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Archive for April, 2011

That’s right, I did it again! I am still clinging on to the Bread Baker’s Apprentice Challenge despite laziness, being busy with other things, and a host of other impediments. HOWEVER, I have just baked two loaves of Tuscan Bread and am now proud to annouce that I am 30 breads in and have only (only?) 13 left to go. Six non-sourdough recipes, including:

  • Vienna Bread
  • White Bread
  • Whole-Wheat Bread
  • Potato, Cheddar, and Chive Torpedoes
  • Roasted Onion and Asiago Miche
  • Panettone (definitely regretting skipping that one now!)

And then, of course, there are the sourdough varieties that I still have to work on:

  • Basic Sourdough Bread
  • New York Deli Rye
  • 100% Sourdough Rye Bread
  • Poilane-Style Miche
  • Pumpernickel Bread
  • Sunflower Seed Rye
  • Swedish Rye (Limpa)

Anyway, back to the task at hand. I was feeling ambivalent about the Tuscan recipe from the start. Reinhart admitted in the book that this bread would be very bland because it contains no salt—so, I knew that the bread wasn’t going to be too sensational. The book advised that the bread be served with a flavorful spread, so that’s what we ended up doing. On the other hand, however, this bread was very easy to make—particularly the starter. The night before, I simply had to mix some bread flour and boiling water together and let the concoction sit out overnight.

The next morning, I started to make the dough by adding more flour and water to the starter. This dough was kind of tough to knead since it didn’t contain much to soften it up (maybe 1 tbs of olive oil?). But, after about 10 minutes it passed the “windowpane test” (which means you can stretch a piece of dough out enough for it to be nearly see-through) and was ready to be formed into loaves.

After letting the dough rise for about 2 hours, I divided it and formed two boules, which then rose again for another 90 minutes. After spritzing them with water and scoring them, they went into the oven for about 30 minutes. They came out alright, but I made the same mistake I always make and took them out a little too early. The dough was a tad gummy around the crust when all was said and done, but other than that it was pretty good. I'm always afraid that if I leave the bread in the oven for too long, it will burn or get too dried out. But mark my words—the next time I make a loaf, I’m leaving it in until it is dark, dark brown.

We ate the bread with some tapenade that I had made earlier, and it was actually pretty tasty. Reinhart wasn’t kidding about how bland it would be, though. This bread definitely needs to be dressed up before eating. I don’t know why I didn’t photograph the bread with the tapenade on it.

So, what I neglected to mention earlier in this post is that I'm currently in the process of cultivating a FUNCTIONING seed culture for my sourdough bread!! I am currently on Day 4 of the schedule and it is bubbling away nicely. Very soon, I will be able to use the seed culture to make a "barm," or sourdough starter. Then, hopefully I will be well on my way to banging out all of those sourdough recipes in a timely fashion!

Only time will tell.

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Tostitos, Doritos, Sun Chips—they all pale in comparison to the new chips I have discovered from Food Should Taste Good. Yes, that’s the brand name, and they certainly back up their statement with these chips.

I came across a bag of the Olive variety in Stop & Shop a couple of weeks ago and bought it because it happened to be on sale. They were so delicious that I reached out to FSTG and told them I wanted to write a blog singing their praises. They were good enough to ship me a box filled with FIVE bags to sample!! This was easily one of the top ten best things that has ever happened to me in life. The shipment contained the following flavors: Multigrain, The Works, White Cheddar, Sweet Potato, and Chocolate.


Last night, Michael and I decided to sample 3 of the 5 flavors, and chose the ones that we thought would be the least self-explanatory. Obviously, we tried Chocolate first.

On the first bite, we didn’t really know what to make of it. The chips are flavored with chocolate, cocoa, vanilla, and sea salt. So, there was definitely a sweet/savory thing going on. Once our palates got used to the taste, we proceeded to eat the entire bag. They gradually started to taste more and more like a chocolate Entenmann’s donut with a dash of salt on it. Amazing. It’s the perfect snack if you’re not sure if you’re in the mood for salty or sweet.

