Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Culinary Delights

Going for a walk

Mac heading up the hill

Ayla smiling

I recently realized that I have never seen The Sound of Music. How could that have happened? It was on TV a few weeks back so I recorded it. By the way, I love having a DVR. I can easily record things I want to watch, and fast-forward through commercials. And with our AT&T U-verse service I can pause live TV to take the dogs out, or rewind if I miss something. Its great! Anyway, back to The Sound of Music... I watched it Friday night, while having a dinner of microwaved popcorn and Fat bastard Chardonnay. What, you haven't done that? I'm glad I finally watched the movie, it was of course great and Julie Andrews amazing.

Sunday we took the Toyota in for an oil change. While we were waiting (it was supposed to take two hours, but ended up taking four) Chris and I headed to Broadway Plaza in Walnut Creek. We did some shopping - Banana Republic has the best polo shirts for Chris and you have to love end-of-season sales. We went past the fancy-schmancy jeweler, Davidson & Licht, where we got our wedding rings. They even have a uniformed, white-gloved doorman! Its the best jewelry store I've been too (including the pretentious Tiffany & Co., which is right down the street). We had lunch at Boudin Bakery Café - the California Veggie sandwich was mediocre, but the Tomato Soup in the Sourdough Breadbowl was quite good. The service was a bit snippy: it was somehow my fault they forgot to bring us the sandwich, and I guess I was supposed to prostrate myself in thanks that the server found it on the counter. And we walked around some more shops (must find a less expensive version of the Smith and Hawken 3-Tier Plant Stand for the patio).

We each drove up to Walnut Creek so we'd have a car to get around in while we waited on the Toyota, so we took the Subaru in for a cleaning inside and out. We don't drive it much, so it gets quite dusty. We've also decided to haul the dogs around only in my VW since it has leather upholstery which is much easier to clean, but there was still a lot of dog hair in the Subaru. The car wash people did a good job getting a lot of the dog hair out, but it is tenacious! Later we picked up the Toyota (the service people were very nice, despite being quite busy and me showing up three or four times to check on the status), and headed home.

Lately we've been making lots of pizzas. Out of one batch of dough we can make five personal-size pizzas. I'll make up two batches of dough and we'll make a bunch of little pies, eat a few, and toss the rest in the freezer so there's easy food on hand (made entirely of ingredients I recognize and can pronounce!). Sunday night I made up three batches of dough with my trusty food processor and Mark Bittman's easy recipe (see below):

Plain, garlic and red pepper, and basil and oregano (after rising).

Chris is a pro at shaping the dough. I topped them with either marinara from the freezer (I made a bunch a while back, making it a smooth sauce with my immersion blender), fresh-made pesto with basil from our still-bountiful crop, or leftover basil cream sauce I made a few days before. Then I added shredded mozarella, sliced Tofurkey Italian sausage, mushrooms, sliced tomatos from the garden, chopped artichoke hearts, and a little shredded cheddar. I cooked the pizzas (we split one for dinner, along with a green salad), cooled them, and now have a stack of fifteen of them in the freezer. They reheat in the microwave in about four minutes, so when I don't feel like cooking dinner or making lunches its very easy to have a tasty meal with no work. And its fun making them together. I love the smell of rising dough!

Here's the recipe for the dough:

3 cups all-purpose or bread flour, plus more as needed
(I prefer bread flour)
2 tsp. instant yeast
2 tsp. coarse kosher or sea salt
3 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil

Combine the flour, yeast, and salt in a food processor. Turn the machine on and add 1 cup water and 2 tablespoons of the oil through the feed tube.

Process for about 30 seconds, adding more water, a tablespoon or so at a time, until the mixture forms a ball and is slightly sticky to the touch (I haven't had to add any extra water). If its dry, add another tablespoon or two of water (but no more than a total of 1/4 cup in this step) and process for another 10 seconds. (In the unlikely event that the mixture is too sticky, add flour a tablespoon at a time.)

Turn the dough onto a floured work surface and knead by hand for a few seconds to form a smooth, round dough ball. Put the remaining olive oil in a bowl, turn the dough ball in it, and cover the bowl with plastic wrap; let rise until the dough doubles in size, 1 to 2 hours. (You can cut this rising time short if you're in a hurry, or you can let the dough rise more slowly, in the refrigerator, for up to 6 or 8 hours.) At this point you can stop, wrap the dough tightly in plastic wrap or a bag, and freeze for up to a month if you wish (bring to room temperature before proceeding).

When the dough is ready, form it into a ball and divide as you wish; roll each piece into a round ball. Place each ball on a lightly floured surface, sprinkle with a little flour, and cover with plastic wrap or a towel. Let rest until they puff slightly, about 20 minutes.

At this point I roll out the dough, top as desired, and cook in an oven set to 475°F until golden brown and cooked underneath.

Leaning tower of, what else, pizza

I've made a little more progress on my Cable-Down Raglan. The first cable is completed and I've started the side cables on the arms. I have some irregular increases on the raglan portion, but I'm not going to frog back and fix them. Its too much work for something that's taken so much time to get started and is mainly a learning project for me. I also found an uncrossed cable, front and center, but I'm not fixing that either since it doesn't detract from the look of the sweater. I guess I'm more of a process knitter. And I plan to wear this while walking the dogs or some other similar casual activity in the cooler weather.

Cable-Down Raglan (with uncrossed cable!)

Speaking of, check out my new wellies! Target was selling these last fall/winter season and I kept eyeing them but never bought them. I found them for $5 on Saturday and couldn't pass them up this time. They're perfect for taking the dogs out once its raining and our pathways become ponds. And they're polka-dotted!


Liz and Kurt said...

Okay, I haven't finished yet, but I wanted to let you know that I have had popcorn and wine for dinner, and on a separate occasion I've had Fat Bastard -- so there!

Liz and Kurt said...

You and my firend Michelle need to get together, I added a link to her blog on my site. She has a separate blog dedicated to cooking (I just order pizzas, although yours sound much better) and she put her family to work just so her dog could have a fenced in yard. Lots in common :)

Liz and Kurt said...

Okay, I'm all caught up now, make sure to read the ones below too!

Misty said...

Stef and I had a fun time buying Fat Bastard in the Castro, where we first came across it. The shop worker was a guy dressed in drag, and we had him rolling with laughter since we were both buying it for our fathers.

I've since bought my dad a shirt with the hippo logo, and across the back is written "The Fat Bastard is here," and I have a pink shirt with a sparkly little hippo logo on it too. Its a surprisingly decent wine for the price.

This Michelle sounds like a cool girl. I'll go check out her sites.

Thanks for the comments! Give your baby a squeeze for me!

Michelle Ioapo A'etonu said...

Hi Misty! I'm glad that you found me..and if you haven't already, you should join Tuesdays With Dorie. sounds like you would love it...and it's so much fun! I love your blog! I'll be following up from now on, if you don't mind :)

Michelle Ioapo A'etonu said...

those boots are darling! i've got to see if our Target(s) have them on sale!