Tag Archives: homemade

Green garden gazpacho

8 Sep

photograph of homegrown green zebra tomatoes, tomatillos, cucumber, basil, and chives

Gazpacho is one of my favorite things to make when the weather is warm. It’s tasty, healthy, and you can throw in just about anything.  We had a number of green zebra tomatoes, so I wanted to try making a green gazpacho using only veggies our garden.  To the tomatoes I added a few tomatillos, a small cucumber, and a ton of fresh basil and chives.  A little red wine vinegar, olive oil, salt and pepper rounded things out nicely.

Keep in mind that this is a special tomato variety that is green when ripe.  Unripe tomatoes will not be the same!  Using red tomatoes is fine.

quartered green zebra tomatoes on a pink cutting board

Most gazpacho recipes recommend peeling your tomatoes.  I never do this because I’m lazy and I think that putting them through the blender/food processor is fine.  So I just core and quarter my tomatoes.  Into the blender they go.  Easy as pie.

I did peel and seed the cucumber, though.  I guess I’m not very consistent.

green gazpacho topped with greek yogurt, basil and chives in a bowl with a green and blue retro starburst pattern.

Topped with a little Greek yogurt and some more olive oil, basil, and chives, this made a delicious (and good looking) lunch, and almost all of it came straight from the garden.

The best part, though, is that I didn’t need to turn on a burner to make it.  Hot weather food, for the win!

How do you like them apples

5 Sep

image of apples being prepared for applesauce

Well, it’s finally the most wonderful time of the year! No, not the holiday season but canning season.  These apples came from a family friend and of course the day I planned to make them into sauce turned out to be 90 degrees.  It seems like it’s a fact of life that any day you set aside for hot-water canning will turn out to be unseasonably hot.

This was my first time making applesauce but definitely not my first time canning.  Making this small batch of sauce really got me excited for the upcoming preserving season.  I can’t wait for the plethora of homemade pickles and other goodies.

If you’re interested in learning more about canning, you can download the USDA’s Complete Guide to Home Canning.  It’s free.  I also recommend tracking down a copy of Ball’s Complete Guide to Home Preserving; it’s basically our pickling bible around here.

Is there any sound as rewarding as the pop of a canning jar sealing?

Stay cool

4 Aug

Here in the Pacific Northwest we’ve managed to avoid the heatwave that’s been plaguing the rest of the U.S up until this point.  That’s all supposed to change this weekend as we make it into the triple digit temperatures for the first time this year.

While I’m looking forward to some of the effects of this heat (hello, homegrown tomatoes!), I’m not much of a fan of hot weather.  So, I’ve been trying to keep in mind some of my favorite tips and recipes for staying cool.

The kitchen is the prime source of unwanted heat, so I try to switch up the kind of cooking that I do when the sun is out.  The key is to avoid turning the oven on at all costs, and the stove-top should be used as little as possible.  Thankfully, there are tons of recipes that are seasonal, tasty, and use little to no heat.  The Kitchn just did a recipe roundup of 20 no-heat or low-heat recipes.  Lots of smoothies and salads there.  I’ll be making lots and lots of gazpacho once our tomatoes come around.

If you do want to cook with heat, keep your wits about you.  I’ve found that using the crock pot to cook dried beans takes longer but keeps the house much cooler than using the stove.  Couscous takes less time and heat to cook than pasta does.  Cook extra so that you can reuse leftovers rather than heating your house again to make another batch.  And just about anything can be made outdoors if you have a decent grill.  Grilled pizza is a favorite around here.

When it’s hot out, there’s no shame in cheating a little.  Pre-cooked food items are fair game.  Shred some chicken from your local deli for taco night or slice a little roast beef to use as a salad topper.  Tofu and tempeh are pre-cooked and can be added to your dinner straight from the package.

One of our favorite hot weather foods is the classic salad roll.  It’s great because you can adapt it to include whatever ingredients you already have around.  These bad boys are vegetarian, with chunks of tofu and hard-boiled egg inside.  You could easily vegan-ize them by leaving out the egg, if you so desire.  Lots of fresh veggies and herbs are required, though!

