Sunday, January 31, 2010

Preventative crafting

As Little Girl becomes more mobile, I have to be sure that things are becoming baby-proofed. As much as I was prepared for that, I never really thought I would have to baby-proof myself! One of Little Girl's favorite toys these days seems to be my hair. She likes to find the flyaway pieces and pull them as hard as she can. Let me tell you, eight month olds are stronger than you think!! I am regularly checking her hands for lose Mommy hairs. While I know that there is no way to keep this from happening, I am trying to keep the opportunities to a minimum. At the bookstore where I work one evening a week I found a book called Last-Minute Knitted Gifts. I love to knit, but I am not one for big projects - I just don't have the patience for anything that involved! This book looked perfect! In there I found a pattern for a kerchief for either the head or the neck. This looked ideal for the mommy trying to keep her hair back! While the pattern is very easy, and the book claims this should be somewhere around a two hour project, this took me quite a bit longer than that... But I really think that is a matter of my knitting speed and the spread out nature of when I actually buckle down and knit... But it is done now!

Me being me, I did alter the pattern a little bit. I knitted it a few rows shy of full size and crocheted a border and ties on the ends. I don't know why I can't just do things the way I am supposed to... The end result is something that is comfortable to wear, and hopefully works to lessen the hair pulling! (Here's hoping...!)

Friday, January 29, 2010

Challah back, y'all!

It is Friday, Challah day again. You'd thing I would be sick of this by now, but no! I am having fun trolling the internet looking for new recipes to try. This week I knew I wanted to do another whole wheat Challah. Savta is coming next week, and I know she likes it, so I figured it was as good a reason as any. I considered using the same recipe I used last time, but where is the fun in that? So I went searching. Again.
I found a recipe on that looked yummy. I have had great luck with allrecipes before, I knew this would most likely be good. The problem was, this recipe was unrated. I am a bit of a snob, apparently... I usually look at the recipes with four or five stars. But this one has none. Was it worth it? I really gave it some thought... and decided to go for it. So here we go with D's Whole Wheat Challah.
In looking at the recipe, I was a little curious about the proportions. A whole cup of water and two packets of yeast (or, if you don't have packets and you need to measure like I do, 4 1/2 tsp. of yeast...) to make one loaf? And only 4 cups of flour? Hmmm.... I also don't keep artificial sweeteners in the house, so I knew I would have to "substitute" the real thing there. You know it is going to be an adventure when you approach a recipe looking to change it. But that's what I did. I let the yeast get foamy, and added in the rest of the ingredients. As I thought, the 4 cups of flour (plus 1/2 cup of oats...) were not enough to make bread dough. So I added more AP flour, 1/2 a cup at a time until I got the dough to a good, doughy consistency. Then the rise. While the recipe didn't call for it, I actually gave the dough a second rise before shaping it. (This rise turned out to be longer than I had intended, due to an unforeseen kitchen accident during the dinner making process, but that's a story better left unsaid to leave me less laughed at...) Again, as I thought, there was WAY too much dough to make one reasonable sized Challah! So I made two. I didn't dare attempt the six-strand braid again without better instruction, so I just did the three strands. Found a new technique, though, and the braids looked quite pretty, if I do say so myself...!
The loaves came out so beautifully! When I opened the oven door I go so excited! They browned nicely, they puffed up nice and big, and they smelled amazing. I can not wait to taste them!! I think I need to start making three loaves instead of two - or at least two loaves and a roll! I have having to wait until dinner to try the new recipes! But wait I will...

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Breakfast for dinner

A while back, before I started doing my weekly meal plans, I was doing my nightly "what am I going to make tonight?" routine. I had a few ideas, but nothing really spoke to me. I also had half of a loaf of bread that was pretty much at the use it or lose it stage. I kind of wanted to make a bread pudding out of it, but I needed dinner more than dessert... And thus was born the "Breakfast Bread Casserole."
I made my invention by cubing up the bread and soaking it in the traditional egg and (soy) milk custard. I also sauteed up some onion, garlic and rehydrated texturized vegetable protein. Mix together with some shredded cheese, top with more cheese (because the use of soy milk to minimize my dairy intake had to be balanced out, right? I never claimed to make sense...). Bake at 350 until yummy...
I know, I know... this isn't actually anything new. It is a French Toast Casserole, just made savory instead of sweet. But I was very proud of it, and Hubby enjoyed it a lot, too. So I gave it an oh-so-creative name and moved it into our rotation of dinners. Tonight's version was almost perfect - I forgot to get cheese, so we went without. Still good though. And with a drizzle of syrup, the French Toast circle seems to have been completed!!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Skates all around!

