dozen mini-cupcake tins with paper liners.

In a large bowl; with electric mixer, beat butter, peanut butter and brown sugar until creamy.  Add egg and vanilla; mix thoroughly.  On low speed add in flour, baking powder, and salt and continue to mix while adding milk until batter is smooth. 

Fill each paper liner 3/4 full and bake for approximately 12 minutes, or until toothpick comes clean.

Once cool, frost with your favorite buttercream icing.  I chose vanilla and colored it purple to pretty it up a bit.

Enjoy!