Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Oh Heavenly Day!

It's a beautiful sunny day here in this cold country (19 degrees this morning) and a lot of sweet and wonderful things are calling me (remember Pooh?)

Some coconut cupcakes and a warm pot of soup.... Why would I want to go out in the cold?

Soup is on and now maybe a loaf of "healthy" instead of "holy" bread.

My favorite whole wheat bread..... it's great toasted with lots of butter in the morning.

Now the cupcakes....loaded with coconut....yum!

I'd like a cup of Joe with that!

No words.....

And now I'm going to relax with my new soft, warm socks and a good book!  Aren't they gorgeous?

Listen to Patti Griffin tell it and have a heavenly day!


Friday, March 15, 2013

Waiting for Spring.......or Breadventures

Tomato plants popping up.
Holy baguette slices
  "It was one of those March days when the sun shines hot and the wind blows cold: when it is summer in the light, and winter in the shade."  ~Charles Dickens, Great Expectations

Really, it was in the midst of a heavy March snowstorm a week or so ago that I planted these seeds, hoping for a boost in mood with some signs of spring.

While waiting for the seeds to germinate, I signed up for a class at Craftsy on Artisan Bread Baking with Peter Reinhart, whom I consider my absolute bread baking guru.  Heating the oven to 500 degrees does a lot to warm up the house and rising bread is a good mood lifter.
Every day there was a loaf fermenting in the refrigerator, rising on the counter or baking in the oven, besides dripping with melted butter and adding to my middle. No pics of my middle or the buttered slices which are long gone.


The goal of the class was to make crusty loaves with creamy soft insides full of holes (for the butter).  Most doughs had to be mixed up a day ahead of time.  I found it a relaxing process where I could read, sew or gaze at the snow while the ingredients did their thing.

The baguettes, though very brown, had great crust and lots of holes.
Country Loaf

Next was the Country Loaf which was made from old dough (or dough saved from the previous recipe and fermented in the fridge overnight).  Country dough has a bit of rye and whole wheat flour in it and it had great flavor and a marvelous crust.  This loaf disappeared in a hurry.  It had a few holes, but more crumb than crust.
Inside a Ciabatta

Ah, but the piece de resistance was the ciabatta.  I've made ciabatta before (from the instructor's books) and it was good, but my loaves looked more like cricket bats than the ones in these pictures.  With very wet dough, new shaping techniques from the class and a mix of coarse flours for dusting, I produced these loaves. The insides were very creamy and delicious even without butter. Are you hungry yet?

Ciabattas rising

Well, that's the end of my "Breadventure".  Today, the ciabattas I'm raising will go into a basket with wine for a silent auction tonight for the Lake Association. Tomorrow I'll be baking a yeasted Irish Soda Bread for St. Pat's Day and next week you can find me on the treadmill or the yoga mat trying to get rid of a few pounds.

Wishing you many delicious "Breadventures".
Now, what was I quilting?????


Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Back Home Again....(sighhhh)

Every winter we don't have to think to hard for reasons to go to Cozumel for a few weeks of sunshine, snorkeling and good food. Here are some of the best...the snow.

The beautiful sunsets we enjoyed every single day....

The candlelight baths.

Jim especially enjoyed the iguanas as they sunned themselves on top of the stone walls around the President's summer home when we walked to town.

But the best thing we did this year was to take a cooking class with Josefina.  Mayan food is a bit different from Mexican food and we were anxious to learn how to shop for it and prepare some of the delicious dishes.  First we went to the Mercado or local market.  There we found fresh fruits, veggies, seafood and chickens still wearing their shoes.  We purchased the ingredients for our meal and then walked to Josefina's charming house where her porch was decked with flowers from her son's recent wedding.  This we learned was a delightful Mayan tradition.

Josefina (pronounced Yosafina) first instructed us in using a knife to cut up the ingredients we bought at the market. 

While we worked, we drank iced Jicamaica  juice (hibiscus) and snacked on fruit and vegetables seasoned with "Tajin", a red, mild spice. Later we made the best Margaritas.  It's a good thing we did the cutting first!

This is Josefina's assistant in the kitchen.

Her is what's left of our snacks.  Mmmmm they were so good.  We brought home some Tajin.

Josefina showed us how to prepare everything at the table in her dining room.   Here we are making tortillas by hand.  Part of the market trip was the Tortilla factory where they not only turned out the best tortillas, but delicious, thin, crisp coconut cookies.

Here we are with the dish we made, "Chilies in Nogada" which was a dish commissioned by the government to celebrate Mexican Independence Day on September 15th.  The red, white and green of the dish symbolize the Mexican flag.....a very special dish.

Later, we made several trips to the Mercado to shop and in our little kitchen we made a seafood stew and mango cucumber salad.

Are you hungry yet?
Wishing you many delicious adventures! 


P.S. More quilting next post!