Monthly Archives: December 2014

Only Two More Sleeps

fresh baked country bread

christmas tree ornaments

christmas cookie making

roasted root vegetables

Only two more sleeps ’til Christmas, and we are ready. Almost all the gifts have been wrapped, the house is somewhat clean (and clean enough that I won’t feel embarrassed when my dad and sister stop by for an early Christmas lunch), and the food is planned (we are keeping it super simple and non traditional this year). I have some grocery shopping to do in the morning, a few books to wrap (I went a bit overboard buying Lucy books this year!), and then I am sitting back with some spiced eggnog and enjoying it all.

Lucy has been busy sitting around the tree inspecting the pile of gifts that grows little by little each day as beloved friends stop by with presents, or packages arrive from family far away. It is so exciting to Lucy, every time the doorbell rings she runs excitedly to the door to see if it is another package of gifts. She shakes and investigates each present thoroughly, asking repeatedly who each is for. It has been so fun to watch her excitement grow–it brings up so many fond memories from the Christmases of my childhood.

However big or small, I hope that you take time to step back from the hustle and bustle of the big day to thoroughly enjoy the company you are with. Merry Christmas friends!

Everything Bagels and a Cookbook Review

everything bagels sunday suppers

everything bagels sunday suppers

everything bagels sunday suppers

We are bagel eaters. Growing up my family always had bagels on the counter and backups in the freezer for when we ran out. They were nothing special, just some bagged variety that my mom purchased at Costco. As a family of five almost-daily bagel eaters, Costco was the only place that made sense to purchase bagels. Over the summer I started a tradition of stopping for bagels every Sunday morning after we would finish walking around the swap meet as a family. It began as an incentive (ahem, bribe), to get the little one to stay put instead of running all over the place while I was haggling for vintage treasures. It stuck and became something we looked forward to after an early morning of walking and looking at junk.

Now, as an adult, they are more of a treat than an every day food. Bread baking is something I have grown to be quite passionate about over the past five years, and while I don’t have as much time for such activities as I used to, I still try to find a little time each week to fill pull together a loaf of something or other. Bagels were the perfect activity for Lucy and I to work on together on a Saturday morning while dad held June and got to sit back and relax.

This recipe came from the book, Sunday Suppers by Karen Mordechai, which I was graciously given a copy of in exchange for a short review. Since this was my first time making bagels I followed the recipe exactly, and was very pleased with the results. These bagels were delicious. I really look forward to making these again with different toppings and flavors (and some with cranberries as Lucy requested!).

  • 3½ cups bread flour, plus extra for dusting
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 2¼ teaspoons active dry yeast
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 1/3 cups warm water (about 105°F)
  • Vegetable oil, for the bowl
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 teaspoon water
  • 1 tablespoon black sesame seeds
  • 1 teaspoon chia seeds
  • 1 teaspoon rock salt or coarse sea salt

Instructions

  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook, combine the flour, sugar, yeast, and kosher salt. With the mixer on low speed, slowly add the warm water. Continue to mix until the dough comes together, 4 to 6 minutes. Increase the speed to medium-high and knead for 8 to 10 minutes, until the dough is soft and smooth. Oil a large bowl, add the dough, and cover with a towel. Let the dough rise in a warm place until doubled in size, about 1 hour. Gently punch down the dough and let rest for 10 minutes. Preheat the oven to 425°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Bring a large pot of water to a boil, and then reduce to a simmer.
  2. Divide the dough into 12 pieces. Press each piece to get rid of any air bubbles. Form them into smooth balls by rolling and rotating each one between your palms. Coat a finger with flour and press it through each ball to form a ring, stretching the dough and widening the hole to about one-third of the bagel’s diameter. Place the bagels on the prepared baking sheet and cover with a towel. Let rest for 10 minutes. (If the bagels begin to dry out, spray them with a bit of water.)
  3. Bring the water back to a full boil and gently lower the bagels, 2 or 3 at a time, into the water. Boil uncovered for about 1 minute. Flip and boil for another minute. Remove the bagels, drain, and return to the baking sheet.
  4. Whisk the egg yolk with the 1 teaspoon water to create an egg wash. Using a pastry brush, coat the tops of the bagels with the egg wash. Sprinkle with the sesame seeds, chia seeds, and rock salt. Bake for 15 minutes or until golden.
  5. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

sunday suppers book review

Sunday Suppers is stunning. Before receiving this cookbook I had read a few reviews about it, all mentioning how beautiful this book is. I couldn’t agree more, but I was also weary that this may be just a book I look through and put aside, as so many of the most beautiful cookbooks don’t have realistic recipes for a busy family with little ones. I was so wrong! While I have only tried the bagel recipe so far, I have a long list of recipes and even better–ideas, that I feel inspired to make. The recipes are down to earth (think granola, biscuits, rice and beans), not at all fussy, and the book is filled with recipes using easy to find ingredients.

