Thursday, February 25, 2010

Baked Tempeh, Apple, Mustard and Onion Chutney Panini with One Bowl Chopped Salad (Bread Diva Photo)

For the millionth time, I love sammiches! Even better to have when you bake your own bread--and the flavors of sweet, sour, bitter were all present in this tempeh/apple-bake. (I don't have a panini press--come on now, do we really need every single kitchen gadget ever made? I think not. I use good old elbow grease and a griller pan with a heavy wooden cutting board on top and smashed!)

For the layering: I first spread vegan margerine on the inside pieces, then grill them face down to get the crusty flavor going. Then, I spread vegan mayo on both sides, then layered my tempeh/apples on and finally, put my onion chutney on top and a bit of shredded vegan cheese--I love vegan cheese! Then lightly spread some margerine on the outside, and press away! They are superb, trust me!
I know, I am totally a "Bread Diva".

What my tempeh and apple stuff looked like after it baked. Yum! I could have eaten this as is. (And I did before Mr. Thyme came home!)
"Bread Diva" with scar (see my little scar next to my chin--there's a few under my neck, but you can hardly see them and sorry no close-up shots). I have a date with Mederma every few hours. My make-up skills will totally hide this. My hives, still there, but slowly getting better. What will the doctor give me tomorrow?

I craved bread. I made ciabatta again. The ciabatta has earned a spot as a staple in our bread cabinet.
Again, I turned to Peter Reinhart's pain a l' ancienne for my recipe--it's so easy! As I contemplated the type of sammich we'd have, I thumbed through my cookbooks. I have so many, it's a blessing and a curse sometimes, honestly. As I narrowed it down, I ended up taking two recipes and making them into one, making my own adaptations to satisfy both my taste and my fridge's content.

I have not been to the store or left my house in a car for three weeks, expcept to make one stop last Saturday when Mr. Thyme and I had a "grocery-store-visit-to-get-Kelly-out-of-the-house" moment. I was too tired to do much else the rest of the day. (We needed dog food.) Same still holds now as I await the disappearance of my measle-hives (which still cover my entire body, thus, keeping me from getting any good sleep because I wake up every few hours scratching then going into a benedryl coma). I won't leave the house until the rash lessens a bit--I look like a bad science fiction character. Seriously. I took a photo of me outside--I have some more healing to do, clearly.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Hello Hives! Vegan Honey Mustard Chicken (Sans The Bees) with Horseradish Mashers & Red Onion Gravy

I craved honey-mustard last night. So, out came the agave. This was yet another vegan comfort food classic re-made! It came together in a jif and I used, what else: Match Meats Chicken. You could use tempeh or seitan for your protein. What made this even better was my little mixture of agave-mustard I drizzled over the chicken patty after frying them--giving it an extra dose of that yummy flavor combo! Plus the mashers with the red onion gravy: yum!

Your main ingredients for this entree. Pretty simple.

I am covered in hives! Covered! Initially, I thought I'd maybe brushed against a poison ivy vine taking the dogs for a walk yesterday--just a spot on my arm was all that bothered me. Then, I started to itch on my chest, neck, back and stomach. Then I looked in the mirror, showed Mr. Thyme and began to sink into a bit of a "state" because this was not what I needed right now. So, I took some benedryl--hoping to relieve whatever it was causing me to look like a measles case. Not much help. Really, not much help at all--last night I woke up some four times to "scratch" and try to relax back into sleep. Then after five this morning, I just stayed up and waited to place a call to my doctor, I knew it had to be the new oral antibiotics. I really wished it weren't, but the rash wasn't getting better. I waited to call the exchange to not appear like I was in dire straights, though, I really was. The measles had spread. He phoned me back promptly and I explained it all to him. He said what Mr. Thyme and I had already sort of figured out: I am now allergic to penicillin. I was like, How? I've had an IV of penicillin in me for two weeks now--how could this happen? He said, Your body has just decided it's had enough. (Oh, has it now?) So, I am off the orals until Friday, when he hopes this rash will have calmed down--then we'll probably begin a new antibiotic course of treatment--penicillin-free. Meantime, there is another prescription waiting for me to deal with another problem as a result of my new "allergy" which I will pick up today.

