Good morning and welcome to April’s edition of my Green Kitchen… I cannot begin to tell you how delighted I am to be back with a brand- new column at Smorgasbord Magazine… and how welcome you are making me feel.
I am passionate about cooking from scratch using fresh ingredients, the environment and ensuring that the food I make for my family is clean and as chemical free as it can possible be…I would also love to know that instead of counting calories and cost that more people counted chemicals as it is the chemicals in processed foods which affect our health and wellbeing.
Just to recap for those who are new here…This monthly post will cover sustainability, news on food production…changes for the better and maybe a villain or three…haha, a recipe or two including some plant- based recipes, hints and tips on making my household a little greener…aka recycling and composting.
It isn’t easy …in theory we know what we should do …THEREFORE I have looked at what I can do gradually…every small change is a bonus.
This Month’s Recipe…Pretzel Bread.
Started with a challenge…Never one to back down I accepted…I do love a challenge…
All I knew about pretzel dough was that like beigels the dough was boiled before baking and this gives it that characteristic deep brown crust and pretzel taste…
It was lovely a little sweet my tester said it tasted like currant bread sweetness not horrible he liked it and the salt was a foil for that methinks but with some ham and mustard in a sandwich it went down a treat…
I have however tweaked the original recipe and used less sugar…1 tbsp instead of 3 tbsp.
• 2 and a quarter tsp of instant yeast.
• 1 cup of lukewarm water
• 1 tbsp brown sugar
• 1 tbsp milk…I used full-fat milk
• 4 tbsp (2 oz) melted butter
• 1 tsp sea salt
• 3 cups of all-purpose unbleached flour
Baking Soda Bath:
• 4 quarts (8 pints) water
• Half cup Baking Soda
• 2 tbsp butter melted
• Coarse salt for topping.
A lined baking tray.
Preheated oven 200 degrees
- Combine your yeast, water, and brown sugar in a bowl and stir to dissolve sugar.
- Melt the butter and then add to the milk then stir into the yeast mixture to combine.
- Add the salt and flour 1 cup at a time and stir to combine then once the dough has come together knead until it is a firm but slightly tacky dough. If you need to add more add a little at a time.
- Put the dough into a greased bowl and cover with a cloth and allow to rise about an hour and it should have doubled in size.
- Once the 60 mins are up put your 4 quarts of water in a large pan and bring to the boil then add your Baking Soda…DO NOT ADD IT ALL AT ONCE OR IT WILL ALLL FIZZ OVER …add a little at a time I added it a tsp at a time.
- Then punch your dough down to remove the gas and divide it into two portions…Add one portion to the boiling water and turn after 60 seconds and give it 60 seconds on the other side remove with a slotted spoon to drain and make a small cross in the middle and sprinkle with salt.
- Put on a lined baking tin…
- Repeat with your second piece of dough…When cutting the cross, for the first time I made mine too big as this dough once boiled is easier than a normal risen dough to cut through.
Boiled Pretzel Dough
- Sit both pieces of prepared dough on a lined baking tray and put it into your preheated oven…200 degrees.
- Cook for 23-25 mins turning the tray around halfway through the cooking…
I was quite amazed at how it coloured up and just looked the colour of a pretzel that lovely deep brown…
When you remove it from the oven brush with the melted butter and enjoy it!
Did you know?
It’s a given that processed foods can save you a little time. But what you gain in convenience, you lose in money, environmental impact and maybe even health.
That’s because processed foods require more labour to convert them from their natural state to something that fits in a box, bag or tub.
You’re also paying for the chemicals added to the processed food to keep them fresh.
You’re paying for the packaging, too, which is totally worthless once you get it home. Indeed, $1 out of every $11 you spend at the grocery store you spend on packaging you throw away.
I will give you a simple example…Tomato Ketchup.
I find most processed ketchup contains way too much sugar. You can reduce the sugar down and spice it just the way you like it if you make your own.
You can make it from canned tomatoes, but to avoid the packaging and avoid Bisphenol-A (BPA) which is a controversial chemical compound present in commercially available tin can plastic linings and transferred to canned food. The inside of the can is coated with an epoxy coating, in an attempt to prevent food or beverage from coming into contact with the metal.
Another reason why I use fresh plum tomatoes which you can get at the grocery store or your local farmer’s market unless of course you grow your own.
