Category Archives: Informational

Hermit Bar Cookies on NewlyWife

Hi friends! Just popping in to say I’ve got another post up on the NewlyWife blog: Hermit Bar Cookies. Click on over and check out these autumn-inspired bar cookies filled with molasses, dates and walnuts.

On another note, I’ve been assigned the baked goods for our family’s early Thanksgiving dinner this Saturday. I’ll be making rolls and two desserts, and since I’ll need to do most of the prep and baking ahead of time, I’m thinking of making these Martha Stewart dinner rolls. After making the dough, you can shape and freeze it. Then you defrost it for two hours and bake them. Does anyone have any experience with freezing uncooked bread dough?

As for desserts, I’m going to make a pumpkin pie and this French Apple Tart from Baking with Julia. I’ve had a little trouble lately with my pie dough shrinking while baking, so I’ve been reading lots about pie dough technique and watching videos in hopes of getting it right. Do you have any tips or techniques for achieving a perfect pie crust?

 

What I’m Reading: Food Magazine Edition

I always enjoy hearing what books, magazines or blogs my friends are reading, so in case you do too I thought I’d share a few food magazines I’ve been reading lately. First off, let me say I love food magazines. Whether I’m admiring the gorgeous photos, discovering new ingredients or finding inspiration within the pages, I’m hooked. This past week I’ve been reading two food magazines that diverge from mainstream food magazines, and in doing so provide a refreshing take on food and cooking.

sated

sated magazine

This brand new food magazine was founded by two Bay Area food bloggers, Anita Chu of Dessert First and Stephanie Shih of Desserts for Breakfast. I first stumbled across Stephanie’s blog through Food Gawker and was enchanted by her food photos, which reminded me of still life paintings because of their dark shadows and artistic arrangements. The duo of bloggers have outdone themselves with the first issue of their magazine: Thoughtful, interesting and well-executed, sated infuses the food magazine scene with elegant images and quality content.

The Dark Chocolate Issue of sated is brimming with beautiful photos of chocolate and chocolate desserts as well as recipes galore, an essay on the history of chocolate, an interview with a chocolate startup and a guide to Bay Area chocolate artisans. I was delighted to open the magazine and find a poem written by a friend from church, Annelies of the blog The Food Poet. There are no advertisements cluttering the pages of the magazine, just 90 full-color pages of chocolate inspiration. I’ll admit that it took me a few months to cough up $18+shipping for the issue, but I’m not in the least bit sorry I did — this magazine is going to be displayed on my coffee table, not crammed among my other food magazines on a bookshelf. Paired with a few artisan chocolate bars, sated would make a great Christmas gift for the foodie in your life. The next issue is coming out soon, so bookmark the blog for the latest info.

Gastronomica

gastronomica

I should make this clear from the get-go: Labeling Gastronomica as a food magazine is a bit of a misnomer because it is actually a scholarly journal. There are no recipes in Gastronomica, no features deciphering the five latest diet trends, no roundups of the best 10-inch skillets. What’s the appeal, then? Gastronomica’s subhead“The Journal of Food and Culture,” provides a clue: culture. You don’t have to be a sociologist to realize that our Western culture is obsessed with food. This journal takes a step back and asks such questions as How do we interact with food and what does this say about us? What can we learn from food cultures different than ours, whether in a different part of the world or a different century? Through personal essays, poems, book reviews, art critiques and interviews, the writers posit their answers to these kinds of questions.

The lastest issue, Fall 2012, contains an article that food bloggers may find particularly relevant: “Dishing It Out: Food Blogs and Post-Feminist Domesticity.”Author Paula M. Salvio examines several top food blogs—The Pioneer Woman Cooks, Smitten Kitchen, Cannelle et Vanille—through a scholarly lens and attempts to reconcile her feminist ideals with the seemingly un-feminist domesticity that is prevalent on many food blogs. Whatever your take on feminism and domesticity, the article is certainly a fascinating read.

