Wednesday, January 20, 2016

January Third Sunday Dinner Report

I missed December.  We did do dinner, but I was so buried that I didn't even take one picture.  We did a mashed potato bar.  It was really really fun.  Heaping roaster pans full of potatoes and wonderful toppings.  Everyone loved it.    December was crazy.  So many events and traveling and a son's wedding.  That was great, adding a new daughter to the family.  She is wonderful and we are thrilled to have her in our family.  

January is already here and I cannot believe how fast the months go. I love almost one month.  I was really sick and was forced to slow down.  I hate that, but when all is said and done one is left feeling blessed and happy for all we have and enjoy. 

I hope this year finds you creating opportunies to share your life and talents with others.  For me  I have found just how powerful food can be and really encourage you to open up your hearts and home and watch the miracles happen.  It has been eight years since I started Third Sunday Dinner and I have to say I would not trade all the wonderful things that have happened for anything.  Indeed it has often been hard, but the hard is alway worth it when we take the time to see what happens when we open up our hearts and homes to others.  

One thought I want to share.  Everyone, no matter where we think they are in the journey needs to be lifted and loved and encouraged in some way.  When we open up our hearts and homes, we never understand the huge impact it can have.  Often times we don't see it and when we do it may come years later.   It is the small and simple things in life that make the most profound changes.  That simply is why I love Third Sunday Dinner.  It is simple in the concept, hard to do sometimes, but lives are changed and hearts are healed and in the process those who particpate are lifted.    

I hope your year is filled with opportunties to lift others.  I promise in the process your the one who is lifted the most.  

Chef Brad~America's Grain Guy

I think the bunnies were a hit.  One of the young women in the neighborhood
decided the children would love them and she was right.  This is my
Granddaughter.  She totally loved them.  
I love this family. And there are more but not in the picture.  The mother is amazing.  Just joined our church and we
have all loved watching her grow as she gains confidence and responds to the love given.  This family is a Third Sunday Dinner miracle.  
I love this picture.  I could and do hug every person.   The young man in the white shirt is a young upcoming baker.  He
loves sourdough and loves taking the time to bake them the long way.  We have some great times talking and sharing.

A few years ago a young man brought this family to dinner.  Talk about miracles.  

Happy friends. 

So happy, the man in the beard totally lifted a burden from me.  I will be traveling a lot this year
and was worried about Third Sunday Dinner.  He has open his home up to host them when I am gone.
It was literally an answer to my fervent prayers.  

This young lady is now a family friend. She said she would walk by and wonder what
was going on in my back yard.  The missionaries invited her to dinner.  The rest is history.

Nice fire to warm the evening.  Just the smell of a fire
warms the heart. 

Longest attending Third Sunday Dinner guest.  I saw Jacob at  church
over eight years ago.  New to the congregation.   I thought he looked lonely and
might not feel welcome. So I invited him to dinner.  He is really like my son.  We love him, his wife, his baby,
his wifes parents and siblings.  All of these people are a wonderful and important part of our lives now, and it all started with a simple invitation to dinner. 

The Twins.  Wow I Love these boys.  One is my neighbor next door.  I love that they come and
feel so welcome.   Without asking they stood there and served every single person beans and cheese.

Nothing like a selfie.  

Lots of great food.  I always get asked, "How do you know how much to cook?" I never know , I just listen to the
spirit and trust.  It always works out.  

Happy faces.  

More happy faces.

Perfect day for a party.

Monday, January 11, 2016

I am a Flour Snob, Flax Bread

Ok,  I am a flour snob,  Probably to the level of obnoxious.  I cannot eat anything if I am uncertain of the flour.  For example,  hamburger buns are one of the worst things out there.  I don’t eat fast food burgers for that reason alone.  They are filled with so many chemicals that they never go bad.  Think about it,  you can have a bag of them sitting on the counter for ages and they never go bad.  Can that be good for your bodies?  Absolutely not.  If it will keep that long, what are all those chemicals going to do to our bodies?  

I used to go to those cookie exchanges for the holiday season,  but I just cannot do it.  All the cookies were made with junk flour filled with chemicals.   I am sure they tasted great, but I feel it when I eat them.  And my wife knows right away.  I will come home and she will say, “What have you been eating, your itching?”

It hits me about 5 minutes after I eat anything made with poor quality flour.  I start to itch and I itch and itch.  So I am careful about the flour I use in cooking.  

Let explain one other clear fact about my philosophy in life.  White flour is toxic when you use the garbage stuff, but white flour does have it’s place in our life.  I love breads made with white flour and there are some things that just require white flour.  Usually I add grains and for most of my baking that does not use yeast I will use whole grains, but when baking yeasted products, I do love to use white flour.  Having said that, I will again refer to my being a flour snob.  I use only flours that are chemical free and  bromine free.  

My favorite flours to use are Honeyville’s Flours.  All of their flours fit into my snobbery.   They are perfectly clean and they work perfectly.  The great news out is that they are packaging more and more of their amazing flour for the retail consumer.  That would be you and me.  I adore each one of them and over the next few months I will be blogging about each one them with recipes and ideas for how to use them.  They are available on line and in the stores.  

So join me as I take you on a flour adventure the will change your life as much as it has changed mine.  Baking should be fun, exciting, healthy, and not filled with toxic chemicals.  Thank you Honeyville for providing yet another reason for me to love what you do.  

Chef Brad~America's Grain Guy 

French Flax Bread

2 cups hot water
1/3 cup sugar
1 tablespoon salt
1/2 cup soaked whole flax seed,  Soak overnight 
1 cup fresh ground spelt flour
3 cups Honeyville Artisan Flour
3 tablespoons yeast
Egg wash

Place water, sugar, salt, soaked flax, and fresh ground spelt in Wondermix bowl with yeast on top.  Turn on mixer and add Artisan white flour until dough cleans sides of the bowl. Mix for 6 minutes.  Remove from pan and form into loaves and place on a parchment paper to rise.  Let rise until double and wash with egg wash.  Bake in a 400 degree preheated oven on a pizza stone if you have one  for 25 to 30 minutes or until center of the bread reaches 210 degrees.   

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.