Another bonus is you can make as much or as little as you like and its easy…
Just peel, seed and dice the tomatoes, add a tablespoon or so of minced red onion, a tablespoon or so of apple cider vinegar, minced garlic and hot sauce like siracha if you want some spice. Process in a food processor.
If it’s not as thick as you’d like, simmer it on low until some of the liquid evaporates. You can also play with spices like ground ginger, cinnamon, honey and cloves.
The beauty of making it yourself is that you can make it exactly the way you like it and the amount that you want.
As my grandkids don’t eat ketchup or eat it very rarely, I make a small amount at a time maybe 3 large tomatoes, 2 tbsp minced red onions, a clove of garlic, 1-2 tbsp apple cider vinegar, tbsp of siracha and some cinnamon and smoked paprika is our preferred recipe just don’t be afraid to experiment.
I was very recipe driven before I lived here and none of the Thais who have taught me to cook use recipe books…which has meant I have learnt to rely on my eye and my taste which means the food is far better…even my grandkids will say to me nan you need more lime juice, chilli or fish sauce they do the same which I think is great it develops a good palate…
Does it matter?
How you slice your onions?…actually yes it does.
If you slice an onion from end to end, it will have a milder flavour than if you slice it across the middle. That’s because cutting an onion releases flavour compounds, and how you slice with or against the grain releases more or fewer compounds.
When you cut your onion from end to end or with the grain, you cause less damage and release fewer compounds than when you slice through the middle.
Slicing through the middle, or against the grain, causes a greater disruption and leaves you with a stronger, more pungent taste.
So, the next time you go to slice rings for your burger and you love to taste your onions think before you slice…
Growing Your Own:
Egg Boxes and Egg Shells…
The seeds which I planted in egg shells have started to pop their heads above ground but did you know that when you transfer your seedlings to their permanent home or just a larger home that the egg shells you are planting with them provide calcium to the soil?
The calcium from eggshells is also welcome in garden soil, where it moderates soil acidity while providing nutrients for plants.
The shells also contain nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium which are most vital for healthy growth, calcium is also essential for building healthy “bones” aka the cell walls of a plant…win-win all round and no waste…
I have long admired the Japanese for their foresight and their environmental knowledge and practises. Do you know how the Japanese make wood without cutting down trees? I didn’t until I came across this practise called Daisugiit… is both brilliant and fascinating.
How The Japanese Make Wood WITHOUT Cutting Down Trees!
Covid-19…has rampaged through the world…many have unfortunately died, many have lost their jobs, schools have had to close…BUT there have been positives…This is one of them…That it is a good news story about a species of cat makes me happy as I am a firm believer that the animal world is far better at conservation than we are …I also believe that the animal kingdom should be nurtured and cherish as they are vital to our survival…
This is an interesting article which highlights all the areas and causes of the lynx coming back from near extinction…
Sustainability is on the agenda…Food and jobs are on the agenda…a healthy world is on the agenda…
Are you ready to join me in making your kitchen and garden a little greener, are you ready to cook from scratch more often and to count chemicals instead of calories and cost? Love Carol xx
About Carol Taylor
Enjoying life in The Land Of Smiles I am having so much fun researching, finding new, authentic recipes both Thai and International to share with you. New recipes gleaned from those who I have met on my travels or are just passing through and stopped for a while. I hope you enjoy them.
I love shopping at the local markets, finding fresh, natural ingredients, new strange fruits and vegetables ones I have never seen or cooked with. I am generally the only European person and attract much attention and I love to try what I am offered and when I smile and say Aroy or Saab as it is here in the north I am met with much smiling.
Some of my recipes may not be in line with traditional ingredients and methods of cooking but are recipes I know and have become to love and maybe if you dare to try you will too. You will always get more than just a recipe from me as I love to research and find out what other properties the ingredients I use have to improve our health and wellbeing.
Exciting for me hence the title of my blog, Retired No One Told Me! I am having a wonderful ride and don’t want to get off, so if you wish to follow me on my adventures, then welcome! I hope you enjoy the ride also and if it encourages you to take a step into the unknown or untried, you know you want to…….Then, I will be happy!
Carol is a contributor to the Phuket Island Writers Anthology: Amazon US
Connect to Carol – Blog: Carol Cooks 2 – Twitter: @CarolCooksTwo – Facebook: Carol Taylor
My thanks to Carol for another fascinating post about how we can make a big difference to our health and that of the environment.. do head over to her blog to follow her and take your appetite… thanks Sally.