Friday, April 30, 2010
Wednesday, April 28, 2010
Tuesday, April 27, 2010
Oh, a peanut sat on the railroad track
His heart was all a-flutter
Along came the 5:05
A woman took a bath
She didn't tell a soul
She forgot to put the stopper in
And slipped right down the hole!
I woke up in the morning
I glanced up at the wall
The roaches and the bedbugs
Were having a game of ball.
The score was four to nothing
The roaches were ahead
A beetle hit a homerun
And knocked me out of bed!
- proofing yeast: wait until cloudy and bubbly--no exact timetable
- humidity changes how much water the flour will take--add water or flour in small increments (teaspoons) to adjust
- while recipes are not extremely flexible, you can alter the mix-ins as long as the type and amount are similar
- knead times are approximate--knead until "elastic and smooth"
- "elastic"--when you poke it with your finger, the print will "pop" out
- two kinds of kneading we used: kneading with the heel of your hand, including grab with fingers (using other hand to hold), OR two-handed thumb knead when the bread was stiff; for both, knead a few times, turn it, shape it into a little log, do it again.
- to incorporate mix-ins, poke them in using the tips of your fingers
- tip: finish the kneading in the mixer with dough hook, especially if there are mix-ins
- rise times are approximate
- rise under a light for added warmth, or near stove
- always cover, either with non-fuzzy towel or plastic wrap
- shape doesn't really matter--we didn't use loaf pans, instead opting for more free-form loaves on parchment-lined baking sheets
- to get round shape, rock dough back and forth; place seam down
- you need a really sharp knife to cut the top
- butter makes a great crust (oil in rising bowl helps too)
- the bread is done when it sounds hollow when you tap on the bottom
- two storage options: in paper bag inside zipper bag in fridge or in foil in zipper bag in freezer
Monday, April 26, 2010
. . . . or, everything I ever "kneaded" to know about bread, I learned today at my friend's house.
Saturday, April 24, 2010
Friday, April 23, 2010
Thursday, April 22, 2010
Wednesday, April 21, 2010
Tuesday, April 20, 2010
1 package dry yeast (or 2 1/4 teaspoons yeast)
1 1/2 cups warm water, 105-115 degrees
1 tablespoon sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 tablespoon butter or margarine
4 1/4 to 4 1/3 cups all-purpose flour (I used 4 1/4 in bread machine)
2 teaspoons cornmeal
In a large mixing bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water.
Add sugar, salt, butter, and 2 cups flour. Beat with a spoon until thoroughly mixed. Gradually add remaining flour until dough is easy to handle.
Knead on a lightly floured surface for five to ten minutes or until dough is elastic and not sticky.
Place in a greased bowl; cover dough with plastic wrap. Let rise in a warm place until double in size, 1 to 1 1/4 hours.
Punch down and place on a lightly floured surface. Divide into two equal pieces.
Shape each piece into a long narrow loaf, about 14" long and 1 1/2" in diameter.
Lightly grease inside of EKCO French Bread Pan. Sprinkle 1 tsp. cornmeal in each section. Shake pan to distribute evenly.
Place loaves in pan. Make sure the loaves do not come any closer than 1 1/2" to ends of the pan. With a sharp knife, make three or four diagonal 1/4" deep slashes on the top of each loaf. Do not cover. Let rise in a warm place until double in size, about 45 minutes.
Bake in preheated 375 degree oven for 25-30 minutes. Remove from pan at once.
Monday, April 19, 2010
This is delicious warm, or the next day, sliced/toasted with butter or jam. I find this bread to be a bit sweet and yeasty. I love it and it takes about 5 minutes to prep.
3 Tbs. sugar
12 oz beer (any beer works, but I did find a lager seems better)
2 Tbs. Butter, melted
Mix flour sugar and beer. Reserve the butter.
Place the mixture in a greased and floured loaf pan. Bake for 30-40 minutes in 350 F over. Pour melted butter over the top and return to oven. Let bake 10 minutes more or until top is nicely browned. Let cool in pan 5 minutes before serving.
J, I grease the pan using butter personally. When you have to flour a pan, using Pam is pretty gunky. Butter or shortening works better.
