Thursday, July 26, 2007

One Local Summer 2007: Week Five



Beans and Cornbread had a fight. Let's eat!

It has been cool here lately. I've been on a canning spree, so the fact that the kitchen isn't unremittingly broiling has been wonderful. All this cooking, though, has left me very little time to think about dinner. So this week's meal is a thrown-together affair.

Some of my leftover beans (i.e., those that did not make it into some cans) were the basis of this simple meal today. I made a chili with black beans (from mid-Michigan), local corn, and our garden's squash, peppers, garlic, onions, and canned tomatoes and dried hot peppers from last year. Hot, but not too hot. Oh, and some fresh and cold cukes to take the edge off.

My greatest find, though? LOCAL CORNMEAL. I am in heaven. The cornbread is local flour, cornmeal, and honey; our eggs; and nonlocal butter and milk (sniff!)

We finished it off with blueberry muffins, all local ingredients except the vanilla.

10 comments:

farm mom said...

Looks and sounds delicious!! I have a question for you. Emily left a response on my OLS week #3 (concerning my failed hamb buns) saying that she was talking to a MI baker and they said MI flour doesn't rise well because of low gluten amts. Since I know you use lots of MI flours, and do your own baking, what has been your experience with that? I have access to high gluten flour at my local menninit grocer, do I need to try incorporating that into my recipes to get a rise outta my bread? :)

El said...

Hi Ang
Gluten is not IN flour, it is what happens TO flour once it is moistened and well-kneaded (i.e., it's a chemical process). VERY GENERALLY if you can't get your loaves to rise, it usually means it hasn't been kneaded enough to make this chemical process happen, or that the yeast is already dead or has been killed by adding water that's too hot. It's hard to overknead bread by hand, but it can be done in the mixer. So. You need to find out if the flour you have has what it takes to be a well-rising flour.

Very generally again, the wheat that has the most protein in it is that which has the most of the wheat berry: whole-wheat flours. These flours are further broken down by the type of wheat that is grown. There are two seasons for wheat. Hard red spring wheat is wheat that is planted in spring, harvested in fall; it is typically highest in protein. Soft red winter wheat is that which is planted in late fall and harvested in spring.

Why protein? It makes the best old-fashioned, crumbly, high-rising old-world loaf. Wonder Bread it isn't: that "bread" is made with denatured degermed and bleached flour that has had to have stuff put back into it to make it nutritious again.

All-purpose flours are a mixture of the denatured white stuff and whole-wheat flour.

The best bread book out there, IMHO, to learn "how to loaf" is the Laurel's Kitchen Bread Book. It takes you step by step how to make one loaf, and then has a diagnostic section to find out what might go wrong. It is based on whole-wheat flour. If you can learn how to make a loaf with whole-wheat flour, you can make any bread.

So, I wouldn't malign Michigan flours, per se. Both types of wheat are grown here. The baker you talked to: doughnuts or baguettes? If they do mainly quick breads, then they probably want the high processed white stuff. Your Mennonite neighbors are probably not interested in Wonder Bread, so they're most likely using high-protein whole wheat flour.

Boy! That was long-winded. Anyway, look into that book, or see if there is a bread-making class nearby: you can get a lot of tips from a class.

Stacie said...

yeah! lucky you, i have been searching since last ols for locally grown grains. the farmers here tell me they don't grow wheat because our soil is too good for wheat, this is corn country, lil missy!

meresy_g said...

Can you give some kind of loose recipe for that chile? It looks really good and incorporates a lot of things I have right now that I'm not sure what to do with, like peppers. I always plant so many peppers and with the exception of the pimentos, bells, and jalapenos, don't really know what to make with them.

Kelly said...

local cornmeal! that's awesome. too bad i've developed an allergy to corn, because beans and corn bread is heaven. your muffins look divine, too. i'm going to go home and make a batch with last year's berries from the freezer. we get to start picking from my BILs 50 bushes this weekend!! yum!

El said...

Stacey, wasn't it you last year that posted a pic of your local-ish Amish grocery store? I remember seeing it and just SIGHing with jealousy. Maybe they have something other than corn?

M, well. I browned two chopped onions for a minute or two, added the corn (cut off the cob) and peppers, and let it cook a bit longer. I then added dried and fresh peppers, oregano, thyme and minced garlic, and some salt and pepper, then dumped in the drained beans along with about a cup and a half of my leftover tomato sauce. I let it cook a long time to mix together, then added cubed squash and diced roma beans, let it cook longer. Final taste test for more salt. Hot pepper flakes on the table for the husband, grated cheddar cheese for the kid, and me, well, lots of minced onion greens and parsley. Definitely just what was on hand, frankly; nothing special. I can't remember what kind of peppers I have; I think it's cayenne.

Kelly: poor you! No corn! I definitely don't eat it every day, but it is nice once in a while, especially polenta. Lucky you on a source of (I'm assuming?) free berries~! I agree with you on emptying the freezer BEFORE going on a fruit harvest. Tom is downstairs now moving things around for our--get this--20 lbs of blueberries, most of which are destined for the deep freeze.

Faith said...

If the beans and cornbread had a fight, it looks like you won. What a tasty-looking meal. :o)

cookiecrumb said...

You're such a magician, I can't believe you haven't already figured out how to get your own local vanilla.
xx

farm mom said...

El, thank you for taking the time to give me a such a thorough response, I really do appreciate it. Yes, I will definately look into that book, and the flour that I bought is Whole Wheat Flour from a local organic farm that raises their own grains. I know I'm really lucky to have such a local source, and I'm really hoping to be able to use it well!! Thanks again! You're the best!! :)

kaleforsale said...

The chile looks really good but it's the muffin that I want to reach into the computer and grab. This has put me over the fence on blueberries. I've been resisting buying and freezing them but not now. Thanks for the inspiration!