Salad rolls:

  • 1 package of rice papers
  • rice noodles, cooked according to package directions (usually soaked in hot water for 10 minutes and drained)
  • 2 carrots, cut into matchsticks
  • 1 cucumber, cut into matchsticks
  • 2 hard-boiled eggs, sliced
  • 1/2 package tofu, sliced
  • Lettuce leaves
  • Bean sprouts
  • Fresh herbs (mint, basil, cilantro)
  • Peanut sauce (see below)

Soak the rice paper wrapper in warm water until pliable, about 30 seconds.  Place on a work surface and load on your desired ingredients.  Wrap up like a burrito, both ends folded in and rolled up tight.  They don’t have to be perfect!

Perhaps the best thing about salad rolls is that they act as a vessel for one of the world’s greatest condiments: peanut sauce.  Here’s my go-to recipe; it’s super easy and you probably already have all the ingredients already.

Peanut sauce

  • 4 T smooth peanut butter (natural is best, if you use something else you may want to use less sweetener)
  • 1 T rice vinegar
  • 2 t soy sauce
  • 2 t honey or agave syrup
  • 2 t minced ginger
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced fine
  • Water
  • Sriracha hot sauce to taste (optional)

Mix first six ingredients in small bowl.  Add water until desired consistency is reached, approximately 3-4 tablespoons.  Mix in a squirt of Sriracha if you so desire (you know I do).

Stay cool out there!

Keepin’ it real

16 Apr

Burnt mini-quiche on a plate, with a cup of coffee and rumpled napkin in the background

One of the things that ticks me off about most blogs out there is that the author makes themselves out to be an expert on the subject.  Let me be the first to say that I am NOT an expert.  I can cook well enough to get by and often enough have a pretty tasty meal but I definitely still make mistakes.  Do you see where this is going..?

I made about 500 of these crust-less mini quiche for our wedding reception last summer.  Not only are they really tasty but they freeze and reheat really well.  We were having a super casual, DIY brunch for our reception so they really were perfect.  The recipe is such that you can adapt the flavors to whatever suits your mood.  The recipe on TheKitchn is for zucchini and basil quiche, but for our wedding I made three different kinds: cheddar and (veggie) chorizo, green chili with jack cheese and cilantro, and spicy jalapeno with cotija cheese.  I churned out a ton of them all by myself over the course of a couple days and they all turned out great.

After that, it took a while before I wanted to see, much less eat, quiche again.  But on Saturday when we found a bunch of good looking chanterelle mushrooms at the Corvallis farmer’s market, the first thing that came to mind were the mini-quiche and how easy/tasty they were.  We decided to make up a big batch of chanterelle, Swiss cheese, and caramelized onion mini-quiche.

Grated swiss cheese on a plate, with a piece of cheese and grater in the background

I caramelized half of a chopped onion while prepping the egg mixture and grating the cheese.  I chopped up the mushrooms roughly and sauteed them briefly.

We assembled the quiche in our mini-muffin pans: cheese on the bottom, some onion, a little sauteed mushroom, and then poured the egg mixture over the top.  Would could go wrong with that?

Well, the flavor combination was great but I forgot one very important step: to grease the muffin tin.  Don’t these lil’ quiche look so cute still in the pan?  Good, because they didn’t look so hot after we scraped them out.

Mini-quiche, still in the muffin tin, with a cup of coffee in the background

Mini-muffin tin with remnants of quiche, due to forgetting to grease the pan

This just about breaks my heart.  These would have been such a success, if only I hadn’t messed up!  I would definitely recommend you try this recipe, with one of my flavor combos or your own.   Just don’t forget to grease your pan, and grease it well!  I think I’ll be chipping quiche out of this muffin tin for the rest of my life.

I put one tray of the quiche back in the oven to see if they would release from the pan easier if they cooked a little longer.  They didn’t! I just got burnt quiche that was stuck in the pan.  Thankfully, it still tasted good.  It sure ain’t pretty, though.

