Okay. That was pretty lame but it’s early and I haven’t had any coffee yet. But I did want to do a post on yeast. I love bread and rolls and wine and brandy all manner of leavened things. Yeast, therefor, matters to me. I store it in one pound blocks in the freezer. I have read that yeast stored this way has a shelf life of several years but, ever one to want to know how to make things myself, I went looking for some recipes for home made yeast. I found a few. The one that follows seems pretty easy. Strain out 1 quart of potato water. Add 1/2 tablespoon of dried yeast, 1 teaspoon salt, 2 tablespoons sugar and 2 coups of flour. Stir this really well and let it rise in a warm place for a few hours, then refrigerate. When you need yeast, you can take out some of this starter, let it rise and use as you would a sponge. When you need more, add back everything in the recipe except the yeast and let it rise again. Everlasting yeast.

Do you have some questions after reading this? I do. How much do you remove? Can it be frozen?  How long will it keep if you aren’t using it?

One aspect of preparedness that should be in front of your mind is that you should try your preps out. It is all well and good to have a water filter in storage but I hope you have run it a few times to make sure it works and that you know how to use it. You can’t call customer support if the phones aren’t working. All of that dehydrated food should be tried, at least once so you have a clue how it works in the real world. Stockpiling canning jars is a good idea if you try canning when the lights are on. It gives me a sinking feeling when I open a box and find a seventy-five page book of instructions and warnings, written by someone for whom english is second, if not third, language.

This happened with my solar oven. It was made in India. The instructions were funny but not very useful and none of the recipes were adapted to english measurements or ingredients. I am awfully glad I had time to play with it before I was depending on it for a meal.

I do want to share a recipe today. Out little deli makes a pannini called a BellaRella. It is made with marinated portabell amushrooms, sun dried cherry tomatoes and mozzarella cheese. I wanted to recreate the sandwich at home. First, I had to make a foccacia. I found that recipe on line. It’s one of those easy breads that only take a few minutes if you use your Kitchen Aid mixer for the kneading. I sliced the mushrooms and marinated them in some cooking sherry, tamari, olive oil and balsamic vinegar. I let the foccacia rise for about 20 minutes then rolled it our on a cookie sheet. It was about 1/3 inch thick. I baked the bread in 450 degree oven and slid the mushrooms in with the bread. I just left them in the marinade and they cooked up nicely. While the bread and mushrooms were cooking, I rehydrated the sun dried cherry tomatoes in some hot water. I put a couple of tablespoons of the marinade in with them as well. When the bread was cooked but not brown, I took it out of the oven. To assemble, I cut the bread in squares ,about 3×3. Then I layered bread, mushroom slices, a tablespoon of tomatoes and a slice of excellent mozzarella and another slice of bread. Now came the tricky part as I don’t have a pannini maker. But I do have a waffle maker so I used that and it worked like a charm. I just squeezed the sandwich in the waffle maker until the cheese melted a bit. I know this sounds tricky but It was actually pretty easy. I probably helped that I have eaten dozens of these and had an idea of what one should look like. A glass of wine while you’re making these might make you less anxious about the results too. What I love about this recipe is that it all could be done with storage food. I have made good mozzarella with powdered milk. I store a lot of dried mushrooms and dried tomatoes and I have all of the ingredients for the bread on hand. Tamari, olive oil, balsamic vinegar and sherry are in my pantry too. This felt special and we all ate like pigs. I also liked that it was fun and I could put everybody to work so it turned into an event with all of us sampling and giving suggestions. Dang! I just thought of another,even lamer title. Mi casa et focaccia.

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