Though it might seem incongruous to some, my absolute favorite sport is hockey. Love it. It many times cracks people up that my favorite sport is hockey and Hubby's is baseball. But there it is. As I usually do, I have tried to incorporate this love into my other hobbies and obsessions. So several years ago, when my friends started having children, I wanted to come up with something to give that would be fun and totally me. Enter the hockey skate baby booties! I searched around and found a pattern that looked doable for a then even more novice knitter. It introduced me to a couple more knitting techniques (yarn over, decreasing), and it yielded a great little gift that I have turned into my "signature" baby gift. When we found out that we were going to have a baby, I was super excited to make a pair for myself, er, the baby...! If I were going to have had a baby shower, I would have wanted to make these as the parting gifts - each person would get a skate filled with candy or something... But no baby shower, so I saved myself the work...
I found the pattern by googling, but have since discovered that is a great place to play around! I have modified the pattern because I found that the skate part of the pattern was too short. I also find that the boot is REALLY big for a baby. By the time the baby's feet fit into them, the skate part is kind of in the way of walking. But they are still darn cute, and they will continue to be my baby gift of choice!!
Here's the link, and here they are in action!!

Monday, January 25, 2010

Pucker Up!

My parents live in Florida, which at this time of year is brimming with citrus. On her last visit, my mother brought with her a couple of beautiful Meyer lemons grown on her very own lemon tree!! Very exciting!! I had one left, and I could tell that it was pretty much at the point of use it or lose it. And I didn't want to lose it... While this was a very large lemon, I was pretty sure there wouldn't be enough juice to make a lemon meringue pie or lemon bars, so I went in search of something different. While I was going to be searching anyway, I decided to throw cranberries into the mix. There was a great deal on sweetened dried cranberries at the wholesale club store yesterday, and the combination of lemon and cranberry sounded too good to pass up. I found this recipe for a Cranberry Lemon Cake. It looked very good, very simple, and very quick. Quick was important... Little Girl's naps have been very short recently, and I wanted something I might be able to get accomplished while she slept. I think that the recipe intends for the baker to use fresh whole cranberries in this cake, which I could have done but didn't. Maybe some other time... I also decided that I wanted to play some more with my new silicon brownie bites pan. Because why not?! So I turned the cake into Cranberry Lemon Cake Bites. And there was also enough extra batter to make eight cupcakes to go along with the bites... The more the merrier. Or tastier, as the case may be...

I also made one other addendum to the recipe. As pretty as the cakes looked, I thought they might benefit from a little something more... So I made a glaze for the top. To try to match the vanilla extract and lemon in the cake, I made the glaze using 1 cup of powdered sugar, a tablespoon of vanilla soy milk and a splash of lemon extract (I would have used lemon juice, but I used all of it in the cake). A little drizzling and a new masterpiece is made! This is a nice combination of sweet and tart. And in fun bite sized portions! Woohoo!

Sunday, January 24, 2010

The Candymom can!!

