Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Another broody hen comes through with two cute chicks

Echa hatched two chicks and I think Snowball's envious.  Or maybe she just wants her pen back...

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Bierrocks for now and for the freezer or another idea for an extra head of cabbage...

DH brought in a couple of heads of savoy cabbage from the garden when I'd asked for one.  He does that a lot.  Sometimes it's a push to use up what's ready in the garden.  One extra head doesn't seem like enough to run through the dehydrator and what with all the other garden produce flowing through the kitchen, it can get lost in the chaos.

So I decided to make a batch of bierrocks for the freezer.  Sort of kills two birds with one stone as we always need quick meals when the garden's growing and the outdoors is calling.

I took three pounds of ground beef from the freezer and a couple of red onions from the garden, and started them to cooking in a big skillet.  I never bother thawing the ground beef first.  Just put a teaspoon or so of oil (our beef is really lean) in the pan, add the frozen meat and put a lid on the pan over low heat.  I check it every few minutes and break off the cooked meat, stirring everything together.  Then put the lid on and let it cook a few more minutes.  In a half hour or less, the meat's cooked and broken apart, while I've been able to work on the rest of the dish.

Homemade dough came together pretty fast, though I use the sponge method to get it off to a good start.  And one could always use frozen bread or pizza dough if need be.  The fresh-ground whole wheat dough I used this time is pretty light and the same one I use to make sandwich buns but a good pizza dough would make a great bierrocks' bread, too.
Once the meat and onions were done, I added the whole head of cabbage, shredded, to the pan and let it cook for another 8-10 minutes or so, until the cabbage was tender but still slightly crisp.  Rolling out a piece of dough, a little smaller than a tennis ball, into an oval was the next step.  I mounded a tablespoon or two of shredded cheese on each oval of dough and topped that with 2-3 tablespoons of the meat-cabbage mixture.

I like to fold half the oval over and leave enough of an edge on the bottom section of dough that I can overlap the bottom over the top edge and crimp them together with a fork.  That's the best method I've found to contain the filling so little to none will leak out while baking.  I do have a neat little plastic pocket-looking thing that supposedly lets you prepare the works in one step, then folds over to crimp the edges together.  It works about half the time.  Doing it by hand works all the time plus I don't have to worry about extra filling poking out the open hinge area of the plastic thing when folded.  Overall, that kitchen tool is a good idea but not truly effective.  Still can't bring myself to toss it, though.

So one extra head of savoy cabbage, three pounds of lean ground beef, two red onions and a batch of fresh ground whole wheat bread dough yielded three dozen small-hand-sized bierrocks or 33 for the freezer.  (After all the hard work, we each had to have one for supper...)

Bierrocks for now or for the freezer

3 pounds ground beef
1  head cabbage, chopped or shredded
2 onions, chopped
Salt and pepper, to taste
12 ounces shredded cheese or sliced American cheese
1 batch of  Wholegrain Hamburger Bun dough
   OR 3 pounds frozen bread dough
1 egg, beaten (optional)
Brown ground beef in a large skillet with the onion.  Drain grease, if necessary.  Add cabbage and continue cooking 5-8 minutes or until onion is soft and cabbage is tender but still slightly crisp.  Season with salt and pepper.  Let cool while preparing dough.

After dough has risen the first time, roll out balls of dough into thin ovals about the size of your hand.  Place a couple tablespoons of shredded cheese or half a slice of American cheese on one end of dough oval and top with meat-cabbage filling.  Fold over and seal like a turnover.  I like to use a large meat fork to press the edges together and fold the bottom edge over the top edge, then crimp to make a good seal.

Place on a baking sheet and brush with egg.  Bake at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes or until golden brown.

Serve immediately or cool and freeze.  To reheat frozen, simply bake until hot.  May also be frozen before baking and baked from frozen state.  Will require longer baking time.  Plan on at least 30 minutes.

Yield: about 30

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Hamburger bun heaven

Nothing beats a good hamburger.  But the bun can make a good thing even better.  I've been on a quest for a good wholegrain hamburger bun for a couple of years now and think I've finally found it using a variation on a recipe from a Bosch mixer cookbook, Healthy Recipes from the Heart of Our Homes by Phyllis Stanley and Shirley Heinmets.  The buns even keep well in the freezer -- for the short-term, at least, and the prepared dough, shaped into rolls, then frozen before baking was a success, too.  I haven't had time to test it for more than a few weeks on either method, tho.  We keep wanting to thaw and eat them -- with a hamburger or just on their own.  They're good!

Wholegrain Hamburger Buns

4 cups warm water
2 tablespoons sugar
7 cups fresh ground hard white wheat flour
1/4 cup vinegar
1/4 cup vegetable oil
3 tablespoons wheat gluten
2 tablespoons powdered milk
4 tablespoons Saf yeast
1 tablespoon salt
additional water, 2-3 tablespoons
additional fresh ground hard white wheat flour as needed

Using the dough hook, mix water, sugar, 7 cups flour, vinegar, oil, gluten, powdered milk and yeast together in the Bosch bowl until moistened.  Let rise until it doubles.

Add salt and enough additional flour so the dough pulls away slightly from the sides of the bowl while on setting 1.  Add another 2-3 tablespoons water and knead for 5 minutes.

Cut off dough pieces and shape lightly into rolls.  My baking sheets are not full-size cookie sheets (9x12-inches) and I put 6 rolls on each.  Let dough rise until doubled.

Bake for 20 minutes at 400ºF. until golden brown.  Remove from oven and brush with butter while still hot.

One variation I've tried is using real buttermilk (left from churning butter) in lieu of the 4 cups of water.  That made a great dough for bierrocks...

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Rain + hot weather means garden's growing!

Yes!  For the first time in several years we're catching a few of the thunderstorms that bounce around here.  No hail, thankfully, but some good rains at the right time make a great change in how the garden grows.

Not everything's perfect, of course.  We lost the first planting of green beans to wildlife depredation so had to plant again.  But we're on the third picking of the short double row DH finally got past the birds and rabbits and they're so good!  So far we haven't gotten past the steam-and-eat stage but I have hopes of getting a cannerful one of these days.