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Monday, September 29, 2008

What every neckline craves

You may think all girls need diamonds, that is the plain truth but have you ever thought of how neglected your neck feels? With us bakers and cooks it's hard to wear anything nice on my hands in fear that it may be lost forever in the pool of spaghetti sauce or smashed in your mixer. So why not look pretty while we cook and bake with some beautiful necklaces from my sisters new venture Muntedkowhai.

Here's some pictures to make you click on that link

All her necklaces are crocheted by her crafty little hands
Look how flattering it is on the neckline
Here's some other designs
Tempted yet?

Saturday, September 27, 2008

ohhh la la lavash!

I am finally back in my game for the daring bakers challenges. My two month disappearance was due to readjusting to a new home and a new job and a new school. I'm glad to be back in the game. I will edit this post tomorrow when I have more time but for now, please enjoy the crackers with poppyseed and gaucamole and baba ganoush dips that I made along with the crackers. Yum...Oh!

The Bread Baker's Apprentice: Mastering The Art of Extraordinary Bread, by Peter Reinhart

Makes 1 sheet pan of crackers


* 1 1/2 cups (6.75 oz) unbleached bread flour
* 1/2 tsp (.13 oz) salt
* 1/2 tsp (.055 oz) instant yeast
* 1 Tb (.75 oz) agave syrup or sugar
* 1 Tb (.5 oz) vegetable oil
* 1/3 to 1/2 cup + 2 Tb (3 to 4 oz) water, at room temperature
* Poppy seeds, sesame seeds, paprika, cumin seeds, caraway seeds, or kosher salt for toppings


1. In a mixing bowl, stir together the flour, salt yeast, agave, oil, and just enough water to bring everything together into a ball. You may not need the full 1/2 cup + 2 Tb of water, but be prepared to use it all if needed.

2. Sprinkle some flour on the counter and transfer the dough to the counter. Knead for about 10 minutes, or until the ingredients are evenly distributed. The dough should pass the windowpane test (see … ong-Enough for a discription of this) and register 77 degrees to 81 degrees Fahrenheit. The dough should be firmer than French bread dough, but not quite as firm as bagel dough (what I call medium-firm dough), satiny to the touch, not tacky, and supple enough to stretch when pulled. Lightly oil a bowl and transfer the dough to the bowl, rolling it around to coat it with oil. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap.

3. Ferment at room temperature for 90 minutes, or until the dough doubles in size. (You can also retard the dough overnight in the refrigerator immediately after kneading or mixing).

4. For Non Gluten Free Cracker Dough: Mist the counter lightly with spray oil and transfer the dough to the counter. Press the dough into a square with your hand and dust the top of the dough lightly with flour. Roll it out with a rolling pin into a paper thin sheet about 15 inches by 12 inches. You may have to stop from time to time so that the gluten can relax. At these times, lift the dough from the counter and wave it a little, and then lay it back down. Cover it with a towel or plastic wrap while it relaxes. When it is the desired thinness, let the dough relax for 5 minutes. Line a sheet pan with baking parchment. Carefully lift the sheet of dough and lay it on the parchment. If it overlaps the edge of the pan, snip off the excess with scissors.

5. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit with the oven rack on the middle shelf. Mist the top of the dough with water and sprinkle a covering of seeds or spices on the dough (such as alternating rows of poppy seeds, sesame seeds, paprika, cumin seeds, caraway seeds, kosher or pretzel salt, etc.) Be careful with spices and salt - a little goes a long way. If you want to precut the cracker, use a pizza cutter (rolling blade) and cut diamonds or rectangles in the dough. You do not need to separate the pieces, as they will snap apart after baking. If you want to make shards, bake the sheet of dough without cutting it first.

6. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the crackers begin to brown evenly across the top (the time will depend on how thinly and evenly you rolled the dough).

7. When the crackers are baked, remove the pan from the oven and let them cool in the pan for about 10 minutes. You can then snap them apart or snap off shards and serve.

