Monday, April 25, 2011

easter and such

Well, hello blog friends.

I have been super busy with work and finding time to sleep but had a fantastic weekend with the fam in West Michigan.

Brother with the infamous Easter banner…it is 60 billion times brighter than this photo shows, but I styled it vintage-y so you wouldn’t be blinded.

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Parker House rolls [recipe here]. I used half whole wheat flour and mixed the dough on Saturday and refrigerated it overnight. On Sunday, I let the dough warm up and rise and then baked the rolls. Super easy.

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I am not a fan of traditional Easter food in general. In fact, I thought spinach lasagna would be a pretty fantastic meal of choice. Unfortunately, I was outvoted, and everyone else ate ham.

Post lunch tag to work up an appetite for dessert. This was mostly a game for the little kids, but the big kids had fun, too. :)

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Apple pie (and pecan pie) + ice cream = awesome and made up for the lack of lasagna.

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Easter bunnies found in the backyard…since this photo was taken, one of them met his unfortunate end with a giant crow. It was sad…my dad referenced Lion King and called it “the circle of life.” So does that mean I can go smash the crow with a shovel? (joking, only joking…sort of).

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Dog who wanted Easter pie but did not get any. Don’t feel bad for her; she got an Easter roll and some Easter ham.

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If you celebrate Easter, what kind of food did you eat? Do you ever feel like eating non-traditional food for a holiday? I’m all about breaking the mold..

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Monday, April 18, 2011

seriously?!

So the symphony and Eighth Blackbird were amazing. I loved Jennifer Higdon’s modern piece using bowed piano, meaning the musicians actually used violin strings to play the strings of the piano. Pretty cool stuff and definitely outside the normal realm of classical music.

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Our theatre is gorgeous and not used nearly enough. My fave seat is in the back balcony because the acoustics are almost perfect up there. Nerdy, but music makes me incredibly happy.

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When I lived in St. Louis, zucchini was my fave purchase at the farmers’ market every weekend. So versatile (I actually like it raw sometimes) and useful in all sorts of recipes.

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I was flipping through my folder of bookmarks marked “recipes to try” and decided that zucchini quinoa lasagna would be an exciting culinary adventure.

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It was super easy to make…and now my freezer is stuffed full with leftovers (I did use daiya vegan cheese but omitted the tofutti sour cream).  

I ran 6.5 miles yesterday in the sun and thought that winter was finally over (my new Brooks are awesome btdubs, like running on marshmallows)…

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Until I woke up to this. Uggh. Seriously? I mean, I guess I should have expected it because I do live in Michigan (it has snowed here in May before) but still disappointing.

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Umm, so I definitely did not bring anything snow-related back with me, like a winter coat or boots. This could be interesting…

Happy Monday?

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*good luck to all running Boston today!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

you know you’re in hipsterville when…

There are more coffee shops than car dealerships.

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You share the road with a cyclist 95% of the time.

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There are restaurants like the Owlery (nod to Harry Potter), an all vegetarian eatery filled with kitschy owl decor.

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Your sister and friends aren’t at all intimidated by eating a completely vegetarian meal. And they actually enjoy it.

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Your waiter thinks veggie sandwiches are awesome (almost as awesome as his man-pris).

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Drinking bacteria is perfectly normal.

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I can’t believe it’s almost the weekend again…this week has been pretty crazy so far. I visited my sister in Bloomington, IN last weekend, and it was fantastic. I enjoyed hanging out with all of the artsy writers, dancing to bad music, running outside, and sitting in the park after sunset eating ice cream with the twin while chatting about life (obviously we are ridiculous…see photo below for reference). I may have eaten ice cream twice in one day. But it was 80 degrees, so cut me some slack.

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Back home this weekend to hear On a Wire, a piece by Jennifer Higdon co-commissioned by the West Michigan Symphony. I played a couple of her pieces for wind symphony at Ohio State, and she writes pretty amazing stuff. I also love her philosophy about music…that it is best when shared with others.

Happy Weekend!

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Wednesday, April 6, 2011

the sourdough adventure

This is where the culinary magic happens, people. Or rather the culinary DISASTER that was making sourdough starter.

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Exhibit A: tried and true sourdough recipe that my mom uses week after week (originally from Amy Dacyczyn of the Tightwad Gazette).

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Exhibit B: sourdough starter looking like sourdough starter should.

