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bread in the time of covid-19

bread in the time of covid-19

like everyone else and their neighbor, i decided that #stayathome was a good time to try out my bread skills.

if i had recipes that i created, i would put them here because everyone hates when the recipe is at the BOTTOM of a blog post. i don’t want to know your life story that led you to this moment when you made your go-to frosting for cinnamon rolls, karen. i just want to know what you put in it.

so here are the links to recipes i used for my bread that i’m about to photobomb you with:

sourdough starter

ATK rustic loaf (a google book because ATK is behind a paywall, which i should be able to access because i own the print copy good grief)

oatmeal honey sourdough

basic sourdough bread

oatmeal honey non-sourdough (i added a tablespoon of maple syrup to this one)


ok! so here i was browsing twitter and instagram and seeing all these peeps talking about making sourdough bread. being the challenge-oriented person i am, i thought this was something i should try out.

first, you should know that yeast and i generally don’t get along. i get too impatient with it. since i’m an end-of-the-alphabet person, i like my instant gratification. it doesn’t like to rise fast enough for me. i bake it before it’s ready. i get flat bread. you’d think i’d learn, but since i generally don’t like dealing with yeast, i stick to quickbreads (banana bread, pumpkin bread), cakes, pies. i pull out the yeast once a year to make bohemekuchen and that’s it.

so this would be a foray into patience for me. plus,  my kuchen this year turned out most excellent, so i was feeling a high.

firstly, i started the sourdough starter.

starter is SUPER easy – it just takes some time. 5 days before i was set to bake the bread, i put a 1-to-1 ratio of flour and water in a bowl and waited. each day, i added additional flour and water, and BOOM those little yeasties took right off.

in the meantime, i was itching to make some bread because that’s what everyone else was doing, so i perusing the good old america’s testing kitchen to see what they had for bread. they had a rustic loaf that i felt i could tackle – it used store-bought yeast, but it started with a SPONGE, which i’d never done before. a sponge is a sort of glorified yeast starter – instead of letting it bloom in water and a little sugar, you also add some flour and let it sit for a while – at least 5 hours.

the rest of the recipe was easy and i let my kitchenaid do a lot of the kneading. i ended up with a halfway decent wheat loaf that i was able to bake right on my pizza stone i have in the bottom of my oven all the time.

ooh fancy! and yummy! the crust was extra crusty and delicious.

by the time i’d had enough of this bread, it was time to attempt sourdough. so here’s where i failed  – since i was feeding my starter up til it was go time, i wasn’t sure if i needed to do the “leaven” part of the recipe or just use the starter straight away.

and the first loaf i attempted was a honey oat loaf, which probably wasn’t the best idea. the stretch and pull was awful, and i didn’t get any sort of rise out of the dough. 🙁

i also need proofing baskets if i’m going to attempt sourdough again, as i had to throw this in a bowl lined with a towel dusted with flour, and it still stuck. i might need some different, less sticky dough to dust with. obviously it stuck good.

it was also not very holey at all, meaning no real rise. sure, it was a dense loaf, but you’d think there’d be some rise to it.

BUT it was DELICIOUS. just the right amount of sour, and it wasn’t overpowering like some of the store-bought sourdoughs can be. if i figure out the starter issue and get a real proofing basket, i might try this one again.

but you know me, why stop at one failure and try for another? this time i tried out a plain white sourdough, and it was really promising! the stretch and folder was really working up some gluten and it was looking good! my loaves puffed out after i threw them in my towel-lined bowls, and even after i turned them out into my dutch oven and had to pull away the towel very carefully, i still had hope.

the fun part about baking sourdough is that you bake it in a dutch oven at 450-500º. you keep the cover on for about 20 minutes so it keeps the steam in to create that crusty surface, then you take it off so it darkens up.

mmm, the maillard reaction.

ah, success! this one was holey and sourdoughy, even though it was flat. there was so much gluten and goodness, that it almost ate like a popover – very eggy but without the eggs.

it makes darn good toast with some butter and raspberry jam.

i have two loaves of the plain white, and one’s in the freezer for later! my starter is in the fridge waiting for another round of sourdough after i figure out proofing baskets.

not to be outdone by it’s all-natural counterpart, i decided to give store-bought yeast another go and made an oatmeal-honey-maple loaf (or two). this one started with oats soaked in boiling water and mixed with some honey. i added in a tablespoon of maple syrup for good measure.

