Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Take a Break: Celebrate Earth Month make Bread, Nut Butter, Cleaning Supplies

In honor of April being Earth Month (Monday April 22 is Earth Day), the next couple of “Take a Break” Wednesdays will be about making something you would normally buy.

Since it’s been snowing and sleeting where I live, I never thought I’d say this, but I’m fantasizing about “spring cleaning.”  So I’ll start this week with an easy way to make bread and a Nutella substitute followed by different types of natural cleaning supplies you can make.

• Make your own bread with the “no knead” method. By all means, make your own favorite bread recipe, but if you want one that’s supper easy, try this:
In a large bowl combine:
3 cups all-purpose or bread flour
1/4-teaspoon instant yeast (also called Rapid Rise highly active)
11⁄4 teaspoons salt

Add 1 5/8 cups water, and stir until blended; dough will be shaggy and sticky. I pour in 1 1/2 cups of water and then add a little extra. Cover bowl with plastic wrap. Let dough rest at least 12 hours, preferably about 18, at warm room temperature, about 70 degrees. An oven not in use is a good place for the bread.

About a half-hour before dough is ready, heat oven to 450 degrees. Put a 6- to 8-quart heavy covered pot (cast iron, enamel, Pyrex or ceramic) in oven as it heats. When dough is ready, carefully remove pot from oven. Sprinkle corn meal in the bottom. Using some corn meal on your hand, scoop out the bread mixture from the bowl and pour it into the prepared pot. 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 and bake another 15 to 30 minutes, until loaf is beautifully browned. Cool on a rack.

Nutella. A friend of mine made me a version of this and it was so much better than the commercial chocolate hazelnut spread, I figured I had to try making it.  I made the almond variety yesterday and I think my husband will end up finishing it today. Using two cups of roasted lightly salted almonds, I ground them in the food processor until it was the consistency of peanut butter. Depending on your food processor, it can take as long as 10 minutes to reach this stage. I then melted 1/3 cup of dark chocolate chips in the microwave (1 minute) and pulsed that into the nuts. I added more melted chocolate because chocolate is a major food group for me. It is positively delicious on a cracker, apple or bread. The next time I make it, I’ll probably try a semi sweet chocolate, and to make it more like Nutella use milk chocolate.

• Cleaning supplies: This is a particularly useful idea for people affected by chronic conditions, as many of the commercial grade cleaning products are hazardous to your health. It will also save you a lot of money. Literally white vinegar, baking soda and liquid soap can take care of most things, as will Blue Dawn and white vinegar mixed in a spray bottle.
-       Goo Gone 
-   Oxy Clean (it’s nothing more than hydrogen peroxide and baking soda) 

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