Wednesday, September 29, 2010

French Bread: BBA Challenge #14

This is it! I'm finally caught up with my BBA posts. I know that Jimmy and Neil will be pleased because they have both been tortured by these posts this week.

I have made the french bread recipe in the Kitchen Aid cookbook that came with my mixer several times and although it is good, this bread was AMAZING. It had that true "french bread" taste and the texture was perfect.

The technique was easy, the biggest challenge for me was shaping the loaves and preserving the air trapped inside. As I mentioned in my previous post I am getting better and handling the dough which is evidenced here with the lovely texture. Yum!

Focaccia: BBA Challenge #13

Focaccia: BBA Challenge #13, originally uploaded by JewellsinSEA.

Reinhart states in the introduction to this recipe that he is surprised that Focaccia is as popular in the U.S. as it is because most of it is horrible. I didn't know what he meant until I finished this bread and tasted it. Wow!

Putting it together was actually quite easy and I'm please to say that I'm getting better and better at handling dough to ensure that the right texture is achieved in the end.

The end result was beautiful, the texture was perfect and the flavor was amazing (likely thanks to the absurd about of herb infused olive oil that I coated on top). I can't wait to make this one again! I think it will be perfect with a bowl of homemade minestrone this winter.

English Muffins: BBA Challenge #12

I'm all caught up with the backlog of posts from bread baked months ago and now am ready to talk about my projects from last weekend. There were 3 in all, which many find a bit crazy but when I jump back in I jump in with both feet.

I felt a bit about English Muffins as I did about bagels, is that really something that should be made at home? The process was pretty straight forward but the cooking process was a bit intimidating as you cook them in a skillet prior to putting them in the oven. Reinhart is very cautious about not not flipping them too soon so mine were a bit darker than I planned. I stood over the pan and watched them the whole time but how exactly can you tell how dark they are until you flip them over or lift them up and take a peek?

The flavor and texture were perfect and I was very please with the end result.

And because it is a sin to have homemade English Muffins in the house and not make Eggs Benedict that is exactly what I did!

Quizzical Wednesday: Bucket List

You Should Write a Book

You may not feel like you could write a book, but you actually have a lot to say. Just let it flow!
You already live in your own little world. You may as well introduce everyone else to it.

It's likely that you feel like you have a lot of baggage you'd like to unload, and writing can be cathartic.
By writing a book, you would feel a huge sense of accomplishment. And you'd have a legacy to leave behind.

Take the quiz: What Should Be On Your Bucket List?

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Cranberry-Walnut Celebration Bread: BBA Challenge #11

After finishing this bread I realized that braiding bread no longer intimidates me, in fact I love it. The double braid method used here was fun. I was really exited to pull the final product out of the oven only to find that my top bread had slipped a bit to one side and the final product was a bit crooked.

It tasted amazing and one of my colleagues proclaimed that it was his favorite by far. This is one that I could see myself making during the holidays or giving as gifts at Christmastime. It is so festive and the final product is really beautiful.

Corn Bread: BBA Challenge #10

Still catching up on posts for bread that I baked months and months ago.

I had never made corn bread and was excited to try this. When I read the recipe and realized that it was corn bread topped with bacon I was hooked, after all everything is better with bacon.

It took a bit longer to cook than predicted which I think was a result of the corn kernels being cold. Next time I will warm them before adding them.

I can't wait to make this again on a cold and rainy winter weekend.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Cinnamon Raisin Walnut Bread: BBA Challenge #9

My mother used to order Raisin Bread from Winder Dairy when I was a little kid and I loved toasted with a little bit of butter. Ahh, memories. I've purchased raisin bread a couple times over the years and it just isn't the same.

This was a fun bread to make and the results were a big hit at the office. It is much denser than the raisin bread of my youth but had more flavor. This was a huge hit at the office back in January and only lasted a few hours.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Cinnamon Buns: BBA Challenge #8

I was really looking forward to making the Cinnamon Roll recipe in Reinhart's book. I have played around with some other Cinnamon Roll recipes but hadn't found a favorite until I made this one. I used orange extract instead of lemon which added an extra dimension of flavor that was perfect. The buns turned out light and airy, absolutely perfect.

This recipe is sure to become a tradition for years to come!

Ciabatta: BBA Challenge #7

Ciabatta: BBA Challenge #7, originally uploaded by JewellsinSEA.

I got really busy with the BBA Challenge again this weekend, but as I went to post the latest breads, I realized that I am several posts behind for breads that I've already baked. I'll be catching those up over the next few days and will also create posts for the breads I made over the weekend..

I mad the Poolish version of Ciabatta and enjoyed making it. When I sliced into the loaves I was disappointed that I didn't have the large holes and texture that is so classic of good Ciabatta. The crust was nice and crispy and prepping the oven for heart baking was fun. I enjoyed the taste and want to make the Wild Mushroom version of the recipe sometime soon.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Bright and shiny stovetop

Replaced the drip pans and 2 burners in the stove tonight.  No more crooked pots!  Yay!  