This baba ganoush recipe above was given to me by a friend by in my pastry school in Alabama and I've been meaning to try it since he gave it to me umm...9 months ago. hahaha. Honestly, it's still in my fridge cause I didn't really like it. The weird thing is I LOVE eggplant. So I don't know what my problem is. I don't think I will share the recipe cause well, I threw it away.
This guacamole dip was actually taught to me by my sister and it's SO delicious. I like it plain without the Jalopenos and such. It's very simple to make. My sister got this recipe when she worked in Alaska at a fish plant from her Mexican friends. So this MUST be authentic right?????

Tiff's guacamole Dip

1 Avocado (ripe) deskinned and scoop out into a bowl
finely chopped onion (depends on how much onion you like. I usually add 1 TBS at the most)
juice of a lemon/lime wedge
finely chopped tomato (about 1 TBS or more. I prefer more)
1/2 clove chopped garlic
Salt and pepper to taste

There are only 2 steps: combine and mash with a fork till you get the consistency you like. I like smooth.

I think these lavash crackers tasted better the day after, or perhaps I just like left overs!

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Fake Bake

I have never really had any pet peeves in the food industry besides the usual chefs/line cooks who do drugs and smoke without washing their hands afterwards. This past week has brought with it a new pet peeve which I will call fake bake. It goes something like this:

Scenerio #1
"Hey! Last night I went all out and made dinner AND dessert! I grilled steaks and I made a pie!" said anonymous
"Oh really? Did you make it from scratch?" Friend of anonymous
"Well, no it was frozen." said anonymous
*raised eyebrow from me*
*thinks: so where did the 'made a pie,' come in?*

Scenerio #2
"hey guys, I thought I'd bring you in some croissants I made from work." Said I
"OH! You did make those. I forgot you worked at a bakery. First I thought 'there's NO way SHE made that!' hahahahaha. I made a pie!" said anonymous
"uh huh. And what pie did you bring?" said I
"Oh a Care-el-mel fruit pie. I baked it at 5pm, so it's still warm!" said Anonymous
"You made it from scratch?" Said another
"no, it's frozen." said anonymous
*laughing whole-heartedly inside. I thought 'the hardest part of that was opening the box.'*

I mean, I don't snub people who bring store brought pies. I know not everyone LOVES to bake but you know being cocky about the fact that you "made" and "baked" something when it clearly was store-brought drives me nuts. I don't know, to me that doesn't qualify as baking. That's just me though and perhaps my mind is skewed because I am a baker and nothing but made from scratch goods will do.

Well, now that I have that off my chest. Time to catch up on school. My new school is different and for the first 3 weeks I kept reminiscing about my friends back at Faulkner state and missing them to pieces and not enjoying the new friends and the new facility around me. Perhaps that is why I never wrote about my new school thus far.

This week really changed things. I started to enjoy the people around me, the laughter and the silliness. I must say though...I am UTTERLY sick of puff pastry. I work with it at work, and I have worked with it 3 other times in baking classes and once again I worked with it yesterday. With a good partner even diasters turn into fun, so here is our poached apple in puff pastry.

The kiwi are acting as the apples leaves and the strawberry...well it's just there for color.
It makes me this delicious drink and more.....
So of course Emiline was right! It is indeed an espresso machine! SCORE!!!!!
Check out Stud #2! (the title of Stud #1 will always go to Brandon)
"oh so shiny. Shiny and new, new!"
The first whole week that I got this, I kept dreaming of making all sorts of espresso drinks. I told my co-workers. Apparently, their looks said I am a freak. I guess their enthusiasm for food and drink may not be as high as mine. lol.
One last issue of importance. I LOVE heroes and was SO excited about the first episode of the new season. It makes me want to have powers too! If I were special, I would want to...have the power to wish for an appliance and it would magically appear. Yes, that is what my power will be.

