living and cooking for the planet, for the health, for the animals


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Bread time!

I stumbled upon the New York Times no-knead bread (by Jim Lahey, owner of Sullivan Street Bakery) only recently and I desperately wanted to try out this recipe.  Since I do believe that flour is a very delicate but so important factor in our diet I try to get control over it as much as possible. This means that I decided to reduce eating bread and pasta in general. In the case of craving bread I also figured out that it is better to bake it yourself and it is so much more fun and satisfying.

The New York Times no-knead bread is a kind of farmer’s bread with a beautiful crust and a wonderful crumb. The fermentation time provides a fragrant aroma and the prep time is a super plus! It just takes 10 minutes and can be done in between and during your other daily activities! Because I like to modify recipes in my way I changed the basic one a little bit so that I would use the flour I think is best. If you want to try out the original one you’ll find it here: http://cooking.nytimes.com/recipes/11376-no-knead-bread

Ingredients

  • 4 ½ cups organic whole grain wheat flour
  • 2 cups organic wheat flour (Italian tipo 0)
  • 1 tablespoon organic hemp flour
  • ½  teaspoon instant yeast
  • 1 teaspoons salt
  • more flour for dusting
  • 3 cups of water

Instructions

Place all types of  flour in a large bowl and mix with the salt, and yeast.

In a pot preheat the water to 40 °C and Add to the dry ingredients. Stir with a wooden spoon until blended. Don’t be surprised if the dough will be shaggy and sticky.

Cover the bowl with plastic wrap. Let dough rest at least 4 hours at warm room temperature, and then leave it in the fridge overnight (about 12 hours).

The next morning you take the bowl outside the fridge and leave it 3 till 4 hours again at warm room temperature.

At least a half-hour before dough is ready, heat oven to 220 °C degrees. Put a heat resistant pot with its lid (cast iron, enamel, Pyrex or ceramic) in the oven as it heats.

Fold the dough loosely from above and below one-third. Do not press or knead the dough. The fluffy dough ball is now ready (best with floured hands!) to let slip into the hot pot. Cover it and put it back into the oven immediately.
Carefully remove pot from oven. Take the soft dough ball (best with floured hands!) and turn dough over into pot. It will look messy, but that is O.K. Shake pan once or twice if dough is unevenly distributed; it will straighten out as it bakes. Cover with lid and bake 30 minutes, then remove lid reduce the heat to 180 °C and bake another 30 minutes until the loaf is golden brown. Cool on a rack. Enjoy!

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Colazione – or breakfast as usual 

It is one of the daily things I love the most. A good break fast. I love to wake up in the morning and to know that my day starts with healthy good food which gives me engine for the day.

I recently do my muesli with soya milk and yoghurt of goats’ milk. I add organic cornflakes, flakes of spelt and some fruits. Optionally, you can add some honey or seeds whichever you like!

   
 


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Pasta fresca – let’s do some Italian basics 

Having chickens which provide us with eggs is a bliss. The only thing is: being used to a vegan diet (which lasted 2 years) I’m still not very fond of boiled eggs. However, if you have an average of 3 eggs per day (thanks to Luana, Brigitta, Maria…) you suddenly and up with 12 eggs in the fridge and you have to do some kitchen action!
For fresh made pasta for two people you use 2 eggs, yeah! It’s not only super easy to do but tastes also very good! You can do it more often or once and prepare for more. Once the pasta is dry you can keep it for quite a time. Eccola! You need:

  • 200g organic whole wheat flour 
  • 2 eggs 

With the flour you create a mound on the counter top with a crater in the center. If using a stand mixer, add the eggs to the dough and mix them together with the paddle or dough hook until well mixed. On the counter top, crack the eggs into the center of the flour. Use your fingers to gradually draw the dry ingredients into the center, mixing them with the eggs. The dough will be hard to mix at first but will be smooth. Knead the dough, wrap it and let it sit at room temperature for an hour. With the dough having rested you only need to bring out you pasta machine and here we go!

The pasta doesn’t need to dry if you want to eat it immediately but if you want to keep it stored you leave the pasta (eg Tagliatelle) hanging at room temperature. They won’t stick together and will be done in ca 6 hours. We, fortunately, have a “stufa”, an oven in which throughout the winter a fire is burning and it took only 1 hour to dry. 

   
   
   

   


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Making a sweet yeast dough

Currently I’m cooking and baking under not the best conditions, well, I have no proper oven but a mini electronic one. This is indeed a pain in the ass, if I may say so, because all my recipes just wouldn’t work. Not at all! I’m sure that the heat circulation is one big factor why all my trying was for nothing. But after a while I figured that you just need to bake strong doughs (easy to make recipes) and follow the rule if subs tracking circa 30-40 degrees Celsius of the given degree number.