Gastronomica runs $12.99 a pop, but the 130+ page journal will provide hours of reading time and plenty of fodder for thought projects.


Germany

Part deux…uh, make that part zwei of our trip was to Germany to visit some friends. We hopped on a Thalys high-speed train at Gare du Nord, one of the railroad stations in Paris. Our train took 3 hours and 15 minutes to travel from Paris to Cologne, Germany (or Köln, as the Germans call it). We even stopped at Brussels and a few other towns to let passengers on or off the train. The train was clean and spacious with comfortable seats, and we even had wifi access.

arrivals board

The arrivals board at Gare du Nord. We kept hearing this clicking sound and soon realized it was the letters on the arrivals board flipping to update the info.

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The Köln Cathedral, which is right next to the train station. Before our train left to go back to Paris, Sam and I took turns running through the rain to admire the cathedral and peek inside.

After arriving in Köln, we met our friends and they drove us to the little town where they live about an hour northeast of Köln. It was dark on the drive to the town, so when I woke up the next morning it was exciting to see the beautiful, wooded hills. This leg of our trip was a welcome contrast to the first part of our trip: Our time in Paris was filled with sightseeing, but in Germany we mostly hung out with our friends, played games and went for walks. The daughter of our friends had a pet rabbit named Anton, and we even took him for a walk. He had a special rabbit leash and liked to hop in the meadow and eat grass.

german hillside

German hillside. So green!

path and woods

One of our walks was on this path alongside a stream.

dessert and bunny walking

It was our friend’s birthday while we were visiting, and she had prepared a feast of German desserts! And here’s our friend’s daughter walking her rabbit. He was hopping around so much it was hard to get a picture of him.

sam rabbit and mushroom

Here Sam is holding Anton the rabbit. And to the right is a very poisonous mushroom. The recent rain in Germany ensured lots of mushrooms popping up amongst the brush and grass.

sam and frau hauer

Sam with his former Sunday school teacher.

One special part of the Germany trip was meeting Sam’s Sunday school teacher from when he was about four years old. Frau Hauer was a missionary in Pakistan for 38 years and was an instrumental part of the children’s ministry in the city where Sam grew up. We went to her home for lunch, where she had prepared a Pakistani meal, and then she took us for a long walk in the hills.

red tree and houses

We got our fix of fall colors in Germany. Look how red this tree is!

sam with pony

I spy a miniature pony.

andrea by stream

And here I am during our walk alongside a stream.

After a few days in Germany, we took the train back to Paris, where our flight back to the US departed from. If you’re thinking of traveling to France, we give Air France two thumbs up. The flight attendants were super friendly (and spoke to us in English…I guess we have “American” written on us!). And not were there TVs in the back of every seat with great movie selection, they served complementary champagne and wine with the meals. I’ll toast to that!

And as you can see, we made it safely back to the States and have shaken off the jet lag. Now I’m sorting through photos to make a photo book (love the look of Blurb books!) and am snacking on the cookies, chocolate and European style jams we brought back as souvenirs. Our trip has inspired me to try a few new recipes, so hopefully I can tackle them soon and share them with you. Ciao for now!

Paris

Bonjour Readers! Here are the photos I promised you of Sam’s and my recent trip to Paris, interspersed with some thoughts. Enjoy!

pastries and andrea

The pastry case at Gosselin, where we had delicious sandwiches, an eclair and a piece of flan. And me, drinking an espresso.

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We began our first day of sightseeing with the fog-shrouded Eiffel Tower. We opted to take the stairs to the second level instead of wait in line for the elevator.

The Highlight: Sightseeing! It was both Sam’s and my first time to Paris, so we decided to purchase Paris Museum Passes and hit up as many sights as we could. With our passes we visited the Notre Dame Tower, the Arc de Triomphe, the Louvre, the Musee D’Orsay, the Pompidou Centre and Versaille. The Eiffel Tower was not included in the pass, but we just purchased tickets at the tower and walked up the stairs. And of course, we also enjoyed plenty of free sights: Luxumbourg Gardens, the Champs-Elysees, the Tuileries, the Invalides Garden, Place des Vosges, Bastille, Montmartre, Sacre-Ceour and the Grande Epicerie. We used Rick Steves’ Paris 2012  as our guidebook and couldn’t have been more pleased.

