Microwave Popcorn, Home Made

My love of popcorn goes way back to my earliest childhood when my mother would make great bowls full on a weekend night when we lived in a garage… We owe a debt of gratitude to native Americans for this marvelous technological advance they made. I believe popcorn is one of the wonder foods for the following reasons:

The Wonders of Popcorn

  1. It is a whole grain, easily grown in substantial quantities.
  2. It contains the roughage often removed from processed grains. It also contains the same rich protein (though low in lysine, see “complimentary protein”), B complex vitamins and vitamin E of all whole grains.
  3. It is a live food, and sustains itself quite well for long storage periods.
  4. It has a very long storage period which makes it perfect for those who want to have a long-term well stocked pantry, or who are survivalists, or are awaiting the collapse of civilization…
  5. It is embarrassingly inexpensive, especially when bought in bulk (I typically buy a 40 pound bag at a time). I immediately house it in large air-tight containers such as gallon milk jugs, etc. Air-tight is extremely important so that the kernels do not lose moisture and therefore popping ability.
  6. It is DELICIOUS as well as nutritious.
  7. And now, it is SO easy to whip up a bowlful in five minute any or every evening you desire.

Problems with Commercial Microwave Popcorn
Commercial microwave popcorn may be convenient, but you probably know the problems with it:

  1. It contains LARGE amounts of hydrogenated fats. You have noticed the thick grease after you eat a bag… (Look it up if you don’t know the problem with hydrogenated oils.)
  2. It contains artificial flavoring (notably diacetyl: so-called “butter-flavor… This is associated with popcorn workers lung disease) and artificial colors.
  3. It contains much more salt than one might desire (200-355 mg/bag), and you cannot control the quantity.
  4. It costs three to four times what it would cost if you made your own as below. (How much more DOES it cost? I haven’t bought it for so long, I have no idea.)
  5. It generates waste in the form of an oily heavy bag which remains after you have made it.

I am delighted to have devised the following “appropriate technology” for making microwave popcorn at home and believe that many will find it useful. What do you think?

Directions

Canning Tomatoes, Simplified

I have little patience with scalding and peeling tomatoes before canning. So I have developed this system in which the trimmed and salted tomatoes are brought to a boil before placing in the Mason jars. This allows for even, confident and thorough heating of the fruit.

If the near-boiling fruit is then immediately placed in Mason jars and transferred to a canner with boiling water, the amount of time necessary for canning can be reduced to 15 minutes as opposed to the hour that many protocols specify.

Note that one must use tomatoes with normal acidity for this streamlined process. Low acid tomatoes will require longer processing.

The minimal heating time and the retention of the skin preserves more of the richness of the tomato flavor.

The one additional requirement is that you must blend the canned stewed tomatoes before using so that you do not get skins in your sauce which some might find offensive.

Equipment

  • Sharp pairing knife
  • dish tubs to recieve trimmed tomatoes and trimmings
  • Balance to weight cut tomatoes
  • non-aluminum pot in which to weigh trimmed tomatoes
  • Stainless steel pot, at least 2.5 gallons with thick aluminum pad on the
  • bottom to disperse the heat (reduce the risk of burning)
  • 2 cup measure to dip stewed tomatoes
  • gloves
  • canning funnel
  • glass baking dish
  • seven clean flawless narrow mouthed Mason jars
  • seven Pristine domes and rims for the jars
  • Canner with canner rack and lid
  • Good heat source (I often do this on a propane stove outdoors since
  • Dish towel

Ingredients

At least 16 pounds of fresh fully ripe tomatoes. I only can Roma tomatoes because they have excellent flesh and flavor, and are more resistant to rot in the garden.

Tomatoes often come on during the most intense heat of the summer…

Directions

Pane Rustico Recipe, Whole Wheat/White Flour

 

While the white flour pane rustico is delicious, we are concerned about the loss of nutrients and fiber. So we replaced some of the white flour with whole wheat. We tried 100% whole wheat and were not happy with is density, stickiness and flavor. So we experimented and came up with a compromise in which we use 2 cups of whole wheat and 3-4 of cups white unbleached flour.