Burnt mini-quiche on a plate, with a cup of coffee and rumpled napkin in the background

The next time you mess up in the kitchen, just remember me and these mutilated, burnt-to-a-crisp quiche.  And jeez, I have the audacity to have a food blog!  But now there’s proof that having a blog definitely does not necessarily make one (or at least, me) a pro in the kitchen.

Happy spring

7 Apr

They say that sex, politics, and religion shouldn’t be discussed at parties.  But what about on blogs?

Tomorrow is Easter.  While both Nate and I were raised in fairly religious families, we aren’t currently practicing any religion.  However, we never turn down an opportunity to spend time with friends and family, so we’re planning on attending multiple Easter festivities tomorrow.

It’s always seemed weird to me that non-Christians would celebrate Easter, for some reason far stranger than celebrating Christmas.  I guess it’s because Easter hasn’t been quite as commercialized.  I’ve also always seen Easter and the story of Jesus’ resurrection as being a pillar of Christianity, a confirmation of Jesus’ position as the son of God.  It seems weird to me, then, that non-believers would celebrate such a religious holiday even if their celebrations are supposed to be secular.  Can you really have a secular celebration of a day that is so tied to a specific religion?

That said, now that I’m guilty of “joining the party,” it hasn’t really been bothering me all that much.  I’m just seeing it as an opportunity to spend time with loved ones and partake in some fun traditions.  Can you say hypocrite?!

But today the sun is out and the weather is beautiful.  It looks like spring is here (at least for now) and that is definitely a reason to celebrate!

Anyway, Nate is almost solely responsible for this asparagus gallette with goat cheese.  All I did is assemble it and snap some photos.  It’s super easy (I’m not just saying that because Nate made it) and would be perfect for your Easter festivities or just to help welcome the spring season.

Asparagus galette with goat cheese

Adapted from a recipe from Feast on the Cheap

Ingredients:

  • 1 sheet of pre-made puff pastry
  • 1 half of an onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • Splash of balsamic vinegar (optional)
  • 1 bunch asparagus, tough ends removed
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 cup cottage cheese
  • 3 oz. goat cheese

Preheat your oven to 400F degrees.  Roll out puff pastry into a rectangle approximately 15″ by 10″.  Make a score mark around the edge of the puff pastry, about 1 inch from the edge.  Pierce the puff pastry inside of the score mark with a fork, place on a parchment paper lined cookie sheet and bake in the oven for about 10 minutes.

Heat a saute pan over medium heat.  Add 1 Tbsp of the oil, and then the chopped onion.  Saute until translucent.  Add the garlic and saute until fragrant.  Add the balsamic vinegar, if using.

Put the trimmed asparagus to a large bowl and toss with the remaining olive oil.  Season with salt and pepper.

Remove the par-baked puff pastry from the oven.  Evenly distribute the onion mixture over the crust, followed by the cottage cheese and goat cheese.  Place the asparagus on top.

Bake in your 400F degree oven for about 15 minutes.

Bella offered to act as a taste tester for you.  That’s so nice of her, isn’t it?

Slice and serve warm.  I bet squeezing a little fresh lemon juice over the top would be good too.  Happy spring!

Chicken dinner(s)

1 Apr

I am just loving having this blog as a creative outlet.  I can hardly stop thinking of things to do, make, and write about.  Unfortunately, that also makes it difficult to focus on my other projects, namely that Master’s degree I’m currently working.  I’m up to my eyeballs in schoolwork right now, which unfortunately means that all of the exciting things I want to read and write about have to be put on hold for those things that I need to read and write about.

Basically this is just a long-winded way of saying that content might be scarce around here for the next few weeks, although I’m hoping to find a balance between work (or school, in this case) and play.

In the meantime, here’s a cute ass picture of my favorite kitten.

And just because I can’t help myself, a quick mention of what we’ll be eating the next few days:

The other day, my Pinterest feed featured an article from theKitchn on making a five day menu plan based around a rotisserie chicken.  At our house, we’re all for making the most out of food, and out of meat in particular.  I usually save chicken bones for stock (collecting them in a bag in the freezer until there’s enough) but that’s usually where our meat thriftiness stops.  For the past week, I haven’t been able to stop thinking about roasting a chicken and making use of every last part.

