Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Crusty Italian Rolls

Had some of the best Crusty Italian Rolls I have made yet this morning.  Made two big enough to make full steak sandwiches with them.  The steak was not frozen, but instead was from a nice sizes steak that I sliced as thinly as I could.  The other good thing.  While I could have let the rolls rise a bit longer, I was at least able to go from start to finish in less than 2 hours.

Now I am considering offering some homemade bread for the student assembly auction.  I figure, one homemade recipe a month for the rest of the school year after the auction on Dec 10.  I could do, Crusty Italian, Wheat, Lion House Rolls, Naan Pockets, and something else.  It would be fun.  And I like helping the student assembly at the School of Public Health as the travel funds have benefitted one of my advisees.  My advisee is also the president of the student assembly this year, so she can appeal to me directly.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Baking for teachers

Today's baking adventure?  In some ways it is not much of an adventure.  Making Lion House Rolls, although not quite as early in the morning as I usually do on a weekday.  With teaching, I put in some pretty long hours, and I was not out of bed before 5 this morning.  Of course, my 4 year old was up already  so he helped and that always adds to the adventure (in a good way)!

Today's baking is not for us.  We have parent-teacher conferences at the kids' school today.  They have a tradition of asking parents to provide potluck dishes for the teachers.  So this is our contribution.  All good fun.

Otherwise, food for the day is just "whatever".  Cereal for breakfast.  Not sure what others will have for lunch while I'm at work.  Pasta for dinner.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Brief updates

Crepes for my 4 year old yesterday (and for the rest of us as well, although they were at the request of my 4 year old) and Lion house rolls made this morning which are serving as lunch for most of us (maybe Sherry) and as part of dinner with slow cooked ribs for the family this evening.  Good days for cooking.  Slow cooked ribs for dinner on a soggy day will be just right this evening.

Monday, October 26, 2009

A productive Sunday & Monday

On Sunday we had a great day in the kitchen.  We made a batch of mozzarella in the morning.  It turned out okay but not great.  It was not as soft as the best one I've made so far.  I did, however, leave the whey afterward to sit for 12 hours (as I'd found as a suggestion on a website by a chemistry professor somewhere) and then I cooked the whey a bit longer than usual as I set it cooking while reading bedtime stories to my 4 year old.  I used a reusable coffee filter to filter the whey and ended up with a great output of ricotta that tasted great. One of these times I'll get both the mozzarella and ricotta right.  Used milk from Chambersburg this time.  Comes in thick glass bottles with deposit and return.

Today, we made pretzels at breakfast time for lunch.  Served them with cream cheese or ricotta and jellies of various sorts.  Even made a braided soft pretzel or two.  Then, for dinner made pizza.  First time in a while that I was able to make the pizza with dough made at the time rather than making the dough early and refrigerating.  Made my kids happy with the quality.  Use the mozzarella and ricotta from Sunday on the pizzas and an organic pepper on one of the two.

Two great days in the kitchen.  Going to try to keep it up with my boys while teaching over the next eight weeks.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Soft pretzels--boiled and baked

Serving soft prretzels hot off the pan after boiling and baking has won my sons over.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Crepes and Pizza

Well, we have had a number  of adventures since my last post.  I tried cheese again on the morning of the half marathon.  Of the three recipes of cheese I've made so far, the one that I made at 4 in the morning on the day I ran the half marathhon was the best by far.  Perhaps I need to make it early in the morning again.  My 3rd attempt turned out a little soft, but my ricotta turned out better.

Today, we had cocoa crepes for breakfast.  Those were fund and also served as lunch for my older two boys.

For dinner, we had pizza.  I had made the dough this morning.  I could have cooked it thir morning too, but I have been generally unhappy with the consinstency of the pizza at dinner time if a cooked pizza is quickly putt in the fridge for the day.  So, I made the dough into the right shape, had Joshua a relatively small amount of sauce on, had Daniel put grated Parmesan on, and put our "spreadable mozzarella on and wrapped it in foil.  Since it took up the entire middle shelf in the fridge, Christopher used his Sharpee to write on in "Please don't crush me" and the pizza turned out to make a thick 16" pizza that fed my family of five for dinner.

What a blessing.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Biscuits, cheese, and corn bread

Yesterday morning it was biscuits for breakfast.  Yesterday evening we made mashed potatoes with bacon and crab meat cooked mixed in.  Wow, was that good, especially with Old Bay sprinkled on top.  Last night the boys and I tried making cheese.  It turned out okay.  Main lesson--don't use ultrapasteurized milk.  We may try again today with just me and my four year old.  Finally, this morning making corn bread.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Bright and early baking

I was up late reading and working last night.  So, this morning I didn't get out of bed till after 5.  I thought it was going to be raining, so I didn't plan to run.  I'll do a short run this evening.

