Showing posts with label BBAC. Show all posts
Showing posts with label BBAC. Show all posts

Monday, July 18, 2011

Pizza Foccacia

Among all of the big changes that have been happening in the Wilde household, the change in living situations is probably one of the biggest.  For the past eight years, boyfriend and I have been a long distance couple.  It did help that we've known each other for the past fifteen years and also that we were both so very busy while we were apart.  Boyfriend was busy building his career and getting a great job, while I spent my time holed up in labs finishing my education.

Now that we are living in one household it's totally different.  Good different!  Not only are the living expenses cut in half (a great bonus), but sometimes I arrive home to discover the laundry I put in the dryer that morning has folded itself up and put itself away!  The dishwasher empties itself and even dinner arrives without me having to lift a finger!

Now, I realize that boyfriend might have a bit to do with the amazing feats of housework and food prep (ordering) because these things never happened when I was living alone!  Food covered dishes would just sit in the sink until I faced the music and put them in the dishwasher.  Laundry would remain in the dryer until I tried to run another load, so that's where those pants were all week...  Dinner would often be a bowl of lettuce that I would call a salad. 

Living with boyfriend definitely has is benefits, most of all being, I get to see him every day.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Light Wheat Bread

I know, it's Monday, beginning of the work week.  It is also the end of my first weekend as a non-student!  And let me tell you, I enjoyed every non-lab filled minute of it.  I slept in, I baked, I made dinner.  It was fabulous.  Let us compare a student weekend to my first non-student weekend.

Student weekend - Wake up at 6:30 and bake something quick, like zucchini bread.
 This weekend - Wake up at 7:45 and read my book for a half hour (what can I say, I'm an early riser)

Student weekend - Shower quickly and throw on some jeans and a t-shirt.
This weekend - Put off taking a shower and watch some HGTV with boyfriend.

Student weekend - Eat some cereal and a banana
This weekend - Eat a banana while making boyfriend and I some French toast with my homemade bread.

Student weekend - Walk to the lab, enjoy twenty minutes of sunshine (although it is most likely through a cloudy sky).
This weekend - Walk to D Do's and get coffee for boyfriend.

Student weekend - Spend the next several hours working in my hood, staring sadly out the window.
This weekend - Run some errands with boyfriend, spend lots of time outside and get a little suntan.

Ahhh, I'm liking weekends.

Monday, May 23, 2011


I’m a big fan of the two-in-one. As a kid I had a massive collection of skorts. You know, skirts with shorts sewn into them? Actually I have a ton of them still, but I wear them when I teach Bodystep classes… Skorts are awesome.

I know we’re all big fans of the printer/scanner/copier! I mean, what did we do before we had them? Walk to several different machines to do our printing, scanning and copying? Crazy talk. That’s like having multiple remote controls for all of your TV attachments, silly.

Now who has a cell phone that is just a phone? Even my not-so-fancy Palm Centro (it’s blue!) is a phone, computer and lets me play solitaire. Love the multi-tasker. Someday I’ll have a fancy phone that lets me start my car from another state, maybe I’ll have to get a fancy car first. One step at a time!

The bread that I made this weekend from the Bread Bakers Apprentice is just that, a multi-tasker. It’s also a time saver! It’s bread, cheese and meat, all in one! No need to make a sandwich, just slice a piece off and you’ve got it made!

Friday, April 29, 2011

French Baguettes

I want to be one of those people who knows everything about something totally useless. Like knowing all the vice presidents of the United States, in order. Or maybe being able to name all the fish living in the Gulf of Mexico. Or I could know how to count to ten in fifty different languages. Wait, I like that last one, maybe I’ll be one of those people. So far I can count to ten in five languages (English, French, Spanish, Italian & German), I’ve got some learning to do. If you speak other languages leave me your one through ten in the comments! I’d be forever grateful.

I’m sure you know people who are bastions of useless information. I’m sure that you have an immense amount of information in your head about one topic or another. Boyfriend knows lots about string theory, he could go on for hours about it. Why is this strange? He’s a businessman, not a physicist. My brother could go on and on about fruit trees and bushes, he’s an IT professional. I could retell the entire series of Gilmore Girls for you, right down to my favorite quotes.

In working toward the goal of knowing too much about something, I’m about halfway through my Bread Bakers Apprentice challenge. Today I present you with French bread! I put off making this bread for a while because I thought it was tricky. The dough itself is so soft and the instructions are so long I kept flipping past it in the cookbook. Rather than put it off anymore I decided to dive right in and I was not disappointed.

