Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Whole Wheat Bread

Last year I took the plunge into making my own Pizza Dough and Hamburger Buns. And, I think I've gotten pretty good at making them. I almost prefer homemade pizza to restaurant pizza (except for Joseph's, of course!). But, a good sandwich bread has been rather elusive. I made one loaf, but it was far too dense to enjoy (read: barely edible).

I was putting away my groceries - which included a package of King Arthur Whole Wheat flour. For whatever reason, I read the blurb on the the back of the package and found a recipe for No-Knead Whole Wheat Bread. These people must know a thing or two about making a good loaf of bread, right?

I gave it a try - with the molasses. I didn't know what the heck this "Baker's Special Dry Milk" was. So, I left it out. And, I only used 1.5c whole wheat flour - with the balance being all-purpose. The bread turned out very nicely! It was quite tasty and good for schmearing some cream cheese on or making a sandwich with. The orange juice in the recipe threw me for a little loop, but you can only taste it if you know what to taste for. The bread was a little too dense for my family. I did some research on King Arthur's site and I think that "Special Dry Milk" will act like the box o' gluten I use for the hamburger buns.

No-Knead Wheat Bread
from King Arthur Flour's package of Whole Wheat flour....and website

1 cup lukewarm water
1/4 cup orange juice
1/4 cup melted butter or vegetable oil
3 tablespoons molasses, maple syrup, dark corn syrup, or brown sugar corn syrup
2 teaspoons instant yeast
1/4 cup Baker's Special Dry Milk or nonfat dry milk
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
3 cups King Arthur whole wheat flour, white whole wheat preferred

1) Heavily grease an 8 1/2" x 4 1/2" loaf pan. This loaf tends to stick, so be sure to grease the pan thoroughly with non-stick vegetable oil spray.

2) Combine all of the ingredients in a large bowl. Beat the mixture vigorously for about 3 minutes; an electric mixer set on high speed works well here. You should have a very sticky dough. It won't be pourable, but neither will it be kneadable. Scoop it into the prepared pan.

3) Cover the pan with lightly greased plastic wrap, and let it rise for 60 to 90 minutes; it should just about rise to the rim of the pan, perhaps just barely cresting over the rim. While the dough is rising, preheat the oven to 350°F.

4) Uncover the bread, and bake it for about 40 to 45 minutes, tenting it with aluminum foil after 20 minutes. The bread is done when it's golden brown on top, and an instant-read thermometer inserted into the center registers between 190°F and 195°F. Remove it from the oven, and after 5 minutes turn it out onto a rack. Brush with melted butter, if desired; this will keep the crust soft. Cool the bread completely before cutting it.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Week 66 Menu

Sunday: Fish and chips (so very "Easter," I know!)
Monday: Spinach and Chicken Enchiladas from the freezer
Tuesday: Red Beans and Rice (Savour Fare) in the slow cooker
Wednesday: Dinner at church
Thursday: Chicken Tikka Masala (Jamie Oliver)...never got to this one last week
Friday: Leftovers
Saturday: Out.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

A Mother's Prayer

Last week Tina Fey was interviewed on Fresh Air (with Terry Gross). She is just hysterical! She has the perfect combination of nerdiness, snarkiness, and just a tad too much academic reference in her humor. And, might I say, her Sarah Palin impersonation cannot be rivaled.
Terry had Tina read a poem from her new book "Bossypants" that almost made me drive off the road. It is simply genius. Enjoy.

A Mother's Prayer for Its Child
by Tina Fey from Bossypants
First, Lord: No tattoos. May neither Chinese symbol for truth nor Winnie-the-Pooh holding the FSU logo stain her tender haunches.

May she be Beautiful but not Damaged, for it’s the Damage that draws the creepy soccer coach’s eye, not the Beauty.

When the Crystal Meth is offered, may she remember the parents who cut her grapes in half And stick with Beer.

Guide her, protect her when crossing the street, stepping onto boats, swimming in the ocean, swimming in pools, walking near pools, standing on the subway platform, crossing 86th Street, stepping off of boats, using mall restrooms, getting on and off escalators, driving on country roads while arguing, leaning on large windows, walking in parking lots, riding Ferris wheels, roller-coasters, log flumes, or anything called “Hell Drop,” “Tower of Torture,” or “The Death Spiral Rock ‘N Zero G Roll featuring Aerosmith,” and standing on any kind of balcony ever, anywhere, at any age.