In any case, looking ahead to a crazy day (with kids going to activities from when I drop them off at school this morning until after 6 tonight) I already have one thing in the oven and one thing ready to go.

What is in the oven?  Corn bread.  Plain and simple corn bread. Not pone.  Nothing else special.  Just corn bread--although still using meal from the local stone grinding mill.

What is ready to go?  A 16" extra cheese and pepperoni pizza?  It will have taken less than 1 hr 15 minutes from start to finish (except for cooling off) when all is said and done.  We'll see how it turns out.  Then, tonight we'll just microwave it for dinner.  Still should be good, and better than any local takeout option!

Just want to avoid those takeout options.  Too much $ and not really all that exciting in most cases.

Later this week--we'll try making homemade mozzarella on the day I'm home with Daniel!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Another yummy morning--with a smoke detector incident...

Today, I got a "late" start. I was not up until almost 5 and not back from my run until 6. So, after a shower and giving my 4 year old a bath, I made crepes with vanilla in them for my sons' breakfast. I ate other stuff (including a banana for the potassium after my run). My 4 year old identified the vanilla flavoring without my even saying. It was pretty cool and the crepes turned out very nicely.

While making the crepes, I made a recipe of pone (essentially corn bread) that I mentioned once before.  It is quick--no yeast but does involve scalded milk which my sons helped with. This time I used "regular" corn meal rather than "roasted corn meal" and added just a little sugar. We'll see if my kids like the flavor better than when I made it with roasted corn meal. The smoke detector incident was that the batter nearly overflowed the dish in which I baked it. As a result, it was bubbling over a bit as it baked. And, when the little bit that bubbled over hit the bottom of the oven, it created smoke. I think that I have to check the smoke detector nearest the kitchen as it did not go off! But the upstairs smoke detector (one floor above the oven) did go off. We turned on the oven vent, we turned on the ceiling fan, and we even opened the kitchen window on this chilly morning. The kids tried to help the smoke dissipate near the smoke detector. It would stop--then it would start again. Over and over again in the last ten minutes of baking. For the final two minutes, my kids just gave up and I was worried a neighbor might call the fire department. Fortunately, no calls to the fire department. We'll see just how it tastes with ham at dinner!

Monday, October 5, 2009

Great morning in the kitchen

So, I began today with ann early dog walk, run, and quick shower.  After the shower, I entertained my 4 year old making pretzel dough.  When all was said and done we have about 20 pretzels.  We baked them in two batches--one with Old Bay that I took for lunch with students in my department and one with cinnamon and sugar that made a wonderful breakfast.  The boys were glad to help.  Christopher also started dinner for us all--simple pasta but it was a big help.  Goals are limited this week with Sherry being away.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Pretzels and Bread

So, the boil before baking pretzels I made last night got mixed reviews.  Daniel and I liked them.  The older boys did not.  I told the older boys to give them one more chance before we go back to the old egg wash/bake only recipe.  I was in a rush by the time they finished baking last night and put them in a contained to store before they were fully cooled.  A little soggy from condensation this morning.  If you are interested in the recipe you can find it here.  It pays to make sure the pan is well greased and the pretzels are as dry as possible after boiling and before you put them on the pan. I have to agree with other FB friends who have said that boiling first makes all the difference in the consistency when they are done.

This evening, I was thinking of trying a whole wheat challah recipe.  I didn't have enough eggs.  So, in the end I made m now standard whole wheat, honey, corn meal bread recipe--but I braided the loaves just to make them look pretty.  We'll see if I got them the right consistency for a good meal in the morning.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Starting and ending the day in the kithcen

Short and sweet:

I began my day making Lion House Rolls.

I end my day trying a new soft pretzel recipe.  If my family likes it, I'll post the link.  This is a boiled before baked kind.

I have started and ended the day because I can't figure out how to fit in running when I bake at this point.  LIfe is too busy.  But it is all good.

Monday, September 28, 2009

13 Year Old Pizza Maker

Those who read my FB posts already have seen most of this.  Today's food fun was crepes for breakfast for the first time in a while (I ate mine with quince preserves and the kids had theirs with nutella).  For dinner, I instructed my 13 year old on how to make a homemade pizza himself.  He did a splendid job--one extra thick 16" pizza, with 1 lb of grated fresh mozzarella, a whole can of Dom Pepino sauce, and turkey pepperoni.  Enough made that we have 2 1/2 pieces left that can be lunch for the kids tomorrow.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Food extravaganza

Since yesterday morning's first attempt at homemade pop-tarts, my family has had a food extravaganza.

