I've been busy and traveling, and therefore not food blogging. Today I made an interesting ethnic dish for dinner that included couscous, my first foray into using that particular food. I'll post it tomorrow if I get a chance. The kids liked the texture of it, so I'll be making it again.
I spent some time today at both my local Bosch Kitchen store and Kitchen Kneads. I found some very interesting things. First, you should know that I knead all my bread by hand. I don't have a mixer beyond my cheapo hand mixer (#5, by my count, in the last decade - I tend to be hard on appliances). I have pondered getting a Kitchen Aid mixer several times but can't justify the counter space for it, and plus have had many misgivings about the quality and design. Looking at the Bosch mixers today, I think I've found a new love. The motors are FAR more powerful and they are designed to actually work. The blades actually scrape all the little corners of the bowl, the base suctions to the countertop to avoid jumping off (my sister sacrificed one mixer to the floor), the cover completely covers things up so that you don't get flour flying everywhere, and best of all, it is much easier to move around than the stand mixers. If you're in the Salt Lake Area, the South Jordan store will be holding a sale the first two weeks of April that will really be worth your while.
Another thing I discovered at the Bosch Store is Xagave, a natural low glycemic index sweetener made from the juice of the agave plant. I'm not diabetic or anywhere close, and I generally shun artificial sweeteners due to weird after tastes and just not liking how they make me feel, but this one is different. It's a tad pricey - 7 bucks for the 16 or so ounce bottle that I bought - but you generally use 1/2-2/3 the amount of it in substitution for sugar. I will be experimenting with this in the coming weeks and let you know of the results.
I headed to Kitchen Kneads next. I love that store. They carry my favorite brand of wheat (Montana Milling Company), and lots of other really great stuff all in a very unpretentious setting that allows for bargain pricing. I usually go there just for wheat but decided to take a look around today since I have been branching out into other grains in my bread baking. They carry semolina flour for 1/4 the price I paid at the grocery store for an itty bitty bag of Bob's Red Mill brand, rye, pearled barley, and I noticed that even their wheat was a great price and the best I've seen in a while. 20 bucks for 50 pounds is time to stock up price! I continued to browse and found that they carry three different types of modified food starch, including the ultra gel brand, all cheaper than I've seen anywhere else. Excellent! I came out of the store with a hundred bucks of grain, spices, and dried fruit, and feeling rather pleased with myself. If you live in the area, I definitely suggest a trip over there.
Best of all, both stores hold cooking classes. I didn't ask about details at Kitchen Kneads, but at the Bosch store the vast majority are free and the ones with a fee are nominal. Many of them are variations of bread, so if you're shy about jumping into yeast breads, that'd be a great place to start.
I have a few of my reader friends out there that I know have a lot of experience with using different and interesting grains. Would you mind sharing your favorites? Best recipes? Any experience with agave juice sweeteners? Email them to me at hvawdrey (at) gmail (dot) com and I'll give them a try. Thanks!