28 April 2011

Did it again.

I am currently working on a project with my niece about baking. I asked her what she wanted me to bake and she said 'bread, from scratch.'  So before I actually teach her how to do it, I've set out on my own mission to find a simple, easy recipe that's kid friendly.  

I initially tried the 'No Knead Bread' that was covered by Mark Bittman in the NYTimes a few years ago, that resurfaced last year.  I wasn't satisfied. And I don't know how that guy from Sullivan bakery doesn't have his dough all sticky and too tough to work with after the first rise - I keep adding flour and more flour and more flour.  So I tried it again, this time with a little extra salt and with a light knead at the suggestion of my Cook's Illustrated iPhone app.  Much, much happier.
I slashed the top in an 'x' and actually checked the temp inside the loaf...It's supposed to get to 210 degrees, I got to like 200 and got impatient and worried about burning.  This time around, the bread tastes better too. However, I'm still not 100% satisfied, so I have to come up with something else or tweek the recipe a few more times.

Have any simple bread recipes that you think a 7 year old might enjoy making?

25 April 2011

Easter! Nummy Bread!

I was inspired by my Mother last night.  She said she was making Pork Roast for Easter dinner and we have a guest in town so...it seemed fitting to make a nice dinner.  It was great.

Roast Pork w. Mustard and Herb coating (I don't like the word coating, it feels kind of gross.  But I can't call is a rub or a glaze because it's not either of those things.) It was a lot easier than I thought it was going to be. Found it on epicurious.com.  Also made Seared Rainbow Chard w. Leeks (I added beet greens too) also found on epicurious.com, had I been away from my computer I would have used my handy-dandy iPhone app. Unnecessary statement.  Lastly, I threw together some mashed red potatoes w. garlic.  The most exciting part is that the Swiss Chard, the leeks, the beet greens and the green (!!) garlic all came from my farm share. Oh farm share, how I love you.

The highlight of today is that I am making a Banana Cranberry Walnut Cornmeal Quick Bread. I can't wait to show it to you. I tweeked the recipe from Joy the Baker. Here it is for you.
Banana Cranberry Walnut Cornmeal Quick Bread
adapted from Joy the Baker

  • 2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup medium or fine ground cornmeal
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
  • 1/2 cup honey (or pure maple syrup if you have it on hand)
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 super ripe bananas
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts (reserving a small handful for decorating the top)
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries
Arrange a rack in the center of the oven and preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Butter and flour one 9x5x3-inch loaf pan, or two slightly smaller loaf pans.  Set aside the greased and floured loaf pans.  

In a large bowl, whisk together both flour, cornmeal, sugar, salt and baking powder.  

In a smaller bowl whisk together honey, eggs, buttermilk, melted butter, bananas and vanilla extract.  Make sure you really mash up the bananas.  If you don't have buttermilk - and who does, you can make some.  I took a cup of milk and added 1 1/2 teaspoons of cream of tartar.

Add the buttermilk mixture to the flour mixture and stir just until blended.  

Fold in the cranberries and walnuts.  

Divide batter between two smaller loaf pans or into one large loaf pan. Spread evenly in pan and tap out the any bubbles.  Add the whole walnut halves and place in preheated oven.  I probably should have made two smaller loaves because I have bits of batter spilling over onto the bottom of my oven.  For smaller loaves bake for 40-50 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the center of the loaf comes of clean.  For the larger loaf, bake for 60-70 minutes, or until a cake tester comes out clean. I baked mine for like 80 minutes. (yikes!)

Cool loaves in pan on a wire rack for 20 minutes.  Invert onto a plate or board.  Serve warm with butter. 

