What the hell is a persimmon?!?

Borrowed from wikimedia.org

I get my produce from a good friend of mine that works for a local organic produce distribution company.  I am super lucky to be able to call him with a list and then to pick up a box of the freshest and healthiest produce around.  I often give him specifics and then ask him to grab a variety of fruits that are available so I get some variety and often a few surprises.  This week was one of those weeks with a surprise: two beautiful looking persimmons.  I was surprised that I even knew what they were.  I have never purchased, eaten, nor seen a recipe that called for persimmons.  I have always known they existed because I have heard of them and I’ve seen them in the store.  I didn’t even know that they were a fruit until I looked them up on the internet yesterday.

To start this persimmon loving post, I am going to tell you about my experience eating the first persimmon of my entire life.  I knew I was going to write about this so I did a bit of a mindful eating exercise so I could best share this with others who have, undoubtedly, also never eaten a persimmon.  First off, a persimmon looks kind of like an under-ripe, swollen tomato.  Even the left-over sepals and petals (the leaves and stuff) on the fruit look like they are swollen compared to that of a tomato.  When I cut it open, I found that it had two tiny  pits.  I smelled it, and was completely underwhelmed.  It didn’t really have much of a smell to me, other than a generic smell of “freshness.”  As I ate my persimmon, I noticed that the texture of the flesh was sort of a cross between a mango and a cantaloupe, and the skin was similar to an apple.  The flavor was completely unremarkable.  It was super mild.  It vaguely reminded me of some other flavor, but I CANNOT figure it out.  It drove me nuts for a bit until I finally decided that it wasn’t important and will come to me eventually.  In conclusion, it was an OK experience.  I doubt I am ever going to have a craving for a persimmon.

Borrowed from gardencoachpictures

 

Now that we have completed what I can only describe as a completely uninspiring account of this new-to-me fruit, I will share with you the incredible health benefits of the persimmon.  First off, there are a number of persimmon varieties, but it seems the most popular is a variety native to Japan (this is the one that wound up in my produce box).  This first, most obvious benefit of the persimmon is the amount of Vitamin A that is present.  You can infer this by noting its color.  Also, due to its color, is the presence of lycopene which has been shown to reduce risk both for prostate cancer and stroke.  I’m also pretty impressed with the amount of potassium that is present.  You need potassium to keep your heart, kidney, muscles, digestive system and nerves in working order.  I wish I had known about persimmons back when heaps of bananas were being forced on me to help deal with leg cramps back in my dancing days.  The last component of persimmons that I would like to highlight is the fiber content.  There are 6 grams of dietary fiber in the average 2.5 inch diameter sized fruit.  Diets high in fiber are excellent for preventing colon cancer.  There are a number of other health benefits of high-fiber diets, but I have always been on an anti-colon cancer crusade.

I also read some information that stated persimmons had anti-tumor properties, but I was unable to verify this information.  It is safe to say, however, that there are cancer preventing properties due to the high levels of Vitamin A & C and the presence of lycopene (all are antioxidants).

OK!  Thanks for journeying with me into the wonderful world of persimmons.  They are clearly SUPER good for you, but I didn’t think it was that amazing to eat.  It rather makes me go “meh.”  Perhaps I need to find a good recipe to try!

Borrowed from rayabelna.com

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Bread: A Year in the Making

It’s not the most beautiful loaf, but it makes one hell of a sandwich!

It’s a two-for week!  I’ve been doing A LOT of baking lately and I thought you all might like my whole-grain bread recipe.  I have been working to make the perfect loaf for almost a full year now, and I think that I have finally mastered the best recipe for sandwich bread.  I have  tried a number of flour, yeast, and vital wheat gluten combinations in order to come up with the right size, flavor, and nutrition.  The following recipe is a combination of my own ideas, the Whole Wheat Bread recipe from The American Family Cookbook (1974), and the Classic Wheat Bread recipe from my Cuisinart recipe booklet.

Whole-Grain Sandwich Bread

– This recipe is done with an 11 cup food processor, but you could adapt it to do by hand.

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons active dry yeast
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1/3 cup warm water (105-115 degrees; I find that heating water in a 4-cup measure for 30 seconds in the microwave is perfect)
  • 2 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 2 1/2 cups spelt flour (you can likely use any types of flour that you like and get that same result)
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, in 1-inch pieces
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 5-6 tablespoons vital wheat gluten
  • 1/3 cup full flavor molasses (add great flavor and a TON of potassium)
  • 1 cup cold water

Steps

  • In a 4-cup measure, dissolve the yeast and sugar.  Let stand until foamy, about 5 minutes (it should be ready by the time you are ready to pour it into the flour mixture)
  • Insert your dough blade into your food processor, process the flour, salt, butter, and vital wheat gluten on dough speed until thoroughly combined
  • Add molasses and cold water to the yeast mixture, mix well
  • Pour liquid down the feed tube as fast as the flour will absorb it (you may have to smack the side of the food processor to help it along, or stop it and scrape the sides)
  • Add small amounts of water (about 1 tablespoon at a time) through the feed tube until the dough is really able to start forming a ball, be careful not to add too much liquid, as too moist a dough can lead to dimpling once it cools
  • Once the dough has formed a ball and is cleaning the sides of the food processor, let it work for another 30 seconds or so to give it a good knead
  • Grease a large bowl, place your ball of dough (which you may have had to squish back together after removing from the food processor) in the bowl then flip it over to bring the greased side to the top
  • Cover the bowl with a towel and let rise in a warm place for an hour or two (dough needs to at least double)
  • Punch down and shake onto a lightly floured surface
  • Roll out into an oblong shape (about the length of your bread pan)
  • Roll up like a jelly roll making sure to really get a tight roll to prevent large pockets of air from forming (this makes for giant holes in your bread)
  • Once rolled, turn the ends under and squish your loaf really well to get any air pockets out, then put into a greased and floured bread pan (I use a 10-inch pan)
  • Cover with a towel and let rise in a warm place for an hour or two (you want the top of the loaf to be out of the pan at least an inch)
  • Bake at 400 degrees for about 25 minutes (the bread should sound hollow when tapped)
  • Turn bread onto a wire rack to cool
  • Rub some unsalted butter all over the top to give the bread a nice, soft crust

This is another recipe you can make adjustments to in order to suit your tastes.  It is incredibly nutritious and is FULL of flavor.  I hope my year of bread making proves to be useful to you!  Please ask questions if you need some help.