Monthly Archives: June 2012

This Was Good Bread

I’ve been enjoying the Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day, but I’ve also been wanting a light, plain, whole-wheat sandwich-style bread.

So I tried this recipe at Deliciously Organic. Easy to make — very little kneading, quick. Thanks to the bread recipe at 100 Days of Real Food for the recommendation. I don’t have a bread machine, and don’t want to use a stand mixer, so hers wasn’t for me.

My only comments about the recipe I used: Mine could have used more salt, but I’ll reserve judgement as I eyeballed the measurement on that one. (By the way, my ingredients were mostly non-organic.) Also, my rise prior to baking took a little more than the 30 minutes. I halved the recipe and baked it in a loaf pan for a little more than the 20 minutes called for. The result was a little more fragile than I’d like. Maybe that’s the nature of homemade bread as opposed to store-bought.

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On Being Frumpy

Isn’t frumpy a colorful word? Love it.

I do not, however, love being frumpy. Which I largely am — largeness being the majority of the problem.

This isn’t a post-baby frump. It’s definitely been at least post-high school, but most likely life-long. (Can juveniles be frumpy?) When I think back to my first days of college, I picture myself in this awful plaid tank top and think wow, what a square. Little makeup, if any. Hair unkempt. Generally unpolished.

And the same is true today. Truer, even. My complexion’s generally clearer, so I don’t even bother with cover-up. Don’t own any foundation. Mascara’s definitely outlived the recommended shelf-life. Hair an undefined color between used-to-be-blonde and not-brown. “Unpolished” comes back to mind, overall.

And overall, I don’t have a problem with this. I’m me. I’m reasonably comfortable in my skin. Primping feels like a waste of time, in that its effects generally wear off quickly. And I just don’t enjoy doing it. I’d rather be doing something else.

But there are times when it gets to me. Earlier this week I was at a professional conference. My attire was neat but not dress-to-impress. My makeup was non-existent — again, didn’t feel a need to impress these strangers. My hair was not in a great state, having had to rush out the door with it still damp.

A woman from a national group was keynote speaker at the conference, and she expressed interest in speaking with those of us working at the grassroots, local level. She seemed genuine about that. But when I tried to engage her in a brief conversation later in the day, it was a no-go. Quite possibly she was a) busy or b) not getting the probably-too-subtle signals that I wanted to converse.

My appearance, though, probably did nothing to help my cause. This … woman? girl? person can’t have much of value to lend this conversation. She can’t keep herself together — how can she contribute professionally? It’s hard to take her seriously.

Having a baby around does not make grooming and primping any easier. We’re lucky to both get out the door in the mornings with all of the items we need. My appearance still just doesn’t rank high on my priority scale. (Sidenote: Chemicals are also a concern of mine here. My hair looks better highlighted, but breathing in all those chemicals during application scares me. And what is makeup but more chemicals? I think part of the reason my complexion has cleared up is that I’m not putting chemicals on it.)

I’m not sure how to conclude this post — only that I’m aware of my frumpiness (frumpyness?) but not obsessed with it. Not really even worried about it. Just aware. And hoping it might disappear without me having to put any effort toward it.

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The Continuing Tale of Two Breakfast Cookie Recipes

Since baby came along, and now even more since I’ve gone back to working in the mornings, there is a serious need in my home for grab-n-go breakfasts. I’m trying to be frugal about that, and I’m also trying to move toward “real food.” (For one definition of that, visit 100 Days of Real Food.)

My initial grab-n-go focus was homemade granola bars, which is at a standstill. I’d found that this recipe from “A Homemade Pantry” was yummy but still more crumbly than a packaged granola bar. I’m wondering now if it’s even possible to make a non-crumbly granola bar without the magic of chemicals or industrial presses. (That book finally came in at the library! Excited to try some more of the recipes.)

Next came a transition to breakfast cookies. I tried the Pecan Maple Breakfast Cookies from 100 Days of Real Food and wanted them to be a smashing success, but we deemed them too bland.

The latest trial was Cranberry Coconut Breakfast Cookies from The Happy Housewife. (I won’t link to the recipe because I’ve been getting virus messages when I go there.) Trial #1 was yummy, though a tad delicate. All of the third-of-a-batch I made got eaten — hubby even ate them of his own accord, which is more than can be said for the majority of my baked goods.

