Sunday, March 08, 2009

Some Pictures, more Recipes....

First, some gratutitous pet pics. Jenny looking adorable as she tries to figure out how to manage 3 tennis balls at once.

We were blowing raspberries at her when this pic was taken, trying to get a funny reaction. It really was funnier in person.


So, I have done a good bit of baking over the last couple of days. I've been in the mood for some soft pretzels, and after seeing Alton Brown make some really yummy looking ones on his show "Good Eats," I decided to look up his recipe and give it a try. DAMN! Those are some good pretzels!

Here's the recipe for Alton Brown's Homemade Soft Pretzels

1-1/2 cups warm (110 to 115 deg. F) water

1 Tbsp sugar

2 tsp kosher salt

1 pkg (or 1/2 Tbsp) active dry yeast

22 oz (aprox. 4-1/2 c) all purpose flour

2 oz unsalted butter, melted

veggie oil for pan

10 cups water

2/3 c baking powder

1 large egg yolk beaten with 1 Tbsp water

pretzel salt

Combine the water, sugar and yeast. Proof 10 minutes. Mix together all but 1 cup of the flour, and salt. (Reserve 1 flour in case dough needs it, I found I actually needed less than was called for in the original recipe.) Add the water/yeast mixture to the flour/salt mixture. Stir in butter. Mix together ingredients well, stirring in more flour if needed. Turn out to table or counter and knead till somewhat smooth and elastic. Grease inside of bowl, and return dough to bowl, turning dough around to grease the top, as well. Cover with damp kitchen towel, and allow to rise in warm spot for 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 450 deg. F. Grease 2 large cookie sheets lightly. Set aside.

Bring the 10 cups of water and the baking soda to a rolling boil in an 8 quart saucepan or roasting pan.

In the meantime, turn the dough out onto a slightly oiled work surface and divide into 8 equal pieces. Roll out each piece of dough into a 20 to 24 inch rope. Make a U shape with the rope, holding the ends of the rope, cross them over each other TWICE and fold back down to press ends into the bottom of the U in order to form the shape of a pretzel. Set aside on work surface and return to folding remaining pretzels.

Once you have all 8 pretzels folded, drop one at a time into the boiling water for 30 to 40 seconds. (I dropped them in, one by one, and turned them after 20 seconds, letting them go for 40 seconds each, total.) Remove from the water using a flat spatula. Place pretzels on the cookie sheet, brush the top of each pretzel with the beaten egg yolk and water mixture, then sprinkle with the pretzel salt. Bake until dark golden brown in color, approximately 12 to 14 minutes (12 worked fine for me). Transfer to a cooling rack at least 5 minutes before serving.

(I also DIPPED my pretzels in melted butter within about 5 minutes of removing them from the oven.)

(I must have been having dislexic moments all weekend, I completely missed seeing that butter was to be included in this. They tasted fabulous without it! I also got the proportions of baking soda to water wrong, I thought the recipe read 3/4 c baking soda, till now.)

Here are the pretzels upon removal from the hot-water/baking soda boil.

As you can see, I wasn't quite done loading the cookie sheet up.

And here we have the lovely fat pretzels upon removal from the oven, as soon as I'd gotten them dipped in the melted butter.

We had a "Farmgirl Get-together" at my friend Mary's house last night. As this week's a rather financially slim one, I was somewhat at a loss for what to make to take along. I'd wanted to take cucumber salad, but didn't have the $$ to pick up more cucumbers at the grocery store. It occured to me that pretzels would be the perfect thing! And they were! They went over well. My friend, Mary, was the only one who didn't get to enjoy them, as she's still nursing her youngest, and the youngest is allergic to just about everything (dairy -butter included, obviously, eggs, nuts, the dog-hair clinging to my clothes when I arrived). So, anything Mary consumes, her little one consumes through her. She decided the butter that the pretzels had been dipped in would probably set off an allergic reaction. I'm sorry I didn't know about that before, I would have left off the butter completely. (Though, it REALLY DOES boost the flavor considerably!)

Anyway, everybody else wanted the recipe. *grin* And Mom wanted the recipe the other night when I was telling her about my first batch. (The pictures above are of the batch I made on Friday. I made a double batch yesterday as well for the Get-together.)

In the spirit of trying to cook more frugally, here are a couple of recipes I've used from this past week.
Tuna Pasta Salad (from the April '96 Taste of Home Mag)
1 (7 oz) pkg small shell pasta (or macaroni noodles can be used!), cooked and drained
1 (6 oz) can tuna, drained and flaked
1 large carrot shredded (or sliced into thin half-moons)
3/4 c mayonnaise
1/4 c chopped onion
1/4 c milk
1 Tbsp lemon juice
2 tsp prepared mustard
1 tsp dill weed
1/2 tsp salt
1/8 tsp pepper
(I added 5 large-ish radishes, thinly sliced into half-moons. Some diced dill pickle would also be good. And I added a can of tiny shrimp, drained of their liquid. This could be a good substitute for the tuna altogether.)
In a large salad bowl, combine pasta, tuna, carrot, onion, and radishes. Combine remaining ingredients; whisk until smooth. Pour over pasta mixture; toss to coat. Cover & refrigerate for 1 to 2 hours.
Spaghetti with Garlic & Olive Oil
Bring 6 qts water and 2 Tbsp salt to rolling boil in large pot. Add 1 lb spaghetti noodles and cook until tender but firm. Meanwhile, in large skillet over medium heat, heat 3 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil. Add 4 tsp minced garlic (3 or 4 good size garlic cloves, pressed should do it). Cook, stirring constantly, till garlic is pale blond, about 2 minutes. Reserving 1/2 c pasta water, drain pasta. In large bowl toss together pasta water, pasta and garlic & oil. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve hot. No cheese should be sprinkled on top of this.
(I made this to accompany steaks. Could be a very simple main dish by itself, if you are so inclined. Maybe with a salad or some grilled zucchini?)

