It's in the Bag, Gluten Free & The WoW Diet

Monday, January 25, 2010

Rye Pancakes

When one hears the phrase, "Rye Pancakes" it does not typically stir feelings of gustatory delight. The usual reaction is, "Yuck." In fact, at one of The Bag Lady's recent demos, it was an audible "YUCK! WE HATE RYE!" that resounded from an unguarded tongue. However, these puppies changed the tune of those unbelievers.

Stereotypical rye products are often paired with molasses and caraway seeds. Sadly, many individuals are repulsed by these pungent flavors. Defying stereotypes, The Bag Lady's rye pancakes contain neither molasses or caraway. These flapjacks have a nutty earthy flavor, and are hearty without being heavy and drab. They are porous enough to be nicely infused with syrup, jam, peanut butter or what have you.

Obviously, since it's a bag meal, it is super easy and user friendly. You may be one of those "convenience dry mix users" (I myself have been guilty of such effrontery when away from home), but take a few minutes to whip up a couple bagged rye mixes and you're ready for a major upgrade in your breakfast life for the same amount of time. On top of the ease, you feel "oh so healthy" as you eat them and the staying power is well beyond that of those nasty, spongy, soggy, mix produced things. Our family is definitely a fan, give it a whirl. Join the RYE-volution! I'm sure you'll be pleasantly surprised.

Rye Pancakes
1-12 oz. can evaporated milk
1/3 cup + 2 tablespoons water
Re-closable bag:
2¼ cups rye flour
1½ teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
¾ cup brown sugar*
4 tablespoons powdered eggs

In a large bowl stir all ingredients until batter is smooth. Ladle pancake batter onto a hot oiled griddle. Turn pancakes when bubbles appear and edges are golden brown.

*Be sure to combine brown sugar with other ingredients when you bag your mix or you will have a hard lump of brown sugar as time passes.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Wheat, Wheat, and more WHEAT!

In response to a request from one of our readers, we now present the ins and outs of wheat. It is after all, the staff of life.

No wheat flours are naturally white. Wheat flour, as mother nature made it, is a stunning monochromatic palette of varying browns. Bleaching the flour makes it a pretty white, but also destroys the nutritional value. Oh the price we pay for our vanity! There are many different types of wheat, but the following 5 are fairly common and readily accessible.

Hard Red Spring Wheat-Also known as Selkirk, Lee, Justin, Pembina, and Thatcher. This wheat carries a protein, packed, punch--upwards of 15.5%. It produces a rich flour with excellent gluten chains allowing the cook to make extra large beautiful loaves of bread.

Hard Red Winter Wheat-This wheat is also known as Triumph, Wichita, Kaw, Cheyenne, Commanche, and Turkey. It is wonderful for baking bread, but has a lower protein content averaging 12.5%.

Soft Red Winter Wheat
-You can find this wheat under the names of Monon, Knox, Seneca, Dual, and Vermillion. It has a protein content of about 7.5-10% and is higher in starch than other red wheats. The starch content makes it less cohesive, but very good for making pastries, biscuits, and crackers.

White Wheat-This wheat is known as Gaines, Omar, Genesee, Avon, Burt, Lemhi, Ramona, and Brevor. The small, white, chalky kernels indicate a higher starch content and very low protein. It serves best as a flour for cookies and cakes.

Durum and Red Durum-This wheat can be found as Wells, Lakota, Langdon, Sentry, and Mindum. The flour is granular and low in protein and is most often featured in pastas.

Heat, light, and oxygen oxidize the oils in food, so it is imperative to reduce or eliminate these factors when engaging in long term food storage. Hence, your wheat will be happiest in a cool, dry place. Remember your elementary school science fair project? Yeah, warm and wet=soggy and stinky.

Oxygen Absorbers-Using oxygen absorbers will lengthen the shelf life of your wheat, but at a price. Just like us, little wheat kernels need some oxygen to breathe. Essentially, sucking out the oxygen smothers your wheat and it will not sprout. At our house, we have wheat with oxygen absorbers(for longevity) and without, should we fancy a wheat sprout now and again. It goes nicely with a mixture of sprouted alfalfa, radish, and adzuki.

Containers -It makes no particular difference if you store your wheat in cans, buckets, or mylar bags. The important thing, is that it does not sit directly on the ground. In some freak phenomenon of nature the temperature change between the ground and the bucket may result in wicked condensation, which infiltrates and molds the wheat...or so Great Grandma says. We have always dutifully followed her council and our wheat has been fine. The easiest way to avoid this problem is to put a few wood slats under your buckets/cans/bags.

Using Wheat
The first tool you need is a wheat mill or grinder. A mill has blades while a grinder has actual stones. Both produce top-notch flours, though without proper care, grinding stones may become glazed. The Bag Lady has both a mill and a grinder and loves them dearly. The Bag-ette has many "fond" memories of lugging the heavy grinder up the stairs. The coarseness of the flour is up to you. Coarse flour can be used for cracked wheat cereal or in place of rice, medium flour is swell for cream of wheat, and fine ground is lovely for baking.

