Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Texas Pecan Yeast Bread

Texas Pecan Yeast Bread

This bread makes wonderful toast and sandwiches with a lot of variations. It's really delicious with a little homemade jam or honey on top. 

You can add a bit of cinnamon and nice big organic golden raisins to sweeten it up a bit. I just happened to hit the mother load on pecans this season and love them in bread. 

You'll enjoy this recipe because it's a pretty basic one that can be altered in many ways by combining different grains, seeds and even home milled legumes.

 I also use different organic oils as well, such as Sunflower, Sesame, Olive and Canola. The trick is to not add in all your flour at the beginning so you can adjust for the added in grains and such. 

The dough should always be sticky but not to the point of sticking to your fingers where it can't be kneaded well. Makes 2 loaves. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.


1 1/2 cup warm water
1/2 cup dark brown sugar (can substitute with local raw honey or organic raw sugar)
1/3 cup unsalted butter (can substitute with an oil)
5 1/2 to 6 cups unbleached bread flour (can substitute one cup for fresh milled wheat, bran or legumes)
1 cup organic whole oats
1 cup finely crushed pecans
1 tsp. sea salt
4 tsp. active dry yeast
2 nice large eggs from the hen house or cage free


Take the water, brown sugar and butter and put in a small glass bowl for the microwave. Heat about a minute and stir, then heat one more minute. Leave it to stay warm in the microwave while you prepare the other ingredients. (Optional: if you want to add raisins let them heat in the microwave in this bowl. It helps them swell a bit and makes a little raisin juice that's yummy)

You will need the dough hook and mixing bowl for this part. 

First put in the one cup of oats. Next add 5 cups of flour (Remember, that you can substitute one of the 5 cups for another milled grain like wheat or legume) add salt and yeast. I use a hand wire whisk and whisk it all together, then place the bowl on the stand with the dough hook. (If your adding cinnamon or any other seeds or spices this is the place to do it.) 

Take your small bowl out of the microwave and test it to be sure it's not hotter than luke warm and the butter and sugar is stirred well and melted. Pour the wet mixture in with your dry ingredients. Mix about a minute with the dough hook on speed two and turn it back off. 

Add the two eggs and turn it back on the second speed. When the dough becomes well combined and begins to pull away from the hook, check it with your finger to see how sticky it is. I will usually add 1/4 more flour here and then test it again. 

If it still feels to sticky I will add one more 1/4 cup. Pour it out of the bowl and knead the dough for a minute or so to make sure everything is worked in well. Lightly oil another big bowl and put the dough in, turning the ball around in the bowl to lightly oil the whole thing. Cover with plastic wrap or a cotton towel and set it in a warm place to rise. Usually about an hour until it is double in bulk.

Next, pour the raised dough onto a lightly floured surface. Pat it out and divide the dough in half. Roll each half into a loaf and place in the slightly oiled loaf pans with the seam side down. Tuck under your ends a bit. I take a small bit of milk and brush the tops and pat on oats or seeds. 

Again, cover with plastic wrap or a towel in a warm place to allow to rise double in size. Bake for about 20 to 30 minutes on 400. You will know when the bread is done by tapping it on the bottom of the loaf. If it sounds a bit hallow it is complete. Cool on a wire rack.

This is another variation using Home Milled Brown Lentils and Golden Flax Seed

Happy Gardening!!

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Southern Pecan Banana Bread

This is an Old Southern recipe that is almost like cake but certainly bread. I always make extra to put up in the freezer for later. It's very simple and quick to prepare. Pecans are one of the main nut trees that grows so well in Texas. They are gorgeous tall stately trees that reward us with plenty of much needed shade in our hot summer weather.

Preheat your oven to 325

1/2 cup butter softened
1 cup of sugar
2 eggs, fresh farm raised if possible
1 cup bananas, ripe and mashed up
2 cups all-purpose flour (unbleached is preferred)
pinch of salt
1 tsp. baking soda
1/3 cup warm water
1/2 cup chopped pecans ( I get them fresh from the farmers market as halves, place them in a ziplock bag and run my rolling pin over them)

Blend butter, sugar, eggs and mashed bananas until smooth. In a separate bowl mix together with wire whisk your flour, salt and baking soda. Add your dry ingredients to your banana mixture alternating in with your warm water. Stir in the Pecans and divide into 2 lightly oiled loaf pans. Bake for at least one hour. Check the center with a toothpick. When it comes out clean the bread is done. This old fashioned bread will crack at the top. It is so beautiful and the aroma will fill your kitchen. Cool pans a bit before removing them from the pans. Let them finish cooling on a wire rack.