Well, today was the big day and we just finished our chicken dinner.  I followed Thomas Keller’s simple roast chicken recipe, using a few modifications that I found in the comments.  In all honesty, I’ve made this recipe several times before and I always seem to have mixed results.  When it’s good, it is amazing, with everything a roast chicken should have: crispy skin and succulent flesh.  But there are times when it isn’t so good, usually because upon carving the bird, I realize that it hasn’t quite cooked all the way through.  Cooking this recipe definitely makes for a perfect time to whip out your (possibly neglected) thermometers, both oven and instant-read.  You may also want to add 10 minutes to the recommended cooking time.

I have to admit that I feel a little weird posting this photo for two reasons.  First, our camera battery was dead so I took this photo with my phone and I’m not sure it’s really “up to snuff,” as they say.  (Do other people say that too or is it just another one of those weird things my mom says?)

Second, during a culinary discussion at a recent excursion to local brewery Block 15, I lectured my dear friend Aileen about the importance of chicken trussing.  Trussing is the fancy way of saying tying it up with string so that it cooks evenly.  Everyone who is anyone recommends that you do it and I’m not usually one to go against the grain on these types of things.  That said, you may notice that this chicken is remarkably “un-trussed.”  That’s not because I’m making a statement.  It’s because the only string we have in the house right now is made of nylon.  Cooking tip #1: don’t tie your chicken up in plastic string and then put it in a 450F degree oven.

If you want more info on trussing a chicken, I suggest checking out ye olde YouTube.  One of the best how-to videos I’ve found so far stars Brian Polcyn using a slightly more advanced chicken trussing technique.  Polcyn is a Chicago chef and co-author of the cookbook Charcuterie that I currently have checked out from the library.  I love it when my culinary interests cross paths unexpectedly!

Despite our lack of appropriate restraints (by which I mean cotton butcher’s twine), I roasted the bird.  Tonight we had the legs with roast potatoes and carrots and a green salad.  After dinner, I finished carving it.  Carving is another technique that can be intimidating if you haven’t done it before.  It’s important to remove the legs first and then the breasts.  YouTube can come to the rescue on carving as well.  (It’s also great for a refresher on how to tie a bow tie, but that’s a whole different can of worms.)

After carving, one breast was shredded and went straight into a pot with a sliced onion, some homemade turkey stock, and the last of the homegrown tomatillo salsa from last year.  Tomorrow, we’ll eat the stew (which was inspired by this recipe on Simply Recipes) for lunch with some rice and beans.  The other breast went into the fridge; I’m not sure what we’ll do with it yet.  In the meantime, the carcass and wings are simmering in the slow cooker for some homemade chicken stock.

I’m not sure we’ll quite get five-meals out of this bird, but I’m feeling like I’m doing my part to be a more ethical meat eater.  Using everything this way makes buying the more expensive, free-range chicken seem almost affordable despite being on a limited, grad school student budget.  The whole free range chicken was $2.49 per pound, which is cheaper per pound than some of the pricier pieces of conventionally raised chicken.

While cleaning up from dinner tonight, I glanced in the trash can; the only part of the chicken that was in there was the plastic it came wrapped in.  I think I could get used to that.

Probably not perfect pie crust

19 Mar

March 14th was Pi Day!  3.14, get it?  I love pie but don’t take the time to make it very often.  Nate and I had just picked up some frozen organic blackberries to stock the freezer with; what better way to use them than in a pie?

As I was looking online, I found a number of pie crust recipes that claimed to be the “perfect pie crust.”  I’m not sure how there can be so many different perfect pie crust recipes.  You would think that some of them would only be “amazing” or “wonderful,” but not quite perfect.

But I digress.

