Archive for June, 2011

June 26, 2011

Thoughts on life and bagels. (Adventures in Bread)

When you are sitting up late at night writing a paper or studying for a test, do you ever dream about being a bread baker? I do. I would happily go to sleep at 8pm and wake up before the sun to head into my friendly little bakery to start preparing fresh delicious breads for my amazing local customers. Spending dark quiet mornings surrounded by rising dough and the smell of yeast… What? You don’t have that fantasy? Hmm… well, you obviously have never made bagels. I’m telling you, the magical experience of actually creating your own homemade bagels is enough to make you want to put down your pen and put on an apron.

Rewind a few months. As graduation inched (flew, really) towards me, I began to feel more and more burned out on all the time spent on my computer, analyzing and fact checking and researching. I didn’t bake for weeks. I just needed to get my hands covered in flour and heat up my oven. There is something so grounding about the process of bread-making, and let me tell you, I needed some solid ground! And while I didn’t have control over the type of security that might come with, say, a job prospect for the future (and still don’t..eeek!), I do have control over my hands and the ingredients in my kitchen. And really, if all it takes is a little kneading, shaping, boiling, and baking to make me feel like I’ve got a handle on things, I’m a pretty lucky girl.

These bagels… well, they were just bagels. But I made them with my own two hands, and I’ll take pride in that, thank you very much!  I hope that, in the midst of whatever is stressing you out these days, you can find a Saturday morning to give these a try.

Take your time.

Get messy.

Knead until your arms hurt.

Be patient.

Savor the taste.

Don’t worry about life, just make bagels.


(Where are the directions you ask? The recipe I used was from my trusty Bread Baker’s Apprentice by Peter Reinhart. This book is too beautiful to smash all over the internet, so I suggest you hit the library or bookstore and get a copy!)

June 19, 2011

Chocolate Beet Cake


Chocolate cake.

Juicy, earthy vegetables.

Peanut Butter Fudge Frosting.

Try to hide them under your napkin during dinner.

Beg your father for just onnnnnne more slice.

Pop, thanks for making me eat my vegetables.

But more importantly, thanks for teaching me to love the sweet stuff.

Pop, believe it or not, your daughter, the same one who used to cry at the dinner table over a plate of sundried tomato meatloaf, has baked a chocolate beet cake. The same girl who needed a kiddie plate to separate her peas from her potatoes until the age of 17 has combined vegetables and dessert into one single pan.

Guess what? It was delicious.

The sailboat is for you, pops. The cake… well…. it was for you, but you weren’t around, so I ate it myself. In your honor of course. With a tall glass of skim.

All the love in the world to the best papa a girl could ever have!

Chocolate Beet Cake
Adapted from
Veggie Belly

1/2 cup milk/semi-sweet/dark chocolate chips (your preference)
3 eggs
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 cup vegetable oil
2 cups cooked and pureed beets
1 tsp vanilla
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1 3/4 cup flour
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt

Pre-heat oven to 350 F.

Melt the chocolate in a double boiler and allow to cool slightly. Meanwhile, whisk together eggs, sugar, and oil. Slowly, add the beets, chocolate, and vanilla and beat until just combined.

Sift together the cocoa, flour, baking soda, and salt. Add to wet ingredients and stir until just combined, being careful not to overwork.

Butter and flour two 8-inch cake pans. Bake for about 20-30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Let most cool in pan, then carefully remove to wire racks to cool completely. Frost.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Fudge Frosting

1/2 cup butter (if using unsalted, toss in a dash of salt)
1/2 cup peanut butter
2 cups powdered sugar
1/4-1/2 cup cocoa
milk as needed

In an electric mixer, cream together butter and peanut butter. Add sugar and cocoa powder and whip until combined. Add milk as needed and whip on high to achieve desired consistency. Try to frost the cake before you eat the whole bowl!

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June 19, 2011

Happy Father’s Day Tom!

Tom, I made you some scones.

Sorry, I ate them all myself.

But I thought of you while I was eating them, because you taught me to love scones. You taught me to bake delicious scones. You taught me how to use a pastry cutter. You taught me that scones are merely a tasty vehicle for butter.

What more could a girl ask for in a step-dad!

And don’t worry, I didn’t really eat them all myself, I shared a few 🙂

Love you Tom! Happy Father’s Day to the best step-father a girl could ask for

Buttermilk Cranberry Scones
Adapted from Pinch My Salt

2 cups all purpose flour
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup cold unsalted butter, cut into small chunks
1/2 cup buttermilk, or milk with half a tablespoon of vinegar (let sit for a few minutes)
1 large egg
1/3 cup cranberries, chopped up
a bit heavy cream or melted butter (optional, for brushing tops of scones)

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk or sift together flour, sugar, baking powder, soda and salt. Add butter chunks and toss lightly with flour; place bowl in fridge.
  3. In a small bowl, whisk together egg and buttermilk; place bowl in fridge.
  4. Measure out and chop the cranberries; set aside. Prep a baking sheet with parchement paper or light greasing. Lightly dust a counter top with flour. Pour a little bit of heavy cream or melted butter in a bowl and have a pastry brush handy.
  5. Remove bowls of flour and buttermilk from fridge. Cut butter into flour with a pastry blender or rub together with your fingertips until it resembles coarse crumbs. Add cranberries and stir to combine.
  6. Add buttermilk mixture all at once to flour mixture and stir until the mixture clumps together. Dump mixture out onto floured counter top and, with floured hands, gather into a ball and knead once or twice to combine everything. Pat into a circle about 1/2 inch thick. Cut into 8 slices, like a pie, or cut with biscuit or cookie cutters into whatever shape you prefer. Put scones on lined baking sheet and brush lightly with heavy cream or butter if desired
  7. Bake in a preheated 425 degree oven for 13-15 minutes until lightly browned. Remove to cooling rack.
  8. Eat them in honor of your step-dad!

June 16, 2011

Awkward face :-0

Insert awkward face here.

You know that thing that you put off for a few days when you were really really busy with finishing college? And then a few days became a few weeks? And then a few months? And the longer you put this thing off the harder it became to sit down and get this thing done?

Oops. I’m back. I sure did miss you. I wish I could say I have tons of delicious treats to lavish upon your hungry eyes saved up from these past few months of silence, but the truth is, I had to put the lid on the cookie jar altogether for quite a while.  There was one bake sale incident that involved a lot of box mixes (Thank you, Betty), but my oven has been pretty cold lately.

Here’s the good news. I graduated. Got the whole school thing over with. So now I can fully devote myself to the pursuit of creating and capturing delicious food.

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