Here and There

Friday, November 24, 2006

French Macaroons at Bouchon

These are some macaroons that we enjoyed on our weekend away. French macaroons are one of my very favorite cookies and I think this Christmas, I will try to make some.

I have taken down all of the fall decorations at home today. I think a blank week is in order before Christmas decorations. A holiday palate cleanser week.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Glass Beach

This weekend, Gid and I went to Napa, and then way, way up to Fort Bragg to visit Glass Beach. Supposedly a site for dumping, until people realized they shouldn't just dump all their garbage into the ocean over a bluff, now it is simply sea glass heaven.

Some people would climb down the bluff and immediately start grabbing handfuls of pebbles and sea glass, dirt, old wires, sand flies...whatever they could hold, dumping their loot in a Rite Aid bag. Other people took longer than us finding the perfect pieces of glass. It was amazing and Gid and I made a good haul!

This is us just getting started!

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Another Flower Dictionary Entry

Also called the wind flower. At first I hated these. I thought they were creepy with their bumble bee center and bright, somewhat garish colors. Then, Doug gave me some little teeny bulbs for my birthday and I planted them near the driveway at the red house. When they started cropping up with their sweet little chervil foliage, I liked them. When they were closed, ready to bloom color folded tightly, flat like a sealed envelope, I liked them. When they opened so cheerfully, I didn't find them annoying. I thought they were vivid, not garish. And they kept opening, growing, tight shut, opening in the lovely cool mornings of Spring. They were charming--those little sprigs of leaf are so dainty next to those simple petals. And they do wave all about on their stems, bobbing and jiving in the wind like a windflower should.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Making Cinnamon Swirl Bread...

This morning I woke up early and thought "I want to make something that has yeast in it." I can make pizza dough with yeast, and I have made bread once or twice, but I don't feel super confident about it. With a little extra time this morning, I thought I'd give it a try.

So I pulled out a little book called Baking for Gift Giving, which I recieved for Christmas when we spent the holiday in Colorado. First Christmas after grandma died, we needed space from how different it would feel I guess. I know we opened all our presents before we left, but mom must have picked this little book up at a shop in one of those little stores with these kinds of books, potpourri, candles and know, those highly scented stores. She gave it to me there on Christmas Day.

It had the only recipe that allowed for the kinds of milks I had on hand. Which happened today to be evaporated and 1%.

I set to work and came upon the instruction to scald the milks. Now, I've scalded milk before, but for some reason I couldn't remember if there was some sort of important detail I was forgetting. Is it supposed to smell "scalded"? Am I supposed to do it over high heat, or low heat or medium heat? Little bubbles, big bubbles? I think in most recipes nowadays, the word scalded is left out and the cook is directed to "heat the milk until small bubbles form around the edges" which is technically scalding...

Anyway, quickly I ran to get The Joy of Cooking, thinking there would be a simple definition so I could feel confident and move on. There was, a simple little definition that allowed me to proceed. After I kneaded and put the dough in the bowl, covered it with a seasonally appropriate dishtowel (brown, with turkeys), I read The Joy of Cooking recipe for Cinnamon Swirl Bread. It was a variation of the basic white bread recipe. In this recipe was a lovely little quote:

White Bread
Wrote Louis Untermeyer:
"Why has our poetry eschewed
The rapture and response of food?
What hymns are sung, what praises said
To home-made miracles of bread?"

Even more constructive than versification, perhaps, are the recipes which follow: home-baked bread, in our view, can best be celebrated by repetition.

I loved this. This represented my whole goal for the day, making something I want to get better at. Using repetition to improve, and then to simply satisfy.

My favorite part of making bread is putting that dishtowel over it. I like choosing the lucky dishtowel, clean and smooth-- just having that bowl with a dishtowel over it means bread getting ready.