And now we get to today, Cranberry Coconut Breakfast Cookies Trial #2 and #3 — or maybe #2.5. I made some adjustments to the recipe, then baked one pan of cookies, chilled the remainder of the dough, and tweaked it some more. Trial 2.5 might just be a winner! Find the recipe at the end of this narrative of its life story.

The changes from version 1 to 2 included halving the butter, salt, and vanilla and using the called-for molasses — last time I was out and substituted extra brown sugar. The molasses did add nice depth to the cookie’s flavor. Cutting down the butter didn’t seem to affect the cookies, so we’ll call that a permanent change! Trial 1 was definitely too salty. Next time, I might try going to a third of the original recipe.

From Trial 2 to 2.5, the dough from Trial 2 was chilled; I then added another 1/4 cup of rolled oats and a tablespoon or so of chopped pecans. Also, I put down parchment on the cookie sheet to prevent sticking, and tried to catch them before they burned! It’s a fine line between when the tops are no longer wet-looking and the edges are burnt. Maybe that’ s a place where fiddling with the temperature would help?

Version 2.5 was really not crumbly at all. The cookies went from pan to cooling rack with much less concern of breakage.

CRANBERRY COCONUT BREAKFAST COOKIES

Adapted from The Happy Housewife

1/2 cup butter, softened

1 cup brown sugar

2 eggs

3 tablespoons molasses

1/2 cup buttermilk

1 cup whole wheat flour

3/4 teaspoon baking soda

3/4 teaspoon salt

1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon

1 cup shredded coconut

1/2 cup shredded almonds (original recipe called for finely chopped)

1 1/2 cups dried cranberries

2 1/2 cups rolled oats

2 tablespoons chopped pecans (optional)

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 375. Beat butter and sugar until well-blended. Add eggs, molasses, and buttermilk. Combine dry ingredients except for cranberries and oats in a separate bowl. Gently blend dry into wet. Fold in the fruit and oats. Finally, add the vanilla. For best results, chill the dough for 30 to 60 minutes. Using a 1-inch scoop, drop large tablespoons onto a parchment-covered cookie sheet or baking stone. Bake at 375 degrees for 10 to 12 minutes.

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A Tale of Two Breakfast Cookie Recipes

As mentioned previously, I’ve been on the lookout for grab-n-go breakfasts since I started working mornings.

Yesterday I tried out the Pecan Maple Breakfast Cookies from 100 Days of Real Food. They sounded great; I wanted them to be great. In the end, though, mine were just okay. Using “real” maple syrup probably makes a difference; I only had “fake,” so I used that plus a tablespoon of honey. My husband agreed that they were bland. They’ll probably all get eaten, but not made again.

Today, then, I tried the Cranberry Coconut Breakfast Cookies from The Happy Housewife. The major ingredients advertised are, obviously, dried cranberries and coconut, and also almonds. Verdict: Yum. Proof: Husband went back to the stove for a second after I gave him his tester cookie.

As usual, there was some improvisation — I only had a third of the cranberries called for, so I made a third of a batch. Generally that was fine, except when it came to splitting two eggs in three — I just used a whole egg. Also, I was out of molasses, so I used extra brown sugar. My batter seemed too wet, so I added more oats — that may have been due in part to the extra egg. Also added a few pecans in. I think the salt called for could be cut down quite a bit (for taste, not just health), as could the butter. ¬†Overall, I have no doubt they’ll get eaten up, and there will be a next time!

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Recipe Success: Creamy Chicken Taquitos

Once again, there were many improvisations. But the Creamy Chicken Taquitos from Stephanie Cooks were still a success!

Proof: Says husband, “These should go in our regular rotation.”

They’re pretty simple — mix together chicken, cheese, some other spices, and bake them in tortillas. Of course, I hadn’t gotten to the store yet, so I subbed Italian cheese and gruyere-cheddar for the cheddar cheese; subbed light cream cheese; red salsa for salsa verde; went easy on the hot spices; and only had two tortillas to work with in the end. I was only making a half batch, so I cut my two big tortillas in half and ended up with four half-taquitos and some filling baked over the top of them.

I feel like they could have been creamier yet, but I was eyeballing the measurements and halving the recipe, so it’s too soon to judge. But still, they were good the way they were!

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