One of what I consider strong doughs is a sweet yeast dough. Many people are very afraid of doing one but in my opinion it’s one of the easiest. You just need to stick to some very important rules: yeast needs some feeding (sugar and milk), doesn’t want to touch eithe fat or salt, needs a warm place and likes to rest. Voilà! 

For a small rack (in a mini oven, otherwise double the ingredients) you need:

  • 250 g organic whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 package of dry yeast
  • 30 g organic cane sugar
  • 100 ml soy milk 
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tablespoon sunflower oil 
  • pinch of salt

Sieve the flour into a bowl and make a hole for the yeast. Put in the yeast and give it the feeding it needs: all the sugar and milk. Combine and leave the mixture in the hole for 15 min. Combine everything with the egg. Now that the yeast is properly mixed up you can add the fat and salt. Mix together and you get a smooth dough. Leave it at a warm place for 30 min to grow, then knead again, leave for another 30 min. Then it’s ready to use! Be creative! I just some of the elder jam to make a cake with buckwheat-quinoa crumbles! 

   
   


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Fig jam – Being productive and creative 

If you happen to have a garden you soon appreciate the pure bliss of being productive everyday! This is not spoken in a sarcastic way, not at all, but one has to realise that nature has her own timing and you just need to go with the flow. All the more when she says: “Here are some figs ready to be picked!” 

And then you start being creative because you can’t eat so many figs per day! And what is better than preparing some jam for the winter? I guess nothing because it’s simply the best way of preserving fruits and vegetables. So on today’s agenda was: marmellata di fichi. Living in the southern spheres makes it happen! And cooking jam is such an easy thing to do.

What you need is:

  • figs
  • organic cane sugar 
  • apples 

In a large saucepan combine the figs with two apples and bring to a simmer over medium low heat, stirring constantly. Cover and simmer over low heat for 1 hour, stirring occasionally. Remove the cover and add the sugar. I went for a 80% fruit and 20% sugar relation. Continue simmering, stirring frequently, until the mixture thickens. When the mixture gets quite thick, begin to stir constantly to keep from scorching.

Fill the jars with the hot fig jam mixture, leaving some headspace. Wipe jar rims and threads with a wet paper towel. Place lids on jars snd place on a rack in the hot water in the canner. Lower into the water and add enough hot or boiling water to bring the water level to 1 to 2 inches above the jars. Bring to a boil jars for 10 minutes. In this way we create a vacuum. 

   
 


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La vera vita italiana – or making gnocchi

Today is ferragosto, an Italian holiday celebrated in the summer vacation period around mid-August. Everyone is happy that it cooled of a bit and know you can hear Italian music and smell BBQ all over in the neighbourhood.

However, we decided to do some potato gnocchi for lunch (or “pranzo”) and came up with GNOCCHI DI TRE COLORE, some three style dish: salvia e melanzane (sage and aubergine), sugo al pomodoro (tomato sauce) and pesto. The recipe for the gnocchi is very easy and simple to do:

You’ll need the following to begin:

  • approximately 1kg of potatoes 
  • salt
  • organic wheat flour type 2
  • 1 egg

Put the unpeeled potatoes in a large pot. Fill the pot with cold water and simmer the potatoes until they are completely tender and easily pierced with a skewer, 30 to 35 minutes.

Drain the potatoes, let them cool just enough that you can handle them, and then peel them. Afterwards pass them through a ricer into a large bowl. Let cool until almost at room temperature.

In a small bowl, mix the flour with the salt. Add the egg to the potatoes and then add the flour mixture. Mix with your hands. The dough will be very gluey but once you start working with enough flour it’ll be good. 

With the palms of both hands, roll the dough piece on the floured surface into and then start cutting gnocchi the size you prefer. Then it’s all easy! Bring water to boil and simmer the gnocchi until they come up. Prepare as you wish! Basta! 

   

  

 


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Breakfast a la minimalese 

Calling myself a minimalist, I can wholeheartedly say that I really don’t need much. Especially in the morning when I usually even skip breakfast. But on a Saturday morning I do enjoy lingering and this is where some coffe and my sweet tooth is involved! Coffee, grapes and wholemeal rice cakes with a spread of miele italiano di tarassaco (dandelion honey) from a beekeeper in the montagna veronese! This is pure bliss and a good start for the day!