Tuesday, December 09, 2008


So we all know this is a super exciting and busy time of the year! It especially seems to be for me. In fact ever since I became engaged to Daniel back in 2005 every year has been busy: wedding planning, going to school, try to squeeze seeing all the family in, Christmas shopping, running a "micro-bakery" at Christmas. We don't even have kids yet:)

So thank goodness I have a helpful husband or I wouldn't have even had time to put my tree up. If I was doing a Christmas card this year it would have to be this picture. I think my little scardy puppy feels safe sitting under the tree. Sorry for the poor quality pic, "I" somehow misplaced Daniel's camera charger without being aware of it so I'm depending on my now outdated Iphone. But he's still cute.

So I have 2 more Belhaven Markets which I'm planning to be at. And starting this week I will have some of my goods at the new Commons at Eudora Welty's Birthplace on Congress St. They are having an open house/ art show this Thursday Evening. I would love to go, but I think I will be baking. Go get your ginger chewie fix before Saturday! I'm hoping that this will be a regular job, so after the market I won't be unemployed after all.

I hope everyone is enjoying this time of preparation for the Feast of the Nativity. I pray that you aren't overwhelmed by the craziness of the season. I do try to focus on the importance of what we are preparing to celebrate in a few weeks. I appreciate those of you who have ordered and purchased baked goods from me to celebrate this holy occasion with your family. May God bless this time of year for you and your family.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Getting closer

Hi to all my friends out there,

Yes we all know the holidays are upon us. I knew this holiday season would be crazy because I'm in a wedding in December, then in January I have a family member getting married. But I didn't count on some of the other incidences that have happened to me in the last few weeks. I'm have some medical concerns that turned out to be nothing, but have caused me to sit in waiting rooms during my baking time. Can you feel my frustration? Then today when I check our bank account I discovered that someone got my debit card information and made some very expensive purchases. Ahhhh! To put it lightly it's been a crazy month. And I just want to get some work done. This is such of a fun time of year to bake, if you have the time and if not call me.

So I had fun at the Clinton holiday market. It was freezing, but so many great people came out to see me anyway. I'm going to a wedding shower this Saturday, but next Saturday I will be at Belhaven. If any of my wonderful customers are going to be in town, please come see me. I'm planning on having my hearth breads, cinnamon rolls, and gingerbread men!

Monday, November 10, 2008

New stuff for the holidays

So I have been rolling along with some of my established breads:
  • Oatmeal Pecan
  • Wheatberry
  • Rosemary Fig
  • Loaded Potato
  • Mississippi Sourdough
  • Italian Sun-dried Tomato
  • Asiago Herb
Plus the ever popular
  • Ginger Chewies
  • Toffee Biscotti
But we Americans love new stuff, so I do have some new items too. In addition to my excellent homemade organic butter seasoned with sea salt and mediterranean herbs, I've added cinnamon sugar and honey butter. This is really good stuff. I will elaborate some on why you want my butter when every grocery store has butter:
  • I use high quality organic cream. I started out with cream from our local dairy, but have switched for health reasons. Organic cream is higher in Omega 3 fatty acids than cream from cows that are kept pinned up in a barn and not allowed to pasture enough.
  • I culture my butter- by adding yogurt and letting the cream sit out for a day the butter has an enhanced flavor and shelf life.
  • My butter is fresh and much easier than making your own:)
This year I'm changing up my gingerbread men. Notice this will not affect my Ginger Chewies at all, I'm leaving them just as they are. My Ginger Chewies are a different dough it is far too sticky to roll out. I wanted a more old fashioned gingerbread man, kinda like the ones I would get from the Old Time Deli as a child. I have changed my dough recipe to be more buttery and bready and less sweet. I am making a bigger gingerbread man and decorating him more subtly. I have done a trial run and they went over very well with the husband. I'm using chocolate beads for the eyes and buttons and a little candied lemon or orange peel for the mouth. I hope to have pictures soon.

Horrible blogger

Hi everyone!

I am a horrible blogger, and I'm sure by now everyone knows it. I could offer excuses: Daniel and I have been super busy (we have), I have been baking, ect... But really if I loved to blog I would have found time to update my website. One day when my business is really kicking I am definitely hiring a personal blogger and a kitchen clean up crew:)

Yeah the picture is totally unrelated to my bread, but it's irresistable.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Wat Good Soups!

From the "other" food Root...
I recently saw a recipe in Saveur that I really wanted to try making. I never got around to it, but thankfully my lovely wife did. Doro Wat is an ethiopian dish with chicken AND eggs (I'm not sure which comes first :). The secret is heavily caramelized onions and a very unique sweet-and-hot spice mix called berbere. Add tomato, chicken pieces, and hardboiled eggs, and the result is a very flavorful stew, with an exotic BBQ flavor.

It turns out that 'Wat', roughly translated, means 'Stew', and there are all kinds of Wats. A vegetarian version called Misr Wat can also be made with lentils and berbere, and is a great way to spice up a sometimes bland soup. Elizabeth whipped that up yesterday, and having had my share of lentils, it's my expert opinion that this is one of the best ways to prepare them. Sega Wat is made with lamb or beef. We haven't tried that yet, but maybe if Elizabeth reads this post she'll be inspired? Or maybe I'll have to finally find that round tuit.

By request: recipes can be found at Saveur (the best food mag ever:)

Friday, September 05, 2008

Muffin Mishaps

Ok so I have another confession... this "expert baker" (I laughed when I read that in the newspaper writeup) is having muffin problems. It all started when I read Nourishing Traditions that my dear friend Amber sent me.

I have never been extremely satisfied with my muffin recipes that I've used in the past. Why:
  1. They are really more like cakes
  2. They are too dense
  3. I want to find a good basic recipe that I can use with different add-ins
So in NT there are several recipes where you soak the flour overnight in a cultured dairy product (kefir, buttermilk, or yogurt). On that note my poor husband is terrified that I'm trying to bake up some of my scary kefir to feed him. Have no fear, I have used buttermilk and yogurt. I have found that the buttermilk is far thinner than yogurt and I haven't had as good of results with this. If I were going to use buttermilk in the future I think I would use less and then increase the fat called for in the recipe. So I have had flop after flop with these recipes.

