Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Rosemary Olive Oil Bread

I made bread this weekend with my bread machine. I decided to get adventurous and try a new type of bread. We’ve done whole wheat and we’ve done white, but I noticed this time as I was looking through the breadmachine book, that I have the option to do French bread. Also with the reading of the breadmachine book, I discovered some hints and tips that had the potential to transform my bread attempts into something that tasted as spectacular as it smelled.
The recipe was an adaption of the Italian Herb Bread recipe in the breadmachine book (I know bread machine is two words, but it is so much more fun to type it as one, especially when followed by “book”). When I assembled the ingredients, I thought we would be enjoying a lovely piece of red meat and an even lovelier bottle of red wine for dinner, but the Husband was in an unfortunate state from having consumed large quantities of red wine the night before. So we had soup instead, and the bread was still a fantastic addition to the meal.

Rosemary Olive Oil Breadmachine Bread
The instructions for this recipe correspond to the one for my bread machine. I have no idea if they are all the same, so if the instructions for yours differ, please alter accordingly. Also, I used a tiny bit more yeast than it called for, because I wanted a fluffier, lighter texture.

Wet ingredients go in first.
3 tablespoons olive oil
1¼ cup water
Chopped rosemary. I used about 2 tablespoons, and we both decided it could have used more.

Dry ingredients
3½ cups bread flour
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon garlic power

Make a little well in the top of the dry ingredients, careful not to get any wetness into the well. Add the yeast.
2 ½ teaspoons breadmachine yeast

Turn the machine on and let it go to town. Try not to get frightened by the machine when it suddenly starts to knead the dough when you’re standing in front of it with your back to it. Enjoy!

You want pictures, you say? We may have eaten it too fast for pictures. It also makes lovely toast for eggs, and lovely bread to accompany NY strip roast.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Kitchen Toys

The weather outside is frightful...
If you've been anywhere near my house in the past week, you've probably heard me singing this and various other Christmas songs loudly and very off-key. I love this time of year, and I love Christmas music. Until recently, I didn't celebrate Christmas, and so had very mixed feelings about this time of year. But not the songs. I've always loved them. 

When I met my now husband back when we were in school, he told me wild tales of Christmas and warm fuzzy goodness that was his family. And I was jealous. Big time jealous. It's the one holiday I always wanted to celebrate, but never got to, being Jewish and all. Don't get me wrong, I love my religion, it's history, and my family traditions related to the holidays, but this time of year was always challenging and full of guilt for me. 

As we became closer, and our relationship grew, my exposure to his Christmas also increased. The first time I visited his family (and met them, and saw his house) started on Boxing Day (that's the day after Christmas for all of you non-Canadians out there). When I arrived at the house, I was overwhelmed with the complete immersion into Christmas that I experienced. His mom is an incredible Christmas decorator. The decorations weren't the only thing - there were presents for me. For me! How cool was that?

The next year, I was invited to participate in all of Christmas. All of it! From Christmas Eve all the way through traveling to Canada on Boxing Day for extended Christmas with his extended family. At this point, we had been dating seriously for almost 3 years, and knew we planned to continue our relationship after we graduated (it was, after all, Senior year). That Christmas was my first candlelight Christmas Eve service, my first unable-to-sleep-because-I-was-too-busy-being-excited-and-watching-for-deer-out-of-the-window-in-the-moonlight, my first Christmas morning, my first sticky buns, and my first (and only) white Christmas, which resulted in my first snowman. 

Man, take a Jewish girl from the south and throw her into a Baltimore Christmas, and that is what you get.

As the years have gone by, my Christmas experiences have progressed from that tingle of excitement that kept me up most of my first Christmas Eve to excitement over spending a relaxing few days with family I see not nearly enough anymore. Moving down to Austin has just a little bit to do with that. Last year, for the first time, I participated in Christmas in a new way, a behind-the-scenes sort of way that involved stockings. I'll leave it at that.

It's my 9th Christmas this year, the third year we've had a full-sized tree at home (something I always wanted but swore I would never do), and the third year we're spending the holiday itself at the Husband's brother's house, complete with his wife, their daughter, my mother-in-law, and her giant yellow Lab, Max. And I cannot wait. 

(Here comes the guilt again, it's Chanukah now, and I feel like I should be writing about the beauty of the lights, or the joy of sharing my family traditions with the Husband. But that's not what this post is about. There will be another one about Chanukah.)

Anyway, the purpose of this post was to discuss some of my favorite kitchen toys, in case you're in need of gift ideas, or need padding for your own wish list. 

1. Kitchenaid mixer. We do so many things with it (and with attachments). Ice cream, ground beef, and pasta, to name a few things. We occasionally use the food processor attachment.

2. Spatulas. I use them for everything, even making eggs, and have a variety of sizes and shapes. These are particularly cute and festive.
Mini Holiday Spatulas, Set of 3

3. A good knife. We did just update our knife block for one with more slots, but all you really need for most tasks is one really good knife.

4. A kitchen scale. Ours weighs in 4 different weights. Indispensable tool. Just don't let it jump off of the top of the refrigerator, because it most likely will stop working at that point.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Thanksgiving 3

And finally (I know, a week later) we get to the food.
The day was lovely, the food all came out wonderfully, and we were mostly relaxed. I say mostly because out of the 5 of us (me, the Husband, his mom, and my folks), 3 of us spent the morning increasingly anxious about when the turkey needed to go into the oven. Guess which three.

Every time one of us would go from the kitchen to the living room, we would ask the dear Husband if he knew when the turkey was to go in. It went something like this:
Me: When should the turkey go in?
Husband: I don't know yet, I'll let you know when I look it up.
Me: Please do it soon.
(I walk back in the kitchen and exchange eye rolls and general moaning about boys with the moms)

5 minutes later, in the living room
My mom: Have you looked up the turkey time yet?
The Husband: Not yet. I will soon.
My mom: Ok.
(She walks back into the kitchen, to the same reactions from us as I received moments before.)

10 minutes later, in the living room
Me: Husband, I am getting nervous. Please look up the turkey time NOW.
Him: Lay off. I'll let you know when I do, and it will be fine.
Me: It's more important than your fantasty football. You're losing this season anyway. Look it up now and we'll all leave you alone.
Him: I'll do it when I damn well please. Get back in the kitchen where you belong, woman.

It got to the point where each time one of us would open our mouths in that room, my dad would already be laughing. Aside from that minor stress-inducing incident, the day passed very smoothly, ending with a lovely meal of Thanksgiving-y goodness.

Mom's Corn Casserole
1/2 cup butter, melted
1 can cream-style corn (14-15 oz)
1 can corn kernels (11-14 oz)
1 1/2 cup grated cheese (I've used cheddar, Colby jack, and jalapeƱo jack at different times)
8 oz sour cream
1 box Jiffy corn muffin mix (8 oz)

Preheat oven to 350. Melt butter in a large bowl. Add corns, 1 cup grated cheese, sour cream, and muffin mix. Stir to blend. Pour into a greased 7x11 baking dish or a round casserole dish. Bake for 45 minutes or until golden brown. Sprinkle remaining cheese on top and bake for 10 minutes or until the cheese melts. Let stand for at least 5 minutes. Serve warm.