First, we went to a Greek festival and enjoyed pastitsio, gyros, and tiropita along with a long list of deserts. Diples was a favorite.  Picked up a Greek cookbook.  Combining that with recipes from my FB friends, we are ready for an increasingly Mediterranean diet.

Second, when I went to pick up Christopher from his Saturday music program, we stopped at a butcher shop on the way home.  Bought 4 beautiful pork chops.  Cooked those in a little canola oil and served green onions sauteed in the fat on top.  That was great.  My 4 year old asked for homemade bread to use for dipping in the olive oil we bought at the Greek festival yesterday.  My wife says I spoil him but I could not resist.  in 80 minutes we had crusty Italian rolls.  I must say that despite somewhat short rising times (and this is something I don't generally recommending taking short cuts on) the rolls were very good and in the olive oil they were wonderful.

This morning we made quince pop tarts. The quince is an awesome flavor.  We made the pop tarts 4x4 rather than 2x3.  They turned out better but you have to bake them more like 15-17 minutes rather than 7-8.  We still have not used the frosting recipe.  In any case, click here for the recipe link.  I have to hand it to the boys.  The boys made almost the entire recipe by themselves.

Also this morning, I braised a boneless leg of lamb that is now in the crock pot and we are almost done more rolls to go with lunch.

Great day so far.  Hoping for good things to come.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Pretzel Pie & Pop-Tarts

It's been a couple days since I wrote in here.  Two fun days with foods.  Let me first post a few back pictures.  Let's begin with pear-prusciutto pizza:

Next, the heirloom tomato pizza:

Then, the Italian sausage and couscous with smoked mozzarella (plate from before I was born!):

The last two, I have to write a bit about. Yesterday, we made a pretzel recipe in the morning that yielded a dozen pretzels--half a dozen with Old Bay and half a dozen with cinnamon and sugar.  (We tried not to sprinkle Old Bay onto the ones right next to them with cinnamon).  We baked the pretzels on a round pan.  The boys placed them close enough together that they touched while baking.  When they were done, I was able to slide the whole dozen off as a circle onto the cooling rack.  The kids called in a "Pretzel Pie".

Finally, this morning, I followed up on a post from earlier in the week when I mentioned that I had organic pomegranate toaster pastries.  I found a recipe and gave it a try.  This first batch turned out okay. I need a jam that is slightly less runny and I need to either toast them after baking or bake them a little longer.  Rather than using a sugar-icing topping, we used Nutella and sprinkles.  Here is a picture of the ten "pop-tarts".  We used homemade cherry freezer jam as the filling.  Great combination with the chocolate and hazelnuts.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Multiple adventures

Back in the kitchen today.  It was a lot of fun.

Began the day with a double recipe of soft pretzels before school.  Of the 20 pretzels, 14 were covered with cinnamon and sugar.  I showed my kids how much you have to put on the really taste it.  Those with enough on really taste yummy.  The other 6--at long last I tried my Baltimore Old Bay Pretzels.  They were wonderful.  Even my 4 year old says he like them!  While we ate pretzels with cinnamon and sugar for breakfast, we saved the Old Bay for lunch.  That would not have been a good breakfast.

On the way home, I bought 8 sausage links.  At a local store they carry multiple varieties of Italian sausage--just "sweet", fennel, rosemary, etc.  In any case, I got two of each of four varieties.  Cooked them in a pan.  Had my 13 year old cut them to 1/2 in slices.  My 4 year old cut s bunch of green onions into pieces.  Fried those in the fat left over from the sausages with a tiny bit of red wine vinegar.  Then cooked couscous with a bit of olive oil.  Mixed the sausage slices, couscous, and green onions together.  Made a great dinner along with smoked mozzarella.

Finally (this was just for me although I'm sure a bit of non-alcoholic orange beverage could be substituted in this recipe) I made a cool, summery (it is 80+ degrees and ridiculously humid today), slushy for a snack.  Mix 1 small lemon (seeded if you have a regular blender or not if you have a high powered blender), 6 ice cubes, 1/4 cup of orange muscat desert wine, and 1/4 cup of pomegranate juice (we use a mix that is all juice but not pure pomegranate).  Blend until smooth.  Nice mix of tart and sweet flavors without having to add any sugar.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Cashing in on hard work

The pizza I made yesterday morning was enjoyed by all last night for dinner.  One down side of making such a heavy pizza in the morning is that it was a bit soggy by dinner time.  Have to work on the timing issues there in the future.