This is becoming a comedy. I have to laugh--if I don't, I think I'll cry, well I do cry. I know I will look back at all of this and tell this story without as much emotion and hysteria as I feel today. But if you could see my skin right now--along with my new dimple in my face--well, you'd hopefully find this amusing, I'd encourage you to laugh, in fact, I'd laugh with you!

So, as for another aside: I was a beekeeper. I loved honey. I once had three hives. I still love honey--I've turned to agave, take it easy there. But my last hive of bees flew the coop this past summer and you know what, I think they secretly knew I had become vegan. What else could have caused them to leave? (I don't really need any PETA commentary on the matter either. In fact, more of my bees died in thunderstorms than ever died during my honey harvesting, pre-vegan.) Anyhow, I am almost fifty and make my own decisions on the matter. Thanks to the hobbyist beekeepers, we have not lost the bees. As many of you know, if the bees go, our fruits and veggies and flowers go, too. For now, my bees are probably hanging out in my neighbor's hives. They may come back as I did not extract any honey at all last year. I'll keep the light on for them.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

About All One Woman Can Take (And Two Words: It's Over)

A favorite morning activity: the lookout from the deck. My boy on the bench. My constant companions through all of this--I don't know what I'd do without them.
Oops. Been too long without mommy. Hey, hey. Let me in. What up with leaving me out here?
I need to come in, come on! (So. . . I let her in.)

Not ten seconds later: Okay, seriously, if you're lettin' her in, you need to let me in.
Seriously. . . Let me in. (I am watching her through the glass--camera in hand--she is not loving this one bit.) 
Of course my boy, he's all like, Yeah, whatever you sissies--I'll watch the house then--leave me out here!

Forget that, mom, I know how to open a door, thank you very much (thumbs or not). I'm just coming in. . . see my nose, now see me walk in all the way.
. . . And she did.

Finally. I am free of tubes, of infusion, of IV antibiotics being pumped through my veins every six hours, of the fear of the thing strangling me at night, (or of me rolling over on it to cause this beeping which scared me half out of my wits several nights), of the fear of the infamous nearly foot long tube running to my heart--of it rupturing and causing me to collapse instantly. Over. Now, it's on to oral antibiotics for ten days (still heavy-duty stuff), then another doctor visit--and back to not gracing a doctor's door again for maybe another ten years. And. . . working on my scar. Mederma, here I come. Really, it's not so bad, considering how I looked two and half weeks ago. The body is an amazing healing machine.

Aside from being too tired most of the time to do much--looking back, I did post a few meals and breads--but I'll be honest, they required very little work--and left me dead tired. And, Mr. Thyme had to usually jump in to do sous chef stuff, plus was usually left with clean up. My motor runs down about five now. This "being tired" stuff has been the worst part. I am a ball of energy usually. Winding down at night with TV and Mr. Thyme, the highlight of my days.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Vegan Cream Cheese Enchiladas: How A Vegan Is Born (And Knitting Olympics)

Vegan enchiladas
My old school cream cheese enchiladas came creeping back with an even better tasting vegan twist. I didn't think it was possible. I think I first got this menu idea from a Pace Picante cookbook. The flavor and creamy taste of the filling was not lost one bit on my vegan substitutions! We loved them! 

This is what your filling will look like after you've mixed all the cheeses and salsa into the tempeh and veggie mix. I like a really full enchilada, mine looks a bit full--it still rolled up nicely!

My Knitting Olympics cardigan. (Even though I started my Olympics project in December.) It has taken me forevah' to finish one sleeve on this little precious. I fondly refer to this as my "Longest Mile" Diminishing Rib Cardigan because each darn section of ribbing feels like I've just knitted a mile. My goal: To finish this before the Olympics are over! Then, begin my next project because I do not like having UFOs lying around (unfinished objects).

Oh Happy Day--my new Spring Interweave Knits mag arrived yesterday. I am using iron will to not peek inside yet because it may cause me to abandon The Longest Mile and I would hate myself for doing so--I have enough stress in my life for now!

