First, I will say the obligatory bit: Wow, I haven’t posted here in a long time.
Now I’ll get to the — ahem — meat of the subject.
I haven’t done as much baking in the last few years because we found out something about gluten and one of the family. Yup. We’ve got a gluten allergy or two in the house now. Which means a lot of my bread-baking has gone by the wayside because sometimes the whole kitchen gets a light sprinkling of flour. Can we say “cross-contamination” children? I’m sure we can. One of the housemates was going through a sad cycle of 3-4 days in the hospital every 4-6 weeks, so we started adjusting.
It hasn’t stopped me baking completely. It’s just moved my focus from bread to sweets. Cakes, cookies, and brownies have all had a try.
Then we found out. Housemate can’t have chocolate because she may be having migraines. OK. Fewer brownies and chocolate chip cookies.
And then: Dairy.
There was a little flailing there, but we’re working around it. Vegan butter isn’t half-bad and nut milks work just fine in most recipes. Coconut oil is pretty good, too. That’s what I use in my Pineapple Upside Down Cake, anyway.
So, all this means that I’m spending more time cooking than baking. Pot roast. Meatloaf. Spaghetti. Tri-Tip With Red Wine Mushroom Sauce. Homemade Italian Sausage.
I’ve been posting photos here and there on Facebook, but I wanted to have a place to easily reference my recipes and photos of the yumminess. There will still be baking posts. (I mentioned that upside down cake, right?) It’s just that there will be more cooking posts.
I am a bad punster using the same source material twice, but I couldn’t resist. I’m also going to warn that this post is going to be light on pictures, so I’ll try to make the next one prettier.
Mile High Challah
Since last you saw your intrepid baker, a lot new has happened. The biggest change, however, is in elevation. The fam damily packed up and moved from the lovely, if scarily humid, Appalachians to the lovely and much more arid Rockies. There are a lot of challenges in relocating four adults, three cars, one cat, and twelve years of accumulated stuff halfway across a continent. I’m not going to go into most of them here because the one challenge I really worried about was baking at altitude. OK, maybe not the only one, but it was a concern. The other concern is that half of the household is gluten-free now due to various medical issues, so I get to tweak some things in the future. Continue reading →
Part of what I love about baking is that there’s still a lot of new things for me to learn — new techniques, new ingredients to play with, new ways of using old ingredients. And once I learn something new, I have lots of ways of learning how to use it. This week, I decided to try making crackers, which looked a lot like making pie crust, which I enjoy and am getting pretty good at. Plus, I needed something to make for my team meeting at work and I’d brought brownies the week before for a potluck. I decided to go with something more savory-snack-like. Specifically, something that sounded sort of like homemade Cheez-Its.
OK, so not really four-and twenty. That would be entirely too much chicken for one pie, and one pie is really all I tend to have energy and room for. I started out this week planning to do just the orange rolls for the blog post, but then I realized that a lot of that process is pretty much identical to making cinnamon rolls, so you get a two-in-one: Chicken pie and orange rolls. Dinner and dessert you might say.
People seem to love homemade bread. Period. Full stop. I’ve got several theories as to why. Some of them have to do with knowing what’s going into your body. Some of them have to do with the sheer bliss that smelling bread baking seems to bring to people. Still others have to do with people thinking it’s hard and feeling touched that you’d make it for them. I used to be in that latter school of thought myself. Then I started baking and was amazed at how simple most breads are.
It’s more sweets this week. Or at least half sweets and half something that could be turned into sweets. The first half are my dark-chocolate thoroughly sinful brownies. The second half is pie crust, which I haven’t actually tried to make anything sweet out of yet.
The brownies are my own recipe, something I’ve fiddled with until I’ve come up with something that I’m happy with and that people seem to enjoy. Some recipes were just a little too gooey. Some were far too cake. These seem to come out just perfectly fudgey and dense.
This is another week for sweet treats. Muffins and blondies, specifically.
My original intention was to do some blueberry muffins, but the last batch were not met with as much enthusiasm as I would like. Plus, Courtney can’t have the blueberries. Her gastroparesis means no skins on the fruits and GERD means no citric acid. However, pumpkin is considered as super-food for people with GP and the Basement Elf suggested pumpkin chocolate chip when I was musing on cinnamon chocolate chip muffins.
Cinnamon rolls are one of those things that I didn’t think I’d ever have the chops to make. Those and croissants, and I’ve made both now. The first time I made them, it was a complete spur-of-the-moment thing. I had brioche dough. I had sugar and cinnamon. And, the main ingredient in this kind of experiment, I was bored and had time on my hands. I cobbled together the filling and frosting from several different recipes that I used to figure out the method before doing it my way.
After that first experiment, I was asked to please only make these for special occasions. Since that first batch disappeared in about a day and a half with four people eating them, I can see why that request was made. We really are trying to eat more healthily, even if I have a carb-making addiction.
This week is going to be another compare-and-contrast. I’ve got a pair of recipes for this bread, one that I’ve made pretty successfully a couple of times and one that this will be the maiden voyage for. The first method is one from Facebook and the other is from BBA.
Hawaiian sweet bread is, well, sweet. And bread. And soft. And pillowy. And gorgeous. It is also a favorite of my ‘other momma.’ My mom and her older sister live together, being ‘two old widder women’ as my aunt says. The two of them shamelessly mother the entire combined brood of kids and grandkids. I try to make yummy things for them to take over when I’m able to go visit.
We have a problem with puns in my house. Well, no, we don’t. No one has a problem making puns. It’s just that there are rather more made than I’ve been led to believe happen in the average household. Not that we’re average. But I digress before I even start.
Mise en place.
I didn’t grow up eating challah, just like I didn’t grow up eating bagels. And, just like she did grow up eating bagels, one of the housemates did grow up eating challah, so she’s been my sounding board on this stuff from day one. She’s told me several times that what I make is as good as or better than any she had at holiday feasts when she was younger.
It’s also about a million times less complex than I expected it to be. Some of that is due to the recipe I use, some of it is the fact that I grew up with a sister who had hair down to her waist. You learn to at least do a rudimentary braid pretty early on under those circumstances.