After researching my muffin mishaps on the internet it seems that there are real flaws with her recipe. This is my fourth or fifth week to tinker with the recipes and I may have a success, we'll see if my peach cakes make it to the market or if Daniel gets to eat fallen cakes all week!

Why would I continue working on this recipe? Because I have noticed in my failures wonderful flavor, soft (not harsh, dense) textures, and according to several scientific studies presoaking grains in an acidic medium will increase the nutritional value.

One reason I wanted to relay my disasters is to encourage my friends and customers out there to keep on trying to bake on your own despite the difficulties. I have people come up to me and express that they have trouble trying to "bake outside the mix box" well who doesn't. For almost a whole year most of my bread loaves were bricks. It took me a long time to get to a point where I think I can make a pretty good loaf of bread. Cooking from scratch is more work, but it is healthier and more satisfying that opening a box. So if you have time get your bake on:)


Ok well my birthday was Sunday, yea! And my birthday coming around sometimes brings out umm, materialistic inclinations I have. Do I really need the All-Clad name measuring cups and spoons? Probably not, even if I am in the kitchen all day. It's funny how much easier it is to buy overpriced, unnecessary cooking gadgets than to save my pennies toward my dream kitchen. Of course we have to replace carpet, fix the fence, repaint the entire interior of the house, and tile the guest bathroom before we sale. So it really seems like "Barley Fields" our urban farm is so far away.

I must say that using my heavy duty overpriced kitchen utensils brightens my day and they do really have a nicer feel than the aluminum measuring spoons that bend when you say try to scoop something firm (packed succanat). I have a nice set of All-clad mixing bowls (needed after WE broke some ceramic bowls we had). I must say they are very sturdy and I enjoy using them. Of course I love to receive these gadgets as a gift, and I am very fortunate that there are people that love me enough to splurge and get me something extravagant.

I really try to be simple and not be caught up in a quest for aquiring more stuff, but I have a ways to go. I sometimes think about my great-grandmother, who I have a few precious memories of. During the tough times of the depression she fashioned a grater out of a jar lid by poking holes through it with a nail. I'm pretty sure I'm not that smart, and I'm blessed I haven't ever had to resort to such.

I know that there are billions of people who would love to have a home like ours and a nice kitchen to cook in. In my outdated and cramped kitchen I'm somehow able to churn out enough baked goods to keep my little business chugging along. How important it is that we use wisely what we're given.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Elizabeth's favorite fruit

I know so hard to choose. In addition to being the month of my birthday August is the month for muscadine season. When I was little my grandparents friends had vines and we'd pick ice cream buckets full (the plastic ones). And I would make myself sick eating so many. Ahh those were the days, now I have to pay for them by the puny carton. One day I will grow my beloved native American grape and have enough to make jam. Until then I will ration some of my grocery budget on this Southern delicacy in August & September.

The Food Roots are in the kitchen

Of course we are, some of us never leave the kitchen! I've fallen behind on my blogging again. I wouldn't even have fun pics to post if Daniel hadn't made pasta this weekend and asked me to take a few pictures of the process. The pasta was great especially for a first attempt. I think Daniel thought it was a lot of work to make it a regular task.

I went to Clinton last week and had a great market. Thanks to my friends in Clinton for coming to see me and for buying my bread and other goods. I can't even express completely how grateful I am to people who actually spend their hard earned money on my handiwork. You make it possible for me to play in my kitchen all the time.

I will be at the Belhaven market this Saturday. I'm looking forward to it, I really do miss all my friends there. I hate that I have missed so many Belhaven markets. Daniel and I have this crazy dream of having an "urban farm", more space to have a little garden, a shop for him, fruit trees, and a few chickens. And to do this we have to get this house sellable. Unfortunately some home renovation projects are not good for my business. I think we're set for awhile now, we shouldn't have anything as major as redoing floors for some time.

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Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Beach Bums

  Daniel, Barley, and I went to the MS coast last weekend. We had a wonderful trip. Pet friendly hotels are great. However if you don't have pets you probably don't want to stay in one; Barley decided to bark at one of our neighbors in the wee hours of the morning. Otherwise he behaved and we had a great trip.

By the way to make this a more business like post I have a restaurant review. Schooners in Biloxi is awesome! I should have taken pictures, by the time we got our food we wanted to eat and weren't thinking about digitally capturing our food. Daniel had a half oyster, half shrimp po-boy that was wonderful. I had a crab & cheese po-boy which would have been wonderful if not for the processed yucky American cheese. McElroy's in Ocean Springs had an ok po-boy; slightly overcooked shrimp, not as hot, plus more expensive. We had supper at Al Fresco in Ocean Springs, great homemade Caesar salad. I got a good deal on enough food for 2 people, Daniel wasn't as happy with his slightly overcooked fish. I'm definitely going back to Schooners, but I could pass up McElroy's and Al Fresco. I know I'm a restaurant snob, but you might as well enjoy what you pay for.

Oh business, I'm missing another market this week, I know pitiful. Our house is still not back in order at all. I'm hoping I can help Daniel finish up the baseboards & quarter-round so we can get things back in order. If I do the market I will have no time to help and my china will remain all over the guest bedroom, where my market supplies are burried. It's probably good I didn't realize how out of sorts our house would be for almost a month now! I'll be in Clinton next week, hope to see you there.

Friday, August 08, 2008

Carpet bye, bye

I haven't seen my market friends in two weeks. I'm definitely in withdrawal. Don't worry I haven't been too lazy in my "time off". As you can see in these pictures our carpet is gone and in it's place is nice faux "wood" laminate floors. The pictures are obviously of different rooms.

For those out there trying to sell an old home with out-dated floors there is hope! Before we covered the ugly linoleum with the new laminate my dad told me he still like the linoleum in our foyer. Blah, different strokes for different folks I guess. We do think the laminate looks much better than nasty carpet and outdated linoleum. Daniel and I had a hard time deciding what to put in. Real hardwood is our ideal, but we're trying to fix up the house to sell it's not our dream home. These floors are somewhat realistic, they feel good to walk on and seem to clean easily.

