Monday, May 31, 2010

Carb city

I've now baked and eaten five loaves of bread in three days. Well, I've actually shared the loaves each time, but still — I'm on a kick.

Last week, my friend Marilee baked an amazing loaf of bread for us and I inquired into the recipe. (I used to bake bread fairly often, but somehow my loaves kept getting overworked or heavy, and the effort was no longer worth the return for me.) It turns out that not only does this recipe produce a tantalizing crunchy/soft artisan bread, but it's amazingly easy.

The basic recipe is available online here, and is further explored in the cookbook "Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day: The Discovery That Revolutionizes Home Baking" (which, judging from its current Amazon sales rank as #120, means that I'm probably well behind the curve on getting the news out on this bread).

After trying the basic recipe plain twice, I threw a bunch of diced mushrooms and cheddar cheese into the third one, with more cheddar cheese on top, and it was absolutely amazing. The bread still rose nicely unlike loaves I used to do with bonus ingredients. I'm attempting a garlic and thyme one tonight.

Go ahead and try it — it's really simple and extremely impressive.

Sunday, May 30, 2010


I currently have three deep cuts on my fingertips, one from chicken wire while building raised gardening beds, one from attempting to slice mushrooms while cradling a cell phone with my shoulder, and one bad paper cut from wrapping DVDs in mailing envelopes.

I thought you're supposed to be able to read people's lives in their palms, not fingertips.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Chocolate bread

This morning Corin asked for "chocolate bread" and I couldn't figure out what he meant. Did he mean the banana bread I'd given him a few days ago that had chocolate nibs in it? No, he insisted.

Did he mean chocolate cupcakes, which we had with Grandma? No, again. (Although I'm surprised he didn't take that suggestion and run with it, since I brought it up.)

Eventually, he pulled out a loaf of naan that I'd brought out for breakfast (naan and hummus being his favorite meal these days) and I thought that I'd just been mis-hearing the word chocolate, or he'd been using the wrong term. Clearly he wanted his soft bread.

Then he brought the naan to the jar of Nutella I'd left out from the night before and said "chocolate bread!" again.

His first recipe!

(Followed closely by his second recipe, which involved balancing dried cranberries on top of the bread and eating "raisin bread"!)

Friday, May 21, 2010


Corin's new word to describe anything he doesn't like is to call it "dirty."

I think it comes from food, where if food falls on the floor or what not we'll say it's dirty and take it away.

Nevertheless, the connotation plays out differently with other objects. If he doesn't want to get dressed then he says clothes are dirty, which makes it sound like we never do laundry. If he doesn't want to go to school it's dirty, which makes it sound like we send him to a pigpen. If he doesn't want to read a particular book it's dirty, which makes it sound like we bought him some sort of smut book. Pretty much we're afraid of letting him speak to anyone until he's past this stage, because there's no way he can't be offensive.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Grandma & Corin

Wednesday, May 19, 2010


We spent our final evening reading through Galatians in our community group last night. For nine months or so we've been reading Galatians in its entirety every several weeks and discussing, and every time it's still fresh.

I don't think I've ever been part of a group that read such lengths of Scripture together, and the experience has been quietly stunning. When taking one verse or passage at a time it's easy to place overwhelming importance on each sentence as if it were a stand-alone proverb. You're left with an overwhelming number of individual bits of information and ideas and stories and theology to hold together in our minds. When reading Scripture in a more lengthy format, a bigger picture emerges. It's more clear which pieces of information are supporting and expanding on a larger concept, strengthening an overall understanding of God's designs and purposes and desires for us. The central convictions emerge easily.

The metaphor floating around in my mind is of the Bible as recipe book. There are a lot of short, individual recipes that important to experiment with in the kitchen. But the overwhelming purpose of the cookbook is not completing the recipes well but hospitality, deeper connection, family bonding. To have a full kitchen life one needs recipes, of course, and a familiarity with details of cooking processes, but the point of spending time cooking is its role in the building of loving relationships.

Just as the overarching point of Galatians is to persuade us that God's boundless grace sets us free from both a bondage to the law and a bondage to sin, leaving us open to express an non-defensive, non-reactionary, non-guilt-induced, non-coerced, non-puffed-up love. What an exciting, amazing, motivating, blank-page gift to have!

