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Posts Tagged ‘home-made’

Pepper was chasing what I thought was a mouse in the yard, behind the trash bins, under leaves, then around the corner.  It turned out to be this guy:

what sort of lizard are you?

To my surprise, it survived the attack of the Boston Terrier reasonably unscathed.  Mind you, he (or she) is missing some tail.  I’m hoping the tail wasn’t poisonous to dogs, I’m not sure if Pepper ate the tip of her prey or not.  There are bright turquoise and black stripes on the belly of this beast, all the more reason for my concern of toxicity.  He lived through the night in a bucket with water and rocks to lay on.  Not sure how long it will take residence here, this house is starting to feel like 64 Zoo Lane.

Then there’s the bees.

Don’t worry, she is stingless and her army of workers are very sweet.

The monkeys (Big Brother and Little Sister) provide everyone with entertainment.  They were playing in the boxes large enough to house themselves that arrived today.  The boxes held my latest kitchen toy, a vacuum sealer!  Haven’t had a chance to play with it yet but I have plenty of work lined up for it.  I had to put the worker bees (fondant cupcake toppers) in a honey box (fridge) to keep the monkeys from eating all of them.

Dogs chasing lizards.  Monkeys eating bees.  What’s next?!?

The bee model is for Big Brother’s insect project for school.  The chocolate cupcakes, well it’s a muffin recipe actually, are for his class snack.  His teacher has no idea that I made these for everyone, can’t wait to see her reaction!

The bees were my second fondant decoration (read about the flowers here).  A simple construction of yellow jelly bean shape bodies, a black stripe, and white wings.  The wings were a hand-made pop can punch, no need to buy all those little tiny cutters when simple shapes can be made at home.  Carefully cut a strip of tin pop can (circumference cut not a top to bottom cut), shape it as best you can, hold the shape or use some scotch tape to stick the ends together.  Voilà!  Instant fondant cutter!

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I’ll keep trying.  What do you think so far?

* Update * YouTube link doesn’t show in the comments: click here

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Rapidly approaching thirty, I find myself wanting to weave mementos of my past with my present self to move forward into the vast unknown that is the future.  Much of this is currently stemming from food.  My latest creation is an attempt to make bread like Grandma (a nearly impossible task!) with a twist, a flavour introduced by Indian cooking that I picked up at the market.

The market is a narrow store in an old strip mall off of 183 in Austin.  I’ve been to a couple other places that carry middle-eastern and Indian fare, but they were a little smaller.  This particular market also has freshly prepared snacks, prepared by the owner’s wife.  The catch is getting there before everyone else and they are all gone… unless you venture to make it at home.

Being the adventurous midnite chef, I bought a packet of ajwain seeds.  I already had made samosas without them and needed to try them again with the proper ingredients.  But that would have to wait!  Nostalgia won me over, it was calling me to bake bread.

Ajwain Bread

Yield: 1 loaf or 2 individual loaves suitable as a bread course

1/2 tablespoon dry active yeast

1/2 tablespoon sugar

1 cup warm water (110 deg C)

1 teaspoon salt

1 1/2 teaspoon crushed ajwain seeds

1 teaspoon sea salt (Mexican sea salt is what I used)

2 1/2 to 3 cups bread flour (King Arthur non-bleached bread flour)

Proof the yeast in the water and sugar until the sugar is dissolved.  Add a small amount of flour, then the regular salt and ajwain seeds.  Mix slightly to incorporate.  Add another half cup of flour at a time to quickly stir the dough together. 

Knead for 5 minutes.  Let rest for a few minutes.  Lightly grease a bowl to put the dough to rise in a draft free place like the oven.  Knead 2 or 3 more minutes, only add a skiff of flour to prevent sticking while kneading.

Leave the dough to rise and double in volume, 1 1/2 to 2 hours.

Punch down the dough and divide in half for two plate-side rolls, or shape into a long oval.  Place on a baking sheet with corn meal (I used masa flour which worked out well) to prevent the bread from adhering itself to the pan.  Cut slashes on the top of the dough and brush with cold water.  Sprinkle with the sea salt.  (After thought… egg whites would have helped the sea salt stick on a bit better.  I mushed the salt into the surface of the dough to help it stay put.)

Place the pan into a cold oven along with a pan of really hot boiling water.  Crank up the oven to 400F and set your timer for 25 minutes.  Check on the bread after 25 minutes, the two individual loaves will obviously bake in less time than one loaf.  The result should look like this…

 

A crusty exterior, hollow sounding when tapped, and smells like bread!

My son loves grilled cheese sandwhiches, and I made some for him with thin slices of the ajwain bread.  They were a hit 🙂

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It’s a long month and we have to stretch the buck, what’s for dinner?  I look in the freezer: king mackerel caught by my husband, peas, and ice.  Not much there.  The fridge looks a bit more promising.  There’s marinated artichokes, half a yellow bell pepper, some spinach, and one tomato left.  the first thing that pops in my head, pizza!

I like to bake (maybe too much) so I usually have the essentials on hand, flour, salt, yeast, sugar, and various herbs and spices.  The garden has a nice basil patch, which will be awesome on the pizza.  If only the tomatoes would hurry up already!  Oh well, there’s a can of tomato paste in the cupboard, this will have to do.

I used the pizza dough recipe from the Better Homes and Gardens cook book.  I remember my grandma having one of these, I had to go find a copy for myself.  You could use your favorite pizza dough, even out of a can.

Pizza at home can be difficult, gooey crusts, burnt cheese, no flavour.  My secret is to make a thin crust and par bake it, then top it with fresh ingredients.  Resources being slim, toppings are thinly applied to the crispy crust.  As James Barber would say, chop up everything smaller so that everyone gets some.  The result was actually pretty tasty, and nobody missed the meat!

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