This book is categorized into different occasions and with each occasion it’s own menu. While I am not one to really follow menus and quite often stray a fair amount from the original recipe, I can tell that I am going to get a lot of use out of this one on the inspiration alone. A few of the recipes I am looking forward to trying are the potato tart with black olives, beef and green olive empenadas, mixed root vegetable chips (brilliant, I can’t wait to make these for Lucy!), and chocolate bread pudding with homemade challah–yum!

This is a gorgeous cookbook with stunning photography printed on beautiful matte paper. Sunday Suppers would make the perfect Christmas gift if you know anyone who likes hosting parties or planning meals special for ordinary occasions–dinners, weekend brunches, children’s parties, picnics, and even good old breakfast in bed.

sunday suppers book review

sunday suppers book review

sunday suppers book review

sunday suppers book review

everything bagels sunday suppers

I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.

Time to Sit Back

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It has reached that point in the holiday season where I am ready to sit back and let things be. I have made all sorts of ornaments and decorations. I have made holiday breads and cookies. The halls are thoroughly decked. The house smells of pine and cinnamon. The nights are cold and the mornings brisk. Christmas is in the air. I may do a small project here or there, and there will definitely be baking, but outside of wrapping presents I am not making any more holiday related plans.

So here it is. While I am not quite ready for the holidays, I am ready to stop doing and put my energy into being in the moment. I wish you all a wonderful start to the week and a stress free holiday season.

 

In the Kitchen

sweet potato hash

rainbow carrots grated

red lentil coconut curry

dessert

I love how monochromatic our eating has been lately. Almost all of our meals have this beautiful harvest orange hue–it’s wonderful!

Throughout most of my pregnancy I found cooking to be too tiring, I was uninspired, and for the life of me, I could never decide what I was in the mood for (though I definitely knew what I didn’t want!). Now though, I am cooking up a storm. There are not enough nights in the week for as many dinners as I want to make. Most of our meals lately have been made in the morning. The big kid is chipper and up for playing alone, the little kid is usually asleep in the carrier or the swing, and I am not yet cranky from a long day of explaining every action I take to a three year old.

I think my eagerness to get back in the kitchen (while partly to make up for lost time while I was pregnant) has a lot to do with the time of year and the shift to move indoors. Even though we have the luxury of being able to play outdoors year round (and often without a sweater), I do so miss the cozy warmth of a fire in the fireplace after coming in from a brisk late fall/early winter day. For that reason I have been spending a lot of time with my oven, multiple cups of tea, and books aplenty (though mostly just to browse, I wish I had time to get more involved with ANY book outside of the children’s section!).

Anyhow, onto the food that has been coming out of my kitchen.

1. Sweet potato hash with an egg.

2. Grated rainbow carrots. Whenever they are available I buy them, purple carrots are still such a novel thing to me, I may have eaten more of them as a child if my mom bought them in this lovely hue. I must admit though, they certainly lose their charm once cooked, more often than not turning a rather drab shade of grey.

3. Red lentil coconut curry with cauliflower and sweet potatoes. So good.

4. My contribution to Thanksgiving dinner. An apple tart and sweet potato pie.

A Christmas Tree

christmas trees

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christmas tree lights

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eggnog

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This year is the first since my childhood that I have had a real tree at Christmas time. The past four or five years we have celebrated the holiday with a quirky white vintage tree. In the years before our vintage tree I decorated house plants with strings of colored lights and red glass balls. Both were fun, but nothing compares to the real thing.

I have been in a daze for the past day, stopping every time I pass and staring at its beautiful branches, now covered in sparkling lights, breathing in the scent of the forest, one I remember experiencing often growing up in Washington state, and reminiscing over decorating the Christmas trees of my youth with my brother and sister, using many of the same ornaments now adorning our tree.

It really is magical. In a few days, when I come down from this Christmas tree high I am on (that is, if I come down!), I will make a more thoughtful blog post. Until then though, I am going to be gazing at twinkling lights, sipping on eggnog, and pretending the snow is falling out the window.