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Home Cooking Excellence

With families staying home more and winter upon us, it’s an excellent time to take advantage of home cooking. The smells, laughter, and unforgettable flavors are like nothing else. Whether you’re single looking to warm up your space, needing some quality time as a couple, or wanting to build lasting memories with your children, the kitchen is all yours. Go ahead and take on quarantine’s hottest new hobby. 

Self notes that many actually use baking as a way to relieve stress. Many are anxious, wound-up, and weary, simultaneously about what’s going on in the world. They need a hands-on distraction that lets them focus on something and feel in control. The great thing about baking and cooking is that it’s a skill that almost anyone can learn. One of the best things about the internet is the millions of options you can find for recipes. Gone are the days of having to follow what a cookbook says. No matter what your dietary needs, flavor preference, sensitivities, or looking to cook with what you have can be catered to. 

Flour To The Rescue

Many of us realized during panic buying last year that the flour shelves were quite bare or empty. That is because flour is a staple for so many recipes. No matter what size pantry you have, one staple almost all of us have around is flour. The genius about flour is that it can be used to make almost anything. Many don’t know that flour is high in protein as well. From baking to thickening soups, breading, pasta, donuts, bread, cake, crepes, pancakes, the possibilities are endless. 

The word “flour” was initially written as the flower, meaning “blossom,” or “the finest,” as flour resulted from the elimination of coarse matter from the grain during the milling process. The milling or grinding of wheat to make flour is as old as history itself. Until recently as 150 years ago, each family ground their own as needed because once ground, the flour began to turn rancid and would not last long. The limited shelf life is the fatty acids found in the germ of the wheat kernel. These fatty acids begin to break down the moment they are exposed to oxygen. 

During the Industrial Revolution, agricultural experts came up with a method of removing the germ. Without the germ, flour cannot become rancid as quickly. Soon all flour production was done commercially. Flour is produced in a flour mill where the grain is put between two stones or steel wheels, which are rubbed together to make the grains into powder. Other grains that are ground into flour are rye, buckwheat, barley, corn, and rice. Recently flour has even been produced from potatoes, acorns, mesquite, cassava, soybeans, amaranth, and bananas.

There are many options to choose from when it comes to flour in our time. The most common is all-purpose, cake, pastry, self-rising, bread, and whole wheat flour. One of the best-kept secrets among bakers, according to Bon Appetit, is that bread flour can be used in thousands of recipes. No matter your heritage or palate, this staple will be the foundation of so many dishes and treats. Bread flour is white flour made from hard, high-protein wheat. It has more gluten strength and protein content than all-purpose flour. It is unbleached and sometimes conditioned with ascorbic acid, which increases volume and creates better texture. Bread flour has 12% to 14% protein or gluten, making it the best choice for yeast products. This ensures its elasticity will help it expand well and give your creation shape and texture. 

Get Creative

Another fun idea is being we have a bit of extra time on our hands, see if you can dig up an old family recipe. Tradition can be unique when it comes to baking, and many times, our childhood memories are filled with a recipe a relative made that made us feel warm and fuzzy. 

Baking is a science, and usually, ingredients are there for a reason. Recipes have come a long way in allowing for substitutions. Many who have dairy, egg, gluten allergies, or prefer vegan, even use replacements that include less sugar. But thankfully, there are a plethora of options to make any dish taste great without wasting too many ingredients. With a bit of planning, you can find great ideas online that fit into the box of your needs. No matter what you decide to make, know it will be an excellent investment of your time.

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