I had been eying the Pioneer Woman’s pie crust recipe for a while because it’s supposed to be super flaky, a trait that I most enjoy in my crust.  The key is a tablespoon of white vinegar, which you aren’t able to taste in the final product.  I had intended to follow the PW recipe to the letter but it’s a shortening crust.  We didn’t have any shortening in the house, but we did have a pound of organic unsalted butter in the freezer that I snapped up while it was on sale.

So, I searched out found a perfect all-butter crust recipe on Simply Recipes.  This recipe suggested smooshing the dough (this is a technical cooking term ala Meggie) on your counter to achieve maximum flakiness.  I was feeling lazy so I couldn’t help but think, what if I just replace a tablespoon of water with a tablespoon of vinegar instead?

Blackberry pie with lattice crust

Thus, the crust for this pie was adapted from these two “perfect” pie crust recipes.  Because of that, you could probably consider it to be double perfect, although realistically it’s probably not really perfect but merely wonderful and amazing.

For the filling, I mostly followed this recipe for blackberry pie.  I added extra lemon zest and juice because we like things tart around here and used vanilla extract instead of almond.

Slice of blackberry pie with lattice top

This was my first attempt at a lattice pie crust and I’m quite pleased with myself and the results.  We drizzled a little good half-and-half over the pie, but vanilla ice cream or whipped cream would be, well… perfect!

Banh mi, baguettes, and me

13 Mar

Banh mi sandwich (baguette with tofu, mushrooms, pickled carrots and diakon radish, cucumber, and cilantro)

Banh mi sandwich (baguette with tofu, mushrooms, pickled carrots and diakon radish, cucumber, and cilantro)

Only people who know me incredibly well know that I can be a perfectionist.  I try my best to hide it with cloak of nonchalance but sometimes people still get a peek.

Probably the main way that my perfectionism comes out is that I have the hardest time challenging myself.  One time I won a Guitar Hero contest at a bar in the medium level bracket.  I got 100% on a song I’d never even heard before.  (I won a rubik’s cube and about 20 minutes worth of bragging rights.)  I’m so ready for a harder level that it’s borderline pathetic but I just can’t bring myself to make the leap!

Basically, I have the hardest time bringing myself to do something that I might be mediocre or even (*gasp*) fail at.  I’d rather not attempt something than risk the possibility of failing at it.

For a while, it’s been time for me to take the next step in my bread-making.  It’s been time for me to tackle the world-renowned baguette.

Two freshly baked baguettes in a metal baguette pan

The first time I tried my hand at making baguettes, I tried the technique in the Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day book that I won’t stop talking about. (It was even recommended to a caller by Lynn Rosetto Kasper on this week’s episode of The Splendid Table, so it must be good!)  They recommend rolling some refrigerator dough out into a 2-inch wide tube, letting it rise for 25 minutes, and then baking it on a preheated baking stone.

Well, I tried this technique but I don’t have any photos of the results.  I don’t have any photos because, quite frankly, the baguettes were awful!  They were horribly lumpy and misshapen and far too flat.  To top it all off, they had neither the crunchy crust nor the soft interior that baguettes are known for.

What was that I said again about how I feel about failing?

Thankfully, this is one kitchen mishap that can be avoided with the proper tool.  A baguette pan.

Freshly baked baguette in a metal baguette pan

We received this baguette pan from Nate’s uncle Mark as a wedding gift.  It’s non-stick, perforated and it will cook up the crustiest, tastiest baguettes you’ve ever made (although I confess that in my case that’s not saying much).  What I especially love about this pan is that you proof and bake in the same pan; there’s no need to make a complicated transfer and clean up is easy (just remember to hand-wash it)!

My baguettes still aren’t the prettiest things ever.  They’re still a little knobby and misshapen, or as Nate said “funky and chunky.” I prefer to think of them as “rustic.”  Whatever their looks may be, they definitely taste like winners.

So then what do you do once you have fresh, homemade baguettes?  You partake in the current culinary craze and make banh mi.

