Chive pancakes (that is, scallion pancakes with chives instead)

April 27, 2012 § 18 Comments

Life is grand friends.  Really grand.  I can’t stop beaming with pride from every cell of my body, and it’s because of this.

It’s a sourdough loaf.  It’s the little things, you know.  Isn’t she a beauty?  Perfectly crackly hard shell of a crust, spongey chewy interior crumb, those lovely blistered gashes and bits of charred flour.  I would shell out good money for a loaf like this, wrapped nicely in brown paper, at a bakery.  But I made it myself!(!!!) And I am fit to burst with how excited I am about it.

It came out of the oven just after 11 last night because that’s when it appeared ready to bake, and well, I haven’t stopped smiling goofily about it since.

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Applesauce and cheddar bread

April 21, 2012 § 11 Comments

I wish I were better at canning.  And not because I’m buying in to some fantastical homesteading fantasy that’s just part of the zeitgeist.  I swear.  Ok, well, I totally do fantasize about homesteading, we’ve talked about this before.  But not for the self-sufficiency part of it, which is what we as a populace are being accused of.  I’m way too communal of a creature for that.  Homesteading appeals because it is a way of feeling things again, of feeling physical strain toward a goal and of feeling something you’ve made in your hands.

But, the real reason why I wish I were better at canning is so that I can do like my friend Anna did the other night as we were all finishing up dinner.  Something in the conversation seemed to trigger a spring in her mind, and she leapt up from the table exclaiming, “do you want some really amazing applesauce that I canned that tastes just like fall?”

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Baked eggs and yogurt biscuits

February 24, 2012 § 25 Comments

The other day as I sat staring down at my long scratchy to-do list, I suddenly saw it transform before my eyes, distinctly and unmistakeably, into a lamprey, writhing on the page and viciously sucking all the life out of my day.  Gruesome.  And, I knew at once that the image was completely accurate.  I’ve been living off of my to-do list lately.  Actually, it is more like I have been possessed by my to-do list, a drone under its command.

The list consists of winding pages of the endless tasks that ought to be taken care of in between the meetings and duties that create rows of blocks in my calendar, like the bricks of a parapet.  The fact of the matter is, there are things that must get done, and better to list them out than try to keep them sorted and ordered in my poor, addled brain.  But, lately I’ve let the list get to me.  The magnitude of it, and my brain-numbed reliance on it, have left me feeling empty.  It takes over my mind even during the moments I’m trying to let go and recharge.  And that’s where the trouble comes from.

When I wake up, I feel that brief wondrous moment of expansiveness that the morning brings.  Here is the day!  It is filled with possibility!  For two seconds.  Then the list comes thundering down on my head.  It shutters and boards up anything that looks remotely like possibility and replaces them with a sense of floundering and stress.  Feelings that don’t get you anywhere.

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Ginger banana bread with cardamom crunch topping

January 12, 2012 § 36 Comments

Banana bread and I go way back.  Way.

It was “my thing” for a while, actually.

Growing up, my mother’s baking repertoire was very nearly purebred Norwegian, and concentrated solely on holidays.  The rest of the time the oven’s use was confined to roasts and braises.  If it wasn’t boller, birthday cake, or a Christmas cookie, it didn’t get baked at our house.

But, every now and then at a friend’s house I would be invited to have a bite of something wonderful for a snack.  A lace-thin slice of intensely moist, banana flavored, bread-cake, shot through with the little black squiggles that banana bread develops, and now and then with melting chocolatey chunks.  Best. Snack. Ever.  I was convinced of it.  I would dream of it often during the long, stark periods during which I had to do without.

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Spiced cinnamon sugar breakfast puffs

December 20, 2011 § 24 Comments

On the off chance that your holiday breakfast plan is not yet inscribed in stone; in case you aren’t already bound and determined to have a strata, or frittata, or sticky buns, or perhaps puffy pancakes or spoon bread; or maybe you’d like to just add some icing to your giant, decadent, multi-course holiday brunch cake; well then dear friends, may I venture a suggestion.

I actually feel a bit ashamed that I’ve been holding this recipe from you for so long.  It’s a recipe that may, in fact, deserve a little shouting from the rooftops.  And, it’s a recipe with a history, which means stories.

I didn’t know any of the stories when I first started baking the original version (this is a wholly different iteration, but we’ll get to that later), I just knew that I had the recipe copied down on an index card from my friend, and I had labeled it “breakfast puffs.”

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Warm custard spoon bread

December 13, 2011 § 12 Comments

Does’t that just sound like the food version of cuddling on the couch in front of a fire?  Warm custard spoon bread.  Every word there is like a friendly little squeeze.  Every word there says to me, “I am unbelievably amazingly delicious and decadent.  You should probably drop everything and make me right now.”

I don’t know why but I am an absolute sucker for foods that have the word spoon in their title.  (I am a sucker for warm, custard, and bread as well.  But, those are more standard enticements than you’d expect an eating utensil to be.)  It’s like a short hand for something being so ooey gooey, soft, and tender that you have to eat it with a spoon.  Like Nutella right from the jar.

I have been actively yearning for this dish for a year now.  At least I have whenever it has been brought to my attention.  Then, as with most other things that are actually important to me to remember (as opposed to random facts and other people’s schedules which stick in my mind with remarkable fortitude), I promptly forget about it as soon as I am not looking at the recipe.  I don’t know why this happens, but I know I’m not the only one who does this.  I’ve heard from all sorts of people that it can somehow take months or years for them to get around to making a dish that they desperately wanted to try upon seeing it.

Maybe it’s a built in mechanism to allow us the great pleasure afforded by deferred gratification.  Maybe people did experiments on us when we were little, telling us not to eat the marshmallow in front of us, and this is the strategy we developed to succeed.  Most likely we’re just scatterbrained by virtue of the way the information stimuli in our society are fed to us. « Read the rest of this entry »

Orange scented sticky buns with olive oil dough

November 26, 2011 § 35 Comments

Thanksgiving is over.  Sigh…

Now let’s turn up the “Jingle Bells” and start preparing for Christmas!!!

Okay, just kidding.  I’m not ready to start decking halls and listening to Christmas carols quite yet, no matter what the advertising industry wants me to do.  Though the twinkle lights that have been appearing on the trees in the squares, making them look as though a little fairy has flown through and sprinkled holiday cheer dust everywhere, are bringing me a great deal of joy (thank you fairy and/or city decorators!).

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