Hamburger Dinner
1 lb hamburger, crumbled, cooked and drained. (I added half a diced onion to this before cooking the burger.)
3 c potatoes, sliced
1 small head cabbage
1 c milk
salt and pepper
(This is the ingredient list as it reads in the cookbook, I topped it with some shredded cheese this time, and next time I'd probably mix the milk with a can of cream of celery soup before pouring over the remaining ingredients.)
Shred cabbage and put 1/2 of it in a greased casserole. Add 1/2 of the sliced potatoes, half of the hamburger and a sprinkle of salt and pepper. (I also added a sprinkle of garlic powder when I sprinkled on the salt and pepper.) Add remaining half of cabbage, potatoes and burger in the same order. Pour on the milk and bake in a moderate (350 deg. F.) oven for 2 hours. (Again, I sprinkled this with shredded cheese at the last couple of minutes.)
This recipe came from an Amish cookbook my Mom or Dad got me while my middle sis was going to school up in Amish country in Lancaster, PA. Scott and Tay actually really liked the recipe as I made it this first time, but I found it a little on the dry side, and I think it'd taste better with that addition of cream of celery soup.

On the crafting front this week, I've finished another project that's been in the works for years. A few years ago I was on a shawl-wearing kick, and I decided to make myself a knit shawl. It's a simple pattern with eyelet increases on each edge, to from the triangle up and out from the bottom. I wanted something relatively light and in a springy yellow color, so that's what I did. It didn't turn out picture worthy.
Since that shawl is finished, I've moved on to finishing a scarf I'd started a couple of years back. It's knit on one of those round knitting looms. Goes quickly. Should be finished before too long. Then I've got at least one afghan I need to get more work done on, before I pick up any more projects. I'm really wanting to get some of these older projects done before I start anything new again.

Tay has finally finished the first Semester's work. However, she's done such a half-assed job in so many cases, that all I can see is that she's not going to pass. She had an open-book test for her 1st Semester test, and she refused to crack a book, until I started getting on her case for it. Even WITH the open book, she misspelled a lot of the state-names for the areas of the country she's been covering since the last test, and she didn't capitalize a single one. Those are BASIC mistakes; stupid, careless mistakes. Mistakes made because she didn't want to take the time.
And I gave her a last warning that NEXT TEST, I won't allow her to correct them. And if that means she fails Geography, so be it. I'm sick of her being careless and purposefully acting stupid. I just cannot seem to get through her head how important this is! What child FIGHTS about having an open book test?!?! WHY on earth is she arguing about it taking too much work to look through her text books and notebooks for the answer, if it means she'll at least have better odds of getting the answers right. Then to almost purposefully misspell the names of states, when she knows that this act will get her marked down?!?!?! I just cannot conceive of the purposeful idiocy of these moves. It's like she WANTS to fail!
I'm just getting so frustrated with her. I mean, I was physically feeling ill last night, as I was grading her school work. And I've got a lot more to do today before I need to turn it in tomorrow. I guess I'd better get offline and get a move on. I'll be taking some school work with me today to grade at work, instead of reading during my lunch break as I usually do.
*sigh* I guess that covers it.
Have a Blessed Day!


whimsical brainpan said...

Jenny looks like she is smiling in the second picture.

Why must you always make me hungry? :-)

Wow, you are really cranking on the knitting!

Maybe the whole test thing is Tay's way of rebelling.

barefoot gardener said...

Oh, gosh, those pretzels look sooooo good. When I was a young pup in home ec class, I got a recipe for whole wheat pretzels that I just LOVED....I gotta ask mom to look for that one, cuz I am having a craving....

I don't know what to tell you about Tay. I am so impatient with my own kids, and they TRY. I don't know how you keep your patience with her not even trying. I guess all I can say is: Good Luck!

peppylady said...

I haven't made pretzel for ages.
Sure sounds good.

Coffee is on.

LadyStyx said...

Jenny's beautiful!

Tori_z said...

Some of those recipes sound delicious! Going to have to grab them for my recipe page!

Glad you're managing to get some of your unfinished projects done. I bet it makes you feel good to know you've finished them at last. :)

It certainly sounds intentional if it was an open book test. I mean, I can understand spelling mistakes if you just have to memorize things, but if they're right there in front of her then there's no excuse for it. My theory is that she's doing it because she knows it bothers you. Unfortunately she doesn't seem to realise that it's not you who will suffer for it in the long run. *Sigh*

Tori_z said...

I went and looked at your blog. You have a great blog. I couldn't comment to tell you so on your own blog though because you have word verification on. But I just wanted to let you know I'd stopped by and was reading posts (even if I can't comment).

Fr. Peter Doodes said...

Hi Kati,

Neither Kosher Salt or Pretzel Salt are available here in the UK. Are there another alternatives?


PS. I have been assured that if you break something that is supposed to be fattening (cookies etc) you get Calorific Leakage. I am about to try this theory out.

MarmiteToasty said...

Cripes, you have a white wolf as a pet LOL

We had them soft pretzel when we are in wisconsin about 3 1/2 years ago.... they were scrum....