One Word: Bagels

Hello eaters!
It’s Friday. And oh what a wonderful day it has been. So far my time in my humble hometown has been quite lovely.
Yesterday I woke up late with a full day of nothing ahead of me and the manly friend. And what’s a ‘Baby to do on a day like that?
Bake, of course!
Oh the joys of an oven! Oh the joys of having a manly friend who isn’t afraid of yeast!
Upon first walking into the kitchen I didn’t have a plan of what to make. Luckily, I’ve been hording recipes for weeks to make while I was home. And the first one to top out at me was…bagels.
Ambitious? Yup. Scary as shit? Of course!
I’m from a family of Yankees. More specifically, a family of New Yorkers. We know good bagels. We hate bad bagels. Why I thought I could tackle bagels is beyond me. But for some reason I decided to jump in with both feet. So I retrieved my worst frenemy from the pantry.
And started proofing.
The manly friend said I should have foamy yeast in 10 minutes. 15 minutes later my mixture still looked like this.
Dead. I guess the last time I used yeast was just beginner’s luck.
So we ran out to the store and bought more. 
The man recommended rapid rise because after watching me jump around with impatience waiting for the other to proof he decided I couldn’t handle anything else.
And he was right! Within minutes of mixing everything together I had foamy yeast.
I was a happy ‘Baby. And then we were off.
Bagels
2 c all-purpose flour
2 c whole wheat flour
1 ¼-1 1 ½ c warm water
2 t yeast
1 T sugar
1 T olive oil
toppings
Dissolve sugar in 1 ¼ c warm tap water then add the yeast and stir. While the yeast is proofing mix the flours and salt. 
Once yeast is foamy add the oil and then pour the wet into the dry mixture. Begin mixing with a spoon, but then switch to using your hands once mixing becomes difficult. The dough should be firm, but if all the flour isn’t incorporated add a couple of T warm water at a time until everything is fully incorporated.
Then move the dough onto a floured surface. Knead for about 10 minutes, until the dough is smooth and elastic. And just like Angela, I did consider this my workout for the day.
Once the dough is kneaded use a pastry cutter or knife to divide the dough into 8 as-equal-as-possible hunks. Leave those to rise for 10-20 minutes. (10 minutes for me, because I really am far too impatient to make bread.)
After you’ve waited as long as you can, roll each hunk into a rope that is longer than both hands. Then wrap the dough around your non-dominant hand and smoosh the two ends together. Wetting your fingers will make the smooshing easier.
These probably won’t be terrible pretty. As long as they’re round-ish everything is going well.
Leave these to rest for another 10-20 minutes. While the dough is resting bring a pot of water to a boil. This is quite possible the most important step.
Place a few dough rings into the boiling water. Boil for a minute, flip, boil for another minute, and then remove to a dry dishcloth. Repeat until all the dough rings are boiled.
Without boiling, you’re just making rolls with holes in the center. Boiling makes these bagels.
While the bagels are drying on the dishcloth add whatever seasonings you want. 
I made 2 plain, 2 onion, 2 onion fennel, and 2 rosemary black pepper. We didn’t exactly have all the spices I would have liked. Improvise, because I guarantee almost anything will work.
Place the bagels on a lightly greased baking sheet and bake in a 475 degree oven for 20 minutes, flipping halfway through.
They will come out brown, fragrant and irresistible. Feel free to tear into one straight out of the oven.
But if you can, wait until they cool so the crust will set. Once cool they will be damn close to bagel perfection.
What’s bagel perfection, you ask?
If you throw a bagel at someone it would hurt/make a thud, but the inside will still be chewy and dense.
These aren’t quite perfect, but for bagels made while still in my pajamas and without New York City water (which apparently is the secret to perfect bagels), I’ll take it.
And it seems my family wasn’t unhappy with them, because there’s only 1 left.
I’ll take that as success.
G’night eaters.