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Exhibit C: sourdough starter freaking out completely. This happened x 2. I’m not sure why because I actually measured and followed the directions this time. Maybe because my apartment is abnormally warm? You might try using a little less than 1 T of yeast…

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A starter is an easy way to have fresh bread at your fingertips without a lot of waiting around. Just mix up the bread (you only have to make the starter once) before going to bed and bake the next day after a short proof time. 

sourdough bread starter

Combine in a glass jar:

  • 1 T yeast
  • 2 cups of chlorine-free water (let a pitcher of water sit out overnight, and the chlorine will evaporate)
  • 2 cups of flour (I used 1/2 whole wheat)

Cover loosely with plastic wrap and allow to sit for at least 48 hrs at room temperature, until it foams and develops a sour smell (for the record, my starter began erupting after 8-9 hrs, so watch it!). Place in refrigerator. Every time you use the starter, replace 1.5 cups of water and 1.5 cups of flour and return to the fridge.

sourdough bread [2 loaves]

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  • 5 1/2 cups flour
  • 2 cups starter
  • 1 T salt
  • 1 cup water

Dissolve salt in a mixing bowl (non-metal). Add starter and flour and knead into a ball. Cover with a damp cloth and let rise overnight. In the morning, punch down and shape into 2 loaves. Cover with damp cloth and let rise for 4 hrs. Place a pan of water on the bottom rack of the oven, and preheat to 400 degrees. Bake for 35 minutes.

[Read about the benefits of sourdough bread in a previous post].

Fresh sourdough bread is awesome with black bean hummus.

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black bean hummus [adapted from Dreena Burton’s recipe]

  • 2 cups rinsed black beans
  • 1 small clementine
  • 2 1/2 Tbsp almond butter or peanut butter
  • 2 large cloves garlic
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 3 Tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/4 cup fresh parsley
  • salt and pepper, to taste

Mix all ingredients together via food processor and enjoy.

Have you ever made sourdough bread or used a starter before? This has been quite the adventure, but it is homemade and non- processed, and that makes it worth it to me.

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Monday, April 4, 2011

why april is better than march [so far]…

1) 45 degree weather and new running shoes (long overdue). My ?? pair of Brooks Adrenalines. Love them.

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2) Ann Arbor Farmers’ Market. I rode the bikeski to the market this weekend for organic fair trade coffee from Roos Roast. Sorry for the candids, Ann Arborite strangers.

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3) Sleeping at Last’s April EP (they release 3 songs per month as a part of their Yearbook project). Especially fantastic and timely songs this month. Love falling asleep to their thoughtful lyrics on repeat.

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4) New recipes. This Moroccan quinoa and pistachio salad brings a whole new meaning to pesto. My good friend Dave (with his ever expanding culinary skills) made this for me a couple of weeks ago, and it was pretty amazing. The recipe calls for orange juice, but I blended an entire orange (minus the peel) in my food processor instead. Quinoa is also one of my fave vegetarian sources of protein.

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I recently read this article in the NY Times about quinoa [keen-wah]. As ethical eating is a continual process for me, I realized that I know absolutely nothing about where the quinoa I buy is grown.

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According to the article, Bolivia is one of the chief producers of this complete protein-containing pseudo-grain, and it’s ironic that as the demand for quinoa increases, few fewer Bolivians can now afford it, hastening their embrace of cheaper, processed foods and raising fears of malnutrition in a country that has long struggled with it.

It’s also fair to note that some of the decrease in buying quinoa there may be due to food preferences vs. economics. Processed food is attractive for many, just as it is in the US.

So what, then is our response to this problem? Buying quinoa from Bolivia certainly aids their economy, and the government is trying to beef up domestic aid, but it still remains to be seen just how much of an impact this will have on malnutrition. I wish the article had talked more about the kind of wages Bolivians make in return for growing the crop.

Hope April has started out well for all of you, too. :)

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Friday, April 1, 2011

favorites

I love buying spices at my hometown health store. They seem fresher, and they’re usually less expensive than buying an entire jar. Plus, I’m nerdy, and I like making my own labels.

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Snobby joes are one of my favorite make-ahead meals. If you don’t like super spicy food, don’t add 3 tablespoons of chili powder like I did. It may cause crying.

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Lentils are the base of this dish, and they’re pretty amazing, especially if you’re trying to find sources of vegetarian protein:

lentils

  • in the legume family
  • 18 grams of protein per cup (cooked)
  • 16 grams of fiber
  • excellent source of folate
  • good source of iron, phosphorus, thiamin, and potassium

Although they probably would be better paired with naan, I tried a new recipe for honey whole wheat rolls that turned out pretty well. And yes, you have to use yeast.

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It should be noted that snobby joes taste much better after being refrigerated overnight. Something magical happens to the flavors. Seriously.

Anyone else have a good lentil recipe? Leave a comment if you do!

I’m going to make a sourdough starter soon, and I’m really excited about this. It makes yeast bread baking a cinch. Tutorial to follow…

Happy Friday (and April)!

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