Monday, August 3, 2009

is this thing on?

annnnnd we're back. summer semester is over, with all of its acceleration, and now i'm cooking again. what better way to kick things off than with a pie?

i had some leftover apples and strawberries from separate projects, and decided to combine them into a strawberry apple pie. i had some trouble tracking down a recipe i was interested in, so i combined them.

and then promptly found some recipes i thought were worth trying. so here's to saving you the trouble of searching.

Catherine's Strawberry Apple Pie

dough for a double crust pie (i used this one)

4C peeled, cored and chopped apples
1 1/4C hulled and quartered strawberries
3/4C sugar
3T cornstarch
pinch of cinnamon (i love it, and it had to go in)

preheat oven to 425° (my oven is evil, so it's anywhere between 400° and 450°)
roll out 1/2 of dough and fit into pie plate. reserve other half in fridge.
mix filling ingredients, tossing until well mixed. pour into pie crust.
take remaining half of dough, roll out into strips, and form lattice top.
sprinkle with 1T sugar, place in preheated oven.
bake for 60 minutes, or until filling is bubbly and the crust is a lovely golden.
add foil to the edges in the last 20 minutes if it browns too quickly.
remove from oven, let cool to room temp.
slice, and try not to eat it all yourself.

Monday, May 25, 2009

it's bagel week here at OPK!

so, we're on week 3 of the challenge. and because the bread is disappearing so fast, i'm forced to start on sunday, and slave into the wee hours of the night. or not. mostly, i just really really wanted bagels this morning for breakfast.

and let me tell you, these were worth every minute of lost sleep.

peter reinhart created a really lovely recipe, the bagels are glorious. soft, chewy, a crisp crust (although not as crisp as some may like, mine have a thin, crispy crust) and that fantastic flavor that only high gluten flour and malt syrup can give. they smelled like pretzels while i was boiling them. i've had a bagel disaster before, using the artisan bread in 5 minutes a day method. but i'm chalking that up to a: high altitude issues, and 2: my inexperience with bagel dough.

i was initially concerned, since the bagels floated in the first water test without sinking. like, in 1 second, they were floating. i was concerned that it meant they would be gooey, falling apart when i boiled them for real. but, a night in fridge to retard, and these bagels were ready for anything.

i know i'm gushing, but i am a bagel fanatic. i spent a month in nyc some years ago, and one of the things i loved dearly was the morning bagel runs. i never thought i would get something quite as good as a fresh bagel. but i'm a convert. and i will most definitely be making these again.

i didn't want to order high gluten flour, so i just bought some vital wheat gluten, mixed 1 tsp for every 1C of bread flour, and called it done. and i think it worked pretty well. kneading the dough was a serious workout, since i wanted to do it by hand. even though the KA is perfectly capable of kneading the dough just fine, i'm finding that it's easier for me to get a feel for the dough, and what it needs if i knead by hand. malt syrup was sourced at the local earth fare, and i heard you could get it cheaper via a brew your own beer place. too bad i forgot about that fact while i was shopping.

so, one of these days, i'll get back to photographing our meals... until then, enjoy drooling at the pics of my awesome bagels. and since it made 13, and i don't think i can eat all of them myself, amanda, michelle, and lori, i have some for you.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

week 2 challenge - christopsomos bread

week 2 began on sunday, and i was anxious to get the new loaf made. i've been lucky enough to locate the recipes online, so as of right now, i still don't own the book. very soon though. gotta pay the rent first!

the bread was a quick throw together, since i already had a starter bubbling away in the fridge. it fit the criteria, and i used it, and if it wasn't supposed to work, i don't think it would have. the bread made the house smell so good while baking, and the taste? fantastic. i sliced off a piece (or three) before it was cooled off, and shared with our toddler. who kept asking for more bread.