Banh mi sandwich (baguette with tofu, mushrooms, pickled carrots and diakon radish, cucumber, and cilantro)

Everyone is always ragging on colonialism (myself included) but banh mi and other fusion foods are, I believe, concrete examples that there are some benefits to imperialism and globalization.  The combination of French baguette and Vietnamese fillings is awesome; if you haven’t had banh mi before, there is no time like the present to remedy that.

The banh mi you see here is a homemade baguette topped with mayo, sauteed mushrooms and onions, grilled marinated tofu, pickled carrot and daikon radish, plus chopped fresh cucumber, cilantro, and jalapenos.  Don’t worry, it sounds like way more work than it actually is!  That said, there is a lot of chopping so this recipe may be one to make with a cooking buddy if you aren’t super speedy with a knife.

Stack of grilled, marinated tofu and piles of chopped cilantro, cucumber and jalapenos.

Both the pickled carrots and daikon and the sauteed mushrooms and onions were made using a banh mi recipe from my lovely and hilarious friend Caroline.  We added grilled tofu to her recipe because we were hungry.  For the tofu, we grilled it in a grill pan on high heat after marinating a few large slices in a mixture of rice vinegar, Sriracha hot sauce, brown sugar, and light and dark soy sauce.  If, like us, you have left-over fillings, you can cook up a little jasmine rice and, wham-bam, you have a perfect lunch (or two) for the next day.

The coolest thing about this recipe is that you don’t even realize that it’s vegetarian.  If you leave off the mayo (or use a vegan product instead), this would be a very satisfying vegan meal.

Banh mi sandwich (baguette with tofu, mushrooms, pickled carrots and diakon radish, cucumber, and cilantro)

Actually, I take that back.  The coolest thing about this recipe is how freaking good it is.  Feel free to add extra Sriracha to taste (Nate certainly did)!

Spice is nice – kimchi stew

28 Feb

Close up of kimchi stew with chicken and tofu over steamed jasmine rice.

In January, Nate and I made about four pounds of homemade kimchi and we’re just using up the last of it.  We tried eating it a number of different ways but my favorite was definitely as kimchi stew served with some jasmine rice.  It was really tasty and could easily be made with store bought kimchi.

bowl of kimchi stew with kimchi, chicken and tofu with jasmine rice.

Maangchi’s recipe for kimchi stew recommends using pork belly or canned tuna.  I was feeling lazy, so I figured I would pick up a few cans of tuna from Trader Joe’s.  When I got there, the tuna was around $3.00 a can.  I don’t buy tuna very often so I don’t know if this is a reasonable price or not but it seemed expensive for fish in a can.  I’m not up-to-date on different tuna species and ethical fishing practices so I’m not sure if this contributed to the price.  In all honesty, I’ve never been much of a fan of canned tuna anyway.

So, after walking through the store and eying the meat case, I noticed that TJ’s has organic free-range chicken drumsticks for $1.99/lb.  Sold!

Obviously, this recipe isn’t vegetarian, but I think you could easily adapt it to be.  You could leave out the chicken, use veggie broth and maybe add some extra tofu.  I imagine that sauteing some mushrooms along with the onions would be damn tasty, too!  Keep in mind, though, that kimchi is often made with fish sauce and if you use store bought kimchi it may not be vegetarian.

Chicken Kimchi Stew – makes six to eight servings

Adapted from Maangchi’s Kimchi stew (kimchi chigae)

Ingredients:

  • 1 and 1/2 lbs chicken drumsticks, skin on
  • 1 Tbsp high temperature oil
  • 1 onion, sliced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 3-4 c. kimchi, cut into bite size chunks if needed
  • 3+ c. chicken broth or water
  • 1-2 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1 package tofu
  • Salt and pepper
  • Soy sauce, sesame oil, hot sauce (optional)
  • Steamed jasmine rice (for serving)

Heat about half the oil in dutch oven or heavy bottomed pot with a lid.  Season the chicken with salt and pepper and brown the chicken on all sides.  The goal here is not to cook the chicken through, but to create some flavor (“Brown food tastes good,” as Chef Anne Burrell says).  Remove the chicken from the pan and set aside.