INGREDIENTS:
24 ounces of water (or occasionally whey from making cheese…), 100 F, 37 C
1 tablespoon salt (I use Kosher salt these days)
1/4 teaspoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon granulated baker’s yeast
2 cups whole wheat flour in a medium sized bowl, on a balance… if you have one.

add enough white all purpose (unbleached if you can find it) to total 2 lbs 2 oz flour (about 3.5 to 4 cups white flour)

 

Assemble ingredients. Dissolve one tablespoon salt to 24 ounces of warmed water. Pour out 1/4 cup of warmed water.

 

Add 1/4 tsp sugar and 1/4th teaspoon baker’s yeast to warmed water, stir to suspend.  Let sit 15 minutes.

 

The glass to the left is freshly prepared, the one on the right is proofed for 15 minutes. Note foam which has formed = “proofed.”  Add the proofed yeast to the rest of the warmed, salted water.

 

Sift flours before adding to the warmed water: Add 2 cups sifted whole wheat flour, whisk in. Add 3 cups sifted white flour, stir in to mix with a whisk. Then add more white flour with a wooden spoon until the dough is moderately stiff, but still soft.

 

Note that the dough is more like stiff batter. If it is too liquid, add more flour. Scrape down the sides, cover, let sit at room temp (above 68 F) overnight.

 

The next morning, the dough/batter will be bubbly. The middle picture shows a closeup. Turn out on a floured surface. Note how sticky…

 

Fold over several times with a floured hand. (Resist the “need to knead”. Less kneading makes the holes larger and the crumb more delicate.) Cover and let rest for 15 minutes.

 

Dust with sifted cornmeal or rolled oats, move to the side.  Dust a cloth liberally with cornmeal (or rolled oats), transfer dough, cover with cloth.  Recently, I have been using rolled oats to prevent sticking.  They work and look GREAT (see below)
Let rise until doubled, about 2-3 hours.  When risen, preheat to 450 F with the Dutch oven and its lid in the heating up oven.

 

When oven is fully preheated, carefully remove HOT Dutch oven, gently transfer risen dough by turning over into the Dutch oven.  In the three images above, I am using my beautiful Le Creuset (gift) Dutch oven (red). Note also that I am using rolled oats as a coating, Gently shake the Dutch oven if the dough needs evening out. (Don’t worry if it is a bit raggedy.) Cut a cross into the dough before baking.

 

Cover with the hot lid, place in the 450 F oven, set timer for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, remove the lid, bake for another 15 minutes at 450 F to brown.

 

After 15 more minutes, the bread is done.
The second image is a loaf rolled in oats and a cross cut into the loaf before baking.
The right hand image is what it looks like after cooling slightly and cutting one end off. Cut off one of the ends and eat it immediately. Crunchy, YUM.

Tree Buds in Winter, SW Ohio

Images of Tree Buds during the Winter months in SW Ohio

Primarily in Clermont County–arranged alphabetically

Making Ginger Ale at Home

Fermentation has been used by mankind for thousands of years for raising bread, fermenting wine and brewing beer. The products of the fermentation of sugar by baker’s yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae (a fungus) are ethyl alcohol and carbon dioxide. (Here is a page on the chemical reactions involved in glycolysis and fermentation.) Carbon dioxide causes bread to rise and gives effervescent drinks their bubbles. This action of yeast on sugar is used to ‘carbonate’ beverages, as in the addition of bubbles to champagne).

We will set up a fermentation in a closed system and capture the generated carbon dioxide to carbonate our home made ginger ale. You may of course adjust the quantities of sugar and/or extract to taste. Note that the lemon called for in step eight is optional. And if you want a spicier drink, you can increase the amount of grated ginger. As with any yeast fermentation, there is a small amount of alcohol generated in the beverage (about 0.4%).