the bread in a nutshell? soft, moist inside, crispy crust (the bread was done about 10 minutes before the recipe's stated time, and i didn't get it out quite in time),spicy and studded with golden raisins, and craisins. sweet and tart, and now i'm regretting making it into 2 loaves and giving one to the neighbors. oh well! i can always make it again, and i probably will.

when i rolled it into the loaf shape, the rolled dough was a little long for the loaf pan... once i folded the ends under, and let it rise again, it became somewhat misshapen. but it was so good, who cares.

more info on the challenge can be found at while the google group is closed, you can still join in, via facebook and twitter. look up bba challenge, or #bba to find us.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

anadama bread and other things

well, i've jumped on a proverbial bandwagon. i joined a challenge online. and not just any challenge, but baking through the bread bakers apprentice by peter reinhart. every week, we're going to be doing a new recipe, and we're baking through the book in order. interestingly, i still need to get my hands on a copy of this book, but soon enough. soon enough.

so, the bread. i wasn't prepared for the crunch of it. it's slightly sweeter than i expected, but not quite a dessert bread. i used a jar of sorghum syrup i got up in the mountains last time i was in the hills, and it ended up being quite good. zoë and i have both enjoyed our slices of it, mine with nutella, her's with butter. once you get beyond the fact that it seems like you're eating a bowl of uncooked grits (which is an exaggeration) it's great bread. certainly not something i would have made otherwise, but something i'm enjoying.

i noticed it didn't rise quite as much as i had wanted. next time, i'm not going to assume it will rise during baking. one loaf ended up being a bit shorter and squattier than the other. what i really need to do is get my other loaf pans out, as these aren't really working so well for me.

i don't know about re-posting the recipe, but i will link to another blog who has. because i'm a scaredy cat like that. :)

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

pan seared tilapia over vegetable ragout

well, it's fish week here at casa de opk. tilapia is on sale at kroger 2.99 a pound, i got a bunch of mushrooms on a "buy these quick before they rot" sale, and i was feeling adventurous. so, out of a cooking light recipe came my variation on a theme.

and boy, this was fantastic. i used tilapia instead of cod, since they're both firm white fishes. or is it fish? i can't remember the plural of fish. oh well. and since i got creminis cheap, i used those instead of shitake. because while we espouse fine cooking, we also espouse being able to afford rent. i'm just saying.

serves 4 - 1 filet, and 1C ragout.

  • 2 1/2 teaspoons olive oil, divided
  • 1/2 cup diced prosciutto (about 2 ounces)
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 4 cups thinly sliced cremini (baby bellas) mushroom caps (about 10 ounces)
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped leek
  • 3 cups diced plum tomato (about 1 pound)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 (10-ounce) package fresh spinach, coarsely chopped
  • 1 cup torn fresh basil leaves
  • 4 (6-ounce) tilapia filets
  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour

Heat 1/2 teaspoon olive oil in a large nonstick skillet over low heat. Add the prosciutto; sauté 5 minutes. Stir in garlic; remove from pan. Set aside.

Heat 1 teaspoon olive oil in pan over medium-high heat. Add mushrooms and leek; sauté 8 minutes. Stir in tomato, salt, and pepper. Gradually add the spinach to pan, and stir until spinach is wilted (about 3 minutes). Stir in the prosciutto mixture and basil. Remove from pan; cover and keep warm.

Heat 1 teaspoon olive oil in pan over medium-high heat. Dredge filets in flour. Add filets to pan; sauté 3 minutes on each side. Cover and cook 2 minutes or until fish flakes easily when tested with a fork. Divide spinach mixture among 4 plates; top with filets.