I love to cook and bake, but there are some things which I do not claim to be able to do. Or to want to get too far into, really. Of those, candy making is pretty darn close to the top. Fiddling around with candy thermometers, boiling sugar, exact timing... not my idea or fun. I am way to clumsy and would probably wind up in the emergency room. But about a year ago I found a recipe for a caramel pie which sounded really good. And I figured, I am not really making candy, just a caramel filling. So I felt safe, and that is a recipe I love to make. (I'll make it for here one day...) Then a couple of months ago my sister learned how to make marshmallows. Wow. Now THAT is candy making! Turns out she got a great recipe that does not require too much in the way of candy making tools or expertise, and I have since learned to make them, too. Ok, this time I felt like I had done some real candy making. Phew. Now fast forward to a couple of weeks ago. On one of my regular trips to foodgawker I saw a recipe for peanut butter cups. That got my attention pretty quickly! much as I might like a good combination of chocolate and peanut butter, that is Hubby's absolute favorite. I knew this was something I wanted to try. And, surprisingly, this was a very doable recipe! nothing scary about it. I just needed the opportunity to do it. That opportunity came today. Since we were having leftovers for dinner, and Hubby was home to play with Little Girl (who decided that napping was not necessary today...) I figured this was as good a time as any.

Using this recipe from Blue Ridge Baker, and my brand new present to myself of a Wilton silicon bite size brownie pan, I gave honest-to-goodness candy making a shot. But, of course, I had to give the recipe my own little tweaks. In my improvised double boiler I melted a combination of semi-sweet chocolate chips and 60% cocoa chips. (I love deep, dark chocolate!) And, with us being a two peanut butter family (Hubby is crunchy, I am smooth), I knew I had to make some with each. And that meant I would need to do something to differentiate between the two... (Ah, if only all of life's problems were so complex...)
Peanuts = crunchy... no big surprise!

I am quite pleased with how things turned out. Both in terms of the taste and the way the candy came out of the silicon pan. I'm might have to invest in some more of those one day... And since both chocolate and peanut butter are things we seem to always have in the kitchen, it looks like these are going to be added to the regular dessert menu!

Friday, January 22, 2010

Attack of the Challah!

Another Friday, another Challah.
One of my biggest (no pun intended) problems with trying new Challah recipes is that many of the ones I find are proportioned to make enough bread to feed an army. I don't need that much Challah... Hubby and I can only eat so much, and Little Girl's tummy just isn't that big yet. So I try to find recipes that make a reasonable amount of Challah. Today's recipe, I could tell, was going to make a little more than usual. Not too big a deal, right? Looks like French Toast might be coming soon!

The dough came together beautifully. It filled the bowl of my mixer, though. Like, totally filled. All the way. The mixer needed quite a bath after the dough was transferred out!! For as icky as the mixer looked, the dough looked just that pretty, though. So there was no problem, just a little extra cleaning. As I have been doing the last couple of weeks, I made the dough last night. There was a chance of the water being turned off a the apartment building this morning, and I didn't want to be stuck unable to clean up after myself. That and this part of the process is just easier to do when I don't have to also entertain Little Girl! So the dough went into the oven for the first rise. When the time came to transfer it to the refrigerator I was amazed. I could not believe my eyes!
That is one BIG batch of dough!!

Another new thing I wanted to try with this batch of dough was the six strand braid. I saw a how-to video on youtube, so I figured it was worth a shot... And with this much dough, I knew I had enough to play!!

The quantity was there, and the effort was there, but the result? Eh... This week's Challah really looks more like a monster than anything else... I got part of the braid looking nice, but I just couldn't get the ends to tuck under.

The baking part was easy. The whole apartment smelled amazing. I really can't wait to taste the end result! The color is nice, but those ends... I have two loaves that are almost right... And a third one braided and unbaked in the freezer for another time...! This really did turn out to be the Challah that ate H-Town!!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Sometimes it's the little things...

Little Girl loves to help me and Hubby open our mail. Of course, her idea of help involves a lot of slobber, but it's the thought that counts, right? Hubby receives many packages that involve bubble wrap for safe shipping. Wow is that exciting stuff for a little one!! I know many adults who love to pop the bubbles... Well Little Girl couldn't get over the cool texture and sounds she was encountering! As much as I was loving seeing her enjoy exploring, there is a not-so-little part of me that was not exactly excited to see my daughter trying to shove plastic into her mouth... So what's a mommy to do? I didn't want to take away something that would be so fun, but I didn't want to encourage plastic eating... Here was my solution:

I know you can't see it, but there is a lovely piece of bubble wrap inside of this little makeshift pillowcase. Now Little Girl can chew away on her once unsafe plaything; those new teeth won't be ripping pieces of plastic off for her to swallow. And this can go in the washing machine, which is great. (I don't put it in the dryer, though....)

