Monday, March 20, 2017

Does the man in your life need help growing up?


THE MANKIND PROJECT
Helping Men Grow Up 


As some of you might know,  I am involved in the Mankind Project.  I occasionally hear things about the Mankind Project from others.  Most of the comments are great, but there are as in all things that occasional remark or comment that is negative in nature.  Most often they come from those who have no clue what they are talking about and indeed have never attended one of the weekends.

In the spring of 2016 I actually attended my first weekend experience.   They call the weekend experience "The New Warrior Training Adventure".  To tell the truth I was filled with fear and a lot of anxiety over the what would happen.  Especially with the word warrior.  That word alone worried me.  I am not that ruff macho competitive type man and I really worried about failing and making a fool of myself in front of everyone.   For good reasons they tend to be closed mouth about what actually goes on during the weekend so as an initiate I really had no clue what to expect, and in truth even if I were told everything it would not have prepared me for the experience I had.

The weekend starts on Friday night and goes to Sunday afternoon. It is 48 hours of amazing transformation.  Each and every moment is used to help one grow up and understand his role as a man in our society.   I have to say it was hard, the truth is hard things help us grow and come to understand who we really are.

I am a man of faith and have practiced my faith for years.  Some have the concern that MKP is a substitute for faith.  That it is or could be a replacement for my faith.  In all truth MKP serves to strengthen any man in what ever faith he practises.  MKP has helped me appreciate my faith in ways that I did not understand and in the process I have a greater faith and closer relationship with my God.  Each man is on a different path and MKP teaches men to be the best in their family, community, faith, career, and circle of friends and be the best in their path whatever it might be.

It is coming up on one year since I went on my first MKP experience.  It has been one of the best years of my life.  MKP has helped me face my greatest fears.  MKP has helped me to see my value more and helped me to see what I have to add and give to my community.

I have to say the greatest thing I have gained from my MKP experience is a greater sense of community with men.  I have learned that most men, no matter where they are in the journey seek and want deeper friendships with other men. Not just the pat on the back how's the weather, but deeper meaningful transparent friendships that actually push you to become a better man.  Friendships that hold you accountable for who you are and what you can become.  In the past year I have had the privilege of getting to know some of the best men I have ever known.  I love that these men are not afraid to tell help me to be better and it is not done in a judgmental way or in any way to make me feel shame.   My friendship with these men has deepened my life experience in so many ways, from learning how to be a better friend to accepting who I am and for the first time understanding my role as a man in the community, my family, and faith.

I personally think that the Mankind Project has something to offer everyman.  I heard once that the mission of MKP is to help men grow up.  I agree.  It has a way of helping men see who they really are and tapping into that potential.   It helps marriages, family relationships, work, play, and most important it does help men grow up.

Most men I have learned are struggling with something in their lives.  It can range from addictions to relationships,  from shame to pride.  A lot of men struggle with developing and keeping friendships that are meaningful.  No matter where we are on the path, men need help from other men to move forward and progress.  Some have their faiths, good marriages, strong families, and other support in their lives.  But no matter where you are on the journey, MKP can add to and enhance your experience like nothing else.

As I have said,  I am a man of faith.  I love my faith and am devoted to it.  My experience this past year has deepened my faith and has added to what I have already enjoyed.  In fact I have learned to appreciate and enjoy what I had already in a deeper sense.  I feel that my experience with MKP has been one of the greatest blessings I have had.

I encourage all men to take a look at MKP.  If you are looking for a place to belong and grow  and become better, MKP is just the place for you.  My life is richer and I am enjoying sharing the journey with brothers from all faiths, races, and places in life.   My heart and soul has been opened to what my responsible as a man is and just how sweet the journey can be when we surround ourselves with like minded men.

I hope to see you sometime on a weekend.

Brad

PS.  If you want to learn more about Mankind Project go to www.mkp.org or you can contact me at www.chefbrad.com

PSS.  They have New Warrior Training Adventures all over the country.  The next one I am staffing at is in Prescott Arizona in May 2017   I invite to you take a look and perhaps join me on the weekend.  We are accepting applications now.  Hurry,  only 32 men are allowed to attend this one. You can see the schedule of events at www.mkp.org    See you there.