the top is melted butter, honey, and maple syrup mixed together. this is a more traditional loaf of bread, though a little bit sweet. this should also make some excellent toast, and i’m putting a loaf of this in the freezer for later.

we’ll see what other breads or baked goods i come up with for this time of covid. now that the governor has extended stay at home for another month, i’ll have lots of time on my hands. and carbs. good thing good running weather is upon us so i can fit into my regular clothes when this is all over!

any ideas or requests on baked goods or cooking you want me to attempt? no, i will not send you macarons, liz.

foodie friday – tday edition

foodie friday – tday edition

as promised, here are some pics of the food from yesterday!

that butterscotch tart was probably the best thing i’ve eaten in a long time. it’s a pecan shortbread crust with a homemade butterscotch pudding in it. the pecans on top are candied. maybe if i were really fancy, i would add some sort of fruit compote to it – either underneath the pudding layer or just a thin layer on top. maybe a raspberry!

anyway, thanksgiving was a success! the gravy was smokey flavored from last year, the dressing was in excellent shape for being a year old, and the turkey was delicious with the dry brine. the fancy carrots and broccolini were a ncie touch!

10/10 stars. would make thanksgiving dinner again.

my battle with yeast

my battle with yeast

it’s foodie friday, folks! on our way back from mexico, we gals had some pan de muerto at the puerto vallarta airport restaurant, and it was DELISH. so i decided to give it a go!

(not my pic. thanks https://www.wideopeneats.com/recipes/pan-de-muerto/)

i found a relatively reasonable recipe online that called for orange zest and anise seeds, which they almost all did. i used quick rise yeast, but since i’m so impatient about yeast (and i started making this at 7 p.m.), i’m sure i didn’t let it rise enough. either time.

the dough is similar to kuchen dough, except more eggs and butter (an enriched dough, as paul h. would say), so it was more brioche-y but not quite at that level.

i was able to make about 8 “rolls” that varied in size from about about 4″ in diameter to maybe 7″ in diameter. i didn’t make the fancy bone decoration on top, but i did sprinkle with sugar after i got it out. if i attempt this again, i will do an egg wash on top before putting it in the oven. and hope that my patience levels increase so i can let the yeast do its thing.

results? it was dense, due to me not letting it rise enough. i’m pretty sure that paul h. would call it claggy at its best. no handshake for me. but the taste was delicious. i was REALLY hesitant about the anise seed, but it was great with the orange and didn’t overwhelm it with a licorice-y taste. if i try it again, i’ll start earlier in the day and maybe make a half batch. and just let the yeast work.

whole foods – no joke

whole foods – no joke

i’m doing a transformer dietbet, which is 6 months long, and they have regular prize drawings (i guess to keep us motivated). anyway, i won a $100 giftcard to whole foods!

i’d never been to a whole foods in my life. i’ve been to trader joe’s (like it), my local food co-ops (love them), the byerly’s in town when i need something weird and i know they have it (it’s ok but i don’t go regularly). but i’d avoided whole foods because of the whole “apples cost $20 for 3 of them” chatter that the internet proliferates.

but now i had $100 to spend that wasn’t my money, and i guess it was time to set foot in a whole foods. the closest one is in maple grove, so nate and i hauled down there** to go to duluth trading company for a return and nate’s purchase of underwear (guys, i guess the bullpen boxer briefs are where it’s at – be prepared to spend $30/pair though) and then go to whole foods to use the gift card.

well, i guess that the costly apple analogy isn’t entirely wrong…we spent $99.13 (after amazon prime discount) and here’s what we got:

  • 2 frozen skillet meals
  • 2 oatmilk yogurt cups (don’t buy this. it’s bland. and meh.)
  • tofurkey smoked lunch meat (like, 5 slices)
  • smallish bag of terra chips
  • some other smallish bag of chips
  • impossible burger patties (2)
  • box of roobios tea (YAY i’m actually really happy with this purchase)
  • sweet potato fries
  • hamburger buns
  • rice crispy bar (1)
  • prepared burrito (like a lunchbox meal)
  • 3 macarons
  • biodegradable sunscreen for my trip to mexico* so i don’t kill the coral reefs
  • gouda cheese
  • pretzel baguette
  • a peanut butter bar for my drive home
  • a container of cut mango
  • bag of stir fry veggies kit

when i got to the checkout, i realized i needed the whole foods app in order to take advantage of the amazon prime sale/discounts, so i quickly got that on my phone, and that saved $13. good grief.

you know what i could buy at aldi for $100? 3x this amount of food. and overall, aldi isn’t bad about the whole organic, cleanish food thing.

whole foods reminded me a lot of byerly’s, except fewer old people. but the prices, the food, the pretentiousness – yes. the prices weren’t THAT far off from a trader joe’s, but i feel like TJ’s is a lot more “fun” if that makes sense.

if i hadn’t had that gift card, i probably would never have set foot in a whole foods ever. i guess i can now, and i’ve got some food that i wouldn’t have gotten otherwise!