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Quiche me!!

I love quiche. Eggs, veggies, cheese and yummy pie crust. What's not to love?!
Now, keeping Kosher, pie crusts have been an issue in the past. Many store-bought crusts contain lard. Kosher no-no. So I started making crusts myself. But, being lactose intolerant, I try not to over-do the butter thing. So when I started, I was making my crusts with margarine. They tasted good, but were a little tough. I thought I was stuck with this issue. But I learned that there is always an alternative...! Introduce vegetable shortening. I tried making crusts with shortening once and have never turned back. I now LOVE my pie crusts! Flaky, crispy, and light. So good! I also love my pie weights... I understand the need for pie weights when crusts need to be blind-baked. But who wants to buy something else to clutter up the kitchen? My solution? Not exactly rocket science, not exactly unique... Dried beans and rice! I had some white rice, which I no longer use (I like the flavor of brown rice better...), some old white beans that were probably no good any more, and some baked chick peas I had gotten but wasn't liking (I make my own which I like better. Apparently I am a snob?). Useful, easy, and I don't worry if something happens to them!

Tonight's quiche was broccoli, onion, garlic and cheddar cheese. Yum!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

When life gives you apples, make applesauce!!

One of the best parts of having Little Girl eating "real" food is that we are now much more conscientious about having fresh fruits and vegetables on hand. I had decided to make my own baby food for this reason, as well as because I thought it would be fun... For the most part, though, she is much more interested in eating the actual foods than purees. Which is a lot of fun, but sometimes had to judge how much she is eating. Well, I since she likes apples, I decided to make her some applesauce. If I make it, I can make sure there are still some chunks in there, which she should like, and I can also be sure there is no added sugars, preservative, flavors, etc.

I started with two red delicious apples and two yellow delicious apples (I would have called them golden delicious, but the sign at the produce store said yellow...). Even as someone who thought for the longest time that she didn't like fruit, these looked good to me! The hardest part of making applesauce is cutting up the apples. Pealing them, coring them, then dicing them into small pieces. I know people who have those nifty peeler-corer-slicer machines, and that might help, but to me that is just one more thing to wash. So I peel and chop by hand.

Usually when I make applesauce I add lemon juice (if I have it), brown sugar and cinnamon. But this time I wanted it plain. So it was just apples and water in the pot. Brought it to a boil, then let it simmer. I wish I could say there was some sort of trick, but that is it! Once the apples were soft, I pulled out my potato masher (which I honestly think has only mashed potatoes a couple of times!) and went to town! Isn't it nice when the simple things in life can make you happy?

The result is a very pretty sauce that the whole fmaily can enjoy! Little Girl will get hers straight up, but I am pretty sure that Mommy and Daddy will be adding some brown sugar and cinnamon... But maybe not...!

Monday, January 18, 2010

I love fleece! And pizza...!

Well, this was supposed to be a one-craft post, but I seem to have been busy today! We'll start with the fabric, then move on to dinner...

I love fleece!
My sister, Auntie Twin, gave me some very pretty fleece fabric last week. She had gotten it as a remnant, but hadn't done anything with it. So she gave it to me, since I have been on a crafty kick. I love fleece! As a novice seamstress it is pretty much the perfect fabric to work with! For one thing, it doesn't actually require sewing. The edges don't need to be finished to stay looking nice! So the first thing I made was a scarf for Little Girl. Just cut to size, then snip in some fringe and voila! Yay! Less than 5 minutes and I had already finished a craft! I then made a pillow for my niece Little Miss. The fabric had, after all, been purchased with her in mind. I have made a couple of pillows before. I technically know how to do it. It is just that finishing bit that I can't seem to get right. But, again, fleece is very forgiving! I am pretty pleased with the end results!