Monday, February 27, 2017

Corn Bread Clinic



I love a good corn bread.  It is one of my favorite things to eat and make.  There are many different types of corn bread and many ways to bake it.  I love fresh ground pop corn kernels in my Wondermill ground to a perfect corn flour with any other grains I choose to use in my corn bread.   Corn bread does not even need white flour to be good.  I have made it with a large variety of flours with perfect success every time.  My mom made her corn bread in a cast iron skillet with a couple tablespoons of bacon drippings.  By far that is my favorite way.  The crispy outside and tender middle are heaven.

There are those corn breads that are like cake,  in fact they use cake mix in the recipe.  So sweet and cake like that everyone loves them.  I don't like the cake mix version, but I have developed a healthy wonderful cake like version that I love.  It was totally by accident that I created this recipes.  Often times I have learned that our apparent failures at the time can become our greatest success.  That is how this recipe came about.  Learning how to use coconut flour.  Coconut flour is dangerous if you don't understand just how absorbent it can be.  It sucks moisture like a large dry sponge.  But if you get that it can be great.  The first time I used it I added one cup to my corn bread and wow it was crazy.  Like a rock.  I just kept adding and adding buttermilk until finally I could get it to pour.  I was certain it would be a huge failure but I refused just toss it.  I went ahead and put it in a larger pan then planned on and baked it.  It was amazing.   Just like the sweet cake cornbread, only filled with goodness.

Did you know that popcorn kernels have 25% less starch then field corn, the kind they use to make cornmeal.  Popcorn meal makes a corn bread that is firmer and filled with flavor and texture.  It is higher in fiber and makes a better health choice.  Add a whole grain flour to that to replace the white flour and you actually have a great healthy cornbread leaving enough room for the butter and jam.  

Popcorn meal can be used anytime you need cornmeal.  It replaced it in all recipes.  I prefer to use it and the great thing is I always have popcorn in the pantry and if it does not pop anymore I don't throw it away,  I grind it into the perfect cornmeal.   

Corn breads can be fun and exciting.  You can add any thing from cheese to chilies to make a great bread.  Corn bread done the Chef Brad way is filled with nutrition and goodness.  

Enjoy
Chef Brad~America's Grain Guy
"Changing the world one grain at a time".




Corn --Old Fashioned Corn Bread
You don’t have to use bacon drippings,  but in the south it is a staple.  Butter works well, but bacon is amazing.  

Ingredients:
2 T. bacon drippings
2 cups popcorn, freshly ground
2 cups amaranth, freshly ground
½ cup sugar
1 t. salt
2 T. Rumfords baking powder
2 cups buttermilk
2 eggs
½ cup canola oil

Directions:
Place a large cast iron skillet on stove over high heat or in preheated 400 degree oven with the bacon drippings. Whisk all of the other ingredients together in a mixing bowl. When skillet is very hot, remove from heat or from oven and pour in the batter. Place in 400 degree oven for about 15-20 minutes.

Corn --Old Fashioned Corn Bread  Healthy Version 

Ingredients:
2 T. coconut oil
2 cups popcorn, freshly ground
1/4 cup coconut flour
½ cup coconut sugar 
1 t. salt
2 T. Rumfords baking powder
2 cups buttermilk
2 eggs
½ cup good oil,  refined coconut oil works well or a good first pressed oil 

Directions:
Place a large cast iron skillet on stove over high heat or in preheated 400 degree oven with the coconut oil . Whisk all of the other ingredients together in a mixing bowl. When skillet is very hot, remove from heat or from oven and pour in the batter. Place in 400 degree oven for about 15-20 minutes.


Monday, February 13, 2017

Amaranth Sour Dough Dinner Rolls


Winter time is bread baking time.  It warms the home and the heart.  Nothing like the smell of fresh baked rolls and nothing, absolutely nothing like the taste of a warm roll out of the oven with butter and honey.  I love baking.  I love everything about it.   From the mixing the dough to letting it rise and the anticipation of fresh rolls right out of the oven.  The roll that just melts in your mouth.   

