Thursday, July 8, 2010

My Goodness, this bread is going to be my downfall; I slowed way down on my bread intake, but this stuff is going to make that really difficult!

Artisan Bread in five Minutes Watercress style! Just my style, but I am getting into the craft of making things from the start. We have a grist mill near here, so I am totally serious about from the "start"...

Title ticking redirects to the link; I just copied this for my notes~~~~Caio people! Hope your summer is going well!

By Jeff
Family camping trips are a great time to make sure we all stay connected with each other. There are no distractions (from each other!) so this is nothing like the ”real” life of work, running a household, and schoolwork. My family is addicted to it and though we only go once a year, none of us can imagine doing without it. We camp in the blufflands of Southern Minnesota, a unique and beautiful part of the state. It’s actually quite a rolling terrain, not like the flat prairie that most people associate with the Upper Midwest. This year, we camped 30 steps from an chilly stream, and it was teeming with wild watercress, growing all along the shallows at the stream’s edge. Bingo!
After the park ranger assured me that yes, it was edible watercress, and that it was legal to pick, I started to think about using it in bread. Watercress has a sharp, peppery, flavor that goes well in all kinds of salads and savory dishes. I love it, but it’s often very difficult to find in supermarkets. So this was really a gold mine. If you can’t find watercress, this recipe would work with any kind of savory green. Arugula comes to mind if I were to buy something for this from the supermarket.
We were a bit squeamish about eating the greens raw in salad (the river water isn’t considered drinkable), but sauteed watercress, when nicely salted and garlicked up, makes a fantastic savory addition to bread, along the lines of our Spinach Feta Bread (page 110 in the book). After I got some help harvesting a bunch with a kitchen shears (above), I cut away the tough stems and roughly chopped the cress with an Opinel folding picnic knife (everyone who goes to France seems to buy for one of these for rustic picnics, but I have to admit that my wife got our Opinel from Amazon). It’s an old-fashioned knife, made of a relatively soft carbon steel that is very easy to sharpen, so this thing is always razor-sharp for camping trips:

Then fire up a Coleman camping stove , liquid-fueled or propane (or whatever brand you like, so long as it provides a strong heat source that’s comparable to your home stove). Saute a clove or two of chopped garlic in about a tablespoon of olive oil until fragrant and just beginning to turn color. Add a big bunch of chopped watercress and saute over medium-high heat until wilted. Salt to taste and remove from heat. I like a cast-iron skillet for this job.

Now, cut off a chunk of pre-mixed stored dough–enough to cover the bottom of your skillet when you roll it out to 1/8 to 1/4-inch thickness (it may take some trial and error, but it’s usually about the size of a peach for a pan this size). On the camping trip, we store basic dough from the Master Recipe in a cooler packed with ice that we stow in the car at night (OK, we had a lapse and left it out in the open for “a while” and a racoon stole our organic watermelon out of it. Could have happened to anyone. We’ve been camping for years and never did this. Some subtle recipe advice: DON’T LEAVE YOUR COOLER OUTSIDE UNATTENDED IN THE WOODS!

Anyway, roll, stretch, or flatten the dough into a round; for this trip I just brought along a silicon mat and used that as my work surface with a little flour and my hands. No rolling pin on this trip. Which would have come in handy when I tried to intimidate the racoon using nothing but a flashlight. Once the dough is flat and round, scatter the surface with your sauteed watercress:

Then roll up the whole thing into a cylinder like so:

I love this method, because it allows you to use a very basic dough and add in something that radically changes the nature of the bread, just for this one loaf (you can go back to plain bread next time). This technique works well with greens, nuts, raisins, or just about anything. Chocolate, for example. But I digress.
Form the rolled-up cylinder into a ball by tucking the ends underneath, shape the ball briefly and then flatten it again with your hands and/or a rolling pin to form a flat round

Pre-heat your skillet over medium-high heat with about a tablespoon of oil, add your dough round and then lower the heat to medium-low and cover closely to trap steam. The heat setting you want will take some trial and error; if it’s too high the bottom will burn before the flatbread is set, if it’s too low it takes forever and you get an unappetizing pale result.

If you’ve set the heat right and keep the lid on the skillet, you should get good caramelization like this with about five minutes on a side (flip the flatbread using a spatula when the underside is browned to your liking), but this all depends on the thickness of the dough and the power of your camping stove;

We devoured this thing after cutting it up with the kitchen shears– we used the pieces as improvised hamburger buns. They split well, even though this method doesn’t encourage puffing.

