Monday, December 27, 2010

Maker Monday: week 52

Christmas is over so I can finally show off what I've been working on.

For Mary-Claire I made Lombard Street socks. I hated them at first, but the cable and lace pattern eventually grew on me and it was hard to give them away.

For Rowan I made an R2D2 hat. I think it's pretty awesome.

Have you been wondering where my year in picture posts have gone? I quit. It's a pain in the ass to take a photo every day. Kathleen and Sara I salute you.

Challah: Bread of the Week 52

I am ending my year of bread the same way I started it. For the third time this year I made challah. I used the Cook's Illustrated recipe that I started with. This time I rolled the pieces longer so the challah was more baguette than sandwich loaf. The slices were just the right size to accompany a soup and salad.

After weeks of rich Christmas food I'm looking forward to enjoying healthy eating again. Last night for dinner I made a green salad and a turnip, parsnip, carrot, and barley stew. You know you haven't been eating well if you find yourself craving turnip.

I'm shocked that I made it through an entire year baking at least a loaf of bread a week. I'm delighted that I can now whip up bread without much effort. I am going to continue baking bread and sharing it with you. I don't think I'll be as strict as I was this year - there will be 90 degree weekends in August when I'll leave the oven off.

Stollen: Bread of the Week 51

I forgot to blog or take a photo of my bread last week. I made stollen for Christmas. Instead of making one loaf I went with two. That enabled me to bring one home and take one to John's family Christmas.

I thought I had almonds in the freezer. I was mistaken. I usually don't miss nuts in breads, but I did this time. I also soaked the fruit in rum instead of my usual brandy soak. I learned a valuable lesson - I like to drink rum and eat brandy. It doesn't work the other way around.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Maker Monday: week 50

I have a bag I throw the leftover bits of yarn I'm left with when I finish a project. When the bag is full I knit an afghan. The afghan is an odd mix of colors and textures. It's strangely appealing.

Bretzels: Bread of the Week 50

Do you like pretzels? How about dinner rolls? Have I got a treat for you.
Bretzels offer the best of both worlds, and they only take a few hours to make. I'll be making them all winter long. If I weigh 300 pounds the next time we meet it will be the bretzels.

Do yourself a favor, visit the Smitten Kitchen, print the recipe, and make these for yourself tonight.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Frigid 5K and Hot Coffee

On Saturday I was out of the house before 8 for my first Jingle Jam. Jess invited me to join her on a costumed 5k run through the zoo. Even though I haven't run in almost a month I agreed to join her. She ran with me the whole time, which must have been difficult because I'm slow and it was very cold and windy.

After the run we warmed up with some coffee and knitting at Smokey Row. We both made a lot of progress on Christmas gifts.

I am going to start running 5ks again. My t shirt collection is getting old, and signing up for 5ks is a good way to refresh it. It's also a good way to get a workout in and catch up with a friend.

Maker Monday: week 49

I have been furiously working on Christmas gifts, so no photos or descriptions this week.

Or maybe I am lazy and don't want to upload photos.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Dinner Rolls: Bread of the Week 49

Last night was the first annual Curran Family Holiday Party. It was a lovely potluck and game night. My contribution to the evening was dinner rolls.

I used Version 1 of white bread from the Bread Baker's Apprentice. I formed rolls and placed them in a 9 X 13 pan to rise. Once they were out of the oven I rubbed butter over the top (a great trick I learned from my Mom).

The rolls were a hit. I look forward to bringing them to the second annual Curran Family Holiday Party extravaganza.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Maker Monday: week 48

Over the past two weeks I've finished three scarves. I didn't get one good picture of them, so I am sharing the least blurry photo.

The scarves are for my good friends Debbie, Shelly, and Lori. We go to dinner once a month and I'm hoping to surprise them with the scarves next week. They clearly aren't as cool as you, as they never read my blog.

Cinnamon Raisin Bagels: Bread of the Week 48

I love cinnamon raisin bagels. It's dangerous how easy they are to make now that I've made them a dozen times.

Year In Pictures:Week 9

56:365 Ice
The outdoor skating rink is now open. I celebrated by skating by myself. It's amazing how difficult it is to find someone to meet you at the skating rink at 6 AM.

57:365 Dinner with Mom & Dad
My Dad and Mom were in town for dinner on Saturday night. We went to Cafe Di Scala where we enjoyed ourselves greatly.

58:365 Puzzle
While skating on Friday morning I won a gift basket that included a puzzle. I had been trying to put it together all weekend. John sat down and completed it in his first try. I was more than a little jealous.

59:365 Plans

60:365 Tacos
It was 29 degrees last Tuesday night. I drove to taco night. John rode his bike. He's a little crazy.

61:365 Pumpkin Pie
I tried a new recipe for pumpkin pie this year. It was delicious.

62:365 Whipped Cream
Whipped cream and a Star Wars guy. How can you beat that?

