14 May 2022

A Kitchen Miscellany (Weekend Cooking)

Happy Saturday! In today's Weekend Cooking post, I talk about two books and a some delicious bread. Let's start with the bread.

Photo of a box of baked goodsLast month, the company Wildgrain reached out to me to see if I wanted a review box of their artisan sourdough breads and pasta. I did a little research, and saw nothing but positive reviews about Wildgrain's products and services. Now that I've worked with the company and baked their breads, I couldn't agree more.

Here's how their delivery subscription works. For $89 a month (which includes shipping), you receive a box of frozen goodies. A typical box includes three loaves of sourdough bread, two packages of hand-cut pasta, a bag of sourdough rolls, and a bag of croissants. Everything arrives frozen, ready for the freezer. The products are non-GMO and vegetarian, use unbleached flour, and contain no artificial colors.

photo of a sourdough bread loafMy box contained a plain sourdough loaf, a sourdough sesame seed loaf, a sourdough cranberry pecan loaf, fresh fettuccine, fresh tonnarelli, chocolate croissants, and sourdough rolls. One of the really great things about the Wildgrain products is that you bake directly from the freezer. No thawing required. You simply preheat the oven as directed, place the bread directly on the oven rack (croissants go on sheet pan) and wait about 25 minutes for the magic to happen. The hardest part of baking Wildgrain bread is letting it sit for 10-15 minutes so it can cool a bit and finish baking. The bread smells sooooo good, you want to eat it immediately. Okay, so I confess, we did eat the rolls pretty much right away.

photo of chocolate croissantsThe breads and rolls are everything you want from a sourdough: crusty crust with a tangy soft interior (see my photo). The chocolate croissants (see my photo) were to die for. Seriously good and not overly sweet. Both pastas cooked quickly and were every bit as delicious as any fresh pasta I've had.

When I did a price comparison with local artisan bakeries and vendors at our farmer's markets, I found the cost for Wildgrain to be competitive both for the sourdough bread and fresh pasta. The advantage of a Wildgrain subscription is that you have the breads on hand for spontaneous baking.

I noticed on the Wildgrain website that they're currently running a special (free extra croissants for life) for people who subscribe by the end of May. Note that I get no commission if you subscribe. I did get my box for free, but my thoughts are completely honest. We loved our Wildgrain products and also loved the convenience of home delivery and knowing we could have fresh bread, even when I didn't feel like baking myself.

For more information visit the Wildgrain website and read their FAQ. Thanks again to Wildgrain for the opportunity to try their products.

book cover of Good Eats: The Final Years by Alton BrownNext, I want to alert you to Alton Brown's new cookbook: Good Eats: The Final Years. (Thanks to Abrams for sending me the review copy.) I loved Brown's Food Network shows Good Eats and the spin-off shows subtitled "Reloaded" and "The Return." This cookbook is very much an offspring of the television series, with each chapter linked to a specific Reloaded or Return episode.

As you would expect from Alton Brown, the Good Eats cookbook covers practical advice (like how to spatchcock a chicken), food history (all about dates), food science (how milk fat foams), and so much more. The book is amply illustrated with photos from the television set, drawings, step-by-step photos of techniques, and the like.

There is an incredible amount of information in this 400+-page cookbook. I'll turn to Good Eats: The Final Years for answers to my culinary questions and to revisit the special zaniness that Brown brings to his kitchen lessons. I haven't yet cooked from this book, but I want to point out some things of interest. Good Eats includes a recipe for a Gluten-Free Flour Mix (see below), a thorough section on immersion cooking (kind of like, but not really, sous vide), a chapter on sourdough, and a chapter on rediscovered grains (like chia, quinoa, and amaranth).

