Good Bye to Pokeberry Hill...


Thursday, July 24, 2008

Self Rising Flour

The Aldi store in our neighborhood carries self-rising flour. The main principle behind Aldi is that they provide a limited inventory of things that home cooks use daily at the lowest possible price with no frills. Aldi has strayed some from that founding concept--but then so have home cooks over the years. Few of us know what to do with staples anymore! Self-rising flour is something you won't find at Aldi stores up north, its a Southern cooking staple. Its a part of the tradition of 'country style' frugal Southern cooking.

I have an old friend up in Wisconsin who used it in her cooking, she was originally from the south and she fed her six children and husband some very basic, filling and inexpensive meals. We were working together on a homeschool art class once involving paper mache and she brought the self-rising flour to help make the mache mix. Well... that's not the right stuff for paper mache, just in case you ever want to try it--don't. I'd never used it at the time, except for that bad batch of paper mache, but I've since found out it can be a great little time and money saver.

Self-rising flour contains salt and baking powder. King Arthur Flour sells a version with the 'non-aluminum' baking powder for those who like to get the healthier options. I would probably opt for the Aldi sr flour, unless I find a good price on the fancier brands. Harris Teeter carries a great variety of health foods and gourmet foods--so its not outside the realms of possibility that a good sale on this could come along.

You need to be sure you are using recipes that are configured for self-rising flour and not for all-purpose flour--or you need to do some math to figure out how much 'less' salt or baking powder you want to put in the recipe when using self-rising flours. Self-rising flour is a sort of 'convenience food' for scratch baking. It makes it simpler to whip up some basic recipes, but you do need to look at the nutrition info per portion to see what you're getting if you are watching your sodium intake.

Here are some things you can do with self-rising flour--and it does make for quicker baking as you needn't add quite so much to it when mixing up a recipe.

Biscuits, muffins, quick breads, part of breading for fried foods.

Another product that is used in southern cooking--which is generally very frugal by the way--and filling--is self-rising cornmeal.

With self-rising cornmeal you can make various types of corn bread and breading for yummy things like fried fresh fish, or oven-fried fresh fish or chicken, or chicken fried steak.

One of the cookbooks I've been reading, "Mama Dip's Family Cookbook" by Mildred Council has a good selection of recipes for southern favorites that use self-rising flour or self-rising cornmeal.

Here are two samples from that neat little book:

Peach Muffins

2 cups of self-rising flour, 1/4 teaspoon baking soda, 3 tablespoons sugar, 1 egg,beaten, 2 tablespoons vegetable oil, 1 1/2 -2 cups milk, 2 cups chopped ripe peaches, 1 teaspoon cinnamon, cinnamon sugar (optional)

Preheat oven to 425'. Mix together the flour, baking soda, sugar, egg, oil and milk. Combine peaches with the cinnamon and fold into the batter. Fill muffin cups three-quarters full and bake for 20 to 25 minutes. Sprinkle with cinnamon sugar, if desired. Makes 12.

Oven-Fried Fish
1/4 cup milk, 1 egg, beaten, 1 1/2 pounds perch fillets, 1/4 cup self-rising cornmeal, 1/4 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper, black pepper to taste, Vegetable oil (for drizzling)

Preheat oven to 400'. Mix the milk and egg together well. Cover the fish with the milk mixture and set aside for 10 minutes. Mix the cornmeal with teh salt, cayenne pepper, and black pepper. Remove the fish from the milk mixture, coat with the cornmeal, and place on an oiled pan. Drizzle on a little oil and bake uncovered for 20 to 30 minutes until the fish is flaky. Serves 4.

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