Monday, September 22, 2008

The calm before the storm

It was eerie how calm the sky was before Ikes predicted arrival. Thank goodness it never hit Corpus because seeing how devastated Galveston and Houston is, I think that my anxiety and need to leave was justified. I can't possibly imagine what they are going through but just thinking about us in that situation, I am very thankful cause I know God definitely watched over us. Thank you all for the kind words and prayers ;-)

Here's some pictures of the beach after the huge waves that hit our beach. Believe it or not the beach was FILLED with trash. I can't believe how much garbage we were walking in. I didn't want to think about it.
Minature waves compared to the 5 ft waves we got before and during the storm.
Leben and Brandon battling the heavy rain that felt like a million nails stabbing at you.
So in all the midst of the hurricane evacuation and Muffy leaving us, I totally blanked on the yummy piece of mooncake my mom sent me in the mail for chinese mooncake festival that was on September 14th. So I sat down with my little ball of a mooncake ...
savored it. :-D
I got a new toy 2 sundays ago. I love it. I will post more about as time will let me.
It makes me happy in the mornings and saves me mega bucks in the long run.

Monday, September 15, 2008

I miss you baby sister

I stood by your bed last night... I came to have a peep.

I could see that you'd been crying, and you found it hard to sleep

I whined to you softly as you brushed away a tear,

"It's me. I haven't left you. I'm well, I'm fine, I'm here."

I was close to you at breakfast... I watched you pour your tea.

You were thinking of the many times your hands reached down to me.

I was with you at my grave today... you tend to it with such care.

I want to reassure you that I'm not lying there.
I walked you towards the house as you fumbled for the key.

I gently put my paw on you... I smiled and said, "its me."

You looked so very tired as you sank into a chair.

I tried so hard to let you know that I was sitting there.

It's wonderful for me to be so near you everyday,

To say to you with certainty, "I never went away."

You sat there very quietly, then smiled... I think you knew

That in the stillness of the evening I was very close to you.

And when the time is right for you to cross the brief divide,

I'll rush across to meet you and we'll stand there side by side.

I have so many things to show you! There's so much for you to see.

Be patient, live your journey out, then come home to be with me.

-Author Unknown

I try to be strong in face of losing something or someone. I keep things bottled up inside and try not to let it affect me. When you don't see the situation, when you are away from words and pictures and from the people who remind you of that loss it should make it easier. 15 years stick with you. How do you not breakdown at the sight of her picture?
She loved me even though I gave her ruddy haircuts one after the other during the summer times. Somehow she seemed to be able to pull it off and look even cuter

When she figured out that Brandon was to be a constant in my life, she decided it was time to let me know her discontent with me getting married and leaving and so she began to ignore me and love Brandon and right before we got married, she ignored the both of us and I have never been able to get her to come to me willingly after that.

Our last Christmas with the muffster, hiding under the pressies. We all miss you gingerbuckles. ;-)

Wednesday, September 10, 2008


Hey all,

We are in the path of Hurricane Ike, so we are heading out and going to San Antonio with our puppy. Will see you all when we get home!

Monday, September 8, 2008

My Green Thumb

This is what I have been doing the past month. Hiding in my house watching my basil grow. No, that would be creepy. You can say I have no green thumb at all and the reason this basil is growing is because Brandon waters it. I like to plant stuff, I just can't seem to ever get around to watering them. Hey! I'm a cook/baker, not a gardener. So I'll leave it to the pros, but I can for sure say that this is my very first pot o' herb.

I decided to make an almond basil pesto for dinner last night. Usually I add a BUNCH of garlic cloves and then I end up being the one on the treadmill dripping garlic sweat and having my next door treadmiller get off because I stink. Well, if they were a vampire, I would be safe. SO, I added only 1 clove of garlic and it was just right!
I pan-fried Brandon some chicken breasts and made potatoes O'brien - homestyle!
Here's another view of the plated dinner incase you were interested. Probably not, but you know. For myself, I substituted the chicken for a more green colored friend. BEANS!
I have been a daring baker slacker. School started, work started, life started again. I'll be glad when I'm done with school so I can come home from work and not have to do homework. Blah. That reminds me I should check out the daring bakers site to see what this months challenge is. I sure hope I can fit it in.