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Sick toddler

Corin isn't feeling very well right now, making him a little unenthusiastic for much beyond couch potato status. I was out shopping and stopped by the Goodwill Outlet in SoDo where you can buy toys by the pound, and got three Mr. Potato Head bodies with about 30 accessories (all for a buck!) to compliment the Potato Head he already has. But even that didn't cheer him up.

I showed him the first one, which was sort of clown-esque with a silly grin and giant orange feet, and Corin dismissed him.

"Too goofy," he said.

OK, fine. He's a little in-your-face. What about the second one, a cute baby-sized version? "Too small."

Well, there was always the normal-looking one, exactly like his old favorite. Nope. "Too big."

Poor little sick guy.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010


We go to the UPS Store every week or two to ship stuff for business, and Corin loves to go with. Except he calls it the "PS Center." Which sounds an awful lot, in 3-year-old speak, like "penis center." So whenever we get a big box ready for the car he yells "Penis Center! Penis Center!"

(We'll have to remember, when packages are dropped off for us at home, never to refer to the deliverer as "the UPS man.")

Monday, May 10, 2010

Gooey Chocolate Chip-Cranberry Cookies

A few years ago I went on a quest to find the perfect chocolate chip cookie recipe. I came up with one I liked a lot, but when I went to replicate it in my parents' kitchen, it didn't turn out right. Then, we moved, and I couldn't get it to work ever again. There must be something about the temperature of that particular oven, or the humidity of that apartment, or some other intangible involved. So ... I'm not guaranteeing that this new recipe I've worked out will perform exactly right in all kitchens. But for the first time in five years, I'm again eating what I consider a perfect chocolate chip cookie.

My criteria for "best" means that 1) it tastes so good as a dough that you barely even want to cook them, 2) that it tastes so good just-cooled that they melt in your mouth, and 3) they taste so good the next day because they retain their flexibility and moistness. (Warning: do not make a full batch of these cookies if you don't have someone to share them with; otherwise you'll eat nothing but cookies for a day straight, seriously.)

1/2 cup salted butter, room temperature
1/4 cup white sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
1 egg
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup all-purpose flour, packed
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
3/4 cup dried cranberries

1. Preheat oven to 375º. Prepare two cookie sheets covered in parchment paper.

2. In a medium-sized mixing bowl, use a fork to mix together softened butter and the sugars.

3. Add egg and vanilla and use fork to mix again.

4. Add flour, baking soda, and salt on top. Shake the bowl a little to lightly distribute the baking soda, and then mix with fork.

5. Add chocolate chips and cranberries and mix together.

6. Spoon a slightly rounded tablespoon-worth onto the parchment, then flatten with your fingers. Repeat until you have 20-24 cookies served and flattened. (May make less if you're eating dough as you go along.)

7. Bake in 375º oven for 11-12 minutes, rotating once halfway through. The edges of the cookies will brown slightly, but the centers will still be mostly white and look undone. This is OK.

8. Take cookie sheets out of oven and them cool down with the cookies still on the sheets. This retained heat will complete the cooking process without getting them overbaked at the edges.

9. Eat some as soon as they're tolerably cool (I probably don't need to instruct you on that...), and when the rest are fully cool, store in plastic bag to keep fresh for several days.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Summer's here

  • A picnic at the zoo with good friends,
  • ice cream & warm conversation,
  • possibly the most spectacular sunset I've yet seen over Alki.
I think I passed my perfection allotment for the day.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Tiramisu wraps

Here's a fun filling idea for Sugar Wraps that I shared yesterday:


12 sugar wraps, made in advance
8 oz. mascarpone
1/4 cup sugar
2 egg whites
1 whole egg
1/8 tsp. vanilla
cocoa powder

1. In a large bowl, use beaters to whip together mascarpone, sugar, eggs, and vanilla until it's fluffy yet stiff. (You can store this mixture separate from the cookies in the refrigerator if you want to make it in advance.)

2. Just before serving, spoon mixture into sugar wraps.

3. Top with a little cocoa powder.