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Quote of the day

"You have to have confidence in your ability, and then be tough enough to follow through." 
-Rosalyn Carter

Quizzical Wednesday: Fall Fruits and Veggies

You Are Pomegranates

You are exotic, well traveled, and well learned. You are also something of a foodie.

You know how to whip up an amazing meal, and you never shy away from incorporating some seasonal ingredients.

You believe in eating healthy foods, but you don't go too overboard with it. You know that you have a leg up by doing a lot of your own cooking.

So there is room in your diet for plenty of fall indulgences... you just balance them out with fresh fruits and vegetables.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Plastic wrapped office

I just finished covering everything in my office with plastic wrap so they can repair the holes in the walls over the weekend without making a mess.  Fingers crossed.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Quizzical Wednesday - Fall Leaves

You Are Assertive and Adventurous

You approach life boldly. You believe the world is your oyster, and you're very self-assured.

You are apt to take risks, but you don't see them as risks... because they usually pay off.

You are a helpful and heroic person. You like to take charge of situations and make them better.

People should avoid getting in a contest of wills with you. You'll always win - and it's not pretty.

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Quizzical Wednesday: Indoor or Outdoor Person

You Are an Outdoor Person

You love spending time outside, and it's likely you've crafted your lifestyle to maximum outdoor activities.
You probably live in an excellent climate (or intend to). And you are also probably physically fit.

Of all the types, you are the most likely to be the happiest. Being outdoors really raises people's spirits.
So go ahead and spend as much time outside as you'd like. Just remember to protect yourself from the sun!

Take the quiz: Are you an Indoor or Outdoor Person?

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

No Left Turns

My absolutely delightful, lovely and wonderful mother sends me an approximately 3 email forwards per day. I read them all. I very, very, very rarely forward something along unless I know a specific person/audience would find it especially compelling.  I NEVER forward chain type email even if it means that I will have bad luck for the rest of my life, lose my hair and have no friends. I no longer find is annoying to receive the emails because I know that my mother is at work and thinking of me enough to add me to the list and that makes me happy.

With that being said you have to know that the following is really special if I'm sharing it on my blog.  I loved the story below.  It was sweet and I loved the sentiment, but I really loved the rule about "no left turns" as that has been one of my Mother's rules for over 20 years.

In 1988 or 1989, neither of us can remember exactly, Mom was on her way home from work in downtown Salt Lake City to our home in Holladay.  She took the same route that she had taken for years but unbeknowns to her a change had been made to the timing of one of the stoplights on her way.  She made her left turn at the time when she thought the light had changed and was hit by oncoming traffic.  Thankfully the only things injured were her pride and the car.

A few months I was in the passengers seat of her car while running errands and she made a right turn from a business that we visited frequently.  She had always turned left when leaving before, our home was left, I was confused so I asked her what she was doing.  She calmly declared that she had given up left turns.  To this day she will play her errands so that she can avoid making left turns and not end up too far out the way.  

Now onto the story....

This is a wonderful piece by Michael Gartner, editor of newspapers large and small and former president of NBC News. In 1997, he won the Pulitzer Prize for editorial writing. It is well worth reading, and a few good chuckles are guaranteed.

My father never drove a car. Well, that's not quite right. I should say I never saw him drive a car.

He quit driving in 1927, when he was 25 years old, and the last car he drove was a 1926 Whippet.

"In those days," he told me when he was in his 90s, "to drive a car you had to do things with your hands, and do things with your feet, and look every which way, and I decided you could walk through life and enjoy it or drive through life and miss it."

At which point my mother, a sometimes salty Irishwoman, chimed in: "Oh, bull----! she said. "He hit a horse."

"Well," my father said, "there was that, too."

So my brother and I grew up in a household without a car. The neighbors all had cars -- the Kollingses next door had a green 1941Dodge, the VanLaninghams across the street a gray 1936 Plymouth, the Hopsons two doors down a black 1941 Ford -- but we had none.

My father, a newspaperman in Des Moines, would take the streetcar to work and, often as not, walk the 3 miles home. If he took the streetcar home, my mother and brother and I would walk the three blocks to the streetcar stop, meet him and walk home together.

My brother, David, was born in 1935, and I was born in 1938, and sometimes, at dinner, we'd ask how come all the neighbors had cars but we had none. "No one in the family drives," my mother would explain, and that was that.

But, sometimes, my father would say, "But as soon as one of you boys turns 16, we'll get one." It was as if he wasn't sure which one of us would turn 16 first.

But, sure enough, my brother turned 16 before I did, so in 1951 my parents bought a used 1950 Chevrolet from a friend who ran the parts department at a Chevy dealership downtown.

It was a four-door, white model, stick shift, fender skirts, loaded with everything, and, since my parents didn't drive, it more or less became my brother's car. Having a car but not being able to drive didn't bother my father, but it didn't make sense to my mother.

So in 1952, when she was 43 years old, she asked a friend to teach her to drive. She learned in a nearby cemetery, the place where I learned to drive the following year and where, a generation later, I took my two sons to practice driving. The cemetery probably was my father's idea. "Who can your mother hurt in the cemetery?" I remember him saying more than once.