Friday, April 24, 2009

the best banana bread ever made. no seriously.

okay, so everyone's got their favorite type of banana bread. whether you like yours cakey, or bread like, or dense, or light, or heavy on the banana, or not so much, this recipe will satisfy all of you.

i'm lying.

this bread is dense, with a heavy moist crumb, bordering on a fudge cake, and is full of banana. it's got a crunchy topping of coarse sugar, demerara being one of the best options. demerara is also known as turbinado here in the states, and i think sugar in the raw is an acceptable substitute. you just want to find a very coarse raw sugar to strew overtop. this recipe doubles, triple and quadruples amazingly well, so don't just make a small batch.

and the best part is, this is a family recipe that i've doctored to suit me, making it truly a catherine original. oh yes. i'll be signing copies later.


5Tblspoons butter, softened slightly
1/2C granulated sugar
1/2C brown sugar
1 large egg
2 egg whites
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 1/2C mashed very ripe bananas *see note
1 3/4C all purpose flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. baking powder
1/2C fat free 1/2 n 1/2
4tsp. raw, demerara or turbinado sugar
1/3C chopped walnuts (optional)

preheat oven to 350º F. grease bottom only of a 9x5x3 loaf pan with nonstick cooking spray.

beat butter on medium speed until light and fluffy. add granulated sugar, and brown sugar, and mix well. add egg, egg whites, and vanilla. beat until well blended. add mashed banana and beat on high for 30 seconds.

in a separate bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, salt, and baking powder. add 1/2 flour mixture to butter mix, mixing after each addition. then add 1/2 n 1/2, mix, and add remaining flour mixture. mix until just blended. mix in walnuts if using.

pour batter evenly into prepared loaf pan. sprinkle 4 tsp. of sugar evenly over top. bake until browned, and toothpick inserted near center comes out clean. for me, this runs anywhere from 1 hour to 1 hour and 15 minutes. this really depends on what size loaf pan you end up using, as this recipe is pretty flexible.

cool bread in pan on wire rack for 10 minutes. turn out onto wire rack, and cool completely. and by "completely" i mean, until it's cool enough to handle, and slice large pieces off of.

this bread is amazing the next day, as it gets denser and moister. my guess is that it would last about 3 days unrefrigerated, but none has ever made it that long.

** bananas are very easily gotten to the mushy stage by freezing overnight in a ziplock baggie, and then thawed all the next day in the fridge. you oughta be ready to make banana bread the next morning. pour the bananas straight out of the bag, liquid and all. this might be one of the secrets to having the best banana bread ever.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

coffee in a cake... or something.

we unpacked more cookbooks today. i feel like i'm finding old friends in a town i've never been to. okay, so that's pretty much our life right now. except i've been here before. but these cookbook discoveries are slowly filling my freezer. and excuse the odd light. i pretty much only bake after 10 pm. c'est la vie.

you need to make this right now, because life is too short to not have coffee in your cake.

adapted from a King Arthur Flour recipe.

Cafe Au Lait Bars

3 large eggs
1 1/2C sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 1/2 sticks (12 Tblspoons - oh yeah. lots of buttah.) unsalted butter, melted
2C all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4C instant coffee crystals OR 3 Tblspoons instant espresso powder
1/4 cup heavy cream (next batch, i'm trying fat free half n half. it seems to sub well for me.)

Pre-heat your oven to 325ºF and grease a 9 x 13 inch pan.

In a mixing bowl, beat the three eggs until thick and light. Add the sugar, and beat until stiff and glossy... which for me just looked more thick, lightly colored, and pudding textured. i never did get stiff out of these. add the vanilla and melted butter until the batter is thick. Then add the flour and salt, mixing well. Remove 1 1/2 cups of the batter and set aside.

In a small bowl, mix coffee or espresso powder and cream together and then add to the remaining batter. Mix well, and then pour this batter into the 9 x 13 inch pan, spreading out the batter with a knife, or an offset spatula covering entire bottom of pan. i felt really officially "chef-y" with my spatula.

Then take the batter you set aside and place that on top of the coffee-laced batter. use your spatula again, since this is a bit thicker than the coffee batter.

Use a knife to draw pretty swirls. or not so pretty swirls. whichever.