*omg i haven’t blogged about this at all! did you know i’m headed to mexico in 5 days? i’ve gotta pack!

**megan – we need to reschedule our visit! i would’ve invited you to come with me on this, but nate and i had this planned before i even planned our visit 🙁  stupid work. i’ll figure out a day and send you a calendar invite.

state fair day one: a food review

state fair day one: a food review

today i went to the fair with nate for a few hours in the morning before the crowds got too miserable and the weather stormy. the park and ride lot was full at 8:30 a.m., but we parked on a side street and waited for the second shuttle to come around before getting on.

first stop at the fair? the blue barn!

the line was reasonable and they had some new stuff i wanted to check out. so i picked them up!

blue cheese corn fritters: i think this is the only thing i’ll get from the BB from now on. i mean, you can’t go wrong, and they’re delicious. the chimichurri sauce that comes with it is just the right touch, too.

the breakfast potato skin: this was the new thing i wanted to try out, and i wasn’t that impressed. the potato could’ve had a little more seasoning, the eggs were kind of blah, the bournaise sauce was ok. i mean, if i had nothing else for breakfast i’d eat it, but i’m not paying for it again.

frozen slushie hard seltzer thing: mmmm. mmmmm. mmmmmmm. dangerous.

handshake ale drink thing: nate liked this one. i did not. it tasted like a lip balm i owned.

then we were off to check out the fair. we strolled through the grandstand vendors, ran into a bunch of people who stopped in the middle of the road, found the kare11 booth where i picked up a 2020(!) weather calendar, then tried to stroll through the ag building where everyone was standing in line to get a free sample of an apple.

people sure do like their free stuff.

the interesting thing about the fair is that everyone likes to brag that we live here. i mean, i GET IT. MN is an awesome state! even myself, i was wearing my duck duck grey duck shirt and itasca sweatshirt. yep, we love MN. but let me tell you, i didn’t see a lot of 1)outstate wear or 2)non-northshore wear. i was an anomaly with my itasca sweatshirt. i saw a ton of shirts advertising metro and duluth companies, north shore towns and state parks. people. i get it. the north shore is a nice little part of the state. but there’s a lot more out there. take it from me: go see it.

but i digress.

ah! that’s better!

tom thumb donuts: why bother with ANY OTHER donut? like the bag advertises, they’re “light as a feather”. it’s true. all other donuts are greasy inferior globs in comparison. do yourself a favor and just find the tom thumb stands. #worthit

got down to the other end of the park and checked out the ecobuilding, which, TEN YEARS AGO, was pretty much empty when i visited. it was packed today. has being eco-conscious suddenly become trendy? i was half irritated by this development and half hopeful in that people might just glom onto a trend that’s useful. like, maybe it’ll evolve past a trend and into a lifestyle.

took a moment in the education building where i picked up a new minnstate viewbook for work and several pins to hand out to people. that was the 5 seconds i thought about work. then i tried to find a st ben’s booth and didn’t! boo. i don’t know if i just didn’t look hard enough or what.

then we were over in the giggles grill area, so we stopped there.

duck drummies: these were ok. they were nothing fabulous, and quite frankly, i’d’ve preferred chicken. they needed to marinade the duck or something to make it a little more zingy.

duck bacon wonton: now this was good. not exactly a wonton; more like a small pasty filled with cheese bacony ducky goodness. the dipping sauce was good, too!

then nate had to get a pronto pup: i’m not gaga over pronto pups. i think a basic corndog is better, or even just a footlong! (what’s the difference? a corndog is made with cornmeal. pronto pup is made with pancake-like batter.) but nate wanted a pronto pup with mustard so he picked one up. it was ok. as expected. move along.

