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Humble pie

by emily on January 24, 2017

I baked with a friend last week, and she commented, “You’re so confident in the kitchen.” In fact, the kitchen is the place I’m most confident. Once I understand the basic principles behind any type of food, I feel fully capable of just throwing things together. This is not characteristic of my usual Hermione-like commitment to doing research before any endeavor, be it travel, hiking, or hyphenation. My confidence throwing things together leads to weeks of just one type of food as I fall in love with the science behind it.

Yet, one of the things I enjoy about baking in particular is that it breeds humility. Just when you’ve knocked off a fantastic batch of pretzels, you completely blow the quiche. Like, to a gross level. It’s not like quiche is hard; I just blew it.

I brought some of the pretzels to the school board meeting, and a guy who is from Philly told me they remind him of Philly pretzels. I’m choosing to believe he does not mean the ones that come in a large phalanx of stale yet somehow still squishy segments. I’m choosing to believe he means the ones you can get hot with mustard and just the right amount of salt and that are almost worth the price of a plane ticket on their own. It was the best compliment ever and I’m going to start researching the original homes of everyone who attends school board meetings so I can bake things from those places and elicit more such compliments. Ony kidding. Sort of. See: Hermione-like research tendencies noted above.

Today is a snow day, and I begin snow days by putting two sticks of butter out on the counter to soften. The kids asked for apple-cinnamon sugar muffins. We have a lot of apples chopped up in the freezer, so I did this:

Mix together:

            1 cup white flour

            1 cup whole wheat flour

            1 ½ tsp baking powder

            ½ tsp salt

            ¼ tsp cardamom (because MAGIC)

            Sprinkle nutmeg

            ½ tsp. cinnamon

            Cream:

            1 stick butter

            Add and cream in:

            Some leftover apple butter

            ½ cup maple sugar (or brown sugar)

            Beat in:

            3 eggs

            ¼ cup maple syrup

            Mix in dry ingredients, add in chopped apples, top with cinnamon+brown sugar+sugar

Bake at 375 until done.

“Well,” Eldest told me. “They’ll be better than last night’s quiche.”

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How do you solve a problem like the walnuts?

by emily on January 19, 2017

“It is unclear how or why, but I have discovered there are an alarming number of walnuts in my home. This seems like the kind of problem in which you may specialize. Any ideas?” That’s what Holly posted on my timeline last night.

I think we all know how to recognize a challenge when we see it.

At first I suggested cookies or a sweet loaf, but she seemed a bit… disoriented… by my assumption that she would just throw together such things. So, I offered up this:

OK, so, take day-old or more bread. Slice or chunk it up. On the stovetop melt butter, maple syrup, and a heavy cream. In a bowl, beat a few eggs. Pour the maple syrup over the eggs and stir. Pour over the bread. Let it sit and soak for at least an hour, then mash it all up until it’s a mush. You may wish to add some sort of alcohol (you’re more the expert on that, but probably a bit of whiskey), but I don’t think you need to. Mix in chopped walnuts, chopped bananas (or some other kind of fruit–pear would work), and maybe some chocolate chips. (If you use pear, I might add a bit of ginger to it.) Bake at maybe 350-375 until the pudding sets.

Maybe I should try making this first and get back to you?

Because again with the recognizing a challenge.

So, 11:30 last night found me melting half a stick of butter, whisking in maple syrup (I don’t know how much—add enough) and a pint of cream, and then pouring it over three beaten eggs. I poured this over several layers of thinly sliced challah and stuck it in the fridge to soak. This morning, when I got up, I mushed up the bread and mixed in the frozen blueberries from my CSA. And walnuts. Then I baked it for a bit over an hour at 375.

It was delicious. But the kids wouldn’t eat it because two of them don’t like cooked fruit and one doesn’t like fruit at all, although he at least picked around the blueberries. Fortunately, I had carpenters here today. And they appreciate a good walnut solution.

And, Holly, it was fantastic. 

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Every day, it’s a gettin’ closer

January 19, 2017

We are two days away from the Obamas moving out of the White House and the Trumps not moving in because their special snowflake wants to stay in school in New York. In advance of the main shitshow, we’ve gotten to watch Jeff Sessions claim to be a civil rights activist and Betsy DeVos claim […]

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Popover fraud

January 18, 2017

My popovers have been having an identity crisis. In the past, they’ve been a quick fix to make a pathetic gathering of leftovers into a meal. But the past couple of days, they don’t don’t pop over or they don’t pop at all. This is clearly the biggest issue facing our nation today. Baked goods […]

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Friendship and laughter

January 17, 2017

Today was a day of friendship and laughter. I started the day by making pretzel dough, but by the time it had risen and I had shaped it and boiled them and baked them, there were seven kids in my house. “There’s no way those pretzels are making it to the school board meeting,” one […]

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Lines composed 3147.25 miles from Tintern Abbey

January 16, 2017

I’m sitting on the window seat in my library, covered with a black and green flannel blanket. I hear occasional cracks as the fire dies down in the living room, the dogs are curled up on beds, the cat has taken to his spot on a beam over the living room. Children are asleep throughout […]

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When bad bakes happen to good people

January 14, 2017

It has been THREE DAYS since I’ve told you what I’m baking, and that’s unacceptable. It’s just that I’m running for local office and working on an assignment and mourning the death of my country and all. I have, however, been baking. Wednesday was Hebrew school day, which means I spend all day checking to […]

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More for me

January 11, 2017

Yesterday sucked. Like, eight ways from Sunday. I’m not kidding. The details aren’t important, but basically cleaning up Marley’s diarrhea at 5:30 in the morning was not the worst part of my day. Not by a long shot. It wasn’t even in the worst three things that happened. There is clearly only one solution when […]

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On politics and drywall

January 9, 2017

An unanticipated side effect of baking every day is that we have a bit of a backlog of baked goods. We never finished Friday’s challah, and normally that would mean French toast for dinner, but who wants French toast for dinner followed by cookies for dessert? Other than everyone, I mean. Some of the excess […]

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Meanwhile, over at the co-op…

January 8, 2017

I love Hunger Mountain Co-op in Montpelier. Love, love, love it. Not just for the locally-fermented kimchi and the gluten-free hemp popsicles, but for how it makes me feel. You see, the co-op is the only place where I can feel totally normal. Everywhere else I go, I’m the big personality, the weird one who […]

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