Bake in preheated oven for 30 minutes. i think my oven bakes cool, because this took me 35. you want the edges pulling a fraction of an inch away, and the center to not jiggle.

Remove from oven and allow to cool before cutting. or mostly cool.

Proceed to drink coffee, and eat these bars. and post the recipe at 3 in the morning because you might have eaten too many.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

mocha oatmeal chippers

well, in my quest for the perfect chocolate chip cookie, i think i've stumbled on a contender. loosely based on a king arthur flour recipe, these cookies are a perfect grownup chocolate chip cookie. you can add nuts, which i didn't, but the added coffee, and 2 types of chocolate make these pretty special.

Mocha Oatmeal Chippers
makes about 6 1/2 , 4 1/2, or 2 1/2 ish dozen, depending on size of scoop.

2 1/2C rolled oats, finely ground
8oz. (1 1/3C) semisweet, bittersweet or milk chocolate - i prefer mine bittersweet.
1C (2 sticks) unsalted butter
1C brown sugar
1C granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 1/2 Tblspoon vanilla
2C unbleached all purpose flour
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
2 Tblspoon instant coffee
1C (1/2- 12 oz. bag) semi sweet chocolate chips
1 1/2C chopped walnuts or pecans (optional)

Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Lightly grease, or line with parchment, 2 baking sheets.
Grind the oats, and the 8oz. of chocolate together in a food processor. Mixture should have finely ground oats, and finely diced chunks of chocolate. Set aside.
In a large mixing bowl, cream together the butter, sugars, eggs, and vanilla. In a separate bowl, whisk the flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda, instant coffee, and reserved oat/chocolate mix. Add to dry ingredient, and stir to combine. Stir in chocolate chips (and nuts, if using.)
Use a tablespoon cookie scoop for 6 1/2 dozen, a soup spoon for 4 1/2 dozen, or a 1/4C measuring cup for 2 1/2ish dozen. Leave 2 inches of room between, since these babies spread.

Bake 10-12 minutes, 10 for soft and chewy, 12 for more crispy. For the big ones, go for 12-14 ish minutes, but definitely check around 11 minutes for doneness. You don't want these hard.

Remove from oven to rack, and let cool.

Fight your husband for the cooled cookies, and enjoy with a nice cup of milk. Or a big cup of coffee for extra juice!

Friday, April 17, 2009

thursday with dorie... and local eggs.

so i've recently moved to a seriously hippie town in east georgia. where there are like 12 co-ops and local markets. not including the farmers market that is set to start up in may. so needless to say, my access to fresh local produce (and eggs and milk) is a lot better than it was before.

i went up to the co-op the other night, and got some eggs. eggs that were laid that day, gathered, and sent to the co-op, where i could purchase them. while they were less than 24 hours old. and the milk? well, i got some milk from a local dairy. un-homogenized. with yummy bits of cream floating on the top.

baking has become a lot more appealing.

i had some blueberries in the freezer from the big sales earlier this year. so in light of the fact that i have baking: from my home to yours by dorie greenspan checked out from the library indefinitely, i decided to have a thursday with dorie.

the recipe of choice was blueberry- brown sugar plain cake. and man oh man. there is nothing plain about this bad boy. this has been breakfast of choice for my daughter and i, and snack of choice for me. so good!

Blueberry Brown Sugar Plain Cake

1 1/3C all purpose flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp cinnamon (optional - i used a whole tsp. because i'm crazy like that)
1/8 tsp + a pinch of salt
2 large eggs, separated
1 stick unsalted butter ( 8Tbls.) at room temp.
1C packed light brown sugar
1/2C whole milk
1 pint blueberries, fresh preferred, or frozen (unthawed!)

confectioners sugar for dusting

Center a rack in the oven, and preheat the oven to 375º F. Generously butter an 11x7 baking pan, pyrex is my drug of choice in this one, and place on a baking sheet. - which i forgot to do. didn't seem to make a difference.