The whole wheat bread was used by my boys for lunch yesterday and they'll have more for today and probably tomorrow as well.  They seem to enjoy it.

The "cashing in" part comes from my own experience into today.  Last night after I got home I ate dinner while Sherry ran the two older boys to their respective musical activities.  Then, I gave Daniel a bath, but him to bed, did the dishes, picked Joshua up, stopped at the grocery store, and finally ended up back at home.  After which I turned around and drove to Bethesda.  (Did I mention packing for an overnight stay in Bethesda for an NIH meeting on the list above?  Must have forgotten that one.  It was a busy evening.)

In any case, when I went to pick up Joshua, I asked Christopher to make me two sandwiches of just honey on whole wheat.  I brought them to Bethesda with me.  (This is one of the reasons I can't imagine leaving Baltimore--when I need to be at the NIH or in DC I can "brown bag it" for at least part of the trip.)  The sandwich is right now an awesome breakfast along with "organic fruit punch" drink boxes after a hard workout.  Being nourished by what I have the good fortune to have the time and money to make with my own hands and my kids' help is a great thing.  

Brief side observation--I am always amazed when I make breads.  When I mix dry ingredients that are all over the bowl when I begin with the wet ingredients, I end up with a ball of dough that never seems large enough to contain all the ingredients.  Then, thanks to the yeast, it rises and becomes twice as big.  The whole process is pretty amazing.  

Monday, September 21, 2009

Making a dent in a 10 pound bag of stone ground wheat flour

I sit here typing at 6:45 AM and I have already had a great morning.  We'll hope that the rest of the day is as productive.

My main accomplishment this morning--making a serious dent in a 10 pound bag of stone ground whole wheat flour that I got at the mill on Saturday.

First, I made the whole wheat, corn, honey bread that I made a few weeks ago.  This time, I had the recently ground, stone ground whole wheat flour.  Also, this time I used roasted corn meal rather than regular corn meal (that was also from the mill).  Finally, this time I had the right amount of honey.  My 13 year old took one bite and said "This is good!"  I have to agree.  The roasted corn meal definitely adds to the flavor.

Right now, in the oven, I have a whole wheat pizza baking.  This morning, I ran out of yeast--had about half what I needed--so I threw in some baking powder.  It worked really well.  I topped a 16 inch pizza  with a  full pound of mozzarella, a beautiful orange heirloom tomato, and ground parmesan.  Good eats for dinner tonight.  I'll be home, but too late to do the pizza from scratch tonight.

Have a great day!

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Sunday morning

Well, it was 8 o'clock when I sat down at the computer.  It's now 8:15 as I gave up on my laptop and switched to my desktop for the blog entry.

Great morning so far.  I ran this morning and all the pain I had in my knee a few weeks ago is gone.  That is a plus in preparation for the half-marathon in three weeks.

The sandwiches for the potluck at the mill yesterday were well received.  After a potluck with very nutritious foods including an awesome fig chutney we went to Dairy Queen.  Almost the exact opposite of what we'd had for dinner in terms of nutrition but it was a fun treat.

This morning I made buckwheat crepes using the stone ground  buckwheat flour we bought at the mill yesterday.  Not quite freshly ground but close.  Those were good crepes.  Although my 4 year old said he did not like the flavor.  It may also have been the consistency as they really are a bit different from the crepes I usually make.

Also this morning I tried my hand at Sally Lunn bread--at least that's what the recipe in my cookbook calls it.  It is a yeast-based sweet bread that you bake in a bundt pan.  Next time I try it I'll have to bake it a minute or two longer and/or wait a few minutes to take it out of the pan.  The bread tastes good but it fell entirely out of shape when I turned it of the pan.  My 10 year old made the astute observation that it tastes a lot like the Lion House Rolls.  Most of the same ingredients--just different proportions and a different shape.  When I get it right, I'll take a picture.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

A Fun Saturday

Started today late.  Catching up on sleep.  Found my 4 year old and my young cat at the foot of the bed when I get up this morning near 7.

After watching Joshua play some online stacking games, I made crepes for everyone else.  I ate the last two smaller Lion House rolls that were left over from earlier this week. The crepes were pretty standard.  Joshua helped me spread one or two of them.  I had Daniel cut bananas to wrap inside them. We served them with banana, a honey spread from the Maryland beekeepers association, and then one the last one I made for Sherry I put a pinch of cinnamon.  She said it was a nice touch.