(Note: The original recipe called for it to bake a total of 1 hour (45 minutes, top with butter, then 15 minutes. I have never needed it to go that long. See how it goes for you. I feel my oven bakes fairly hot anyway though the temp gauge says it's right on so I've let the time adjustments based on my baking.
(2nd Note: If you only have all purpose flour the conversion is: PER CUP add 1 1/2 tsp. and 1/2 tsp. salt.)
1 small yellow onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 teaspoons canola oil
1 (15-ounce) can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 teaspoon chopped chipotle peppers in adobo (plus more to taste)
Juice and zest of 1 orange
Salt and pepper to taste
2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
2 tablespoons crumbled queso fresco
Heat oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Sauté onions and garlic until soft, about 4 minutes. Add beans and cook 3 to 4 minutes. Stir in chipotles and orange juice and zest. Cook 1 minute longer. Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve garnished with cilantro and queso fresco.
Whole Foods website
- We were up and ready to go early, which the kids weren't too keen on. They were sad that the vacation was drawing to a close, even sad to be saying goodbye to the hotel. And the Washington Monument! We drove past the Iwo Jima Memorial one last time--it was very close to our hotel--and I giggled recalling an earlier conversation with Sis. She wanted to know who "Ima Jima" was. And I explained, as I had several times, that it was an island where a battle was fought and the soldiers were raising the flag to show that they'd won. She seemed disappointed to learn it wasn't a woman because then she said, "I want to name my first baby Ima Jima." Or would that be "Imogema"?
- National Aquarium in Baltimore was the only thing on our itinerary and about an hour away. It's located in the Inner Harbor, somewhat akin, in spirit at least, to the River Walk in San Antonio. Lucky we were there just when it opened because the line just to buy tickets was incredibly long by the time we left--it is a very popular place. And no wonder! There are sharks, a dolphin show, stingrays, a leatherback turtle with missing flipper, colorful coral reefs, a rainforest exhibit with a hiding marmoset, and the Australia exhibit with rainbow lorikeet and guldalian finch (I think). But the best part, arguably? Riding all the escalators up and down through the multi-level space. The kids loved the dolphin show--the flipping in the air and splashing. Bud had even asked one of the volunteers near the tank beforehand why the dolphins jump out of the water--and Pop, the woman gave your answer (though not word for word): "because they're loving life!" Bud laughed to realize that animals could do things for fun too. (Note: during the show, it was also explained that scientists think the jumping might also be to look for food, remove parasites from their bodies, or to communicate. But they just don't know.) Bud also asked one of the trainers after what his suit was made of. And I asked whether the dolphins we see (or are they porpoise--apparently the "rostrum" is different) in the Gulf are the same North Atlantic Dolphins; could be, he said. Maybe we can check this summer! Sis didn't like the sharks so much so we let Bud and Mama explore them on their own. She did like all the coral reef tanks and helped Mama take pictures. Mama especially like photographing the colorful birds in the Australia area. I liked watching the rays glide through their huge tank. And everybody liked the jellyfish. Their favorites were what we now call "bumping jellies" because they tended to run into each other a lot. Bud and Sis stood in front of that tank bumping into each other and laughing hysterically. I'm gonna start calling them "bumping jellies!"
- Then we had our long drive home through MD, DE, NJ, NY, and CT. Nothing special to do or see, just stopping for input and output. But to our great amazement and relief, the kids slept through all the states but the last two and so we made it in record time (as Mama and I crossed our legs so as not to have to stop and wake them up!)
- After dinner at babysitter's restaurant in CT (which was better than trying to find a place to eat somewhere off the highway in NY), we finally arrived home . . . .though, it didn't feel like home completely until we picked up our kitties at "kitty kamp" today.
- Starting at the welcome center in PA, we picked up a lot of travel brochures along the way. Bud's favorite was the one advertising Medieval Times, the dinner show. He really wants to do that next time!
- Did I mention that Mama has National Parks passports for everyone? But because we never made it to any actual memorials, we only got the stamps at Gettysburg. We'll have them for next time.
