Archive for the ‘food’ Category
Now that it is November (complete with glorious lake effect snow/rain/snain in Rochester), I’m thinking about the holidays, and, most pertinently, the associated foodstuffs. Today I’m making my mom’s cinnamon swirl bread, which I think started as a special Christmas treat but has expanded to fill the surrounding months which are cold and generally in need to cheer.
It’s a pretty great yeast bread recipe, and has some sugar in it so it’s pretty hard to mess up. Also, each slice has a swirl of cinnamon-sugar through it (hence, you know, the name), so it looks super fancy without being too technically difficult.
Here is the recipe, straight from mom:
Orange Cinnamon Swirl Bread
6 cups bread or all-purpose flour, approximately
2 packages dry yeast
1/3 cup nonfat dry milk
½ cup granulated sugar
1 ½ teaspoons of salt
1 ¼ cups of hot water
½ stick butter, room temperature, or softened in the microwave
1 tablespoon grated orange peel
¾ cup orange juice
1 egg, room temperature
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon mixed with ½ cup sugar
2 teaspoons of water
Measure 2 cups flour into a large mixing or mixer bowl and add the dry ingredients. Pour in the hot water and stir vigorously to blend into a thin batter. Add the butter, orange peel, orange juice, and egg.
Add flour ¼ cup at a time, stirring with strong strokes after each addition until the dough becomes a rough shaggy mass that can be turned out onto a floured work surface.
Knead for 8 minutes. Add a bit more flour if the moisture works through the surface and sticks to the work counter.
Place the dough in a greased bowl, turning the dough to be certain it is filmed on all sides. Cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap and put aside until the dough has doubled in bulk (approximately 1 hour).
Punch down the dough. Turn onto a floured surface, and divide in two. Cover with wax paper and let rest 10 minutes ( I don’t do this! )
Roll each piece into a 15” by 7” rectangle. Each will be about ½” thick. Spread each piece with the cinnamon sugar mixture, and sprinkle with 1 teaspoon of water. Smooth with a spatula. Roll from the narrow side. Seal the edges securely by pinching tightly and along the seams. Tuck in the ends and place seam down in the pans.
Cover the pans with wax paper and let stand until the dough has doubled in bulk, about 45 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 375˚ 20 minutes before baking.
Bake for 10 minutes, then reduce heat to 325˚, and bake for 30 minutes more, or until the loaves are nicely browned, and test done when tapped on the bottom with a forefinger. The sound will be hard and hollow. (I actually cover the loaves with a large piece of aluminum foil to keep the from burning on top after the first 10 minutes, and remove it during the last ten minutes). Remove from pans and cool.
What better to do when snowed in than make thick, delicious barley soup? This recipe is from the Moosewood New Classics cookbook and is really hearty. You can use just about any vegetables you want as long as you end up with 6-7 cups—I used Kale, potatoes, sweet potatoes, peppers, and carrots.
- 1/2 c unhulled raw barley (rinsed and picked over)
- 7 c water
- 3 T olive oil
- 2 c chopped onions
- 1/4 t salt
- 1 1/2 c cubed white potato
- 1/2 c diced celery
- 1 c diced red or yellow bell peppers
- 1 c peeled and diced carrots
- 1 c cut green beans (1-ing pieces)
- 1 c cubed yellow or green summer squash
- 1 c chopped mushrooms
- 1/4 t dried marjoram
- 1/2 t dried thyme
- 2 T dry sherry
- 3 T barley miso (I just used regular miso)
- ground black pepper to taste
- 1/3 c chopped fresh parsley
- chopped scallions (for garnish)
Rinse the barley and boil it in 3 c of the water until it’s tender, which should be about 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 hours. When it’s done, drain the barley. About a half hour before it’s done, start the rest of the stuff going:
Heat the oil in your soup pot and cook the onions and salt until tender and just beginning to brown (eight-ish minutes). While the onions cook, heat the other four cups water to a simmer in another pot.
