Monday, November 23, 2015

November Third Sunday Dinner Repoirt 2015

    November Third Sunday Dinner is always my favorite one of the year.  So much work, yet so fun and satisfying.  This year it did take me by surprise.  Usually it falls on the Sunday right before Thanksgiving.  Wow, was I surprised when it was a week early.  Mentally I had it all arranged for the  22nd of the month.  I had it all planned out in my mind, the day by day preparation.  Wow did it take me by surprise when it was a week early this year.  
    What do you do?  Dig in and make it work.  That is just what I did.  I dug in and went to work.  Turkeys to be done, dressing, dessert, and so much fun.  
     This was a great one.  It was raining outside all morning, not just raining, pouring.  As I looked out the window at the pouring rain I just said a prayer in my heart that the clouds would part.  I knew I was on the Lord's errand and I needed clear sky's.  Calls to move to the church were appreciated, but declined,  the rain would clear.
     At 3:00 the clouds cleared,  I built fires in the fire pit and chiminea to warm the feeling in the air and I continued cooking.  It didn't rain until after dinner and everyone was gone.  It was an amazing evening.  The food was great and the group was amazing in every way.  What a great way to start the holiday season.  
     Below is a picture adventure of the evening.  I hope your food adventures bring you as much fun and enjoyment as mine do me and my family.  
Enjoy the adventure,  Chef Brad~America's Grain Guy 

For all your holiday recipes you can go to   There are video's and recipes for all your holiday needs.  

The turkeys are in to brine  

Brinned and ready to smoke.  I smoke them for 12 hours on the smoke setting.  

The turkeys are done.  Wow.  I love smoked turkeys.  

Pumpkin Bundt Cakes with a Cranberry Glaze.  Recipe below.  

Robert is amazing.  He came early and worked so hard to help me get it all together.

The two young Turkey Carvers. 

The spread.  Cheesy Grits,  Brown Butter Barley, Dressing, and Cream Corn.
That's a lot of mashed potatoes.

Kamut Fruit salad and dinner rolls

Happy Guests 

Surprised by two dear friends.  Look up and saw them standing there and could not have been happier.  Thank you for
honoring me by coming to dinner.  Love you guys.  

My wife and a long time family friend who was in town and decided to come to dinner.  Thank you, we were so happy
that you would come by with your family.  We love and miss your family.  

Nothing like a fire to warm up the air. 

Look at these two boys.  I love the missionaries.  So full of life.  

Pumpkin Bundt Cake
Bundt cakes never go out of fashion, no matter what your told.  They are always loved and this one is a great one for any time of the year.  Just change up the glaze.  

3 cups WonderFlour or fresh ground flour of your choice
2 cups sugar,  coconut or agave can be used
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
3 teaspoons baking spice or pumpkin pie spice
4 eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla
1 cup oil or melted butter
1 fifteen ounce can solid packed pumpkin
Place all dry ingredients in a bowl and shift.  In  mixer place all wet ingredients and mix well.  Add wet ingredients and mix well.  Pour into sprayed bundt cake pan and bake in a 350 degree oven for about one hour or until a toothpick comes out clean.   Remove from oven, let cool slightly and remove from pan. Let cool completely and glaze.  

Glaze Recipe 
1/2 cup cranberry sauce
1/4 cup coconut oil
Dash vanilla
Powdered Sugar 

Place cranberries and oil in blender and blend well.  Add powdered sugar and blend.  Pour over cake.  

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Holiday Pie Season~Buttermilk Pie

Buttermilk pie, with coconut sugar instead of white sugar.  Amazing.  

November is pie baking month,  at least for me.  I love a good pie and put a lot of effort into making sure my pies are good.  I cannot buy the “club” pies after tasting the joy of a fresh baked pie at home.  And the reason I say joy, is that is the flavor I get from a pie.  Pure joy when I take a bite and feel the texture of the crust and the taste of the filling.  

My great grandmother, and grandmother were master pie makers.  They had it down.  My sweetest memory is of my great grandmother “Mamie” baking pies.  Everyday after school we would go down to her little house and she would have baked us tarts.  Tarts were just pie dough cut with a biscuit cutter topped with jam and baked.  Oh how I loved those tarts and to this day I can still taste them and feel the flaky crust in my mouth.  She baked her last pie when she was 99 years old.  

This is how I was told the story.  

My Aunt Mom, Jean Flake, went to visit her one day and took her a jar of Tide laundry soap.  She set it on the counter.  A day later she returned to check on Mamie.  She walked into the kitchen and noticed a wonderful cherry pie on the counter.  She also noticed that there was soap missing out of the jar of Tide. 