22 April 2011

things to remember


Get up 15 minutes earlier. Prepare for the morning the night before. Don’t rely on your memory ... write things down. Repair things that don’t work properly. MAKE DUPLICATE KEYS. SAY “NO” MORE OFTEN. Set priorities in your life. Avoid negative people. Always make copies of important papers. ASK FOR HELP WITH JOBS YOU DISLIKE. Break large tasks into bite sized portions. Look at problems as challenges. Smile more.  Be prepared for rain.  SCHEDULE A PLAY TIME INTO EVERY DAY. Avoid tight fitting clothes. Take a bubble bath.  Believe in you. Visualize yourself winning.  Develop a sense of humor. Stop thinking tomorrow will be better today. Have goals for yourself. SAY HELLO TO A STRANGER. Look up at the stars. PRACTISE BREATHING SLOWLY. DO BRAND NEW THINGS. Stop a bad habit.  TAKE STOCK OF YOUR ACHIEVEMENTS. Do it today. Strive for excellence, NOT perfection. LOOK AT A WORK OF ART. Maintain your weight. Plant a tree. Stand up and stretch. Always have a plan B.  Learn a new doodle. Learn to meet your own needs.  BECOME A BETTER LISTENER. Know your limits and let others know them too.  THROW A PAPER AIRPLANE. Exercise every day. Get to work early. Clean out one closet.  Take a different route to work.  LEAVE WORK EARLY (WITH PERMISSION).  Remember you always have options. Quit trying to “fix” other people.  GET ENOUGH SLEEP. Praise other people. RELAX, TAKE EACH DAY AT A TIME ... YOU HAVE THE REST OF YOUR LIFE.

got this from cup of jo and she found it here. easy enough, right.

11 April 2011

Friends and good ol' comfort cures

I just got back from a week out of LA. It was great, it was needed and even though I've come back a little sick (I think OR it's allergies) it was awesome.

We road tripped to San Francisco for my birthday and for Rory's CD recording. We stopped in Monterey, had a birthday beer.

Checked into our hotel, rested and relaxed and went out to celebrate my 30th birthday. Went to the Elbo Room in the Mission, a bar that has arcade games and a photo booth plus great cocktails. This is where Rory surprised me with one of my birthday presents.
Then we went to Delfina, a lovely Italian (DUH!) restaurant in the Mission. We had a lamb ragu, a spicy cauliflower pasta, roast chicken and a buttermilk panna cotta with balsamic strawberries. Yum. Yum. Yum. We also had a lesson in determining if our wine was good or not.  We got a bad bottle, thought it was okay and the sommelier wasn't so sure, so she tried it and brought us a different bottle. We were thankful that she was so honest. I enjoy San Francisco, a lot.  Rory had two awesome shows and I'm pretty sure he's going to be happy with his album. 

Then I drove 9 hours to Vegas - long long trip but I drove through San Luis Reservoir and it was gorgeous. Had birthday dinner with my family. 30 candles!
Hung out with this guy, Aadi. He's pretty adorable.
Got to hug my super pregnant friend, Tiff, while hanging out with a ton of friends.
And now, I'm home and a little under the weather, so, I made chicken soup. Easy and delicious. 

Old Fashion Chicken Soup 
slightly adapted from here
serves 12 or more

16 cups chicken stock (low sodium or not)
1 4lb chicken, cut into 8 pieces
1/2 onion, chopped
3 carrots, peeled and sliced
3 celery stalks, sliced
2 tablespoons butter
1 cup sliced mushrooms
1 tablespoon lemon juice (I forgot this step!)
2 leeks, sliced
8 oz dried wide egg noodles (I poured the whole bag in...oops!)
1/2 cup finely chopped fresh parsley

Break down your chicken. I demolished my chicken...not the way I was supposed to I don't think. You can always buy pre-brokendown chicken or you can goggle breaking down a chicken and follow someones steps.

Combine chicken stock and chicken in a large heavy pot. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer until the chicken is cooked, about 20 minutes. Take the chicken out, let it cool. Let broth cool and skim the fat off the top. Discard the skin and bones (you can keep the bones for your own stock! I forgot and put the bones into a freshly bleached sink), tear chicken into bite-size pieces and reserve.

Return the broth to a simmer, add onion, carrots and celery.  Simmer about 8 minutes.

Melt butter in a heavy skillet, add the mushrooms and leeks, saute until the mushrooms are a little brown.  Add to the broth, stir in the noodles, parsley and chicken.  Simmer until noodles are tender, season with pepper and salt if you need it. And enjoy.