So after pulling up carpet, ripping out tack strip, cleaning up the mess, going to get floor samples, buying the wood, hauling it home, moving all the furniture out of half of the house, and moving some of the furniture back we are exhausted. We are taking a mini-vacation this weekend. We are going to the Mississippi Gulf Coast with Barley. He snaps at the waves in our kayak, so it should be fun to see him on the beach.

I will be back at the market next week, more than likely Clinton. I'm looking forward to getting back into the kitchen.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Clinton & Carpet Removal

I will be at the Clinton Market this Saturday, July 26th. I hope the weather will be nice. I should have some wonderful whole grain breads, my delicious cultured butter, fig cakes, and blueberry muffins.

Next week Daniel and I are going to do some home renovation that has been overdue for 2 years! We are going to pull up our yucky carpet, really who wants carpet in the dining room. Blah! So I'm sorry to my Belhaven friends, I will not be back for 3 weeks! Only if I could have a mini me baker to do all my baking work so I could do everything I want to.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Soak those grains

So my friend Amber was so kind to send me a gift, a cookbook entitled Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon. Since I'm working this week I haven't had enough time to read and digest much of it. Ms. Fallon presents a lot of interesting ideas, some are new to me(canola oil is a man-made danger), some are now commonly held by the nutrition field (eat much less sugar and refined flour), and some I know something about but feel like I could research some more. By the way I have never heard that canola oil is dangerous before and there definitely needs to be research done on this.

One of these ideas that I knew a little about has to do with the phytates in whole grains. In nutrition school we were taught that whole grains contain phytates and in your GI these phytates can bind up minerals like iron and calcium and prevent you from digesting them. What I didn't know is you can do things to inactivate some or most of the phytates! And because I am sceptical of one person coming up with new information I did some research. Here's a few abstracts I found on the subject: here and here.

The most effective technique is to soak the grains or flour in an acidic medium at room temp before cooking. Hmm sounds like a bread starter to me. Most of my breads are actually prepared with a starter, because this improves the flavor and makes them easier to knead. And now it sounds like starters are good for another reason too!

I am going to start soaking my add in grains, like the oats and spelt berries overnight before I cook them, with a little lemon juice or buttermilk in the water. If I can just remember to do this I'll be doing good. If you want to try this at home it would be easy & your grains would cook quicker. I'm thinking of oatmeal in specific, and this technique is fine for whole, rolled, cracked, or completely milled (flour) grains. Another benefit of this is your grains will cook quicker in the morning!

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Pictures finally

So Daniel did an awesome job on these pictures! I apologize for not having more pictures of my products. Clinton was great, there were many people out shopping in spite of the heat. A big thanks to everyone that came by my stand and visited with me, it was great to meet new people. I saw some of my old customers, I'm glad ya'll came to Clinton. And of course thanks to everyone that bought bread or something else from me. I really do appreciate all my dedicated customers, I couldn't be working at my dream job without you.

I'll be at Belhaven this Saturday, I hope you'll come & see me.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Saturday July 12th!

I will be at the Clinton Market this Saturday from 8- 12. It is on the beautiful, picturesque Jefferson St. behind MC. I will have breads, cookies, cakes, biscotti, & muffins. Come & see me.

Did I wait late enough to tell everyone where I'll be this weekend? Sorry ya'll know I'm not a good blogger, I seem to do a better job reading other people's!

A frugal housewife & her helper

So we all know it is costing more to live these days. Being I handle balancing our checking account, plus costing all my bread I am very aware of how prices our increasing. Daniel and I have made some changes to try to be more frugal...

- My wonderful clothesline: I think I love this because I'm so sentimental & it reminds me of going to my Granny's house where she hung out her clothes. Also I get to go outside for a few minutes to retrieve clothes. Follow the link to get supplies to set up your own line, or go to your local hardware store. We have started pretty basic, just a short retractable line.

- making full use of fresh local veggies: My dear Granny & PopPop have a garden out in the country in Jones county. They have so generously supplied us with more than enough fresh & free produce.

- grow your own veggies: We'll be attempting this next year. I'm anticipating some frustrations along with the harvest:)

- preserve surplus veggies & fruits: I made bluberry peach honey jam a few weeks back and this week Daniel & I made salsa.

This picture is my wonderful husband helping me make salsa. I never would have gotten that done without him. He cut a bunch of onions for me with his saran wrap onion guard to protect him!

Let me caution you canning isn't hard but you must follow the rules (check government sites for proper canning technique). It takes some time, but what better way to make use of seasonal produce to enjoy for later.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Freshening things up

I know I'm not the only person that craves change, new things. My customers seem to like new items and I enjoy making new items. Unfortunately adding new items to my lineup can be very time consuming.

I have added a few fun new things for this weekend, more than anything I have freshened up some of my old favorites.

- My bran muffins will be at the Belhaven Market this weekend. I have decided to add some shredded apple into the batter to help lighten up the texture of this super hearty muffin!

- I'm going to add some blueberries into my summery Just Peachy Cakes. Blueberries & peaches are a great combination.

- I have made cultured butter. Ta da! If you're interested in trying it yourself the link is to the website I got my recipe. Pretty website. It wasn't too hard to do, lots of fun, definitely some time involved in cleanup. From experience if you have trouble whipping it up your cream may not be cold enough.

I started with Luvel whipping cream (local yeah!) and my fresh homemade yogurt (so, so good). And I followed the instructions and when I finished I decided to spice up the yummy butter. To half of the batch I added garlic and zataar (a delicious Lebanese spice blend) and to the other half I added organic sugar & Penzey's cinnamon. I did blend in some canola oil to make it more spreadable, but no preservatives, coloring, weirdo chemicals. If you're asking yourself at this point "Why is Elizabeth , the health nut, promoting butter?" see this post.

