Maui Girl Cooks

“One of the very nicest things about life is the way we must regularly stop whatever it is we are doing and devote our attention to eating.” Luciano Pavarotti


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Refrigerator Confidential Day #7 & #8

Welcome to Refrigerator Confidential Day #7 & #8, the final post of this up close and personal look at our refrigerator.  I hope you have enjoyed reading about the kinds of foods we like to buy at the farmers’ market, and how we manage to eat all or most of it by the end of the week.  It is always a challenge, and does require a fair amount of effort from us, but this is how we like to eat. . .it is our lifestyle, and we wouldn’t trade it for any other way.

Friday’s Meals with Recipes:

Breakfast

Me- Oatmeal with Granny Smith Apples {recipe & photos on Refrigerator Confidential Day #5}
Green Tea
Freshly Pressed Ginger Kombucha
My husband- Peanut Butter & Arugula Wrap on a Whole Grain Tortilla

Lunch

Grilled Eggplant Moussaka
Pickled Beets {recipe & photos on Refrigerator Confidential Day #2}

moussaka & pickled beets

Layers of russet potato, zucchini, eggplant & seasoned ground beef topped with feta cheese & creamy Bechamel sauce with Pickled Beets

Our friend Molly dropped off a delicious Grilled Eggplant Moussaka yesterday, which I promptly put in the oven for our lunch.  I have never made moussaka, and I’m not sure that I have ever eaten it before, so I have nothing with which to compare it.  Comparisons are unnecessary though, because it was outstanding.  Molly has a business called Maui Go To Girl {“consider it done“}.  If you are a busy person who could use some assistance with meals, errands, moving, event planning and much, much more, please check out her website at www.mauigotogirl.com.  Her services are many and I can assure you that you are in good hands with Molly {food-wise and otherwise}!

Dinner

We went to Milagros in Paia, where you can find one of the best Maui happy hour prices we know of {$3.00 beer and margaritas-no food discount}.  We filed our taxes yesterday, so decided to go out and celebrate with Kalua Pork Nachos-yum!  After we came home, we had popcorn while we watched episode 2 of season 1 of  Twin Peaks.  We didn’t watch it when it first came out, so we are catching up on popular culture.  While it was a tasty eating day, it wasn’t stellar in terms of vegetable consumption-definitely not up to our usual standards.  It’s what you do 95% of the time that matters, according to us. . . you have to be able to eat some not-so-healthy for you foods every now and again.

Peanut Butter & Arugula Wrap on a Whole Grain Tortilla

1 whole grain tortilla {we use organic sprouted wheat tortillas}
Peanut butter of your choice {I can’t imagine not choosy crunchy.}
Arugula-lots of it
Fresh lemon juice
Salt & pepper

Spread tortilla with as much peanut butter as you want, and top with lots of arugula.  Squeeze a little fresh lemon juice over the arugula and season with salt and freshly ground pepper.  You could also drizzle a little extra virgin olive oil over the arugula.  It’s always a good thing to have something juicy on a wrap, otherwise they can be dry.

Here is what’s left from last Saturday’s purchases.  Not bad.  We consider the carrots, celery, cabbages and kabocha squash to be staples, meaning we don’t necessarily don’t intend to eat them all during the week.  Imagine adding all that to what we’ve already eaten!  So really, what’s left are 2 green onions, a half a green pepper, 2 jalapeños and a bit of kale.  We’d call this a successful eating week!  We only ate out twice-last Saturday night at Nuka {mmmm!} and yesterday at Milagros, so that was helpful.

what's left

It’s Saturday again & we have started the cycle all over again!

Here's the foundation of another week of great eating!

Here’s the foundation of another week of great eating!

Isn't this organic red leaf lettuce gorgeous?

Isn’t this organic red leaf lettuce gorgeous?

Beautiful Baby Romaine Lettuces

A Bundle of Beautiful Baby Romaine Lettuces

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I hope your farmers’ markets are open or opening very soon!  Go out and get yourself some delectable fresh produce for your health and good eating.

Bon appétit!

Life is too short to eat mediocre bread, and there is a lot of it out there.

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Bread baked and cut final

One of life’s great pleasures is the aroma of yeasty bread dough in the oven, transforming itself into a beautiful, delectable, crusty loaf of bread.  If you have never baked homemade yeast bread, you are in for a treat.  It really doesn’t take a lot of time; you can have delicious bread from start to finish in 3 hours or less, depending on the bread.  Much of that time is rising time, so you can be doing something else, like making soup or salad to accompany your freshly baked bread.