- I didn't mention souvenirs much, if only to downplay the "gimme" aspect of the trip. But we did bring home the stuff. Mama gets a patch or pin anywhere she goes. I tend towards t-shirts or mugs or magnets. We both like books and now have several from Gettysburg (on civilians during the war, Civil War-era recipes, etc) and the American Indian museum (folktales and an explanatory introduction). The kids decided they wanted to collect stuffed snakes--each got one. Great.
- Because, see, I don't like snakes and usually they're pretty good at warning me about and protecting me from snakes on view, like at the Aquarium.
- Food-wise, this was a great trip for Mama and I, with new foods at Gettysburg (that incredible peanut soup), 2Amys, Mitsitam at NMAI, the Lebanese place, and even Whole Foods. Sis, however, really wasn't in her element and found very little pleasing--"where are our regular restaurants?" I think her favorite meal was the last one, in CT. Bud vacillated between fruit cups, Gorilla Crunch cereal, and whatever there was on offer. They're gonna have to get with it though, because Mama and I like to eat.
Sunday, April 18, 2010
- Going inside a real castle: We're such early risers and the DC schedule isn't prepared for tourists who want to go places at 8 a.m. The kids were up and rearing to go on Friday and, even though we killed as much time at the hotel as we could, we were still on the Mall, after a very exciting shuttle ride to the Metro and awfully steep escalator ride down into the Metro and Metro ride to the city (and even though they've been on city buses and subways in NYC, it was relatively novel). So we walked the Mall a bit and went into the red Smithsonian Castle, which opens early at 9 a.m. We looked around at all the little exhibits, examples from each of the SI museums, admired the 1847 Gothic-inspired architecture, and had a snack in the main hall. Sis devoured a whole croissant while Bud ate yet another fruit cup. (I could subtitle our trip "Of Fruit Cups and Chicken Fingers). And we smooshed some pennies. I think this started, on this trip (it really started with Gong at the Bronx Zoo!), at Gettysburg, but the machine was broken. But we managed it about everywhere else, including the Zoo, Natural History, Smithsonian Castle, Air and Space, National Aquarium, and Maryland rest stop.) We took to saving all our quarters and pennies.
- Then two rides on the carousel, one of Sis's favorite things of the whole trip . . .it's not a pretty or historic carousel, but it is fast and has long rides, so it scores high on our list of favorite carousels. Especially because the views of the Mall are pretty impressive. Sis rode the aquamarine sea creature the second time and couldn't have been happier.
- . . . right after finding and blowing more dandelions. Dandelions could be yet another subtitle of our trip: "Our Search for Dandelions and Smooshed Pennies." You see, Sis was just amazed that dandelions in DC had reached the "puffy" stage while those in CT were still in the yellow-flower stage. They've been ready to blow dandelions since the yellow flowers first appeared and were only too happy to do it in DC. Noted Sis, "Washington DC, you know, has a lot of dandelions. They're so puffed." We did a few at Gettysburg but were looking for a chance in DC, since they were always spotting them out the window. But the Mall is relatively mowed, with no dandelions, except in a few roped-off areas. And you guessed it, we let her go in and pluck a few. And she was very happy. (I thought she'd be more cautious about entering this roped off area, but it was Bud who only ducked in and then out quickly. And no worries, there was another kid nearby picking grass too. It wasn't a memorial or monument area).
- Air and Space: This is apparently the most-visited museum in the country. And it was indeed packed with kids running every which way, taking pictures the whole time. Sis took several pictures in the lobby of the various space modules/capsules. Bud marveled about how the museum suspended the planes from the ceiling. Off all the exhibits, they loved the Skylab--with its collapsible shower and exercise bike and living quarters in space--and the moon rover which we sat and sketched for a long while (and ooh, what a disaster that almost was--I realized I forgot Bud's paper and pencil pack when we were at the Castle--much upset with no remedies at the time--so Mama had to run to the Air and Space shop to find replacements, including a "space pen.") and the Saturn V rocket that launched Apollo and the Wright Flyer (and it is the real one! not a replica! Bud liked the kite better. Sis liked taking pictures of it) and the telescopes and infrared sensors. I was most amazed by the Cold War missiles, which were not there when I last visited in approximately 1985, during the Cold War. I remember being so scared of being bombed by Russians . . . and here were the very rockets on display. Gave me the shivers. The kids got rockets and space shuttles to play with, and even tasty candy moon rocks but no space ice cream!
