June 23, 2008

Rhubarb Pineapple Jam

This is not the healthiest thing I have made this year (But still healthier than others...) But it is delicious. I thought I would share as I found it easy to make. I happily had all of the ingredients on hand and liked that it didn't require pectin, which I didn't have, and did call for some things that desperately needed to be used from my food storage. (Jello??? Why did I buy so much Jello? My tastes sure have changed over the last few years.) It has a lot less sugar than most other jams I have seen recipes for, so if you have a Rhubarb plant and want to try a new recipe, this one is great.

5 cups chopped Rhubarb
Zest from 1 Orange
8 oz can crushed Pineapple, undrained (I used chunks as that was what I had on hand, it worked fine)
2 1/2 c Sugar
1 3-oz package of Strawberry Jello (I used all no-name brands with great success)
  1. In large Sauce pan combine Rhubarb, pineapple, zest and sugar. Bring to a boil and boil for 10 minutes stirring constantly. You want to use a big pot so that as it boils it doesn't pop all over you and everything else making a sticky mess. I also found that if I chopped the rhubarb coarse or fine it didn't matter at all, because you stir it for 30 minutes it pretty much breaks down. The finer you chop it the smoother the final product is, but even with 2 inch long pieces no one would call my final product lumpy.

  2. Cool 30 Minutes
  3. Add Jello to cooled mixture until dissolved.
  4. Put into 5 clean hot 8-oz jars and store in fridge for up to 1 month or in freezer for several months, or as long as it lasts.

June 4, 2008

Beans and Legumes - Basics

Beans and Legumes are a food bargain. They are a good source of protein (combined with rice, wheat or corn, they are a complete protein) as well as calcium, vitamins A and C, Thiamine, potassium, iron and fiber.
There are many varieties of beans and legumes. Lentils, soybeans, garbanzo beans, pinto beans, great northern beans, kidney beans, Lima beans, black eye beans, black turtle beans, red beans, small white beans, navy beans, pink beans, dry split peas, and dry whole peas.

There are four ways to cook dry beans:
Overnight soak: Sort through and remove any discolored legumes and rocks; rinse well and drain. Cover with water at least 1 inch above the legumes and soak overnight. Cook the next morning by discarding the soaking water and adding beans to fresh water. For each pound of dried beans, add 6 cups of hot water. (1 c beans to 3 c water) Boil the water and then add the beans, boil gently uncovered (adding water if necessary) until tender. (1-2 hours) Yield 6-7 cups of cooked beans per pound of dried beans.
Quick Soak: Bring cleaned beans and water to a boil. Boil for 2 minutes. Remove from pan from the stove and allow beans to stand for 1 hour in the covered saucepan. Rinse beans and discard the water. Cook the same as the overnight soak method.
Crock Pot: Add unsoaked, clean beans and water to crock Pot. Place on High setting for 3-4 hours or low overnight. (smaller beans cook faster)
Pressure Cooker: Follow the directions that came with the pressure cooker; generally 3 c of water to 1 c beans, bring to full steam, cook for 30 minutes.
Beans can be ground into flour. This is a very good way to use very old beans. Add the flour in small amounts to any recipe. Can be used to thicken gravies, soups and sauces. Beans in this form are easier to digest

Sprouting Beans: Sprouting beans before they are cooked will give you much more nutrition and less gas. After the sprouts are 1 inch long, they must be refrigerated or they will spoil.
Helpful Hints: 1. Add salt if needed the last 10 minutes of cooking never before. 2. Add a tablespoon of butter to prevent foam from forming. 3. Acids slow down cooking time for beans, add tomatoes, vinegar, etc when beans are tender. 4. Lentils and split peas do not need to be soaked. 5. Beans can cause gas. To cut down on this problem, add 1 teaspoon of meat tenderizer into cooked pot of beans. Or try Beano. (they aren't called a magical fruit for nothing)

Dried Beans are 1/2 the cost (or less) of Canned Beans:
Canned: One 15 oz can prepared beans costs around $1.00 or around $0.50 if you shop sales.
1 lb (2 cups) of dry beans will make 6 to 7 cups of cooked beans (equivalent to
four 15oz cans of beans.)
1 lb (2 cups) of dry beans is about $1.60 or $.75 cents if you buy in bulk.
equal to $.20 to $.40 cents per can - compare to $1.00 per can already prepared!

Storing Beans:
Beans store well in 5 gallon buckets, #10 cans, or Mylar bags. Pick what works best for your food storage situation.
Kept air tight and bug free in a cool dark place, dried beans will last a long time. Canned beans will last about 2 years.