It isn’t just the smell that is enticing though.  Bread dough feels good in your hands.  Not so much at the beginning, when it is a sticky, shaggy mass of dough…

Rough shaggy dough final

but when your mindful kneading transforms it into a silky, supple ball of dough, it is a pleasure to behold.  I find kneading bread to be therapeutic and calming.

Kneaded bread final

I have been making yeast breads by hand for many years, although I am certainly not an expert on the subject.  I will say that I am not a fan of bread machines.  Perhaps I had a bad experience with one.  My mother-in-law had a bread machine when they first came out, and she made some tasty breads.  She enjoyed hers so much that she gave one to us.  I used it a few times.  It was nice to wake up to freshly baked bread courtesy of the bread machine, but it had a hole in the middle of the cylindrical loaf.  I could live with that, but the outside of the bread was slightly burned when the inside was undercooked.  So I decided to try letting the bread machine do the kneading, and I would bake off the loaf the “old fashioned” way.  Doing that deprived me of the pleasure of getting my hands into the dough and experiencing that lovely change in texture from rough to silky smooth.  Bread machine?? Not for me, thank you very much!  I gave ours away to an appreciative uncle.

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Whole Wheat Rye Potato Bread

1 medium sized potato
reserved potato cooking water
2 packages dry yeast
2 tbsp butter, cut into small chunks
2 tbsp honey
1 tbsp kosher salt
1 cup warm milk {low fat is fine}
3-4 cups whole wheat flour
2 cups dark rye flour
3 tbsp coarse cornmeal + 3 tbsp ground flax seeds + whole wheat flour to make 1 cup
3tbsp caraway seeds {or fennel, anise or a combination of them}

Peel & dice the potato.  Cover with water & boil until potato is tender, about 15-20 minutes.  Save 1 cup of the potato water {add hot tap water if you do not have enough}.  Mash the potato & set aside.

In a large bowl, mix together 3 cups whole wheat flour, rye flour & cornmeal/flax seeds/whole wheat flour mixture.  Keep the additional cup of whole wheat flour in case you need to use it.

Pour the {not too hot} potato water in another large bowl, then sprinkle in the yeast & stir with a wooden spoon.  Add the butter, honey, caraway seeds and salt, and then stir in the mashed potato {approximately 1 cup}, warm milk & 3 cups of flour mixture.  When you add the yeast to the warm potato water, it will begin to activate.  It will begin to get bubbly as you add the remaining ingredients & will look like this. . .

Bubbly yeast final

Beat until smooth, and then add enough additional flour to make a stiff dough.  When it gets hard to incorporate any more flour with the spoon, turn the dough out on a lightly floured counter.  Knead the dough until smooth and elastic, about 8-10 minutes.  Wash the bowl in which you mixed the dough, butter it and then place the dough back in the bowl, turning to coat all sides with butter.  Cover with a clean kitchen towel & let rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk.  This should take 45-60 minutes.  I like to turn on the oven for 2 minutes, turn it off and then put my bowl of dough in the toasty warm oven to rise.  Don’t forget to turn off the oven or you will bake your bread prematurely!  I have heard that the pilot light in a gas oven has enough warmth to be a good place to let bread rise, but I have never had a gas oven, so can’t vouch for that one.

How do you know when your dough has doubled in bulk?  It is difficult to “eyeball it” so there is a little test you can use.  Poke 2 fingers into your dough after it has risen for 45 minutes; if the indentations remain, your dough is ready for the next step.  If not, cover it back up for 15 more minutes & repeat the test.

Indentation test to see if dough is finished rising final

When doubled, punch the dough down, cover and let rise again in a warm spot for 20 minutes.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured counter & knead for 1-2 minutes.

Now you are ready to shape your loaves!  Divide the dough into 2 equal pieces {I use my kitchen scale to do this} & shape.  You can either sculpt the dough into a loaf with your hands, or you can do it jelly roll style, as shown in the slideshow {right before the recipe}.

Note about yeast:  When you are adding warm liquids to yeast, make sure the temperature of the liquid is between 100 & 115 degrees Fahrenheit.  If your liquid is too hot, you risk killing the yeast & your bread will not rise.  Be sure to check the expiration date on your yeast to verify that it is not outdated.  It may still work. . .or it may not.

Enjoy the kinesthetic, aromatic & flavorful joys of baking your own yeast bread. . .and don’t forget the butter!