Sunday, January 24, 2010

because i get more traffic here.

I know you're here for the food, blah blah blah, but I have so many more readers over here than I do at my 10 Dollar Drawings Blog (which you're more than welcome to link on your own blogs, dudes. holla.) and I really want people to see my friends' work and I think it's something my readers would dig, so behold- Darling Press.

thank you

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Jason and Alia Hoffman are close friends of mine, and they've started their own stationery press out of their little homestead (which is only a few miles from my own little homestead). All of the cards are printed by hand (using letterpress!) on really lovely paper, using sustainable materials wherever possible, and packed by hand. They pay me in fresh eggs and cards to take pretty pictures of their goods. I really love their work, and I'm so happy to see them putting things out in the world. You should get one of those Valentine's cards while there's still time!

p.s. the other day Alia gave me a taste of her curried sweet potato and wild rice stew and it was awesome. Recipe pending.

Monday, January 18, 2010

day in the life.

Because I'm boring, but these pictures came out nice, here's what I ate today, in order:

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Breakfast was whole milk yogurt drizzled with local honey, a piece of wheat toast with butter, and some clementines.

And, because I realized that I haven't really shared my new living space here (mostly because the kitchen sucks) here's where we eat now:

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My husband still isn't 100% sold on having the front room of our home as a semi-formal dining room, but there's nowhere else to put the table and I think it looks AWESOME and I'm not going to move it, so suck it up honey- there's a couch and a tv in the basement. Plus we can play LP's (when the needle on the record player isn't broken) without getting up from the table.

I had a banana for a snack but I was too lazy to take a picture of it.

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For lunch I made this salad, and then trucked around with it until I got hungry enough to eat it. This bowl is a Martha Stewart pyrex bowl that comes with a fitted lid- I just carry it around like regular tupperware most of the time. This is one of my most treasured kitchen items- I can bake in it, use it like tupperware, freeze stuff in it, store things in the fridge. My mom (who bought it for me as a wedding gift, in a set with other sizes/shapes) and sister both have the same set, and if we ever bring food to a family function in the dishes, we always make a huge deal about getting ours back.

I didn't eat much after lunch- just a heart thrive bar- those things kind of suck but they sell them at my work and they're handy, and low glycemic index hippie business, blah blah, so I eat them when I'm hard up.

I was so hungry I forgot to take a picture of my dinner until I was almost done eating it:

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A black bean burrito with lightly sauteed spinach, avocado, sour cream, cheese, and salsa. After dinner I had a few squares of dark chocolate, and just a few minutes ago, at like 9 o'clock, I had a piece of toast with peanut butter. REALLY EXCITING STUFF, RIGHT?

I posted all this garbage for 2 reasons- first, I thought the photos were nice, haha. Second, I wanted to illustrate what it looks like to eat on a limited number of calories. Since I got all gung-ho about calorie counting, I've sort of invested all my OCD energies into it and I'm like measuring all my portions with little cups and tablespoon things and the whole thing feels kind of ridiculous, but I feel like I'm teaching myself how to eat less, and that's a pretty valuable lesson to learn. It took me almost a full week of eating like this before I wasn't COMPLETELY STARVING TO DEATH ALL DAY but it's been over a month of diligent calorie recording and I'm doing a pretty good job of keeping track of everything, I think. I have a chalkboard in my kitchen and I just jot down the calorie amounts of everything I eat all day. If you care, the final countdown of all this stuff I posted is 1701 calories. I don't count grams fat or carbohydrates and shit like that, I just try to balance out what I'm eating so it's not all the same types of food all day. One thing that I'm really trying to stay away from is falling into the trap of "Low Calorie Dieting." I see it all the time, and I think it's the worst way to live.

