Thursday, April 30, 2009

Alex thinks he's died and gone to heaven...

Dear Megs,

I have been on a baking rampage. I warned you this would happen. I've been luxuriating in my freedom by cleaning, baking, and reading novels that are strictly unrelated to my studies. I have been outrageously wifely.

So I started with a simple bread. I love making bread, but sometimes one simply does not have the energy for the process. The bread machine is good for this, but I still like to bake it in the oven once in a while. I am a huge fan of the NY Times' recipe for No-Knead Bread. I recommend making it once straight up to see what the consistency is supposed to be like. Then, you can change it around. I have not yet managed to screw it up, no matter what changes I make to the recipe. Substitute wheat, rice, or corn flour, add seeds or herbs, anything goes and it makes a beautiful loaf every time. This time I added anise, caraway, sesame seeds, and golden raisins, and rolled it in oatmeal during its last rise. It is DELISH. With the bread I made a lamb stew in the crock pot, and an apple berry pie, which I took out of the oven too soon. It is really yummy, but the apples aren't soft enough and the juice is thin instead of thick and caramely.

Next day, I went in for brownies and mocha cookies (these last are inaptly named, because there's no chocolate in them, just coffee). Both recipes came from The Cotton Country Collection, which is a Junior League cookbook from Monroe, Louisiana. You should own this cookbook. It is absolutely my favorite - for anything and everything. Alligator meat or lemon fondue, it's all in there, southern style. The brownies are PERFECT. I mean, really really perfect. And the cookies are not too sweet, but melt in your mouth. You can eat a dozen before you've noticed. Let me know if you'd like the recipes.

I feel fulfilled and excellent. Heading by bike to the post office today; must get these goodies out of the house before I eat them all!



Sunday, April 26, 2009

You tart!

Dear Megs,

I PASSED. You know this, but I am slowly, slowly, beginning to feel like a different person, like a normal person. I am still not sleeping normally, and I don't have the immense sense of relief I thought I would have. But, I know deep down that this was a challenge I will never have to face again. So, today I made some tarts.

I tried this other recipe for the crust, called "rich tart pastry" in the Williams and Sonoma baking bible, but the crusts ROSE and that meant that I couldn't fill them. Stupid. So I reverted to a regular butter pie crust (with a tbs of sugar). Easy, delicious. I used a tart cream recipe from an old cookbook called Pamela something-or-other's A-Z Pies and Tarts, which is a great book. The cream was FABULOUS - i made a key lime cream and then topped it with fresh fruit. I made a lime glaze, too, but then I tasted it and it was lovely, but really tart and I didn't want it to detract from the beautiful flavor of the cream and fresh fruit, not to mention the butter crust.

If I make this again I will use a regular glaze, because I do think it's pretty, but then again what is prettier than fresh fruit (almost) in season? Strawberries and kiwis are so SO good right now, you should go buy some.

These were GORGEOUS and yummy, way easier than their beauty would indicate. Specific recipes available upon request. I would mail you some, Megs, but I'm not sure how they would fare, even overnight, out of the fridge.

It was so SO SO SO great to see you this week. I'm sorry I was monopolized by everyone. I love you,


Wednesday, April 15, 2009


Dear Megs,

Can you read my posts yet? Anyway, just saw this great article in the New York Times:

It's about yogurt. You know I've been making my own yogurt for years, and it's hard to go back. It's SO easy. The author of the article talks about stuff you can do for better flavor and consistency, but really, you can stir a spoonful of starter or yogurt into cold milk as well, and it will yog just fine. Not as well, but fewer steps.

Maybe this is gross, but I haven't had a woman-bacteria-related-problem even once since I started making my own yogurt. Kill the middleman, is what I say. Homemade yogurt has none of the preservatives or thickeners, and you will always know if your starter doesn't have active cultures, because your milk won't yog. Also, if you do heat up your milk, don't let it get too hot because if it boils, it will kill whatever growy bits in the milk that allow it to interact with the bacteria and become yogurt.

Make it! Eat it with the granola you made (first post ever...I made an extra thrilling batch 2 weeks ago), and reap benefits!



PS Next I will try homemade crème fraîche and homemade buttermilk. Mmmmmm.
Dear Linz,

Is all the studying and writing finally getting to you? I'm very concerned after (not) reading your two previous posts; they are showing up as gibberish. Was this purposeful or merely the internet Gods sabotaging our one means of communication? Please write back soon.


Tuesday, April 14, 2009


My mom added the "yay," not Goethe. Also, the last blog kept eating the line where I said, I *needed* the yay, because look at me.

Home stretch

Dear Megs,

I am in the home stretch. Still haven't baked anything, or anything, for ages. But a week from tomorrow I'll be ABD, if all goes well. I've written about 30 pages (2 essays) since Friday at 5, and I have to finish up the draft of essay 2 and then cut each essay down to 3000 words. Ach.

For tonight, though, I've been working almost 12 hours (weellllll, I showered and took the dog for a run etc etc), and even though it's only 9h30, I'M STOPPING. My writing is starting to seem jumbled to me now, and I guess it's best if I finish up this last essay in the morning.

Here's a quote from Goethe that my mom sent me today:

Whatever you can do, or think you can,

begin it.

Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it.


She added the yay. I needed to hear it, though. Here's what I look like right now:



Monday, April 13, 2009

Bundthead. . .

. . . or at least that's what my dad called me.  I made a lemon bundt cake for three reasons:
1.   It was Easter and we needed something sweet and spring-y.
2.  I wanted to use your lemon zester.
3.  I like saying "bundt."  Try it.  It's fun.  It reminds me of the many hours my high school friends and I spent trying to pronouncing NOFX as a single syllable.  Good luck with that one ;)


Thursday, April 2, 2009

Buyout! And reading 4/4

Dear Megs,

No baking recently, with exams approaching fast. But, I want to tell everyone (all 9 people who read this, that is) to go out immediately and get a copy of Alex Irvine's new book, Buyout. Better yet, call your local bookstore and make sure they have it. I like to use a dose of shame, when I call (you know, he's local), though that's not entirely fair because everyplace I called had it already. It's good, and there are good reviews out there if you don't want to believe his wife.

I think this cover is so great. Love the subversiveness of the black title; love the chilling column of text: every man has a price. There was one stupid review at the Portland Phoenix where the reviewer said something about how Alex should have done a better job of making us understand why the bad guys valued money above human life. Um, hello? If Alex - or anyone - could make us understand why *anyone* valued money above human life the Nobel people would be holding on line 2. But evil, or, not even evil, just the uglier side of human nature, always seems incomprehensible to those who believe in the Golden Rule. Bad guys are caricatural? Um, hello? Ever heard of the mafia? How's that for caricature. Yes, I used a period instead of a question mark there on purpose. That said, the mafia certainly exist(ed) and no one needed too much of a psychoanalytical explanation of how or why. Hitler? The sheer magnitude of his evil makes him more of a caricature than any other (except for all the killing). And yet, a human. How to explain this?

*sigh* that felt good. It's been a while since I had a good rant. So, I know *you* can't come, Megs, but Alex is reading at the Maine Festival of the Book on Saturday, April 4. 12h30 pm. At the Abromson Center on USM's campus. Directions on festival website. EVERYONE COME!