Monday, January 22, 2018

the quotidian (1.22.18)

Quotidian: daily, usual or customary; 
everyday; ordinary; commonplace

Pretty good: the cookies everyone is raving about. 

Pickled onions: perking up the ordinary.

Experimenting: sausage, kale, butternut, and cheese rolled into lasagna noodles, drowned in a cheesy bechamel, and then baked.

Books and toast: two of his favorite things.

Gagging down the Swiss chard.

Because every kitchen needs a superhero. 

Rehearsal, reflected.

Everything breaks eventually.


And then back in the box it went because . . . puzzles = futility.

Making art up.

Keep-away, dog vs sofa: she drops the ball, it rolls under the sofa, and then she lays there, waiting.


"It's like riding a noodle!"

At the other end of the couch.

Off to (sunny and hot, lucky!Puerto Rico for a week with one of MDS's first group of rebuilders.

This same time, years previous: homemade grainy mustard, women's march on Washington, lemon cream cake, lazy stuffed cabbage rolls, hobo beans, the good and the bad, multigrain bread, chuck roast braised in red wine, peanut noodles.

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

doing stupid safely

Here are a series of photos are from last weekend when we were visiting family in Pennsylvania.

The only things you need to know are:
a) it was 18 degrees, and
b) on hand were four doctors and three nurses and an EMT — except the EMT was the entertainment so I guess he doesn’t count — because we do stupid safely.


P.S. For the video footage (thanks, Brother), go here.
P.P.S. For last year's plunge, go here. (Two years running  is this now a tradition?)

This same time, years previous: the quotidian (1.16.17), on kindness, through the kitchen window, the quotidian (1.16.12), quick fruit cobbler, Julia's chocolate almond cake.

Monday, January 15, 2018

the quotidian (1.15.18)

Quotidian: daily, usual or customary; 
everyday; ordinary; commonplace

Why he prefers skiing.


Small person, big animals.

Another (borrowed) smoker, another (delicious) brisket.



All mine.

After church, the debriefing.

This same time, years previous: cranberry bread, the quotidian (1.13.14), GUATEMALA!!!, crumbs, vanilla cream cheese braids, rum raisin shortbread, inner voices.

Friday, January 12, 2018

scandinavian sweet buns

Are you gearing up for some weekend baking? If so, might I suggest these simple, yet elegant, buns?

Kanelbullar, they’re called. But since I can’t pronounce it very well — and even if I could, no one would know what I was talking about — I just call them sweet buns. Or maybe cardamom twists? Sugar knots? I don’t know. Maybe, come to think of it, I don’t call them anything. I just eat them (licks lips).

I’m kind of infatuated with them, really. They are like cinnamon buns but more sophisticated and constrained: Instead of a finger-licking icing, just a few crunchy sugar crystals. Instead of the singular taste of cinnamon and sugar-sugar-sugar, the more nuanced flavors of orange zest, cardamom, and vanilla. Instead of a sticky mess that requires either a multitude of napkins or else a fork and plate (or running water and a sink), a tidy, self-contained treat.

If we were comparing bread to people, then regular cinnamon buns would be your blowsy, big-bosomed mum with a bad perm (whom you love dearly) while these buns would be your slender, long-legged ex-ballerina aunt with high cheekbones and a tight bun at the nape of her neck.

Or something like that.

I’ve made these three times. I experimented with a chocolate babka-like variation, but that didn’t go over so well — too dry — and decided that I much preferred the traditional flavors.

Scandinavian Sweet Buns
(Otherwise known as Kanelbullar)
Adapted from Dinner With Julie.

Julie says these could also go savory, with pesto as the filling, perhaps, or simply garlic and parmesan, to make a sort of garlic knot.

These are quite similar to the Cardamom Orange Buns that I’ve already written about. (I didn’t realize it until just now, oops.) Those buns are from Finland, and the recipe calls for two tablespoons of cardamom. In these buns, the cardamom is rather mild, so feel free to double, even triple, the amount.

for the dough:
1 cup warm milk
2 teaspoons yeast
3 - 3½ cups all-purpose flour
⅓ cup butter, softened slightly
⅓ cup sugar
1 egg
Zest of one orange
1 teaspoon cardamom
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 scant teaspoon salt
1 recipe of filling (see below)

for the topping: 
1 beaten egg
Swedish pearl sugar

Put the warm milk into the bowl of a kitchen aid mixer and sprinkle with the yeast. Once the yeast has bloomed, add three cups of flour and the remaining ingredients. Using the dough hook attachment, mix on medium-low speed until tacky and soft. Add the remaining half cup of flour and mix briefly.

Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and lightly knead, taking care not to use any more flour than necessary. The dough should be manageable, but just barely. Place the dough into a lightly buttered bowl and cover with plastic. Let rise until double.

Cut the dough in half. For each half: roll the dough into a 9x12-inch rectangle.

for the filling:
1 stick of butter at room temperature
½ cup packed brown sugar
1 tablespoon cinnamon

Using a fork, mash the butter with the sugar and cinnamon to create a thick paste. Divide the filling between the two rectangles of dough and spread evenly.

Fold the dough into thirds, like a letter, and gently roll it back out until it’s about 8x12 inches. This sounds confusing, I know, so think of it this way: You are going to be cutting the dough into long strips, as you would cut pastry for a pie lattice. There will be eight strips, more or less, each one about 12 inches long.

Now, cut the dough into strips. Twist them into long curly-cues, and then wind each twisted strip over your fingers as though you’re coiling electrical wires. (Here's a little video.) Tuck the end of the strip through the middle and set the bun on a parchment-lined baking tray with the ends on the bottom. It’s way easier to do than it is to explain, and the buns are forgiving, baking up beautifully no matter how sloppy the twist. Brush the buns with the beaten egg and sprinkle with pearl sugar.

Let the buns rest at room temperature for 15-30 minutes before baking at 350 degrees for 15-20 minutes. Serve warm.

Leftover buns can be frozen and then thawed and briefly reheated.

P.S. After yet another wearisome day filled with our president's filth and hate, this message of kindness, respect, and hope is a much-needed balm.

This same time, years previous: homemade lard, the quotidian (1.11.16), the quotidian (1.12.15), roll and twist, sticky toffee pudding, spinach lemon orzo soup, kiddling shenanigans, starting today..., spots of pretty.

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

boys in beds

Shortly before eight o’clock this morning, before leaving to take my daughter to a (routine) doctor’s appointment, I ran up to the boys’ room to give them a few instructions. I sailed into the middle of the room — earlier, trotting up and down the hall, I'd noticed the lamp light shining out from under the door so I knew they were awake — surveyed the chaos and both boys, cozy in their beds, and said, “Don't move. I’m getting my camera.”

Their room makes me want to pull my hair out. With the hardwood floors and three big windows, it has so much potential, but the boys could care less. Just a few weeks ago, my older son removed the area carpet — I forget why — so now there isn’t even a rug to soften the space. I’ve mostly given up on getting them to keep it tidy, though every couple days, like today, I’ll lay down the law: NO LUNCH UNTIL YOU PUT YOUR CLOTHES AWAY. And then they do, but it hardly makes a dent. Clearly, this room won't be appearing on a Pinterest board any time soon.

Oh, well. At least the space is getting used. And if the boys don't mind the mess — on the contrary, they practically revel in it — then why get my panties in (too much of) a twist?

This morning when I stormed in, my older son was watching a lecture in preparation for his Anatomy and Physiology class that started today. (He called me afterward to tell me he loved the professor. She's so enthusiastic, he said, that at one point she jumped up on a lab table while lecturing.)

My younger son was working on the control panel from his remote control car. He's dismantled it to see how it works. Last night he showed me the three motors, one for the steering, one to spin the back wheels and one to spin the front wheels — I appreciated his excitement, but the subject matter made my eyes glaze over — and later this morning I found him at my computer watching a how-to video on installing solar panels. (And yes, that is a glue gun in his bed. Why do you ask?)

This same time, years previous: our little dustbunnies, one year and one day, the quotidian (1.9.12), earthquake cake.

Monday, January 8, 2018

the quotidian (1.8.18)

Quotidian: daily, usual or customary; 
everyday; ordinary; commonplace

Take your pick.

Christmas, on its way out.

Lingering family suppers: not as frequent but more fun.

Bathtime moral support.

Pennsylvania bound.

Farmhouse sunrise.

Smart chicken. 

This same time, years previous: the quotidian (1.9.17), kicking off 2016, sourdough crackers, date nut bread, between two worlds, buckwheat apple pancakes, so worth it, salted dulce de leche ice cream with candied peanuts, hog butchering!, turkey noodle soup, baked hashbrown potatoes.