This post is approximately one hundred years in the making, i.e., I’ve been thinking about and putting off making sourdough for roughly one hundred years. HOWEVER, I’m writing a story where the protagonist basically is having a mental breakdown and makes a lot of bread (which is obviously autobiographical, but she’s more advanced than me and makes sourdough, so I figured I would have to learn so as not to let her get ahead of me) (and also so I can see if the story makes any sense). I’ve been working on this story for almost a year and I’m SO tired of it (I’m on draft 6.2, per my numbering system) and I’m hoping that the sourdough experiment will somehow push it into being finished.

So I got this brilliant idea at the library during writing group, and then I got home and started preparing, and then realized that Passover starts on Friday. But I think the starter itself will be ready right around Friday, so then I can put it in the fridge (where it will enter a state of suspended animation) and revive it after Passover ends (much like happened to Khan, but hopefully the starter will be less distressed/violent). And then I can have sourdough to break Passover. It will be very exciting.

I am starting with Phickle’s sourdough starter tutorial; it’s based on Tartine Bakery‘s book (link courtesy of my neighborhood independent bookstore!), and thus should be good. It looks easy to follow, thus its appeal (and it was the first thing I found). If anything goes terribly wrong I’ll consult Breadtopia, which is a very soothing and lovely site.


Everything is going exactly according to plan, no issues here whatsoever.

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THE MTA SUCKS pineapple

Wow, I am super not in the mood for this. I was trying to get over writer’s block by writing some nonsense here but I already don’t feel like listening to myself. Oh well I already took all the #relativelyshitty photos (that was self-deprecating in a charming way, but actually they are not good photos) so I have to write. Please send me a story idea and I will write it.

I went to the supermarket, as usual, and I was very cranky when I got there because I was hungry, and the supermarket was entirely full of couples fighting and children having mental breakdowns, so I joined them and also had a mental breakdown. This was brought on mostly by walking back and forth several times trying to find barley, and then it was where I thought it was all along. Then I spent 400 hours trying to decide what ice cream to get, and trying to find feta cheese. Long story short, I bought a pineapple.


If you brought me diamonds, if you brought me pearls, if you brought me roses like some other gents might bring to other girls, it couldn’t please me more than the gift I see—a pineapple for me.

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Better breakfast bars

This blog is basically defunct, so I’ll just admit that I’m only posting this to make the recipe easier for me to find. (I got it from a Talk thread on Serious Eats, and it is annoying to keep going back to it.)

These are breakfast bars. They are good. Actually, I had a horrible cold all last week and couldn’t taste them, but I think they’re good. (The first iteration, which I made two weeks ago, had Craisins and smaller chocolate chips and was definitely good, so I assume this one, which has apricots and large chocolate chips, is also good.)

I have some awesome tips for you.

First, mix your dry ingredients—whole wheat flour, ground flax seeds (I’m not sure this serves a purpose other than health; I’ll let you know when I run out of flax seeds and have to start experimenting), oats, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon. Then, put an open container of honey next to the dry ingredient bowl. Scatter some dried apricots on a cutting board.

This is what we in the business call a bad photo.

Chop the apricots into small pieces. (I think I chopped each apricot into six pieces or so.) Apricots are sticky and this is rather difficult.

Add your chocolate chips, dried fruit, and nuts (I love hazelnuts; use whatever you like) to the dry ingredients.

In a smaller bowl, add about 3/4 c applesauce. (I’m still experimenting with this; but since I use only w.w. flour instead of some w.w. and some white, the dough is much drier and more applesauce is needed. I tried adding some milk last week, but I’m not sure that was a good idea. Still, there is no clear evidence ether way.)

Add 3 tbsp canola oil.

WITH THE SAME TABLESPOON, add 2 tbsp honey. This way the honey will just slide out of the tablespoon; you won’t have any getting-honey-out-of-the-tablespoon crises. It’s awesome.

Mix together, then add to the dry ingredients. It’ll be kind of impossible to stir. I’m going to use my hands the next time I do this.