Lead her away from Acting but not all the way to Finance. Something where she can make her own hours but still feel intellectually fulfilled and get outside sometimes And not have to wear high heels. What would that be, Lord? Architecture? Midwifery? Golf course design? I’m asking You, because if I knew, I’d be doing it, Youdammit.

May she play the Drums to the fiery rhythm of her Own Heart with the sinewy strength of her Own Arms, so she need Not Lie With Drummers.

Grant her a Rough Patch from twelve to seventeen.Let her draw horses and be interested in Barbies for much too long, For childhood is short – a Tiger Flower blooming Magenta for one day – And adulthood is long and dry-humping in cars will wait.

O Lord, break the Internet forever, that she may be spared the misspelled invective of her peers And the online marketing campaign for Rape Hostel V: Girls Just Wanna Get Stabbed.

And when she one day turns on me and calls me a Bitch in front of Hollister, Give me the strength, Lord, to yank her directly into a cab in front of her friends, For I will not have that Shit. I will not have it.

And should she choose to be a Mother one day, be my eyes, Lord, that I may see her, lying on a blanket on the floor at 4:50 A.M., all-at-once exhausted, bored, and in love with the little creature whose poop is leaking up its back. “My mother did this for me once,” she will realize as she cleans feces off her baby’s neck. “My mother did this for me.” And the delayed gratitude will wash over her as it does each generation and she will make a Mental Note to call me. And she will forget. But I’ll know, because I peeped it with Your God eyes.


Thursday, April 21, 2011

A Letter to Drivers

Dear Drivers of Florida (especially little, old ladies in late model, silver Toyota Corollas merging onto I-295 during rush hour with the right blinker still on),

Please do NOT come to a complete stop at the end of the ramp waiting for a space to open up. You're going to get us all KILLED!!! You and your little car are going to get squashed like a bug! The on-ramp and subsequent merge lane is designed specifically for you to come to speed and merge into the traffic already on the highway.

Let me know if any of this doesn't make sense to you, and I can choose an alternate commute route ASAP.

Channeling the road rage,

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Week 65 Menu

Sunday: Whatever meat and veggies look good at the grocery store today :)
Monday: Chicken Tikka Masala (Jamie Oliver)......from a suggestion last week. Thanks!!
Tuesday: Italian Beef (PW)
Wednesday: Chik-Fil-A with church group
Thursday: Pizza at Joseph's for Art Walk at the beach
Friday - Saturday: Still up in the air

Friday, April 15, 2011

Old Soul

Shelby and I sat down to watch some pre-bedtime Mickey. Before I could hit the "On Demand" button, Shelby pointed to the show that was on and said, "No. Watch this!"

It was Wheel of Fortune.

The show had as much appeal as a Dora and Mickey episode combined. I have heard of friends who learned their alphabets from the show. Maybe we're on to something!

How is it that Vanna looks the same as when she actually had to turn the letters? And Pat Sajak looks so old now....but has managed to keep the poufy hair?

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Raising a Southern Belle

Shelby was "scolding" us tonight and said, "No ma'am!"* It was classic.

Scott and I were born and raised in Cleveland, OH and Rockford, IL, respectively. First generation immigrants to Florida, if you will. Our daughter, however, was born here in Jacksonville, FL. She is a native Southerner and Floridian. Are we Floridians by proxy?...some provision of the 14th amendment? Oh my. Is Shelby our "anchor baby" to get us accepted into our adopted culture?

My grandma was the child of first generation immigrants from Sicily. She used to tell us how she was the translator between her family and the non-Sicilian community. Her mother wanted to buy a colander and could only explain it as "pasta stay, water go." Pretty clever, but you can see her need for a translator. From all accounts, my great-grandma lived in this country for 60 years and still needed a translator most of the time!

Every time I strain my pasta, I remember her story and smile!

*For the Yankees in the readership, that translates to "I don't think so! Please stop that behavior at once!"

Monday, April 11, 2011

Beet Tian

I finally went back to the Farmer's Market in Neptune Beach. I visited several years ago, but was pretty disappointed. There was a surprising lack of food and an over abundance of crafts...at a Farmer's Market!

I went back last weekend and was happy to see more local food than driftwood sculptures! I chose some fantastic strawberries, spinach and beets. The beets are a departure from my usual fare....in fact, I'm not sure I've ever had a beet. But, I remembered a recent episode of The Splendid Table where Margaret Rose Schulman shared some summer, vegetable gratin recipes.

I made her Beet Tian (sounds fancy, huh?). It was attractive because it can be served hot, room temperature or cold. Both Scott and I thought it was pretty tasty! Even though it's a solely-vegetable dish (besides the bacon I added....), it's very  filling and satisfying. I added the red pepper and it gave the dish a nice sweetness. Next time, I will increase the rice (accounted for below).