- Headed to the National Museum of the American Indian. And it's gorgeous--curving sandstone exterior with water features and rocks and native plants. On this increasingly hot (82+F) day you could feel the change in temperature as you approached the museum. I had trouble calling it the Museum of the American Indian, vividly remember "Indian" being drilled out of me at some point in school Apparently, now, it's okay again, a term embraced over the more legalistic (and imposed on them) "Native American." Though, truly, I understand, from my new book Do Indians Live in Tipis? (yes, that spelling has also changed), that the preferred term is actually whatever specific tribe name is under discussion, i.e. avoiding generalizations in favor of acknowledging the diversity and differences of native tribes. Our goal was the cafeteria; we had heard that the food was incredible. And it was--squash and bean tamale pie with a side of guacamole plus cabbage and hominy and stewed white beans, a three sisters soup, fry bread with honey, spicy pickled vegetable empanada, smoked boniato (and sweet potato) salad, cherry aqua fresca, atole, lime/hibiscus/chipotle aqua fresca, tres leches cake, strawberry corn pone, orange cake. And, yes, chicken fingers. There might have been more but that's all I remember. As for the museum itself, well, the building is beautiful, highly symbolic--loved the "woven" walls and rainbow light. But the museum as collection was confusing. I couldn't figure out the mission--is it to educate the general public? At this it fails miserably as most of the exhibits and installations I saw are so particularized and detailed that they almost have no meaning to the general visitor beyond. Okay, sure, the little introductory movie was good, set in an original space utilizing a variety of media, but it was too general to be much use. The rest of the collections are just the opposite: too particular to be interesting. I wasn't looking for a "cowboys and Indians" history but I did want something I could grasp. I mean, I walked through small rooms about the cosmologies of 6 or so different regional variations of tribes I'd never heard of. The minimal number of artifacts were interesting but left you wanting more, particularly because the accompanying text was so dense. This has the very negative effect of reducing the artifacts to being "pretty" or the like. Frustrating. Each tribal room was accompanied by pictures of the people from the tribe who organized the space, as if to say this is one family's way of doing things, which strikes me as Medici-like self-aggrandizement. Now, if the mission of the museum is to honor Indians (and the Indian curators who put things together) for a specifically Indian/insider audience, I can't evaluate if they've accomplished it or not. Because, being turned off by that first exhibition, I didn't bother to go anywhere else in the museum (which has spent a hefty sum on interactive technologies--Sis loved all the folktale videos and Bud liked the animal artifact kiosks). It's too bad, really, because I have really enjoyed our visits to the Mashantucket Pequot museum (and they were huge financial and organizational contributors to the NMAI), but it better manages the insider/outsider equation while being very tribe- and location-specific.The museum as an institution is very young and so I imagine it will find its stride and some balance in the long run; in the short, go eat and then head somewhere else. Which is pretty much what everyone seemed to be doing (and what all the online reviews I've read say too).
- I had dinner with the woman I'd met up with the day before and another friend I know from years and years ago. We had a nice catch-up conversation over pan-Asian food. The second friend left us after dinner and my college friend and I--who had hosted each other's baby showers--talked shop about kids. And I realized, as I always do, that I wished I stayed better in touch with her the rest of the time.
- Panda at the National Zoo! Of course, visiting the pandas, who will return to China later this year after a 10-year visit here in the US, was our main impetus in heading to DC. And so first thing Thursday morning--2 full hours before the zoo officially opened (though, the grounds are open as early as 7 a.m. with several animals on view), we headed to see the panda. Only one panda, Tian Tian, was on view because they think the lady panda might be pregnant (they won't know until there is a cub, I think), but that's okay. We heard him before we saw him, munching away at bamboo. First he sat up to eat, then he reclined, spreading his treat all over his stomach as he continued to munch. We took zillions of pictures, from in front, on the side, and even above his enclosure. I'm sure he's one of the most photographed animals in the world. But Bud was quickly over seeing a real panda, perhaps not grasping the rarity of it and certainly unaware of the actual danger of extinction. I told Bud we were there to say goodbye to the pandas before they went back to China. "Bye, bye Panda," he said. "For now and for China." I guess he's not the sentimental type! It was the third time I've seen the pandas--first years ago when Mama attended some training in VA, then when the kids were babies and we went to see the panda cub (over a weekend trip to host a baby shower for the college friend we saw again this week). And I still just can't get over how furry and big and, well, cute they are. Mama even let me commune with the panda for a bit, gathering mental images for my panda happy place. And, amazingly, we had the pandas all to ourselves almost until the zoo opened (of course, we went to see other animals too--while Mama and I could probably watch the panda for 2 hours, there's no way the kids could).