Whole wheat is naturally heavier, but requires more TLC. Buttermilk, yogurt, yeast, baking powders and sodas all make good leavening agents. If making pancakes or waffles, it helps to beat the egg whites until stiff, then fold in the wheat mixture. One might also consider using a ratio of whole wheat to bread flour. Some recipes may require extra liquid if transferring from bread flour to whole wheat flour, just be aware. Truly the possibilities are endless. If you're starting a whole wheat revolution at your house, just ease the family into it. The transition from white and fluffy to hearty and nutty can cause quite the commotion. ;)

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Chocolate Decadence

The Bag-ette successfully commandeered the kitchen with some delectable results. Behold, "THE FLOURLESS CHOCOLATE TORTE!" Indeed.

My obsession with chocolate torte developed in the past few months. There is a quaint little Mexican restaurant that we like to frequent. The Bag Lady is rather partial to the fish tacos, whereas I'm more committed to the pork ones. The tacos are particularly lovely because they are not made with those nasty, crunchy, processed, corn things. Homemade flour tortillas are lightly crisped to retain their shape when filled with all manner of good things, yet the shell stays slightly chewy. It brings a new definition to the word "taco." Forgive me, I digress, this post is about dessert. The flourless chocolate torte is to die for. It is a creamy, decadent, rich, positively sinful concoction. It caresses the tongue as it gently melts into silkiness, inducing a cocoa coma which can only be cured by another bite.

I had been pondering a reproduction for some time but had not yet attempted the feat. Then it happened! To my utmost joy and wonder I was looking through a magazine and the heavens opened! I heard an angelic chorus! There it was, a base recipe for me to begin my experiments. Here is what I came up with. Although I am still a dedicated fan of my restaurant's version, this was highly satisfactory.

Flourless Chocolate Torte

8 eggs cold
1 pound Semisweet Chocolate
1 Cup butter

1. Heat oven to 325 degrees, coat springform pan with nonstick cooking spray (or in my case more butter--it tastes better). Wrap pan's bottom and side with foil to prevent water bath from seeping into pan. Boil a pot of water.

2. Beat eggs with hand mixer on high, until they have doubled in volume.

3. Combine chocolate and butter and heat until melted. Fold eggs into chocolate mixture in 3 additions until fully mixed.

4. Pour mixture into springform pan. Place pan in a large roasting pan in oven. Pour boiling water into roasting pan to come half way up side of springform pan. Bake at 325 degrees for 40-47 minutes until toothpick comes out clean. DO NOT OVERBAKE!!! You will end up with a dry, crumbly, disgusting mess.

5. Remove cake to a wire rack and cool completely. Garnish as desired. Chill leftovers.

*Ok, I made a few modifications. I used a little over a pound of chocolate. Since I like a very dark chocolate torte, I used a mixture of Guittard semi sweet chips and baking chocolate. It was lovely. Also, if you don't want to mess with wrapping your pan in foil (which I didn't) simply place your springform pan in another pan. Then place that pan into the roasting pan and pour the water into the roasting pan. The pan in the middle will protect the torte from water seepage, while still allowing the necessary steam action to take place. The magazine suggested garnishing with powdered sugar, I thought that was pansy and went for caramel and crushed oreos. My Mexican restaurant uses chocolate syrup, whipped cream, and strawberries. Beautiful.

This is an absolutely perfect dessert for a birthday, Valentines Day, or any day that has a name which ends in the letter "Y". I think I will be trying a white chocolate version with a tangy raspberry sauce next. It would seem that Momma isn't the only mad culinary scientist.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Our Participating Retailers!

Wonderful news from our friends at Cedar Fort Publishing! Borders, Barnes & Noble, Deseret Book, Seagull Book, and assorted independent LDS bookstores have signed on to carry "It's in the Bag~A New Approach to Food Storage." The book is slated for release in May of 2010. Watch in the coming days for the luscious results as the Bag-ette takes over the kitchen and some enlightening adventures with wheat!

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Invention Mode!

Yesterday I came home from work to find the kitchen strewn with assorted flours and the pile of dishes mounting. The Bag Lady is in invention mode. That means we eat a lot...and frequently. In the past 2 days we have had 2 different soups, a baguette, sourdough rye muffins, several vegetarian dishes, 2 pumpernickels, a french bread, and parmesan Italian bread sticks (in addition to the regular breakfast, lunch, and dinner). The spelt and barley loaf is currently baking and our house smells like a petite boulangerie.

The crowning achievement of the night was Roasted Portabellos with Gouda and Sauteed Fennel.

This is very much a gourmet dish involving a symphonic fusion of layered flavors. The heartiness of the mushrooms plays well with the earthy Gouda, while the fennel leaves subtle licorice aftertones dancing on the palette. The finale peaks with roasted roma tomatoes and a hint of basil.