Amaranth is a wonderful grain from South America.  It is amazing.  It pops and has the best flavor, especially when added to doughs.   It is packed with perfect protein and fiber.  And wow, it makes the rolls so pretty.   

Adding Potatoes to any bread dough ups the game.  Potatoes make a bread tender and oh so flavorful.  Baking should be fun and enjoyable.  I always say that if your stressing making bread or rolls you are doing something wrong.  Enjoy the experience.  

Amaranth  Potato Sourdough Dinner Rolls
To start: 
In the early morning or the day before, remove the sourdough starter from the refrigerator and place one cup in a large bowl.  Add 2 cups flour, ¼ cup sugar, and 2 cups water, place in a warm spot and let set for 8 to 12 hours.
Next:
In your Wondermix bowl and place starter in bowl and add following ingredients adding half the flour and placing the yeast on top of the flour.  Add the feta cheese during the last minute of kneading.
4 cups hot water
2 pressured potatoes, riced 
1.5 cups feta cheese 
4 eggs, whole 
½ cup sugar
½ cup melted butter or oil
1 tablespoon salt
2 cups popped amaranth
3 tablespoons yeast
3  to 6 cups Flour, high gluten white flour
Turn on the mixer and add more flour until the dough just starts to pull away from the sides of the bowl. Remember, remember, the sticker the dough the lighter the roll.  Keep the dough sticky and mix for 6 minutes.   Remove from bowl after six minutes onto a oiled surface.  Form into rolls and place in jelly roll pan and let rise to double.  Bake in a 400 degree preheated oven at 350 degrees.  Meaning, place the raised rolls in a 400 degree oven and drop the temperature to 350 degrees.  Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until the rolls are golden brown.  Enjoy 
Variations:
To make whole grain dinner rolls, replace ¾ flour with fresh ground wheat flour, and add remaining  natural white flour until dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl.  . 

Sour dough can be purchased at www.chefbrad.com  



Thursday, January 12, 2017

Pressure Cooker Chicken



I love the pressure cooker.  I love how easy it can be and how fast food can be cooked and how great it taste.  After cooking with a pressure cooker I can never live with out it.  It is amazing.  Pressure cookers totally changed my life in so many ways.  

My earliest memories of a pressure cooker were of my mother calling us to turn it off.  Although her bedroom was right off the kitchen, she called us from her window to "hurry up and turn if off".  I didn't realize until much later in life she was terrified of the thing.  To this day the hissing sound of the older pressure cookers raises the hairs on the back of my neck.  I remember crawling on the floor and quickly turning off the gas stove and running as fast as I could from the kitchen.  We were all afraid of the beast.  It actually spit beans all over the kitchen once.  It was not a pretty site.  So as you can tell I grew up fearing them.  

About 20 years ago I started a job and one of the requirements was that I sell and cook with pressure cookers.   I was terrified, but once I started using the new and improved models, I fell in love with pressure cooking.   That was twenty years ago and since then pressure cookers have reached a whole new realm.  Safe and so easy to use.  I love them and actually own many and could not part with any one of them.  

My first experience with an electric pressure cooker was amazing.  A good friend wanted me to demo it in her shop.  I remember telling her that I could not demo something without trying it out first.  I picked it up and within a day I called her and told her she was never getting the cooker back and I would love to teach her class.  It was great.  I love the electric pressure cooker and can't imagine life without one, or more.  

Electric pressure cookers are like Cock pots on steroids.  I personally don't like or own a crock pot, but what most people like about them is that you can place the food in them and leave it alone.  No worries, no hassle.  But no flavor and no food if you forget.   The new electric pressure cookers allow you to put the food in and set the pressure and leave.  No worries, it cooks it fast and holds it warm until you are ready.  What is the difference?   The fact is that foods cooked in the pressure cooker quickly under pressure have more intensified flavors  and the quick cooking  retains the nutrition of the foods.  I think most crock pot foods taste the same.  

