25 January 13 • MAV

Well, January is nearly gone (thank goodness because it has not been my favorite month, harumph!) and it’s time for me to make a quick check-in with my resolutions. I’m moving along well on the Cooking (been eating in a lot and many times by warm candlelight) and Resting (taking weekends off and getting lots of sleep!) and still working on Giving and Walking. Hey, one thing at a time, right?

I’ve been enjoying cooking/baking and trying out many new recipes (some of which we’ve already been made and remade). A few weeks ago I pulled out one of my favorite little books: Cooking With Wholegrains by Mildred Ellen & Vrest Orton. This is a lovely understated book which represents and supports everything I love about baking: simplicity, experimenting and using wholegrains. And it has a little attitude as well!

Vrest Orton writes in his Word Of Warning at the beginning of the book, “There is some confusion, in the public mind, about two other terms often advertised. One is Unbleached Flour. This is simply white flour, without chemical bleach. In no sense is unbleached flour a wholegrain because, like any other white flour, it does not contain the natural vitamins and other nutritional elements always present in stoneground wholegrains.” And he goes on to talk about water ground meal. I just like how he cuts right through it. And he continues that tone throughout the rest of the book encouraging the reader to see “cooking as an art form.” This is my kind of couple! Mildred, if I can call her that, lived until she was 99 years-old. There’s certainly something to be said about that.

It’s lucky that I love the taste of wholegrain flour and I don’t have to force myself to use it for the sheer goodness of it. But I know not everyone is like me. That said, I think a simple biscuit is a great place to start if you are just trying to get more whole grains into your world. Why is it a good place to start? Well, you can (and should) slather it with butter and that may help you ease into the enjoyment of this type of baking. I encourage you to try out this simple wholegrain biscuit with your winter soups and stews. It’s simply delicious. I use a little corn meal because I love this combination but you can use all whole wheat flour if you like. That is what Mildred does!

Baking Powder Biscuits
adapted slightly from Cooking With Wholegrains by The Ortons
makes 8–10 biscuits depending on size

1 1/2 C whole wheat flour
1/2 C yellow corn meal
1 t salt
4 t baking powder
5 T unsalted butter, cold
1 C milk

Pre-heat oven to 450ºF / 230ºC. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Sift dry ingredients together well two times (don’t skimp on the sifting). Cut in butter until the mixture resembles course meal. Add enough milk, a little at a time, to make a moist dough. You might not use the whole cup or you might need a little more. You want the dough to come together easily and be moist but not damp. Turn the dough out onto a lightly wheat-floured board and pat out to 1/2 inch thick. Cut out your biscuits (I use a glass to do this) and bake for 15 minutes tops. Serve right out of the oven with butter.

A Note: I’ve found the goal with this recipe is to handle the dough as little as possible. It may take a few times of making this to find your groove in that department. Don’t worry. You’ll find it. I use my fingers, gently, to bring the dough together after I add the milk which I think really helps the biscuits have a nicer tenderness. Sometimes a wooden spoon can just create too much action for the dough. At any rate, enjoy and, as Mildred and Vrest encourage, have fun.

25 January 13 • SCB

Fridays are “BFD” (Breakfast For Dinner) night at our house. We are all tired from the school/work week and the cupboards and fridge are often a little bare, but we can almost always put together a breakfast-style meal (and if I can pair it with a brunch cocktail like a Salty Dog, all the better). Sometimes we make french toast, pancakes or a dutch baby, but waffles are the crowd-pleaser.

My recipe for waffles is adapted from Mark Bittman’s How to Cook Everything (I finally got a fresh copy!!) which remains my favorite resource for the basics. I use a combo of unbleached and whole wheat flours which makes for a hearty, but not heavy, waffle (whipping the egg whites separately keeps them light as well). Just slightly sweet, balanced nicely with the tang of yogurt—these are my favorite waffles. We eat our waffles with summer’s frozen berries warmed with maple syrup and some good bacon if we’re lucky.

BFD Waffles (feel free to eat them for breakfast!)
Adapted from Mark Bittman’s How to Cook Everything

Note: While I think whipping the egg whites separately does improve the texture of the waffles, when I am feeling lazy sometimes I skip this step and just add the eggs whole to the yogurt, and the results are still quite tasty.

1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 3/4 cup yogurt (if you are using a firm yogurt, you may want to thin it a bit with milk)
2 eggs, separated
4 tablespoons melted butter, cooled slightly
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Heat your waffle iron.

Combine the dry ingredients in a large bowl. In another bowl, mix together the yogurt, egg yolks, butter and vanilla. Stir the wet ingredients into the dry. Beat your egg whites with a whisk until soft peaks form (you can use a mixer for this—I always do it by hand). Fold the egg whites gently into the batter.

Oil your waffle iron and spoon the batter on to the hot griddle. The batter will be thick, but will spread when you close your iron. Cook until browned (time depends on your waffle iron). Serve immediately or keep warm in the oven. Sometimes I double a batch and freeze the leftovers between sheets of parchment and reheat them in the toaster oven.

Variations: Add a sprinkle of granola or sliced almonds (shown above) on top of the batter before you close the iron. Sometimes we also crumble bacon on the batter or add thin slices of apple or pear.