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day six: create - give it a stir

As many of us limit our trips to the grocery store, and eat at home more often than not, this time has invited some of us back into the kitchen—digging deep into our pantries and refrigerator shelves as we craft new recipes to nourish more than just our stomachs.

Today, we invite you to experiment with us in the kitchen. To try something new, and simple, and delectable.

Cooking can leave us feeling full in more ways than one, plus it allows us space to make a bit of a mess as we reach our hands into something unfamiliar. What’s not to love about that?

As our circle has played in the kitchen over the last few weeks, we’ve discovered a few new favorites to tuck into our recipe box. Maybe you'll give one a try. Whatever you choose to stir up, bon appétit!

no-time bread

- 2 (1/4-ounce) packets active dry yeast (4 1/2 teaspoons)

- 1 tablespoon granulated sugar

- 1 1/2 cups water

- 3 1/2 cups flour (we use half wheat, half white)

- 1 1/4 teaspoons salt

- 3/4 teaspoon balsamic vinegar

  1. Proof the yeast. Place the yeast, sugar, and water in the bowl of a heavy-duty stand mixer and stir to combine.

  2. Preheat the oven and the Dutch oven. Arrange a rack in the middle of the oven, remove any racks above it, and heat to 450°F. Place a Dutch oven (or one of these alternatives) in the oven as it heats.

  3. Add most of the flour, salt, and vinegar to the yeast and knead for 5 to 7 minutes. Now that the yeast has had a few minutes to bubble up, add 3 cups of the flour, the salt, and the vinegar. Beat on low speed for several minutes with the paddle attachment. Add the last 1/2 cup of flour and switch to the dough hook. Beat for 7 minutes. Alternately, knead vigorously for 5 minutes, or until the dough becomes extremely elastic. This will still be a wet dough, but not goopy. The dough will clear the sides of the bowl but still stick to the bottom.

  4. Shape the dough into a ball and rise in the microwave for 25 seconds. Lightly grease a large microwave-safe bowl with vegetable oil. Transfer the bread dough into the bowl and turn it to coat in the oil. Cover the bowl with a very wet kitchen towel. Cover the whole thing with a dry kitchen towel and put in the microwave. Microwave on HIGH for 25 seconds.

  5. Let the dough rest in the microwave, then microwave again. Let the dough rest in the microwave for 5 minutes. Microwave on HIGH for 25 seconds more. Remove from the microwave and let rest and rise for 15 minutes more.

  6. Shape the dough and transfer to the preheated pan. Shape the dough into a ball and plop it into the preheated Dutch oven. Quickly slash the top with a knife. Cover and bake for 30 minutes. Uncover and bake until the crust is golden brown and the internal temperature hits 210°F, about 10 minutes more. Let cool at least 30 minutes before slicing and serving.

storage: Leftover bread can be stored cut-side down at room temperature for up to 3 days. It can also be tightly wrapped in plastic wrap and aluminum foil and frozen for up to 3 months.

susan's yogurt

- 1/2 gallon whole milk

- 1/2 cup yogurt (Stonyfield whole milk yogurt works great, just make sure it's not sweetened)

1. Heat 1/2 gallon of whole milk over medium-high heat to the boiling point

2. Allow the milk to cool to 112 degrees

3. Add 1/2 c. yogurt

4. Pour mixture into 2 quart size or 4 pint size mason jars and close jars with 2 part mason jar lids

5. Wrap jars in small blanket or sweater and allow to sit undisturbed for 8-12 hours; the longer the incubation will create a more tart flavor

6. Unwrap jars and place in the fridge, allow to sit undisturbed for 3 hours or until cold

7. Some whey will collect on sides, this can be stirred in or poured off for a thicker yogurt 

crispy balsamic-roasted brussels sprouts

- 1 1/2 pounds Brussels sprouts, trimmed and cut in half through the core

- (optional) 4 ounces pancetta, 1/4-inch-diced

- 1/4 cup olive oil

- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

- 1 tablespoon syrupy balsamic vinegar

1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

2. Place the Brussels sprouts on a sheet pan, including some of the loose leaves, which get crispy when they're roasted.

3. Add the pancetta, olive oil, 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper, toss with your hands, and spread out in a single layer.

4. Roast the Brussels sprouts for 20 to 30 minutes, until they're tender and nicely browned and the pancetta is cooked.

5. Toss once during roasting. Remove from the oven, drizzle immediately with the balsamic vinegar, and toss again. Taste for seasonings, and serve hot.

three-ingredient peanut butter cookies

- 1 cup of peanut butter

- 1 cup of sugar

- 1 egg

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Line baking sheets with parchment paper.

2. Combine the peanut butter, white sugar, and egg. Mix until smooth.

3. Drop spoonfuls of dough onto the prepared baking sheet. Bake at 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) for 6 to 8 minutes. Do not overbake! These cookies are best when they are still soft and just barely brown on the bottoms.

If you come along and post a photo and tag @valomaine on Instagram or Facebook, we'll enter you in a raffle to win a prize--like a gift card from our friends at Rosemont Market & Bakery or a year-long subscription from the good folks at Taproot Magazine.

Ready to dive in?

Each evening of valo at home, we'll be sharing an email with the next day's spark of valo inspiration. Simply click here to share your email, and we'll make sure you're looped in! You can also forward this post to a friend and invite them to come along. The more the merrier.


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