So Saturday I will have some revamped treats, awesome breads, and wonderful homemade butter spreads to freshen your palette. Please come & see me.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Ahh food prices

Ok so this isn't good news for me or you. My ingredient prices are still going up. AHHHH!

I am doing what I can to keep prices reasonable: trying to get bulk breaks, make smaller loaves (many people seem to prefer this anyway), and trim out unnecessary expenses. It is a tough time to be in the food industry. Since December my dairy prices increased 60% and my flour prices have more than doubled.

I really really dread having to raise my prices. I didn't start this business to rip people off, and I know I won't be getting rich anytime soon. I know many restaurant owners, farmers, and other food people are having to make some changes to avoid losing their businesses. The point is I'm raising my prices because I have to and I apologize.

I hope & pray that these price increases will level out soon. I'm not planning on quitting my business anytime soon and I'm not planning on switching to inferior, cheap ingredients. I'll quit before I sell a product that I wouldn't want my family to buy.

Communications Tool

So I had a good friend & customer suggest to me that I start an email list to send out my selling locations & weekly specials to my customers. So if you would like to receive an email weekly about what I'm selling & where I'll be just click the "send us email" button on the left side of the screen. I will keep your email confidential & definitely not share it with spammers:)

Busy year for the Roots

I am finally back in town, done with graduations & weddings for awhile anyway, and ready to work!

Unfortunately I will not be at Belhaven market this week. I am planning on being at Belhaven next week, July 5th and in Clinton, July 12th. Come see me if you want some delicious whole grain bread!

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

There's good in all vegetables

The poor poor vegetables we've blacklisted: potatoes, carrots, celery, corn, and iceberg lettuce. And what have they done to deserve this ill treatment? Well nothing, they're just being themselves. Seriously this is a great article I read on these blacklisted veggies. I hope that we start seeing more information like this come out. What a concept, instead of only eating expensive "superfoods" maybe we should eat a well balanced variety of foods. Even non- superfoods have wonderful nutrients to offer us. Just a thought.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Where in the world is Elizabeth Root?

Did anyone else watch that show?

I have to apologize to all my awesome, loyal Belhaven market customers. I have missed the market for 3 straight weeks. I have had 2 graduations (1 out of state) and my husband's 30th birthday party at our house! It has been a very busy month. I do feel like I've caught up on my housework, as much as I can anyway. I'm ready to come back to the market & I'll be at Belhaven June 7th.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

The food industry is misleading us again...

This article was shocking to me. I personally have checked restaurants online menus to find the healthier selections before I eat out. And working in the food industry myself I am always honest with customers. If you are going to make something that is high in fat & calories you need to tell people. The thought occured to me, if they are going to lie about the "healthy options" how much are they lying about the "traditional meals". Shame on those restaurants.

Yet another reason to cook & eat at home.
-If you prepare the food then you know what is in it.
-If you eat at home you are less likely to overeat.
-Plus I've mentioned before the spiritual connection I believe exists from preparing your own food.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Environmentally Friendly

Now don't we hear a lot about this subject these days. And it is a complex one. I'm not an expert on the environment by any means, nor am I ready to leave all my modern conveniences behind, but I am trying to do my part to be more aware & responsible. Recently some bad news has come out concerning plastics, especially when they are heated. And it does make sense to me if you take a bunch of chemicals and form a product, some of those chemicals could be harmful. But I know firsthand in a medical setting plastics are necessary. More research should be done for sure.

Well I'm also trying to make more environmentally friendly decisions with my business. In addition to buying my ingredients from local sources and using some organic ingredients, I try to use biodegradable, natural materials for my packaging. I use paper plates for my cake, 100% cotton string, and cellophane bags. Here is more information on cellophane.
I try to make responsible decisions and right now it seems like cellophane bags are safer for the earth & safer for my customers. My labels are not biodegradable, but I'd like to find some that are. I also print my brochures up on 100% recycled paper.

I have spent some time & more trying to use more earth friendly goods. And I'll continue to research & be aware of products I use in my business.

Friday, May 09, 2008

Pollan makes Sense

Ok, it's Friday! and I should be baking. I really am going to be up till like midnight & get up at 4:30 to get ready for the market.

So I'm only posting this b/c I was so inspired. We all have times in our careers where we get tired and discouraged, even those of us blessed to do what we love. I've kinda been having one of those times. I don't have time to do what I need to do. I don't have the facility that I would like to have.

But when I came upon this article today I remembered why I'm struggling to bake healthy goods. I wanted a job that would allow me to have time to feed my family healthy food, and I wanted to help other families eat healthy foods. When my dream of becoming a registered dietician became too difficult to obtain Daniel supported me in my desire to sell healthier baked goods to the public. I wanted to provide healthy baked goods that were fun: Sourdough & Peach Cakes should be available in whole grains too!

When we both had real jobs we ate out much more often & ate many more convenience foods. And now that business is so busy for me I am struggling to continue to provide healthy meals for our family. But the struggle is worth it! I know first hand from working in the transplant lab the consequences of an unhealthy diet: overweight... diabetes... losing a kidney.

So I ran upon this article this morning about Michael Pollan's books

In general, I'm inclined to stick with the tried and true when it comes to food," he said. "And let the novelties be tested for a while. I think we need to begin to spend more on food, both in terms of money and in time. I know that's not a popular message. People like their convenience foods. But this experiment of outsourcing our food preparation to corporations has failed us. I mean, it's left us really unhealthy, really unsatisfied. And I think it's undermined the family life and undermined the community.

This article was really the inspiration I needed. Daniel & I both work hard, and sometimes we fall asleep bone tired. But I can rest easier knowing that I'm doing all I can for the health of my family. Food is not all there is to the health of our family, our faith comes first. But there is a spiritual element in food preparation. Preparing our meals makes me more appreciative of the blessings we have. God has blessed me to be able to do something that I believe in so much. I pray that I will have a positive effect on other's health.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

New happenings!

This spring has been very exciting for me!

The market has been hopping, the weather is gorgeous & we have had some wonderful entertainment. Thanks to all my loyal customers & to my new customers willing to try out my whole grain goods.