Whisk flour, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt together in a bowl, and set aside.

Working with a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attached, or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat the egg whites with a pinch of salt until firm, glossy peaks form. Gently scrape the whites into a clean bowl, and set aside (if using a stand mixer.) If you have a paddle attachment, fit the stand mixer with it. No need to clean the bowl. Put the butter and sugar in the mixing bowl, or if using a hand mixer, in another large bowl, and beat on medium speed until creamy. Add egg yolks and beat 2 minutes more. Reduce speed to low, and add half the dry ingredients. Add the milk as soon as the first 1/2 of dry ingredients is incorporated, then add the other half after the milk is mixed in. Switch to a spatula, and fold the egg whites in, in 4 batches. Work gently! Since the cake batter is heavy, they will deflate some, just use a light hand. Once whites are in, fold in blueberries, and scrape batter into pan.

Bake cake 35-40 minutes, or until golden and a thin knife inserted in center comes out clean. Transfer to cooling rack, and let cool in pan for 30 minutes, before dusting with confectioners sugar.

Brew some coffee, and try not to eat the whole pan yourself.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

at long last

so i've been taking a little bloggy break, with a serious move in the works. and now, this blog is no longer appropriately titled! because now, i have my own kitchen!

and so to commemorate my move into a new house, my first dish was a classic. kraft boxed macaroni and cheese.
but once we unpacked some kitchen utensils, i got to make a yummy recipe i've seen making a few rounds this month.

it's a david lebovitz popover recipe that somehow turned into the best mix of french toast and muffins i've ever eaten. chewy, eggy, sweet, and crunchy from the cinnamon sugar.

Cinnamon Puffs - adapted from a NYTimes recipe by David Lebovitz

For the puffs:

Softened unsalted butter, for greasing the pan

2 tablespoons butter, melted

3 large eggs, at room temperature

1 cup whole milk, skim seems to work well too.

1 teaspoon salt

1 1/2 teaspoons sugar

1 cup flour

For the sugar coating:

1/2 cup sugar

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

4 tablespoons butter, melted.

1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Liberally grease a nonstick popover pan, or a muffin pan with 1/2-cup indentations, with softened butter.

2. For the puffs, put the 2 tablespoons melted butter, eggs, milk, salt and sugar in a blender and whiz for a few seconds.

3. Add the flour and whiz for 5 to 8 seconds, just until smooth.

4. Divide the batter among 9 greased molds, filling each 1/2 to 2/3 full.

5. Bake for 35 minutes, until the puffs are deep brown.

6. Remove from the oven, wait a few minutes until cool enough to handle, then remove the puffs from the pans. You may need a small knife to help pry them out.

7. Mix the sugar and cinnamon in a medium bowl. Thoroughly brush each puff all over with melted butter, then dredge in sugar and cinnamon mixture to coat completely. Let cool on a baking rack. Makes 9 puffs.

mac n cheese

ingredients... this IS mis en place ya'll.
oven preheating to 400
4 minutes into the cooking
18 minutes in! very gratifying to watch...
crusty, and very hot.
not exactly easy to dig out. use lots of butter to grease the pans!!
freshly coated...
i had to try one... mmmm...!

Friday, March 13, 2009

no cooking today, but i did lug out my cooking magazines (since most of my cookbooks are in storage) to start creating a set of menus. for right now, until we move, i'm not going to try to do any hardcore dieting, for reasons that are unimportant. however... i will be eating very diet friendly, healthy meals. but the sonoma thing has to wait a little while.

the best resource i've found for healthy, tasty meals, has been tasteofhome's healthy cooking magazine. all the nutritional info is in there, there's pictures for pretty much every dish, and while the recipes are fun, none are impossible to source ingredients for. something important when living in the mountains of north georgia.

