Sunday, October 12, 2014

Whitney's Naan bread recipe

Cooking Bread at BOOM Festival, August 2014
My favorite thing to share is Garlic Naan bread and many have asked me for the recipe.  I have been cooking this bread for over 10 years and originally learned it from a cookbook by Madhur Jaffrey.

For the past couple years my friend Janet and I would have dinner together and eat it hot from the pan. Last year in the Fall I was able to cook bread a couple times for our group during the OPAL Tour and then several times in Morocco. We cooked together during BOOM festival this summer.  And the latest in Kilkenny, Ireland! My heart is warm with the pleasure of sharing my bread with people all over the world, which leave a big smile on my face!

If anyone has pictures of these occasions - please send them to me on facebook!  I would like to include them in this post!

You can tailor the recipe to your own liking, I really don't measure any more so the bread turns out even if you are not exact.  I like using a lot of butter in the garlic butter, it is good the next day as well.  The most important is the great thoughts and love put into the dough as you are making it.

This recipe is for yourself and one or two others. I would use one of the smaller bags of flour or half of the 5lb bag. For gauging the amount, if you are cooking for a group like five to ten, I would use a whole medium size 5lb bag, two eggs, more yogurt, baking soda and two packs of yeast.  Always keep some extra flour to add if needed when you are mixing the dough and a cup or more of the flour on the side if you end up putting too much water in the dough and need to add more flour and also to use when you are rolling the breads.

You chose the best type of flour for you, I have cooked variations with different kinds.  Spelt is very wet and sticky, barley flour is dry and crumbly, and when it comes down to it, the best is All Purpose White Flour.  Yep.

Shopping list:
Dry Active Yeast - 1 pack (normally comes in two or three packs)
Baking Soda - 1 tsp
Salt - 2-3 spoons preferably Himalayan Sea Salt
Flour - 5lb sack, All Purpose White
Sugar - 1 heaping spoon fine ground
Garlic - 2 or 3 whole
Eggs - 1
Butter - 1 large and use half
Plain White Yogurt - 1 cup
Olive oil - 1 spoon (or vegetable oil)

Things you need:  Big Bowl for mixing, rolling pin or wine bottle, large glass or container that would be the size of 2-3 coffee cups for the yeast to rise, cutting board and knife for garlic, bowl to beat the the egg and yogurt together, cloth to cover the dough while is rises, small pot for garlic butter, one or two heavy fry pans for cooking the bread.

Yeast overflowing at Carolyn's
in Jacksonville, FL January 2014
For timing, mincing the garlic is best to do first since it is time consuming, however you can get the yeast rising about half way through the garlic so it has time to rise.  Mince up as much garlic as you feel is the best, I really like using a lot, but you can do less as you wish.  Minced garlic will go into the dough when you mix it and also in the garlic butter.  I usually use a heaping handful in both. Thyme is also quite nice in the bread, it is fun to experiment with different things, I've even put black olives in the bread before.

Stir in a spoon or two of sugar into a cup of warm water and then add the package of yeast, mix and leave to rise until it is nice and frothed up.  Fine icing sugar is the best, but you can use whatever you have.  The yeast likes the sugar and it is better to have more than not enough so it froths up in about 15-20 mins.

In a big bowl or cooking pot put the dry items in and mix: flour, 1 spoon baking soda, 1 spoon salt.

In a small bowl, beat an egg and cup of plain yogurt.

When the yeast is ready, pour it and the egg and yogurt into the flour and begin to mix.  Knead the dough until smooth adding water or flour if required.  Remember to think nice things while doing it.

When the dough is smooth form it into a ball, put a bit of oil in your hand, rub it over the dough.  Put in back in the mixing bowl and cover with a damp cloth.  The dough rises better in a warm place, it takes longer or may not rise to much in a cold place.  When it doubles in size, punch it down and let rise again.  This process can take one or two hours.

When you are getting ready to cook the breads, put the garlic butter together to your own taste, lots of butter, the remaining minced garlic and salt.  Watch the salt, I've ended up putting to much in. Let simmer for a bit so the garlic is golden.

