The Feathered Nest

The softer side of MaisonBisson

Home is where the blondies are baked. August 5, 2010

TowerGirl @ 1:45 pm
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We are moving. We love our home, but the hubby has an exciting new career opportunity so we are relocating to San Francisco. I’ve been busy boxing up all our belongings and planning our new space. I’ve been trying not to feel heartbroken about leaving our beloved tower.

I try hard not to get too attached to stuff. Clearly, the important things are that my husband and I will be together, we are embarking on an exciting new adventure, and we are bound to come out of this as more interesting people. Right? This is what I am telling myself.

The part of the tower I am most attached to is my kitchen. My kitchen in compact but perfectly designed. I have accomplished great things in this kitchen. I’ve learned to bake bread, created 150 whoopie pies for a friend’s wedding, made Thanksgiving, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Easter, and Christmas feasts, and made countless cozy meals for two.

When looking for apartments in San Francisco, my brilliant husband, who had to do the leg-work while I scrutinized Craigslist and the photos he sent (Thank you, iPhone!), knew that the kitchen was the most important element  for me. Our new apartment, though small, has a very serviceable kitchen.

In an effort to make this move as simple as possible, we have placed a grocery order with Safeway to be delivered upon our arrival. We ordered the basics: milk, bread, eggs, bananas, cat food, cat litter, and butter. I just added chocolate chips to the order so I can whip up a batch of Platinum Blondies, our favorite comfort sweet. I think if I can make the kitchen feel, and smell, like mine right away it shouldn’t be too hard to make a new city feel like home. What can I say, some people burn sage and chant to bless a new home, but a dusting of flour and the whir of my trusty Kitchen Aid works for me.

 

Gingerbread Goofiness December 10, 2009

TowerGirl @ 6:26 pm
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The Family Gingerbread
Yesterday’s storm gifted me with a day off. Obviously, when it is stormy outside the only rational thing to do is bake. I have never made gingerbread cookies.  I always meant to, I just never got around to it.  My ingredient supply was shaky, but I managed to cobble together the ingredients for this Food Network recipe without having to leave the house.

Then I realized that I was without cookie cutters, so I decided to try freestyle cookie cutting.  I did up my family of four (cats count!) and a bunch of little holiday packages.  I did up a very nice Kermit the Frog, but, alas, one of my beloved felines licked the eyeballs off of it before it could be photographed.  The cookies were a hit, apparently even with finicky felines.  I found this recipe to both easy and forgiving.  I brought two dozen of the presents with me to work and only one remained at the end of the day.  Why is it no one will ever take the last cookie? I shall save that rumination for another day.

Gingerbread Presents

 

The Sweet Taste of Defeat July 13, 2009

TowerGirl @ 11:23 am
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cinnamon buns

It may not be possible to make a bad cinnamon roll. Sweet dough, cinnamon, and a gooey glaze: what’s not to like?  I used the recipe from The Bread Baker’s Apprentice and the results were sublime, even if I only baked them because I lost a bet. This recipe calls for a bit of citrus in the dough. I used lemon zest and it gave a nice freshness that lightened the sometimes oppressive heaviness of such toothache inducing confections.

I believe the hubby was satisfied with his winnings. He certainly had no problem consuming his spoils. I confess to eating my share as well. Sweet defeat.

 

Bread Update July 8, 2009

TowerGirl @ 8:05 pm
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Bread
“Good things come to those who wait.” I have found this wise old adage to be very true in baking bread. I hope it also applies to waiting for me to post about my bread making escapades. Above is a photo of specimen A. It is a classic white bread; good for sandwiches and toast. I am mostly pleased with the result. It came out moist and tasty. My one wish is that it came out a bit taller. I like my bread, like my men, to have some height. I let it rise longer than suggested, but it still isn’t the majestic loaf I wanted.

What I learned by this initial experiment is that you cannot bake bread if you are in a rush. It took most of the day. Of course, much of the time was waiting for it to rise or “proof” as my cookbook calls it. This allowed me plenty of time to give the house a good cleaning. I felt rather like a frontier woman, albeit a frontier women with plumbing, lots of appliances, and a terrific soundtrack to help the task along. Tomorrow, I continue my journey yeast. I lost a bet to the hubby. Since we share a bank account, waging money is an exercise in absurdity.  In our house, the stakes are much higher than mere dollars. We bet fresh baked cinnamon buns. I lost, I bake. I’ll let you know how things go. Update: here’s the Cinnamon Bun story.

 

Mission: Bread June 24, 2009

TowerGirl @ 8:41 am
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Bread
My vacation starts today. I have a glorious month and a half without having to go to work and perform all the other time consuming tasks of my profession. This gives me lot of free time to pursue an endeavor that I have long wanted to, if not master, then become proficient in. Dough has always been a struggle for me. It is too dry or too wet. It sticks or doesn’t come together properly.  Thanks to my food processor, I can finally assemble a passable pie crust, but I want bread.

There is something so comforting about fresh baked bread. It’s all yeasty goodness and love. It think there are few foods that are such a testament to time and care as a loaf of homemade bread. On a chilly winter afternoon, I want to be able to produce a warm pot of soup and a crusty loaf of bread.

Yesterday, I purchased a copy of The Bread Baker’s Apprentice by Peter Reinhart. I also picked up a selection of flours, yeast, lard, and my first food scale. I read over all the introduction and feel like I am ready to give it a spin.  I thing I will begin with a basic loaf of white bread. I will report back on my adventures as they unfold.

Thanks to Adactio for the lovely photo.