Tag Archives: bread

Something Else I Didn’t Know {recipe: easy focaccia bread}

29 May

Right now I have 11 friends who are pregnant. And one coming home Friday with a baby from Ethiopia. That is 12 babies. That is a big enough number that according to the rules of writing, you don’t have to spell it out with letters. That is a lot of babies.

I am sorry, but there is still something that no one tells you about having babies. I am going to tell you abut it so maybe the seven of you who are pregnant with baby number one don’t for a minute wonder, “am I the only one?”

I am over most of the weird things that happen to the body. And those things are weird not because they don’t make sense or because they seem completely out of nowhere, but because all of these things happen to your body that all work together for a specific purpose to support you and the baby perfectly. For example:  Your body emits some hormones that make your ligaments all loosey-goosey. This could be annoying because if the hormones work in you like they did in me, you have to stop running and rest or your hip joints cause shooting pain down your legs. You could think this is annoying but really it is helpful. You don’t need to be running to prove that “you can still do everything you did when you weren’t pregnant,” and, you need everything to slide out of place a little to make room for that baby to make its grand entrance into the world.

All of that seems so weird because it really does work together so well. Most of what we experience in life doesn’t work together well because it gets wrecked up by us and our pride and our selfish motives or desire for someone else’s approval that we expect everything to get all messed up. When hormones and bones and body systems all work together how God created them to support and sustain us, it feels weird.

So here is the other thing:

It took a while to feel any love.

People tell you that the minute you have a baby, you experience more love and joy than you have ever felt before. Consequently, I was really confused in our first few weeks as a family. I knew I was supposed to take care of this baby, and I could do that, but I didn’t feel much love.

I felt tired most of the time and confused at how to get her to stop crying when nothing seemed wrong. I felt a whole new set of responsibilities and the weight of someone else’s needs being forever more important than my own. But I did not feel love.

And then that did funny things to my head like make me wonder what love and joy are and if I ever felt them before and what was I doing wrong? Because I was definitely not feeling like everyone said I would. And you don’t want to tell anyone that you don’t love your baby because surely someone will take your baby away and put you in one of those jackets where the arms tie in the back. And you remember the time that your husband came with you to one of your last doctor’s appointments and as you were leaving the doctor quickly said something under her breath to your husband about how if he ever sees any bad or depressed behavior in you post-delivery that he should call the doctor immediately. And I didn’t want to go to the crazy house. And I didn’t think I needed to. I didn’t feel anything bad, I just didn’t feel anything awesome.

In a moment of weakness or after a glass of wine (which I think are the same for me ), I tell my husband all of these things and he tells me he thinks that’s ok, he thinks what I am feeling is normal and that I am a good mother. He assures me that this is not grounds for the straightjacket. And that is what I need to hear and we talk about it again the next weekend and I can’t even remember the feelings of emptiness that I had because now I feel love and joy and I want to do nothing but hold that baby and if she cries in the middle of the night and it means I get to fall asleep holding her or see her smile at 4am, well, I just think that is wonderful.

And for the recipe:

This bread is awesome. Make a big bowl of dough and then stick it in the fridge and pinch off parts of it on different nights. Top with your favorite pizza toppings for a meal, smear some garlic butter on it for s side, or slice it open and make a tasty sandwich.

Focaccia Bread

Makes about three 12-inch pizza crusts.

2 3/4 c. warm water

1 1/2 T. active dry yeast

1 T. salt

1/4 c. olive oil

6 1/2 cups flour

optional add-ins: garlic powder, rosemary, lemon zest, italian seasoning…

  • Put water in a large bowl and sprinkle yeast on top. Let sit about 5 minutes.
  • Add remaining ingredients and stir until most all flour is incorporated.
  • Cover bowl with saran wrap or a slightly damp towel.
  • Let sit at room temperature 2 hours, use right away or refrigerate until ready to use (can stay in the fridge up to five days, the flavor will get yeastier as the days go on).
  • When ready to use, preheat oven to 400. If you have a baking stone, put that in the oven.
  • Pinch off the dough you want to use and slowly pull it out into a circle.
  • Place on baking stone or lightly greased cookie sheet and bake 9-13 minutes. If I am making a pizza, I bake it about seven minutes, then put the toppings on it and bake about five more.

original post: https://saltimbocca.wordpress.com/2010/05/29/easy-focaccia-bread/


Gaining 10 Pounds from a Single Cheeseburger, or Not {recipe: no-knead beer cheese bread}

4 Dec

The pictures of this bread are not very good but whatever. The bread is delicious. I mean, beer, butter, and cheese? Yes, please.

You can thank the baby for this recipe, because pregnancy has opened up a whole new realm of foods to me.