I was featured in the Madison County herald; here is a link for anyone that missed it & is so bored they want to read about me:) I don't know how long they'll leave it up. Thanks to the market director, Kay for putting the paper in touch with me.

Also I am now selling some bread & goodies to Negazio. This is a wonderful import & specialty store located on Pear Orchard across from Indian Cycle. It is family run and they have a wonderful selection of imported meats & cheeses, pasta, olives... So if you're dying for a ginger chewie during the week or you need some fresh bread stop in and see Lisa and Jay.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Grocery $ are too high!

Everytime I hear about how high groceries are I cringe. I buy groceries for our family & I buy ingredients to bake for the market. And with gas up and medical expenses up we don't need anything else to go up.

Until now I haven't been very affected by price increases. My organic stone-ground flour has stayed about the same (at this point anyway). The dried fruits I use have always been fairly high, I buy unsulfured because sulfur present in most dried fruits inhibits the yeast. I use other higher end ingredients because they taste better, such as fresh ginger in my cookies and aged Asiago cheese in my Asiago bread. I figure if my customers want a run of the mill cookie they'll buy it at Sam's where it is cheaper.

But egg prices going up is starting to be problematic for me. Also milk prices have gone up 30- 40%. This is frustrating to me; I really want to offer the best prices I can to my customers but still bake quality healthy goods. My bread prices range from $4- $7. More expensive than the grocery perhaps but my bread is homemade, fresh, and delicious. And buying more expensive groceries is still cheaper than eating out!

So what are some tips for saving money on groceries:
  • be like my Granny & PopPop shop the sales , having a deep freezer would be helpful
  • buy in bulk: you can get healthy grains, fruits, sweeteners, ect at our local coop Rainbow for far cheaper than buying them individually packaged (the items are sold in bulk bins but you get as much as you want)
  • buy less packaged drinks: I love my new aluminum water bottle as soon as I drink the water from it I refill it and stick it in the fridge. I grab it on my way out the door if I'm going to be gone for awhile. Although it was $20, I'll save that and more since I'm not buying bottled drinks.
  • buy seasonal produce: La strawberries are in season and can be found for reasonable prices at farmers markets.

I pray that these grocery price increases do not continue. But our economy is strong and we are still far better off than many people in the world.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Oatmeal Pecan Bread

I try to cater my bread to different tastes. I realize that everyone doesn’t like a hearty robust whole wheat. Last market season I had a Honey Oat, 100% whole grain of course. This was my version of a milder whole grain bread. I have improved on that bread & am introducing the new Oatmeal Pecan. It is creamier than my honey oat, but still mild and lightly sweetened with MS honey. Roasted pecan add a nutty richness to the creamy mildness. This bread has something yummy for everyone!

Ingredients: organic stone-ground white whole wheat flour, organic stone-ground whole wheat flour, MS honey, organic thick rolled oats, roasted pecans, dried milk powder, orange juice, canola oil, egg whites, salt, yeast

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Phony Egg Claims

I came upon an article today that was distressing. This article about eggs that was pretty good, she didn't quote many actual studies but it was a decent piece. At the bottom she said that:
As for fortified eggs from hens whose feed is enriched with extra omega-3 fatty acids-- a fat that is good for your heart, your brain and your joints -- they may not be all that they're cracked up to be. Lab tests commissioned by the Center for Science in the Public Interest found that some of the eggs, said to have come from hens that had eaten feed rich in omega-3s -- contained less of the beneficial fat than advertised.
This was shocking to me as I have been using (a lot) of these high omega 3 eggs in my baked goods. They do cost more & I have been passing that cost to my customers believing that I was baking a healthier product. So it sounds to me after doing more reading that they need to do some more studies before it can be proved that high omega 3 eggs are better for you.

I have been buying most of my eggs from a local vendor at the market. His chickens are truly cage free (or pastured) & are treated more like pets. So I'm supporting the local economy, getting a great fresh product, and the chickens are very happy. It seems to me that happy free range chickens would produce healthier eggs than conventional chicken "farmers" who stuff the chickens in little cages, feed them hormones & antibiotics to keep them producing.

Here's a great article from Mother Earth News (yes does sound a bit hippy:) On the last page they reference several studies that support the health benefits of pastured eggs over conventional. Here's a few:

  • A 1999 study by Barb Gorski at Pennsylvania State University found that eggs from pastured birds had 10 percent less fat, 34 percent less cholesterol, 40 percent more vitamin A, and four times the omega-3s compared to the standard USDA data.
  • In 2003, Heather Karsten at Pennsylvania State University compared eggs from two groups of Hy-Line variety hens, with one kept in standard crowded factory farm conditions and the other on mixed grass and legume pasture. The eggs had similar levels of fat and cholesterol, but the pastured eggs had three times more omega-3s, 220 percent more vitamin E and 62 percent more vitamin A than eggs from caged hens.
These studies are enough reason for me to pay a few more dollars per dozen eggs.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Malted Banana Chocolate Chunk Muffins

I'll admit in the spectrum of healthy breakfasts this isn't in the bran muffin category. But it's not down with the doughnuts either!

These muffins are very yummy. Most of the sweetness is from the barley malt (in malted milk powder). Although sweet enough to be considered a treat they are 100% whole grain and full of healthy ingredients like fresh bananas, dark chocolate chunks, and cage free eggs.