I wouldn’t recommend taking on French bread as your first yeasted bread. It takes a little understanding of yeast and you need to have a feel for dough. So, if you have been putting off French bread, don’t wait any longer. And don’t leave it under the broiler for ten minutes, unless you like smoke.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Rosemary Foccacia

Are you one of those people that likes to sing along to the radio? Are you driving along the road, blasting some “Life is a Highway,” and singing at the top of your lungs? I’ll be the first to admit that I’m an automobile vocal superstar. People driving by me either think I’m a crazy person, or that I’m having a very animated conversation with someone on my Bluetooth. (hint hint people, I don’t have a Bluetooth, I’m a crazy person)

Boyfriend also likes to sing along to the radio, although he is more of a creative soul. He will not be constrained by lyrics or rhymes. You know all the words to California Gurls? So does boyfriend, but sorry Katy Perry, those are boring lyrics. Boyfriends songs are so much better, because they are about delicious sandwiches.

Seriously, no joke. Boyfriends songs are all on the same topic – Sandwiches, and how delicious they are. Cee-Lo Green wants to forget someone? That’s fine, boyfriend wants a ham sandwich. U2 thinks it’s a beautiful day? Great, boyfriend is going to spend that beautiful day making a pastrami on rye. Even Elvis gets in on the sandwich goodness in his blue suede shoes. I think it’s a whole new genre of music – sandwich.

With the seriousness of boyfriends sandwich serenading, you would think that his main food group consisted of something between two pieces of bread. You would be wrong. Boyfriends main food group consists of foods sold at Dunkin’ Donuts. Extra-large double doubles, vanilla sprinkle donuts, Big’n’Toasty sandwiches. Oh wait! That last one was a sandwich! I was wrong, he loves sandwiches!

Anyways, this all has a point! Monday I wooed you with a tortellini soup and I teased you with glimpses of foccacia. Today I make good on my promise of bread! Some things take forever and are totally not worth the wait. Standing in line for Space Mountain, only to go on a roller coaster in the dark, lame-o. Anticipating the movie release of your favorite book, just to discover they totally ruined the plotline (I’m looking at you Bourne Identity!). Spending hours on a recipe and being disappointed in the outcome? Not this recipe! This foccacia was amazing! Airy, herby, delicious. Go make this, but be warned that it will be a full day before you have bread.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Poppy Seed Bagels

Some things you just wouldn’t think of making yourself. Take these bagels for instance. Why make your own bagels? You can buy prepackaged bagels from the grocery store in an unbelievable number of flavors. You can buy them fresh, frozen or even recently baked from the store bakery. They come in white, wheat, high fiber, low fat, mega-size, mini-size and even skinny-size!

Maybe you’re not a fan of the grocery store bagels. There are local options on every corner for getting yourself a bagel. You can go chain and head to Panera, Brueggers or Einsteins. Or you can go local and support the small business owner in your town. The options for bagel purchasing are endless, which begs the question again, why make your own?

The answer is simple, because they are delicious. I was very suspect of this recipe when I first read it over. It seemed so long and complicated, like a lot of work for something that I could buy for three dollars. Even up until the morning that I began making these bagels I was dreading it. I set my alarm for 6am to get the sponge together, then I promptly went back to sleep for two hours. It was Saturday after all!

At 8am I rolled out of bed and into my kitchen (literally, I live in a studio apartment) and began getting the dough together. As I continued through the recipe I realized that it wasn’t going to take that long at all to make these bagels. Plus, they required an overnight sit in the fridge, meaning I wouldn’t have bagels until Sunday morning. I was done with the bagel prep by 9am and headed off to the lab for another rousing day of chemistry.

Fill me with more delicious!
After only twenty minutes of work on Sunday morning, I was the proud mama of six golden, chewy, crunchy bagels.  Fresh out of the oven, quickly toasted and slathered in butter, these bagels were perfect.  I stored the extras in a zip-top bag and tossed them in the fridge.  I've been enjoying my homemade bagels all week.  Will I give up storebought bagels?  Probably not.  Will I be making another batch of these?  Definitely.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Orange Challah French Toast

The first time I ever worked with yeast, I decided I was going to make a braided challah. Talk about ambitious. It was in my fourth year of grad school, I had just moved into a new apartment and I was in the mood to cook. My roommate owned a breadmaker and she churned out loaves of bread with minimal effort. The apartment always smelled wonderful and she had warm bread to go with dinner. I thought that if a machine can make bread, then it can’t be that hard. Let’s say I was just a little na├»ve.

