Tuesday, October 27, 2009

my cholesterol free life...

honest, i've been trying real hard to get this new diet under control. actually, it has been easier than i thought-once i've read the cholesterol content of most things, i am afraid to eat them! i have drastically reduced my intake of things like butter, cheese, milk and meat, let's not forget egg yolks. i have even begun to measure out servings especially in the morning when i drink coffee. as much as i hate to say it, i am a true coffee junkie and i just cannot give up the half and half either. so now when i pour my one cup, i measure the half and half before i add it. the worst part for me so far, sweets. i miss having some sort of sweet treat after a meal. my first thought was how will i participate in all of the baking challenges? bread baking has been easy so far; for world bread day, i made a loaf of sourdough bread-no fat in there! then i saw the challenge for the daring bakers and i was sad, how could i participate and not eat any of the results? unless...

the 2009 october daring bakers' challenge was brought to us by ami s. she chose macarons from claudia fleming's the last course: the desserts of gramercy tavern as the challenge recipe.

so there i was grinding my hazelnuts and contemplating a filling when it hit me, if i leave out the filling i can actually eat them!!! sorry folks but the dietary necessity of my life won over the challenge and i did not make the mandatory filling.

my cookies weren't perfect little mounds like the almond flour macarons but i will attribute that to the dull blade in my robot coupe. the cookies were sweet and light but a poor choice for a rainy day which is all we seem to have here anymore! i would definitely try this again but with something different like toasted coconut or cocoa powder.

my apologies to our hostess, ami for not filling them but i had a legitimate reason and i can at least eat them now!

Friday, October 16, 2009

world bread day, 2009

today is world bread day and to celebrate the day, i baked a loaf of my demo garden sour dough bread. this is the first year that i am participating in the event and to be honest, i can't think of a better reason to bake bread. lets get this party started...

this week, i received the results of my annual exam, specifically my blood test. have you noticed that no matter what, numbers rule? at least for me they do and the numbers in question are not good. never in my life have i been truly over weight for very long and i'm not the least bit overweight at this moment. i do go to the gym regularly and i try to behave, food wise that is. but it seems that i have a cholesterol count that is unacceptable and needs to come down. last year i was told that my triglycerides were way out there, over 300 and my cholesterol was 217. a list of suggestions was given to me and away i went. this year, the triglycerides were down to a normal reading of 145-an impressive feat. unfortunately, the cholesterol was up to 224...that's when the family history questions started and i could see a prescription in my future. nothing like a little controversy to get you going in the right direction. you see, i am not willing to let a pill do the job for me. i told the nice nurse that i was sure this was the result of some poor choices and i would make some changes.

one of the changes i have made, less meat/fat and more whole grains. in my demo garden sour dough bread i used some white whole wheat flour so i could hide it from the finicky family members. the only thing in this bread is the starter, water and flour-bread flour and white whole wheat. in my haste to make the bread before dinner, i forgot the salt! honestly though, aside from rising faster, it really didn't matter. sure, the taste was a little bland, but if you slather the bread with something or dip into something, it really doesn't matter.

don't worry, the slathering was with hummus. a nice cholesterol free and fiber rich choice that left me sated and guilt free! after a few days of this new diet, i am really beginning to adjust. it presents a new challenge-adapting recipes to eliminate the bad fats and add fiber and good fats. but what kind of baker would i be if i was afraid of a challenge?

celebrate world bread day and bake some bread. while your at it, celebrate life and be good to yourself with some healthy choices. see you at the gym! thanks to zorra for hosting this year's world bread day and check out her website in a few days to see the roundup of participants.

Monday, October 5, 2009

she's how old???

it surprises people to learn that i have a daughter in college. why, i am not sure, i am not exactly fresh out of school myself and on close examination, it is getting tougher and tougher to pass for less than 40...today is alix's 20th birthday, it is also my father's birthday. that was one year that i didn't have to worry about sending him a gift, it doesn't get much better than a first grandchild as a birthday gift. we celebrated this years day a day early since alix is busy with school and she asked darry to make her stuffed peppers and for me to make a cake. since i wanted to take part in the bread baking buddies challenge of steamed buns, i made those too.

the recipe for the xiang cong hya juan bao or chinese flower steamed buns called for chinese flour. how vague...first up, we headed to our favorite and closest asian market, K&S World Market.

when ever a recipe calls for asian ingredients, we start here. as for asian flour, we had many to choose from and if only we could read in japanese, chinese, korean or any number of asian languages.

after looking at many bags of flours, we settled on this one. it is indeed chinese and as you can see, it is even recommended for buns. what makes it so special is a mystery since most of the information is in chinese. i can say this though, it is very white which suggests bleaching and that will help with tenderness and it is very fine and silky another indication that this is a low gluten flour.

i did my best to follow the recipe, no extra water was used and i gave my rolling pin a good beating with this dough. the chives came from the garden and so did the peppers. we had a bunch of mild banana peppers that had turned a deep red color.

since i was skeptical that the buns would be any good, i also made a batch of steamed buns using a recipe from the old classic cookbook, the key to chinese cooking by irene kuo. i have always wanted to make steamed buns and thought this might be a good time to try them. i made a filling with chicken, andouille sausage, greens from the garden, peppers and traditional asian seasonings found in most steamed buns. the dough is a little different than the flower buns, it has more leaveners and is kneaded rather than rolled to develop the gluten.

we had picked up a bamboo steamer just to make the buns. this was the first attempt at steaming the buns. sorry to say they didn't turn out very good. they needed to proof longer and steam longer too. the second batch was better but honestly, a little bland. my husband, mr. condiment, suggested a dipping sauce and that helped with the lack of flavor.

here are my chicken & sausage buns in the steamer

honestly, these were better than the flower buns. with everything in the filling and the sauce, we ate more of these. it was a fun challenge and i look forward to making this type of dish again. since i have about 4 pounds of flour left, i will definitely do something with them. the key to success, longer proofing and longer steaming at a lower boil.

my thanks to karen for a truly challenging recipe and for helping me to provide birthday party entertainment!