Alton Brown's Good Eats: The Final Years is recommended for fans of Alton Brown and anyone interested in the nitty-gritty of culinary techniques.

book cover of Home Ec for Everyone by Sharon and David BowersFinally, I've been enjoying Sharon and David Bower's Home Ec for Everyone: Practical Life Skills in 118 Projects, which I received as a member of the Workman Ambassador program. When I was in junior high and high school, girls took home ec and boys took shop. At my school, home ec focused on cooking and sewing and not too much on the other adulting skills. Home Ec for Everyone provides a more well-rounded approach to general life skills.

Each short section of the book explains a specific skill or a useful household bit of knowledge, complete with charming drawings by Sophia Nicolay (see the cover). For example, in the kitchen chapter, you'll find information on equipment and appliances, on basic cooking skills, on how to properly prepare and store food, and even cleaning advice. The laundry chapter includes a chart for deciphering laundry labels in clothing and helps you figure out whether your "dry clean only" shirt can actually be thrown in the washing machine. Besides recipes, activities include simple sewing projects, how to remove stains, how to make a household budget, how to make a household first aid kit, and how to fix a broken zipper.

Whether you're an experienced domestic god or goddess or you're new to taking care of yourself and your living quarters, Home Ec for Everyone deserves a place on your bookshelf. It's a great resource to have on hand next time you have to hem something or need to launder a down comforter or your curtains. I have to note, however, that in the 21st century, much of the information in Sharon and David Bowers's Home Ec for Everyone can be found via a quick internet search. Still, I like the idea of having a basic print resource.

Now for the promised recipe. According to Alton Brown, the following mix is for cookies and "cookie-like baked goods." This is not for bread. This mix will last 6 months in an airtight container. Brown, of course, encourages you to weigh the ingredients instead of using volume measures.

Gluten-Free Flour Mix
Makes about 7 1/2 cups (1000 g)

  • 250 grams (1 3/4 cups plus 1 1/2 teaspoons brown rice flour
  • 250 grams (1 1/2 cups plus 2 tablespoons) white rice flour
  • 150 grams (1 1/4 cups plus 2 teaspoons) tapioca flour or starch
  • 150 grams (1 cup plus 1 tablespoon) cornstarch
  • 100 grams (1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon and 1/2 teaspoon) potato starch
  • 90 grams (1 cup) nonfat dry milk powder
  • 10 grams (1 tablespoon plus 1/2 teaspoon) xanthan gum
Combine all of the ingredients in a large airtight container.

Note: The recipe is used in the context of a review; all rights remain with the original copyright holders. The photos of the breads are my own.

Shared with Weekend Cooking, hosted by Marg at The Intrepid Reader (and Baker)


Karen 5/14/22, 7:15 AM  

Ooh, those chocolate croissants look divine! And I just happen to have need of instructions for fixing a broken zipper...

gluten Free A_Z Blog 5/14/22, 8:34 AM  

I enjoyed the reviews of the two books. The home ec one sounds like a book I could use -thanks.. That bread shipment looks amazing- what a great product to review.

Deb Nance at Readerbuzz 5/14/22, 8:38 AM  

Wouldn't it be fun to get a box of artisan sourdough breads and pasta each month?!

I like the idea behind Home Ec for Everyone. These are skills that everyone needs to know for life, I think.

Mae Travels 5/14/22, 8:41 AM  

Prices for subscriptions like that always look incredibly high to me, but I realize that I never add up/calculate what it costs when we bake bread or (in the past) made pasta. That looks like a lot of food for 2 people each month, though. Arranging for baking without defrosting is a great idea.

best... mae at maefood.blogspot.com

Jackie McGuinness 5/14/22, 1:01 PM  

I'm too lazy to make my own gluten free flour mix, I'm happy with the store bought ones.
I would kill for a subscription box like that but it would have to be gluten free.

Vicki 5/14/22, 2:26 PM  

I loved Home Ec when I was in school! I would love the chocolate croissants, I'm a chocoholic!

Tina 5/15/22, 8:52 AM  

What a cool subscription! I love the looks of the croissants.

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