Back at this point in my culinary career I was the proud owner of about ten cookbooks. Leafing through the nearly pristine pages of my Bread Bible, I fell upon a picture of a braided challah. It was gorgeous. Golden, shiny and delicious looking. The instructions also seemed doable, some time to knead, a few rise periods and an egg wash before baking. I could definitely do this.

I just forgot to take a few things into account. First, I had no idea what I was doing. Okay, I guess that isn’t a very good first. Let’s start again… First, my kneading technique consisted of rolling the dough around on the counter, gently nudging it and poking it. This was after I added about one additional cup of flour, the dough just would not pull away from the countertop! Second, I had no idea how to tell when it was kneaded enough, I just went with what the book said, ten minutes. Third, it was winter. Wintertime in Wisconsin is a rather chilly time and our apartment was equally chilly. Gentle breezes also permeated the windows and doors, keeping my dough cool and preventing the proper rise. In the end I wound up with a braided challah. It was edible, but not the light and airy challah I was used to in New York.

My braid went a little crazy in the middle there...
Now, ten minutes of gentle nudging and poking most likely wasn’t enough to develop the gluten necessary for this bread. Lesson learned. Also, bread needs a little warmer environment than I had provided. These days I like to do laundry at the same time as I make bread, it heats up the apartment. Finally, I know to slowly add liquid ingredients, rather than try to bring the dough back with more flour. It’s been four years since my first attempt at braided challah and this recent attempt shows how much I’ve learned.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

English Muffins

Has food ever surprised you? Like, you always wondered how they made gummy bears. Then you were totally surprised that they were molded in cornstarch? I was so amazed when I discovered how those little pictures were made inside of taffy (they start with a really big picture). Maybe you were amazed at how Hostess got the cream inside of a Twinkie, or how Tyson made chicken into little dinosaur shapes. Okay, maybe no one wants to know how Tyson does their magic.

On my current goal to complete the Bread Baker’s Apprentice challenge, I’ve been learning a lot of things I didn’t know before. Like patience. Lots and lots of patience. Why is yeast so slow at doubling in size? You know what helps? A DVR filled with Doctor Who episodes. Nothing like watching David Tennant run after monsters to pass the time. (I like you too Matt Smith, but your episodes aren’t running right now).

I’m also learning to measure. How can I tell when it’s exactly doubled? Luckily I’ve found something that really helps with my measuring problem. Granted I got mine in Interlocken, Austria and therefore my measurements are in metric, but it does the trick. I highly recommend this to anyone who wants to bake a lot of bread.

Recently, I’ve learned about English muffins. I’m a big fan of English muffins. Toast them up, add a layer of peanut butter or jam or add some egg whites and a slice of good old Kraft American and you’ve got a meal. I had never considered baking my own English muffins, they always seemed so perfect. Even the commercials touted Thomas’ years of practice to obtain the ideal nook and cranny filled muffin. How could I make something to rival that which took the Thomas people centuries to perfect?

You know what, it’s all in the grilling. That’s right, I said grilling. Before my beautiful little orbs of dough were baked in the oven, they were cooked on the griddle. That’s it! That’s the secret! The curtain has been pulled back and the wizard is nothing but a square griddle. No magic, no special machine, just smoke and mirrors. But you might be asking, “How do they compare to the famous Thomas’ English muffin?” You know what? I’m never getting store-bought again.

Look at those nooks and crannies!

Friday, February 11, 2011

Cinnamon Rolls

When I was little, I loved the weekends. Wait, my love of the weekends was not because I wanted to sleep in and I didn’t have to go to school. No no. I loved school. I loved doing homework. I loved practicing my flute. I was a big ole nerd, just not the briefcase carrying, coke-bottle glasses kinda nerd. I was a secret nerd, but now is not the time to discuss my secret nerdiness, perhaps another time. Now we are talking about the weekend!

The weekend meant enjoying a warm breakfast with my family. Mom and I would toil in the kitchen as dad read the morning paper and brother played computer/video games in his room. I would toast slice after slice of bread or watch the bacon get all crispy (then forget it and it gets burnt). Mom would make everyone omelets or cook up dippy eggs. Dad would clip coupons and brother would slaughter monsters, or something like that.