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We would have never gotten anywhere in Paris if it weren’t for the Metro maps and the good old-fashioned paper map we carried along.

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Beautiful, crisp day for a walk along the Seine.

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Eric Kayser makes the most delicious baguette I have ever tasted. This is a picture of their fig bread, which was also really delicious.

Favorite food moment: Eating a warm baguette from the Eric Kayser bakery. Chewy and warm with amazing flavor. Apparently there are a few Eric Kayser bakeries now open in New York City, which means these delicious baguettes are just a little bit closer to home. We also had a really delicious dinner our last night in Paris at a small restaurant bustling with locals. We ordered foie gras, cassoulet, duck conit and tarte tatin. Quintessentially French! There was a French mother and her grown daughter sitting beside us and they struck up a conversation with us. They probably knew as much English as we knew French—very little! They were vacationing from Cannes and were just as excited to be visiting Paris as we were.

meringues and georges larnicol

Meringues in the window at Gosselin, and the immaculate chocolate display at Georges Larnicol, where shoppers can scoop their own chocolate covered nuts and confections.

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Stained glass and detailing inside Notre Dame. We stayed steps away from Notre Dame and could hear the bells tolling from our apartment.

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One of the many gargoyles protecting Notre Dame. We walked to the top of the tower so we were able to get a good look at these scary little creatures.

crepe and ice cream sign

What would a trip to Paris be without a crepe? We had both sweet and savory. Also, an ice cream parlor sign inside the Luxembourg Gardens.

champs and arc

View of the Champs-Elysees from the top of the Arc de Triomphe, and the Arc itself.

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Alas, our one destination on the Champs-Elysees was closed for renovation: Laduree.

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I.M. Pei’s pyramid in front of the Louvre. Definitely recommend a night visit to the Louvre if you’re not too tired. There were barely any crowds and it was magical seeing the pyramid and museum lit at night.

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The dutiful tourists, including us, flocked to Versaille. What would King Louis XIV think of all us commoners (and foreigners!) walking round his home?

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The Hall of Mirrors in Versaille.

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And what I call the Hall of Portraits in Versaille.

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The gardens and grand canal stretch out behind Versaille. Off to the right are even more palaces!

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During a brief rainstorm at Versaille, we had a lovely lunch at La Flotille, a cafe near the Grand Canal.

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Versaille woods.

Next time: Quest for the perfect croissant. Most of the croissants we tried were pretty average. I was hoping to find something on par with San Francisco-based Tartine’s croissants, but I think it will take a little more sleuthing. I would also like to visit the Rodin museum and Orangerie next time (and revisit the Louvre and Musee D’Orsay!). We were really happy with how convenient it was to walk from our apartment in the Latin Quarter to the museums and sights, but next time we’d like to stay in the Marais and explore it’s markets, cafes, boulangeries and patisseries.

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Our favorite museum was the Musee D’Orsay. We had a great time eating lunch in their fun cafe.

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Place des Vosges, where these characteristic apartments line the square. Royalty used to live here.

Advice for Future Paris Travelers: (1) Bring two super comfy pairs of shoes if you’re planning on doing a lot of walking. I had only one pair, and though they were super comfy, my feet would have appreciated a change of shoes. (2) As a friend warned me before going, buy a map. Paris is tricky to navigate with it’s hexagonal blocks and not-so-visible street signs. (3) Read up before you go. I read several novels and books about France, watched many French movies and even took an introductory French language class. It was so fun to walk around Paris, see something and think, “Yes! This is what I read about!”

All in all, we had an incredibly smooth, very good first trip to Paris. The city has so much to offer and we would love to back and explore it further, as well as visit other parts of France. I’ll be back on the blog in a few days with pictures from the second leg of our trip–Germany!