I spent most of college figuring out how to consume as few calories as possible, namely focusing on food I had put into one of three categories: lean proteins, sugar-free jello, and diet coke. Stellar categories, I know.  The latter two are not really food groups, but I made them so. And, though I was 19, I was sure I had the FDA beat on this one…my food pyramid was definitely better than theirs (<<check that out, it looks totally different from when we were in elementary school). But, I learned that this three-category food pyramid really isn’t a sustainable model. It leaves you tired and frail and stressed out about that supposed-to-be fun dinner with friends that you’re going to but won’t know how much butter they used to saute those vegetables and they surely won’t have jello. Also it makes your mom really worried.

Shortly after we got married, we tried out a month of eating organic and natural foods. This trial month could not include two of my food groups, because, well, aspartame is not organic or natural. I felt fantastic that month, and gained a few healthy pounds. With some encouragement from my husband, I was able to turn that organic/natural month into a lifestyle of healthiness and a better relationship with food. It took two solid years for me to gain the 10 pounds that my body wanted in order to function normally, not because I can eat whatever I want and not gain weight, but because each pound was such an effort to live with, a constant reminder that my life purpose was not to control my weight. But I got through it.

Anyways, one thing I had to learn was that eating a cheeseburger wasn’t going to make me gain 10 pounds in one sitting. That sounds dumb, but it is really what I had convinced myself. I am sure you have convinced yourself of some dumb stuff, too. Learning this allowed me to begin incorporating new food groups into my life, like bread and cheese.

So how does this relate to pregnancy? With pregnancy I kind of threw in the towel around 22 weeks when my leg-bones started to pop out of place from the hip-bones and running and jogging became distant memories. Around this same time I had to stop paying attention to the weight I was gaining. It didn’t really matter what I ate, I still gained weight, as my body prioritizes the baby. So, I began to have more fun foods that I wouldn’t normally let myself have. Not in excess, just in healthy moderation. Homemade eggnog? Sure, I will have a glass. Ravioli drizzled with cream sauce? Yum. A salad with full-fat dressing? Well if you’re going to put it right in front of me…None of these things will make be gain ten pounds in one sitting. They’re fine amongst a balanced diet and an active lifestyle.

Enter this Beer Cheese Bread. Most breads have a fat mixed in with the dough. This one doesn’t have a liquid fat in the batter, rather it has a load of cheese and then you basically drench the thing in butter. It is fantastic. Blake and I came home from work one day at lunch and made it and ate it hot. That is the best way to eat it for sure, about 10 minutes out of the oven.

This bread is halfway between a biscuit and a regular loaf of bread, and best of all, there is no kneading or yeast or rising time, just mix the ingredients and throw it in the oven!

Have a piece, it won’t kill you.

Beer Cheese Bread

Makes one 9×5 loaf

3 cups all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup shredded cheese (I used sharp cheddar)
1 bottle (12 ounces) beer (I used Shiner)
1/2 cup melted butter

Preheat oven to 350.

Mix flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a bowl, stir in cheese. Stir in beer until dough is stcky. Don’t overmix the dough, it’s ok if it is lumpy.

Grease or butter the loaf pan.

Pour half of melted butter into bottom of pan.

Spoon dough into pan.

Pour remaining butter over the top.

Bake 45-60 minutes or until top is golden brown and toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

This Will Change Your Life (and mine) {recipe: starbucks banana walnut bread}

1 Sep

Back in May, exactly one day after Mother’s Day and two days after I had thrown a baby shower for my most wonderful friend, I, myself peed on the magic wand to discover some timely news.

I have not told you all yet, blog readers,  but I, two-years-and-change-into-marriage, what-should-I-do-with-my-life, oh-things-are-so-easy-to-not-have-kids, am pregnant. Yes, sometime in mid-January we are supposed to be having a baby. I am just sure ours will come via stork, clean and wrapped in a nice blanket and not with the traditional arsenal of medical tools awaiting every pregnant woman at the hospital. I am sure.

From starbucks banana bread

That being said, I have the normal pregnancy stuff, nothing that I can really tell you which would be out of the ordinary. But there is one little caveat. The only thing I didn’t expect is probably this craziness of feelings and thoughts and emotions. I am not a huge “feeler.” I would say, in any event I sort of guard myself from becoming too excited that I would be devastated if let down, and I also deny becoming too upset about anything, because what is that going to help, really?

Let me tell you what has changed. Not just my expanding waistline, or the fact that I am a human incubator harboring giant soon-to-be milk factories, or that any time after 2pm, I could slide into unsuspecting narcolepsy, or that I think if I don’t find out this baby’s gender, I can’t feel bad that I don’t feel prepared for this baby because heck, I don’t even know if it is a boy or a girl. Oh, there is more than that.

We shall call it a tornado of emotions. Now, I would not call myself an over-emotional person. Moreover, I think that I don’t get excited enough about things because I fear disappointment, or that I am not greived enough, because I am trying to shield myself from pain and hurt. Until now. Now, there is no filter. No shielding.