- Oh, yeah, and the other animals too (including red panda, cheetah, wallaby, fishing cat, clouded leopard, elephant, Asian otters, but no sloth bear). We spent another hour or two at the zoo after it opened, particularly on the Asian trail nearby. Mama particularly liked watching the red panda climb around its enclosure, while the kids liked running and jumping like a cheetah. But it was beginning to become crowded, we were hungry, and, well, we have the Bronx Zoo so nearby, that we decided to head out. . .
- For an amazing lunch at 2Amys--highlights include fried rice balls (not quite the arancini at home, this was called suppli a telefono), oven roasted olives, serrano ham, potato frittata, polpettine al forno, D.O.C (official Neapolitan) margherita pizza, almond cake, ice creams and a marsala custard that reminded me of my grandmother's Charlotte Russe. OMG, I think this was one of the best meals I've ever had. The restaurant came highly recommended by my restaurant friend, so we added it to our itinerary and were so thankful we had. There wasn't a thing that we tried that wasn't delicious . . . and there were several more things on the menu, like zucchini fritters and asparagus in vincotto, that we didn't even get to try. We'll be going back here. (Though, in full disclosure, Sis didn't like any of it, from the bread to the ham to the chocolate ice cream; I think she was just being disagreeable. Bud liked his meatballs and the ham (a lot) and the strawberry sorbet).
- National Museum of Natural History with my college friend and her two kids (and all those hostile tea partyers)--sea life, bones, dinosaurs. Lots of people. This was probably, excepting my visit with my friend, my least favorite stop. I was just very, very, very underwhelmed by the museum, from collection to installation to all the loud, crowded craziness in between. I've never seen a museum so full of glass cases and blinking lights and didactic panels--it really looks like educators and designers run amok or something. And it wasn't enjoyable at all. And even though the kids aren't museum professionals, they picked up on it too, not engaging or interacting with any of the exhibits as they might normally (especially because every installation was also a crowded pathway leaving little space for contemplation, at least on the ground floor), with the one exception of the sea life "diorama" with reconstructed skeletons of manatee and penguin and seal forbears in front of a painted mural. Perhaps I was just tired and grumpy, but I didn't like it. I did, however, like my friend and her daughters. So that's all good, in the end.
- Tidbits from Whole Foods, including several new salads--orange couscous, black beans with cumin, wheatberries with kale and raisins and olives, chickpeas, key lime quinoa, another bean salad--lots more than we have at home! This was my treat for dinner--and I'm getting to the point that I know how I'm going to make my own beans-and-grains salads. Sis had chicken fingers, Bud had macaroni and cheese; Mama had a bit of everything.
- Pajama tour of the district: Mama wanted to do the monuments much like her parents had done when she was a child and so we piled into the car after baths and pajamas, around 8 pm, and headed back into DC. The kids were so excited to be out and about at night in pjs. And of course, they spotted the Washington Monument first. We saw the White House (said "white__house" with a pause, as opposed to "White House" as all adults say it), the Capitol, the Mall, all gloriously lit up. The best was seeing all the rockets and planes inside Air and Space, a prelude to our next day's visit. And then the kids fell sound asleep. We figured we'd wake them when we got around to the Jefferson Memorial. Us and 100s of buses of teenagers. It was a zoo. With no parking. We couldn't see hiking them at night in the pjs woken up from a sound sleep underneath a highway a half mile from the monument. Same thing at Lincoln. Apparently, all that up-close parking disappeared after Sept. 11. Next time, when they're older. But we were still disappointed. Luckily, they were too asleep to care and didn't remember in the morning.
