Mock Cream of Wheat (Sort of)

I love Cream of Wheat. Unfortunately, the carbohydrates in it don’t love me. Nor would the wheat. But I love the taste & texture.

Can’t do much to emulate the Cream of Wheat taste, but I came pretty close to the texture tonight with a thrown-together porridge consisting of coconut milk and a couple tablespoons each of whole chia seeds and toasted flaxseed meal. I added a half-scoop of Designer Whey French Vanilla protein powder, a teaspoon of vanilla (I like vanilla), and a pinch of stevia powder. It needed to be thicker, so before I heated it, I stirred about a half-teaspoon of konjac powder into it (the coconut milk had been in the fridge, so everything was still cold at this point.) Popped the bowl into the microwave for 2 minutes; stirred after one minute.

It’s not bad. It’s not Cream of Wheat, but it’s tasty, hot, filling, and low-carb. I haven’t added the amounts, but the coconut milk I use is 1.9g carb per 100ml, and the protein powder was about 1.5 grams. The rest was pretty much soluble fibre. So not many carbs at all, compared to what the real stuff would have been. All in all, a good pre-midnight snack.

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Bread!!

Bread. Can’t remember the last time I had a slice of bread in the UK. I don’t even try to stick to low-carb when I’m visiting the States, because I’m usually on holiday then and it’s just too, too cruel. I mean, c’mon… we’re talking Five Guys here. No hamburger buns or french fries? No way.

But when I get back home, I go back to being good. Most of the time it’s fairly easy, but I do miss bread every now and then. I’d bookmarked this recipe for Coconut Flour Flax Bread, but hadn’t tried it. The one I bookmarked was from Michelle at Primal Journey, who got it from Emily at Joyful Abode, who says she adapted it from Tropical Traditions. (I love how this works; the constant evolution of an idea.)

Baked in my grandmother's Pyrex loaf pan; one of my treasures.

I pretty much followed Michelle’s recipe, but the one thing I couldn’t figure out from any of the sites was whether the flax seeds were measured before or after grinding. It makes a fairly good-sized difference in the amount. I ended up measuring out a cup of flaxseed, then grinding it, but using a cup of the ground result. There was roughly a quarter cup or so of ground flaxseed left over. The batter was very thick.

The bread came out moist, and I’m happy with the result. I wouldn’t have wanted it to be any drier. So I think I’ll try starting with 3/4 cup of unground flax seed next time and see how much ground flaxseed that makes. Eventually I’ll figure out how much unground flax seed to start with in order to wind up with a cup of ground, which will be good to know, I guess.

I wasn’t sure how much the batter would rise, so instead of using one of my “normal” loaf pans, I used my grandmother’s Pyrex loaf pan. (We had an auction at a family reunion a few years ago, and one of my aunts contributed some of Granny’s things. I fought tooth and nail for her loaf pan and won, then packed it very, very carefully in my luggage and brought it home to the UK. It still has bits of the strip of masking tape on the bottom where Granny wrote her name so she’d get the pan back back after pot lucks and funeral lunches. You can still see a couple of the letters she wrote. I will never, ever wash the outside bottom of that pan.)

Still, I think I’ll try one of the smaller loaf pans next time. It rose a bit, but not so much that it would overflow. And the only part that rose was in the middle, as you can see in the pictures.

Jersey butter melting into the warm breadThe taste & texture were both much better than I thought they would be. Even my husband liked it. The only thing we both felt could have been improved on was that it was a bit salty. Not so much that you couldn’t eat it, but you wouldn’t want it any more salty. And I like salt. I think the baking soda contributes to the salty taste, so next time I think I’ll only use 1/2 teaspoon of salt.

It was delicious fresh out of the oven with butter. It was also delicious toasted later, then spread with butter.

I thought – I have bread! Lemme think of the things I’ve been missing. The first that came to mind was cinnamon toast, probably because my husband had some hot cross buns the other day, and the aroma almost drove me batty. So I took a slice of the bread, spread it with butter, then sprinkled it with Truvia (a mixture of erythritol & stevia) and cinnamon. Popped it under the grill for several minutes till it started to brown. It was … OK. The thing I love about cinnamon toast is the crunchiness of the sugar after it’s grilled. Truvia just doesn’t have that. It was nice enough, but not something I’d crave.

Last night I decided to make a peanut butter sandwich. My husband takes two peanut butter sandwiches to work for lunch every day except Friday. I make them the night before. It’s an exercise in willpower four nights out of the week, but I do it because he likes them. So late last night I made myself a peanut butter sandwich (out of homemade peanut butter, no less.) Again, it was good, but it wasn’t the fall-down OMG this-is-so-good-I’m-gonna-cry good I imagine every night when I make those sandwiches. Maybe I’m just losing the taste for things, and the memory is better than the reality.

