In a perfect world, I’d be experimenting with sourdough breads regularly. I’d create boules of beauty, and share them with friends and family.
However, this isn’t a perfect world. A handful of close friends are gluten free. I rarely get to share the things I cook and bake because I’ve messed something up just enough that it doesn’t feel fit for sharing, or I’m just make enough food for myself for the week. At the end of the day, I’m just feeding myself.
I do make bread on occasion. I even had a rye sourdough starter going for over a year. But those two statements? Rarely done at the same time. When I make bread, it’s usually with SAF instant. When I was maintaining my sourdough starter, I was just finding ways to cook the discarded starter. I was almost never making proper bread with my starter. It even got to a point where I forgot I had a starter hanging out in my fridge. I literally did not notice it in my fridge until about two months after its last feeding.
Even then (!!!), it took me a couple of weeks to finally toss it in the trash. Some part of me hated feeling like I was giving up on a project. But logically, it didn’t make sense to try again. More so, because I have a place in a 10 minute walk away that does a wonderful sourdough. I’ve started going there a bit more frequently because I absolutely love their sourdough pizzas, but you can pick up bread to take home. I can spend 2-3 days making sourdough bread on my own, or I can spend $4 – $7 at my local restaurant.
It will do me more good than harm to recognize what I am willing and not willing to do. If I didn’t live so close to awesome bread, I’d probably feel differently about this. Or if I had a large family to feed, which I don’t.
But you know what they say: when one door closes, another opens.
My most recent cookbook acquisition is Martha Stewart’s Slow Cooker, which I was pretty dang excited about. I appreciate a good slow cooker recipe, but the only other slow cooker cookbook I have is America’s Test Kitchen’s Slow Cooker Revolution. I have used the ATK book, but probably not as often as I should. Amazingly, I feel like the recipes in each book are different enough that the books complement each other in my cookbook collection.
The good things about Martha Stewart’s Slow Cooker:
- Good variety of recipes. The book is divided into these sections: meat, poultry, seafood, meatless, side dishes, breakfast, sweets, and stocks/sauces. There is a decent global feel to each of the sections. For example, chicken section includes the following recipes: chicken tagine, Tex-Mex chicken and beans, chicken mole, Hainanese Chicken, and Ethiopian Chicken Stew.
- Every recipe comes with a photograph.
- Most of the recipes are not intimidating.
The (possibly) bad things about this book:
- Some of the recipes require stove top cooking as part of the prep work. In the boullabaisse recipe, you have to soften in a skillet the vegetables, aromatics, and then cook down diced tomatoes. After all that, then you get to load up the slow cooker.
- This might just be me being greedy, but I’d prefer if most of the sections had a few more recipes. The meat section has a little over 30 recipes. The poultry section has 18 recipes, 4 of them are duck recipes, and only 1 recipe is turkey related. The breakfast section only has about 9 recipes.
Honestly though, I have high hopes for this book. I made the chicken korma recipe this past weekend. Overall, I was very pleased with the results. It was a little unusual for a chicken korma recipe since it involves cashew butter and almond butter (it does mention that you can blend up nuts instead of getting the nut butters), but I think it does add to the texture of the korma sauce.
Disclaimer – I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review. I’m not getting paid for this post.
It’s been a long while, so I decided it was high time to hang out in lecture hall C of Harvard’s Science Center for the opening lecture featuring Harold McGee and Dave Arnold last night. Overall reaction? I still have a nerd crush on Dave Arnold. He’s like a puppy when it comes to food science and related interests. How can anyone not like him?
Before the lecture started, the audience was handed plastic packets filled with sugar-related items.
I don’t eat a lot of sugar anymore!
(Nandu is on the right; Carles Gaig is on the left.)
It was a quiet evening for a SEAS lecture tonight. I think the room was only 2/3rds full. I suppose it’s because the guest speakers were Nandu Jubany and Carles Gaig, both Spanish chefs without the fame of Jose Andres or Grant Achatz. I say “if you didn’t make it to the lecture, your loss.”
I missed out on Nandu Jubany last year and regretted it. I heard whisperings of his delicious garlic aioli, and when I heard he was returning this year, I was determined to show up.
Recipe #1, from Jubany, milk mayonnaise
**Important – the temperature of your ingredients should be the same.** (since this is a mayo, room temp or slightly colder temps are fine)
700g neutral flavored oil (Jubany used sunflower oil)
10g minced chives
10g minced parsley
15g wasabi powder
For hardware – immersion blender and a tall enough container
Throw everything together into your container. In short bursts on low, turn the immersion blender on and off. Gradually, let the immersion blender stay on. Then, you can set it on a higher speed, and slowly move the immersion blender up and down. You want to incorporate the un-blended ingredients sitting at the top at a controlled pace into the blended ingredients at the bottom. When everything is successfully blended, you are done. Continue reading
disclaimer – I don’t know the “who” behind these recipes. All I know is that they were created by young grade school kids (maybe 1st grade?) back in 2000 as a Mother’s Day project.
I was talking about baking with my 7 year old niece in the office building kitchen when a colleague asked me if I wanted to read his friend’s kid’s cookbook.
wha? Ok, I’m game.
Apparently stashed at his desk, Tom quickly produced a stack of photocopied paper showed signs of love and age.
I read every page in “the cookbook.” And I can’t stop laughing. Here are a couple of my favorites, exactly copied:
RAINBOW ICE CREAM
15 cups of sugar
17 cups of milk
1 cup of red
1 cup of yellow
1 cup of green
1 cup of blue
1 cup of orange
Put in the bowls. Then you eat it. First put the ice cream in the fridge then eat it. Continue reading
I finally got around to making yogurt. It’s pretty easy even though the directions can be lengthy. For little ol’ me, who doesn’t eat a lot of yogurt over the course of a week, making a quart of plain yogurt does not save me any money. Chances are that a quart of whole milk costs the same as a quart of plain yogurt at your local market. Factor in labor and the energy your stove took to cook up the yogurt, you realize that it’s not cost effective at all unless you make big batches of yogurt at once.
You would think that this means that I won’t be making yogurt anymore, right? No, not quite.
… AKA corned beef and leftovers, part 1.
I never had a proper serving of corned beef until I was 23 years old. Before that, I only had a deli version that came in a plastic packet as a kid. But one of the vendors through my full time job did annual St. Patrick’s Day lunches with real corned beef until the recession hit. I loved it. The missing ritual became more noticeable when I kept hearing all my co-workers talk about their version of corned beef. (Hey! Even the Italian French woman in my office makes corned beef every year!) It was driving me crazy. So, steps needed to be taken.
I wanted to make corned beef last year, but the Alton Brown recipe calls for saltpeter as an ingredient. I’ve been told that there’s one pharmacy in my general area that sells saltpeter, but I’ve been too lazy to track it down. A year later, I’ve learned that you don’t need it to make corned beef. It’s mainly to retain a nicer color. As long as you keep the beef in the refrigerator while it’s brining, there isn’t much chance of bacterial infection.
I don’t have instructions to use per se, but I was working off of an Alton Brown’s recipe and one of Martha Stewart’s recipes. If you’re using kosher salt, make sure that it’s pure salt, free of anti-caking ingredients. Using pickling salt is one way to make sure that you’re using pure salt. I ended up using fine pickling salt, which meant reducing the kosher salt amounts by half (I think I could have reduced the salt even a little more than that but I wasn’t willing to experiment at the time).