Camping season is rapidly drawing to a close here in the great North– wherever you are, your season is probably longer than ours, so enjoy, and consider having fresh bread every night in your campsite with your family. And of course, if you’re not a camper, you can do this on your kitchen range. If you like that sort of thing.

So this was just like being there without the mosquito net! Thank you Jeff!


Here's another interesting Watercress recipe;

Watercress Soup Shots

Serves: 6-8

1 lb. watercress, cleaned
1 lb. russet potatoes, peeled and diced
1 large yellow onion, diced
1 leek, white part only, halved lengthwise, thoroughly washed and julienned
8 cups (64 oz.) chicken stock
1 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons butter
Whole milk plain yogurt for garnishing
Salt to taste

1. In a large pot, bring the chicken stock to a boil and add the diced potatoes; cook until softened, about 20 minutes.

2. Melt the butter in a large pan, add the onions and leeks, and sautee until softened and translucent. Season with a pinch of salt.

3. In a separate pot of boiling salted water, blanch the watercress for 30 seconds. Shock it in an ice bath to stop the cooking, drain, roughly chop it into small pieces, and set aside.

4. Add the onions, leeks, and watercress to the large pot of chicken stock. Simmer until all the vegetables are tender, about 5 minutes. Cool for 15 minutes.

5. Using an immersion blender, or working in batches with a standing blender, puree the soup until smooth. Mix in the cream, and season with salt to taste.

6. This soup can be served hot or chilled. Before serving, garnish with a dollop of plain yogurt


cut and paste from this wonderful site;


  1. Have you been harvesting this recently?

    BTW, have you ever harvested and made flour from the cattail root? I'm going to be learning the method to do it this summer. Any tips?

  2. No, I haven't found any, but I just discovered them. I have heard of them before, but when recently reading a new herb book, I was smitten. I plan on foraging/shopping, or what ever it takes to find them and give them a try. Cattail root sounds interesting! I have not harvested it either, but would love to find a patch to try. The only places I know of are others' places, not mine, so,,, until I find a spot picker friendly and all that I am bound for the things within reach.
    I had boiled nettles with my dinner tonight. I had them as a child and they were delicious! Just added a bit of sea salt.
    I will look into my little reference on cattails and let you know what I find, but you will probably be leaps and bounds before me since you are planning to learn it. Have fun! Enjoy your adventure!
    I just put up blackberry leaves and picked some new shoots to cook. I love blackberry tea!
    I picked raspberry leaves and thoroughly enjoyed them! Goes best with some dried berries, but the leaf was just right with a bit o honey!

  3. I boiled water and steeped the leaves and drank the resulting water, discarded the leaves into the compost.
    You can buy many teas and blends in most grocery stores and tea shops.
    Celestial Tea makes a couple of nice blends.
    I just like the adventure of making my own. We don't use chemicals, so we are safe from that.
    Peace out teaples!

  4. OH, here's a link to a like cattail info. just fyi ish

  5. So, this looks interesting and relatively easy.
    cut and pasted from the above mentioned link;

    Pollen and root starch

    Later, the male pollen head will begin to develop an abundance of yellow pollen with a talcum powder consistency that can easily be shaken off into any container. Several pounds of this can be collected in less than an hour. The traditional use of this pollen is to substitute for some the flour in pancakes to make cattail pancakes. This also works well with cornbread. Other uses of the pollen include thickeners or flour extenders for breads, cakes, etc.

  6. And, here is the root information. I would love to try this too.
    {from the same site}

    In late summer to early fall, the tender inner portions of the leaf stalk may still be collected, but the availability of this Cossack Asparagus begins to dwindle, due to the toughening up of the plant. During this period and all the way to spring, the most abundant food product, the root starch, may be harvested. It is so abundant, a study was conducted at the Cattail Research Center of Syracuse University’s Department of Plant Sciences. The chief investigator of the project was Leland Marsh. The reported results were as follows:

    Yields are fantastic. Marsh discovered he could harvest 140 tons of rhizomes per acre near Wolcott, NY. That represents something more than 10 times the average yield per acre of potatoes. In terms of dry weight of cattail flour, the 140 tons of roots would yield approximately 32 tons.