Stir all the veggies into the onions until everything’s good and covered with oil. Add the herbs and sherry and cook for a couple of minutes, stirring.
Pour the simmering water into the veggies. Mix 1/2 c of the hot water with the miso in a small bowl until you have a smooth paste, and then pour the paste into the soup pot. Add pepper to taste, cover, and simmer until the veggies are tender (about 15 minutes). Add the (drained) barley and parsley, and cook for about 5 minutes more. Top with scallions and serve.
This is mostly for my darling sister, but these are so delicious that everyone should try them. The recipe is from An Invitation to Indian Cooking by Madhur Jaffrey, which is full of delicious, delicious Delhi-area food that can be made with stuff readily available in the supermarket (for the most part). My favorite part of the book is the section on Dals, where there are a million variations on spiced legumes. The basic pattern is always the same though, and the recipes fall into three parts: cook the dal with some seasonings until its tender, then add the delicate stuff, and finally “give a tarka” of whole spices (or onions or ginger or anything, really) toasted briefly in hot oil.
This recipe (for brown lentils like you buy at the supermarket) has you first cook the lentils with cinnamon, bay leaf, garlic, ginger, and turmeric, then add lemon for a little bit, and finally add the tarka of whole cumin seeds. See the full recipe after the jump.
The first stop on my grand-ish spring break adventure was Atlanta, GA, to visit some (most) of my study abroad program-mates. We ate, we drank, we lived like kings and queens. Notable highlights were a really sweet potluck dinner in honor of Passang-la, our incredible program coordinator of sorts who is in the states for a year on a Fulbright. Said potluck was hosted at the artist commune where one of the older program alumns lives, which was quirky and charming and well-decorated. There is also a recording studio in the basement, and a backyard with a sizable bonfire pit (where the picture above was taken).
A few of us hit up Little Five, a cute little rasta/hipster/scenester/touristy neighborhood, where we perused the offerings of the local independent book seller. We also sat outside and enjoyed the great truly phenomenal people watching at The Porter, where we were waited on by Sebastian’s South African rugby coach who by turns indulged and belittled our various tastes in beer.
We also had our obligatory night on the town, which is remarkable mostly for where it ended. I think the name itself is enough: Gladys Knight and Ron Winan’s Chicken and Waffles. Just take a moment and let the settle in. Even though we got there around 3 am, we still had to wait an hour to get our chicken and waffles, by which time I was nearly comatose with exhaustion and would have fallen asleep on the spot if it were not for the thought of the Midnight Train (four friend chicken wings and a waffle) that would soon be mine.
The best part, was, undoubtedly, getting to see everyone from India, and being able to just pick right up where we left off, as if the year since we’ve last seen each other hadn’t happened at all. As I get ready to graduate from Williams and head out into the big wide world, I worry more and more about being able to form meaningful relationships with people outside the Williams community, and it was really nice to have a reminder that I can still relate to non-Williams folks. Granted, Emory isn’t exactly culturally that far from Williams in the grand scheme of things, but it’s a start.
Coming soon: Boston, Bangor, my bike, and general musings about life and graduating.
- 1 cup of coffee
- 1 “bagel ‘n schmear”
- 1 GRE vocabulary book
- 1 package Nestle Toll House Semi-sweet Morsels
- 0.56 pounds green beans
- 1 seedless watermelon
I consider the watermelon my great triumph of the day, despite the fact that, as it turns out, watermelons are quite heavy and do not fit easily into small backpacks.
A life update is on the way soon, I promise!
Bloomington continues to be great. I’ve more or less settled into a more or less regular routine of getting up more or less early, getting a bagel and coffee and reading all morning, although I’ve also migrated from Starbucks to a local place called Soma, trading smarmy jazz and other Starbucks-y musical stylings for indie pop and punk rock, and middle-schoolers and middle-aged people for tattooed hipsters and charmingly nerdy college town people, to say nothing of the decor. I could go on and on about the various quirks of each of the coffee shops in Bloomington (and probably will, at some point), mostly because these are public places that encourage sitting around and people watching while hopped up on caffeine.