Sometimes, I would take control of the whole breakfast situation. This meant heading to the fridge and pulling out a tube of dough. I’d proudly rip off the label and crack the tube on the counter top. As the dough exploded from its cardboard prison it would let off an amazing aroma of cinnamon and yeast. I always thought the raw dough looked delicious, mom suggested I didn’t eat it, please.

Cinnamon rolls were always my favorite and I preferred when we got the tube of seven, rather than the tube of 5. Sure, the tube of 5 meant bigger cinnamon rolls, but the tube of 7 meant leftovers! I’d have one right out of the oven, then try to sneak back later in the day to get another. Sometimes I’d be too slow and brother would have eaten them all, blast him!

Now I get all the cinnamon rolls. I don’t have to share. I’m greedy with the cinnamon rolls, so here’s the recipe. You have to make your own, I ate all of these and there aren’t leftovers.

Be sure to stop by Candy Challenge 2011! (see it up there?  Below the banner?)  This is where I'll link all of my candy recipes for this year.  This is also where you must add your challenges.  Got a candy you want me to try and make?  Post a reply and consider the gauntlet thrown! 

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

BBAC - Cranberry-Walnut Celebration Bread

I love a challenge. When I’m presented with a task, I’m going to complete it. Maybe I’m stubborn like that. Actually, yes, I’m very stubborn. I’ve been told this several times in the past. When I first got to grad school, I was nervous. It was the first time in my life that I was living away from home. I lived at home the entire time I was in college, it was free and only five miles away from school. Moving fourteen hours away from my parents, brother and boyfriend was hard. Every few days I sat thinking “Why am I here? Was this a good idea?”

Luckily I made friends and came to discover that every other first year grad student was thinking the same thing.  Even those who had gone to undergraduate far from home were questioning their decision to come to grad school. The first year of grad school was tough. Challenging classes, the stress of finding the right group to join and teaching teenagers freshman chemistry, it just all piled on. Some people cracked, it’s a lot of pressure. Most people succeeded and we were stronger for it.

Making it to the fifth qualifier, our official anniversary, was so uplifting. Completing our first year in grad school was just the first of many hurdles we would have to overcome, that first year hardened us. From there on out we would present seminars, defend original research proposals, write papers and get scooped. Getting scooped is always the worst.

In the back of my mind I always knew that I could finish what I started. It might start off a little shaky, uneasy of the strange new ground I was walking, but every challenge makes me stronger. Each step becoming more steady, until that goal is accomplished. Triumph!

So what is the challenge that I’m talking about today? The Bread Bakers Apprentice challenge! I started a few months ago with the Anadama bread. It turned out well, but being new to yeast, it wasn’t perfect. Later, I celebrated my gram with Cinnamon bread. A fitting tribute to many days spent in her home as a child. This year I plan to finish this challenge. Forty recipes in fifty-two weeks, here is the first one of the year. And it is going to be a hard one to surpass, absolutely delicious.

The cranberry-walnut celebration bread can be found on page 154 of Peter Reinhart’s Bread Bakers Apprentice (also on several other bloggers webpage). I made no changes to the recipe and it was absolutely delicious. I wound up eating the whole loaf in a matter of days. Yep, just me, one person, ate the whole loaf. It was amazing as French toast and great slathered in butter as an evening snack. The double braid was a kick to make and made the bread look gorgeous. Give it a try, you will not be disappointed.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Cinnamon Raisin Walnut Bread

Okay, so I might be doing the Bread Baker’s Apprentice Challenge a little out of order. Can you blame me though? Once you flip through a bread book, and see a perfect loaf of cinnamon bread, you have to try it. I know, the Cinnamon Raisin Walnut Bread is number nine on the list of breads, but I LOVE cinnamon bread! I can even pinpoint the reason for my love of cinnamon bread.

When we were little, my brother and I never had a babysitter. While some other kids were watched by neighbors or teenage daughters of their parents friends, we got to go to the tiny house. I loved the tiny house, because in the tiny house was my tiny Gram. At Gram’s house we would spend hours in the garden, eating grapes off of the back fence. I would sit in the kitchen, organizing the cabinets. And when we were hungry, we would get toast. Toasted cinnamon raisin bread, yum.

So baking my own loaf of cinnamon raisin bread brought back so many memories from that tiny house. More of a free form loaf bread, this doesn’t have to be perfect. This recipe made for a wonderful day, filling the house with a sweet, cinnamon aroma. So this post is in honor of that tiny house and my tiny Gram who lived inside.

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