the leinie lodge: whoo boy! well, already had that slushie, so why not one more? i tried a half and half: a northwoods summer, which is a mix of summer shandy and northwoods lager, and mmmm mmm! i’d get that again.

then i attempted the worst of the worst: the food building. normally i stay out of there, but sarah’s tipsy pies were in there right on the edge, and with no line, so it was time to check it out. and i had a coupon!

onion and gouda pie: this was good if you wanted lunch! it actually reminds me of the squash galette i make in the fall. and the crust was delish!

but i was here for the blueberry lemon boozy pie: OMG i’d wade through 14 food buildings to find this again. talk about wonderful. it wasn’t so boozy, but i didn’t even care. i shoved that thing in my mouth and made room in my stomach even though there wasn’t much room at all. yum.

and that was it! that’s actually a lot of food for 3 hours of fair and 5 miles of walking, and i’m still full, but it was worth it.

finished friday

finished friday

well, kablpomo comes to an end on foodie friday, and i have no food pics for you. i did finally clean out all the thanksgiving food from the fridge and went grocery shopping tonight for real food. i found out that greek gods yogurt made a maple flavor, and it was on clearance at fresh thyme, so i bought two giant containers of it. it’s delicious!

i also got some pretzels and i’m going to attempt to make almond bark pretzels, which i will most likely inhale in two days.

other than that, all quiet on the food front. december starts tomorrow, which means my lindt advent calendar starts tomorrow!! that’s a little exciting. a piece of chocolate for every day in december leading up to christmas! i saw a cheese advent calendar at some grocery store i was at and i should’ve bought it.

oh, one other piece of food news i guess. tomorrow nate and i are going to anton’s to celebrate our 13th anniversary. popovers here we come!

foodie friday thanksgiving edition

foodie friday thanksgiving edition

i am failing on the blogging this year, but i am winning at backdating.

i also failed to take many pics this year of thanksgiving food, but so it goes when the only real things we made were pies and stuffing.

thanksgiving was pretty laid back! jane and i walked a 5k in the morning, saw a movie, then came home and made the squash galette, which turned out better than last year!

this year, i used the paul hollywood rough puff folding technique when i folded the butter into the dough, and goodness gracious if that didn’t make a difference. the dough was super flaky and crisp, and it definitely didn’t have a soggy bottom. it also got done a lot quicker. (i’m not sure if this makes a difference at all, but i did let it sit in the fridge for three days before rolling it out.) so, hollywood handshake on that galette for sure. it also had some bacon in it, which of course makes a delightful taste addition to an advertised vegetarian option.

the actual dinner was pretty simple. we reheated five things and called it a day. the galette was the most labor intensive thing of the day, and after that it was rolling out bread dough for rolls (i didn’t even make the dough. just thawed it out in the freezer). turkey was purchased premade, potatoes premade, gravy premade. perfect. the dishes sat overnight and we did them 24 hours later.

well, the one fail this year was my first pumpkin pie. i had no white sugar, so i decided to use coconut sugar which said could be used 1:1 for replacement. MISTAKE. that pie tasted awful. so i made another pumpkin pie last night because i wasn’t going to go through thanksgiving with no pumpkin pie (even though we have a maple and sweet potatoes pies).

this one is much better. already had a giant piece for breakfast!

in other news, i’ve got to run like 6 miles tonight. blarf. 

bonus: foodie saturday

bonus: foodie saturday

i had a very foodalicious saturday so i thought i’d share.

first i made a chicken wild rise hot dish that was at brewlash this year. it had 2 cups of gouda cheese in it – that was enough to make it worth making.

after eating that deliciousness, i attempted the … wait for it….

MILLIONAIRE SHORTBREAD.

yes, this was the one recipe i saw on the great british bake off that i was just flabbergasted that i’d never made and that looked absolutely delicious.

i went to america’s test kitchen and found a recipe.

of course i had to make some adjustments. since i was out of flour, and it sounded like it would be delicious, i swapped out AP flour with almond flour for the shortbread. i made the caramel almost to the recipe. since i don’t eat devil’s syrup, i used lyle’s golden syrup instead. and then instead of dark chocolate on top, i used milk chocolate and added dark chocolate shavings and salt on the top.

these aren’t that difficult to make – the most tedious part is making sure the caramel doesn’t burn, but that just takes paying attention for 15 minutes.

as you can see, i wasn’t winning any presentation awards from paul hollywood, but i kid you not – one of the more delicious things i’ve eaten in my life. definitely will make again.

foodie friday: GBBO edition

foodie friday: GBBO edition

oh yes, the time has come to review what i’ve made after drooling over the great british bake off.

ok, well, after doing a bit of research, it turns out i’ve only made ONE recipe so far, but in my head i’d counted an additional one because i got a paul hollywood handshake from jane.