Last night I had a flashback to BV (before vegan). I used to make these killer cream cheese enchiladas--we'd have this dish at least once a month, sometimes twice. I have no idea where they've been for the past two years. I was ready for them again is all I can say. (Minus the fowl used in them prior).

When I was in the hospital, the days were broken out into six hour increments. . . for seven days. Within those increments were scheduled events like: nurses popping in for vitals, nurses popping in with pain meds (I only took Tylenol--except for that incident where my face was cut open again while I was wide awake--that, my friends, required a pinch of morphine--(and it made me sick all over again plus provided me with a vivid dream that involved Wynona and a concert and my getting to meet her--seriously), plus doctors making observations, phone calls from friends. . . and meal ordering time.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Peter Reinhart's Pain a l'Ancienne: A Mere Babe in The Bread Kitchen

My finished Pain a l'Ancienne looked amazing straight from the oven and smelled heavenly. My crust on this bread was surprisingly chewy, much like the traditional ciabatta, but this bread had a more nutty flavor, a moister crumb--perfect bread for paninis.

When I cut this loaf in half, I noticed the crumb inside did appear tighter than the crumb from my first ciabatta loaf. However, upon closer inspection, I was surprised to learn that I'd captured a great deal more air than I thought as shown in the photo below.

The slice here shows the air bubbles a bit better. The crust was amazing!

This is my dough the night I had mixed the ingredients together with the ice cold water. You can see from this photo how wet the dough is. I transferred it to another bowl for the night.
After a night in the fridge--this is how the dough looked. It had expanded to about a third of its original size.

Take a closer look at the dough and how much it had  risen after sitting at room temperature for about three hours. Quite a difference from the photo above. But again, not a lot of work in handling time here.

The dough is so wet that I only folded it once in thirds--vs. stretching and pulling as you would normally do for a traditional ciabatta. It was too airy and too lovely, I didn't want to push much air from it. After my first tri-fold, I then used my pastry cutter and divided it into three loaves. I then carefully moved the loaves to an inverted cookie sheet covered in parchment paper and dusted with flour for an additional hour before baking. Again, little-to-no manipulation of this dough in its final proofing stages.

Yesterday, I let myself tank. I just became sad. I knew I'd hit this low mark at some point. I had been waiting for this like I wait for tornadoes in Spring (dread, holding of breath and hunkering down). Don't worry, I kicked the blues out this morning. I am not going to let anything keep me down. I have to get up, go for a jog (after my noon IV antibiotics run their course), touch up my roots--god love my blonde hair (and gray, too)--I am: Desperately Seeking Clairol! Lucky for me I had prepared a fermentation for some bread the night before. I felt the need for dough and a good fresh loaf of bread--Peter Reinhart to the rescue.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Rose's Heavenly Vegan Cake (Mending A Broken Heart, Snow Play And Tech Support)

Nothing quite like a decadent vegan chocolate cake in the shape of a heart to make you appreciate the little things in life: like your heart!

The crumb on my vegan version of Rose's cake is quite moist. I think this is one of the moistest single layer vegan chocolate cakes I've made to date. So much rides on the crumb texture and all in a single layer--you can hide a lot in a double layer.
This is my boy--he likes to herd the rest of his clan. He's looking on in such a majestic way--I just love him to pieces--I thought this shot captured a whole lot. Sweet. Loyal. (Scrappy sometimes, too.) But always on alert and on guard.

Then there's these two. Snow play-time! Downward facing dog, to get her sister's attention--it was a good day yesterday in the snow!
My real-deal heart-shaped cake pan from Michael's.
My other real-deal baking pan for Ingots--whatever the heck those are.

