Wednesday, August 24, 2011

First day of school! First day of school!

Okay, not really, it was my second day, but it's always a good idea to quote from Finding Nemo when you've got a chance.

The most interesting/stressful part of the day was discovering that my idea of how to space out my classes over two years was completely flawed, and that I needed to add some credits ASAP. Fun! Well, I've got it figured out, and hopefully spring semester and next fall aren't going to suck too hard because of my idiocy. Oh well. I've had heavy courseloads before, I can do it again.

What struck me today, in my first class that was not only master's and doctoral students but rather a mix of grad and undergrad, is how unimaginative many of these potential teachers are. I'm sure that they'll gain their footing, and yes, I have to remember that many of them are five years (plus?) younger than me, but check it:

We had to do a "getting to know each other" exercise where everyone said your name, where you're from, something unique about yourself, and something about you or something that you've done that no one else in the room has while working in our little pod groupings. Then, when five minutes or so was up, each person had to introduce another person at the table to the entire group.

So, we're going around our table and the girl next to me says as her unique thing that she just bought a car?! I don't think you know what unique means, honey. There were many other feeble offerings, like "no one else grew up in Shitsville, Missouri" (not the real name) and "my unique thing is I got bit by bedbugs on vacation" --> YEESH.

I am a meanie. Anyways, it was kind of a silly delight, and I'm sure I will grow to respect these people in some fashion, especially because (based on our syllabus) we have 40 hours onsite in schools in addition to scheduled class time, and that's just for this semester.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

It's ba-aaaack!

I have a new digital camera (thanks, Mom!) and am ready to rock, with new recipes and some small posts about everyday life in my new town, Champaign, Illinois. I am going to be starting grad school in less than a week, and may need to do some venting, especially early on, so I think this zombie blog will expand rather than contract. Huzzah!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Cherry Almond Chocolate Bread

So, I have been kind of addicted to making bread every weekend. It's nice to have as a snack, for a light breakfast, or if it a savory bread, nice for dipping into pasta sauces and such. Yum. Anyways, I have made some additions to Jim Lahey's No-Work Bread recipe, as found in Mark Bittman's book and originally presented on this blog here

Last week, I made an almond and raisin-filled loaf for Ben's parents, and wanted to make another sweet loaf for myself. I still had plenty of almonds and thought that dried cherries would make a nice compliment to them. The dark chocolate was just for the hell of it.

Cherry Almond Chocolate Bread:
3 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
3 tbsp. vital wheat gluten
2 tbsp. 5-grain cereal grain
1/2 cup sliced almonds
1-2 oz. dark chocolate, chopped into little pieces
1/4 tsp. yeast
1-2 tsp. kosher or sea salt
1/2 cup dried cherries
6 tbsp. brown sugar
1 tsp. almond extract
Olive Oil
Additional flour

Begin by combining the dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl, including the yeast and almonds. You may omit the wheat gluten and cereal if you wish. They were added to boost texture and nutrition, as the vital wheat gluten is rich in protein. 

Put the dried cherries in a bowl, add a splash of water, cover, and heat in the microwave for about 2 minutes to soften and re-hydrate the cherries. Place the cherries and the liquid in a measuring cup with the brown sugar and almond extract, and add cold water, filling the measuring cup to the 2-cup line. 

Pour the wet ingredients into the dry, mixing with a spoon. The mixture will be shaggy, and does not need to be particularly perfectly blended, as the long rising time will make the mixture more homogenous. Pour a few tablespoons of olive oil into the largest mixing bowl in your kitchen, and then add the bread dough, taking care to scrape as much dough from the bowl as possible. 

Cover, and allow the dough to rise for at least 12 hours and up to 18 hours. Prepare a work surface with a liberal amount of flour, and pour out the risen dough. Work the dough lightly, kneading a couple of times in order to shape the dough into a nice round shape, and let the dough rise for 2 more hours on a floured cotton towel. 

Heat your oven to 450 degrees with a large dutch oven or stock pot inside, for 30 minutes. Once the oven is heated, carefully flop the bread dough inside, using the cloth to your advantage (this part takes some practice). Recover and bake in the oven for 30 minutes. Remove the lid and continue to cook until the bread is well-browned. Let the bread cool for at least 20 minutes before eating. 

Monday, August 17, 2009

Bread Bowls!

Isn't it the most precious little bread bowl you've ever seen? And, despite my suspicions to the contrary (hence the backup bowl), the soup was retained by its bread container! Huzzah!

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Yummy Roasted Tomato Soup

The "yummy" here stands for the mix of other delicious ingredients. I couldn't decide which ones to include: the fennel, leak, or perhaps white beans? The tomatillo? It just got too clumsy. 

