Sunday, March 11, 2012

If at first you don't succeed...

sometimes it's better to quit the first time.

3 batches (large batches) of dough, all ruined.  That's 6 potential loafs of french bread, 3 potential pizza sized rosemary flat breads, and 8 potential dinner buns for shredded beef sandwiches.  All ruined!  Here's two of the batches of dough in my trash can.  
It breaks my heart to throw it all away, but they just wouldn't rise.  And who wants to eat a brick?  Each batch was prepared a little differently to try to overcome the problem.  Maybe I over kneaded the dough in the mixer and the gluten broke down.  Maybe it's because I was kneading the dough on too high a speed in the mixer.  Maybe the water I was using was just too hot, and killed the yeast (no matter what Chef Brad says about adding the yeast last to be safe.)

Or maybe I should have paid attention to the bottle of yeast:
I guess 3 years after its expiration date, yeast just stops working.  Go figure!  I was doomed from the start.  

Well, I'm certainly rotating some food storage today.  Although I think it's preferable to EAT the food you're rotating.  

I'll try again tomorrow... after I buy some new yeast.

On the bright side, I was successful at making some colorful rice for the kids to play in (sandbox style.)  Thank you pin interest for the idea.  I found some sand toys and carrot shaped plastic Easter eggs to throw in there and the kids have loved it.

Pretty isn't it?

And I managed to figure out how to make home-made cream of wheat.  At first I thought, "How hard can it be?" But my first attempt turned out to be a nasty texture of pasty flour.  

After a little research on the internet, it turns out to be a common problem to make cream of wheat from your own wheat.  Turns out it has to be ground from Hard Red Wheat (my first problem) and it has to be ground on the largest grind that your grinder can go.  That was my second problem.  My grinder just doesn't have a large enough grind for cream of wheat.  It still ended up too fine and not enough grit.  

So I was sitting there with a pot of cream of wheat ready on the stove for breakfast and after trying it, knowing that no one would eat it, because of the texture.  So in desperation I pulled a quick one on my family.  I added corn meal to the pot.  And voila, cream of wheat!  And they all ate it, and liked it! 

So after several minor adjustments to the recipe to create a truly easy, just add water mix; here is my recipe for cream of wheat mix:

3 cups ground wheat (Hard red, on the coarsest setting)
3 cups corn meal
1 Tbsp salt
3 Tbsp butter powder (opt.)

Mix them all together and store in an airtight container.  Cook in a 1:4 ratio (mix:water) on the stove top until thickened.  (you can cook it in the microwave, but it softens the cornmeal more, so you lose some of the grittiness.)  If you don't add butter powder to the mix, you must add butter to the cooked mixture, or it just won't taste right.  

So I guess I did something right, in the end.

I'll try the bread again tomorrow.