Add the remaining oil to the pan.  Once hot, add in the onion and saute for a few minutes until translucent.  Add the minced garlic and saute for another minute or two.  Add some of the broth/water and scrape up any brown bits from the bottom of the pot.  Add the kimchi, red pepper flakes, the remaining broth, and the drumsticks.  The drumsticks won’t be covered by the liquid, that’s fine.  I like my stews to be more chunky than soupy.  If you’d like more broth, feel free to add some more liquid.  Bring everything to simmer, then reduce the heat.  Cover the pot and simmer for about 40 minutes.

Remove the chicken from the pot and let cool briefly.  Shred/slice the chicken from the bones (which you should save to make chicken broth).  You can either remove the skin and toss it or you can slice it up as well.  Return the chicken to the pot.  Cut up the tofu (I like to leave it in fairly large pieces but it’s up to you) and add that to the pot as well.  Simmer for another 10 minutes.

Serve in bowls over the jasmine rice.  Season with pepper, soy sauce, sesame oil, and hot sauce to taste.

Close up of kimchi stew with chicken and tofu over steamed jasmine rice.

One final note: I think this would be a great recipe to pull out when someone you care about is feeling under the weather.  Spicy chicken soup should really help clear out those sinuses!

Breaking bread

27 Feb

Two loaves of homemade white bread on a cooling rack with a container of strawberry freezer jam in the background.

If you’ve been following along, you might recall that last month Nate and I threw a party that left me feeling like we probably needed to ask our neighbors for forgiveness.  At my house growing up, apologies and forgiveness could go a long way towards ending an argument and fixing a damaged relationship.  I’m not sure if keeping the neighbors up until two in the morning really counts as an argument but I was feeling guilty.  Apologies work wonders on that, too.  Never underestimate the power of a heartfelt apology, people!

And what could make a better apology than some homemade bread?

Two loaves of homemade white bread on a cooling rack with a container of strawberry freezer jam in the background.

The really awesome thing about this apology bread is that, while impressive, it’s really easy to make.  A few years ago for Christmas I picked up a book at a local used bookstore for Nate that has really changed the way that we bake bread at our house.  While Nate sometimes does things the old fashioned way, with all the kneading and multiple rises, I almost always use the method featured in “Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day.

In all honesty, it takes me longer than five minutes to make this bread.  Still, I’ve found that it takes a fraction of the time of traditional bread-making. Also, just as a heads up, five minutes refers to the recipe’s prep time.

The general technique consists of mixing up a large batch of dough in a container (no kneading necessary) and letting it rise for 2-5 hours.  You can bake right away or keep it in the refrigerator up to two weeks.  Each batch of dough makes four 1-pound (medium sized) loaves.  You cut off a piece of dough, quickly shape it, and let rise for 40 minutes.  Baking in a hot oven takes about half an hour.  Let it cool.

Did you know that if you want to slice your bread, you should let it cool almost completely?  Warm bread will get squished and compressed if you try to slice it.  If you can’t wait to dig in, you should tear the bread.  Besides, tearing bread is way more “artisan” anyway!

Loaf of bread being torn in half

In respect for the authors of the book, I’m not including the detailed recipe here.  Lucky for you, a quick Google search returned a companion blog to “Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day” that features the master bread-making recipe.  I would definitely recommend that you check this out ASAP, even if you don’t need it for an apology.  If you have any homemade preserves, this bread is the perfect vessel for them.  It’s great for breakfast, served with something like an omelet.

As an aside, I have to confess that I haven’t had much luck with omelets in the past.  A while back I posted something on Facebook like “I’m pretty much the worst at making omelets.”  One of my school buddies (Hi, Patrick!) shared this Julia Child video and it changed my life.  Here’s the proof:

Salmon omelet with torn bread with homemade strawberry preserves

This photo is of an omelet made by yours truly, stuffed with cheese and some leftover salmon.  I’m still excited about this breakfast; the bread and strawberry preserves were homemade, the eggs were local, and the salmon was line-caught in Alaska by someone I’ve met before.  We aren’t able to eat like this every day, but it’s so awesome when we’re able to!