Catering by Joe

Hi eaters.
Sorry for going MIA yesterday. The drive home was slightly more stressful than expected, thanks to some pretty heavy rain and traffic while driving through Atlanta at night, but the manly friend and I made it. And we didn’t yell at each other once!
Frankly, I think long car rides are the ultimate test of friendships/relationships/whatever-ships. And not yelling means we passed. Hooray!
We got home around 9 and were quite hungry. Luckily, Mother was prepared with some nibbles.
First, I opened a bottle of wine.
Then we nibbled on some chips and salsa.
Mother and the man ate cheese and crackers. And we all finished off with some apples and animal crackers.
Notice anything special about everything we ate?
It seems my homecoming was catered by Trader Joe’s. And there’s more!
Soy milk.
And peanut flour.
For most of you, having tons of Trader products on hand isn’t unusual. Some of you are lucky enough to use TJ as your daily grocery store.
Not us.
The closest TJ is an hour away. But it just so happens that Mother’s salon is right next to one. So every time she goes to get her hair did she swings by and comes home with plenty of goodies. Sometimes she even calls me to ask what I want.
Like I said, I might be a tiny bit spoiled. And on that note, I’m off to have some more animal crackers.

Later, eaters. 

WW: Nuking the Calories

Sup eaters,
Notice anything different? Any changes?
Oh yes! I finally stepped it up and got a domain and a design. I’m sporting double Ds now and I love it.
But more importantly, what do you think?
For this week’s installment of WW I’m going to continue with the little things that make a big difference. Last week was counting steps. This week is my microwave workouts.
What?
No, eaters, I’m not bench pressing my microwave.
You know all that time you spend standing around waiting for the microwave to be done? That 3 minutes it takes to heat water for tea? That 6 minutes to cook your microwavable dinner? Those 2 and a half minutes for your afternoon popcorn?
All that time is usually spent inspecting your nails or simply puttering, when you could be exercising! Let me explain…
Rather than simply standing around you could be doing jumping jacks. Or squat pulses. Or lunges. Or front kicks. Or even crunches if there’s enough time to get down on the floor.
I realize this may sound silly. But think about it — have you ever done squat pulses for 2 minutes? Or jumping jacks? What about front kicks for 5 minutes? They’re all hard.
Now, I’m not suggesting you do this in the kitchen at work or around anyone you’re trying to impress. This is something to do in the privacy of your own home with people who won’t outwardly judge you for doing push-ups while waiting for your leftovers to warm.
This isn’t a substitute for hardcore workouts, but when this is as big as you can go …  drink more tea and really enjoy the burn. Because it does add up.
Just like my steps this week averaged out to 14,500 a day, which is just over 7 miles. See, little things become big things.
And now if you’ll excuse me eaters, I’ve got some little sips of wine to take. Hopefully they won’t add up to a big bottle.
G’night eaters.

“K” Mugs Are Kool

Hi eaters.
Sorry to be so late tonight. The night kind of got away from me because…I’m done! I’m finished with finals. And literally, the second I walked out of my final (and turned in an overdue paper) I turned off my brain completely. And it appears I’m just not turning it on.
Okay, lets get to the good stuff — what passed my pearly whites today.

Breakfast:
And that takes care of the bananas.
More simple comfort.
Can you believe this is the first time I’m eating this out of anything other than my fancy K mug? 
It really did feel a little strange. But still so yummy.

Lunch:
The K mugs can’t stay away for too long.
Talk about a mouthful for a name. And a mouthful of goodness. This soup held up surprisingly well in the freezer.

Dinner:
Dining hall grub. 

The menu said “Lois’ Holiday Tofu Steak Meal with Trimmings and Sides.” Not one to pass up a holiday meal or a (tofu) steak I was all over it (even though I really should have been cleaning out my fridge).
In dining hall speak….
“tofu steak with trimmings” means breaded tofu with a strange yellow gravy
“sides” mean steamed green beans with dried cranberries and sweet tomato basil soup. (I think there was also rice and mashed sweet potatoes.)
I shouldn’t have been surprised considering on Sunday the menu claimed “grilled tofu with curried vegetables,” but instead offered…
I see no grill. I see no curry.
…This.
But what I was surprised about was that it was good. Really good. Even the strange yellow gelatinous gravy substance that turned even more into a gel as it cooled.
Okay, eaters, my brain has now been on for far too long. So I’m about to watch more mindless Netflix, maybe sip some wine, and sleep as late as I want tomorrow. Oh yeah, eaters, I might just sleep until 9am!
Watch out! This ‘Baby is getting wild and crazy.
Okay, I definitely need to stop before I embarrass myself…more.
G’night eaters.

