Peggy Sharp of Lexington is looking for authentic salt-rising bread. "Bakeries just don't make it like they used to," she said.
Salt-rising bread is finicky to make, and commercial bakeries rarely make it anymore. It takes a long time to make, usually overnight for the starter and about six to eight hours the next day.
It was common in the 19th century, before the availability of packaged yeast. One theory about the name is that it came from using warm rock salt, which retains heat, as a bed for holding the dough. The bread is dense and has a strong aroma from fermentation.
If you know of a place that sells old-fashioned salt-rising bread, send the information to me at email@example.com.
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2 Ky. cooks in Bake-Off
The 45th Pillsbury Bake-Off has announced the 100 finalists who will compete for the $1 million grand prize in March. Kentuckians who will participate are Marianne Pieper of Beaver Dam and Donna Stahl of Bellevue. Pieper will compete with a caramelized pear, spinach and chicken pizza, and Stahl will make turkey upside-down burgers. The finalists are listed at Bakeoff.com.
Stocking stuffer ideas
This holiday season, don't wait until the last minute to think about stocking stuffers. Here are some ideas for items you can buy now and hide until it's time for Santa to arrive:
■ Snapi, from KitchenHappy, is a new device that is making it a snap to serve a wide variety of foods. It's a single-hand serving utensil that resembles an oversize clam shell. It has a convenient spring-loaded open-and-close mechanism, making it simple to serve foods like salads, fruit, pasta, and vegetables, with just one hand.
The Snapi is ideal for buffets and is dishwasher-safe. It costs $6.95. Go to Kitchenhappy.com.
■ A Brød & Taylor folding proofer provides the ideal temperature-controlled, humid environment to obtain a consistently perfect rise with yeast bread dough. It offers a capability similar to the large proofing cabinets used by professional kitchens. The European-inspired design provides a spacious interior when in use, then folds nearly flat for easy storage in a drawer.
The proofer is ideal for making pizza dough, artisan loaves, organic whole grain recipes, pastries, and gluten-free yeast bread recipes. It also can be used to make yogurt, melt and hold tempered chocolate, warm dishes, soften butter, and crisp foods, keeping them dry and fresh. Go to Brodandtaylor.com.Tumbleweed, the Louisville-based Tex-Mex chain of restaurants, is buying chicken from Kentucky farmers for all of the company's stores.
The chain bought $2.6 million worth of Kentucky Proud chickens this year through September, according to the state Department of Agriculture. The Tumbleweed chicken comes from more than 160 Western Kentucky producers.
Simple Cooking at home
The Walmart Foundation and American Heart Association are encouraging Americans to cook low-cost, heart-healthy meals at home.
Simple Cooking with Heart suggests tools, basic skills and techniques to get started and inspired.
Program components include live demonstrations, online how-to videos, tips, recipes and free downloadable "host kits" that encourage people to host in-home parties to practice cooking simple, affordable and healthy meals with family, friends and neighbors.
According to the American Heart Association, traditional home-cooked meals are becoming increasingly rare as more people eat at full-service and fast-food restaurants. Typically, restaurant food contains more saturated and trans fats, cholesterol, sodium, added sugars and calories, and less fruits, vegetables and whole grains than home-cooked meals.
A report from the AHA says that in the late 1970s, American children ate 17 percent of their meals outside the home, and fast food accounted for 2 percent of total energy intake. By the mid-to-late 1990s, 30 percent of meals were eaten outside the home, and fast food contributed to 10 percent of overall energy intake. Away-from-home food also accounts for at least half of all total U.S. food expenditures.
"We know that meals prepared at home tend to be more nutritious than restaurant meals, but many American families lack the fundamental skills to prepare healthy, home-cooked meals," AHA spokeswoman Rachel K. Johnson said.
To download the Simple Cooking with Heart host kits, find a live-cooking demonstration or for more information on the program, go to Heart.org/simplecooking.
25 best cookbooks
The editors at Food & Wine magazine have named the 25 best cookbooks of the year. They are:
■ Fiesta at Rick's by Rick Bayless with Deann Groen Bayless.
■ Good to the Grain by Kim Boyce with Amy Scattergood.
■ Bromberg Broscq Blue Ribbon Cookbook by Bruce Bromberg, Eric Bromberg, and Melissa Clark.
■ Cook Italy by Katie Caldesi.
■ Flour by Joanne Chang with Christie Matheson.
■ Giada at Home by Giada De Laurentiis.
■ The Frankies Spuntino Kitchen Companion & Cooking Manual by Frank Falcinelli, Frank Castronovo, and Peter Meehan.
■ A Bird in the Oven and Then Some by Mindy Fox.
■ Around My French Table by Dorie Greenspan.
■ Plenty by Diana Henry.
■ The Essential New York Times Cookbook by Amanda Hesser.
■ Farm to Fork by Emeril Lagasse.
■ Baked Explorations by Matt Lewis & Renato Poliafito.
■ Chewy Gooey Crispy Crunchy Melt-In-Your-Mouth Cookies by Alice Medrich.
■ Sustainably Delicious by Michel Nischan with Mary Goodbody.
■ Jamie's America by Jamie Oliver.
■ Meat by James Peterson.
■ Avec Eric by Eric Ripert with Angie Mosier and Soa Davies.
■ Ethan Stowell's New Italian Kitchen by Ethan Stowell and Leslie Miller.
■ Eating Local by Sur La Table with Janet Fletcher.
■ Heart of the Artichoke and Other Kitchen Journeys by David Tanis.
■ Simply Ming One-Pot Meals by Ming Tsai and Arthur Boehm.
■ Fish Tales by Bart van Olphen and Tom Kime.
■ The Green Kitchen by Alice Waters.
■ Stir-Frying to the Sky's Edge by Grace Young.