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Parker House Rolls: Bread of the Week 47

This week I made Parker House Rolls from Baking Illustrated. I love the clear directions the editors of Cook's Illustrated bring to all of their cookbooks.
For some reason my mind was elsewhere today and I ended up with oddly misshapen rolls. The rolls were even different sizes, which hasn't happened to me in 8 months. I guess there was something else on my mind.
For the record, the rolls still tasted great. I assume that is because they are really delicious, but it could be because everything tastes great when you are going to marry your favorite person.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Year In Pictures:Week 8

49:365 Pondering
I went to the eye doctor on Friday and decided to look into LASIK surgery. I'm nervous and excited about the possibility of not needing glasses.

50:365 Invent
I didn't go out to eat all weekend, which is a rarity. On Saturday I invented a new recipe - butternut squash and barley risotto. I almost always use a recipe to cook, so this was quite the stretch for me. It turned out great. I have been enjoying the leftovers all week.

51:365 Brunch
I really love brunch. It's a shame there aren't more days where it makes sense to eat a big meal at 9:30 in the morning.

52:365 Addict
There is a Starbucks across the street from my office. I go there a lot. This week I got my gold card in the mail.

53:365 Bird is the Word
Now that I dabble in eating meat I have discovered my love for roasted organic chicken. I'm still not very good at getting the meat off the bone.

54:365 Glasses
Part of the check to make sure I am a candidate for lasik is to not wear contacts for 2 weeks prior to my first exam. Contacts can change the shape of your cornea. It's pretty traumatic for me to have to wear my glasses because they are thick and I cannot see well enough to put make up on. I feel unprofessional without mascara on at work.

55:365 Eggcellent
I normally bring cold cereal to work to munch on for breakfast. Today was different. I decided to take advantage of a workout free morning and enjoy a scrambled egg on toast with salsa. I could get used to a breakfast that tasty.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Maker Monday: week 46

This week you could say I've got my feet on the ground.
Tiny dancer socks made for me. This is incredibly soft sock yarn I picked up on Colorado last year. It's so soft I'm pretty sure they are going to wear out within the year. I don't care. It will be worth it to have my feet swaddled in dreamy yarn all winter.

And my head in the stars.

Crochet stars and trees to adorn gifts this year.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Iowa State Fair

Last Sunday Ivy and I walked the Fairgrounds 5k. It was a beautiful day for a walk. Walking around the fairgrounds reminded me of the fun I had at the fair this year. I also realized that I never shared that fun with you.

John and I went to the fair on opening day. His company had a gathering in the Bud Tent so we headed there after work. It looked like a beautiful day.
It may have looked like a beautiful day, but it really wasn't. The heat was oppressive, with the heat index well over 100. It was so hot I could barely finish my beer on a stick. John only ate three corn dogs.

Three days after that I headed to the fair with Hot Toddy and Ivy. It wasn't quite as hot that day, but it was still the type of weather where you sweat sitting still. Todd had a tenderloin.
And then a frozen banana with Ivy.
After that we headed to the air conditioned buildings. After checking out the 4H exhibits we went to the Equestrian center where Ivy pointed out her family's plaque. We sat in the air conditioning and enjoyed a horse show before deciding it was too hot to stay at the fair.

I was back at the fair a third time on the last day. Carla, Stacey, Sarah and I went to see Sherly Crow. We had a great time hanging out and dancing at the Depot before heading in to the show. We'll be going to another concert in 2011.

The fairgrounds looked a lot different last Sunday when I did the 5k. I enjoyed the quiet, but I'll be back for the crowds again next year. And for the veggie corn dogs. And the mini donuts. Thanks to the 5k I'm better informed about fair food. At every mile they had signs that told you how much you burned off. 1 mile was cotton candy. 2 miles was a caramel apple. 3 miles was a corn dog. John was not happy to learn that you need to run 3 miles to burn off 1 corn dog.

Cinnamon Swirl Brioche: Bread of the Week 46

A few weeks ago I was at brunch with Kathleen when we discovered cinnamon swirl brioche from Gateway Market. It's rich and delicious, with just a touch of sweetness. It's so good that when we returned for brunch two weeks later we both bought a loaf.

I feel silly buying bread. When you make at least one loaf a week buying bread seems a little ridiculous. I've made brioche before. I've made cinnamon swirl bread before. I decided to try my hand at making cinnamon swirl brioche.
I used the cinnamon swirl mix from the Bread Baker's Apprentice. I used the brioche recipe from Baking Illustrated. It looked great going into the oven.
But about 40 minutes into baking the loaf the Hawkeyes decided to make me yell and get sucked into the game, so I burnt the loaf a bit. The inside was still tender and delicious. The crust was worthless. Even with the burnt crust I was able to determine that using the Poor Man's Brioche recipe from the BBA will be my choice next time. The recipe I used was just a tad too rich for the cinnamon swirl.