Since I was hospital bound on Valentine's Day, I sort of missed out on all the fun of the chocolate mania. (Even after being together nearly fourteen years, Mr. Thyme and I still celebrate this Hallmark Holiday.) I had big plans for the day, too. I bought myself Rose's Heavenly Cakes by Rose Levy Beranbaum for Christmas (with my Border's coupon, of course). I read this book cover-to-cover. I heard Rose interviewed on The Splendid Table and took her to be quite a serious cake-baker, pastry chef and all-around know-it-all in all things that I love: carbs--cakes, breads, you name it. (I've also signed up for her newsletter on her site: Real Baking with Rose Levy Beranbaum.) The photography in this book is magnificent. I don't think I encountered a single cake and went "ewww". (It would take an act of congress for me to shun a pastry, like maybe a brussel sprout cake or something--I'd shun that.)

Now if you are going to be a student of this cake book, be warned that there are plenty of "equipment" requirements. Some of it is so over-the-top, I laughed out loud. I thought, okay, we aren't building a bridge or transplanting a liver, we're working with some flour and sugar. I don't intimidate easily and jump at the first sign of, say, a "cake band" to ensure a full, even rise of your cakes, or of a recommended silicone Financier for making Ingots--pahlease. (And what the heck is an Ingot?) Plus, I am not going to go all nuts and hit Sur La Table for my baking indulgences. I cannot afford that place, so I opt for the second best cake-supply store within the Wal Mart budget and that happens to be Michael's. (Plus, I get a 40% coupon in the paper every week to shop there.) I am sure there are those that would blanch at the thought that I would even dare deviate from the prescribed tools as per Rose's direction. But deviate I must.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Familiarity Does Not Breed Contempt: Returning Home to Cook, Remembering The Care

I am finally home. Ready for some cooking and baking. Ready to re-set and begin anew with a fresh eye. I won't say that a seven day stay in the hospital is just what you need to get back your appreciation for home stuffs, but what I will say is that my time away cooped up in a hospital room without outside air touching my face, sun overhead, mostly seeing nurses and doctors, eating nearly intolerable "faux-vegan" hospital food choices (which helped me shed ten pounds--hooray!)--all makes for elation in returning home. When I had the energy, I'd wander the halls during sunny days and found myself moving along the corridors, following the sun's path. Even if the sun was just beginning to disappear over the corner of the building and it shone through in a tiny corner, I'd just stand there soaking it all in--the warmth and energy I got from those few minutes were precious to me.

My dogs will not leave my side. They were so happy to see mommy--it wore us all down to just have our big group hugs and tail-wagging reunion last night. They are my anchor. They will always be my anchor. I cannot imagine living without them. Some have worried about this "changing" me in any way, i.e., am I afraid? Fear? Of what? Of this happening again? Nope. I am of the canine, love the canine, will still rescue the canines needing homes, will still raise money to help there be fewer homeless and unwanted canines. (I just worry about the next full moon.)

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Learning Who Your Friends Are from A Hospital Bed (And: Mr.Thyme on His Own Plus The Face Update)

I'll be the first to admit this: I am not really keen on people seeing me in my pajamas. And I'll also be the first to admit, I am not one to jump up out of my chair or sofa to visit friends in the hospital. (Not that this has been an ongoing theme in my life--I am "almost fifty"--but no one is dying here, okay?) I know this sounds awful. Hospitals have always scared me. I was so sick as a kid with my asthma, then seemed to get whatever the heck illness I'd acquire later in life to a degree that would label me "atypical" in nearly all instances.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

The Hospital, The Accident

I am grateful for so many things right now. First and foremost for my health and my wonderful husband. Second (but tied for first) for the incredible doctors and nurses who are helping repair me--they are saints: every single one of them. I have had the most attentive, patient, kind, professional staff ever work on me during this past week. Third, but still tied for first are all of the dear friends and folks in our lives--my husband's office and their support has helped both he and I weather this storm in more ways than I can count. Without them, I don't know what we'd do. I was admitted on Monday, but am due to come home on Saturday--(my fingers are crossed). Phone calls to see how I was doing, just checking in--short chats--have been life savers. Two of my dearest friends--just checking in: life saving. Our healthcare system and its compassionate workers are what saved me, too. From a physical standpoint, the scars I have will be with me for the rest of my life. The incident that changed everything in a moment will also live with me forever. I begged Mr. Thyme to please bring me my laptop. My writing is in itself healing. I have felt lost without it.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Vegan Bakin' for The Snowed In: Cinnamon Raisin Bread & Me