Equipment

  • Clean 2 liter plastic soft drink bottle with cap (not glass: explosions are dangerous.)
  • funnel
  • Grater (preferably with fine “cutting” teeth
  • 1 cup measuring cup
  • 1/4 tsp and 1 Tbl measuring spoons

Ingredients

  • Cane (table) sugar [sucrose] (1 cup)
  • Freshly grated ginger root (1 1/2-2 tablespoons)
  • Juice of one lemon
  • Fresh granular baker’s yeast (1/4 teaspoon)
  • Cold fresh pure water

Directions

Once the bottle feels hard to a forceful squeeze, usually only 24-48 hours, place in the refrigerator. Before opening, refrigerate at least overnight to thoroughly chill. Crack the lid of the thoroughly chilled ginger ale just a little to release the pressure slowly. You do not want a ginger ale fountain!

Notes

Do not leave the finished ginger ale in a warm place any longer than the time it takes for the bottle to feel hard. Leaving it at room temperature longer than two days, especially in the summer when the temperature is high, can generate enough pressure to explode the bottle! (Speaking from experience here…) Once it is thoroughly chilled, there is little danger of explosion.

Filter the ginger ale through a strainer if you find floating pieces of ginger objectionable. These are found in the first glass or two poured, and, since most of the ginger sinks to the bottom, the last glass or so may require filtering too. Rinse the bottle out immediately after serving the last of the batch.

There will be a sediment of grated ginger and yeast at the bottom of the bottle, so that the last bit of ginger ale will be carry ginger fibers. Decant carefully if you wish to avoid this sediment.

The gas will develop faster in ginger ale than in home made root beer, presumably because there are more nutrients in it than in root beer extract.

Related

About alcohol made in home made Ginger Ale or Root Beer

Simply Ice Cream, Illustrated

Simplicity is my watchword.

Here is the recipe I have refined for making ice cream, containing what I believe are its essentials. Yes, you can do all kind of experiments making flavored ice cream, but I suggest you try this pure and simple ice cream first. After it is made, you can top it with a little fruit, chocolate sauce, or sprinkle a little powdered instant coffee on it for flavor variations.

This page has THREE parts, first the recipe for the ice cream mixture , and second, the technique for freezing ice cream. Finally, I have included a review of my White Mountain Freezer (the Cadillac of freezers).

Recipe for Simply Ice Cream

Ingredients:

2 quarts of “medium” cream: either Half and Half or cream skimmed from fresh milk left undisturbed for several days.
2/3 cup sugar (more if you like it sweet)
1 Tbl good vanilla extract

Add all these ingredients to the freezer can, insert dasher and cover.

The following steps include skimming instructions if you have your own source of whole milk.

Instructions for Freezing Ice Cream

Supplies:

Up to 10 pounds finely chipped ice. If you can only get larger chunk ice, you may have to crush it by placing in cloth bag and hammering it down to pieces no larger than ½ inch diameter. The smaller the size ice, the faster the ice cream will freeze. Too big, and the chunks will impair the turning of the bucket. The actual amount of ice needed varies with the freezer.

1-2 pounds of rock salt. (You can use any salt, but rock salt is cheapest. Fine grained salt will freeze ice cream faster.)
Favorite mix for ice cream, liquid (See above)

Equipment:

2 cup measuring cup to measure the ice
1/4 cup measuring cup to measure the salt (or assume your handful is 1/4th cup)
Your ice cream freezer, either hand or machine cranked. (I have graduated to a White Mountain machine, expensive but the best quality freezer I have found.

  1. Add the ice cream mix to the freezer can, insert dasher and place lid on the freezer can.
  2. Place assembled freezer can in bucket, attach turning mechanism, lock in place.
  3. Scoop a 2 cup measure of ice and pour into bucket on either side of the turning mechanism. (4 cups total)
  4. Scoop in a 1/4 cup measure of salt on either side of the turning mechanism. I have found that one of my handfuls is equal to 1/4th cup, so I add salt that way. (one measure for each side = ½ cup total). You can turn on the machine now.
  5. Repeat the alternating layers of 2 cups ice and 1/4 cup salt per side until both sides are filled up to the top of the can.
  6. After turning for a few minutes, the ice will melt down some, and you should add 2 additional cups ice to both sides, followed by 1/4 cup salt to both sides. Keep the level of the ice near the top of the freezer can.
  7. Check on the consistency after 10 minutes of cranking. Depending on the design of the can and the amount of ice cream mix added, the ice cream should be frozen in 10-20 minutes. Listen for the motor to labor, or notice that the hand cranking is getting HARD.
  8. Turn off machine, remove turning mechanism and lid, and examine the consistency. It should have risen up in the can and LOOK like “soft-whip” ice cream. It is best to stop when it is the consistency of moderately firm “soft-whip” ice cream for two reasons:
    1. It is much easier to pack (put it immediately into your freezer after you house it), and
    2. It is less likely to turn the cream to butter (from excessive cranking).