Now I am finishing baking a dozen crusty Italian rolls.  Some for us for lunch. Some to take for an afternoon potluck after we tour a grain mill.  For the potluck, we'll take fresh mozzarella and tomato (no salami for a mostly vegetarian group) on the Italian rolls.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Baking early

Well, this post is not coming until a bit after 10:30, but I've been up a while and had soft pretzels baked before 4:40. I'm getting in a bit of a rut, but soft pretzels are one of the few yeast-based breads that I can make in less than an hour from start to finish. I was even able to offer one to Daniel before I left at 5:15, but he was not interested. Too early for him this morning, despite the fact that he was up.

Why was I in a rush? I'm blogging before giving a guest lecture in NYC. After two mornings away, I wanted to bake for my family--and for me! The food in State College was good, but I love preparing my own. And, since my guest lecture visit doesn't include lunch, I packed my own. I cooked a 2 1/2 egg omelet (I say 2 1/2 because I used the remaining egg from the egg wash for the pretzels plus two more eggs) with some of the leftover cheddar and browned ground turkey from Tuesday's dinner. Cut the omelet in two, and made two "omelet on pretzel" sandwiches. I'll eat those for lunch. We'll see how they are. It's a promising way to combine leftovers and freshly baked goods.

I also have to hand it to Sherry! I arrived home last night between 7:30 and 8 not having eaten dinner in State College—big breakfast and lunch. I had some of the pesto and spaghetti she’d prepared for dinner. It was great pesto!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

No baking this morning

So, this morning I am not baking? Why, I am in State College, PA. I was blessed to be chosen for an award from the Schreyer Honors College. That will be tomorrow. The invitation along with the award was to come for a two day stay to interact with current students and faculty. I arrived last night and will leave tomorrow.

So, what will my kids be eating. First, the Lion House rolls I made yesterday. Second, when I got home for dinner last night, I made a quick batch of soft pretzels while I was making dinner. My 4 year old ate one of them already. He always likes to eat what I bake as soon as I bake it. I suppose I should appreciate that. It shows how much he likes what I cook and it shows how much the food we share keeps us connected. Between the bread products, some leftover salami and American cheese, the leftover French toast we made for breakfast yesterday with the homemade whole wheat bread (that was tasty French toast), and a few other things that are around, they should be fine.

For dinner one of the evenings I am gone, they will be treated to homemade pesto as Sherry went and got pine nuts yesterday to go with the basil she already had. She and the kids (and I) love homemade pesto. I hope that some will be left when I get home.

For dinner last night, while I was making the soft pretzels, I decided to make something other than the spaghetti to leave the quick meals for Sherry and the boys while I am gone. So, I bought some ground turkey and sharp cheddar. Browned the turkey and had the kids grate the cheddar. Put them insight mostly organic large tortillas and fried the turkey and cheese burritos in canola oil until they were just golden brown. (At least that was how long I intended to fry them. The results were actually quite variable.) In any case, everyone liked those served alongside thick slices of another heirloom tomato. It is unfortunate that we have reached the end of the local tomato season. This year's heirloom tomatoes from the community supported agriculture farm were among the best ever.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Quick entry today

Quick entry today. My four year old asked for Lion House Rolls yesterday. I didn't even have the yeast to make them yesterday morning, but I am making them this morning. The irony is that he and his two brothers won't even need them for lunch today. The kids school has a program where a local high end grocery store offers lunches for the kids--the school does not have its own cafeteria. The key is that even the minimum order (2 days a week for each of the three kids) would run us over $20/week. We have enough other good food that this doesn't make sense for us. However, today they offered every kid in the school a free lunch. So my oldest is getting an Italian cold cut sandwich and my younger two are both getting sushi!

The menu for today then? For breakfast, we'll serve the remaining leftover wheat bread from Sunday for breakfast. Possibly as French toast. Depends on how much time I have. The kids lunches are taken care of as mentioned above. Probably something very simple like spaghetti with some type of vegetable from the CSA and maybe some of the rolls I make. Otherwise, rolls get saved for lunch tomorrow. Probably make a single or double recipe of soft pretzels for while I'm in State College for two days.