She thought, “Oh no, she didn’t”.  Aunt Mom lifted up a knife and poked it into the pie and tasted it.  Sure enough it tasted just like soap.  

She asked Mamie what had happened. 

Mamie responded, “Oh my,  I wondered why it bubbled so when I added the sugar”.   

That was the last pie she made.  But she left a legacy of pie making in my heart and I have tried to pass it on.  Now I do have to say that over the years I have gotten flack about using lard in my pie dough.  I place the blame on Mamie.  That is what she used and that flavor is what made her pies so amazing.  I don’t use it often now, but I love it when I do.   Sometimes we want the memory, but try to fix it by changing the ingredients.  It does not work.  Our taste buds and finely tuned brains know the difference.   So if you want the memory do it like they did and the memory will be intact.  It would be like taking a picture of someone and cutting off the head and trying to remember what they looked like,   it just does not work.  

I have learned a few tricks over the years.  Lard seems to work really well in making pie crust flakey.  It’s the way the lard interacts with the flour,  it is amazing.  Crisco also works well, but I for the most part try to avoid them,  certainly Crisco.  But I do use lard once in a while.  But as I have tried to make a better healthier crust I have tried many things and some with success, but it’s was not alway a good thing.  

I prefer butter, but in saying that butter is hard to work with.  It melts quickly and makes the dough tuff if that happens.  A few years ago I tried freezing my butter and cutting it into chunks, with limited success.  Later I tried freezing my butter and using a food processor cheese grater to grate it frozen into the flour.  100% success every time.  So now that is what I do.   It works great with white flour, but I try to avoid white flour when I can so it was a challenge to use other flours.    Wheat for me did not work.  It was gritty, and dry and crumbly.  I tried other grains with limited success.  Finally the one I tried that I have had the greatest success with was Spelt.  I love that grain.  I grind the flour in my Wondermill on the finest setting.  It works great.  

If your looking for a whole grain Spelt is my choice.  It is not gluten free, but wheat free and many that have gluten allergies can use splet.  What do you do for gluten free.  Gluten free is simple.  Take any gluten free grain, three or more and grind them.  Add 1/2 potato starch to 3 cups of flour and shift.  Do the same process as you would with Spelt flour.  If the dough is tender, just press in into the pan.  

I really hope your holiday season is filled with amazing pies and even better pie crust.  This recipe in this blog is my very favorite,  it’s simple and yet so amazing. 
Happy Holiday to you.  Chef Brad~America’s Grain Guy  

Buttermilk Pie
Buttermilk Pie   This is a Southern Classic.  I love it.  For a completly different experience use coconut sugar instead of white sugar.
1 pastry for a 9 inch pie,  below
1 3/4 cups sugar
1/2 cup butter
2 eggs
1 teaspoon orange oil
1 cup buttermilk
3 Tablespoons flour
1 Tablespoon vanilla bean paste
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F
2. Place all ingredients into a powerful blender and blend for 3 minutes on high.  
3. Pour into unbaked pie crust and bake for 40 minutes, or until the filling is firm and golden.
Note: I usually triple the recipe for two large pie pans., 10 inch deep ceramic style.   If your using the small tin pie pans this recipe works well.  
Top with fresh whipped cream flavored with citrus bliss essential oil.
Pie Pastry
This dough is flaky and tender.  Just like a dough should be.  

2 cubes, or sticks of butter frozen solid
3 cups fresh ground spelt flour
1 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons sugar
1 cup heavy cream, chilled

Place flour, salt, and sugar in your Mixer.  Grate frozen butter and gently mix with flour.  Using your dough hook, turn on mixer and drizzle heavy cream over mixture until a dough forms.   Remove and divide into two pieces.   You can chill until ready to use.  Will keep well for a couple of weeks.  Roll out on well floured surface and place in pie tin.  