I knew I wouldn't eat a loaf of well done cinnamon swirl brioche, so I decided to go crazy and make a up a recipe. I created this baked French toast by cubing the bread and removing the most burnt bits. I put the cubes in a buttered bread pan. I mixed up 3 eggs, 1 1/4 c milk, a splash of vanilla, and about 1T of the cinnamon sugar blend leftover from baking the bread. I chilled the loaf in the fridge over night and baked it this morning at 350 for an hour.
Topped with a little bit of maple syrup this French toast bake tasted like a cross between bread pudding and monkey bread. It is the best use of a burnt loaf I've ever found.

Year In Pictures:Week 7

42:365 Friends
On Friday night Ivy, Hot Toddy and I met at Trader Joe's to pick up some snacks. After that we headed to my house where John met us for wine and cheese. We meant for it to be happy hour but we were at the table talking until 11. I'm lucky to have such great friends.

43:365 Fall
Hot Toddy and I went for a hike on Sunday. After searching for our first destination for over an hour we gave up and headed to Minburn to hike at the Voas Nature Area. We have never hiked there before and I was surprised at how beautiful it was.

44:365 State Fair 5k
On Sunday Ivy and I walked the Fairgrounds 5k. It was weird walking around the fair when it isn't fair time. I had never noticed how beautiful the buildings and grounds are.

45:365 Missed. I cannot believe how hard it is to remember to take a photo every day.

46:365 What now?
After finishing the BBAC I'm not sure what to bake next. I've been leaving through the book trying to decide what to make next.

47:365 Brioche

I decided on brioche this week. I compared Peter Reinhart's versions with the Baking Illustrated version. I liked the Baking Illustrated book better, so I decided to stick with that one.

48:365 Missed

Monday, November 8, 2010

Maker Monday: week 45

I've been knitting and crocheting Christmas presents so there isn't a photo this week. Also I forgot to take one, so that is really the reason.

Roasted Onion and Asiago Miche: Bread of the Week 45

Last week I was proud of myself for the delicious Potato, Cheddar, and Chive Torpedoes. This week I am blown away by the amazing Roasted Onion and Asiago Miche. I only wish I was at my house at some point when it was light enough out to get a decent picture of this bread.

I started off this bread in a panic. I had refreshed my starter for the first time in over a month and it seemed to go OK. When I made the sponge (day one of three that it takes to make this bread) it sat out for over 8 hours without so much as a bubble letting me know that it was alive. I was worried that my starter, which I have been cultivating for five months. Luckily Daniel advised via Twitter that it is really difficult to kill a barm, so I gave it another shot before burring it in a private ceremony. It worked. I used about 1/4 c. more water the second time, which seemed to do the trick.

Once it was bubbly I put it in the fridge and waited for day 2. On the second day I roasted the onions and made the dough. Once it had risen once I put it in the fridge to rest over night. Then I waited a five hours and decided to cheat. I pulled one of the loaves out of the fridge and let it proof for two hours. After that I painted it with olive oil and poked it down with my fingertips (sometimes bread making is like kindergarten). Once it was sufficiently poked I covered it in asiago and roasted onions.

It smelled divine while it was baking. I patiently pulled it out of the oven and waited an hour for it to cool. I busied myself with making creamless creamy tomato soup so I wouldn't be too tempted.
After an hour I cut into it. I was rewarded with intensely flavored bread. The top layer of cheese created a crunchy crust. Perfect for dunking in soup.

This bread is the last bread in the Bread Baker's Apprentice. I cannot believe it's already over. I have loved almost every minute of it. I never imagined I could make the breads that I have made. I have much more confidence as a baker now.

I'm not done with my resolution of baking a loaf of bread a week. I'm sure I'll be pulling this book out again soon. I have Peter Reinhart's Whole Grain Breads, which I plan to explore in depth at some point. I had planned on sticking with breads that can be made from start to finish in an afternoon, but with winter coming I could use an excuse to stay in all weekend and bake.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Year In Pictures:Week 6

35:365 Party Time
On Friday I neglected to take a photo of anything other than the party.

36:365 Donuts
I'm really going to miss the donuts at the market.

37:365 Garden
I finally pulled out the herbs from my front garden. I am not looking forward to buying basil until May.

38:365 This American Life Junkie

One of my favorite programs on NPR is This American Life. On Monday I went to see Sarah Vowell, one of my favorite authors and a This American Life contributor speak. A few weeks ago I went to hear David Sedaris, also one of my favorite authors and a This American Life Contributor speak. It's a good time in Des Moines to be a radio nerd.

39:365 Vote
I may not be happy with the results of the election, but I am happy that I don't have to watch political ads for a year.

40:365 Feed the Barm
I keep a sourdough starter in the refrigerator. I don't make sourdoughs very often, so when I do I need to refresh the barm so that is fresh and ready to go. It looks very gross when I pull it out of the fridge.

41:365 Drugs

On Thursday I finally went to the doctor for my neck. Coincidently, on Thursday night I discovered that muscle relaxers make me a zombie.