Monday, September 14, 2009

A house with no yeast

This morning there was no yeast in the house? Was this a surprise? No. I knew that would be the case yesterday when I used the last bit of yeast in the most recently purchased jar two make enough dough for two 12 inch pizzas for dinner last night. That wasn't originally planned, but since my four year old was ill, I stayed home and made a nice dinner for when my wife and two older sons arrived home from the oldest's concert. We ended up having pear and prosciutto pizza. It was quite good. One accomplishment in the process of making those pizzas--I managed (for the first time) to make the pizza dough round on the pizza peel and then move it to an already hot pizza stone without having the dough lose its shape. The pizza with the two ingredients mentioned already and ricotta and fresh mozzarella worked quite well. Apparently several months of practice with lots of corn meal to move Italian rolls of the pizza peel have finally paid off in terms of an improved ability to do the same for pizzas. Now it's time to get another pizza peal as it works best for pizzas that fit well on the peel and my family can't do with less than two 12 inch pizzas these days.

So, what did my children and I eat today if we had no yeast? We had enough leftovers from the weekend, that I served jelly doughnuts for breakfast, leftover pizza for lunch for everyone but me and a sandwich on leftover whole wheat bread for me. That worked well.

This morning while my kids and I ate doughnuts, I took the leftover Bosco pears and prosciutto and sautéed they in some better. I cooked a half recipe of crepes. And tonight, my family should be serving the crepes with a thin layer of ricotta and some of the pear-prosciutto sauce. If we don't fill up on that, there's still plenty of wheat bread and heirloom tomatoes in the fridge. Can't do pears and prosciutto all the time, but it was yummy.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Sunday morning breadmaking

   For this morning's recipe, I actually made what I had planned to make yesterday when I was on my way home on Friday. Those who have been following along will recall my desire to move on to whole wheat bread. Yesterday, I made doughnuts instead as a treat for my kids when I got back.

   Today, I made the whole wheat bread recipe. I was a little short on honey so the bread has some molasses in nit.  It smelled delicious as the two loaves just came out of the oven. We'll see how they taste.

   I should note two other things. First, from last weekend's bread making extravaganza. When I returned, my family had not even finished all the bread. It helped that my 13 year old was sick during the week. If he had not been, I bet that all the bread would have been gone. As it was there were eight Italian rolls left. We used four yesterday. Four are left in our neighbor's freezer. It is amazing how empty our own freezer is now.

   Second, from yesterday, the 12 sandwiches (half an Italian roll, mozzarella, salami, and tomato) that we contributed to the block party all got eaten.

   For the rest of today, I expect we'll eat grilled cheese (simple white American on the whole wheat bread) for lunch and then whatever for dinner as Christopher has a concert from 1-6.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

First morning back in the kitchen

While I had thought about wheat bread yesterday when I was still in Chicago, I ended up making jelly doughnuts this morning.  Here's a few pictures.  I had help from all three boys.  One who had been ill all week, one who seems to be coming down with what his brother had (and has fallen back asleep), and one who now has a headache.  in any case, here are some pictures of the kitchen in action.

Block party tonight if it doesn't rain.  I'm thinking Italian crusty rolls with tomato and fresh mozzarella.

Glad to be home.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Looking forward to being home

I'll finally be home tonight.  Great to see Sherry.  Great to see the kids in the AM.  Great to sleep in my own bed. 

Looking forward to makingg bread in the morning.  I found a honey wheat-corn bread recipe on line that sounds yummy.  I'll let you know how it goes tomorrow.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Missing my kitchen

I'm blogging from Grange-over-Sands, England.  It is near the west coast of England.  Nice little town. Very grey.

So, today my trusty 13 year old is sick.  I had given him a full list of what to serve while I was gone.  Sherry took up the slack and served Lion House rolls with cherry jelly for lunch. for my other two.   

We'll hope that my 13 year old breaks his fever and everyone enjoys the food planned for tomorrow.

Monday, September 7, 2009

"Quest" complete

Well, today I leave for Grange-over-Sands (England) for a conference.  My goal of making enough handmade bread for my family to eat while I am away is just about complete.  Just have to finish off another batch of Lion House Rolls and everything will be ready.  Only had to borrow space in a neighbor's freezer for one bag of crusty Italian rolls. 

I'll miss my sons and my wife while I am gone.

The pretzel, salami, brie sandwiches did work well yesterday.  Today's menu--more zucchini bread for breakfast.  After that, my family is on their own.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

All in a morning's work

Yesterday's creations (soft pretzels) are now (1) in my child's stomach--Daniel had to have one right after they were made, (2) in the freezer (we saved 11 for during the week), and (3) waiting to be used for lunch at the Orioles game.