If baking bars, put in a 9×9 cake pan and bake for about 20 minutes.

If making cookies (probably the superior option), form cookies, put on a sheet pan, and bake for 12-ish minutes.

Breakfast bars
Adapted from Sourdough, a Serious Eats user 

3/4 c whole wheat flour (or 1/2 c whole wheat and 1/4 c white)
1 1/2 c rolled oats
3/4 c ground flax (this is expensive, so you should find a replacement)
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 1/4 c combination of dried fruit, nuts, and chocolate chips (I just make things easier and do 1/2 c each)
1/2 – 3/4 c unsweetened applesauce
3 tbsp canola oil
2 tbsp honey

Mix dry ingredients together, including the add-ins. Mix wet ingredients together in a separate bowl, then combine.

Bake at 350°, either in a cake pan for 20 minutes or as cookies for 12 minutes.

If you intend to keep them around for more than a few days, put them in the fridge.

Cookie oatmeal granola bar things

I have created a delightful-smelling but confusing kitchen object. It is like an oatmeal cookie, but for breakfast, and in bar form. They’re sort of like baked oatmeal + cookie + better. (That’s a lie. Cookies are better. These are more breakfasty, though.)

I needed a portable breakfast thing for the foreseeable future, so I did extensive research on granola bars and such and settled on the one that looked the most like a cookie and included chocolate chips. (But she says that it is not very sweet and is suitable for breakfast, and I like her blog title—Big Girls, Small Kitchen—so all in all it seemed like the correct choice.)

The hardest thing about making this was preheating the oven. I REALLY did not want to preheat the oven. I waited until I had basically finished assembling them, and then decided I couldn’t put it off any longer. (And I even turned the air conditioner on to offset the oven, so now global warming is my fault and I feel bad. Sorry, world.) But anyway, what I actually meant was that these are extremely easy—you just put things in a bowl and stir them. I guess the other hard part was opening my jar of peanut butter, and then getting the peanut butter out; it had been all the way in the back of the fridge and had sort of frozen, or at least really intensively solidified.

This is all out of order now. First I assembled the dry ingredients: oats (regular, not instant; maybe this is an unnecessary caveat for everyone but me, who prefers breakfast in 2.5 minutes rather than 6 minutes); whole-wheat flour (store in the fridge or freezer to avoid rancidness); salt; baking powder.

Then I whisked together the wet ingredients—the peanut butter (which did not want to be whisked, but I made it be whisked), sugar (I had to make my brown sugar first, which was annoying), oil (I used peanut because it seemed like it would be less weird than olive). Then I added the egg and then the milk.

OMG it just took me eighty billion years to put this photo into this post and now I don’t feel like captioning it. Damn you WordPress.

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Surprisingly great whole-wheat pancakes

Saturday morning I woke up and did not want eggs, because I had had a ridiculously enormous dinner on Friday night. I desperately wanted pancakes. But because I have some sort of metabolic/blood sugar/other (???) problem, I can’t eat regular pancakes for breakfast; after about half an hour I feel sick and miserable and tired and blah, and it pretty much lasts the rest of the day. So I figured whole-wheat pancakes might solve some of these problems.

I was highly suspicious of all the whole-wheat pancake recipes I found online (and there were VERY few), but this one had two testimonials—its own and that of the website it was adapted from—so I went for it, still highly suspicious. (Also, there was one of me, but screw that. Nonmarried people deserve pancakes too.)

First I made brown sugar, but only two tablespoons (actually I REALLY remember this as being a quarter-cup, so maybe I just did this entire recipe completely wrong), and without measuring the molasses (and yes, I googled that post so I could use the recipe), and then added the oil and some vanilla. A word about the buttermilk… I didn’t have any. What I did have was some rather old milk. It smelled such that I would not have put it in my coffee or drank it, but it seemed maybe OK for pancakes. I googled around and discovered that spoiled milk is not the same as sour milk (which I already knew), and that you should not use spoiled milk. Whatever. I decided that since it was kind of old, I just wouldn’t bother to add lemon juice or vinegar to buttermilkize it. Then I thought maybe I should. Then I was unable to open my lemon juice, which was one of those little containers that looks like a lemon, so I didn’t bother.