Ingredients: fresh bananas, belgian dark chocolate chunks, organic stone-ground barley flour, organic stone-ground spelt flour, organic stone-ground white whole wheat flour, malted milk powder, cage free eggs, organic cane sugar, buttermilk powder, canola oil, melted butter, baking powder, vanilla, salt

Nutrient information- 1muffin: 277 kCal, 43g carb (2g fiber, 22g sugar) 10g fat (4g sat fat, 3g monounsat fat, 1g polyunsat fat) , 6g protein
  • keep in mind these muffins have a lot of dairy which is high in natural & unrefined sugar
  • **approximate calculation- not actually tested**

Loaded Potato Bread

So you read this and thought: potatoes don't belong on a healthy food blog. Well yes they do. The USDA says:
Potatoes are an important source of complex carbohydrates. In addition, they contain vitamins C and B 6 , iron, potassium, and trace minerals such as manganese, chromium, selenium, and phosphorus. Potatoes are low in sodium, are virtually fat free, and provide fiber when the skin is eaten.
Here's another article I ran across about why potatoes are healthy. So great eat some baked potatoes right. Well eating them in whole grain bread is another great idea. I've had grocery store (not fresh, blahhh) potato bread so I wasn't expecting the addition of fresh mashed potatoes to be a big deal.
  • Potatoes give the bread a soft & moist texture.
  • Eggs add a bit more rise
  • Fennel lends a subtle herby note
  • Sesame seeds top it off with a nutty crunch
Of course it’s 100% whole grain. To experience the full effect try it for yourself!

Ingredients: organic stone-ground white whole wheat flour, mashed potatoes, Mississippi honey, eggs, buttermilk powder, canola oil, sesame seeds, egg white, roasted sesame oil, salt, yeast, fennel

Friday, March 07, 2008

All about the fiber

I'm introducing my Double Yum (bran) Muffins. Bran in parenthesis b/c some people are afraid of healthy things like (bran). Males age 14-50 need 38g fiber/day and females that age need 25g fiber/day according to the US dietary guidelines. These muffins with 6g fiber will help you get there. Let's quickly review why we need all this fiber.

According to the American Dietetic Association fiber is important because it:
  • lowers bad (LDL) cholesterol
  • helps our GI move things along normally
  • slows digestion & makes us feel full
  • can prevent & help manage these diseases: Diabetes, heart disease, & diverticulitis
  • may prevent cancer
These muffins are really good & good for you. They are have a roboust whole grain taste with bits of sweet and tart apricots. The addition of fresh spices (cinnamon, nutmeg, & cloves) kicks the flavor up a notch. With a double dose of bran: high fiber wheat bran and heart healthy oat bran, not to mention the additional fiber from the dried apricots & flax seed.

Ingredients: organic stone-ground white whole wheat flour, dried unsulfured apricots, oat bran, succanat, wheat bran, organic stone-ground spelt flour, cage free eggs, blackstrap molasses, canola oil, dried buttermilk powder, flax seed, mechanically pressed palm oil, organic cane sugar, baking soda, cinnamon, salt, nutmeg, cloves

Nutrient information- 1muffin: 204kCal, 8g fat (1.5g sat fat, 3g monounsat, 2.5g polyunsat) 33g carb
( 6g fiber, 14g sugar), 6g protein
**approximate calculation- not actually tested**

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Fats can be very confusing

Today I was not supposed to be spending hours researching the best fats to cook with. But my plans to be productive were altered when I was stumped by a recipe. I'm working on a new muffin recipe for the market. I am going to have Double Yum (Bran) Muffins in less than a month. So I'm starting to work up a recipe. This usually begins by me selecting a recipe after searching for a lengthy time period. Then I change it so much it becomes more my recipe than anyone elses. So this recipe is a "6 week bran muffin" (I will not have the batter around for 6 weeks:). Because I do so much baking it will be handy to have a batter that is good for longer than a week.

So my recipe calls for shortening. Normally I would say no way and switch out for canola oil- my choice for heart healthy cooking. But this is a longer sitting batter so maybe some shortening might help the texture of my muffin. I have some Spectrum organics "mechanically pressed organic palm oil" . They call their product " a healthy, trans-fat free alternative to traditional shortening". Is it? As someone that has had some nutrition classes I know saturated fats are healthier than hydrogenated fats found in conventional shortening. I searched a good bit and the best I could find was Dr. Andrew Weil saying that palm oil contains vitamin E and is better than the evil palm kernal oil. And this product has 6g sat fat/ 1Tbsp. So in the quantity that I'm using it in my recipe each muffin will have 0.75g sat fat. That is really not much at all.

If you read my post on butter being not so bad for you then you understand my confusion over the choice of fats. In the nutrition realm it is agreed on that Trans fats are bad bad. I don't use any of those. Saturated fats are out of favor, but in baking they have their place. Butter is great for flavor and texture; too much of it is too many calories... weight gain... lots of health problems in general. And there is some conflicting research out there concerning what fats are the best for you. Chocolate has a high quantity of saturated fats and it is "good for you". There is a good bit of research showing that omega 3 fatty acids are good for our hearts, brains, ect. So I am choosing to use fats that are high in these: such as canola oil and flax seed.

I'm using canola oil for the remainder of the fat in the recipe. I chose that oil because it has a good amount of omega 3 fatty acids. The spectrum website is slightly confusing on this matter. Of course they would like me to buy their walnut oil for my baking (considerately more expensive than my canola) but their is little difference in the omega 3 fatty acid content of walnut and canola oil. I can tell you this because of several hours I spent digging up the facts! The USDA database rules again!

Monday, March 03, 2008

Grillin on a Sunday!

This is food related b/c we were on our way to the reservoir to grill with some friends when Barley (aka Hearth Leaven Loaves's beloved mascot) decided to show out. This picture is especially funny when you compare it to other pictures of Barley. I put one in just for comparison sake of course. This is his puppy expedition pack, a Christmas present from Auntie Becca! Anyway he looks so different with the wind blowing his ears & abundant fur back, and with his eyes all squinty.

So we took Barley to the reservoir to grill with friends. We all had a great time and enjoyed the gorgeous weather. I really hope the good weather follows us into April to kick off the market right! I'm working on new recipes right now. I have most of them listed on my current products page. I don't have posts for most of my new products b/c I'm still trying perfect my recipes. They should be appearing soon.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Change is a comin'

I really am working in my market off-time, see Cadillac vs. newbie if you don't belive me:) After some time to think about it & some more baking comparison tests I have decided to try something new.