Some machines call for packing additional ice and salt after removing the dasher to further harden it. This is good for picnics, but at home, I put it straight into the freezer.

I have owned many different kinds of freezers, and have used this 8:1 ratio of ice to salt for all of them. The White Mountain Freezer I recently purchased calls for 6:1 ratio, but I’m not convinced it requires that much salt, since there is always undissolved salt left in the bottom.

Good Luck, and delicious eating to you.

Review of the White Mountain Ice Cream Freezer after several years of use:

Positives:

  • Generally high quality materials, sturdy, the freezer can is stainless steel.
  • Makes excellent smooth ice cream, partly due to the “double action” of the dasher.
  • Freezes relatively quickly (though this is also relative to the ice chip size and amount of salt.

Negatives:

  • It is quite noisy during operation.
  • It requires more ice to fill the bucket than most freezers of the same capacity.
  • Although the freezer can is stainless, the hoops on the bucket are iron, and are rusting badly.
  • The latch which holds the turning mechanism in place is very temperamental, often requiring several repositioning
    attempts with the whole turning mechanism before it can be latched (very annoying).
  • The locking mechanism holding the turning mechanism is made of iron and is severely rusting.
  • I have yet to find a machine from which the ice cream is easily packed. The “double action” dasher has even more nooks and crannies which must be cleared of ice cream when packing the ice cream.
  • It is quite expensive (I think I paid around $160 for the 3 quart electric freezer in 1999).

Added in 2005 after 5 years of use:

  • The iron hoops which hold together the wooden tub rusted and broke. I replaced with stainless steel banding.
  • The wooden staves pull apart when the bucket dries, leaking salt water onto the floor.
  • Worst: the motor burned out in Fall of 2004. I sent off to the manufacturer and purchased a new motor for about $36 which I was able in install. In the interim, I tried two inexpensive (and terrible) models of ice cream maker–one from Sam’s club (the drive connection was so weak that the dasher slipped way before the ice cream was ready) and one from Home Depot (took 45 minutes to make ice cream). VERY happy to have my White Mountain back in operation.

However, all in all, I have not found a better machine yet.

Professor Fankhauser mixing waffle batter

Fankhauser’s Cornmeal Waffles

Recipe for Fankhauser’s Cornmeal Waffles

Whisk in a 2 qt bowl until blended:

  • 1 egg

Add to egg and whisk gently just to blend:

  • 1 cup plain yogurt (or buttermilk)
  • 1 cup beer, cold and effervescent

Measure into a sifter:

  • 2/3 cup cornmeal (freshly ground if possible)
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt

Sift onto liquids, whisk just to mix, leaving small lumps. (You may need to add a bit more flour to adjust the thickness of the batter if it appears too runny.)

Fold in:

  • 1/4 cup oil

Sprinkle shelled sunflower seeds onto a preheated hot (just starting to smoke) well-seasoned waffle iron.

Bake until browned, about 6 minutes.

Brush with melted 1:1 butter:oil, drizzle on maple syrup, try to stop after eating just one…

Note

For the deluxe version, you may sprinkle in cooked sausage, walnuts and/or pecans in the same manner as the sunflower seeds.

Related

University of Cincinnati, Clermont College Waffle & Maple Syrup Breakfast

Making Maple Syrup

North American Maple Syrup Producers Manual: Second Edition (Looseleaf)

Selecting, Storing, and Serving Ohio Maple Syrup
Ohioline (Ohio State University Extension)