Other than drinking coffee and reading about models of various levels of speech comprehension I haven’t been doing much. The two notable exceptions are cooking and playing ultimate. The cooking is getting harder, as I’ve cooked just about everything that I know how to and many things that I don’t (or didn’t, I should say). I also really wanted fish the other night, which as I’m sure you can imagine is in rather short supply here.
But ultimate—I finally got off my ass and signed up for the Bloomington rec league and went to a game (even managing to find a ride) last night, which was a lot of fun. Since I’ve been all but completely sedentary the last few weeks I expected to run for a point and then collapse on the sidelines, possibly due to massive cardiac arrest, but that didn’t happen. I even had a point and an assist, helping team Legion of Doom to their first ever double-digits performance, despite getting stomped by the Super Friends.
The general atmosphere—friendly, fun, and competitive—reminded me a lot of playing with the Blackfly crowd during various summer breaks. Except we had enough for all four teams to play with four-plus subs. The level of play was pretty high, especially the last few points of the game after our captain got frustrated by how badly our asses were getting kicked and we played a little harder and a little smarter. More than anything else, it was just fun to be out running around and chasing plastic and interacting with people.
It’s funny how easy it is to forget how important it is to have an in in a strange place, and how less alienated you feel after meeting just a few people that you have something in common with.
I know, I didn’t think I could cook, either, but I enjoyed this marinade (as did my roommate) and made it up on the spot, to boot, so allow me to revel in my culinary success. I was frankly terrified at the prospect of having to actually feed myself all summer, instead of just stuffing myself five times a week at the dining hall as has been the status quo of summers past. But I’ve found it to be quite liberating: if I have to eat something, then I have to cook something (thanks to my rather meager stipend…) and somehow that necessity emboldens me. I’m still a pretty crappy cook but I’ve done okay so far and I’m getting bolder by the day. The problem at this point is actually that I have made, in all, far more food than I can eat and have scads of leftovers.
Anyway, I only made enough for one or two chicken breasts, so I don’t know how it would scale up to a larger batch, but here’s what I used.
- Juice of (almost one) line
- A tablespoon or so of olive oil
- Something like 4-6 oz. of beer (I used Dogfish Head 60 Minute IPA, my all-time favorite beer, but I bet any pale ale would work)
- A clove of garlic, minced
- Pinch of salt and pepper
- Some generous pinches of dried basil, thyme and rosemary
I marinaded my chicken in the fridge for about an hour, then sautéed it and had it with pasta and some fresh tomato/onion/olive oil sauce (narrowly avoiding disaster a few times, trying to do far too many things at the same time). A fair bit of the lime/spice/beer flavor was imparted to the chicken but I could have done with a bit more, and so maybe a longer soak would be good, although Patrick (the roomie) actually cooked his chicken in the marinade after a shorter soak and said he got plenty of flavor.
Finally, I should say that I was inspired by the no-nonsense simplicity of marinade recipes like this one, from Cooking for Engineers, which, from what I can tell so far, has just about the perfectly analytical bent to it’s explanations.
Other highlights of the day were getting to wade through some exciting differential equations in a language-perception model, starting to get my head around some linguistics stuff, watching a great soccer game, and standing on the deck of our building with the roomie, looking out at the sunset and downtown Bloomington and talking about India and all sorts of other stuff.
So, the big news is that a) the semester-from-hell is over, b) I am no longer a sophomore, and c) I’ve been home for two weeks, sitting on my ass, playing mario sunshine and baking tons of bread. Mom and the bro are still in school, and my sister is commuting to work for a 8-5 job, so the house is pretty empty during the day, which is nice sometimes but a bit overwhelming others.