We had cinnamon raisin bread on our minds after cinnamon rolls last weekend. I got busy yesterday with Peter Reinhart's Bread Baker's Apprentice again and learned a thing or two myself about the amazing things a little bit of flour, water, cinnamon, and yeast can do. Served up toasted smeared with a gob of vegan margerine--OMG! This bread surpassed our expectations by a mile! If Peter Reinhart ever reads my blog: You can come to my house and bake anytime--any!
The hand kneading of this bread is not for the faint of heart--it never is. Personally, I totally enjoy hand kneading my doughs. (I tried out a knead-free book a few weeks ago. I promptly returned it.) Per instructions, the raisins were added during the last two minutes. It was touch and go for a bit because I was really wanting more raisins than I thought would fit, but alas, the dough accepted my demands.

What is the point in making cinnamon raisin bread without the "swirl"? I had a little fun with this part, so I thought the photo really helped in showing the task being managed in the final roll up before the bread proofs.

Bread proofing before baking.

Me, before I headed out--yes, out in the snow--to pick up a library book I just HAD to have today. One of my all time favorite authors, Louise Erdrich, has a new book out: Shadow Tag. (I had to get my hands on it right away as I do all of her fiction.) In this I am sporting a really poorly fitting hat (be nice) but one of the first I made. Plus, I am in a hand knit sweater I made last winter--design by Wendy Bernard from her book: Custom Knits. I love the neck treatment on this--very retro. I don't know why I picked this color, it just spoke to me at the time. . .I'm almost fifty, I can wear what I want!

Friday, February 5, 2010

Vegan Dude Food: Chili Cheese Fries

Chili Cheese Fries
I was nearly killed in the grocery store yesterday by a Velveeta cheese display. I dodged the bullet by sqeezing my cart around a six foot display of beer--nearly taking a wall of Tostidos with me--who designs these cardboard monstrosities? Clearly no one whose had to drive a grocery cart full of dog food, fire starter logs and a half of the produce isle in their cart. We have snow in the forecast again--today the schools closed early. In these parts, you take your life into your own hands when this much is going on: Superbowl Sunday, then Valentine's Day, then Mardi Gras--it's a food festivus time!

By the time I got home, it was late, and dinner needed fixing. I had Velveeta on the mind--with Rotel. I'm sorry, but some memories will never leave my taste buds. Thus the Chili Chesse Fries. Lucky for me, on my errand bonanza yesterday I had time to stop by the library. I checked out Rachael Ray's Big Orange Book for the fourth time, flipped it open and her version of Chili Cheese Fries smacked me in the face. It was destiny.

What is a vegan to do? The ever-elusive Velveeta quandry. There are a boatload of recipes on the internet claiming this or that for "nacho-cheese-like" creations. Have I mentioned I am a skeptic--yes, I still am. So, I went through a couple of my own cookbooks, one author in particular is known for her vegan-cheese expertise: Jo Stepaniak and her cookbook Vegan Vittles. I love this cookbook--it helped me tremendously when I turned my vegan corner. This vegan Velveeta recipe is adapted from hers and few other hits on the internet I came across yesterday. Let's face it, getting the cheese right is about all that matters in re-creating this heckofa great old-school staple. So if you do try this recipe out, oh, say for Sunday and the big game, please know--it is not exactly like the big V, but you will be pleasantly surprised by how much the cheese memory comes back to you--mmmm, nacho cheese; potato cheese fries. This is quintessential dude food--Mr. Thyme loved it. I was re-living my grocery store near miss is all. Plus the fact that some potato fries sounded yummy! This is quite easy, really!

Vegan Chili Cheese Fries

For the potatoes
2 russets, washed and unpeeled, but cut into wedges--into eighths
3 tablespoons olive oil
some ground paprika
some dried chili powder

Preheat oven to 425. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. Place the sliced potato in a bowl and drizzle with olive oil. Add the seasonings. Toss well to coat. Place in single layer on cookie sheet. Bake for about 40 minutes.

