November 16, 2009

Third Time's A Charm

Last night, I started to make whole wheat bread. I found a recipe that you put in the fridge overnight once you made the dough. It was one of the most basic whole wheat recipes I had found and it explained the process pretty well, which is important to me.

I think what happened with my last loaves, was that in my rush to get it done, I didn't let it rise enough, leaving it really dense. We did finish both loaves and it was amazing with grilled cheese, but it just seemed heavy.

From the get-go, this recipe was different. I let it rise for the full time required (3 hours once I took it out of the fridge) and the texture was light and airy (not so with the last recipe). Then I cut it, put it in two loaf pans and left for a walk with my sister. I came back to a nice smelling home and HUGE loaves, still unbaked.

Once I put them in the oven they already smelled delicious and I just took them out and everything about them feels light and spongy to the touch. Making bread really is quite the learning process and if nothing else, it's teaching me patience!

Lessons learned:

  • Patience
  • The texture of the bread (at least white and whole wheat) should be light and spongy to the touch)
  • My oven seems to be a little hot and while this recipe said 30 minutes, it was done in 27

November 9, 2009

Granola Bars

T and I eat a lot of granola bars. Every day for work, we take salads for lunch so granola bars are the only carb we eat during the day. I decided a few weeks ago to try and make these tasty treats myself and found a pretty basic recipe on my favourite site -- I've made these a few times now and they always turn out great, and the best part is that you can totally customize them.

The base is:

  • 3 cups instant rolled oats
  • 1 can of sweetened condensed milk
  • 2 tbsp butter melted
After that, you can add just about anything. This week, I added:
  • 1 cup mixed nuts (I pounded these a little to break them up)
  • 1/2 cup craisins
  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • 1/2 cup chocolate chips (mmm!)
Then bake at 325 degrees for 25-30 minutes. I've also learned it's much easier to cut when they're warm. Then I wrap them individually in wax paper and voila, a perfect and healthy snack for work!

November 8, 2009

Squash Soup with Bacon and Asiago Crumpets

On Sundays I feel that we should be having a full "Sunday night" dinner. But even though I took out a roast out of the freezer yesterday, it still wasn't defrosted in time to make dinner tonight, so we came up with Plan B: Butternut Squash Soup and Bacon and Asiago Crumpets.

Butternut Squash Soup
I didn't have a recipe so I used my basic Leek and Potato recipe and modified it slightly. Here's what I did:

  1. Cut one medium butternut squash down the middle and roasted in the oven for one hour.
  2. Melted two teaspoons of butter in a large pot and added one diced onion. Let cook for five minutes.
  3. Add two diced up potatoes and one and a half cartons of chicken stock. Let boil until potatoes cook.
  4. Cut up squash and add to the soup. 
  5. Puree with immersion blender.
  6. Add 1/2 cup of cream and 1/2 cup of white wine. 
  7. Add salt, pepper and splash of nutmeg.
  8. Serve in bowls and add a dollop of sour cream.
Overall, a pretty basic recipe and it turned out pretty well. I think this will be a winter favourite.

Bacon and Asiago Crumpets
These were delish! I got this recipe from the Mildred Pierce Restaurant brunch cookbook. They were good and pretty easy to make, but I certainly don't need 12 of them. My husband, T, really liked these though and maybe they won't be around that long.
They had a nice flavour and had a bit of a bite to them with the asiago cheese and the scallions. I think they might be nice in the toaster too for enjoyment throughout the week.

Lessons learned:
  • I can make soup without a recipe
  • If a recipe calls for crumpet rings, if you don't mind a messy border, you don't need them
  • Hillebrand Riesling is our new favourite wine and it went really well with the mild soup

Bread -- Take Two

I made bread once before. It came out like a football and was heavy and dense. Eating it as toast was palpable, but I don't think ACE bakery will be looking for my recipes any time soon.

I bought a new book called the Mixer Bible. It specifically tells you how to use your mixer for recipes, which is great because I'm not knowledgeable enough to know how to adapt a recipe, quite yet.

Last night, at about 8 p.m., I decided to make bread. First rule of thumb: always read the WHOLE recipe before you start. Had I done that, I wouldn't have been up until midnight waiting for my bread to rise.

Overall, it came out pretty well. It was way better than my first attempt, but I wish someone could taste it and tell me how to make it better. It still feels heavy and I don't know if that's from too much flour?

This is how it turned out:

Lessons learned:

  • I can't say this enough: read the whole recipe before starting
  • The pouring shield for the mixer is my new best friend. This allowed me to put flour into the mixer without stopping it
  • I let the yeast foam for 10 minutes, even though it said it would take only five
  • The oven with the oven light on is a good spot to let the dough rise (note: the oven is off)
  • I enjoyed making it but I have a lot to learn!

November 4, 2009

It Started With the Mixer

It all started with the mixer. The coveted Kitchen Aid stand mixer, so beautiful in design that you almost didn't want to use it. Just having it sit on the countertop made me feel like a professional cook, but then, I realized I wanted to use it. Constantly. I started clipping recipes and thinking about how I could use them with the mixer. Then, I bought icing tips and icing bags, I got cupcake cookbooks and recipe books and started reading other bloggers and getting ideas from them. The snowball just wouldn't stop, and then, I made hamburger cupcakes.

I admit, it was the praise that got me. People oohed and ahhed and I was smitten with the new found attention I was receiving.

Who knew that turning into a housewife was something to be so proud of and so admired? What should I make this weekend?

November 3, 2009

I was a housewife for Halloween...

This year, I was a housewife for Halloween. That wasn't too far off the mark for me lately as for the past year, I have been channeling my inner June Cleaver. Since moving to a new home, getting engaged and now married, all I have wanted to do is bake and cook and I aspire to be crafty. I'd love to learn how to sew and knit and be that girl that people ooh and ahh over with her homemade goodies. I'm not her -- yet. But I'm trying. Stay tuned for goodies and crafts and decorating as I learn by trial and error.


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