SO. first, i made the apricot couronne, which is really tasty.

(photo not mine)

i made this over easter or something a year or so ago, and it was actually pretty easy to make (when you know what you’re doing). while i’m not a huge fan of working with yeast (it never seems to cooperate), the apricot filling in this along with the almonds and icing on top really made it worth worrying about yeast.

the second recipe i was thinking of was actually recommended by lynn from the splendid table: the squash galette. man, it’s delicious!

the crust is flaky and made with whole wheat flour. the filling has squash, sour cream, cheese, spinach, and while the recipe is for vegetarians, i like to add bacon for a little bit of bacon-y goodness. i’ve already made one this fall and i definitely plan to make at least one more. hmmm… maybe i’ll make another tomorrow!

all this to say, sunday i will be making the MILLIONAIRE SHORTBREAD. this was made during caramel week on  GBBO, and i could NOT believe that i had never had it or made it. it looks absolutely delicious: shortbread crust, caramel, and then a layer of chocolate. of course they have to be perfect on GBBO, but i don’t even care if they’re a mess because i will EAT THEM WITH A SPOON. i am so excited to make these and even more excited to eat them on monday after my stupid dietbet is over!

(this pic not mine either)

i’m going to use some almond flour in the crust, and i’m trying to figure out a good way to add some peanut butter. we’ll see what happens.

as an aside, i’m also making chicken wild rice hotdish this weekend, so if anyone wants to visit me, i am open to that 🙂

non-foodie friday

non-foodie friday

although fridays are dedicated to foodies ideals, this friday i am talking to you about my dietbet. yes, during foodie fridays, i’m not eating much food.

dietbet is an app and there are a ton of games to choose from, either a kickstarter where you lose 2% over a month or a transformer, 10% over 6 months. you bet money against yourself to lose the weight along with a lot of other people, and after final weighin, the pot is split among the winners. this month’s game is the second kickstarter i’ve done. i gave myself a month between them so i can eat like i want to for a little bit. also, ragnar was in there. i wasn’t dieting during that!

anyway, losing 2% of your weight in a month is a really aggressive weight loss regimen. myfitnesspal wants me to eat 1200 calories a day with a sedentary lifestyle (during the winter i’m sedentary. summertime i’m lightly active). then i log my running. yoga is a freebie unless it’s an hour of HIIT yoga, then i log that.

but keeping myself to 1200 calories is difficult! i try to eat oatmeal for breakfast because that is filling. then i have a protein bar for lunch (ok, a couple days i’ve had curly fries from the cafeteria, not gonna lie). by the time i come home, i’m pretty hangry and eat usually chicken and a crap ton of vegetables, sometimes rice. my kitchen scale is the most valuable thing i have in my kitchen right now. if i run, i will eat some sort of carbalicious thing, like yogurt or a cookie or a bagel with cream cheese or a piece of toast slathered in raspberry jam. but then i’m done eating for the night. if i get hungry, i’ll drink water. if it doesn’t go away, i’ll have either some popcorn or flavored rice cakes (which are actually not too horrible). i log everything in myfitness pal and hope i get enough protein and iron during the day.

so far, the limitations in eating haven’t really affected my running, especially since i’m not running hugely long distances due to ragnar being over. but i’ve also started treadmill running, which is really depressing and i’m not looking forward to at least 4 more months of it. i think the biggest accomplishment with this dietbet so far is that i’ve dipped into onederland and maintained it for more than a week now, so that’s something i haven’t seen since probably 1999. i’m also officially in the “overweight” bmi range. high five to self on no longer being obese! it’s also time to do another progress pic. i’ve lost 70 lbs since my highest weight!

i haven’t decided if i’ll do another dietbet. if i do, i’ll wait until january so i can get the holidays in without feeling guilty (and losing). i also have a feeling that the dietbets will be flooded with new years resolutioners, so maybe i’ll make some cash.

the first dietbet i made $12, so i have high hopes for this one, which ends on nov. 12. the day after i do my final weigh in will be a happy day with many tacos.

ugh, that looks so good