I love pressure cooking and I love the way foods turn out.  I firmly believe that a pressure cooker is essential to health and wellness in every life style.  Beans, legumes, and grains, which should be the foundation of our diets cook quickly and taste better when cooked in a pressure cooker.  Brown rice in 20 minutes that is fluffly and tasty.  

This recipe is one of my favorites.  I hope you enjoy it also.  
Chef Brad~America's Grain Guy
Changing the World One Grain at a Time 


Israeli Chicken
10 chicken thighs, skin removed , breaded in whole grain flour and peanut butter powder
( I use 1 cup fresh ground spelt flour, amaranth or brown rice for gluten free and 1/2 cup peanut butter powder)
1 28 oz. can whole roma tomatoes
1 jar pitted  kalamata olives, drained 
1 tablespoon oregano
1 tablespoon garlic granules or 3 minced garlic cloves
1 sweet onion, chopped
¼ cup olive oil
¼ cup balsamic vinegar
1 ½ cups baby carrots
1 cup chicken or vegetable stock  
Place olive oil in pressure cooker and sauté onion in oil.  Add  dredged chicken and sauté for a couple of minutes.  Add tomatoes, crushing them in pieces, with juice, add oregano, garlic, vinegar, stock, and baby carrots.  Place lid on pressure cooker and pressure for 12 minutes on high.  Serve over cooked Israeli couscous or brown or red rice.  
Israeli Couscous
2 cups Israeli Couscous    3.5 cups water    ½ small onion    2 tablespoon oil
Place oil in medium sauce pan and add onion.  Sauté for 2 minutes, add couscous and cook stirring constantly until couscous is golden brown.  Add water, bring to boil and reduce heat and simmer for 8 minutes.  Turn off heat and let set before serving.   The left over is great in salads.  






Follow my Blog,  just click on the side panel to join.  I randomly choose a winner each month for a great prize.   This month it will be a my pressure cooker cookbook.  

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Healthy Fast and Good



I really like foods that taste really great, but are simple to make.  To often we opt for easy and don't get the flavor and experience we should have.  I don't think we should sacrifice taste for ease.  We can have the best of both worlds.   

Foods should excite the taste buds and the imagination.  In today's busy world I am really tired of mediocre  foods that are not worth the effort to eat.   With little effort, we can have really great foods.  

I love using grains,  surprise,  they are so good for you and they taste really great.  Grains fill the stomach and add much needed fiber to our diets.  Fiber is essential for health and wellness.  Fiber keeps things moving in our bodies and aids the body is eliminating fats and toxins.    Grains also add minerals, vitamins, good oils, protein, and variety to your diet.  

One of my favorite things to do is to cook up a pot of grains and chill them down in the refrigerator for later use.  I can take the grain that has already been cooked and quickly make a really great meal.  From breakfast to dinner I can create amazing high fiber, great tasting foods that keep the body strong and fit.  

This recipe is so simple, but oh so good. 
Enjoy  
Chef Brad~America's Grain Guy 
Changing the World one grain at a time. 


Beefy Tomato Grain Bowl 
4 cups cooked grain
1 cup cherry or grape tomatoes,  sliced in half
1/2 pound smoked tri tip, or smoked chicken, or smoke sausage, cut in small pieces
3 mild chilies, chopped and seeded
Olive oil


In large saute  pan,  add Olive oil.   Heat up oil and add cooked grain.   Add peppers and meat.  Saute and add tomatoes and cook until all is well.  Remove from heat and salt and pepper to taste.  





I cook my grains in the pressure cooker or in my Saratoga Jack Thermal Cooker.  Both items can be found at www.chefbrad.com.  

Follow my Blog,  just click on the side panel to join.  I randomly choose a winner each month for a great prize.   This month it will be a my pressure cooker cookbook.  

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Cinnamon Roll Season



Nutella filled rolls with chocolate chips.


I love cinnamon rolls.  I love how they are one of the great foods that are loved by most people.  Cinnamon rolls are not healthy and I have to say I don't believe they should be.  A cinnamon roll should be drippy gooey and melt in your mouth buttery.  I have been asked before to make a healthy cinnamon roll and I have to say I always say "No".   If it's healthy it is not a cinnamon roll.  It's something else.  