Suffice it to say, this is the best soup I have ever made. It took forever to get it smooth, but it was so worth it. Bread is a critical side to this soup, and I would even serve this soup in a bread bowl in the future, if I ever have the gumption to make bread bowls. [Note to self: do this immediately]

Yummy Tomato Soup:
2 28-oz cans whole tomatoes
2 large or 3 medium garlic cloves, sliced
4 tbsp. olive oil
1 medium fennel bulb, chopped
1 leek, chopped
1 large shallot, sliced
1 tomatillo, chopped 
1 medium onion or 1/2 large onion, chopped
Salt and pepper
1 tsp. poultry seasoning
1 tsp. Hungarian sweet paprika
1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes
1/4 cup white wine
1 15-oz. can great northern white beans
4 cups vegetable stock
1 large rosemary sprig, or 1 tsp. dried rosemary
10 small leaves each Italian basil and Thai basil
2-3 tbsp. rice vinegar
Additional salt and pepper, as needed

Begin by preheating your oven to 350 degrees. Strain the tomatoes over a bowl in order to collect the tomato juice, which will be added back later. In the sink, rinse the tomatoes, and remove their seeds, placing the rinsed tomatoes back in the strainer over the collecting bowl, so they can continue to drain. Prepare an oven-safe baking dish by pouring in 2 tbsp. olive oil and moving the dish around until the bottom is well-covered. Slice the garlic, and chop about and 1/4 cup of the fennel. Place the tomatoes in the dish, tucking the garlic pieces within the tomatoes, and sprinkling overtop with the fennel and a good amount of salt and pepper. Place in the oven, on a middle rack, and cook for 40-45 minutes, finishing with an additional 10 minutes under the broiler. Note that you do not need to move the tomatoes to a higher rack.

While the tomatoes are roasting, prepare the vegetables, taking care to rinse the leek well before chopping. I recommend cutting through the stalk twice, in an X-shape, and then running the leek under water, separating the layer and rinsing well. Make sure to fully remove the husk of the tomatillo. 

Heat 2 tbsp. olive oil in a large pot or dutch oven over medium-high heat. Once the pot is ready, add in the vegetables, the poultry seasoning, the Hungarian sweet paprika, red pepper flakes, and salt and pepper and cook for about 10 minutes, until the vegetables have taken on good color. Deglaze the pot with the white wine, and good for an additional 5 minutes on medium heat. Open the great northern beans and rinse under cool water. Add in the beans and the rosemary sprig and cook on low to medium-low until the tomatoes are finished. 

Turn off the burner, remove the rosemary sprig, and pour the contents into your food processor or blender, along with the roasted tomatoes and garlic. Blend well, using a spatula to scrape down the sides a few times.  

Put the blended mixture in a strainer and use a whisk to push through the liquid. This is the hardest step, and would be easier if I had a blender. Maybe you do, and will have an easier go of it than me. Though I did not initially do this, I would recommend putting the soup through in batches, adding in a bit of the set-aside tomato juice as you go. 

Once you have finished straining the soup, return it to your pot, along with the vegetable stock and basil leaves, and cook for about 20 more minutes on medium-low heat. Salt and pepper to taste, and add in the rice vinegar at the very end of cooking. 

Remove the basil leaves before serving, and garnish with fresh basil if you wish, though I recommend leaving it out, because the texture of the soup is just so pleasant unadulterated. Do as I say, not as I do on this one. Serve with copious amounts of dipping bread, and enjoy!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Wow, It's Been Forever.

I have some recipes that I would like to put up, but am currently unable to find my camera cord. This is frustrating. Oh well.

I feel like such a failure for not posting for so long, but I was kind of a victim of circumstance. Our trip to Alaska meant that we were eating sad dribs and drabs in order to clear out our fridge before we left, and then we were gone for two weeks, largely eating underwhelming foodstuffs. Then we were moving, then we had no internet, then I was back in Seattle at the end of July, blah blah blah. 

Suffice it to say, I'm still around, I swear! Recipes for a delicious tomato (and other magical things!) soup, vegetable and tofu tagine, and beer-battered fish tacos coming up. I also have a couple of sauces/marinades I've whipped up to share with y'all. Yay!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Peanut Butter Mystery

What is it with vegans and peanut butter? 

I have never been a regular peanut butter eater. A brief attempt at fitting in at school that involved specifically requesting PB&J sandwiches never got off the ground. Well, it did in a way: after not eating the first sandwich during lunch, I speared it onto a tree branch after getting home in order to hide the evidence. My mom's telling of the story reveals that I broke after little questioning, confessing that I "put it in a tree." 

Every once in a while I would get a peanut butter craving totally out of the blue, eat one spoonful, and remain uninterested for months at a time. 

However, ever since becoming vegan I cannot get enough peanut butter. It is a delicious snack. It's awesome on raisin bread. And, it is a critical component of the world's most perfect dessert. Behold!

Chunky peanut butter + dark chocolate chocolate chips = YUM!