I am changing the brand of flour I use for all of my baking! This is a pretty big deal, but I have done some research and spent time on the decision. I will be using War Eagle Mill's flour instead of King Arthur's flour. Here are some of my reasons:
  1. I like to bake for your family like I do for my own- for health reasons stone ground flour is superior to modern flour processing.
  2. WEM flour has a fresher flavor
  3. WEM is a local establishment & I like to shop local when possible
King Arthur has good flour, and if I have problems with War Eagle Mill then I would switch back to King Arthur.

So all my bakery products now in addition to being Whole Grain contain Organic Stone-ground flour. I'm excited about being able to offer my customers a healthier, higher quality product.

**Another change I'm making is the incorporation of more spelt flour in my baked goods. I tried spelt last season and liked it so I have continued to experiment with it. Look for it in the ingredient listings of my cakes, cookies, and muffins.

Rosemary Fig

This bread was probably my #1 seller last market season. It is different, but also familiar. I'm sure we all know someone that has a fig tree. I wish I had one, one day in my dream yard with my muscadine vines, wonderful garden, every herb you could want...

Figs are a much loved fruit in Mississippi. So I took a hearty whole wheat bread and added dried fig pieces and fresh rosemary leaves. The resulting bread has been popular. It is one of my favorites. I love this bread with dinner, but I am told that it makes a wonderful peanut butter sandwich. The rosemary is subtle in this bread, there is enough to taste but not to overpower.

Ingredients: organic stone-ground whole wheat flour, water, chopped figs, malted barley syrup, dry milk powder, orange juice, Mississippi honey, butter, rosemary, egg whites, salt, yeast

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Cake Time!

I know this cake may not look like a big deal to some people but it is the prettiest cake I've ever made! Unfortunately I baked it a bit too long and it was a little dry. But didn't the icing turn out good? This cake was for my mom's birthday a few weeks ago. I baked a chocolate malt cake & frosted it with a malt milk buttercream icing. Oh and the hearts were part of the cake batter I baked in a mini heart pan.

I'm fairly certain I will not bake this for the market. If these kinds of baked goods were around me on a regular basis I would be in trouble. It was a whole grain batter, but not lowfat and not healthy fats either. It was really fun to make the cake. I'm glad both of my parents birthdays fell on market off-time so I could make their cakes from scratch.

You want the numbers...

I've had several customers request nutritional analyses on my bakery goods. So I analyzed my Toffee biscotti recipe using my nutrition software. If you are interested go to the Toffee biscotti post.

It wasn't as easy as it should have been, but I'm fairly confident that it is a good approximation. I would have analyzed all my recipes already if not for several obstacles:
1. my items are handmade so the portions aren't exact
2. the bread doesn't come pre-sliced
3. my analysis software does not contain all my specialty ingredients in its database
4. I am not required by law to have nutritional information b/c I am a "mom & pop" operation, to have real nutrition info I would need to have my food sent off and physically tested

All that said I'm glad to provide some information. On my biscotti I have listed the information for a serving size of 1 large biscotti (or sometimes 2 small) equal to 1/12 the recipe size. And when I get the bread analyzed I will list the numbers for a portion of the bread- your slices may be bigger or smaller than mine. But hopefully my analysis will be helpful.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Cadillac vs. Newbie

Huh? Let me clarify. I'm doing a comparison test between two types of flour.

In one corner we have my old favorite: King Arthur traditional whole wheat flour. I started using this flour b/c another baker told me this was "the cadillac of flour". I have found that this is true. I get very consistent results with my bread using King Arthur. I have never bought any rancid flour, even buying from the grocery store. I usually order directly from them so my flour is fresh, additionally I have been treated very well by their customer service.

In the other corner we have my new discovery: War Eagle Mill organic whole wheat stone-ground flour. So why change a good thing? Well I have long been interested in stone-ground flour because it is supposed to have better nutritional value & flavor than roller milled flour. There is all kinds of information to be found, I never have found any firm comparison on the matter. The National Heart Foundation does briefly discuss the matter. I have used stone ground flour before, but I never had an affordable source for quality flour. That is until I found War Eagle Mill, now I'm willing to give it a try.

So I'm pitting these flours against each other in a run of sourdough bread. This is the easiest bread to test with, because I typically run 2 separate batches simultaneously.

1. Setting up the starter dough:

KA- looks redder
WEM- more golden hue, slightly bigger bran fragments (very slightly), upon tasting is slightly sweet

2. Preparing the bread dough:

KA- typical results for this bread- flour/water proportions perfect
WEM- this flour was wetter, I had to considerately more flour to bring the dough consistency to where I like it to be. Also I had to knead this dough for longer than the KA to get enough gluten development.

3. Bread dough rising:

KA- seemed to have a better rise as you can see from these profile shots
WEM- still rose, just not as much as KA

4. Baking

KA- browned more, perhaps more tannins in bran of flour (gives red color)
WEM- once baked the two loaves seem to be the same size

5. Slice & Taste

KA- seemed to have a more sour taste?
WEM- looks identical to the KA slice, doesn't appear to be a big difference in cell structure (holes in bread)

So at this point from the wetness of the dough and the sweeter taste the WEM flour seems fresher and that is a good thing. But as far as gluten content the KA flour may have a greater amount, and gluten is vital to the bread rising.

Now I'm really not convinced either way. I like supporting a local mill especially if their flour is fresher. But I don't want to sacrifice the quality of my bread. So more tests to come.

Joy of Cooking!

So when Daniel & I got married I disregarded his cook book collection for the most part. I didn't mean to be a snob, but really what did More Swamp Cooking & Manifold Destiny (cooking on your car engine) have that I might want to cook?

I'm not sure why but one day I opened Daniel's The Joy of Cooking. I had never heard of this cookbook, in my parents home the 70's edition Betty Crocker, The Mississippi Cookbook, and Bells Best were the everyday cookbooks. I fell in love with this cookbook. To this day it is one of my favorites. Why? 1) It has great basic recipes for new cooks- oven fried chicken, mashed potatoes, etc. 2) It has a recipe for almost every food you can think of- lamb ribs, boston baked beans, asparagus soup. 3) There are great write ups on many culinary subjects, for example a heading about different cuts of roast and how they should be cooked differently.