For the chili
1 package Gimme Lean Beef--cut into small chunks
2 tablespoons canola oil
1 onion chopped
4 cloves garlic minced
2 tablespoons vegan worcestershire sauce
1/4 cup tomato paste
2 teaspoons hot sauce
1 cup veggie stock
1 teaspoon paprika
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 teaspoon cumin

In a medium saute pan and medium heat, add oil to pan. Then add the Gimme Lean chunks. Allow to cook and brown up a bit for five minutes or so. Break the pieces up into smaller ones if you'd like. Next, add the garlic and onions. Saute for another five minutes. Add remaining ingredients. Allow to simmer on low heat for about 15 minutes--taste it to see if it needs any additional seasoning.

*This cheese recipe, to really work well, needs about a quarter of a package of the vegan "Nacho Cheese"--I get mine at Whole Foods--but it really does take this to the next level.

For the cheese
3/4 cup raw cashews
1 3/4 cup warm water
juice of one lemon
1/4 cup nutritional yeast
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
2 teaspoons onion powder
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
1/2 cup shredded vegan Nacho cheese

Place all of the ingredients except the Nacho cheese, in a blender. Pulse it a few times. Then run the blender until the mixture is smooth. Note: this will still have some pieces of the cashew floating around and that is okay. Next, pour the mixture into a medium sauce pan. Turn the heat to medium low. Stir the mixture while it is heating--stir constantly--it will thicken up pretty quickly. About 2 minutes into this--add the shredded nacho cheese. Keep stirring this for about 5 minutes. Next. Remove the pan from heat. Allow to cool for about 5 minutes. Then, pour the mixture into a heat proof bowl. (You are doing this to speed up the cooling process a bit because you need to pour this mixture back into the blender a second time to really get a good, uniform and smooth consistency.) If your mixture is warm, be sure to remove the top of the blender piece--that little clear mechanism--then cover the hole with a kitchen towel prior to turning on the blender again--prevents the stuff from spewing out of the blender and allows a bit of the remaining steam to escape. Now, pulse it a few times and check it to make sure it's smooth. Once you have your desired consistency, pour the cheese mixture back into the sauce pan and turn heat to medium to warm it back up--about 2-3 minutes. You should have a fairly smooth, yet thicker sauce by now. That's it! You can store this in your fridge for about five days.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Chicken-less Scallopini with Saffron Gravy (Dessert: Chocolate Bars!)

A beautiful saffron gravy-smothered Match Meats Chicken patty with a side of oven roasted rosemary potatoes and some green beans. Good vegan grub for hungry winter appetites. Mr. Thyme said, "A meal I'd pay for in a restaurant." A compliment of the highest order in our house!

This is what the Match Chicken looks like after it's been breaded and fried. For those who say, I cannot give up the chicken--Oh yes you CAN! Look at that--it's so pretty, and it's all plants!

You can see the saffron threads in the gravy. I love saffron! It can be pricey, but it is worth it! The gravy comes together nicely, but be sure to keep an eye on it and taste it as you as you cook.

Mmmm. Vegan Chocolate Bars. These were to die for--seriously. And just to be sure, I ate some more of them this morning for my after breakfast snack! Yep, still good.

I like to check in with the New York Times for my online news. My favorite part being "The Most Emailed Stories" list. Well that is, second in line after I read David Brooks. Love David. I have deep curiosities about human nature: What drives us, what inspires us, what generates buzz. Last week the top story that remained #1 most emailed was the one about the Three Things You Should Do Now on Your Facebook Account--or something like that. (Even though I am no Facebook Fanatic, I went ahead and did them.) The story remained on top for several days. I didn't imagine twenty somethings keeping vigil over this as much as I did my own generation--more prone to being skeptics and more leary of the world at large--reading this in despair as we are not as "virtual friendly and open" as our younger counterparts.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Vegan Bagel Boiling and Worst Cooks Moments

I have muscle soreness in my arms and around my waist--I think this "kneading by hand" stuff is giving me a pretty good run for my money in the "workout" department--who knew?! Am I destined for HSN to hock my revolutionary new workout: The Kneader? I've seen worse. . . the chin exercise pump? Seriously.

