28 February 2014

More Bread

I already introduced one of my favorite cookbooks here and I recently opened it again.  I made pane siciliano which has the perfect amount of honey to make it slightly sweet.  I decided I really cannot bake bread very often because it is so easy and wonderful to eat all of it.

The recipe intimidated because I had to steam the oven by spraying the oven walls with water. I think I could have kept it in longer for a deeper brown color but it tasted so good.  I was also anxious to try it since it took 3 days to get it to this point.  I feel such an incredible sense of accomplishment when I bake bread.

I found the recipe here if you're interested in trying it. 

27 February 2014

The Books I Will Remember from 2013

Last year I shared a few books that I really loved and I decided I needed to do the same for last year.  There are a few that I would recommend to most people.

The Art of Fielding by Chad Harbach - I read so much about this book in 2012 and Mom bought it for me for Christmas.  I was intrigued that it took a decade for Harbach to write and find a publisher.  It's been 13 months since I finished it and I still remember the story vividly and fondly.  I appreciate when an author creates a world that I can't wait to inhabit.  I rate this with Brothers K as two of my favorite baseball novels.

Every Man Dies Alone by Hans Fallada - this book is very sad.  It's about a couple living in WWII Germany whose only child is killed in war.  The father decides to participate in little acts of revolution and the consequences are felt by those close to him.  I had read about Fallada in Erik Larsen's In The Garden of Beasts as a German author who decided to remain in Germany during the war and the scorn the felt by the German literary community for this decision.  This story was written by someone who was living under the regime and was trapped in a society run by pride and hate.  It's dark but sometimes dark is needed.

Freedom by Jonathan Frazen - people may have strong feelings about this but I liked it.  It was an interesting story that kept moving forward and the characters were not perfect but I liked how the choices they made created real consequences.

Decoded by Jay Z - friends teased me for reading this but I loved learning about Jay Z's childhood and what happened to make him who he is today.  It's a crazy interesting story.

The Hunchback of Notre Dame by Victor Hugo - after reading Les Miserables last year, I wanted to read more Victor Hugo.  Why in the world did Disney make this into a cartoon?  It simplified a really good story that deserves to be told completely. 

Rabbit Run by John Updike - there were parts of this book I really hated but that is because Updike was that good at writing about a not very nice guy.  This is the first book in the series and I'm taking a break before learning more about Harry Angstrom's life.

Rules of Civility by Amor Towles - I loved this book completely.  I'm so grateful that I found it through a friend on Goodreads as it is such a lovely book about a girl and her friends in 1930s New York City.  It has glamor and humor and beauty and I want to live in it.

The Quiet American by Graham Greene - I love Greene and this was another opportunity for me to confirm that love.  A wonderful look into how a man decides to live his life and for the love of a woman.

Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy by John Le Carre - I can't wait to read more about George Smiley.  Such a complete spy story.

25 February 2014

One of My Perfect Days

A week after New Years, Phor came over to bake and watch movies.  I got a little too excited and ended up doing most of the baking before she arrived.  But it was one of those blustery cold days and we were inside enjoying all of this -

chocolate caramel crackers

monkey bread with cream cheese glaze

momofuku brussels sprouts with kimchi and bacon (it's worth the effort making the kimchi a week in advance)

We ate all of this while watching -

National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation
We're the Millers

I highly recommend days like this every once in a while.

24 February 2014

English Crackers

I made a discovery this year that any party with crackers is a very good party.

If only because of the paper crowns inside of them.

22 February 2014

Carrot & Seed Salad

I found this recipe in my Rose Bakery cookbook and I had no idea how delicious it would be.  It might not look like much but it's super easy and I highly recommend it.  I changed it a little bit from the book.

Serves 6

1 cup sunflower or pumpkin seeds
8 medium carrots, grated (I used the food processor)
1/2 cup lemon juice
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1 TB sugar
about 3 TB sunflower or olive oil

Place the carrots in a serving bowl.

To make the dressing, whisk together the lemon juice, salt, pepper and sugar in a bowl, then whisk in the oil.  Add more salt and pepper if needed.

 Pour the dressing over the carrots and mix well.

Sprinkle with the seeds.

I also ate it with sliced avocado and arugula and loved it. 

21 February 2014

My Favorite Holiday

I try not to throw around favorite too often but sometimes it cannot be helped.  I have fully embraced a holiday created by Parks & Recreation and this was my third year of celebrating Galentine's Day.  I love celebrating my lovely friendships with my girl friends.  They mean the world to me and I only wish that I could host a much larger party with all of them wherever they are in the world (Break into the Golden Girls theme song right here).