Oh the Lazy Hot Days of a Texas Summer!!
Happy Gardening!!

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Heirloom Pumpkin And Raisin Yeast Bread

Fall is absolutely my favorite time of the year! It gets pumpkin crazy around our home as the baking begins. 
My very favorite pumpkins are all the glorious heirloom pumpkins. The many different shapes and colors of heirloom pumpkins are pure natural art from the earth.
My favorite pumpkin above all other pumpkins to bake with is the Jarrahdale. They have the richest and creamiest orange flesh with absolutely no strings inside. They have a mild, nutty, sweet flavor and perfect for pies.
The Jarrahdale is actually a winter squash, Cucurbita maxima, an Australian heirloom. 
They grow great in the garden, however we do have our fair share of squash borers in the south that can be quite hard to deal with. Reoccurring droughts make it difficult as well.

I always get asked by people what I plan to do with them. I’m sure my grin is from ear to ear when I tell them I’m gonna to bake with them. 
They always looked shocked and quite puzzled. Oh if they only knew what wondrous things can be made with them. 
This bread is great for toast and especially good for sandwich making when you begin to have those left over ham and turkeys during the holiday season.
1/2 cup warm water
2/3 cup warm milk
2 tbsp organic sunflower oil
2 farm fresh eggs room temperature
1 1/2 cups pureed fresh pumpkin
5 1/2 cup organic unbleached flour
1 cup organic wheat bran
4 1/2 tsp active dry yeast
1/2 cup brown sugar or raw organic pure can sugar
2 tsp sea salt
1/4 tsp ground ginger
3/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 cup organic plump golden raisins
2 tbsp flax seed plus extra for topping
3 tbsp raw organic sunflower seeds
  1. In a small sauce pan, combine the water, milk, oil, brown sugar and raisins. Heat until nice and warm, but not hot. Set aside and allow raisins to soak. Stir to make sure sugar has dissolved.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, combine flour, wheat bran, yeast, flax and sunflower seeds, salt and spices, Whisk together well.
  3. Place dough hook on mixer with dry ingredients first. Add your small bowl of liquid ingredients and begin mixing on 2nd speed, add eggs and pumpkin and continue on 2nd speed until well combined. 
  4. The dough for this bread is very sticky. It allows for the bread to be moist and fluffy. Oil a bowl and place dough and cover to let rise in a warm place until double in bulk.
  5. On a well floured surface pour out dough and divide in half. Work out gas bubbles and roll into a good square and then roll up into a loaf to place in your pans. Brush the top with egg white and sprinkle on flax seeds. Makes two loaves. Cover and let rise about an hour. Bake at 375 degrees for about 40 to 50 minutes. You can tell if your bread is done when you turn it out of the pan and you tap on the bottom of the loaf and it sounds hollow.
Happy Gardening!

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Homemade Honey Graham Crackers

You may have just thought you loved graham crackers! Try to imagine them made from scratch! AND without that long list of ingredients unknown on the back of a store bought box!

This recipe is actually a little flexible...which I LOVE!! I'm thinking I may just make them a little different at Christmas thyme to build a Gingerbread House! Just add a little ginger!!


1 1/2 cups organic unbleached flour
1 cup organic whole-wheat flour
1/2 cup graham flour, or wheat bran
good pinch of kosher salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 cup unsalted organic butter, softened (2 sticks)
3/4 cup brown sugar, packed
3 to 4 tbsp. local raw honey


Add all the dry ingredients to a large bowl and whisk together. In a separate bowl add the butter, brown sugar and honey and whip with your mixer. 

Add the dry ingredients to your butter mixture and stir with a wooden spoon just until it begins to lump together. Next, simply dump out your bowl onto a lightly floured surface. Squeeze it together until it forms a nice little dough ball.