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

How to Survive the Holiday Season

It is once again the Holiday season, the best and worst time of the year.  The best because of the memories and fun and of course all the amazing and wonderful food we get to eat and prepare.   I love the holiday season and look forward to it all year long.  The reason I love the holiday’s is simple, the food.  Life is all about food and the holidays are a perfect example of how important food can be to us in our traditions and lives.  
With all the parties, activities, family events, concerts, church activities, the list goes on, how do we keep a balance in the mad food rush.  It becomes the worst time of the year because of all the stuff we eat and weight we seem to gain.  It is not uncommon to put on an extra 10 to 20 lbs during the holiday season.  The suffering begins in January as we all start out our new year’s resolutions with get back in shape goals, from eating less to joining the health club, only to fall short a few months later.  Oh now nice it would be to be able to drop the pounds as easy as it is to put them on.  
I have put much thought into the “holiday free for all eat it all and pay later” life we all live.  It really can be quite simple.  One of the things that really hurts us is that most of the year we practice low control over the foods we eat and then as we add it up on the holidays, we pay a higher price.   I have found that if we practice moderation and healthy eating habits all year long we can pass through the holidays with hardly any problems.  But if you haven’t been good all year I would like to share some practical helpful holiday hint to get you through the holiday without lots of weight gain and lets face it, the uncontrolled eating tends to put a damper on the fun.
#1  Eat lots of whole grains.  Starts the day out with a hot whole grain cereal, not just oat meal, dress it up by adding other grains, like amaranth, or teff.  (Available at the local health food store)  There is also some great nine grain or other whole grains cereals that will give you a head start at the beginning of the day.  
#2  Eat lots of fruits and vegetables.  Snack on them during the day.  Our bodies can handle sugar better if we are eating more of the right foods.  Fruits, vegetables, and grains keep us clean on the inside and they help the body flush bad fat.  
#3  Eat foods high in fiber during the day,  grains, fruits, vegetables, and nuts.  Healthy foods in the body will lessen the craving for foods high in sugar, and when we eat foods high in sugar it will help the body cleanse.
#4  Drink lots of water.  Water keeps the body in balance and really helps keep us clean.  When we eat lots of sugar it is hard on the organs in our bodies and we need to make sure we are drinking lots of water to keep things from clogging up.  Water is so important and especially since we are drinking lots of other things during the holidays it is even more important that we don’t forget the water.
#5  Practice the 80-20 principle.  Eat 80% healthy during the day and really enjoy the 20 percent of whatever you want.  The problem is we eat the other way, 80% or worse and then make a stab at eating something good, like an apple and think we are ok.  If we eat the majority of good, it is amazing how our bodies can handle some of the things we really love.
#6   Above all else, enjoy all the foods you eat.  We are so blessed to have so many choices and so much to choose from.  As we practice moderation in all things, including the foods we eat we will find greater joy and enjoyment in the foods we eat and those we share them with.
May you have a joyous food filled holiday and may your holiday season not be filled with regrets over the foods you should not have eaten.  As we practice some simple principles, we can have great joy during the holidays and all year long.  
The holiday season is all about food and family and we need to practice moderation and wisdom is the things we do so we can be around for a long time enjoying the holidays season.  Happy holiday to you and your families.

Chef Brad~America'a Grain Guy 

Monday, October 19, 2015

October Third Sunday Dinner Report

I know  I just posted for September and here is October already.  I am trying to keep caught up.   It was a miracle this Sunday.  We usually have great weather, but this Sunday there was a storm brewing.  It was crazy.  Lighting, thunder, and huge clouds.

It looked crazy, but I had total faith that we were on the Lord's errand and we would be blessed.  It sprinkled, and rained lightly.  The funny thing was when everyone left the clouds burst and oh my what a down pour.  It was crazy.  But a miracle.

This Sunday we did a wonderful burrito bar.   I cooked up two large roaster pans of beans with quinoa, and I do confess I used bacon drippings.  Oh my they were tasty.  I love refried beans and I don't use bacon drippings often, but when I do, no regrets.   I just enjoy the experience.  

I had a ton of potatoes, so we, actually my nephew, chopped them and others fried them with great seasonings and we had potato and bean burritos.  It was really great.   Rainy weather, burritos, chips and salsa, and friends.  It was a great evening.

Next month is Thanksgiving and I am so excited.

I hope you are enjoying your adventures in food.  Have a great one.

Chef Brad~America's Grain Guy

My Nephew,  he is amazing.   He comes running whenever I need him.  And he is handy in the kitchen.

The boys did a great job making the burritos. 

Happy Faces and the Storm is held at bay.

They preferred Nachos.

Big pot of potatoes.  Fresh cooked tortillas and beans. 

New Friends 

New neighbor,  welcome Justin to the family.

I love these ladies. Great neighbors and friends. 



My next door neighbors.  We are so lucky.  Love you two.  

Don't you just love the face of a happy boy eating.  

And that's what it's all about.  

Friday, October 16, 2015

Third Sunday Dinner Report September 2015

What do you do with tons of potatoes,  bake them and have a potato bar.  That is just what we did for this Third Sunday Dinner.  It was wonderful.  I always look for filling meals that are easy to prepare and fun to eat.  Everyone likes a potato bar, me included.  Nothing like a hot baked potato.  This time I filled up the smoker and smoked them for a while and then finished them off in the oven. They were amazing and so tasty.  I couldn't smoke them all the way because there were about 150 potatoes and they were stacked to high.  But they did get the smoked flavor and it was so cool.

