Total Pageviews

random musings of a crazy cat lady

Friday, May 22, 2009

Recipe Geek: Homemade Bagels

I'm still doing the low-processed carb thing, but decided to take a night off from it and try the homemade bagel recipe. I'll be taking some of them up to Missy when I visit her tomorrow, so that's my other excuse.
Being from California, I'm not a bagel snob. Genuine Montreal bagels, New York style bagels, supermarket bagels stored in my freezer for several months, it's all good as long as it's toasted and has cream cheese, butter or peanut butter on it. However, this recipe intrigued me. It sounded so easy. Besides, these are Parisian bagels. I've made bagels once, back in high school. I remember it being a lot of work and the bagels were dense like hockey pucks. My brother and I ate them anyway.
I dumped the ingredients into my handy dandy mixer, set the timer for 12 minutes and let it mix/knead. It's a pretty simple dough - flour, water, salt, sugar and yeast. I then placed the dough in a gretased bowl and let it rise for an hour while I talked on the phone to my mom. At that point, I preheated the oven and brought 3 quarts of water (with a hint of sugar) to a simmer. I divided the dough into 12 balls, flattened them slightly, poked a hole in the middle and then stretched/shaped them until they were bagel shaped. At this point you're supposed to let them rest for only ten minutes. I waited a little bit too long before the water bath. As a result, the bagels did not sink when i dropped them into the boiling water, which allegedly leads to slight texture differences which I'm sure I will not be able to detect.
Anyway, I dropped the bagels into the simmering water and cooked them for about a minute, flipping them over once. I then drained them briefly on a towel, placed them on cookie sheets, and baked them for 30 minutes. My house smelled like a bagel shop. When the bagels were golden brown, I took them out. I may have baked them a little bit too long since I was distracted by writing this blog. As you can see they're pretty dark but not burnt.
Taste test: They're very tasty hot out of the oven. They have a chewy bagel texture and flavor and aren't too fluffy or too dense. They're a bit salty, so the next time I make them I'll reduce the salt. I'll also stick with the recipe instructions for sizing the bagels - I made 12 instead of 10 and some were kind of puny.
Overall, it was easy and entertaining. The whole process took just over 2 hours. I won't be getting up at 6 AM to have them ready in time for breakfast, but it is a nice project for a quiet evening.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Recipe Geek: Homemade Yogurt

Yes, I like fermenting milk, as you may've figured out from my post on kefir. I made some homemade yogurt this week. I was inspired by an article in Slate in which the author tested making various kitchen staples at home, and then compared the result to the commercial products in terms of taste, ease of preparation, and cost. Yogurt was one of the winners. I was a little bit dubious - my mom had a yogurt maker back in the 80's. She used a mix of skim milk and dried milk powder. The resulting yogurt was very tart and not very good.
Anyway, this recipe was pretty simple. Heat a half gallon of milk to just below boiling. Let it cool to 110 F or so and add 1/4 cup plain yogurt. Stir it to mix, and then cover the bowl and stick it in a warm place overnight. I put it in the oven with the light on. The next morning the yogurt had firmed up. At this point you can either put the yogurt in the fridge or strain it for a thicker, greek-style yogurt. I opted to strain it since I am in low carb mode now. Besides, it tastes better. I put an old pillowcase in a colander and then poured in the yogurt. When I was sick of waiting, i scooped out the yogurt into a tupperware container.
The next day, I had a taste test - my yogurt vs Fage non-fat greek style yogurt, which is one of my favorites. My yogurt won, although it wasn't an entirely fair contest, since I used lowfat milk. In any case, it was good enough and easy enough that I will definitely make it again.
Stay tuned for the next installation of Recipe Geek, when I will test the other clear winner in the Slate test - homemade bagels. It may be a while, depending on how long I stay in low-carb mode. Or, if you can't wait, here's the link. I expect a full report if you do test it, though ;-)

Monday, May 11, 2009

Banana Slugs

I haven't blogged very much lately. I haven't done very much else either. I've been a total slug ever since I got back from Detroit. I've been exercising more and that has sapped all of my spare energy.
My knee is getting a lot stronger, but there are times when it's pretty sore. It didn't help that the antibiotic I was taking caused joint pain. I've been able to take long walks. Last weekend I even hiked some hills and clambered over some small rocks on the beach. It was ok. Tonight I walked/ran on the treadmill for an hour. I only ran for a total of 10 minutes, in 3 segments. I went pretty slowly and I'm sure I shuffled a lot, but it felt ok. This was the first time I've run since before my surgery, and it's practically the first time I've run since I injured my knee last October.
I went up to Mendocino with T last weekend. He was teaching an abalone diving class, and I went along for the food. We stayed at Van Damme State Park. It's right across Highway 1 from the cove where people dive for abalone. While they were out diving, I went for a walk along the Fern Canyon Trail . As you can see, it's aptly named.

It snakes along the river for several miles. When the trail split, I wanted to take the shorter trail to see the miniature trees in the pygmy forest. However, it had rained a lot recently and I would've had to wade through the river. I took the upper trail and didn't make it all the way to the pygmy forest. Nonetheless, I still hiked a total of 8 miles or so.
I saw a lot of banana slugs. For those of you who've never seen one, they really do look like slightly bruised bananas. This one was about six inches long.

I also saw a lot of columbines and wild irises. That was probably more interesting than a bunch of small trees, anyway.

I'll try to blog more about the trip later.