We stopped by the Asian market to collect more of the necessary ingredients for "invention mode." For those of you that cook with fresh herbs, Asian markets are the best places to get good quantities of basil, mint, lemon grass, etc at a fair price. As we were checking out, I couldn't help but notice a new delectable, "Sweetened Black Sticky Rice with Custard, *Friday and Saturday ONLY" Well, it was was only $2...and it was in the name of culture...I HAD TO HAVE SOME, because I just hadn't snacked enough today.

As you can see from the emptiness of my carryout box, it was delightful. Sticky rice is my favorite type of rice, and the blackish-purple grains of this variety were as fun to look at as they were to eat. Thai sticky rice has a chewy, sticky, elasticity, that normal white varieties lack. The grains that retain their soft protective shell during the cooking process burst with a slight crunch to reveal the chewy goodness that resides inside. Through a very careful investigation we have determined that this fanciful dessert is steeped in vast quantities of palm sugar and coconut milk. The custard seems to be egg based, but has a slightly gelatinous feel that compliments the chewiness of the rice. A tiny, forbidden, kiss of lemon tantalizes the senses. All in all, it is oh so nice, and although I am partial to sweetened sticky rice and mangoes, this dish puts up a good fight when it comes to ordering dessert.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010


Yay for recipes! We are happy to introduce our first teaser recipe! Wouldn't you know it? It's a muffin. The Bag Lady's Crumb Cake Muffins are very likely my favorite muffin in her vast repertoire, so you are all in for a treat. It's perfectly delightful to bite into a warm, soft, fragrant muffin base generously coated in a pillow of cinnamon kissed crumbs. In fact, I am one of those people that pulls the muffin top of first, because it is the best part...wasn't there a Seinfeld episode about muffin tops?

The posted recipe is the food storage version. When we make these muffins for a regular breakfast, we use fresh butter and save the canned butter. You never know when you'll need a crumb muffin in the midst of a crisis. The canned butter we buy has a 30 year shelf life and tastes almost exactly like fresh butter. Different brands of canned butter have different tastes, so make sure you taste-test before you buy any large quantities for storage.

Crumb Cake Muffins
1 cup + 2 tablespoons water
½ cup cooled melted canned butter
Re-closable bag:
1¾ cups all-purpose flour
¾ cup granulated white sugar
1¾ teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons powdered egg
3 tablespoons powdered milk

Pantry items:
2 teaspoon vanilla extract
½ teaspoon almond extract
Vegetable shortening

Muffin Topping:
1/3 cup softened canned butter
Re-closable bag:
¾ cup all-purpose flour
½ cup brown sugar*
½ teaspoon cinnamon

Preheat oven to 375°F. Grease muffin pan cups with vegetable shortening. In a small bowl, combine topping ingredients. Stir topping ingredients until they resemble coarse crumbs. Pour dry ingredients into a large bowl. Make a well in the middle of the dry ingredients and add water, butter, vanilla, and almond extract. Stir just enough to combine dry ingredients with the wet ingredients, do not over mix. Fill muffin cups ⅔ full of batter. Top muffin batter with prepared topping. Lightly spritz muffin topping with water. This will help adhere crumb topping to muffin batter. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the middle of a muffin comes out clean. Cool muffins 5 minutes before removing from cups.

*Be sure to combine brown sugar with other ingredients when you bag your mix or you will have a hard lump of brown sugar as time passes.

Like all good crumb cakes, this is loaded with butter and sugar. Although it may not be heart healthy, it will lure your teenage boys away from their Poptarts and Lucky Charms. Now THAT is magically delicious!

Friday, January 1, 2010

Do you know the muffin man?

As you may know, our kitchen is a type of laboratory. The Bag Lady carefully formulates her recipes, tries, tests, and tweaks them. As in any scientific situation, occasionally there are EXPERIMENTS GONE WRONG!!! Think Frankenstein's monster, Dr. Jekyll's infamous alter ego Mr. Hyde, the Creature from the Black Lagoon, and you'll the idea of what I witnessed as I entered the kitchen during the formulative stages of some of the early recipes.
Ohhhh the HORROR!

Only one thing came to mind...

"Oh my gosh, what is that THING?!?!"

We could only be grateful that the yeast had been killed in the baking process, or we may have had a code red situation on our hands. I can see the headlines now, "City Wiped Out By Enraged,Lumpy,Muffin!" Needless to say, The Bag Lady immediately took this creation back to formula. Within an hour the recipe was recalculated, the thwarting ingredient banished, and a batch of hot, fresh, fluffy, awe-inspiring, delectable, tantalizing muffins emerged from the oven. Why yes, this is a bag meal, and the perfected recipe is ready in less than 30 minutes. Now that's something worth getting out of bed for on chilly Monday morning.