Beet Tian
from Margaret Rose Schulman on The Splendid Table

3 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
2 large garlic cloves, to taste, minced
4 beets, cut in 1/4- to 1/2-inch dice
1 red bell pepper, diced
Salt and freshly ground pepper
2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves, or 1 teaspoon crumbled dried thyme
1 cup Arborio rice, cooked
6 slices of bacon
2 eggs
3 ounces Parmesan cheese, grated (3/4 cup)
1/4 cup breadcrumbs (fresh or dry)


1. Preheat the oven to 375ºF. Oil a 2-quart gratin dish.

2. Chop up bacon. Cook in a large, heavy nonstick skillet. Set bacon to the side, but keep fat in skillet.

3. Add the onion & red pepper. Cook, stirring often, until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic, stir together for about 30 seconds, until it begins to smell fragrant, and stir in the beets. Cook, stirring often, until the beets are translucent but not mushy, 5 to 10 minutes. Season generously with salt and pepper. Stir in the thyme and rice, and remove from the heat.

4. Beat the eggs in a large bowl. Beat in 1/2 teaspoon salt and the cheese. Stir in the beet mixture and combine well. Scrape into the gratin dish. Sprinkle the breadcrumbs over the top. Drizzle on the remaining tablespoon of olive oil. Bake 40 to 45 minutes, or until the top is browned and the gratin is sizzling. Remove from the heat and allow to sit for at least 10 minutes before serving. Serve hot, warm or at room temperature.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

New Fave: The Splendid Table

My brother-in-law turned me on to a cooking podcast: The Splendid Table (the show for people who love to eat!).

Do you remember Delicious Dish from Saturday Night Live in the '90s (good times)? Teri & Margaret-Jo are the hyperbole of NPR hosts. The Splendid Table's host Lynne reminds me of them....but in a good way! She cracks herself up with food witticisms and humor....I love it!

She has an incredible breadth and depth of any cuisine that comes her way. So much so that she can troubleshoot a caller's lumpy claflouti batter or how best to showcase a smoked duck.

Sadistically, I love to listen to this podcast while I run. I have an hour to think about new ideas and it really gets my brain going. I've been playing catch up with the podcasts and am up to August 2010. Another 5 months worth to go. Yay!

Week 64 Menu

Sunday: Fresh Beet Tian, homemade cornbread
Monday: Burgers on the grill and homemade buns
Tuesday: Chicken Pot Pie from freezer
Wednesday: Dinner at church
Thursday: Stovetop Chili
Friday: Leftovers
Saturday: Date night!!.....Grandma and Grandpa having a party with Shelby!

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Pumpkin Pancakes Redux

Pumpkin pancakes. They are a staple in our menu rotation. And, they are one of my favorite go-to meals. These pancakes are actually requested by my family! And, this recipe fits in perfectly with my quest to hide vegetables.

For some reason, I have issues finding the canned pumpkin in Publix during the off-season. I gave up on it this spring as one of those foods only found during the holidays (like the elusive cranberry.....I miss them)*. So, I froze some pureed butternut squash in 1-cup patties. *

These pancakes are just awesome!! I upped the pureed vegetable to 1 cup. You can add any spices you would find in pumpkin pie or gingerbread. In my book: the more spices, the better! You will never be able to eat regular pancakes. They'll seem so plain in comparison.

This pancake was my first attempt at the ever popular Mickey Pancake!

Pumpkin Pancakes
from Jane Maynard at This Week for Dinner

- 3c buttermilk pancake mix
- 2c cold water
- 2/3c canned pumpkin
- 2 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1 tsp ground ginger
- 1 tsp ground nutmeg
- 1/2 tsp ground cardamom

In a medium/large bowl, whisk all the ingredients until just blended. Spray heavy griddle or skillet with nonstick spray and heat griddle over medium heat. Spoon 1/3c measure of batter unto griddle to form each pancake. Cook until edges are drying and bubbles start to pop, turn and cook a few minutes longer.

* Never fear. I have since found the canned pumpkin year-round in the canned fruit aisle!

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Week 63 Menu

Sunday: Braised Short Ribs (PW) and veggie couscous


Tuesday: Chicken & Spinach Enchiladas from the freezer (didn't get to them last week)

Wednesday: Dinner at church

Thursday: Grill night - chicken and veggies

Friday: Chicken Pot Pie from freezer

Saturday: Date night!! Out to Bistro Aix!