Baklava Made from Homemade Spelt Phyllo Dough

Remember the laminated pie dough? Yes, well, there was leftover dough so I promptly wrapped and froze it. I let it thaw in my fridge overnite and today thought I would try my hands at making my own phyllo dough. Especially after my husband looked at me like I was a loon. Ahem.


Initially, I thought to use the pasta maker. The dough was very delicate going through the machine. There was no way I was able to crank it past the 4 setting. The dough just got all wholly and a mess.

This was a lucky roll through 5. As Kate Moss said, "Nothing tastes as good as thin feels." Okay, I think she used the word skinny, but who cares about Kate Moss anyway.

Eventually, I abandoned the pasta maker and just went for rolling it out by hand. Lots and lots of flour was needed to keep the delicate dough from tearing. Flour, roll, flip, repeat. I ended up with papery thin, translucent dough--pretty similar to store bought.

Here are my layers of buttered dough laid out in the baking dish. The filling is ground almonds, cinnamon, cardamom and sucanat.

I baked the baklava for about 40 minutes at 350, until crisp and golden.

Syrup was made from orange juice, water, turbinado sugar and honey. The baklava needs alone time to soak up the syrup overnite, but I took pictures today because, well, tomorrow I am moving on to cooking other things. So...spelt flour baklava looks good enough to me.



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Grapefruit Jelly Jam Yes Ma’am

Can you handle the gorgeousness of this fruit? Such amazingly fresh grapefruit, picked last weekend by the amazing boys of my life! XOXOX Vm & Babu.


Using his powers for good, my son climbed this grapefruit tree in a parking lot of the hotel we stayed at in Siesta Key and, with a little assistance from my husband, filled two re-usable shopping bags with ripe, sweet grapefruit.


Total nectar! Okay, you have to channel a German Hare Krishna monk to get the full effect of that phrase. I juiced a lot of grapefruits last nite. I learned that my $30 citrus juicer was not meant to juice a lot of grapefruit. I also learned that fresh grapefruit juice tastes best when drunk from a cheers cup.


The Babu, home from work and freshly showered, drinking his antioxidants and bioflavinoids.


Around 10 o'clock in the evening, I revealed on Facebook my plans for Friday nite: JAM MAKING! Mohini was all like, "Not without me!" And I was all like, "Duh, come over." And so she did. She even went home to get her own juicer when she saw what a dying sick animal mine was. Moaning and wheezing. It was terrible. This was Mohini's second time making jam--her first using natural pectin and doing it low sugar! Exciting times, I tell ya!


We stayed up till 3 in the morning, acting like young girls on a chitty chatty jam making binge. Only we are in our thirties and I am way pregnant and we both have demanding offspring. Well, it seemed like a good idea at the time.


The next morning, I stumbled out of bed at an unbelievably late 9 am and was greeted in the kitchen by these jarred jewels! Grapefruit jelly and cranberry grapefruit jam.


I set aside some for gifts and some for the family.


I have these corny gift tags from Target, so tonite I scribbled out some I.D.'s for tiny jams.


While Florida may not have a proper fall–no crabapple, no quince, no pear–we do have winter citrus! Not a bad deal at all…if you have a good juicer!


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Artisan Bread for Bumbling Fools

A bit of a spoiler putting this gorgeous round loaf at the front of the post, but seeing is believing.

My BFF Padi is becoming famous for her mastery of the 5 minute no-knead artisan bread loaf. I particularly fancy her baguettes. We had a little telepathic love moment yesterday when she whipped up a batch of vegan cranberry shortbread bars whilst I (yes, she’s British) got hot and steamy over some easier than your mama (okay, that was just wrong) artisan bread.

Let’s take a look at what I did. First step, mix your dough! It is best to mix the dough *at least* 12 hours before you plan to bake. However, as I find with pizza crust, the longer you let the scant amount of yeast in your dough ferment, the more flavorful and chewier your finished product will be.

Here is the recipe I used for the bread. Yes, the flour is white.

Easy Artisan Bread

5 cups bread flour/hi-gluten flour

1 teaspoon sugar

2 teaspoons salt

3/4 teaspoon yeast

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 cups room-temperature water

*This makes a very wet dough that is difficult to work with! Keep some extra flour on hand for mixing in so that your hands don’t turn into an abominable dough monster. If you have a stand mixer, use that to mix it up real good. If not, incorporate the ingredients all together  with your paws.
*Put the dough in a floured bowl and cover. Set to rise in a warm room for about an hour.  Make sure dough is well wrapped (you can put in a plastic container or cover a bowl with saran). Stick in fridge over nite or for a few days.
*On day you are set to bake, remove from fridge and allow to rise in a warm room for a few hours.
*Everything else you need to know is below the next pic.