Divide the dough into four parts. Take one part at a time and roll it out in between a couple of sheets of parchment paper until it is about 1/8 of an inch thick. Use a pizza cutter and cut your graham cracker squares or rectangles.

Slide the whole thing onto a cookie sheet and place it in the freezer for about 30 minutes.

Preheat Oven to 350 degrees.

Take your tray out of the freezer and make holes with a fork, just like you see when you buy a box.

It was taking exactly 9 minutes in my oven. Not one minute more! They are still quite soft when you take them out. I simply let them cool on my wire rack and they firm the cooler they get. Although...we had quite a bit of a treat eating some warm out of the oven with a little cold milk.

This was another great project to share with my grandchildren. They just never know what to think about all that dough on their fingers. 

Happy Homesteading!

Monday, September 15, 2014

Sweet and Spicy Pickled Baby Okra

This is the quick version of pickled okra. These go straight up into the refrigerator. In just about one week they should have marinated just right to start munching. 

The recipe is really just a matter of taste. I like mine spicy, but I always love just a bit of sweet to balance out those hot peppers. 

(For two or three pint jars)

Brine: 3 cups 5% distilled white vinegar to 1 cup distilled water. 2 Tablespoons of Kocher Salt.  Bring this to a boil on the stove in a stainless or non reactive pot, just until the salt has dissolved. 

In the meantime you can gather and prepare the other ingredients. Have your mason jars and lids sterilized and ready to go.

Per jar I used:
2 thinly sliced garlic cloves, 
1 very small dried hot petite red pepper crushed, 
Good Pinch of Celery Seed
1/2 tsp. Black Peppercorns
1/2 tsp. Black Mustard Seed
Good Pinch Organic Raw Pure Cane Sugar
Some Sprigs of Fresh Dill Weed (You can use seed too)
Baby Okra

Go ahead and put all of the above in each mason jar. Then you can begin arranging your baby okra. Make sure you have washed it and trimmed your stem a little. 

I know I don't always have exact measurements for everything I do. But like I mentioned before, it is really a matter of taste.

It always looks pretty when you can alternate the okra in the jar. Although it is not always easy when using the baby okra. 

Pour the brine over the ingredients and leave a little head space. You just want to be sure all of the okra is covered, but the brine isn't to close to the rim. 

Put your lids on and let it cool down before you place the jars into the refrigerator. 

I always enjoy putting a couple of these up in the fridge and some for the pantry too. For the pantry they will require a hot water bath and plenty of baby okra to make it worth your time. 

The refrigerated version will last up to 6 months in the fridge. But they should be long ate before all that. It's a southern thing!!

My Okra Patch

Happy Gardening!

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Putting Up The Sweets Canning Watermelon Jam

Watermelon Jam

My goodness this is so Good!! I'd been searching for ways to save and preserve for quite awhile as I've watched our watermelon patch go crazy this year. Watermelons are everywhere out there and my mind was racing with thoughts of making this a valuable food source during those winter months

Of course many of you have already heard about my Popsicle craze. Let me tell you tho...my Granddaughter absolutely loves them! I got even more creative and blended dewberries in them that I had put up in the freezer from some earlier spring pickings. Then I blended some Plain Whole Greek God Yogurt in them with a little squirt of Agave Nectar. 

Now I need to buy more molds! I know I could make my own, but the Grands love the sippy straws and frankly so do I because of the melt drips. What a easy fun way to preserve summers delights. 

Sweet Jubilee 

So I decided to go a step further with canning up the watermelon jam. I found a whole bunch of recipes for making it several places, but the most trustworthy one I found at Food In Jars. After reading how they made it and all of the comments that fans had posted I felt sure I could do this.

I did not find the need to alter it in anyway what so ever. Although I kind of chuckled when I read comments from people who wasn't looking for the Watermelon Jolly Rancher Candy flavor. All I could think was if I could actually achieve that candy flavor in a jar my family would be extremely happy. Who doesn't love Watermelon Jolly Rancher Candy in the South? 

