Monday, September 28, 2009

Bread ...

I made zucchini bread (and posted the recipe -- see below) last week, and I've been eating pretty much nothing but toast for the last week or two, and the only thing that sounds good is crispy sandwiches fresh from the panini press (especially fresh mozzarella, prosciutto and a schmear of pesto) ...

Apparently, I'm needing just a little more yeast (and/or other leavenings, depending on the day) in my life.

  • This Ethiopian Honey Spice bread sounds spectacular, and you can be sure that it will be gracing a Dutch oven near me no later than this weekend.
  • This brioche looks like an adventure.
  • I'm making this. Right now. Well, maybe not *right* now, but soon.
On my mom's side of the family, we always joke that we haven't met a yeast product that we didn't like, which quickly leads to comments about the formidable (and inevitable) Choiniere butt ...

Maybe that's my fixation -- I've been trying to decide whether I'll be able to get to my cousin's wedding (the first wedding! Yay M. and M. ... also, yay M&Ms!), and sent the affirmative reply card back yesterday: I'm in.

Here's hoping for some of Grandma's sweet rolls while I'm out there.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Weekend round-up

First of all, I can't believe how much darker it is, and how much earlier. Granted, I live *way* East, but still -- I was sitting here thinking it had to be at least 8, 8:30 -- and that was about an hour and a half ago, around 6:30. And the time change is still a long way off. Thanks, Congress.

While we're on the time-change-tangent, though, I always really missed the time change when I lived in Indiana (which, by the way, now changes with the rest of the Eastern time zone, though it should definitely be Central) -- and now, it feels like a hassle, and just one more thing to keep track of. Grass is always greener, I guess ...

Some happiness to end the week:

- Notre Dame pulled out a win over Purdue last night; 24-21, and it was a nail-biter.

- I had my first pumpkin spice latte of the season. (I might actually be more excited about that than about the Irish win ... don't tell.)

- The NYT magazine had this article on kids coming out earlier -- middle school and high school -- and it's pretty good news.

- If you haven't done it yet, you MUST try this recipe: Chocolate Zucchini Cake. My coworkers are going to enjoy it again tomorrow, and I promise you won't be disappointed.

- Ooh, and try this too, if you haven't already -- Villainess Soaps. So wonderful. I'm in love with Neisthai and Quick or Dead.

The walk is about 20 days away, and I'm starting to get nervous. My back is still not quite right (MRI scheduled for tomorrow morning, way too early), and I'm hoping I can get things straightened out before the walk. If not, well, I've raised the money, and I'm going to go and enjoy the experience. You can still donate -- click the widget on the right-hand side of the page.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Ah, Saturday.

I can't think of the last time that I was so grateful to wake up at 0630 -- mostly because this morning, I realized that it was *Saturday* and I could go back to sleep guilt-free.

After a wonderful lie-in, I've had the sort of Saturday that gives a good name to all of them -- the weather was beautiful, everything was leisurely, there was an almost-nap this afternoon, and I'm rounding out the day with a little baking.

If you have any leftover zucchini -- or heck, if you just haven't gotten enough of the stuff this summer (which, I must confess, I never have done -- gotten enough of zucchini, that is) -- try my variation on many, many other zucchini bread recipes. Oh -- and also, try this chocolate cake; Nicole made it while I was in Bloomington, and it was fabulous. My co-workers raved when I brought it to work last week. Skip the chocolate chips & walnuts and go for chocolate frosting instead.

Never-Fail Zucchini Bread

3 eggs
a generous 3/4 c. oil
1 2/3 c. sugar (I like to mix white & brown or use turbinado)
2 c. shredded zucchini
1 tsp vanilla extract (Snell's good vanilla, preferably)
1 tsp almond extract
3 tsp cinnamon (I used pumpkin pie spice today. The batter tasted amazing.)
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp kosher salt
3 c. flour (you can substitute 1 c. whole-wheat flour, but not more than that)

Beat eggs gently. Add oil, sugar & extracts and mix well.

Combine dry ingredients -- or heck, do what I do: add the spices & leavenings to the wet ingredients, and then add the flour by half-cupfuls, mixing as you go. I'm a little bit of a quick-bread renegade, I know.

Pour batter into two bread pans (I have one that's an 8" and one that's a 9" -- it works) that have been greased & floured.

Bake at 350 for 45 minutes -- check for doneness, and bake until a toothpick comes out clean (anywhere from 50 - 65 minutes, depending on your oven, and the water content of your zucchini). Cool on racks. This freezes well, but your co-workers would really enjoy that 2nd loaf ...