For the next 45 years or so, until she was 90, my mother was the driver in the family. Neither she nor my father had any sense of direction, but he loaded up on maps -- though they seldom left the city limits -- and appointed himself navigator. It seemed to work.

Still, they both continued to walk a lot. My mother was a devout Catholic, and my father an equally devout agnostic, an arrangement that didn't seem to bother either of them through their 75 years of marriage.

(Yes, 75 years, and they were deeply in love the entire time.)

He retired when he was 70, and nearly every morning for the next 20 years or so, he would walk with her the mile to St. Augustin's Church. She would walk down and sit in the front pew, and he would wait in the back until he saw which of the parish's two priests was on duty that morning. If it was the pastor, my father then would go out and take a 2-mile walk, meeting my mother at the end of the service and walking her home.

If it was the assistant pastor, he'd take just a 1-mile walk and then head back to the church. He called the priests "Father Fast" and "Father Slow."

After he retired, my father almost always accompanied my mother whenever she drove anywhere, even if he had no reason to go along. If she were going to the beauty parlor, he'd sit in the car and read, or go take a stroll or, if it was summer, have her keep the engine running so he could listen to the Cubs game on the radio. In the evening, then, when I'd stop by, he'd explain: "The Cubs lost again. The millionaire on second base made a bad throw to the millionaire on first base, so the multimillionaire on third base scored."

If she were going to the grocery store, he would go along to carry the bags out -- and to make sure she loaded up on ice cream. As I said, he was always the navigator, and once, when he was 95 and she was 88 and still driving, he said to me, "Do you want to know the secret of a long life?"

"I guess so," I said, knowing it probably would be something bizarre.

"No left turns," he said.

"What?" I asked.

"No left turns," he repeated. "Several years ago, your mother and I read an article that said most accidents that old people are in happen when they turn left in front of oncoming traffic.

As you get older, your eyesight worsens, and you can lose your depth perception, it said. So your mother and I decided never again to make a left turn."

"What?" I said again.

"No left turns," he said. "Think about it. Three rights are the same as a left, and that's a lot safer. So we always make three rights."

"You're kidding!" I said, and I turned to my mother for support. "No," she said, "your father is right. We make three rights. It works." But then she added: "Except when your father loses count."

I was driving at the time, and I almost drove off the road as I started laughing.

"Loses count?" I asked.

"Yes," my father admitted, "that sometimes happens. But it's not a problem. You just make seven rights, and you're okay again."

I couldn't resist. "Do you ever go for 11?" I asked.

"No," he said " If we miss it at seven, we just come home and call it a bad day. Besides, nothing in life is so important it can't be put off another day or another week."  My mother was never in an accident, but one evening she handed me her car keys and said she had decided to quit driving. That was in 1999, when she was 90.

She lived four more years, until 2003. My father died the next year, at 102.

They both died in the bungalow they had moved into in 1937 and bought a few years later for $3,000. (Sixty years later, my brother and I paid $8,000 to have a shower put in the tiny bathroom -- the house had never had one. My father would have died then and there if he knew the shower cost nearly three times what he paid for the house.)

He continued to walk daily -- he had me get him a treadmill when he was 101 because he was afraid he'd fall on the icy sidewalks but wanted to keep exercising -- and he was of sound mind and sound body until the moment he died.

One September afternoon in 2004, he and my son went with me when I had to give a talk in a neighboring town, and it was clear to all three of us that he was wearing out, though we had the usual wide-ranging conversation about politics and newspapers and things in the news.

A few weeks earlier, he had told my son, "You know, Mike, the first hundred years are a lot easier than the second hundred." At one point in our drive that Saturday, he said, "You know, I'm probably not going to live much longer."

"You're probably right," I said.

"Why would you say that?" He countered, somewhat irritated.

"Because you're 102 years old," I said..

"Yes," he said, "you're right." He stayed in bed all the next day.

That night, I suggested to my son and daughter that we sit up with him through the night.

He appreciated it, he said, though at one point, apparently seeing us look gloomy, he said: "I would like to make an announcement. No one in this room is dead yet"

An hour or so later, he spoke his last words: "I want you to know," he said, clearly and lucidly, "that I am in no pain. I am very comfortable. And I have had as happy a life as anyone on this earth could ever have."

A short time later, he died.

I miss him a lot, and I think about him a lot. I've wondered now and then how it was that my family and I were so lucky that he lived so long.

I can't figure out if it was because he walked through life, or because he quit taking left turns."

Life is too short to wake up with regrets.

So love the people who treat you right. Forget about the one's who don't. Believe everything happens for a reason. If you get a chance, take it and if it changes your life, let it. Nobody said life would be easy, they just promised it would most likely be worth it."

Saturday, September 04, 2010

Shiny John

This piece titled, St John the Baptist, bugs me everytime I visit SAM.  I finger pointing up, the penguin, the shiny finish, it's all too much for me.

Thursday, September 02, 2010

Orange Skies

Caught the beautiful sunset from the viaduct on the way home tonight.  It was breathtaking!

James Believes