I thought I’d try something new today. I have a couple of things I need to cook. Both are new recipes, so I thought I’d chronicle my adventure as it happens.
I’ll be making bread, something I don’t have a lot of luck with. In the distant past, I used to make these great dinner rolls from a rich yeast dough. This kind of dough means eggs and butter are part of it. Also a sweetener. I had a recipe back then but I haven’t been able to find it for many years. So I’m using a recipe that I found online.
You’re right, this doesn’t fall into my vegan diet. These rolls were very popular with my kids when they were little (it also makes awesome cinnamon rolls), and my daughter asked me to bring the dinner rolls to Thanksgiving. I figure I need to practice first, plus her guest list includes about 30 people, so we’ll need plenty of rolls.
The second item I’m cooking today is a vegan chili. The recipe is from Straight from the Earth: A Hundred Irresistible Vegan Recipes for Everyone by Myra Goodman and Marea Goodman, of Earthbound Farm. That won’t be such a big challenge but it will be fun to post about it.
So I’ll get started, right after I’ve done the breakfast dishes. Note to beginning cooks: always start with a clean kitchen – you’ll enjoy the cooking experience much more!
I’m using a recipe from Cooks. com. It sounds vaguely like the old recipe I used to have. Close enough, I guess.
Here’s my setup. Exciting that I get to use my fancy-schamcy Kitchen-Aid mixer. The first step is to measure 2 cups of flour and 1.5 packages of active dry yeast in the bowl. I’m using whole wheat pastry flour instead of white flour, and I buy yeast in bulk, so don’t have any packages. Google tells me there are 2.25 teaspoons of yeast in one package. Do the math…
The next step is to heat the milk, butter, sugar, and salt to about 115 degrees. Sadly, the effing thermometer I bought a few months ago is refusing to turn on. Not even a new battery helped. So I’ll have to do the finger estimate, keeping in mind that my hands are cold.
Now I add wet ingredients to dry, along with eggs, and mix on high for 3 minutes. While that’s happening, I can wash up the few dishes I’ve used so far. Then I add the rest of the flour and mix.
Aaaand something is strange. The dough is still liquid. I triple-checked the ingredients and I used the right amount of everything. What a pain. So I’ve added more flour. LOTS more flour. As in 3 cups. I’m sure this is going to screw with the yeast/flour ratio and turn this into Epic Fail. Note to self (and all of you): never use this recipe again. Here’s a different one that uses 3 cups of flour to 2/3 cup milk. THAT makes more sense!
So here’s the dough, set aside to rise. I worried about this step last night when I was supposed to be sleeping. Our house is always cold this time of year. Where could I put the bread to rise? My oven’s lowest temp is 170. Too hot. Maybe on the floor by a heater vent?
In the end, I decided to keep in on the stove. I’ll be cooking the chili after all.
Speaking of chili, it’s time to get started! The recipe is called Four Bean and Sweet Potato Chili with Skillet Cornbread. It calls for 1.5 cups each of black, kidney, and pinto beans, and black-eyed peas. I don’t have black-eyed peas, so maybe I’ll add white beans to the mix. Either way, I don’t have enough cooked beans available, so my first step will be to do that. I’m going to just mix the beans together and cook them in one pot. Now, you’re supposed to soak beans overnight before cooking, but I forgot. No worries, though. I’ll just use my secret quick-soak method!
You’ve probably figured out that I’m a pantser when it comes to cooking. Cooking is both science and art. Over the years, I’ve learned a thing or two, so I can mess with recipes with some success. Doesn’t always work, but mostly it does.
By the way – the dough is rising and it looks lovely! Whew – dodged that bullet!
To quick-soak beans, I rinse them in a colander, then put them in a large bowl and add boiling water. Cover them generously with water because they’ll expand as they soak. Let them sit for an hour. Then drain and cook just as if they’d been soaking all night.
Note: don’t waste the soaking water. Pour it in your compost or over plants. Even if you don’t live in a drought-prone area, always think of the planet when you cook!
Since we now have a longish break, I’ll go ahead and publish what I’ve done so far. In another 30 minutes or so, it will be time to form the dough into balls and let them rise again before baking. The beans will need to cook for a couple of hours or more after they soak. I’ll take pictures of the bread as I work with it and I’ll start the second post when I start prepping for the chili. Come back and check on me later!