What else?

Well, I bought my last pair of 3-Day shoes today (Nike Zoom Vomero 4s -- alas, another pair of pink & silver shoes ... they're SO comfy, though!), and finally, dropped off all of my winter dry cleaning -- it's almost sweater-weather, after all. When I arrived at the dry cleaner, there was a man standing in the doorway, having a tantrum about not being able to have his polo shirts laundered for the price of a regular men's dress shirt. Hey mister -- have your tantrum elsewhere! I have thirty sweater-sets in need of dry-cleaning!

Enjoy the zucchini bread. And do not mock the sweater sets.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Too tired ...

to post anything of value, except to say that I think I may have missed my calling as an interior designer ... for group homes.

If I see another throw pillow again, or have to hang another piece of art, I may vomit (in lovely neutrals and earth tones, so as not to detract from the ambience I've worked all week to create).


Am suffering from walking setbacks, both in the form of working 12 hour days, and from having ridiculous back pain. Double guh.

Am going to go enjoy a vodka & Vicodin cocktail now, and figure out what to wear tomorrow.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Yuppie heaven.

I shopped at two of my three holy-trinity-of-yuppiness-stores this afternoon/evening, and just to round out the day, I did spend quite a while wandering around Barnes & Noble.

What's the holy trinity of yuppie shopping, you ask? I suppose it depends on the area and the social mobility of said yuppies, but in my little world, it's Trader Joe's, Target and IKEA. Maybe this set of stores is not so much for the yuppies (which I keep typing as yippies ... wonder what that means ... ) as it is for the 'we haven't quite moved beyond our grad school years' set. You see, when I look around at my lovely, mismatched & hand-me-down life, I think that my life is probably just about how it will continue to be.

My gut instinct is that I will always find better things on which to spend my money than matching living room furniture, though. Like books. And sporty shoes like these, or even these. And traveling to visit friends and family.

I need a new term to replace yuppie, though -- since it's meant to be 'young, urban professionals,' it doesn't quite suit. Suggestions?

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Today's project: "we need a little Christmas ... "

First, yes, I do know it's completely wrong to be talking about Christmas in September. However, I'm allowed for the following reason only: I'm canning fresh, summer-ripe peaches as a Christmas gift for co-workers (and anyone else who asks nicely).

My dad sent this article a couple weeks ago. Did you know he sends clippings? It's a really wonderful thing -- a little "I was reading and thought you'd like this," or "Hey, this is cool -- check this out!" moment when I open the mail, which is usually nothing but bills and catalogs.

I may have posted the link on Facebook already, as I know at least one of my friends did -- there's something so wonderful and homey about canning; yeah, it's a throw-back, but it means you can eat local wonderfulness beyond its typical growing season. A couple years ago, I fell in love with Barbara Kingsolver's 'Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year in Food Life,' and wanted to grow my own vegetables and fruits, can everything and maybe raise some chickens.

I live in a condo. With no real outdoor space. I do not have chickens.

But -- I do have access to a few great farmers' markets, and next year, I promise -- I'm going to get back on the farm share band-wagon. I did it a couple years ago (not coincidentally the year I fell in love with farming), and have meant to do it again but haven't gotten my act together as of yet. I'm saving my vegetable money now.

So -- the point of the Christmas-referent was to say that today will be spent making brandied peaches, and hopefully some poached pears, too. Those might have to wait a couple weeks.

Ask nicely if you'd like peaches for Christmas.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

New shoes!

I bought one of the pairs of shoes that I'll actually wear during the 3-Day this evening. (Geez, I'm going to have to come up with a new name for the blog ... the 3-Day is fast-approaching, and will be over before I know it!)

There's something totally satisfying about buying new shoes; I remember wearing them out of the store as a little kid (and have done that as a big kid, too, but not tonight), and thinking I was the coolest thing ever.

Mine are hot pink and white (and lightning, but I'm not sure what that is exactly). Asics Nimbus 11s. Woo-hoo. I'm debating a second identical pair (perhaps in a different color for variety -- there are purple and 'frost,' too), or maybe changing it up a bit and trying a pair of Saucony Triumph 6s. The ones in the store were WAY too purple and silvery, but there are apparently some light blue/white/gray ones, too.

Gotta check out sleeping mats -- I think I found what I'm looking for at REI, but I'll do just a little more looking. Any recommendations? Think plushy & comfy and good-for-sleeping-on after walking 20 miles!

It's getting closer ...