so tonight, i wrote down every dish that interested me, and then made lists of breakfast, lunch, dinner, and drinks and dessert items. tomorrow, while waiting for the hubs at the dentist, i'll start creating menus. pairing items according to taste, and calorie count. so tomorrow, i should have some linkage for the upcoming week's menu, starting with sunday. i might try to do this more often, as i enjoy using the computer as a brainstorming device. for some reason, it makes more sense when i see it on screen.

also! in this sunday's paper there were coupons for garnier fructis shampoo/styling aids. if you watched walgreen's ad, garnier shampoo, conditioner and styling products are all 99 cents. anyone want some free shampoo? because walgreens wants to give it to you.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

peanut butter amazingness

post soundtrack - jon foreman - instead of a show
the last lonely cookie

okay. at long last. THE peanut butter cookie. seriously. i don't think i've had any quite this good. ever. you can do them the traditional way, with a small spoon of dough, pressed down with a fork, or you can do what i did. drop huge chunks of dough on the baking sheet, and don't squish it. the recipe called for chocolate chips. which i didn't have. so leave them in or out. they're gonna be awesome either way.

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies - makes like 18. or so. depending on size.

1/2C (1 stick) softened butter
1/2C peanut butter (chunky or smooth)
1/2C sugar
1/2C packed brown sugar
1 egg
1 1/4 C unbleached all purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1C chocolate chips (optional)
granulated sugar to sprinkle on top (also optional)

preheat oven to 375°F. cream butter, peanut butter and sugars until light. add egg, and mix until fluffy.

blend the flour, baking powder, soda, salt together well. add dry ingredients to butter mix. mix well.

drop by tablespoonfuls onto baking sheet. don't squish 'em.

bake for 12-15 minutes, until nice and golden. the middles will still be chewy, and the outside edges crisp. if you make smaller, pressed down cookies, bake for less time. 10-12 minutes or so.

eat with a big cup of milk. mmmmm.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

edinburgh tea squares

post soundtrack - feist - sea lion woman

okay, so the tea squares? really really killer. i had some frozen dates from when they were in stores here as fresh dates. so i modified the date layer a bit. a little less water, and a potato masher to get it smooth. they were oaty - hence the edinburgh reference, but the dates with the brown sugar was lovely. chewy, crunchy, and all together awesome. i ended up having extra dough/topping, and not enough filling. so next time i'm doubling the dates. however, i really love dates, so i'm a little biased. sorry for the not so pretty pic, but i didn't want to waste eating time with picture taking.

Edinburgh Tea Squares -

Dough -

1/2C - 1 stick softened butter or margarine
1C packed brown sugar
1/2C oatmeal - i used the regular kind, not quick cooking
1/2tsp salt (i initially typed sake. hahaha.... this isn't THAT kind of recipe)
1C unbleached all purpose flour

Filling -

1C fresh dates
1/4C water
a pinch of salt
1T lemon juice
zest from one lemon (which i didn't have, so i left it out)

preheat oven to 350°F.

cream butter until light. add brown sugar and continue beating (either a stand mixer, or a hand held will work) until fluffy. mix in oatmeal, salt and flour. pat 1/2 of this mixture evenly into a lightly greased (i used cooking spray) 9 inch pan.

cook dates in the water until soft, add lemon juice salt and rind (if you use it). i mushed them with a potato masher, but a food processor would work too. less cleanup is better though.

spread filling over dough, and sprinkle with remaning dough.

bake for 30-40 minutes, cool and cut into squares. try not to eat them all too quickly.

digestive recipe

post soundtrack - Feist - I feel it all

so let's get down to business, shall we? i've not been cooking a whole lot since giving up on artisan bread making. i even tried the pretzel recipe, but it was gross. seriously. i don't know what my deal is, but i cannot cook out of that cookbook.

i can however cook out of this one. the king arthur flour 200th anniversary cookbook was a thrift store find of mine, and so far has been worth the 50 cents i bought it for.

this week, i've made digestives **which were good, but not as good as McVities,** and edinburgh tea squares. and cheese crackers. oh yeah. and really really good peanut butter cookies. so, some recipes are in order. these are adapted from the originals, and i've posted my version.

