I love baking breads. There is a unique pleasure in stirring the yeast, watching it foam, and then kneading the tough flour in and out of your hands and across the cutting board. There is a certain magic to leaving the room and, returning an hour later, discovering that the small ball of dough has doubled in size, the yeast breathing life into the round.
One of the additional pleasures of baking bread is in the anticipation, as the smell of baking break slowly fills the kitchen, before settling over the entire apartment, building a sense of eagerness in the room’s occupants.
For better or worse, there is Continue reading
A few weeks ago, my boss came into my office with questions about a case that I was working on. After I gave him the run-down, he got up to leave, at which point, I asked him to take a seat and to close the door. I was leaving the job, I said, having accepted a new position.
The news did not come as a surprise, and he offered his sincere congratulations. He also encouraged me to make the most of my time-off. There are few instances, he noted, where you are truly off the clock. In this line of work, weekends get truncated and vacations get interrupted. There is always another case to read and another motion to file. There are few moments of true respite.
That time between jobs, however, was one of those truly serene periods, where there are no unanswered emails and waiting voicemails. There are no blinking red light while you are between jobs.
During my time-off, Continue reading
Cornbread is a so-called quick bread, because it doesn’t contain yeast and doesn’t require any rising or kneading. All of which makes it ready to bake in a flash!
Another great thing about cornbread is that no two recipes need be alike. You can mix and match ingredients as you see fit. Play with the type of cornmeal (coarse or medium), the flour (whole wheat or not), the cheese (cheddar or monterey) and the acid (buttermilk, sour cream, or yogurt). Add corn or jalapeno slices . . . or both . . . or neither.
I made this particular recipe twice, Continue reading
Over the last few days, I’ve watched my bananas go from a bright yellow, worthy of wearing the leader’s jersey in the Tour de France, to a soft brown, like a tattered and mud-splashed elementary school bus.
Banana bread and banana muffins are always easy options for an overripe bunch. But banana bread is – let’s be honest – closer to cake than either bread or a trip to the bottom of the food pyramid. For that reason, I took my overripe bananas and turned them into real banana bread – not the quick kind. Indeed, if you know me, you know that I often enjoy taking the long and meandering route, passing through several culinary steps and preparation detours over what might have otherwise been a one-step, ten-minute trip, down the intercity highway (see curried couscous).
While this banana bread requires kneading and resting, rather than mixing and pouring, it is Continue reading
When I’m in the supermarket checkout line, I often look longingly at the Cook’s Illustrated in the magazine racks. The magazine always looks so informative and helpful. The sleek black and white drawings, the hands-on, practical tips, and the absence of advertisements. But at $5.95, it always gives me that moment of pause.
So I was particularly excited Continue reading
Growing up, we used to devour this stuff. I can remember my younger brother popping two slices into the toaster, waiting for that mechanical “pop,” and then throwing a slab of butter between the warm slices as he placed them on his plate. After which, he put two more slices into the toaster.
This past Thanksgiving, I showed my youngest brother how to make scrambled eggs. Saturday night we went to the Kroger, picked up a pan, a whisk, a dozen eggs, and a DVD from the Red Box. After a quick tutorial, we settled down on his dorm couch to scrambled eggs, raisin bread, and The Girl Who Played with Fire.
My mind must have wandered to that night. That, combined with my love of bread-baking, inspired me Continue reading
There’s a certain moment in the bread-baking process where you remember exactly why you spent all that time kneading, crafting, and waiting.
It’s not the moment you take the bread out of the oven, or the moment you finally bite into a slice. It’s several minutes before that time. It’s the moment when you perk up, and notice that your entire apartment smells of freshly baking bread. It’s that moment, above any other, that reminds me why I enjoy the bread-baking process.
Of course, it doesn’t hurt Continue reading
It’s funny what we find intimidating.
For the longest time, the idea of making bread scared me. It just seemed so complicated. You had to make sure the yeast reacted. You had to make sure the water was at the precise temperature. You had to coax the dough into rising. You had to knead the bread – whatever that meant.
But then, I decided to just go for it. I opened up my cupboard, Continue reading