But what I am NOT losing the taste for is biscuits & gravy. Yesterday for dinner, I crumbled up a bit of my homemade breakfast sausage and fried it, then added a bit (okay a few drops, for the Brits in the audience who insist one can’t have a bit of a liquid) of double cream; maybe 50ml or so. Next I stirred in some cold water with about 1/4 teaspoon of Konjac (glucomannan) powder dissolved in it. Added about half a cube of chicken bouillon, then some pepper. Then I let that thicken while tearing up a slice of bread into bitesize pieces. Poured the sausage “gravy” over that, and lemme tellya, I haven’t had anything that good since my Mama made biscuits & gravy for me all those years ago.

So my next project with this bread recipe will be to see how it makes into biscuits. Because now I’m jonesing for a Sausage Biscuit.

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Sausage Balls

I remember these from parties; the lovely little snacks made with sausage, baking mix, and cheese. The other day, Melissa from Satisfying Eats posted a low-carb version, and I had to try them since I had homemade breakfast sausage on hand.

Now, I’ve got a genetic anomaly that will not, just absolutely will not, let me follow a recipe without tweaking it. My husband can (patiently) vouch for this. I don’t think I’ve ever cooked him two meals that were quite the same unless they came out of a box, and even then, I probably added some seasoning.

So I had to add a few tweaks to Melissa’s version, although I’m sure it would have utterly been scrumptious as originally posted. As it happened, they turned out so good that I didn’t even wait for the oven to heat up so I could bake them. I fried them instead. Yes, fried them. Just like you’d fry a sausage patty, except I did put a few drops of olive oil in the pan first. I thought maybe the cheese would make a gooey mess in the pan, but it didn’t.

So here are the ingredients I used:

  • 1 pound (454g) sausage meat
  • 1/2 pound (about 226g) ground meat
  • About a cup of shredded mature cheddar. I didn’t measure or weigh it; just eye-balled the amount after grating the block of cheese I needed to use up.
  • A couple of tablespoons, maybe less, of grated parmesan. Probably less, because my grating hand got tired.
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried chopped garlic (if fresh, a minced clove should do it)
  • About 1/8th of a cup dried chopped onion (yes, I was lazy today, and I didn’t think it would need an entire fresh onion.)
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried  basil
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground sage (or possibly more if using dried)
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried marjaram
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground savory (or possibly more if using dried)
  • 1/3 of a chicken boullion cube, dissolved in 2 beaten eggs. You don’t want to get it too salty, so less is more unless you use low-salt bouillon cubes.

Mix all together and either make into balls and bake as described on Melissa’s site, or just spoon them out into a pan with a little olive oil, flatten slightly, and fry till done.

I may try making up a mayonnaise / mustard sauce to go with them for supper. Maybe with a bit of cumin. Mmmm…

There’s no picture because (a) they look just like the sausage patties I made last night, probably because the cheddar I used was pale, not yellow; and (b) I ate all the ones I fried. There’s some mixture still in the fridge. I may try baking a few to see how they do, and I’ll try to take a picture before I snarf them all up.

UPDATE:

Sausage BallsI decided to go back & add more cheese, because my ratio of cheese to meat was lower than the other recipes.

This time I baked them in a parchment-lined baking pan. A lot of the cheese melted out of the balls into the pan, making the gooey mess I’d expected when I fried the earlier batch. And the taste was almost over-whelmingly, um, “cheesy,” although it could be down to using mature cheddar. But I definitely preferred the taste of the first batch over these. Couldn’t taste the spices much in these; just the very strong cheese. They were still good, but after having tasted the first batch, I won’t make them this way again.

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American-style Breakfast Sausage Patties

FINALLY! After living in the UK for more than a decade, I’ve managed to make some decent American-style breakfast sausage patties.

Breakfast Sausage PattyI started with a mixture of 70% pork meat, and 30% pork fat, put once through the grinder by our local butcher. I don’t have a grinder at home. Had one of those cheap little plastic hand-powered ones from a kitchen shop here in the UK, but threw it in the rubbish bin after it became clogged with sinew & gristle after a previous attempt at making sausage a few years back. Yuck. From now on, I’m letting the expert do it.

For 3 pounds of the mixture, I used the following spices:

2 teaspoons salt

1 tsp dried parsley

1/2 tsp ground black pepper

1 tsp crushed red peppers (ie, like pizza topping)

1 tsp ground coriander

1/2 tsp dried thyme

2 tsp rubbed sage (not ground). I used some McCormick’s that I brought back from the USA.

1 tsp dried summer savory – hard to find in the UK. Again, I brought some back from the States.

1/4 tsp ground nutmeg

about 1/3 cup bacon grease (optional)

Mix everything together, form into patties, and fry.

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