A good example, since I'm a barista- is the NONFAT LATTE DRINKER. I'm not going to go on a tangent about my customers, (nobody wants to get dooced) especially knowing that at least a few of them are readers (hey dudes!), but I think it's safe to say that nonfat latte drinkers fall into the same category as diet coke people, or really anyone who is so afraid to eat LESS than they normally do, they'll find any way to fill themselves up on lower calorie junk. You can totally lose weight this way- I've seen people do it, but it can't FEEL good. Nobody ever looks happy when they spit out, "NONFAT MILK, please." (But the lady who comes in and asks for heavy cream in her drip coffee- she's always pretty smiley. And she's skinny, too.) The thing that's funny about it is that the calorie difference when you remove fat is usually pretty negligible. For instance, the yogurt that I buy (Nancy's) comes in different fat contents. I buy the plain whole milk yogurt, because it's thick and satisfying and creamy, but it's like 180 calories per cup. One day my husband accidentally bought the lowfat version and it's still like 150 calories per cup. NO THANKS, GUYS- I'll take the fat and the 30-calorie hit. I only eat it a half a cup at a time anyway.

Anyway- I'm rambling. Blah blah blah, smaller portions of more satisfying food, live long and prosper, etc. (By the way I've lost 5 pounds since Christmas! WOO HOO.)

Thursday, January 14, 2010

grilled flatbreads

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Sometimes I feel like I go on these kicks where I can't stop posting about the same crap. If that's annoying, uh- sorry. Like when I post about eggs all the time, or soup all the time. Or, in this case- that stupid pizza dough I'm always rambling about. But, whatever. A little bit of pizza dough never hurt anyone.

That recipe actually makes a pretty fair amount of dough, like more pizza than my family of 3 can ever eat in one sitting- so usually I portion it out and save some in the freezer. That way, when I'm feeling lazy, I can just pull it out, thaw it, and make a little pizza for my son or whatever. I had one ball of dough in my freezer the size of a large fist, leftover from a previous pizza night. I knew it wouldn't be enough for a decent-sized pizza, but this idea popped into my head to roll it out really flat and grill it on my cast-iron skillet.

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Remember last time I posted about pizza and I was all, "Oh hey look, my kid lost my rolling pin, so I used a wine bottle! Aren't I clever?" So, tonight I had all my crap out, I had like 3 pans of crap going on the stove, and when I turned around to roll out my dough, I realized I'd recycled all my damn wine bottles. WHOOPSIE DOODLES. I was all butthurt until I remembered this weird little dough-stretching tip. I don't know if I saw it on tv, or maybe it was in that page of goofy 'kitchen hints' in Cook's Illustrated, but hey- if you don't have a rolling pin or a bottle of wine, you can easily stretch your pizza dough over the base of a bowl. It worked really well!

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I heated my cast-iron for a long time on medium-low. I did a little test piece but it got black too fast before it cooked all the way, so I lowered the heat to like 3 or 4. I sauteed some kale in bacon fat, because IT TASTES REALLY GOOD THAT WAY, and hey did you know that a tablespoon of bacon fat only has like 113 calories? I APPROVE OF THAT. Also, cooking my kale in bacon fat makes my kid devour it like crazy. Do you know what is music to a mother's ears? "Mmm, this is really good kale!" Whatever, don't get all crybaby about my bacon fat- when's the last time you heard a 3 year old compliment you on your kale cookery?

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For some reason, when my brain jumped to "grilled flatbread," I mentally placed a poached egg on top. I had this image of a piece of nice chewy flatbread with some warm greens and runny egg- just thinking about it is making me hungry again, actually.

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So, the final tally was:

Grilled flatbread (the piece of dough I used was 1/4 of the original pizza dough recipe, further divided into 3rds. That means the pieces were pretty small, and stretched really thin before being grilled.)
Sauteed kale (use bacon fat! and salt!)
a sprinkle of parmesan
some chopped walnuts
one poached egg

Before anything, preheat your griddle. Saute kale, and put it aside. roll or stretch out your dough, and grill each side until brown. Place in the oven to keep warm if you want while you get your eggs ready. Poach eggs, then assemble flatbreads. I did a drizzle of olive oil over the base to keep it from being dry- then topped with kale, parmesan, walnuts, and egg.