Today, I started the day with no running (decided to give myself a rest after running 13 miles yesterday), but with making two bread recipes.  I made naan pockets and crusty Italian rolls.  This time I tried grilling the naan pockets using our George Foreman grill.  I think that the George Foreman grill will serve us well through the winter making naan and anything else I need to grill.  For some reason up till now (after having the George Foreman grill for years) I had not used it much.  I bet it will get a lot more use this winter.

The crusty Italian rolls also turned out nicely this morning.  I had a little help from Daniel making the rolls into the long roll shape.  The picture below shows the results of work before 8:15 on a Sunday morning.

On top of that it is another beautiful and pleasantly warm day in Baltimore.  Life is good. 

Saturday, September 5, 2009

A weekend of preparing for being away

Today is one of those days when I count my blessings.  The rolls I made yesterday (Lion House rolls) were enjoyed by my 4 year old--I allowed him to eat one yesterday morning since the recipe gave me 20 this time instead of 18.  And, they were enjoyed by everyone at the potluck last night.  The potluck was attended by great people who all enjoyed being together to celebrate the start of my middle son's fourth grade year and his classmate's birthday.  My Lion House rolls are still not as "pretty" as are those made by my friend who gave me the recipe, but they taste really good.

(The pictures below show the dough before rising, after rising, and when the rolls were baked.)

Then, this morning the weather was excellent for running.  And, I ran the distance of the half marathon to prove to myself that I should be able to do it in 5 weeks for the Baltimore Running Festival.  I had an awesome run this morning. 

Now, I am getting ready to be away from home for a work conference.  I'll be away longer than I like, and I'm trying to make sure that there will be handmade bread products for each day while I'm gone.  I have until early Monday morning to complete this quest.

We began with soft pretzels. I made the dough and had help from both my 13 year old and my 4 year old with twisting them.  We had fun and turned out 23 pretzels.

Why did we start with soft pretzels?  My adorable 4 year old said that for tomorrow's Orioles game I should buy soft pretzels there.  His 10 year old brother commented that we could take homemade soft pretzels.  My 4 year old liked that idea.  Then, he suggested using the pretzel as the "bread" for a sandwich and putting hard salami in the sandwich.  He didn't actually use the words "hard salami" but referred to the meat we'd used on our crusty Italian rolls earlier this week.  Finally, when we were at the grocery story, he suggested that I also get brie to bring to the baseball game.  I suggested we put brie on the pretzel salami sandwiches.  Pretzels are made.  We'll see how the sandwiches turn out tomorrow.

Friday, September 4, 2009

A day of leftovers and a potluck

Yesterday's cooking was well received by everyone in my family.  The crusty Italian rolls were the best I had made thus far in about six tries.  The lunches that my 13 year old made in the morning and that my wife for herself and our four year old later, were the best lunches we'd had in a while.  The heirloom tomatoes were excellent and adding a little hard salami with the tomatoes and fresh mozzarella just made the sandwiches awesome.

When I got home from work, I grilled yellow squash and zucchini using our George Foreman grill.  The veggies with a little salt and olive oil were excellent grilled.  Not quite the same as grilling over charcoal, but great nevertheless.  We served those and more fresh cut heirloom tomatoes with the last seven rolls from yesterday morning.  It was a great dinner.  My 13 year old thought that my presentation of the vegetables (when the rest of the family arrived home from the chiropractor) was with the intent of blogging.  It wasn't, but the picture is good.

Today, we have enough leftovers from the pasta and vegetables two days ago and the veggies yesterday that we are well taken care of for lunch.  For breakfast, I ran out of time to cook all the crepe batter at breakfast yesterday.  I'll make a little more batter this morning to make sure we have enough and serve that for breakfast.  Dinner will be at a birthday party/potluck.  For that, I am making Lion House Rolls (an awesome recipe) and the dough is already rising.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

The First Day of School

Yesterday after I posted, my kids had their first day of school. My four year old will be in school three full days a week. He had a "visiting day" yesterday to meet this teacher and a few other classmates and see his classroom. He was already familiar with both his teacher (who was also his teacher outside the school last year) and the classroom (where both his brothers had spent at least one year) so that was not such a big deal for him. The kids had play time during the visiting period. Among other things, my four year old played in the kitchen (it is a very play oriented preschool and kindergarten) and pretended that he (along with another classmate) were making an elaborate lunch for my wife and others. It is so cool to see him playing at the things that I emphasize at home.

The pretzels cut in half and made into sandwiches with cream cheese and cherry preserves were a big hit. Even my 13 year old commented on how good they were.