I'm going to go ahead and give you the run down on the basic recipe, but I did do a couple of things to try to guarantee a decent good set for this jam. 

First, make sure you have a candy thermometer or even a meat thermometer will work as long as the temperature goes up to 220 degrees. That is the peek of perfection for the jam.

I still put two saucers in the freezer. The reason for this is to test the jam before you remove it from the heat. 

Once the jam reaches the 220 degree mark, grab a saucer out of the freezer and put a spoonful in the middle of the dish. Watch what it does, if it is really runny let the jam boil a little longer. Then test it again with your second saucer. If it begins to jell up it is done.

 This was also my opportunity to taste it while I stuck my finger in it on the saucer. YUM!!

Have some fun with varieties of heirloom colored flesh too!

The Basic Recipe
Makes 5 to 6 Half pint jars

6 cups pureed watermelon (remove any seeds prior to pureeing)
5 cups white sugar
6 tablespoons bottled lemon juice
1 packet powdered pectin

Be sure to use the powdered pectin. After all the research I did, I had seen many caners having problems trying to use liquid pectin.

You really don't want to cut back on the sugar here. That is what helps it thicken and preserve it. I made mine in 1/2 pint jars because this jam is going to be considered a treat for special occasions. I can see it making an awesome dipping sauce combined with some other ingredients to use for dipping homemade egg rolls. 


Prepare your canning jars and lids. Canning jars should be boiled and bands and lids in hot water, just to before it reaches boil.

Crack open that watermelon and start in the middle section where there are less seeds. Cut out chunks and put them in a large bowl to get ready to blend it up in either a food processor or blender. 

Make sure you take out all of the seeds as you get nearer the rind where they are usually plentiful. After it is all blended measure out the 6 cups needed into your non reactive pot.

Note: Do not double this recipe and actually the wider your stainless steel pot is the better it will cook. 

In a large bowl whisk together the sugar and the pectin. Add this to your pot along with the lemon juice. 

Bring to a good rolling boil. It took mine almost 30 minutes to reach 220 degrees. It seemed as though it wanted to stay at around 117 degrees for quite awhile, but you can see the difference in the reaction of the boil when it reached the mark.Next time I probably won't need to use the thermometer after seeing what it does.

Do your frozen saucer test before you remove it from the heat. Do two saucer tests if need be. Once it has jelled on the saucer it is done. Fill your jars. Make sure you wipe the rims clean with a paper towel and then put on the lids and screw bands. 

Place the jars in a hot water bath for 10 minutes.

Give this a chance to fully set. Sometimes it can take up to one or two weeks before it is fully set. So patients are needed while waiting.

Happy Gardening and Happy Preserving!!

Monday, August 4, 2014

Fresh Amaranth Tortilla Flatbread

Yes, it's not the lighting or the camera, the tortillas are really pinkish red in color.

I call them "Indian Summer," which is not to far off from the Hopi Red Dye Amaranth that I used to prepare them. In a previous post I shared using Amaranth Seeds ground into flour to make homemade pasta.

But here I am using the very young leaves of the Amaranth plant, also known as Indian Spinach. It is remarkably flavored just like normal green spinach you would grow in the garden. I do make the tortillas using regular spinach as well as using several other vegetables from the garden for different flavors.

Freshly harvested Hopi Red Dye Amaranth (Young tender leaves)

Most people who love to garden, also love to cook. I happen to love to bake and am always trying new and creative ways to use the harvest. 

In Texas we love our warm freshly made tortillas. I really began making my own out of desperation, and well, one thing led to another. The fact is you simply cannot buy lovely tortillas that are not made with lard or saturated fats, shortening, preservatives, artificial colors and the list goes on. 

It is indeed difficult to make them without all that bad stuff and to have them taste as good. But I searched and experimented and finally came up with a sure cure fix to an excellent homemade tortilla that frankly beats the socks off of any others. 

This recipe uses pure organic unadulterated ingredients and can be made plain or spiffed up to any flavor you desire.You won't believe how easy they are to make. This recipe makes 8 tortillas.