My love of cinnamon rolls came from my mother, grand mother, and Aunt.  Although I have to say my moms really out did her mothers.  {Sorry Grannie}  My mothers were drippy goodness.  She always covered them with maple frosting to top of the buttery goodness.  

I remember once as a young man I was working in a local bakery.  I have to say his cinnamon rolls were dry,  they looked great, but they were really dry.  I, out of pure innocent goodness, one morning suggested to him how he could make them better.   Wow,  that was a mistake.  He was pretty mad.  And to this day his rolls are still dry.  

I try to listen and if someone makes a comment about my food, I listen and if it can be better I do something about it.  That is how my cinnamon rolls have revolved over the years.  Constantly listening and working on making them better.  

The trick my mother used and the baker would not do was my mother sprinkled water on her dough before rolling them up and cutting them up.  She also placed a small square of butter over the roll before baking.  It was great.  It makes them gooey good and buttery wonderful.  

A few years ago a friend wanted me to do cinnamon rolls for her daughters wedding reception.  I agreed, but was worried that my rolls were not good enough.   I called a good friend who is known for her rolls and asked her if I could attend her class.  It was great.  I love her rolls and we talked after and compared notes on what each of us did.  I learned from her and combined knowledge we created some amazing rolls.  Shauna used buttermilk in her dough and I used sour dough starter in mine.  We combined the two and wow,  amazing dough.  

It can always get better.  That is what I love about food.  There is always room for improvement.  It was not long after that I branched out from just cinnamon to filled rolls using the same dough.  From fig jam to nutella it is endless what you can do with a good dough recipe.  

It's that time of year when we love dripping goodness.  I wanted to share with you my recipe and I hope it brings joy to you.  If you feel it can be better let me know.  

Chef Brad~America's Grain Guy and Expert Cinnamon Roll Maker.   



Fresh baked goodness. 







These are topped with a heath bar cream cheese frosting. 

Nothing like a fresh baked warm roll. 

Lemon rolls topped with lemon glaze.





Cinnamon rolls

3 cups warm butter milk
1 cups Chef Brad’s sour dough starter
½  cup sugar
½ cube melted butter
1 tablespoons salt
3 eggs
5-8 cups Hi-Gluten White Flour (to begin with)
2 ½ tablespoons yeast

Place ingredients into your Wondermix with yeast on top of the flour.  Turn on the mixer, and add enough flour to clean the sides of the bowl. Mix for six minutes and than remove from bowl and place in oiled large bowl and let rise until double.  (Remember, a sticky dough makes the best rolls.)   Remove from bowl Divide into 4 equal pieces. placing one piece on rolling surface, roll dough out into a large semi circle..  Top with melted butter, than a cinnamon, and brown sugar mixture, sprinkle lightly with water.   Roll dough up starting from furthest away and roll towards you pulling the dough tight. When rolled tight, cut in half and than cut the halves in half and than cut each piece into 3 pieces.  You should end up with 12 rolls. Place rolls into pan sprayed with nonstick pan spray, leaving a small space in between each roll,  and let rise until double in size.  Bake at 400 degrees for 5 minutes, then at 325 degrees for 12-15 minutes.

Do not over bake, this dries out the rolls.  

yield: 4-5 dozen
prep/cooking time: 2 hours

Options 
Nutella Nut Rolls
In place of cinnamon and sugar spread nutella over the dough and sprinkle with nuts.  Rolls as directed and cut and bake.  
Apricot Fruit Rolls
Spread apricot jam over dough and sprinkle with freeze dried peaches or apricots, roll as directed and bake. 
Fig Rolls 
Spread fig jam over the dough and roll and cut as directed.  


Maple Frosting

4 tablespoons melted butter
1 eight oz. package cream cheese, room temp.
1 tablespoon maple extract
Enough heavy cream to smooth frosting
8 cups powdered sugar
Whisk together in food processor until smooth and than spread on warm rolls

Hazel Nut Frosting 
4 tablespoons melted butter
Hazel nut non dairy creamer
Powdered sugar
Place in a bowl an whisk until creamy.  Drizzle over rolls. 