How to make your bean storage accessible (so you can use it!):
1. Do not expect to go through the whole cooking dried beans process every time you need a cup of beans. It will take too long, and you will never do it.
2. Be efficient - cook up a bunch of beans (1 or 2 lbs) and divide them into quart freezer bags (1 ½ to 2 cups ea) and put them in the freezer. (1 lb dried = 4 quart bags frozen)
3. Lay them flat to freeze, then when frozen they can be stood on end to save room.
4. To use, just run under cool water.
5. Add to recipes just like you would use canned beans.

All about Yeast

I am going to attempt to explain some of the differences in yeast. It used to be yeast was yeast. You went to the store, bought what was on the shelf and used it in your recipe. That has changed. Now there are several different types of yeast out there, and the way you use them varies slightly. If a recipe calls for a specific type, and you make a substitution sometimes you get a very different result. I hope to explain what the difference is, and what changes you need to make when substituting different yeasts in recipes.
Compressed Yeast: Often called cake yeast. It only lasts about 2 weeks and must be refrigerated. I actually haven't seen it in the US, but I used it in Europe. It is basically a soft block of yeast that needs to be placed in water to break it up. It is equal to 1T of regular yeast.

Active Dry Yeast: When a recipe calls for yeast, this is mostly likely what they are talking about. It is sometimes abbreviated ADY. This yeast need to be rehydrated in liquid at temperatures between 105 and 115` F (If your pinky is comfy, your yeast probably is too!). If you use hotter liquid, you risk killing the yeast, cooler and the yeast membrane gets too porous and can allow the cell contents to leak out and become ineffective. If your dough is sticky and inelastic, that is a probable cause. Active dry yeast has the largest cell size of the yeasts. To see if your yeast is still good and active, rehydrate in a 1c water with 1/4t sugar per tablespoon of yeast. If you see yeast bubbles coming to the surface after 5-10 minutes, you have healthy active yeast and you can proceed with your recipe. If you don't you need to buy fresh yeast, or adjust the temperature of the water.

Rapid Rise Yeast and Instant dry yeasts (IDY) were developed to overcome several of the problems with Active Dry yeast. They can both be added directly to recipes without rehydrating first. They tolerate higher temperatures of water and are harder to kill. They both have shorter fermentation periods. This means you don't have to let your dough rise for as long to achieve the same results. Instant dry yeast works even faster than rapid Rise yeast. The cells of instant dry yeast are skinnier and longer. Instant dry yeast can cut the rising time even further.

To substitute Instant Dry yeast or Rapid Rise yeast for a recipe calling for regular yeast, you can skip the step of rehydrating in the water, to keep things simple I add things in the order called for in the recipe, but I don't let the yeast and water sit together for 5-10 minutes. I add all of the liquid, the yeast, sugar, flour and start mixing, adding the remaining ingredients and then slowly adding the rest of the flour. Just watch the rising times as they may be faster than what you are used to, or called for in the recipe.
To substitutre active dry yeast in a recipe calling for SAF yeast, Instant dry yeast, or rapid rise yeast make sure to mix the liquids, some of the sugar and the yeast together first. Allow it to sit until it starts to bubble and you can tell the yeast is alive and working. Then continue with the recipe. Adjust your rising time by adding extra time, I usually find it takes up to twice as long to achieve the same amount of rise with active dry yeast.
I definitely prefer Instant dry yeast (SAF is a common brand of IDY) for my whole grain bread making. My bread rises at least 10% better with IDY yeast versus rapid rise yeast and a good 25% higher than with active dry yeast. I use regular yeast and rapid rise yeast in my pita breads,flat breads and rolls that I am not in a hurry with.

Instant Dry Yeast (I buy it at Sam's Club, it comes with 2 1pound packages, they feel like bricks) Make sure it says IDY or SAF yeast

Rapid Rise yeast You can find it like this at almost any grocery store, it also comes in little jars. Sometimes called Bread Machine Yeast

Active Dry Yeast. Available at most grocery stores. Also available in 4 oz jars.

I took some close ups to try and demonstrate the differences in the types of yeast. My IDY yeast has some rapid rise and active dry yeast mixed in, that is why there are different sizes.
If you look closely, the rapid rise and active dry yeast are both slightly lighter in color than the IDY. The active dry yeast has the largest cells, then the rapid rise, and Instant dry yeast has the smallest. The IDY yeast cells are narrower, but slightly longer than the Rapid rise yeast.

Top: Rapid Rise Yeast, Instant Dry Yeast

Bottom: Active Dry Yeast