Mr. Larry’s Raisin Walnut Bread

Every Friday I get to visit one of my favorite people on this huge spinning ball we call earth.  My Milk Farmer.  Well, to reduce him to that it almost a crime.  He is a good honest man, dedicated to the local real food movement.  I am honored to have created this loaf for him and his wife.  It is Raisin Walnut Bread, their favorite and weekly breakfast staple.

Made with freshly ground flour, and soaked overnight to maximize nutrient absorption.  I bake it like my Soaked Bread, in my grandmother’s dutch oven.  And do my best to deliver it warm to him each Friday.

My most pleasurable moments are when he finds it still warm, and must cut off the end.  We sit and chat about the Old School New Body and how we can fathom this fitness program. My children play with his barn cat and chase his chickens.

At this moment in the week I feel connected.  To mankind. To the earth.  To the beautiful Jerseys that chew on the grass I walk on and make me white gold.  It will drip from my children’s mouths and sit on their upper lip.  It will be in my coffee first thing in the morning, or wash down my chocolate chip bedtime snack.  I dream of ways we can all begin to interconnect our needs with each other.  Not in socialism, or capitalism, but in respect for one another’s work, and care for our fellow human beings.
I know, it’s just milk, and it’s just bread.  And you can pick it up at the gas station on your way home to the suburbs in your big SUV.  But does it have to be that way?  This bread takes time, this milk, the utmost care and then, it is so, so much more!

5 1/2 cups whole wheat flour (freshly ground if possible) 

1 cup of unbleached all-purpose flour
1 cup of rolled oats
1 Tbsp. of cane sugar
2 tsp. of sea salt
1/2 tsp. of instant yeast
1/3 cup of kefir, yogurt, or whey
approx. 3 cups of filtered water
1 cup of organic raisins

1/2 cup shelled walnuts (halved or chopped)

Mix all of the dry ingredients together (not the raisins and walnuts).  On low add kefir and once incorporated begin adding water slowly until a slightly sticky or shaggy dough forms.  Add in raisins and walnuts until evenly incorporated.  Cover and allow to sit 7+ hours or overnight.

Preheat oven with a covered dutch oven in it to 500.  While heating, turn dough out onto a floured surface, form a loaf the shape of your dutch oven.  Be careful not to knead or overwork the dough.  A couple of turns is all it needs.
Cover and allow to rest until oven is preheated.
Remove dutch oven from oven and place loaf carefully into the pot.  You can dust the bottom with cornmeal, or not.  I have stopped doing this, because it is so hard to find organic corn meal, and the loaf doesn’t stick when you don’t use it.  Sometimes a couple raisins will remain, but the loaf comes out undamaged.
Put lid on and return dutch oven to oven.  Bake for 30 minutes.
Reduce heat to 400.  Remove lid.  Bake for an additional 10 minutes.
Remove from oven, let sit for 10 or so minutes then shake out from the pan onto a cooling rack to continue cooling…if you can resist not cutting into it immediately!
(That’s the hardest part 🙂
Hope you try the recipe!  And more so I hope you contemplate your own relationship to bread and milk, the earth and mankind.  Blessings if you find new truth for yourself.

Brown Rice & Quinoa Salad With Lemon-Basil Vinaigrette

During the cooler months I roast 2 chickens almost every week to take some of the pressure off life when it comes to fixing meals.  Now that the deep south is heating up, I am trying to use my oven a little less and send my husband out the back door to the grill.  I just found my rotisserie attachment and I can’t wait to use it on my whole chickens, but this week he grilled up some boneless skinless breasts for us to use in meals.
I must say boneless skinless meat is not my favorite for flavor at all and it tends to get dry easy.  I do however recognize how convenient it is and I can tell from cruising Pinterest that it is the most popular form of chicken people use.  My husband is AH-mazing on the grill, but even his perfect chicken breast, I won’t just sit down and eat.  But they do make a perfect addition to grain-based salads or tossed salads, where I can soak them with lots good fats like my Homemade Probiotic Ranch Dressing or this simple Vinaigrette I want to share today.
This is a salad a friend of mine created a few years back, and after she shared it at a picnic it became a mainstay in the spring and summer months in our house.  You can use green beans or asparagus, which ever is in season.  You can even use the frozen and it will still be good.
It was originally made with all quinoa, but when forced to improvise (like at 4:45 when I realized I had only 1 cup of quinoa and the nearest store that sells it is 20 minutes away), I tried making it with brown rice.  I have to say I think it is a little better.  The chewy texture of the brown rice melds well with the creaminess of the quinoa.  It also doesn’t hurt that brown rice is quite a bit cheaper!
This recipe makes a lot of salad.  You could easily half it or keep the extra in the fridge for quick lunches.  Because it’s mayonnaise free and is good cold or at room temp, it would be great for all of those summer picnics too!

Simple Brown Rice & Quinoa Salad w/Lemon Basil Vinaigrette

For the Salad mix together in a large bowl:
4 cups of cooked & cooled Brown rice and/or Quinoa (important that it is cooled or it will melt your cheese)
12 oz of asparagus or green beans, steamed and cut into 3/4 inch pieces
3 grilled chicken breast cut into bite size chunks (shredded chicken would work too)
4-6 oz of dried cranberries
4 oz of crumbled Bleu or Gorgonzola Cheese
A handful of sliced almonds (optional)
For the Vinaigrette:
Juice of one large lemon, seeds removed (approx. 1/8th of a cup)
1 tsp. of honey
1 tsp. of salt
2 tsp. of dried basil or 2 Tbsp. of fresh basil chopped finely
1/4 cup of extra virgin olive oil
Whisk together ingredients and pour over salad.  Mix well and serve.
This will save well for extras for a few days.  If you leave out the chicken it makes a great side dish.  And just in case you are like I was when I first started cooking, here are directions for how I make fool-proof brown rice.
2 cups of uncooked Brown Rice or Quinoa (I like a combination of both best 1 1/2 cup rice, 1/2 cup quinoa)
4 cups of filtered water or chicken stock
1 tsp. of sea salt
2 Tbsp. of butter
To cook rice combine all ingredients in a medium sauce pan over high heat.  Bring to a boil.  Turn to low and cover for 30 minutes to an hour.  Try not to stir, this is easier said than done.  When liquid is absorbed, remove from heat and let set 10 minutes before fluffing and serving.  For the salad, add rice to a bowl and put in the freezer until it cools.
I know you are thinking, seriously lady?  I know how to cook rice, but I do have to say this was not a skill I had.  I was perplexed by the burned pot of sticky goo years ago and would only use those nice little “minute” bags.  I was finally very thankful when someone broke down the process for me.  We all have to start somewhere!  And trust me my “somewhere” was a very sad place.
Well, keep enjoying the summer, I know I will a little more when my tomatoes come in.