They were not very big, so I made salads to eat on the side as well. The only thing I think could have improved it would be a squeeze of lemon, but I didn't have any. I'm definitely going to make this again though, it was awesome. EGGS. PIZZA DOUGH. STORY OF MY LIFE.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

vital wheat gluten: addendum.

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Works great in whole wheat no-knead bread! (This is 2/3rds whole wheat, with 2 tbsp. of vital gluten added.)

Saturday, January 2, 2010

vital wheat gluten.

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Dude, I cannot believe I haven't brought this up yet. Not very long ago, I was at the store, skimming over the bulk bins in the hippie aisle (where I buy my flour, granola, polenta, lentils, etc.- because it's cheap AND I AM A HIPPIE) when the tag for vital wheat gluten caught my eye. "Add 1 tbsp. to heavy doughs for a lighter loaf."

Being a former vegetarian, it's not like I'm unfamiliar with the concept of wheat gluten. Good lord, wheat gluten (seitan, mock duck, gimme gimme) was my favorite faux-meat product, to be sure. But, the idea of adding a bit to my bread dough seemed kind of weird. So, I googled it a little bit, and then I started keeping an eye on the ingredients list of the sandwich breads I was buying, and I realized that almost all whole wheat breads have vital gluten added. Which is probably why, when I bake whole wheat bread, it's often gluey and dense, and why store-bought wheat bread is fluffier.

Let me say that I've almost completely given up on 100% whole wheat bread at home. I got some kind of bread bible from the library, I've tried tons of different loaves, and I've never had a huge amount of success. I satisfy myself by baking 2/3 whole wheat loaves, and now I add vital gluten in addition to that, and the results are totally different from what I was getting before.

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Tonight was yet another pizza night- and let me just come right out and say that this geeky picture of me holding a lump of dough is really an excuse to show off my new tattoos, because they look nice in this picture.

So, behold: my new semi-official pizza dough recipe, only very slightly modified from my old standby.

Pizza dough for hippies:

(actually, this is not pizza dough for hippies, THIS is pizza dough for hippies, but whatev)

1 cup of water
2 cups whole wheat flour
1 cup white flour
2 tbsp. vital wheat gluten
1 1/2 tbsp. honey (use a mild honey, for your sake, like clover. I only had orange blossom and it's kind of overpowering for pizza.)
1 tsp. salt
1 packet of instant yeast
2 tbsp. olive oil


In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, wheat gluten, and salt. In another bowl, combine one cup of warm (just barely warm) water, honey, yeast, and olive oil. Let it sit for a second and get foamy, then dump into the dry combination and stir starting from the middle to form batter-like dough, adding more and more from the sides until you can handle it. Knead for 5-10 minutes (although you'll notice immediately if you bake bread often enough that the vital gluten changes the texture of the dough almost immediately) and then let sit in an oiled bowl, covered, for about an hour. Punch down, (SATISFYING SENSATION) and knead back into a ball until no longer spongy. Let sit for 10 minutes or as long as you want while you prep all your pizza goodies, then roll out.


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"Roll out? Oh crap! I don't have a rolling pin!" Oh, you don't? Me neither, my kid stole mine and lost it. He was pretending it was a steam roller. WHERE DID IT GO? Anyway, just cover a wine bottle with plastic wrap (or don't, if you're not a germophobe) and use that instead.

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We're too lazy to get a pizza stone so I bake my pizzas on a cast-iron griddle in my oven at 475ºf.

I don't know if adding vital wheat gluten to your bread is any more or less healthy (I'm guessing LESS, but whatever, it's only a tablespoon per cup of flour) but it makes the bread a lot better if you're using whole wheat, so I say go ahead and experiment with it. I will certainly continue to do so.