Friday, March 27, 2009

Still alive...

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!

10 comments:

Leigh Anne said...

Heidi,

I just bought a gallon of blue agave from a preparedness group I am part of - we only paid $27.00 a gallon - a great price! Now I just need to figure out what to do with it? Anxious to see what you think about it and how you use it.

The gal who I bought the agave through has used lots of different brands and likes this one the best.

Char said...

I've got the sale at the South Jordan Bosch store on my calendar already. Even though I've lived in the same city as Kitchen Kneads my ENTIRE life, I've never actually made it inside. Maybe soon?

Carroll Conversations said...

My husband spoiled me last mother's day with the new Bosch Universal. Can I just say heaven. That thing is powerful and I can mix enough dough for 5 loaves of bread at a time! (Which we go through in about 2 weeks. Our family likes homemade bread for toast.) This machine is awesome and I highly recommend it! I have some agave, but it will be fun to see what to do with it and how much to use in recipes etc.

Nurse Heidi said...

Leigh Anne, that's a wonderful price for the agave juice! It was 42 bucks for a gallon at the Bosch store. What brand do you have, just out of curiosity? I have a friend who is manufacturing and selling a tea with cultures in it that's supposed to be healthy for you and he sweetens it with agave juice, so I intend on finding out his sources and prices as well.

Amy said...

I have a Kitchenaid, and I have to say that I'm underwhelmed with it. I'm attached to it because it was an unexpected Christmas gift, but all the things Heidi says the a Bosch does (namely reach the corners of a bowl) it doesn't do. One of these days, I might be get a Bosch. I feel bad about the Kitchenaid, because it was pricy--it just was not designed by someone who makes bread.

Nurse Heidi said...

Amy, if you leave it unattended, it can jump off the countertop and compel you to buy the Bosch ;). At 400 bucks, they're not cheap. But the motor is nearly 3 times as powerful as the Kitchen Aid. Shucks, I should be a salesman for them and I don't even own one yet!

Stephanie said...

I love my Bosch as well as my Nutrimill wheat grinder. If you have the money, it's well worth the investment - and it will save you so much time in kneading.

I have been in love with quinoa for a while - I make it in my rice maker and it is a "super" grain so it has a little more nutrition than rice.

Good luck

ejemory said...

Ah, whole grains! My new passion in ways to improve my health. I've been using spelt in your whole wheat bread recipe, up to about 50% spelt and the remainder white wheat. The color is a little different, taste is slightly different (no one at my house notices), texture is about the same. Red quinoa is a recent favorite to add to broth-based soups for added protein and color. Any flour-based treat that comes out of my kitchen these days is 50% if not 100% wheat. Whose gonna complain about wheat in a cookie? Not my bunch! They're just grateful I bake. I am playing with kamut and have used it in your whole wheat bread, much the same as spelt. My family raved over the baking powder biscuits made with white wheat, spelt, and about 25% white flour. I think it's more a matter of exposing my family to "different". Oatmeal pancakes fly off the griddle. I don't think Shaylie can ever eat enough of those. Buckwheat pancakes are pretty well received, too. Oh yes! Pumpkin whole wheat waffles. I cook breakfast for the grandies on most Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays and if it's a pancake, waffle, or muffin . . . watch it disappear. I don't regret for one minute buying my nutrigrain mill.

Nurse Heidi said...

I saw buckwheat unground for the first time when I went to Kitchen Kneads - those are some weird looking grains! Do you grind your own or buy that pre-ground? I really ought to buy a good book just about grains and their properties. Any suggestions?

Patti said...

Kitchen Kneads is my favorite store! I'm pretty sure I've spent hundreds of $$ in there!
A friend of mine was showing our R.S. how to make bread. I went the next day to get the same machine she used (but boy, is that thing loud!). It's the Blendtec mixer/blender dual machine.