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Friday, December 16, 2016

The Joy's of Baking Bread, This Gift that Keeps on Giving




When ever I think of fresh baked bread I think of my mother.  This picture is how I remember her most.  She was lovely.   Her birthday is in December.  This picture of my mother is my childhood mother.  Glamorous in every way.  She was classy.  Heads turned when she walked into a room  I was so proud of her.  Once I talked my friend in coming to see her.  I wanted to show off my mom.  It turned out that it was hair day and she showed up with her head in a towel.  I assured my friend she really was pretty.  

I have talked about her in my blog before.  She had a great influence on my life.  Especially when it comes to making bread.  In my younger most impressionable years she made bread every Monday.  Looking back on life that was one of the few comforts I really remember.  I felt loved and still the smell of  fresh baked bread makes me feel loved, comfortable, and welcome. 

One thing I have come to understand as I have gotten older is how the gift of making bread from my mother has blessed me in so many ways.  It is truly the gift from her that just keeps on giving.  Let me tell you,  her bread set a standard for me about just how good bread can and should be.  It was perfect and I am not just saying that, it was true.   She made her bread by hand using all white flour, sugar, Crisco, salt, and water.  It was amazing and made the best toast I have ever had.  I think it was the Crisco.   

I am certain that my mother never realized the gift of her baking bread would have such a profound effect on my life.  I know for certain that as she was kneading the bread by hand,  cleaning up the mess, waiting for it to rise and bake, that the thought never passed her mind that one day her gift that she was giving me would bless my life in so many ways and in the process bless thousands of others as I have shared my passion with them.   She just was doing what it took to get by without any thought of the future, just what mothers do every day.  

I have learned from this experience that the small and simple things we do make the biggest impact on others,  especially when it comes to what we do with foods.  Baking bread is magic.  It's gift keeps on giving for a life time.  



This picture is a great blessing to me.  My dear friend sent it to me.  I taught her how to make bread and she raised her family on fresh baked bread.
















That is a picture of me.  That happy face is the face of a child that loves his mom's fresh baked bread.


















There are so many breads to make.  My family loves this one.  Rosemary flat bread.  It brings great memories to them that I hope will last forever.













One of my greatest joys has been teaching others how to make bread.  And I have loved working with the Wondermix family.  They help me make dreams come true.  This sweet woman has a HUGE family and was so happy to get a Wondermix so she could give the gift of baking bread for her family.



















I love modern technology,  From baking bread by hand to using a Wondermix, times have changed.  My mother would have loved this mixer.  She spent hours doing her bread,  I can do what she did in just over one hour from start to finish and my bread is just as good as hers,  Ok, only when I use Crisco does it taste as good as hers.   But it is still great bread without Crisco,  I use butter now.  Baking bread is truly a wonderful gift to give those around us.  From the memories of receiving a fresh loaf,  to sitting down and cutting a hot loaf up and covering it with butter and jam.  Truly baking bread is the gift the never stops giving.  





Good Ole White Bread

6 cups hot water
1 cup sugar
1 cup Crisco
1 tablespoon salt
1/4 cup yeast, instant
About 18 cups white flour,  clean chemical free flour

In your Wondermix with the dough hook in place,  place hot water, sugar, Crisco, salt, and half the flour.  Place yeast on top of the flour and turn on mixer.    It will start to mix,  start adding flour until dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl.  No matter what the recipe tells you stop adding flour when dough is pulling away from the sides of the bowl.  Knead for six minutes.  Remove from bowl and place on oiled counter.  Divide dough into 2 lb. loaves and place in loaf pans.  Let rise to double and place in and hot preheat 400 degree oven.  Drop heat to 350 and bake for 20 to 30 minutes or until bread is done.  Bread is done when internal temperature reached 180 degrees.  This can be checked with an instant read thermometer.

Remove from pans.   Enjoy one loaf right away hot dripping with butter and jam.  Enjoy the rest with sandwiches, or toasted for breakfast or a snack.  

Enjoy
Chef Brad~America's Grain Guy
"Changing the world one grain at a time".


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