I really felt the spirit this year and actually crafted.  I don't craft but then this happens.  I found this amazing paper at Target with Jenica and then I turned it over and found it is from Orem.  Of course it is.

I used a needle and thread and made lots of garlands.  It only took a Sunday afternoon and I genuinely enjoyed creating.  It's a lot like cooking for me.

The night before I made these popcorn cookies for the gift bags.  I found the recipe in Smitten Kitchen's cookbook but then found an improved version (in my opinion) with the addition of dark chocolate and sea salt.  I forgot to take a photo of the baked cookies but pretty delicious.

If you enlarge this photo, you can see snow falling.  This has been such a crazy winter.

I know Leslie Knope celebrates the day with waffles but I really don't like having to be in the kitchen making the food while my friends are having fun.  I made a Potato Frittata with Prosciutto and Gruyere from Food & Wine.  Crazy delicious and so very easy to make.

The Polenta Pound Cake with Mascarapone and Rosemary was good but it was dry.  It was my first time making it and I even took it out of the oven early.  I served it with dried figs which I could eat everyday.

Pear and Arugula Salad with Goat cheese also from Food & Wine.  I was excited to show off my new salad bowl from my Mom and sister that I received for Christmas.  It took me so long to find arugula.  Apparently, it was really popular during the one day snow storm as it was out at both Whole Foods and Trader Joe's. 

I loved having Rhoda at the other end of the table.

May also loved having Rhoda at the brunch.

At the end of the meal, I brought out the hearts and chocolates.

Kimber brought me these gorgeous yellow roses.  It's been a week since the brunch and I don't want to throw them away.  They remind me that Spring is very close.

20 February 2014

Christmas for the Rich

Way back in December, Jenica and I stopped by the Hillwood Estate to check out what it looks like at Christmas.  I had been there before (recommended reading if you're not familiar with the house) but I wanted to see it all dressed up.

I love her corner of portraits.  So many beautiful women in white dresses.

This is on her bedroom door to be used when it's just not appropriate to knock.

The view coming down the stairs.

The best part was finding the pet cemetery that I completely missed the last time I visited.  I loved the names of her dogs - Lady Patricia but she was known as Patsy.

And then a complete change of pace - we went to the LDS Temple and walked through the Nativities of the World exhibit.  Pretty incredible but New Zealand's was made from shells!  It obviously won my heart.

13 February 2014

Cookbook Club - Bubby's

January was a very cold month and my computer is by a cold window.  Sitting here became my least favorite thing to do but I missed updating.

This happened way back in December but I still remember the variety and amount of food.  Anne had a difficult time trying to figure out the cookbook for her month.  At first it was a cookie exchange but then she wanted to explore one cookbook.  She found Bubby's new book online and I told her that it is a delicious restaurant in NYC known especially for their pancakes.  She was sold on that idea.

Anne made these incredible flowers.  I couldn't believe they were handmade. I have very crafty friends.

This was the largest group of the cookbook club that we've had yet.  This just meant that much more food to eat.  We all stuffed ourselves but the food was so good that we didn't want to stop eating.

Jenica made this Fruity Clafouti which may have been my favorite dish that day.  It's like a giant pancake with fruit and powdered sugar.  It was still warm and pretty perfect.

Anne made the fruit salad and the accompanying poppy seed dressing.  We were kind of surprised that there were onions in the dressing but they were not noticeable.  

Kate made these sour cream pancakes with the fruit compote (below).  The compote had raisins and I still thought it was delicious.  Bubby's pancakes are still that good even made from the cookbook.

My second favorite was this Bacon and Cheese Bread Pudding from Tara that was made with about one pound of butter.  It tasted as good as you think it would taste.

May made the Apple Streusel Coffee Cake which was also delicious.  You're probably seeing the theme here that everything was delicious.

And finally some green vegetables - Jocelyn made the Roasted Asparagus and Leek Frittata. 

I made the Whole Wheat, Spinach and Cheese Scones.  I liked them but they were a little salty.  I also liked cooking with whole wheat flour as I've been using it more in my everyday baking now that it's in my cupboard.  It's a nice change from the usual and I feel little healthier when I use it.

So very much food, right?!  But that's not everything.

Megan made Heuvos Rancheros and stood in the kitchen making each of our eggs.  Again, delicious. We had such a great variety between savory, sweet, and spicy brunch dishes.

And the food looked a lot like it did in the book.  We all came out fans of the book.  We also are learning and bringing lots of tupperware to take home leftovers. 

Today:  Wish your lady friends a Happy Galentine's Day. This is definitely my favorite made up holiday as I think there should be more days to celebrate friendship.