Digestives -

1/2C unbleached all purpose flour
1 1/2C whole wheat flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2C (1 stick) room temp. butter
3/4C confectioners sugar
1/4C cold milk

place the dry ingredients in a mixing bowl, and cut in butter using pastry blender, 2 knives or fingertips. i used fingertips. add sugar and enough milk to make a stiff dough. (don't be like me, and add the sugar with the flour. the dough gets really stiff). knead mixture until smooth on a sugared or floured surface.

chill for an hour. or so. whatever you have time for.

preheat oven to 350°F. roll out dough til it's about 1/6 inch thick. eyeball it. don't bust out a ruler for these bad boys. use a slightly floured (or confectioners sugared) rolling pin, because this dough liked to pull up on me. cut yer biscuits, don't forget to prick with a fork (i totally forgot this step.) and bake between 15-20 minutes. (unti pale golden)

i used one of zoë's cups as a cookie cutter, since mine are all in storage.

verdict: these seemed like a whole wheat shortbread... with less butter. it was super good with tea, not so much with coffee. i don't know if i'll make this particular recipe again, but all 2 dozen or so cookies got eaten.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

so, i took a few days off to deal with the brioche. and i think, at this point, i'm putting artisan bread in five aside for a while. my father in law did mention that we live in a "high altitude" area, but i'm so tired of messing with this book, (i know, i'm a quitter) that i'm gonna call it quits on it for right now. maybe in a couple of months, when we're settled in our own place, and not high altitude, i'll try again.

we are thinking, tenatively of attempting the sonoma diet. which isn't so much of a diet, but more of a concentrated effort to eat better. i've got some weight to lose, and i'm pretty sick of thinking i'll do better one day. so, within the next couple of days, you'll probably see me start posting pics and recipe ideas from this diet. i gotta do something.

i love food, and i love cooking, but i don't really love being overweight. and as much as i love to bake, there has to be a better way to marry these interests, and not blimp out.

also - there's a money maker deal at CVS with the Renuzit tri-scents. they're 5.49 with a 2$ ECB on it. there's a coupon for $4/1 from this sundays paper. meaning, you make .50 off of each of them. pretty sweet, since the limit is 5 per card.

Friday, February 20, 2009

well, i made brioche. i was kinda underwhelmed at the appearance. i've had bread rise so much better than these loaves. i'm not sure where the disconnect is, but it was a lot more compact of a loaf than what i was anticipating. i probably need to do more internets research on what brioche looks like.

however, once i cut into it, i was pretty impressed with this bread recipe. smooth, buttery, and infinitely rich tasting. it came out of the oven at 5, and was completely gone by 6:30 (halfway through dinner.) and even though it didn't really go with our meal of black beans and rice, we still gobbled it up as if it were the last loaf of bread on earth. instead of tossing the 3 remaining pounds (like i did with the really bad boule) i will be finishing out this batch. tomorrow i'm taking a lemon curd filled blueberry ring, made with the brioche dough to lori's for coffee and shortbread therapy. pics of that will come.

well, i'm giving artisan bread in five minutes a day another shot. the first thing i attempted out of this book failed miserably. i'm no novice bread maker either, but i was pretty disappointed in my rock hard unrisen results. i'm not sure as to reasoning behind the failure. hence why i'm trying again.

this time, i made sure that the dough rose and fell, instead of just giving it the two hour rising time recommended. i think the first attempt had two factors destining it to fail. 1: freezing cold house. seriously, this place is chillay. and2:, i'm not sure as to the quality of the yeast. i'm using a different type of yeast this time, nothing fancy, just not store brand. so now, we'll see what happened.