I was hoping for cooler weather, but it just did not happen yet.  Long summers in Az.  We take August off part for the heat and part for the fact that I am gone most of the month teaching.  But we are at it again and off we go.  

Enjoy the Blog,  Enjoy the Adventure and I hope you are creating your very own traditions around food.  Food has the power to do great things in our lives when we recognize it and use the great gift it is.  It has the power to bring people together like no other thing I know of.  It can mend relationships, form new ones, bring joy, and love to all who take part.  Make sure you are taking the time to nurture others by the things you do with food.  

Potatoes are cheap and good.  

Washed and ready to go into the smoker.

In the smoker to add flavor.

Maxed out my Wondermix with some really great cookies. 

White chocolate cookies. 

Robert is a great worker.  

These boys are great.  

A boy with a knife, look out.  

Potatoes, Salads, and all the toppings.  

Everyone is having a great time. 

The line goes on.

The boys have the job of cutting the potatoes for everyone.

The Potatoes are gone.   

Nothing like a back yard full of happy people.

Look at that smile.  makes it worth it. 

Friday, September 18, 2015

Spice Basil Cookies

The Wondermill and Wondermix.  My new favorite Mixer.  I love it.

      Recently I was hired on to be the National Spokes Person for the Wondermill Company.  It's so far has been a great experience.  In the process of becoming a spokes person for this amazing company,  I am also writing a new cookbook for  the Wondermill and Wondermix.  I love doing cookbooks.  It's the process of creating new recipes that I enjoy.  Researching recipes and ingredients are one of the best things of life.  The next best thing is tasting the recipes when there are finally right.  So over the next couple of months I will be posting teasers for the new book.   Oh,  did I tell you it's a dual cookbook, meaning it will have a great recipe on one page and on the next page it will have the gluten free version.  How cool is that.  

     This recipe was inspired by my dear friend Nathan Botts.  We cook together when we can find the time and we enjoy each others knowledge of foods.  We combine what we both know and love and create some really great dishes.  Recently I was over at his home with his family cooking Indian Food.  It was amazing.  I love the profound and deep flavors of India.  India's spices make the taste buds dance with excitement.   Nathan created a great cookie that night.  I really have to give him credit for this recipe.  The only complaint I had was the use of white flour in the recipe.    I really don't like white flour cookies.  I ate my share I have to admit even though they were white flour,  that is a true testament to how good they were. 

     As soon as I could I made the recipe,  actually Nathan cooks like me,  no recipes.  So I created a recipe and this time I used my Wonderflour blend.  Wow,  what was good before was absolutely one of the best cookies I have eaten.  I love cookies and this is now one of my favorites.  I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.  

This is the finished cookie.  So pretty.  It is almost like a really over the top Ginger Snap.  

Fresh Chopped Basil is one of the key ingredients.

I place the eggs and basil in the Wondermix Blender to chop the Basil.  

Garam Masala  is a wonderful blend of spices.  Penzey's always comes to the rescue.

Wonderflour is a blend of whole grain Spelt, Brown Rice, and Pearled Barley
I mix the whole grains up in equal portions in a large bowl and grind them on the 
finest setting in the Wondermill.  Just so you know,  the name of the Wonderflour came way
before I worked for them and before they started calling thier products Wonder.  I 
used the name because it is a wonderful flour.  It just works out great that we combined forces.
Wonderflour made in the Wondermill.

Scoop the dough out on parchment paper. 

I love parchment paper.  It allows me to pull them off the cookie sheet
to cook quickly so I can bake some more.

Nothing like fresh baked cookies

Basil Spice Cookies 
Big Batch
1 lb. butter
2 cups sugar or coconut sugar
2 cups brown sugar
4 eggs
2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 cup chopped basil  (place eggs and basil in blender and pulse until chopped)
1 tablespoon vanilla
9 cups fresh ground Wonderflour

Place soft butter  and sugars in mixer bowl with cookie paddles.  Place eggs and basil in the blender and mix until basil is chopped.  Pour into the better and sugar mixture.  Whip  again.  Using dough hooks,   add salt, garam masala,  and soda with flour.  Mix well and add chips and or nuts if desired.  
Bake in a 350 degree oven for 10 to 13 minutes or until light brown.  Do not over bake,  cookies are better slightly undercooked and cooled to remain soft.  

Makes about 6 dozen.  Dough can be made and kept in the refrigerator for quick cooking.