Making Your Own Bread and Other DIY Adventures

I’ve been on this major domestic kick lately, and have been trying to find ways to make certain food items at home to save money. Tops on my list included bread, jelly, yogurt, dried herbs, snack crackers, fruit snacks and cheese (specifically ricotta).

I’ve been hard at work at the bread thing. I was browsing Pinterest and stumbled on a recipe for “no knead dutch oven bread.” I made it and it turned out ok, and then I wanted to try to make it again, but obviously I didn’t “pin” it and promptly lost said recipe.

So, I did a web search and it turns out there’s a lot of different versions of this recipe. I’ve tried a WHOLE BUNCH of them, so you didn’t have to, and I’m here to tell you that this is the one. This. Is. The. One. Instructions so easy to follow that even me, a total baking incompetent, could follow them. Four measly ingredients that you always have lying around anyway.

It’s slightly time consuming, you have to remember in the morning that hey, I wanted to make bread for dinner tonight. But other than that, piece of cake. Er, bread. Whatever.

I found this recipe on a site called Girl Versus Dough. Click on the link, and make your life a whole lot more interesting.

Next, I’m going to try to perfect sandwich bread. I think it can be done. Anyone ever had luck with this? Without a bread machine, I mean. We got a bread machine as a wedding present and used it a lot those first few years, but then it sat in the cupboard and we decided to give it away at some point. I’m missing that thing all of a sudden…

What sorts of items do you make at home rather than buy pre-made? What are your biggest successes/failures?

my bread

Amazing Slow Cooker Chicken

So, in high school, I worked for a pet store that was in the same building as a veterinarian’s office. Sometimes they would call us over to help out in the clinic, administering meds and stuff. It was so exciting, and I had all these fantasies about becoming a veterinarian myself.

Until the day I sat down in science class with a dead frog in front of me.

Okay, once all the cutting and slicing and dicing is done for me, I can look around at an animal’s insides like none other. Intestines and hearts and kidneys and livers and blood and guts. It’s all very fascinating. But, cut open the animal? Even a dead one? No thanks. No siree. Nope.

So, as domestic as I claim to be sometimes, I’m leap years behind some because until this afternoon, I had never touched a whole raw chicken. Not even once.

But, I got this great new cookbook, and there are all these delicious sounding recipes that call for whole roasters or broilers. And finally I was like, WTF I AM GOING TO TRY THIS. AAAAAAAAAH (Imagine a pro football player after a locker room pep talk).

Directions said: Rinse with cold water and pat dry. Remove neck and giblets. I am immediately turned off by the neck. But, I remove it with a knife, and a little gagging. Then, unbeknownst to me, this chicken was sans giblets. However, I did not want to stick my hand in to retrieve them, so I did not find this out for oh, about 15 minutes. I tried to dig them out with a spoon, I tried to rinse them out with the water, and finally I got the balls to shine a flashlight inside the cavity (yes, yes I did). And after 5 minutes or so on the Interwebz, I determined that my chicken had no giblets. Okay.

After that, aside from the creepy way that the wing and leg joints still work making the chicken seem a wee bit alive when you’re rinsing it, the rest was a piece of cake. Here’s the amazing recipe that I tried for you to give a go yourself. Bear in mind (only because I cluelessly did not know) the chicken will be falling apart when all is said and done. And, ahem, it will be DELICIOUS.

Slow Cooker Lemon Chicken with Potatoes and Mushrooms

From: Not Your Mother’s Slow Cooker Cookbook

One 3 or 4 pound broiler or fryer whole chicken

2 cubes chicken bouillon

1/2 large lemon or 1 small lemon

1/4 tsp paprika

3 tbsp minced fresh flat leaf parsley

2 medium or 1 large onion, cut into wedges

2 cloves garlic, chopped

2 tbsp soy sauce

salt and pepper

6 to 12 small gold potatoes (Yellow Finn or Yukon Gold), unpeeled

6 oz. fresh mushrooms, sliced thick

1. Rinse and dry chicken well, cut off large lumps of fat. Put one bouillon cube in the cavity. Squeeze the lemon juice into a dish and reserve. place the lemon rinds in the cavity. Place the chicken in the slow cooker, breast side up. Sprinkle with the paprika and parsley. Place onion wedges and garlic around the chicken. Pour the soy sauce and lemon juice over the chicken, then season with the salt and pepper to taste. Crumble the other bouillon cube over the chicken. Place the potatoes and mushrooms on top. Cover and cook on HIGH 3 1/2 to 4 1/2 hours, or LOW 6 1/2 to 7 1/2 hours, or until a thermometer reads 180 F at the thickest part of the thigh.

(The cookbook insists that the flavor is superior if you are able to cook it on HIGH for less time, but I cooked it on LOW and it was pretty freaking amazing.)

2. Discard lemon rinds and portion the mushrooms, potatoes, onions and chicken in shallow bowls or on plates. Discard skin and bones, reserving for another use if desired.

Okay, now I am the domestic goddess I once claimed. (Except, um, I still have not made my own stock. Stay tuned.)