    To extract the flour or starch from the cattail root, simply collect the roots, wash, and peel them. Next, break up the roots under water. The flour will begin to separate from the fibers. Continue this process until the fibers are all separated and the sweet flour is removed. Remove the fiber and pour off the excess water.

    Allow the remaining flour slurry to dry by placing near a fire or using the sun.

    Cattail root flour also contains gluten. Gluten is the constituent in wheat flour that allows flour to rise in yeast breads. The Iroquois Indians macerated and boiled the roots to produce a fine syrup, which they used in a corn meal pudding and to sweeten other dishes. Some Indians burned the mature brown seed heads to extract the small seeds from the fluff, which was used to make gruels and added to soup.

  7. And this is golden;The utility of this cattail is limited only by your imagination. The dried stalks can be used for hand drills and arrow shafts. The seed heads and dried leaves can be used as tinder. The seed head fluff can be used for pillow and bedding stuffing or as a down-like insulation in clothing. The leaves can be used for construction of shelters or for woven seats and backs of chairs, which has been a traditional use for hundreds of years.

    They can be woven into baskets, hats, mats, and beds. The dried seed heads attached to their stalks can be dipped into melted animal fat or oil and used as torches.
    {same site}

  8. You'll have to come spend a weekend with me this Summer. I know several really good patches and we could learn it together. :-)

  9. lovely and fun,
    what creative post.

  10. Thank you Jingle and Morgan;

    I found this one while studying watercrest.
    It sounds delightful.

    Hope your summers are wonderful and delightful!

    Peace and love,


Banana This; Recycle Old Peels~ fertilizer or silver polish

There are things you can do with that old peel.

1. Do you have a green thumb? House hold plants and outside gardens require fertilization. A great way to give your plants nutrients is with a banana peel. The banana peel is very rich in potassium and phosphorus, which give that added boost to your plants soil, especially so with roses. Here is how to use a banana peel to fertilizer your soil for your plants. Remove the peel from the banana. Place the banana peel on a cookie sheet to let it air dry. Grab a paper bag or envelope. Crumble the dried banana peel and place it in the bag. Let the banana sit at room temperature for about two days. When your caring for your plant, give it a potassium treat of crumbled banana peel. Mix well in the soil to ensure the roots are fed evenly.
2. Have you been thinking about pulling out that old silver? Well there is no time like the present. Bananas peel can also be used to polish silver. Yes, polish silver. Take the old peels and place them in a blender. You want the peels to become smooth and creamy. Once they have, grab a cloth and small amounts of the creamed banana peel and begin polishing your silver. The shine will be breath taking.


Wild yeasts exist in the air around you and to some extent on the wheat berries. There are wild yeasts on grapes (unsulphured) and apples and other fruits. It is those wild yeasts which are 'captured' to make a sourdough starter. The process takes from 3 to 5 days. I wish I had specific amounts for you, but you could start with 1/4 to 1/2 cup of flour and mix in enough warm (not hot) water to make a thin paste. DO NOT make it too soupy. That, in fact, is the trick to a good starter, according to the French bread makers, and I think they should know. And after you've fooled around with the flour and water thing, you might wish to branch out into adding those unsulphured grapes, apples, sour milk, etc as a catalyst in order to capture other strains of yeast. Each of these strains has a slightly different taste. In fact if you move to another area, you might end up with a starter that produces an entirely different flavor. For instance, San Francisco sourdough bread is well known and has a distinct taste due to the wild strains in the air there. On day one you mix the flour and water (and add any catalysts to encourage fermentation) and place in a warm spot. After 3 days, the dough should be moist, inflated, and slightly sour. More flour and water is added (mixed in) and left to sit in a warm spot. After 2 days the process is repeated. Then the next day it is done again. Note the order: 3 days, 2 days, 1 day. At this point you should be able to make a loaf of bread using part of the starter and adding back what you took out in the form of more flour and water. Rule of thumb: Use about 10% starter to size of loaf. In the case of a 2 lb loaf this is a bit over 3 oz of starter (3.2 to be exact). For a 1 lb loaf 1.5 oz would be used. A book that describes this process in great detail is The Village Baker by Joe Ortiz, copyright 1993, published by Ten Speed Press, Berkley CA. If it's not still in print, try the used books stores, that's where I got mine. Or try your local library. If they don't have it, they might be able to get it for you. ©2008 by Ernestina Parziale

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