I am a former bagel addict. I used to eat them by the sleeve--sustain on them for entire mornings. Then, serve them up in sammiches for lunch. The blueberry, cinnamon, plain--it didn't matter--I loved them! Then the whole "carbs:bad, bacon:good" movement took hold and I, like half the world, shunned bread of any sort. Such a black mark in our history in retrospect. Bread is the staff of life. Shame on Atkins.

I watched every episode of Worst Cooks in America with envy--I so wanted to be there. Hooray for Anne Burrell and Rachel--winning the final showdown last night. What a great teacher Anne was--what an intimidating force, too. I don't think I would have held up well under all that--"Don't mix like a girl" stuff. I am a girl and I have to mix this way, and I am slow. The show was terrific in my opinion--giving humility in the kitchen a whole new spin, plus acknowledging that to be a "home cook" is not all that easy--with the Mise en Place and all (Peter offers wonderful insight into the importance of this in bread baking).

Monday, February 1, 2010

Love Thy Dough: Cinny Buns and Italian Rolls (Where is Steve Perry?)

After discovering the amazing yeast master's book: The Bread Baker's Apprentice, I just had to have Whole Grain Breads by Peter Reinhart as well. Mostly for these cinnamon rolls--I could not bear the thought of only having an all-purpose flour option--I needed a healthy "out" for my cinnamon roll obsession (Thanks, Cinnabon!). These were all I wanted in a cinny roll--full of cinnamon, soft inside, a little chewy on the outside and topped with creamy powdered sugar/soy milk glaze--and, yes, a bit more healthy. And the aroma that filled my home was just like one big cinnamon party! Mmmm. I saw the writing on the wall with BBA--I was going to love bread baking, but I had to act fast--these rolls were calling me!

These are the rolls proofing--I think that's the term. I'll just call them, "Sitting Pretty"--because that's what they're doing--sitting pretty before I bake them!

Okay, let me draw your eye to the middle of this Italian Roll. Look at that airy crumb in the center! Heaven! When these came out of the oven, I said, Oh, here we go again, another addiction! These rolls should have a nice plate of vegan mostaccioli to join them--and they did!

This is what they looked like when they came out of the oven!

First of all--the Grammys last night. I never miss the Grammys--I love music. So here we were all settled in and Lady Gaga opens. I am like, okay, I'm no VHI-MTV nut (more of a CMT kinda gal), but I had never, ever seen her in person--on TV. Ever. I've heard the music--(when I run)--and generally love it--nice to run to, but had no idea what she looked like--I swear! So we sat there all slack-jawed. Me, I'm like trying to process it all--making past connections--who might she have been influenced by and all. So I turn to Mr. Thyme and said, "I feel like I'm watching the female Elton John"--no lie--I totally said this! Then BAM--here comes Sir Elton himself--I was blown out of my chair! He sounded amazing! A. Maze. Ing. Elton was the man--always--in his earlier music, there is nothing but pure genius coming from him. Madman Across the Water. That's all I'll say. A couple of the performances last night reminded me of Cirque Du Soleil. Not that I've seen it live, I haven't lived under a rock, I am familiar with the general theme. Then, another of my faves appears--but this time, sadly joined with T.S. I won't name her (I am not a huge fan). And if you listened to T.S.  for even a minute trying to kick out those low registers--she sounded awful--her live TV singing is for not--I wish she'd lip synch (bless her punkin' heart). But Stevie Nicks--OMG! I loved, loved, and still love her! I wish she'd grabbed that mike, taken her tamborine and jumped out off the stage and belted out Rhiannon alone! Then, I secretly wished for Lindsey Buckingham to jump out and make the whole night's affair one to remember--not that it wasn't--it really was a great show. Pink--what did she take to keep from, you know, getting ill--all of that twirling--my god. I have one wish for Grammy night next year--that in my lifetime, Steve Perry performs. That's all. Just one wish. He can sing alone, it doesn't matter. Journey or not. Just let Steve Perry sing. Where did he go?

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