Wednesday, September 8, 2010


What a nice Labor Day Weekend just went by. We did a lot of resting and relaxing. On Sunday I took Ayla to Hap McGee Park, one of my favorite dog parks that I don't often go to since its further away than the other two. But its very big, with oak trees for shade and pretty benches as in the photo above to hanging out. It was a hot day, hence Ayla's huge baloney tongue, but she ran around and had a great time. She also adopted a family that already had two dogs and kept bringing the ball back to them, though she didn't drop it for them.

On Monday I took Ayla with me to wash my car, and the guy that runs the coin-op car wash brought out a box of cookies for her. Then we went to Memorial Dog park, which is much closer to home. We met up with a couple that had a scrappy little terrier named Benny, and it turns out they live in my condo complex. Hopefully we'll see them more often; I think Ayla kind of like Benny.

When I got back from the dog park I went to relax by the pool for a while, where I ran into my next-door neighbor and her friend. We sat around for about an hour sipping peach champagne and soaking up the sun, which was heavenly. Then I threw some chicken on the BBQ for Chris and spent the rest of the day reading, watching movies, knitting, and playing sudoku. Not terribly exciting, but extremely restful.

At one of the dog parks Ayla found this pink ball, which she brought home to Mac (when she finds a ball at a park that she likes its near impossible to get her to drop it, so I bring a couple balls with me each time we go to replenish the resident ball supplies). Mac loves it, maybe even more than his glow balls right now, probably because its new.

It compresses a bit more, so he can almost chew it like gum which is great exercise for his jaws. Mac is still recovering from his illness. Its been very, very slow and with frequent set backs, but I'm still hopeful. In the meantime we've discovered he cannot tolerate dry kibble and doesn't do very well with canned food either, so for the past three or four weeks I've been cooking homemade food for both dogs. Ayla now starts whining for dinner about half an hour before its time, and Mac cutely begs at my feet whenever I'm cooking up a batch (every couple of days) and when I'm dishing it up. The things I do for my pets.


Saturday, September 4, 2010

Why Did I Decide to Bake Bread in this Heat?

This summer has been so mild; at work its been cold even. The Farmer's Almanac is predicting a mild winter for us as well. However, this week and the previous week we've actually had some hot weather. What better way to celebrate than bake bread? Yeah, I'm a rebel.

We're been attempting to cut gluten from the majority of our diet, to see if we notice any effects. But we also like a good piece of toast with melty cheddar alongside a cup of coffee on weekend mornings. Last week I bought a loaf of gluten-free tapioca flour-based bread. It was tiny, and very dry, pricey, and just kind of sad overall, though I did make some mean sandwiches for dinner one night with it. I'm going to look into making my own gluten-free goodies, but in the meantime I picked up a bag of Bob's Red Mill GF Hearty Whole Grain Bread Mix.

The bottom left picture makes me think the bread is raising an eyebrow at me. 

It is quite good! They recommend a stand mixer to make the dough, but I used my food processor with the dough blade and dough cycle and it worked out just fine. I did have to add a few more tablespoons of water than the mix indicated though. I also let the dough rise until it was puffed up over the bread pan (I had something else in the oven, so let it rise extra long inadvertently), which I will definitely do again. The bread is nice and light, not dense as I was fearing it might be. The taste is close to pumpernickel or rye, with a moderate carraway seed flavor. There are whole sunflower and sesame seed that provide good texture. The loaf is a good size, and the cost of the mix is about half the cost of buying premade GF bread at the store. I'm hooked! I'm also looking forward to playing with all of the GF flours out there.

I also made this quiche from a new-to-me blog, Dixie Caviar.

I had some trouble with the crust, perhaps because I was using my food processor rather than mixing by hand. It was too crumbly to roll out (probably needed more water) so I ended up just pressing it in to a pie plate, and its nowhere as pretty as Nealey's version. I also used salted butter since its what I had on hand and could have done without adding the extra salt to the dough.

The quiche itself is very, very good. It is simple and not too eggy, as I find many quiches to be. I even used all half-and-half in place of the milk and cream, and it turned out great. To me this is comfort food with a glass of wine, a great light dinner. In fact, I'm going to go have leftovers now.

But before I go, just a reminder that my dog is funny:

She's a good girl and let's me do pretty much anything to her, and the white tank top did make her easier to see when I took her out that night to with the laser pointer in the dark. She loves chasing the "laser bug" and its a great way to tire her out a little more before bed. And the ears? They flip inside out all the time - they're her Princess Ayla buns.

Related Recipes:
Zucchini Bread
Banana Bread with Macadamia Nuts and Chocolate Chips
Tomato Swirl Bread