The first weekend I was home, Eric, Paul and his two boys came for a visit, which was wonderful. Highlights included a three-on-three old vs. young basketball game in the driveway and a Magic the Gathering booster draft*. I particularly enjoyed the booster draft, since it removes the collecting aspect, which I’m not willing to invest the time, money and energy that are needed to be successful at it. I love playing the game, and since everyone is working with the same limited resources it is a very different game—the decks are smaller, less polished, and tend to use a lot of colors and interesting strategies.
In other news, I’m still trying to get my study abroad application together so I can get some closure on plans for next year. The struggle at this point is to write a solid research project proposal. Thanks to my tendency to wax on about vague, abstract things, this is proving rather more difficult than I anticipated, but I’m starting to get my head around it with some help from Nate and my Tibetan Civ/Embodied Mind professor.
Last point of interest (other than my latest musings on Ultimate, which will have a post all their own) is bread! I’ve baked a few interesting kinds since I’ve been home. The first week was semolina sesame seed bread in a cool twisted loaf (that Ruth and I already made) which was delicious just like last time. Next experiment was whole wheat bread with olive oil, walnuts and raisins, which was interesting (very raisiny/walnutty) and made really good toast, and after that was “Vienna bread” which was basically french bread with a bit of sponge-action (pre-fermented flour, water, and yeast mixture) and butter and milk added. Next up will be some sourdough (hopefully, if my starter actually starts, and works to rise the bread…) and some 3-day whole-wheat bread that takes two days for starter/sponge fermentation and is actually made into dough, kneaded, risen and baked on the third day.
I’m particularly excited about the prospect of having a big jar of sourdough starter as another somewhat animate “pet” (like my plants!) Sourdough starter is seriously cool stuff: a mixture of equal parts flour and water, that’s left open to the air and provides a home for wild yeast and lactobacilli floating around in the air. You have to feed it every week (if it’s living in the fridge) or every day (if it’s not) by giving it fresh flour and water, and it is basically your own little colony of carbon dioxide producing microorganisms. Instead of trying to tame wild yeast, you can also take a bit of someone else’s established starter, some strains of which have been around for hundreds of years—if you have a starter and are in the Bangor or Williamstown area, I’m interested in it! The curious might look for more information here, and here.
*Magic cards come in packs of 15 called booster packs, and a booster draft is a particular type of tournament where each person gets three packs to start. Each player opens one pack, looks through it, chooses one card to keep, and passes the rest on. This continues until the pack is gone, and then for the two other packs, so each player ends up with 45 cards, out of which to make a deck containing 20 to 27 of them (the rest are lands—sources of the raw materials necessary to play the other cards) (back to post)
GQ had its spring concert and it went absolutely swimmingly. If you couldn’t make it, you can at least check out the totally awsm pictures that Sofia took. Because of scheduling silliness with the music department we were singing in the black box theatre in the ’62 center, which is literally just a big, black box of a room, and can be configured in practically any way imaginable. Not that this was relevant to our show, since other than throwing in as many extra chairs as we could find we didn’t change anything, but the point is that it’s a really neat space, with surprisingly okay acoustics. We were also really luck to have (our music director) Andy’s roommate from freshman year, Toby, running lights for us, and he did an amazing job.
I’m definitely starting to feel some end-of-the-year angst. Seniors are graduating, we’re going to all be juniors next year. This in particular means that I won’t see many my friends for the entire year, since many people are going abroad in the fall and there’s a good chance that I won’t be here for winter study at all, given that my program starts early in January. None of this changes the fact that I am ridiculously excited about next year, but it is sobering. We’re halfway done with this whole experience, and that’s frightening. When we come back from our adventures next year, we’ll be in the thick of senior year insanity, and then we graduate, and go off into the world (or whatever).
However, for right now, I’ve got a paper, three exams, and moving out to worry about, not to mention a great summer filled with lots of reading and playing with computers and hanging out with Ruth and baking bread and all other kinds of awesome to look forward to.