Next, we tried The Works. In keeping with the food comparison, these chips tasted like an everything bagel. They are flavored with poppy and caraway seeds, garlic, and onion. The caraway seeds add a great flavor that you don’t get in most other chips.

We also tried the Sweet Potato flavor, which were tasty as well. I thought they were going to be heavier on the sweet potato aspect, but the flavor was actually pretty subdued.

If you see these chips in the supermarket, do yourself a favor and try them. I have typically seen them shelved with other organic snacks. And, if you go to their home page, you will see a link to get a $1 off coupon if you join their fan club. Who doesn’t love coupons?

Enjoy.

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Awesome park job.

I believe this type of park job is one of the “I don’t give a fuck” variety, second in prevalence only to the “ineptitude” category.

The best part is that I didn’t just happen upon this car–I actually wached the guy park it. He pulled into the lot, pulled into the middle of two spots, got out, looked at his car for a second, and then walked across the street to the Delicious Fresh Pierogies store. Even though this guy was an idiot, I still have a little bit of respect for his blatant disregard of societal norms. He is a reminder that, every once in a while, it is good to break out of the mold that has been created for us. But, I still don’t think parking lots are the ideal places to flaunt this particular world view.

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Space Fact!

Yuri Gagarin was a Soviet pilot and cosmonaut. He was the first human being to journey into outer space, when his Vostok spacecraft completed an orbit of the Earth on April 12, 1961.

Although I like this image, it should be noted that, according to Wikipedia: “After the flight, some sources claimed that Gagarin, during his space flight, had made the comment, ‘I don’t see any God up here.’ However, no such words appear in the verbatim record of Gagarin’s conversations with Earth-based stations during the spaceflight.”

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I guess this gentelman decided to celebrate Earth Day a little bit early this year when he tossed a packet of sauce (probably of the McDonald’s variety) out of his car window on Rt. 1 last week.

I cant’ figure out why he would do something that stupid, so maybe there was a passenger in the car who threw it at his head and missed. But, my gut says that this guy was just a litterbug.

On that note, here are some fun facts about trash from this web site, which I believe gets its information from the National Recycling Coalition.

Every year, Americans use approximately 1 billion shopping bags, creating 300,000 tons of landfill waste. Stop double-bagging, grocery stores!!

Every year, each American throws out about 1,200 pounds of organic garbage that can be composted. Start a compost pile. I did!

Recycling plastic saves twice as much energy as burning it in an incinerator. Recycle those double bags! Lots of grocery stores have recycling bins specifically for plastic bags.

Also, if you live near a Whole Foods, you can recycle your #5 containers there!

Happy early Earth Day.

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I’ve been weeding the picture books at my branch and came across this gem the other day. I forget what it was called, but it doesn’t matter because it’s so terrible. This is the first picture in the book.

Pretty shocking if you’re not prepared for it, which I was not. The worst part is that it’s in Children’s Catalog (a big collection of books that libraries are supposed to have in their core collections), so I can’t get rid of it!

In other news, I stumbled on this book at the library as well, which I was very excited about:

I christened the new house with some baked goods over the weekend – 1 Boston Cream Pie and a batch of Johnnycakes (pancakes made with corn meal). This picture is from Google, but mine basically looked just like it, except I had the ganache on the sides as well. Havne’t unpacked the camera yet. The cake was okay but could have been better (whenever I make cake from scratch, there’s always an issue. This time, the cake came out too dense.) Same for the Johnnycakes. They tasted okay but the recipe made about a million of them, so while I was making them, I let the finished ones sit in the oven. When we finally ate them, they were a little rubbery. Sort of disappointing.

Although I don’t always have the best sticktoitiveness, I will never give up on baking, no matter how mediocre my creations end up!

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