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happy 3rd day of christmas! got your french hens?

happy 3rd day of christmas! got your french hens?

i didn’t eat any chicken today, but i did eat a lot of eggs over christmas eve and day. in general, i don’t eat a ton of eggs, but over the past week, i think i’ve gone through three dozen. if i keel over from a heart attack in the next week, we’ll know why.

exhibit a:

i made my buche de noel, in which i use eggs to make the meringue mushrooms (delicious little morsels) as well as the sponge for the swiss roll. overall, i think i used a half a dozen eggs for the yule log dessert. here’s the recipe and here’s a video of me making it!

exhibit b:

of course what is christmas without egg salad sandwiches? someone at worked asked me what was on the menu for christmas, and i said the main course was cheese, of course. which, it is. i have so much cheese now. but then i added egg salad, and she was like, what? egg salad? and i realized that christmas is basically all about grazing foods. so yes, i made a batch of egg salad with 16 eggs. yes, 16-egg egg salad. i couldn’t find festive bread, so i slathered a heaping helping on a slab of marble rye bread. xmas eve supper was basically egg salad with a side of bread, cheese, olives, and smoked oysters. then dessert from exhibit a with vanilla ice cream.

exhibit c:

christmas breakfast was eggs benedict! how glorious is homemade hollandaise?? it was delicious. the hollandaise called for 6 egg yolks, then i made eggs to go on the eggs benny (over easy fried, not annoying poached). by the way, if there is leftover hollandaise, just throw it out because it is disgusting the next day.

exhibit 1.a:

forgot this one. i made so many christmas cookies that called for eggs. the last cookie i made was a batch of macarons, which calls for a couple of egg whites. so that was in on my egg usage as well.

i still have about 10 eggs left in the fridge, along with maybe two more helpings of egg salad (that should be finished up tomorrow). on a related, side note, santa brought nate a new egg frying pan, which will be so nice to have. right now we have all stainless steel, which is great for everything but eggs. good job, santa.

christmas was ok. i had to buy stuff for my own sock, which isn’t cool. if you want to read something heartwarming and that causes holiday introspection, i implore you to take a look at this twitter thread!

on christmas day, i watched the three pirates of the carribbean movies. today and yesterday i watched the three mighty ducks movies. and i am going to watch the christian bale batman trilogy tonight and tomorrow. it’s a trilogy holiday this year, i guess.

OH and i watched soul on disney+, which i encourage everyone to watch. i would venture to guess that it’s not really a children’s movie. sure, it’s animated, but dang pixar sure knows how to turn on the emotional spigot.

decorating cookies

decorating cookies

i have no patience for decorating sugar cookies. i thought i would try out the outline then flood method for cookies. i also found a fantastic recipe that holds the shape of the cookie cutter. i was doing well until i got to the decorating the tree part. i should have just left them green!

i mean, these are pretty awesome for being baked! the recipe called for cornstarch instead of a rising agent.

but yeah, after the flooding of the green trees, “decorating” was not a good result.

this took forever! and i have snowflakes and stars left to do! but, lucky for you, i put together a speed video of my decorating process so you can vicariously live through my decorating moments. or minutes. hours, days, decades. i don’t know how long it took me to do these awful looking trees. gah.

lonelygiving 2020

lonelygiving 2020

holy cow, how is it thanksgiving NEXT WEEK already? when this year is over, i expect a refund on all the time i’ve missed! i guess this means i need to go grocery shopping this weekend for some thanksgiving food stuffs.

oh, you bet i’m still making full on tday dinner! i’ve already got my turkey, bread crumbs for dressing, and 8 cans of organic pumpkin. i think the splendid table was trying to convince me on twitter that recipes for downsized pies were the way to go this thanksgiving.

excuse me? you underestimate my ability to eat pumpkin pie, all day, every day.

so, still doing the traditional stuff: turkey, dressing, potatoes, squash, cran sauce, and some other vegetable (brussels sprouts?). the plus side about doing full on tday for two people is the leftovers, so that’s good news. and of course, all the pie for me. gonna make me a butterscotch tart again this year. and if there’s no company, that means i spend all day taking food pics. there are worse things than a lonelygiving. i mean, in addition to spreading covid throughout the land.

hmmm… maybe i could livestream my cooking….

if nate pops up with a negative covid test and i pop up with a negative covid test, jane is welcome to show up if she so wishes, but this may be the year of watching die hard via zoom. maybe others could join us!

it’s pie time!

it’s pie time!

i was hoping that quarantine in the fall meant i’d see nothing but pies all over my feeds just like spring brought the bread, but no such luck. but what better way to celebrate fall than with some pie?

i had some cranberries that i wanted to use, so i did a search for fresh cranberry options, and let me tell you – there aren’t a ton. but i found a cranberry custard pie that looked like a good starting point. i sort of followed the recipe but added about a cup of pumpkin puree into the custard along with some pumpkin pie spice.  also it calls for two crusts on the bottom, which may have been my downfall. i went with just one.

since there was much success with it last time, i used the test kitchen recipe for crust that had vodka in the ingredients. i also tried out blind baking the crust with my pie weights, and that just does not turn out well for me. the crust shrinks up on the sides and just overall isn’t a good time. i’m going to have to do some research on that.

but it’s delicious!

the cranberries add an awesome bite to a more traditional pumpkin pie, and it tastes really fresh, even if there’s more sugar in this pie than you can shake a stick at.

it doesn’t exactly look very appetizing – you should have seen it before i dusted some powdered sugar on it. but it does taste pretty awesome. my crust, unfortunately, has a soggy bottom even WITH the blind baking and me putting it in a 500º oven (a tip from an expert pie baker). mary berry would’ve sent me out of the tent. the rest of the crust is spot on though.

then i made some cute little leaf cutouts. i really should look into finding cookie presses so i get the little details better.

and since i was making crusts anyway, why not go all out? i made my squash galette today, an autumnal staple for me. it’s just delish.

bread break

bread break

say hello to the new addition!

bed bath and beyond had a sale on their cast iron, so i got the baby in the front for $40, which is a steal. it’s a 6 qt, which is bigger than my black lodge cast iron in the back. now i can bake two loaves at once! also, do not put your cast iron pots directly on your pizza stone. you get burnt bottoms. worse than a soggy bottom? not sure.

i took monday off, so i got out my sourdough starter on sunday and boy did it go gangbusters. i ended up making 5 loaves of sourdough on monday, and it actually turned out like it was supposed to – holey!

i also made myself another loaf of honey oat sourdough, which is pretty good.

for my white bread loaves, i ended up splitting a recipe that was probably meant for smaller pans. next time i make it, i’ll try to make one giant loaf in the big pot. next time!

so now i’ve got three loaves of white sourdough and one loaf of honey oat in the freezer. not too shabby. we’ll see if pie season takes off like bread season has.

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

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.

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