I love pizza!
(warning - lots of pictures!)
Tonight was pizza night according to our meal plan. For most people, pizza night is a night off from the kitchen and a night on for the phone. Not for me! I make my pizza from scratch. And silly me, I call that the lazy way! (I can make it when I want, and I don't have to think about timing or cash flow...) I usually make my own pizza crust, but tonight I was spoiled. I used a premade garlic and herb dough from one of my favorite grocery stores, Trader Joe's. Now, many people wonder just how many options there are for toppings on a vegetarian pizza. Well, there are LOTS!! Tonight's pizza was what I called a "fork and knife pizza," there was so much on it! We had:
*roasted onions
*roasted garlic
*three colors of bell peppers
*soy chorrizo (also from Trader Joe's!)
*fresh mozzarella
*shredded Italian blend cheese
*fresh sliced tomatoes
I can't wait until Little Girl is old enough to enjoy these meals with us - and to help me make them, too!

A Sunday Outing

Yesterday was a long, but greatly fun day! It was the first day since Little Girl was born when I spent the entire day (ok, from 10 am until 10 pm) away from her. I knew she was in good hands (Hubby is an AMAZING daddy!), but it was hard for me anyway. I probably wouldn't have agreed to a full day away if it hadn't have been such an truly fabulous opportunity! But it was, and I did, and I am so glad!!
One of my best friends is opening a bridal boutique in Lancaster, PA. If you are in the area and are looking for a wedding dress, or gowns for your party, you must head to In White. The shop is beautiful, the gowns are exquisite, the atmosphere is sophisticated yet relaxed, and the variety is top notch. Yesterday was a bridal showcase in Lancaster, and I was lucky enough to be there to help "man" the booth and work the fashion show. (Backstage. I am NOT a model. The models were wonderful!) Having lots of experience in stage management and retail, this was such a fun experience for me! I had gone to one bridal show when I was planning my wedding, but I have to say that I had a better time as a vendor than I did as a bride. I loved getting to meet so many people, and getting to encourage people to visit a shop where they would find amazing gowns and fabulous service. And the fashion show was a blast! I love being backstage and helping make sure that things happen smoothly.
All in all, it was a great day. And, to top it off, my friends welcomed me to their home for family dinner to celebrate. Me being me, I did not show up empty handed. I brought what I always bring - dessert. (I don't always bring the same dessert, but I do always bring dessert!) I made a layer cake - yellow cake with chocolate raspberry jam filling. I was getting ready to make my chocolate frosting when I realized that we were celebrating In White, so the cake had to be... in white! Sorry there are no pictures, but it was late when I finished baking, and it wound up a little lopsided. But it tasted really good!

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Challah for Friday

Ok, I know it is Saturday... But I wasn't at home to bake my Friday challah yesterday, and my the time I got home it was too close to Shabbat to post. But I did make a challah, so I am showing it off today!

At the beginning of the week I got a notice at my door that on Friday there would be work done on the electrical system of the complex where we live, and that for a good part of the day we should expect intermittent power outages. Me being me, my first thought was "Oh, no! How am I going to bake challah?" Well my generous twin sister, we'll call her Auntie Twin, welcomed me and Little Girl to her home where she and her three year old, Little Miss, would help us bake in a kitchen that was less likely to lose power. Thanks, Auntie Twin!

For this week I wanted to try this recipe which I found on I know, it is customary to have two loaves for Shabbat, but this looked interesting, so why not? The dough came together nicely, but it didn't seem to rise right. I was a little nervous, but the show must go on, right? When it was time to braid I enlisted the help of Little Miss. She was all about rolling the dough into snakes. And re-rolling them... and making them into dough-balls... But we got there, and her braid looked beautiful. I was a little concerned, as the un-risen braids looked like a challah on top of a challah:

The next rise didn't look too risen to me either, but we went on with the baking. I have had that happen before, where the dough didn't rise greatly, but the baking process helped, and the loaf was nice and fluffy. Well, this loaf didn't rise too much in the oven. But it did turn a beautiful golden brown. It still looked like a challah sitting on top of a challah, but both of those had great color, and the smell was amazing.
When I asked hubby which of the challahs I have made so far he has liked the best, he voted for this one. So even without the rise I expected, the flavor was right on. This was the first time I used real butter instead of margarine (Auntie Twin uses butter, and when in someone else's house, you use the ingredients they are generous enough to share with you!), so maybe that had something to do with the richness of flavor. Maybe next week's challah will be this same recipe, but with margarine and not stacked... We'll see, though... Who knows what recipes I might find in my travels!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

A little something I've been wanting to do...