PS-Keep your eye out for some very BIG, long overdue changes around here. I’m thrilled to death about them and hope you are, too.

Edemame and Salsa

G’evening eaters!
I hope all is well for you cool eaters. Because things are actually pretty good on this end, too. Today was a little weird, though.
My Monday wasn’t hellishly packed with 3 classes and about 3 hours of meetings. Instead, I got to wake up late (8:30am!), go to the gym and spend a few hours holed up in the library studying French. Parlez-vous francais?
Apparently I’m supposed to.
Another reason today was weird was because I took pictures of everything I ate. I haven’t done that in quite a while. Luckily, though, I didn’t forget anything. Not even snacks! And I managed to clean a good number of things out of the fridge, to boot.
Breakfast:
Banana, peanut roux with cinnamon, and a sprinkling of oats, served warm.
This is the epitome of simple comfort and helped to take care of a banana.

Lunch:
Cornbread smothered in black bean and corn salsa with a side of edemame.
See, I told you there was cornbread under there.

Study-break snack:
Orange.
Thankfully the dining hall maintains a consistent level of edible for their citrus. I can’t say the same for their apples…

Dinner:
Mother’s soup from the freezer, with edemame, tomatillo salsa, and a falafel.
That dark spot it salsa, not a shadow
I started the day with 1 ½ bags of frozen edemame and a little over a jar worth of salsa (two different kinds). I know have a little over a bag of edemame and ½ jar of salsa (only one left).
Can you guess what the theme of the week will be?

Dessert:
Popcorn with salt and green ‘basco.
Not exactly sweet. Didn’t help to clean out the perishables. But it sure helps keep the salty, crunchy chip craving that I can’t seem to satisfy at bay.
So there you have it, eaters. A complete day of eats and a few things checked off my “To Eat” list. I’ll be back tomorrow with more cleaning.

G’night, eaters. 

Old School

Howdy eaters!
Have fun this weekend? With only 13 days until Christmas I can only bet that a lot of you spent it trolling the mall. And while you were doing that…
I was chilling in bed. Pastries and Pregaming got a little out of hand and left me feeling more than a little under the weather. I’ll spare you the details here (because they’re here), but I was a bit of a bum this weekend. It felt pretty good, actually.
Besides watching entirely too much Netflix, being a bum meant not going to the grocery store. But that wasn’t entirely because I’m lazy. It’s partially because my school kind of sucks a little.
You see eaters, the semester ends for me Tuesday. The dorms close Friday. Saturday the residence life department goes around and checks each and every room to make sure the people are out, the smoke alarms aren’t covered, and that we’ve jumped through every imaginable hoop. One such hoop, for those unlucky enough to not have a dorm with a real kitchen, is that all refrigerators must be unplugged with the doors left open. That not only means that all immediately perishable items must be removed, but also that things that perish once removed from the fridge have to go. 
Frozen veggies. Frozen soup. 
Refrigerate after opening. Every last little thing.
And you wonder why I’m always lacking in the condiment department?
This week I’ll be emptying my supplies and filling in the gaps with meals in the dining hall. Yes, a little scary if you ask me. But a ‘Baby’s got to do what a ‘Baby’s got to do.
So for this week (well, until I return home on Thursday), I’ll be kicking it old school with 3-meals-a-day posts. And maybe some snacks. I’m quite the snacker, really.
Because while I doubt many non-students have to think of ways to use an entire bottle of General Tso’s sauce in 4 days, having to clean out the fridge via your mouth is something that everyone has to be at some point.
And because I can almost guarantee I’ll be eating some pretty funny things.
So, wish me luck eaters, as I attempt to scrounge up a bedtime snack. How does parsley and cocoa powder sound?

Just kidding…so far. 