i'm attempting the butter rich brioche, instead of the peasant style boule. which hopefully will turn out better, merely because of the higher sugar content for the yeast to feed off of. i also let it rise inside the oven, instead of the countertop. we had a fire tonight, and the relative room temperature was pretty cool. so i turned the oven on to 350, let it warm for about 15 seconds, and stuck the dough in, after turning the oven off. and voila! it worked!

looks good... filled up a 5 quart container
look ma, big holes!
notice the bit where the skin broke after sticking to the lid.

so, tomorrow is my day of reckoning. i'm really really hoping and praying to make a nice artisanal loaf. although with brioche, i don't know what to expect. i've never made it before, but i guess if this book is as good as everyone says, i'll be back to rave about it.

also, check out the authors website here, for more recipes, tips, tricks and prettier pics than i have.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

publix preview

courtesy of this thread on hotcouponworld, i've got a little preview of what's at publix starting tomorrow. it's not so bad, although i've seen better weeks. i've already used up some of the coupons needed for the other deals, so here's a few of the highlights that i will likely get. oh. and BOGO means buy one get one free, ea. means each, 1/1 means 1 dollar off of one etc.

Crisco 100% Extra Virgin Olive Oil BOGO (save up to $6.49) - $1/1 in RP (red plum) 02/08/09 - $2.25 ea.

Rubbermaid Produce Saver Food Container [5-cup pkg.] BOGO (save up to $4.49) - $1/1 in SS (smart source) 01/04/09 - $1.25 ea.

Glass Plus Glass & Multi-Surface Cleaner [32-oz bot.] BOGO (save up to $2.49) - $.50/1 in SS 02/08/09 - $.25 each. (publix doubles up to .50 coupons)

Smart Balance Oil [Natural Blend of Canola, Soy & Olive Oils, 24-oz bot.] 2/$5 - $1/1 - in RP 02/01/09 - $1.50 each

Kroger Run

we had to do a last minute diaper run tonight, and i swung by our kroger. i had a dollar off coupon, as well as a 1.25 off e-saver coupon loaded to my plus card. pampers were on sale this week for 9.99 a jumbo pack, but after coupons it was 7.75. not as good as some of the deals i've seen floating around, but 2.25 off of something we have to buy all the time was a great deal in my mind.

while we were there, i checked out the clearance bins (which i've seen at several krogers lately.) and found a few hidden gems.

de cecco pasta, normally 3.99 a pound, on sale for .99 each.
vicks early defense hand sanitizer .99 each, free after 1.00 off any vicks products
walkers shortbread 1/2 price (not as good a price as i like, but walkers is so good i couldn't pass it up.)

a couple of weeks ago, there was a great set of books on clearance, and i found a really good cookbook by john pawson and annie bell for 3 bucks. there were some various knitting books, but none of them really caught my eye like this book did. anywho, inside there were some really great, simple recipes that don't require hours in the kitchen, or elaborate setups. just good quality food, that when purchased on sale, ends up being pretty cheap. more on all that later.

Monday, February 16, 2009

well, i finally did it. after 2 years of blogging, i'm jumping into the worlds of savings and foodie blogs. although i'm no culinary genius, and i'm no dave ramsey, there are two things that i adore in this world... one is saving money, and the other is cooking. and not just cooking, but cooking good food. and challenging recipes.

i rarely make any recipe twice, although i have been known to do it on occasion. i hate to pay full price for anything.... you can ask my friends and family, i have a stockpile of things i got for free, and i will more than likely give you anything in my stockpile. because what's the fun of getting things for free if you can't use them all.

i'm inspired by the shoppers who can save 70-80% regularly on groceries. CVS is my wonder drug. clearance aisles get my heart racing. and strange exotic ingredients that i can't source locally? well, they're on a permanent wish list in my head.

i'm trying to honor the Lord with my finances, and still have fun doing it.

welcome to cooking in other people's kitchens. my name is catherine, and i'll be your chef, your guide, and most of all, your companion in the journey of saving money, and making it work.