Friday, April 29, 2011

Sick birds don't cook

A lot has been happening, but not in my kitchen. I've been sick and incredibly grumpy because of it. Grumpy birds are dangerous. I've been downing cough drops, tea, and every cold medication I can find, but nothing seems to be helping. I just hope I'm not contagious, or my office is going to be very angry at me.

The week hasn't been a total loss: I beat Portal 2. Yes, this is a cooking blog, and I probably shouldn't dedicate an entire post to video games. But I don't think you really want me to detail how I ate nothing rice and beans this week, either.

Ye gods, that game was absolutely everything I could have hoped it would be. GLaDOS was perfect and witty all over again, it was a full-length game, there were more than two characters, and my Cube, my beautiful angel returned, and... oh, too many amazing things. It's inspired me to go play through the Half-Life series. I've started Half-Life: Source twice now, but never gotten past the 'Blast Pit' chapter. Hopefully this time I'll pull through. I'm also probably going to do something crafty in honor of the Companion Cube, but don't expect that for a few months. I'm rather slow.

I'm also extremely tempted to make Portal cupcakes, but my ideas aren't terribly creative right now. I'm also only 12 pounds away from my weight-loss goal, so cupcakes aren't exactly the best idea right now. Maybe if I made whole-wheat cupcakes. Although I think muffins are much better suited to being whole wheat, don't you?

I think that whole-wheat bread tastes much better than white. Many of my friends agree with me, but I know at least one who thinks whole-wheat is disgusting. For a while I thought he was absolutely insane, but then I remembered bananas nauseate me, and I can't stand the taste of egg. We've all got our food quirks, and I didn't really think the 'whole-wheat versus white' would ever be a problem. And it hasn't been. Until I decided to make calzones for our weekly get together, and I showed up with four pounds of whole-wheat dough.

I mentioned a few posts ago that I had bought a copy of Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day, and I bet you thought I hadn't used it yet. I've only used it once so far since our house is usually swimming in carbs, but I can't wait until I have an opportunity to make it again.

I am curious/nervous about using generic flour instead of King Arthur for making dough, though. I'll have to experiment on it and see how much of a difference in taste it makes.

This time I used 90% King Arthur flour. I had to top off the last cup of unbleached flour with some generic stuff, and this turned out fine.

I've read on a few blogs now that measuring out and preparing all of your ingredients before starting to actually cook is a big time-saver, and a much better way to cook. I'm trying to get in that habit, so we'll see if it really helps me. We'll see if I remember to do it more than once.

I hadn't really messed with yeast before arbitrarily deciding to make four pounds of dough. Except that time I made naan. I'm still trying to gain confidence in working with yeast, so... I took a picture at what the yeast mixture looked like at this point so I would know what to look for in the future. I swear I'm not crazy, just planning for the future.

Do crazy people say that? I hope not.

One thing I've learned in my short bread-making experience is that dough is always stickier than I expect it to be. Without fail, it will stick to my hands in new and creative ways, and I will be stuck with half of the dough on my fingers. I keep saying I've learned my lesson and that I'll use more flour in the future, but... it hasn't happened yet.

I made this dough on a Sunday night, for dinner on Tuesday. I kept it covered in the fridge, and it was very hard for me to not check on it every hour on Monday, but I managed somehow. Not that peeling the top back would have hurt it, probably. Bread is still a mystery.

For some reason, I've been on a vegetarian streak this week. I haven't had any meat since Sunday, when we had Easter ham. The truth is that I haven't wanted to cook because I don't want to spread my plague, and since I dislike cooking for just myself I've been eating incredibly simple dishes, à la rice and beans. But I promised to not bore you with those details.

In all seriousness, I've been eating more meatless meals because I know how many calories meat can bring to the table, and I've realized it doesn't have to be the focus of every meal. There was plenty of chicken available for the calzones, and I opted to not use any. Just sriracha, spinach, onions, and cheese. And I didn't miss the meat at all.

Mind you, I still could happily eat nothing but meat for an entire day. I've just learned that meat isn't the end-all be-all of culinary experiences.

Remember to poke holes in your calzones if you don't want them to explode. Because they can, and they will. These were incredibly simple to make, and were pretty fun to do with a group of friends. I'm curious if they'd freeze well. I really hope so, because I've been crazing a buffalo chicken calzone and if that turns out well, I see many in my future...

Today's lessons learned:
  • Dough is sticky. Use a lot of flour on your hands.

1 comment:

X-tina said...

If I ever become rich, I shall hire you as a personal chef. This has been decided.

Also, making bread has always seemed SO difficult to me for whatever reason.

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