Pastries and Pregaming

Helloooo eaters! (Said the same way as “here’s Johnny”)
How are you doing tonight? Wonderfully, I surely do hope.
Because right now I’m feel grand. Riding high. On top of the world.
My paper is done, save for the last round of edits. Turns out 10 pages was the maximum, not the minimum.
I just got back from the gym I ran. I ellipticalled. I duck waddled and stretched. (I’m surprisingly flexible for not doing yoga nearly as much as I should.)
And now I’m about to show and start my night.
A fifth of the best rum I’ve ever tasted is staring at me from my dresser.
Hello sailor.
And a bag of pastries for the ‘mates and I is waiting patiently on my bed.
Yup, pastries and pregaming is the name of the night. And I’m ready. I’m ready. I’m ready!

That’s a vegan coconut dream bar. It really is dreamy.

Catch you tomorrow, eaters!

Quiche, To Be Continued…

Yup, eaters. Now I’m drooling into a cup. Or rather, my empty chili bowl from dinner. While watching Rugrats on Netflix. I’ve realized that Rugrats is all I can mentally handle after a day of almost non-stop work. I do love those babies.
And I do have a bit of a confession to make.
My lack of brain using abilities started before my work on this killer paper. (And yes, “brain using abilities” was the best I could come up with). When meal planning this week I thought about ingredients I already had, recipes I wanted to make, and my budget, but I neglected to think about the most important thing—time. For some reason, the idea of making super speedy food didn’t occur to me.
No. Instead of a simple stir-fry or kale salad I decided to make quiche. Well, frittata actually, since I wasn’t going to tackle a crust.
Yeah. Quiche. Caramelized onion quiche. Sounds delicious, right?
And that’s where the thinking ended.
So, I gathered my star ingredients.
Green and purple is becoming a theme.
Chopped a huge pile-o-onions. And cried from the gases.
And began caramelizing.
And stirring.
And crying, because by this point my entire dorm smelt like onions and all my ‘mates were tearing up.
And drooling, because the onions were so damn tasty.
Then I tossed in my well-shredded kale and steamed it down.
While that was going I mixed up my big bowl of other stuff, which made me nervous because it looked quite unappetizing.
I added the produce and mixed everything up. 
It still looked unappetizing, but upon taking a little taste it turned out to be damn delicious.
So I did a happy dance before covering it and rushing off to class.
The next day I transferred the mixture to my pot (because I couldn’t find my cake pan) and started baking. Unfortunately, I ran out of time.
So it didn’t brown.
And without a crust or any browning action, it turned into a gross mound on my plate instead of a dainty slice.
But I topped it with some parsely…
And a pool of salsa.
And it actually turned out damn delicious. Just not pretty. Or dainty. Or in any way how I wanted it to look.
Since I’m a bit of a perfectionist (especially in this case, because I know this can be a super winning dish) I’m not posting my recipe yet. That will have to wait until I get home, where I will have full use of a kitchen and a completely open schedule.
But since I’m a bit of a tease I will go ahead and tell you the name I came up with for this recipe—Tears of Joy Quiche. Because honestly, Onion Kale Quiche, while catchy, just isn’t as much fun.
Okay eaters. I have to go now. The babies on Rugrats are about to get eaten by the cash wash monster.

G’night.