Inside the Oven: I preheated the oven on broil with a soapstone tile that I use as a pizza stone and my dutch oven on the bottom rack. After an hour of preheating, I placed the bread dough I had rising on a sheet of parchment inside the dutch oven (parchment included). I then sprayed the top of the bread with Braggs Liquid Aminos and sprinkled sesame seeds on top. Then I carefully pulled up a corner of the parchment and dumped about a half cup of water into the cooker. Steam shot up and I carefully replaced the lid, transferring the cooker back to the oven. Reducing the heat to 475 degrees and turning on my convection for optimal air circulation, I returned in 35-40 minutes to remove the cooker from the oven.

I was happily shocked when I removed the lid (carefully since I am an idiot prone to burns, forgetting that things are skin-threateningly hot). The loaf was beautiful!

The outer crust was rough and flaky. The taste of the Braggs was not at all distinguishable yet I know the spritzing did the bread good.

But what about the inside? I was in love when I cut into this bread. Gainesville bakeries, eat your doughy hearts out!

On a bread high, I decided to give homemade mozzarella a try. It wasn't until I put the milk up that I remembered that my candy thermometer broke. Can anyone recommend one that is not total crap? Anyway, feeling confident I went ahead, hoping I could feel out the required temps needed for cheese making. Talk about hoping against hope. I guess I brought the milk to 90 too quickly, or warmed it past 90. It started to curdle (had citric acid in it). I added the vegetable rennet and carried on. The curd firmed up, but was not firm enough. Something was wrong and Stacia wasn't here to council me through it! The whey was not clear enough, that I know. But was I doomed from my initial heat up? I aborted the mission, undertaken with too much bravado and whimsy, and simply hung my curds in a cheese cloth (cloth diaper, actually), cutting my losses. I squeezed out the way, brayed the curds, kneading in salt and dried Italian herbs, rolled into a log and sliced. Unfortunately, the resulting cheese was too good and I ate a huge sandwich of the stuff--the delicious bread, creamy cheese and utterly flavorless roma tomatoes--despite having no real fire of hunger. Ahhhh, it was good.

Within a few hours, most of the bread was eaten by my kids and I. By the time my husband got home from work, all that was left was a tiny wedge. No worries. It's so easy to make. Tomorrow I will mix a few batches of dough. Some to bake, some to freeze. Just a few weeks left until our 6 pound bun comes out of the oven!


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Finding the Perfect House Numbers

Don’t miss out on important social visits or paramedic aide because your house isn’t clearly marked! These simple, classic house numbers will mark the spot when a simple ‘X’ won’t do. Horton Brasses also does numbering and lettering in your choice of fonts/sizing/etc.


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Simple Meal for Busy Times

Today marks my 34th week of Bindu’s pregnancy. She is big and squirmy.

My kids are surprisingly sympathetic, but still–they want to be fed. Here’s a simple, minimal fuss dinner I threw together in shifts throughout the late afternoon/early evening. They didn’t go for the asparagus or tofu, but had a blast with the soup and pooris. My son ate 5. F-I-V-E. I had to fry up another batch for the husband before he got home from work.

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My Boss’s Take: Quality, Value, and Price

Some interesting new posts up over at the  Horton Brasses Blog.

Bossman Orion


Interested in the intersection of the economy, personal values and personal consumption?

Read more….

Ever thought  about becoming a blacksmith. This is a great post for the blacksmith-curious as well as homeschooling families.

Read more…

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A Mostly Vegan Thanksgiving

Fresh Cranberry Relish Garnished w/ Lime Zest

Absolutely simple to make, this no-cook prep brings a burst of freshness and color to the holiday table.

I had leftover dough from my won ton experiment. The combination of semolina and rice flour was very pliable but a bit delicate.

I combined the leftover won ton seitan/spinach/ginger mixture with freshly cooked potatoes and spices to create a samosa filling.


This unusually smooth samosa was rolled by my daughter using the semolina/rice flour dough (we made a second batch of dough that was all white flour). When you see them all fried up, this one stands out as a smooth beauty!

I lay my samosas out on parchment paper because I have a very terrible track record of having things stick. I really love parchment paper. And yes, I wash and re-use it.

Samosas--traditional Indian food for Thanksgiving. These took the place of mashed potatoes at our holiday table.

Our hostess, Padi, made these ridiculously good vegan sticky buns. She has perfected the art of buns.

Padi's husband Braj is also excellent in the kitchen. He cooked at a Govinda's restaurant in New Zealand and now he makes his friends delicious things, like this vegan pot pie, whenever the occasion merits.

Adi Gopi brought along the roasted carrots (I know they were made by her because they appeared on the buffet in a FiestaWare bowl). Padi made the roasted root veggies--parsnips being her very favorite and very British signature tuber.

The gorgeous auburn haired hostess, Ms. Padi Sutherland, nurse, student and mom extraordinaire, master of no-knead artisan bread recipes and a damn nice person. Here she is holding a platter of green beans, brought by Adi Gopi (notice the FiestaWare!).

Also on the menu that night: Marmite (England version) based gravy,  vegan turkey roast, 3 pumpkin pies, cranberry shortbread bars, peanut butter cookies and  full dairy whipped cream. Did I miss anything?


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