The process goes faster with two fry pans and the first couple breads you will have to gauge the heat. If it is too hot, the flour will burn, you can scrap it off the bottom of the pan.  Normally what I do is get the pans hot and then turn the heat down to about midway.

Clean a space on the counter to roll the bread.  If you don't have a rolling pin, clean and dry a wine bottle - works just as good!  Keep a cup of dry flour to sprinkle the rolling area.  It takes a couple breads to get the size you want and the thickness.  Pull a handful of dough and knead into a ball, then roll flat.  The thickness does matter and you will discover upon cooking the first couple pieces, too thick and too thin.  Too thick you have to burn to cook all the way through, too thin will be dry but honestly I've never run into the problem.  The flour that coats the dough when you roll it is enough for the cooking, it is better not to get too much loose flour in the skillet, burning flour really stinks up the kitchen!

Cook the bread by putting it in the pan and waiting to turn it over until it is completely cooked on one side a little more than golden then flip it.  Naan bread is fine with some black spots.

Bread is best eaten hot and dipped in the garlic butter! Enjoy!

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Encounters on the Road: Archie Bell

Upon arriving in Ireland on September 22nd, my friend Wayne and I did not personally know anyone and we had no specific travel plans, we only knew that we wanted to meet people and experience ancient sites.  So after a couple days of getting settled in, I posted a message on the One People Ireland FaceBook group and sent out two private messages to people who had posted in the group. The next day, Wayne and I were honored to meet a new friend, Archie Bell in a quaint restaurant/pub in Drumahair.

It didn't take long after meeting Archie for him to lean over the table, voice sounding a bit
Sean Connery "why me"; meaning why did I send him a facebook message out of the blue to see if he wanted to meet for coffee.  His sincere eyes looking right into me.

We are all just walking each other home.

Archie quoted this line later in our conversation and it stuck with me and it is the true answer to "why me". He had read it somewhere, could not remember where, but it stuck with him and now I have adopted it with full appreciation to the originator.

In the moment someone hones in and directly asks you a questions like that, how do you explain the background of all that you are, that would have you go on to a FB group page, see who is posting in the group and send a private message - hey, do you want to meet for coffee and know that only the person you would supposed to meet would respond.  We wanted nothing from Archie, simply to connect and share ourselves.  My response was not as eloquent at the moment but honest.

No matter what the trail was to Wayne and I sitting and conversing with Archie, we as "perfect strangers" talked for over four hours straight before looking up and realizing how the time had melted away. Interesting huh!

Archie has been aware and supporting the shift in consciousness of the earth in his own fashion for his entire life.  The wisdom he shared with us from himself was gratefully received.  I think the most heart warming was our conversation about the sincere love and compassion sent to us in the USA by fellow humans in Ireland when the events of September 11th took place.  I had not really thought about the reactions of people in other countries to the tragedy of that day and am so grateful for the heartfelt love sent to us by people in places that "seem" so far away however are closer to us that we can imagine.

Archie, is in every way a reflection of caring; proudly wearing a cap and matching sweater stating "I Care".  After our long conversation, he wanted us to meet his family and we walked together to his son's house.

It was about bed time for the kids, but Archie's son Alan asked us in and we enjoyed talking while kids came in and out bringing us the toys that they wanted to share with us.  Wayne, who has grandchildren he loves and misses at home, had fun lost in kid land for a bit with Alan youngest daughter, whom Alan said normally is very shy.  Like his father, Alan was giving gifts of his heart as well.  He shared his passion for helping kids with us as a member of a Star Wars Battalion, where he and his group participate in various kids functions as Star Wars figures.  He showed us a video of himself dancing as a Storm Trouper at a picnic for terminally ill children - what a light brightening their spirits!  They make their own costumes which look like they are straight from the movies!

Wayne and I left late at night appreciative and happy for the day well spent and new friends that we will never forget.  Thank you Archie and Alan!  Our blessings to you!

All my best,