9:30 p.m.: I’m ravenous for a snack, but I really must eat healthy for a change. Damn, I need to grocery shop – there isn’t a healthy morsel in the house. Oh wait, is that canned tuna way back in the cupboard? Tuna is healthy – all those Omega 3’s. I could whip up an easy tuna salad. Yawn, plain tuna salad bores me. Perhaps a tuna salad sandwich instead? Ugh, I’ve run out of bread. No matter, I can bake a quick white loaf. Flour, water, salt, yeast, sugar…oh wait, here’s a bag of plump raisins. Forget the white loaf; I should make cinnamon raisin bread instead! Yum!
11:30 p.m.: Mmm…there’s nothing better than thickly-sliced toasted cinnamon raisin bread slathered in melted salted butter. Healthy what?!
1 cup very warm water (115⁰ – 120⁰ – this is warmer than normal yeast activation temperature)
3 Tablespoons melted butter, divided
1 cup raisins, soaked in hot water to soften and drained
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 egg, beaten
1 Tablespoon Turbinado sugar (like Sugar in the Raw) or white sugar
In the bowl of the mixer, add two cups of bread flour, 1 Tablespoon sugar, yeast, and salt (yeast and salt should not touch as salt can retard yeast activation). Add water and 2 Tablespoons melted butter and combine on low to medium speed. Gradually add the remaining 1 cup of flour until the dough is moist by not sticky (you may not need to add the entire cup). Knead for about 10 minutes on medium speed until the dough is smooth and elastic. Transfer dough to an oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap and let rise until doubled in volume (about 30 minutes).
Preheat oven to 450⁰. Grease an 8 ½ x 4 ½ inch loaf pan. Combine remaining 2 Tablespoons sugar with 2 teaspoons cinnamon. Punch the dough down. Place the dough between two pieces of waxed or parchment paper. Using a rolling pin, roll the dough into an 8-inch square. Brush the dough with the remaining Tablespoon of melted butter. Sprinkle with cinnamon sugar and drained raisins. Lightly press raisins into dough.
Roll up dough, jellyroll style, pinching the ends closed. Place the dough in the loaf pan, seam side down. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise again until doubled in volume (about 30 minutes).
Brush beaten egg over top of loaf, sprinkle with salt and turbinado sugar. Bake in 450⁰ oven for 10 minutes. Reduce heat to 350⁰ and continue baking for about 30 minutes more. If the top of the loaf is brown, cover with foil until loaf is fully cooked. Remove loaf from pan and let cool completely on a rack. Slice, toast, slather with butter, and push the guilt away until tomorrow.
The annual nectarine onslaught has begun again and, in fact, the prolific bounty has already managed to snap two branches with the weight. Harvest time is brief with pounds upon pounds of sweet fruit ready all at once. I want to rescue each juicy orb from Newton’s law, plucking them from the tree before they fall, but each morning I find a dozen plump globes bruised and broken upon the ground, their potential wasted. In my efforts to salvage the masses in the past, I’ve bubbled large caldrons of steamy nectarine jam, resulting in three dozen jars “put up.” One can only eat so much jam, however, and most of it remains languishing in the cupboard. I’ve also undertaken a raft of baked goods, but it’s a losing battle – a recipe requires a pound or two of fruit, while I’m picking a few pounds each DAY. I’ve tried freezing the fruit, but that resulted in mushy brown thawed blobs. I picked the first fat, ripe nectarines this week, preparing them with a drizzle of butter, sprinkle of sugar, and quick broil. I know I can’t save them all, but over the next few weeks, I’m willing to try.
Over 20 years ago, a young woman traveled to Sedona and stayed, on recommendation, at Don Hoel’s cabins. They were a cluster of small cabins near Oak Creek, looking a bit tired, but still cozy and homey, each with a kitchen, fireplace and a separate bedroom.
12 years later, she returned to Sedona and the first lodging she considered was Don Hoel’s. She was disappointed to learn she couldn’t reserve a cabin – the owner was selling and the cabins were closed. She stayed just down the road at Junipine, at a place that was neither cozy nor homey. During that trip, she drove past Don Hoel’s and saw the large “For Sale” sign across the closed gates. Even then, she daydreamed about buying it. The place was big – over 20 acres, with 20 cabins and a market. Her thoughts on the matter stayed in the daydream world.
The woman is back again. The place is now renamed, owned by a young couple for the past 5 years . They’ve polished the place up, adding the much needed character, and turned it into a little gem. The woman, who is not so young anymore, is envious. Again, she thinks “I could do that” and this time she doesn’t consider it just a daydream.
Every Superhero has one great nemesis. Batman has Joker. Superman has Lex Luthor. My nemesis is named Inertia. Inertia convinces me to sleep an extra hour; she calls me to my comfy couch, and encourages me to get lost in formulaic television rather than creating something of my own. Inertia’s power frightens me. Without her, there’s no telling what I can do, yet I don’t know how to rid myself of her. This layoff has given me approximately 40 weeks to reinvent myself. 40 weeks seems like plenty of time, but not when Inertia sits at my left hand, whispering to me, “Tomorrow, tomorrow, start tomorrow.”
4 Large Brussels sprouts, cut in half and finely shredded (about 1 1/2 cups of leaves)
1/3 cup Canadian bacon, finely diced
1/3 cup crumbled feta cheese
1 1/3 cup All-purpose flour
½ teaspoon salt
2 teaspoon fresh thyme, chopped
1/3 cup canola oil
3 Tablespoons plus 1 Tablespoon milk
Sauté onion in butter until beginning to soften. Add Brussels sprouts and bacon and continue cooking until onions are soft and golden. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and set aside.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a medium bowl, combine flour, salt and thyme. Combine canola oil and 3 Tablespoons milk in a measuring cup. Pour oil mixture over flour mixture and mix well. Place dough between two sheets of waxed paper and roll into a 12” circle. Place on a sheet pan, remove waxed paper.
Spread filling on dough, leaving a ¾” border. Sprinkle filling with feta cheese. Brush border with remaining 1 Tablespoon milk, fold border towards center, just barely enclosing filling and pleating as you go. Brush top of dough with any remaining milk.
Bake galette 25-30 minutes until crust is golden brown.
I adore candied citrus peel. You won’t offend me if you’re not a fan (yet). You probably only know those chewy, tooth sticking, flavorless, processed nuggets that come in a grocery store tub. That’s what I thought candied peel was all about, too – until I made my own. Then, ooohhhh, I fell in love. Hand-crafted candied peel is pliant and juicy with the perfect balance between bitter peel and sweet syrup. Making your own takes a bit more work than opening a tub, but it’s the difference between a frozen beef patty and aged ribeye steak. I always make more peel than what’s needed for a recipe. That way, I can toss the remaining peel in sugar for a sweet snack.