Well I was thinking of buying a copy for a gift. So I go to Amazon and there is controversy in the Joy of Cooking land. Apparently there is dispute about which edition is best. My beloved cookbook is the 1997 edition. Who cares about trifling editions? Well apparently some people really don't like 97' because ice cream, drink recipes, and short-cuts such as condensed soups were left out. Well those changes suit me fine because I buy ice cream and don't like condensed soups. I'd prefer to make my own sauces, for those that like these things there is the all new 2006 75th Anniversary edition. I decided after much research that this may be a better gift for my occasion.

Any comments? please tell me if you have an opinion on this.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Connection between the environment & baking bread

This post might not make much sense to you if you don't know what Orthodox Christianity is. There is a lot of information out there about Orthodox Christianity. Here's a starting point: Antiochian,

There is a great Orthodox writer by the name of Clark Carlton who also has a podcast available from Ancient Faith Radio. He had a segment about the climate changes the earth is undergoing and how our Orthodox faith shapes our view of the earth: Clark Carlton,

He made some good points. One thing he talked about was how many people live disconnected from nature due to living in a concrete jungle and our busy lifestyles. He recommends planting a vegetable garden and baking prosphora bread to mend this disconnect. Prosphora bread is our communion bread and this recommendation is limited to Orthodox Christians. But he has a great point, those who don't grow their own food and especially those who don't cook are missing out of the full experience of God's gifts to us. This quote was one of my first posts :"All the food of this world is divine love made edible" Metropolitan Anthony Bloom. Mr. Carlton says that just getting all your food from a fast food drive through turns it into a commodity rather than a gift to be thankful for.

This is one thing Daniel and I love about the market, the chance to meet the people who have produced the food we buy. And the opportunity to socialize with our community and celebrate the bounty of our Earth. The market opens the 1st Saturday in April, come & see us.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Local Mill

How many times have you said I wish there was a local mill close to me? OK so everyone has a different dream.

For those interested there is a "working water powered grist mill" in Rogers, Arkansas by the name of War Eagle Mill, I would love to get away one weekend and visit this place, hint hint Daniel. It even has an attached restaurant called The Bean Palace. Bags of stone ground flour and hot bean soup what more could you want?
So this mill grinds their own stone ground flours that they sell at the mill or online. The flours that I have tried have been fresh and I've had good results baking with them. This place even bags their flour in cloth sacks! How cool is that? They're sturdy and colorful. You can reuse them maybe for giftwrap. Additionally their shipping costs are affordable. So if you're looking for a local, affordable source for stone ground flours try War Eagle Mill.

Use what you're paying for!

Yeah Uncle Sam is a little intense I know. I want to let my friends know about the wonderful tool we have available from the government. This is the USDA database at:

This is a great tool that I use all the time. You can put in a food (ex. oatmeal) and choose from the list given. Then you select the portion and you get a very complete list of what's in the food (vitamin, fat, fiber...). No every food you can buy isn't listed but many foods are. I use this to help me decide what ingredients I want to use (ex. is there a big difference between stone rolled organic oats and old fashioned steel rolled oats).

And you can use it to search for foods rich in a certain nutrient (iron, calcium...). Did you know that clams are the food most nutrient dense in iron? This is a great resource, most nutrition analysis programs use this database. Your tax dollars pay for it might as well use it!

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Daily soapbox: Meat Thermometer

OK so when I check my daily nutrition news this is what I see: food poisoning, This article is pretty scary, it is about long term affects of food poisoning. Arthritis, kidney failure, and paralysis are very serious.

I knew about many of them b/c of my lab background. After seeing the picture from the clinical laboratory and then food prep side I know that food poisoning is nothing to play with. Most chicken in the grocery store has Campylobacter that is a fact. I don't remember the percentage of Salmonella contamination but it is "normal flora" in chickens. After processing sometimes some nasty Salmonella will be shrink wrapped with the chicken you take home from the store. And we all hear about the ground beef recalls due to E.coli.

Believe me I'm not saying to avoid buying meat. The easiest way to check if something is done is to get a reliable meat thermometer and cook your meat to the recommended temperatures. Once I got ours I wished I had bought one a long time ago. If you don't get a thermometer you will either undercook your meat and risk possible infection or overcook it and eat dry meat like we used to do. And little holes from the probe of the thermometer are far preferable to slashing the meat to see if it's done (also like we did pre-thermometer days). We use the CDN DTQ450 ProAccurate Quick Tip Thermometer, it is digital- 10 seconds to give a temp & is accurate. It runs about $20. If you want to spend more there is the $95 thermapen, it gives a 3 second readout and is also accurate (I reserve this one for my bread, but it would work for meat). I know you're thinking I don't want to fool with that, but it really is easier and will give you piece of mind about serving that hamburger or chicken.

Here's a link to a government site about recommended cooking temps: meat Use your common sense: wash hands after handling meat, use separate cutting boards for meat, and wash contaminated surfaces with hot soapy water.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Coffee & Miscarriages

I know my female friends out there probably already know what I'm talking about. Certainly we have all heard that when you're pregnant you should avoid caffeine or at least limit it. Why is this? Well when I was in nutrition school they told us that high caffeine consumption is linked to increased miscarriage risk. The recommendation given is to limit caffeine to 2 cups of coffee or less per day. And I kinda thought, big deal everyone should be able to cut their caffeine that much.

Well today I read that there is a study that correlates moderate caffeine consumption with miscarriages. Here the article: caffeine Like every other study, this one study is not confirmative and they need to do more research. But it does cast some doubt to the old ≤ 2 cup rule. Moms to be that I know will do anything for their baby, so I imagine with a possibility of danger most would cut caffeine all together. I probably would too.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Snow Barley

OK so Saturday morning we had a little bit of snow. The fact that it wasn't cold enough for it to stick and it turned into slush didn't stop us from introducing our puppy to the snow. Our friends and family know what a scaredy doggy Barley is so I wasn't sure what he would do. He liked it so much he ate it, not surprising to anyone that has a dog I'm sure. Eating foreign matter (deadly or not) seems instinctive to dogs:)