So, what am I making today. There is a great recipe for crusty Italian rolls that a friend pointed out a couple months ago. I've used it many times. I made a double recipe of dough when I first came down this morning. That'll give enough rolls for lunch and dinner. If you'd like to see the recipe, click here.  What to serve with the rolls? If I have my act together (meaning I have to get the kids to do some dishes and I have to get to the grocery store before taking my kids to school), I'll serve tomatoes with fresh mozzarella and some type of meat on the rolls for lunch. For dinner--probably rolls alongside stir-fried vegetables--mostly squash with more tomatoes.

For breakfast today, I'll make a simple crepe recipe for the kids. Serve it with bananas inside a crepe that is folded in quarters coming off the crepe pan.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Preparing for the first day of school

   Last night when I was fixing the pizza for which I had made the dough yesterday morning, I had an issue with my four year old that some parents probably only dream of having.   I was spreading the dough into circles to bake.  My 13 year old was grating fresh mozzarella.  My 10 year old was cutting an heirloom tomato.  My 4 year old was constantly asking for a piece of cheese and a piece of tomato.  I made him wait till the pizza was ready (at which point he ate two pieces).  I guess I should be happy that he is so interested in good food.  He was not fond of the yellow squash which went on only one pizza. 

   I also had the boys helping in the kitchen last night to prepare a few other things.  Since today is the first day of school, I decided to do baking last night.  This morning is just crazy with kid stuff, a few work things I need to take care of, and running.  So, last night while i was finishing making the pizza, I had my 13 year old measure out eight cups of flour--he was surprised it was that much).  We then put together the rest of the ingredients for two recipes of soft pretzels.  The first batch cooked while we were eating and we had still warm soft pretzels topped with cinnamon and sugar for dessert.  

   A few of those are left over for breakfast  We finished a second batch after dinner was over (and while my 13 year old bathed my 4 year old--thank goodness I have such well mannered and capable children).  Those were baked thick enough that I can cut them into a top and bottom "slice" and then make a sandwich.  I plan to send my kids with cream cheese and cherry preserves served inside a soft pretzel for their first day of school morning snack.
   We still have some leftover biscuits from yesterday.   They'll probably get eaten with dinner.   We'll have pasta with a sauce into which I add some fresh tomato and squash.  We got a lot more tomato and more squash from the community supported agriculture farm yesterday

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

The day before the start of school

   Today is the last day before school starts for my kids.  Today the kids are “sleeping in”—at least relative to me.  Since I was out for a dinner for work last night and did not arrive home until 10 when I was pretty exhausted, today is the early to rise part of the old expression “early to bed—early to rise”.  I’m not sure about the “health, wealthy, and wise” part of that expression, but it does give me the ability to cook and bake for my family.
   So, what is on the menu for today?  I made a simple recipe of baking powder biscuits.  I did throw in a little curveball.  Today, rather than using cow milk I used soy milk—in fact vanilla soy milk.  I’ve done that before, and the kids like the little extra sweetness and flavor.  I also put in a pinch of ground ginger and a pinch of cinnamon.
   For dinner we will be having homemade pizza.  I have started the dough for that already.  It’ll rise this morning before I go to work, then I’ll have my kids take it out of the refrigerator before I get home from work, and we’ll finish the preparation, baking, and eating when I get home.  Today will be a vegetarian day.  We’ll use the fresh mozzarella and pizza sauce I picked up at the grocery story yesterday and a selection of the vegetables we get from the community supported agriculture farm that we pick up on Tuesday.  Hopefully we’ll get a few more tomatoes and some squash.  It makes an excellent pizza.
   Start to finish in less than an hour for the food below.  Too bad I can't post the delicious smells.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Starting out

   It is not that my wife can't cook.  She can and she is quite good at it.
   It is just that even before we were married, I insisted on cooking more variety--so she said "go ahead, you cook then" or something or the sort.
   We now have been married over 17 years, and I have done a lot of cooking.
   My goal for this school year is to minimize the number of days that my kids eat plain cereal for breakfast or eat sandwiches on store bought bread for lunch.  Since I look to cook and I love to get up early, I have a good shot at making both of those a reality.
   The boys (I have three) start school on Wednesday this week.  However, I thought I would start this today since we just got back from vacation.  While on vacation (where I didn't do any cooking--so sad), I had a request from my four year old to make crepes on the first day back.  He insists I promised him.  Perhaps I did.  In any case, you can see how much he loves cooking by looking at him help me grill bread (called naan) a few weeks ago.

Today's  overall food agenda:
Crepes with cinnamon and vanilla in the batter for breakfast 
Baked homemade soft pretzels before I go to work