Heirloom Cookbooks: A Peek Into the Past

“Grandmother’s spicy kitchen with its gay curtains, neat rows of pots and pans, and loaves fresh from the oven is a heritage granddaughter treasures. Around that kitchen centered the heart of the home. Through it strong characters and good communities were built.” These are the introductory words to a cookbook I was recently given by my grandma. Lest you think the grandmother referred to in the cookbook refers to my grandma’s generation, consider this: the cookbook was published in 1942. That means the granddaughter mentioned would have been my grandma and the grandmother would actually be my great, great grandma.

cookbooks

I don’t remember either of my grandmas cooking much, but even so, I treasure the vintage cookbooks passed down from both grandmas. Today I’d like to share a few snippets from the Granddaughter’s Inglenook Cookbook, which was published in Elgin, Illinois in 1942 by the Brethren church. This cookbook is a revised version of the first Inglenook Cookbook, which was published in 1901. As you can imagine, the forty-one years between 1901 and 1942 brought great changes to kitchens and grocery shopping, and thus a new cookbook was needed to serve a new generation.

When I opened the cookbook, the first thing I noticed was the Baking Table on the inside cover. If your oven didn’t have a thermometer, there was an easy way to determine the temperature: bake white flour. If the flour turned light straw color in 5 minutes, the temperature was 250-350°F. If it turned golden brown, the temperature was 350-400°F, and so on. The Baking Table also lists the temperatures and time to cook bread, pies, potatoes, meats and more.

Take a look at the recipes and you’ll realize how important the cooking times and temperatures are. For example, the recipe for Pocketbook Rolls simply directs the baker to “Bake in hot oven.” No temperature or cooking time is given, but the reader can always refer to the Baking Table inside the front cover.pocketbook rolls

I also find it fascinating how simple the recipes are written. Consider this recipe for Crackling Corn Bread:

Crackling Corn Bread
Cut cracklings
1 qt. cornmeal
1 c. sour milk
½ tsp. soda
1 tsp. salt
Warm water
Heat the cracklings. Combine rest of ingredients, using enough water to mix well. Add to the heated cracklings, stirring thoroughly. Bake in a moderate oven.

This recipe doesn’t indicate the quantity of cracklings or warm water or what size pan to use or how long to cook the corn bread. Reading a recipe like this makes me realize that much of what is detailed in today’s recipes was once common knowledge. I like to think I know a fair bit about cooking, but by my great-grandmother’s standards, maybe I don’t know so much after all.

Just as passing years bring changes in clothing trends, so they bring changes in food trends. A few of the recipes in the cookbook made me chuckle for that very reason. Take, for instance, Health Drink.

Health Drink
2 pkg. raspberry jello
2 c. orange juice
4 c. hot water
juice of 2 lemons
Add water to jello and let cool to room temperature. Add juices, ice and serve, or place in refrigerator in jar to cool after mixing with fruit juice.

health drinkYes, friends, a Jello-based health drink. It’s hard to imagine making this in 2012. Then again, Gatorade and Powerade are pretty much the same sugar bombs, aren’t they?

The US has been known as a melting pot for generations, so I was curious to see what recipes were in the International Cookery section. I discovered a few Hungarian sweets, several African recipes that used peanut butter and taro root and many Chinese dishes. There were also four pages of recipes from India, which immediately grabbed my attention because Sam is from neighboring Pakistan. Yes, there was Dhal Curry with the traditional onion tardka; the funnel cake-like jalebies; and pillau, a more obscure rice dish (and one of Sam’s favorites). Who would’ve thought that here in a cookbook from 1942 Sam’s and my heritages would meet? pillau

There are too many interesting snippets from my heirloom cookbook to share with you in just one blog post, so I plan to make this a regular type of post on my blog. I’ll still be doing my usual recipe posts, but you can expect more peaks into the past regarding everything from stain removal tips to canning and candy making.

heirloom cookbooks