Many years ago I was a little girl. And I wore little girl clothes. Several years later my parents moved and gave me a bunch of things from the house I grew up in. Among those things was a really cute, yet dated, pair of jean shorts. For a while now I have wanted to do something with these shorts. A pillow? Part of a quilt? I wasn't sure. I also had in my stash some adorable Tinkerbell sateen fabric. I love Tink. I finally decided to use these two together to make a little purse for myself.

I don't have any experience making a purse. I was REALLY winging it here... Is it perfect? No, not at all. But it is really quite cute! And anyway, since I pretty much always have the diaper bag with me, this is really more of a little handbag to use on the off occasion when I am out with out Little Girl. Let me know what you Tink - I mean think!!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

My Little Girl is getting so big!

Today was a momentous day for Little Girl. Until now she has been in the infant car seat (lovingly referred to as "the bucket") and the accompanying Snap 'n Go frame for a stroller. Well, today I switched her to the convertible car seat which will be hers for the next few years. We bought her the Graco My Ride 65, so she will be able to be in this seat until she is 65 pounds. So we have a while! The new car seat, though means that she can no longer use the car seat frame as a stroller. Well, we got a Peg Perego stroller as a Hanukkah gift (THANK YOU!!). Today was her first ride in this new stroller. So weird for Mommy! I loved being able to see her beautiful face in the infant stroller. Now she is facing out! Such a big girl...

One of the features of this new stroller is the option of cup holders for Little Girl. And since she loves her cup of water, I wanted her to be able to use the cup holders. But, being only 7 1/2 months old, she isn't quite big enough (or coordinated enough) to fully reach things... And she has a habit of simply tossing things to the side when she is done with them. So before we headed out, I ran to my craft box where I knew I had some pretty patterned elastic and whipped up a little something to help her (and me!) out. Some elastic, a ring from another toy, and a few quick passes with the sewing machine, and voila!! Not quite as cute as I might like, but absolutely effective! Little Girl was able to drink her water whenever she wanted, and Mommy was able to not worry that she'd be leaving without the cup! I might at some point try to make something more aesthetically appealing to my own eye, but for now I am pretty pleased!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Baby Legs.... You've got the cutest little Baby Legs!

Well, Savta (my mom, Little Girl's grandmother) is in town, so we are doing lots of running around. Which is wonderful, and fun and exciting, but leaves me little time for crafting. Which isn't entirely true, as we LOVE to spend time in the kitchen together! Just this morning we got together the "dough" for quinoa veggie burgers. Yummy dinner tonight! (Even for me and Hubby... We're going to the hockey game tonight, but the veggie burgers can come with us!)
So I thought I would show off a craft a made several months ago. While this is nothing unique, I am still kinda proud. As Little Girl is a May baby, she had a lot of time when it was too warm for her to be wearing pants. But there were some days where she needed something on her legs. Enter Baby Legs!! Using this tutorial, I took some of my old socks that had holes in the heals and made them into something Little Girl can use! And since I a) love socks and b) hate to throw things away if I think they can still have uses, this was perfect!! So I like to say that this is the cutes pair of baby legs modeling the cutest pair of Baby Legs!!!

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Ribbons, Ribbons Everywhere!