WW: Go As Big As Possible

G’evening eaters.
You’ll all be happy to know that I’m not drooling into a cup. I’m actually drinking tea out of a mug, which I deem to be the exact opposite. Win!
I hope everyone else’s days were equally as winning. For those celebrating Hanukah, I hope you’ve had a lovely one. For those celebrating Christmas, there’s only 16 shopping/baking/knitting days left. Better hop to it. And for all of you eaters, regardless of what you celebrate if anything, I hope you’re not freezing.
This morning when I walked to Starbucks it was about 21 degrees. Yup. It was a brisk walk. And my tall Christmas blend with cold soy (my new drink of choice, because black coffee upsets my stomach and the addition of a little splash of soy just feels so decedent and dreamy) was oh so enjoyable.
Despite the sweet sweet sips from my cheery red cup, the walk was still unpleasant. But I did it anyway. Why, you ask?
Because I now own a pedometer.
This obnoxiously bright orange little device is what causes me to walk to Starbucks and risk frostbite. It also causes me to offer to pick up food for my ‘mates from the on-campus food place even though I’m not getting anything. I now pace when I’m on the phone. And it’s all part of my winter fashion fitness plan.
See, my moto when it comes to working out is “go as big as possible.”
(As I write this my friend, Country, is stealing all my chocolate espresso beans. He wanted me to tell you.)
That means that for every workout, or really any day, I push myself as hard as my body and brain want me to. Some days that means a Cain-style ass kicking. Some days that means zoning out on the elliptical. My goal is to listen to my body and always feel accomplished at the end of a workout.
But, the days are getting colder, shorter, and busier and that means my workouts are getting lighter, shorter, and far less intense. While I don’t necessarily feel bad about that, I do realize that I need to up the activity in order to keep everything in check.
So every morning, I chug my usual bottle of water and slide this little baby onto my pants. And as the day goes on I check my number and walk some more.
I’ve always heard that 10,000 steps is a good number to shoot for. But I’m competitive. 
So I started off shooting for 12,000. I made that. And every day since I’ve been trying to beat the previous day’s number.
Sometimes I do. Sometimes I don’t. After wearing it for a week I’m currently averaging just over 14,000 a day. For next week my goal is to average just over 15,000 a day.
Go bigger, ‘Baby.
Because really, to quote a cliché—health is all about the little steps. 14,000 of them.
G’night eaters.

Required Reading

Hiya eaters!
Woah boy! Today has been another doozy of a day. Today included 4 hours of French, a little time spent battling an oven, and of course, more research for my World Literature paper. 
Do you have any thoughts on the merit of Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart as world literature? How do you think his colonial, Christian upbringing affected his portrayal of the Igbo people, whom he shared no real tangible connection with? What about the way Anna Ahkmatova’s role in her poem “Requiem” shifts from observer to participant based on the pronoun choice of each translated?
I did have a lot of thoughts on those questions, but unfortunately, they all just melted and dripped out of my ears. Yeah, too much research.
But despite the mountain of academic work I’m doing, I have still been able to find a few free minutes every now and then for some pleasure reading. Most recently the book camped out on my bedside table was…
For those eaters who aren’t familiar with Jeffrey Steingarten, you may recognize him from Iron Chef America.
He’s the wonderfully witty, wonderfully intelligent judge who always seems to be flirting with teasing the other judges.
He started out as the food critic for Vogue (yeah, I found that ironic as well). Upon receiving the job he set about eliminating all his food aversions. He outlines this process in hilarious detail in the introduction.
He breaks his phobias into 3 groups: Foods I wouldn’t even touch if I were starving on a desert island (insects), Food I wouldn’t even touch if I were starving on a desert island until absolutely everything else runs out (kimchi, falafel, desserts in Indian restaurants and dill, among others), and Food I might eat if I were starving on a desert island but only if the refrigerator were filled with nothing but chutney, sea urchins, and falafel (Greek food, millet, yogurt and blue food, among others).
By forcing himself to eat only foods he hated (often using it as a party trick to impress and belittle his less-adventurous friends), he was able to overcome all his phobias except blue food.
Does this give you an idea about the rest of the book?
Jeffrey keeps his tongue sharp as he discusses ketchup, olestra, survival diets, the danger of salads, how to pick ripe fruit, truffle picking, French fries, theme restaurants and the art of being a waiter. He ends the book on piecrust.
Be warned: this is not a diet book. This is not a book for people watching their weight. This is a book for true foodies. For people willing to travel the globe, as Jeffrey has done, in search of the perfect way to cook Kobe beef or the birth place of ice cream. For people willing to import horse fat for creating the perfect fry or cook only recipes found on the back of food packaging. For people who really, truly love food and have an insatiable curiosity about its every form.
Some parts fascinated me. Some parts I didn’t give a shit about. But I loved every second of it. I have added a few items to my list of foods I have to eat before I die and developed a little bit of a crush.
A dashing older man, if I do say so myself.
I consider this required reading for anyone who calls themselves a foodie.
And on that note, eaters, I’m hitting the hay. Tomorrow’s the last official day of classes and another day sure to make my brain leak out of my head. Maybe, if I’m lucky, I’ll be drooling into a cup by the end of it.
G’night.