I head the call for Earth Day 40-40-40 pledges and knew I wanted to do something. as the main cook in our family, providing three meals and 2 snacks a day, everyday, I give a lot of thought to food. Like is there life after chicken fingers? (There's not). We've joined a CSA; we try to buy local, organic, and seasonal; we've given up most cans and plastics; and I try to cook from scratch, if possible, most of our meals most of the time. Of course, reality hits and we eat out a lot and I'm a habitue of Starbucks. I thought of pledging to give up restaurants, but I wanted to embrace a positive action, to do something, or to make something. Besides, I knew a restaurant pledge was never going to fly.What could I make that we usually buy? Bread. Sure, the stuff at the store is okay (actually, the kids think it is better! Well, except the crust), but it has high-fructose corn syrup in it and preservatives and can last for weeks without molding. And that bothers me. So, I could make all of our family's bread. Now, you must understand, I love to bake--cookies, cakes, quick breads--but I don't really know how to make yeasted breads. Apparently, my maternal grandmother made great bread but my mom never bakes. And so in a generation the skill has been lost in my family--my two attempts were mostly awful failures. And I've always wanted to make excellent homemade bread--kneading it by hand and oh, the smell of it! The crust! The crumb! So, today, I pledge on my bag of flour and my bread book that I will make all of our breads, buns, muffins, whatever for the next 40 days. Almost everything with flour. Except pasta. I'm not going there. Sure, I'll do a lot of it in my bread machine, but I'm going to practice handmade breads too. And lots of new recipes, like no-knead bread. And I'm so excited. And also glad to be able to make something so sacred and symbolic as our family's daily bread.
- Cousin S's French bread recipe
- No-knead bread a la Jim Lahey of Sullivan Bakery
- Sourdough, if I can borrow starter from my restaurant friend
- Said restaurant friend's famous Oatmeal Bread
Saturday, April 17, 2010
Friday, April 16, 2010
- Panda at the National Zoo!
- Oh, yeah, and the other animals too (including red panda, cheetah, wallaby, fishing cat, clouded leopard, elephant, Asian otters, but no sloth bear)
- an amazing lunch at 2Amys--highlights include fried rice balls (not quite the arancini at home, this was called suppli a telefono), oven roasted olives, potato frittata, polpettine al forno, D.O.C (official Neapolitan) margherita pizza, almond cake, ice creams and a marsala custard that reminded me of my grandmother's Charlotte Russe.
- National Museum of Natural History with my college friend and her two kids (and all those hostile tea partyers)--sea life, bones, dinosaurs. Lots of people.
- tidbits from Whole Foods, including several new salads--orange couscous, black beans with cumin, wheatberries with kale and raisins and olives, chickpeas, key lime quinoa, another bean salad--lots more than we have at home!
- Pajama tour of the district, with 100s of teenagers in buses all around, but those buildings really are pretty when lit up at night--and we could see all the rockets and planes inside Air and Space before they fell sound asleep!
- Going inside a real castle--breakfast snack at the original Smithsonian building
- Then two rides on the carousel, one of Sis's favorite things of the whole trip . . .
- . . . right after finding and blowing more dandelions ("Washington DC, you know, has a lot of dandelions. They're so puffed."
- Air and Space--loved the Skylab and the moon rover and the Saturn V rocket that launched Apollo and the Wright Flyer and the telescopes and infrared sensors. Drew and photographed a lot. But didn't buy space ice cream!
- Headed to the National Museum of the American Indian (more on why it's okay to call them Indians again, later). Kids loved the water features. We ate a magnificent lunch there: squash and bean tamale pie with a side of guac plus cabbage and hominy and stewed white beans, a three sisters soup, fry bread with honey, spicy pickled vegetable empanada, roasted boniato (and sweet potato) salad, cherry aqua fresca, atole, lime/hibiscus/chipotle aqua fresca, tres leches cake, strawberry corn pone, orange cake. And, yes, chicken fingers. There might have been more but that's all I remember. Less great things to say about the organization of the museum, but we liked all the films and interactives.
- Dinner with my college friends.