I promise, I do crafty stuff other than cooking and baking! (Those are just the things that are done - and completed - most regularly...!) And I even do crafts that are not centered around Little Girl. (Though most of them do. For obvious reasons.) Today I have two crafts to show off. One that is completed, and I am actually kind of proud of, and one that is still in progress, and the jury is still out on it.
First the finished one. Little Girl, like many other babies her age, loves the tags on toys. And blankets. And clothes. And anything else that has a tag on it. I know that there are products on the market for little ones that have tags all over them, and they are great. But I didn't want to buy any when I have fabric, ribbons and a sewing machine right here. So I made one for myself! (Actually, I made two - one for Little Girl, and one for a friend who is having a baby any moment now.) I call it her tagged lovie (to avoid copyright infringement...), since it isn't really a blanket, and I am not sure I can legitimately call it a toy. But I think it is really cute, and Little Girl really likes all of the tags she gets to chew on!!
Now the not-yet-finished one. We are so lucky to have so many friends and family share their pictures with us. But we are not lucky enough to have a refrigerator large enough to hold all of these things and accommodate a baby who is becoming quite mobile and who likes to grab at things. So I decided to try to make a memo board. I used the cardboard backing from Hubby's 2009 desk calendar, some fabric, some ribbons and my handy-dandy hot-glue gun (couldn't have gotten through college as a stage manager without it!). I have the bulk of it done and glued, I am now adding buttons to the intersections of ribbon to hold things down. I think I like it. We'll see what happens when the buttons are all on and I figure out how to hang it. Hopefully it will clear up some fridge-space for when Little Girl is ready to fill it up with crafts of her own!

Friday, January 8, 2010

Friday is Challah day...

In our efforts to raise Little Girl Jewish, Hubby and I have brought back Shabbat dinner. This is something I grew up with, and I always liked it. I know, we do family dinner together every night, but for some reason, Friday night Shabbat dinner just feels... special. So part of our Shabbat dinner has always been Challah - the braided egg bread. I love Challah. I love bread, but Challah is quite yummy. I didn't grow up making Challah, though. But now that I am home, and experimenting more in the kitchen, I decided it was time to find a good Challah recipe.

Tonight's Challah will actually be the third recipe I am trying. Today I made whole wheat Challah. I like whole wheat and multi-grain breads, so why not try it? The recipe came from Joan Nathan's Jewish Holiday Cookbook.

I actually started the process last night. For one thing, it saved time for how much had to get done today, for another, I read somewhere (I will try to remember where and credit the source...) that if you start the rise in the evening, then let the dough rest in the fridge overnight, you can get a richer tasting bread. So I mixed the dough in my trusty, beloved KitchenAid last night, let it rise for an hour, then put it in the fridge.

This morning the dough came out to warm up. When it was ready, I attempted the braid. Now, I can do a traditional three-strand braid. But most Challah is done with more - at least four strands. So I tried a four strand. Not so impressed with my work... So there is one four-strand bread, one three-strand bread, and a roll with the leftover dough. A coat of egg-wash, and more rising...

Finally it was baking time. Now, in the interest of full disclosure, I forgot the second coat of egg-wash. Oops... But the loaves still look pretty good.

Shabbat Shalom!

Thursday, January 7, 2010

While I am on the topic of dessert...

One of my daily haunts on this here web is Love it.
So today, as I do most days, I came across something that looked REALLY yummy. Now, usually I look, drool, and move on. But for some reason this made me want to make it. This delectable treat is a Cranberry-Lemon Chocolate Tart, found at The Ceramic Canvas. But there were a few minor details that I needed to work out.
1) I don't have a tart pan, so I can't truly make a "tart"
2) I don't have any lemons
So while I am sitting here saying that this is the recipe I want to make, I know that there is no way that I can actually make this recipe... What's a Mommy to do? Time to improvise!
I made a variation of my usual pie crust (flour, salt, sugar, vegetable shortening and cold water), using more sugar and adding cocoa powder. Blind baked that. Made a cranberry "sauce" of cranberries, brown sugar (LOVE brown sugar!), white sugar, water and orange juice. And instead of lemon, I made a home-made vanilla pudding. So we have chocolate crust, a cranberry layer, vanilla pudding (made with a vanilla bean!), and a little extra cranberry on top. And I am hoping to find a way to add a little more chocolate to the top, for taste and looks... Chocolate shavings? I'll see if my vegetable peeler is up for the job...
I'll let you know how it tastes once it has had the chance to set... So excited! And thanks, Ceramic Canvas and foodgawker!!

The final product: