Tagged: Food

Making Soft Pretzels at Home

CompletedPretzels Making those soft, buttery mall pretzels is really easy to do at home. It is a fun recipe for the kids to help make, and a great snack for them too! These can be great for movie night, or game day.

 

 

 

 

 

Making the dough

In a large mixing bowl, dissolve 1 package (or 2¼ teaspoons) of yeast in 1½ cups of of warm water and 2 tablespoons of brown sugar. Stir in 1 cup of all-purpose flour, 1 cup of bread flour and 1 teaspoon of salt. Continue slowly adding 2 more cups of flour until the dough comes together. Kneed until the dough is smooth and elastic.

Place in a bowl sprayed with nonstick spray, and then spray the top surface of the dough to prevent it from drying out. Cover and let rise for one hour.

 

CutInSections

Prepare your Factory/Cut the dough

Preheat an oven to 450º (230º C).

In a small baking dish, combine 2 cups of warm water with 2 tablespoons of baking soda. This helps to give the outside that brownish, crunchy texture. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Note in the picture to the right, I have a little assembly line set up.

After the dough has risen, roll into a log, and cut into 12 pieces.

 

RolledOutRoll out the dough

Roll each section out into a three foot long rope. The pretzels will swell quite a bit when baking, so don’t worry too much about making them too thin.

 

PretzelShapeRoll each rope into that familiar pretzel shape. Push down on the ends a little to get them to adhere to the pretzel body. Dip into the baking soda water, and place on the parchment lined baking sheets.

 

 

 

Bake in the preheated oven for 8-10 minutes, or until golden brown. While cooking, melt the butter and prepare your surface for  adding the topping(s).

BakingSheet

 

 

Top and Serve

Once they are done, brush with melted butter, and top with coarse (Kosher works) salt, or other desired toppings. We love cinnamon and sugar as a topping as well!

FromTheOven

 

 

 

 

It makes one dozen pretzels.

CompletedPretzels

 

 

 

 

 

 

Recipe

1 package (or 2¼ teaspoons) of yeast

2 tablespoons of brown sugar

1 teaspoon of salt

1½ cups of warm water

3 cups of all-purpose flour

1 cup of bread flour

2 cups of warm water

2 tablespoons of baking soda

2 tablespoons of melted butter

2 tablespoons of kosher (or other course) salt

 

 

 

 

 

 

Spontaneous Fun Needs to be Well Planned

I think it is maybe my male biological influences, maybe my careful and anxious nature, or perhaps a combination of both. I just have to make sure our spontaneous family adventures are well planned.

My wife and I are not eager to screw up our sleep schedules. Once a year, in order to celebrate the required purchase of a new calendar, people stay up to “ring in the new year.” We have five children. In case you do not have experience with five children, it is exhausting. At least once a week, our one-year-old decides to cry in the middle of the night for no apparent reason, and he is not able to go back to sleep until he has been assured that we will have trouble going back to sleep ourselves. Our five-year-old loves to crash mom and dad’s slumber party whenever she can think of an excuse, so the thought of another night deprived of sleep is really not all that exciting.

Those of you without kids are going to think this is terrible, but when our oldest kids were younger, we used to lie to them and tell them at 7pm that it was time to count down to midnight. Yay! Happy New Year! Time for bed. Those of you who have or had young kids either have done this yourself, or are right now wishing you had thought of it too. The kids had a blast, and we all got a good night’s sleep.

Well, the mean age of the kids is rapidly rising, despite us adding a new one a year-and-a-half ago to try and keep the numbers down. So we have to find other ways to celebrate the beginning of the new year that are fun for the kids, but do not compromise our already encumbered sleep schedule. This year we have decided to drive up to the snow. We live in the desert, and there is not often snow here. It rained much of the day today which is a welcome change where we sorely need the water, but not exactly the chance to walk in a winter wonderland.

So the snow is not too far away, and it is a great opportunity to have a spontaneous adventure. We have a one-year-old, and my wife can leave the house without worrying about pesky things like what will happen if he needs a diaper change in the five hours she intends to be out. She is fun, and can change plans at the drop of a hat (or diaper, as the case may be.)

I am just not built that way. I have to know exactly where we are driving. I have to know that we have sufficient diapers, changes of clothes, blankets, and portable shelters, flints, and water purifiers in case the apocalypse lands while we are frolicking in the snow. I have carefully worked out a sled sharing schedule that accounts for differences of maturity, and ensures maximum fun has been scheduled for everyone. You see, if spontaneity is not carefully planned, it might end up not being fun. My wife points out that I need to let go and just learn to have fun. She got the wrong kind of soup at the store today when I sent her with a list of requisitions, but I am dealing with that. See? I am letting go.

Making Pickles for the Apocalypse

One of the wonderful things about being married to someone who loves speculative fiction is that my wife gets to talk about things like what we will need to do to deal with the Apocalypse. There are Zombie Ants people, it could be real! So of course, the lost art of canning and pickling is an important survival tool. Pickles do not need refrigeration until they are opened!

I used the recipe from Sharon Howard, and I have used it multiple times, and it usually works great. I thought that it really is a great recipe, so I did not see the need to copy the whole thing here and go through it as I would for another recipe that is not available elsewhere. I do have some tips though, as I have run through this recipe a few times.

Pickling and canning, as we are all probably aware, was a big part of the history of mankind, as refrigeration was not always as readily available as it is now. I think it is a lost art. Homemade pickles are so much better than the store-bought, mass produced kind. I remember making jams with my parents when I was young, and it is something I remember with fondness. So give the pickles a try!

Here are some tips:

1) You can get the jars that you need at Walmart or any similar store. I recommend getting the wide mouth jars, because you may need to stuff some of those cucumbers into the jars. Even though you may still have to cut some of the cucumbers if they are too large to fit, the wide mouth jars just make it so much easier.

2) The pot to process the jars is totally worth it, especially if you think you may use it once again. The pot makes it so much easier to process the jars. Processing the jars is when you put it in boiling water to kill off any unwelcome microscopic critters, and to seal the jars.

3) Once you process the jars, the top of the jar will bow upward for a long time. Do not panic, it will still likely seal after it cools down for a while. It is sealed when you push down on it, and it does not come back up.

4) To the recipe, I added several whole peppercorns to each jar. You could also add peppers of some sort, if you would like the heat. The only thing you do not want to mess with is the salt, vinegar, and water ratios. These ratios are important for the preservation of the pickles. If you do find it too intense, you can add a little sugar to balance out the taste.

5) If for whatever reason your jars do not seal, no need to panic. Don’t process it again, as the pickles will end up being ultra-soggy. Just put them in the fridge, and make them refrigerator pickles instead.

That’s it really, easy-peasy, mac and cheesey. It is a bit of work, but lots of fun, and you have great tasting pickles in a couple of months. Plus, you will have something to eat when zombies take over the earth. I can hear my wife’s eyes rolling from the other room. 😉

Chicken and Waffles; Had to be Done

I have never had chicken and waffles before. At least, that is what I would have said before last Friday. Being as how I am a writer, a therapist, an college instructor, and a human, I love it when my interests come together.

There is such a deep tradition in many of the African-American dishes from the Southern US. I want to tell some of those stories at some point, because to me it is such a testament to the enduring nature of the human spirit. Here a race of people were cruelly treated, separated from their lands of origin, and enslaved. This had a tremendous impact on African-American cuisine. They were separated from the lands, and the plants and other ingredients that were familiar. In addition, they were given scraps and bad cuts of meat to work with. Then from this came a cuisine that not only made use of these poor ingredients, but was old traditions adapted toward their new forced home, and somehow managed to actually be delicious as well! Wow, that is quite the story.

Plus it also means I get to eat, which is something I favor highly, as you may already know.

In poking around on the Internet, I was able to find some information out about Chicken and Waffles. Thomas Jefferson brought the waffle iron back from France, and Americans really took to waffles afterwards. There is a long tradition of slapping some meat on some bread and calling it breakfast. Much meat was prepared fresh from the pasture, so a chicken makes sense as an easy breakfast meat, especially once the slaves were freed and made their way North to have farms of their own. There are some debates about where exactly the Chicken and Waffles came from, and who was the first to sell them at a restaurant. But we do not really need all the exact details to enjoy the rich flavor, steeped in a rich tradition.

So, last Friday I took the plunge. I used Costco frozen panko breaded chicken strip tenders, because it was Friday and I did not want to work all night. I made the waffles with Bisquick mix, and I added marjoram and a touch extra salt to their recipe for more savory waffles. I left the waffles in extra time, to make sure they were nice and crispy. I topped the waffles with chicken strips, and drizzled gravy on top. It was very good, I must say. Not good for for a diet, but it was a fun treat.

I also tried the waffles and chicken with maple syrup on top. It was good, but I think I prefer the gravy. With the gravy, my wife said they were like eating a chicken on biscuits, with gravy, which I think was a perfect  description.

Slightly Imperfect Style

I was buying some socks in a discount clothing store. Not one that usually has horrible clothes, but one where the clothing is being sold at a cheaper rate for whatever reason. For my socks, no one is really ever going to see anything but the top of them, and no one has ever asked me for a receipt of where I buy my socks, so these were perfect for me. Nice looking socks to replace my old ones, at a great price.

As I was taking them to my wife, who was finding clothes for my kids as well, I noticed the sticker that said, “SLIGHTLY IMPERFECT STYLE.” I looked over the socks, and could find no discernible problems with them, but it was the sticker I loved. I took it over to my wife and said, “Look at this, it describes me perfectly!” Slightly imperfect style. Too bad my blog already has a name.

Later, I am checking my blog to make sure a post came out okay, and I happened to glance at the new widget that lists the last six posts I “liked” with the like button. Wow, what another great label for me!

I have tried to blog in the past, and it has been tough because I felt like I had to keep my interests separate. I was either a writer, a father, a husband, or a therapist. This was because I read some about blogs and trying to target the audience as a blog writer. This led to me having more than one blog, and unable to keep up in this hectic life I lead. I also realized I loved reading posts by famous authors who wrote about themselves as people, not just stuffy posts about their writing greatness. So I set out to have a blog that went against current wisdom, and contained many of my interests, not just writing.

So here I am, faced with this image on my blog. It has hot pink panties, books, one is actually a parenting type blog, and food glorious, food. I do not actually wear panties, but I am a big fan. I love books, I love being a dad, and I love cooking and eating food. Food, sex, books, and parenting (which is a result of the sex). So there we are, another label that fits me. I hope you enjoy the journey with me as I write about the many things that interest me, from my slightly imperfect style.

My Cooking Magazines: A New Cooking Goal

I love cooking magazines. I like looking through the magazines during my free time, and see which recipes I would like to try. I recently noticed, though that I have tons of them, and many recipes I want to “try someday,” but have never actually attempted. Well, no more! I have decided that I am going to go through my magazines and make at least one recipe from each magazine. If I cannot find a recipe I want to make, then there is no need to keep the magazine. I have some from back in 2004!

Also, I want to try an cook duck. I love duck, but I have never made it myself before. Maybe I will find a recipe in one of these magazines…

Oooey Gooey Chocolate Chip Sundae Cookies

These cookies are great for a family, or for some friends. The cookie is baked in a cake round or pie tin, and is crispy on the outside and edges, gooey in the center, and has ice cream on top. They are super easy, and super fun. You bake one big one for a group to share. Everyone can have their own spoon though.

Ingredients

  • 5 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar, packed
  • 1 beaten egg
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/3 cup semi-sweet chocolate chunks or chips
  • 2 scoops of vanilla ice cream

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
  2. Combine butter, brown sugar, egg, and vanilla using a mixer.
  3. Add flour and baking soda, and stir by hand (well you know, using a spoon.)
  4. Stir in chocolate chips by hand.
  5. Spread dough in a buttered pie tin or cake pan.
  6. Bake for 5-8 minutes.
  7. Let cool for 2 minutes.
  8. Put two scoops of vanilla ice cream on top.
  9. Serve with a handful of spoons.

My kids go through one of these in nothing flat! Enjoy.