2 cups + organic unbleached bread flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp sea salt
2 tsp organic sunflower oil
3/4 cup organic whole milk (warm)
Steamed Chopped Spinach or Amaranth (to make one over sized cup after cooked)

A Nice Round Soft and Sticky Dough Ball


1. First, clean and wash your spinach, then chop it up. You will need to at least double up the amount used fresh, because once you steam it, it will of course shrink. Once steamed, set it aside to cool and drain of some its moisture.

2. Next, in a small sauce pan heat your milk on low, just enough to get it warm.

3. In your mixing bowl, combine all the dry ingredients and whisk with a wire whisk. Start with the 2 cups of flour. You may need to add a little extra once you add the rest of your ingredients. Add your oil and 1 good cup of your chopped spinach.

4. You can make this dough by hand or take it to your mixing stand and add the dough hook. Mix on the 2nd setting of your mixer and add the milk a little at a time. The dough will be sticky by should begin to pull away from the sides of the bowl. If it is still soupy add a little more flour. Start with just 1/4 cup a go from there.

5. Dump the dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Dust the top of the dough and knead until a nice soft pliable dough ball forms. It should still be very soft and a bit sticky. Do not over work the dough. Doing so will cause your tortillas to become stiff instead of soft and fluffy.

6. Place dough ball into a lightly oiled bowl and turn it once to coat it. Cover it with plastic wrap and then place a towel over it. Set in a warm place and let the dough rest for 20 to 30 minutes.

Dough Cut into 8 equal pieces

7. Once your dough has rested, turn it out onto your lightly floured surface. Form the dough into a tube shape of sorts and cut it into 8 reasonably equal pieces. Cover with a towel and let the pieces rest for 10 minutes. While it is resting get out your cast iron skillet, a metal spatula and rolling pin.

Rolled out dough just like a pie crust

8. The next step is to flatten out a piece with the palm of your hand, keeping it in a circle. Next begin rolling it out from the middle towards the outsides, much like you would a pie crust. Lightly dust with flour is dough becomes to sticky. Flip it over and roll from the other side. Do each piece and set them aside until they are all rolled out. The key here is roll them as thin as possible, but not so thin they become hard to work with.

9. Turn your stove top on high heat and begin to get your cast iron skillet hot. Once it is hot, you may turn it down to medium depending upon your stove.

It is fine to use a tiny bit of oil in the skillet, however I found no purpose for doing so. The cook perfectly without it. Place one of your tortillas on the skillet. Let cook approximately 20 to 30 seconds on each side.

The tortilla will puff just a little around the edges when it is done. Keep a close eye to be careful not to burn them. Set each one on a wire rack, just long enough for the next tortilla to almost be done.

 I keep a tortilla keeper handy and set each one inside stacking them while they are still just barely warm. When they are completed I put the lid on. Let them completely cool and then flip the entire stack inside the keeper to keep the bottom tortilla from getting soggy. This process keeps them soft.

 Tortilla Keeper

Of course I cannot share this recipe without a little Native American History. Since we are baking with Hopi Red Dye Amaranth in this recipe I must share. 

When a Hopi woman found a man in which she wished to marry, she would bake a special bread made of cornmeal and amaranth called Piki Bread. 

It would be a reddish colored bread. She would take her bread to the home of the man she wished to marry and leave it at the door step for the mother of the hopeful groom to be.

 If the mother brought the bread inside, then it meant that the marriage was approved. Many times a brother of the hopeful groom or a friend would bring the bread inside so the young woman would not be embarrassed. 

The mother would then taste the bread as well as the mothers sisters, aunts, grandmother...all the women would decide if the woman's bread was worthy to marry. 

There is much more to the tradition and the story but for now, perhaps for the single ladies, we should begin to bake!!  

We that with like hearts love, we lovers twain,
New wedded in the village by thy fane,
Lady of all chaste love, to thee it is
We bring these amaranths, these white lilies,
A sign, and sacrifice; may Love, we pray,
Like amaranthine flowers, feel no decay;
Like these cool lilies may our loves remain,
Perfect and pure, and know not any stain;
And be our hearts, from this thy holy hour,
Bound each to each, like flower to wedded flower.
~Joachim du Bellay "A Vow To Heavenly Venus," ca. 1500 

Happy Gardening!!