So, last Saturday, I was a huge jerk to my loving husband. I then proceeded to cry, uncontrollably, for at least 90 minutes and between sobs said things like, “I am so overwhelmed,” and, “I am just sad.” And Jon would have done anything to help, but all I wanted was for him to “sit there with me” to console me, after I was so rude. Then I got over the overwhelmed part and cried because I was being a horrible wife and how am I supposed to be a good mother if I am already a horrible wife? It went on. He stayed. Consoled. I survived.

Whew. So, I got through it and I am back now, in action, but something inside me thinks that will not be the last time.

Well, a few good things have come out of the last week. We had some friends and their cute baby over for breakfast last Sunday and I made this banana banana bread that is so, so good. I then proceeded to make it three more times within the following week. That’s how good it is.

All that being said, the banana bread will change your life; the banana bread AND the baby will change mine. Can you tell I am nervous?

From starbucks banana bread

I can’t take credit for this recipe. I started with a recipe for Starbuck’s Banana Walnut Bread that they posted on their corporate site. With a few modifications, this is awesome.

Starbucks Banana Walnut Bread

makes one 9×5 in. loaf.

1/2 cup vegetable oil

1 1/8 cup sugar

1 egg

1 T. vanilla

2 c. flour

1 t. baking soda

3/4 t. cinnamon

3 very-ripe bananas

1/4 cup buttermilk

1 cup walnuts, toasted and chopped

Preheat oven to 325 F and grease a 9×5 loaf pan.

Mix together oil and sugar until blended. Add egg and vanilla and stir.

Stir in flour, cinnamon and baking soda.

In a separate bowl, mash bananas until creamy and then stir in  buttermilk.

Add banana mixture to flour mixture andstir to combine.

Stir in half of nuts.

Pour batter into pan and top with remaining nuts.

Bake 45-60 minutes or until wooden toothpick is inserted and comes out clean.

From starbucks banana bread

“Rice Cakes Have Changed!” {recipe: rustic italian bread}

19 Jan



My gmail ads today proclaimed, “rice cakes have changed!” I don’t know whether to be disappointed in gmail for not understanding my need for spice and flavor and variation, and thus, suggesting a sub-par, bland snack; or disappointed in myself for not resonating culinary interest enough. I may need to re-evaluate. 

To combat perceived boring-ness, I give you fancy bread! Breadmaking can be extremely scary–yeast and gluten and numbers of times to knead, but this bread is affectionately called “no-knead bread.” It is easy. I promise. You can also call it “70-cent bread” because that is about how much it costs. Scooch yourself over to Whole Foods and you’ll pay $4 for this baby.  It’s crusty on the outside, and soft and airy on the inside. This bread makes for a good start to a panini, and it great toasted for crostinis or bruscetta.

Bread, like ice cream, when store-bought often has lots of reallylongintenseword ingredients. Bread, also like ice cream, when made at home is very minimal. 


Anyways, I don’t have much time today, so I will give you a quick recipe for bread that tastes like it comes from a fancy Italian cafe on a side street in Napoli. It’s quick (because maybe you, too are short on time) but but people will think it took hours of perfecting.

Rustic Italian Bread

from The New York Times

3 cups all-purpose or bread flour, more for dusting
¼ teaspoon instant yeast
1¼ teaspoons salt
Cornmeal or wheat bran as needed.

1. In a large bowl combine flour, yeast and salt. Add 1 5/8 cups water, and stir until blended; dough will be shaggy and sticky. Cover bowl with plastic wrap. Let dough rest at least 12 hours, preferably about 18, at warm room temperature, about 70 degrees.

2. Dough is ready when its surface is dotted with bubbles. Lightly flour a work surface and place dough on it; sprinkle it with a little more flour and fold it over on itself once or twice. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rest about 15 minutes.

3. Using just enough flour to keep dough from sticking to work surface or to your fingers, gently and quickly shape dough into a ball. Generously coat a cotton towel (not terry cloth) with flour, wheat bran or cornmeal; put dough seam side down on towel and dust with more flour, bran or cornmeal. Cover with another cotton towel and let rise for about 2 hours. When it is ready, dough will be more than double in size and will not readily spring back when poked with a finger.

4. At least a half-hour before dough is ready, heat oven to 450 degrees. Put a 6- to 8-quart heavy covered pot (cast iron, enamel, Pyrex or ceramic) in oven as it heats. When dough is ready, carefully remove pot from oven. Slide your hand under towel and turn dough over into pot, seam side up; it may look like a mess, but that is O.K. Shake pan once or twice if dough is unevenly distributed; it will straighten out as it bakes. Cover with lid and bake 30 minutes, then remove lid and bake another 15 to 30 minutes, until loaf is beautifully browned. Cool on a rack.

Original Post: https://saltimbocca.wordpress.com/2009/01/19/rustic-italian-bread/