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Extreme r&b

Hi folks! I’m back. I don’t know where I went. Nashville, then I just didn’t post anything. Sorry.

Today is Sunday (well, it is now; it won’t be when this gets posted), so I’m cooking a lot of things. I just made a ridiculously awesome breakfast sandwich with:
-a multigrain roll (life tip: multigrain bread does not belong in breakfast sandwiches; dear self, please remember that)
-cheddar cheese
-2 fried eggs
-happy turkey bacon (there was no regular happy bacon. I wanted bacon)

Next up is lunch for the week—rice and beans, fancified. A few weeks ago I made really really good black beans with many spices and yellow rice (my secret: bouillon cubes and Goya seasoning… whatever, it’s really good and salty and makes brown rice taste good) but never wrote about them, and now I don’t really know what I did. Now I’m going to try to reproduce it, but with pinto beans, which I’ve never cooked from scratch before, and poblano peppers, which I don’t know much about, but they are big and green and pretty, and I always want to make chiles rellenos but then decide not to, so I’m deconstructing them. And jalapeños, because. I guess I couldn’t decide whether I wanted to make tacos, quesadillas, burritos, rice and beans, or stuffed peppers, so I just decided to take every ingredient ever and put them in a bowl. Or a tupperware. Or a generic off-brand plastic container.

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A Call for Comfort [Food]

It’s not hard to deduce from my few posts that much of my initial cooking experience is owed to the blog smittenkitchen. Deb Perelman’s anyone-can-do-this adaptations of recipes from well-known sources eased me into the idea of producing real, edible meals in my very own home. Successes from those recipes gave me enough of an ego boost to host my own seder (gasp!). The only real victim here is my boyfriend (you may know him as my handy kitchen assistant) who was perfectly happy ordering in 6 nights a week, reserving the 7th night for Trader Joe’s amazing 99-cent macaroni and cheese. You know, the one from the box with the little packet of orange powder. Okay also maybe my wallet.

The finished product is spectacularly beautiful, with an orange hue you don’t often get with sticky buns.

To get to the point – I serendipitously happened upon the BAKED shop in Red Hook, Brooklyn around the same time this pumpkin cinnamon roll recipe popped up on smittenkitchen. It felt a little bit (a lot a bit) like fate, and it was probably less than 24 hours later that I ordered the BAKED: Elements cookbook from that site I sometimes refer to. Of course, having the recipe (and two versions at that) is only the beginning. Months went by without any legitimate reason to actually make these buns. I hardly ever kept my pantry full of specialty goods like pumpkin, bread flour, or whole milk (I suppose nobody keeps milk in the pantry, unless it’s that new-fangled ultra pasteurized stuff, which I am skeptical of). I can’t even believe I used to consider those “specialty.” I mean, really, I get anxious now when there isn’t pumpkin in my pantry, right alongside shelf-stable cartons of cream. Regardless, it wasn’t until life got a bit more interesting (if you want to put it that way) that I decided to finally spend a good few hours learning some new techniques and making something I’d be able to indulge in as days upon days continue to unfold. A true comfort food emerges. As a side note, I also made ice cream (technically malted frozen custard with chopped hazelnuts. Yes, you want some.). Next week calls for chocolate cake (so stay tuned).

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aux Anything

There comes a time when a young lady needs to graduate from cakes and cookies and move on to more exciting endeavors, like pastries and breads (or a convenient combination of the two, as this post demonstrates). I’ve always wanted to make Martha Stewart’s Babka recipe, but jumping right into one of the most complicated (and expensive!) yeast cakes just didn’t fit my rational personality. The solution- a brioche recipe from Joanne Chang’s FLOUR cookbook. This recipe is in no way quick. I started it on a Friday and didn’t totally finish the dealings until the following Sunday– as in, over a week later. The entire experience brought immense joy and satisfaction into my kitchen, and according to this blog’s owner, the brioche aux chocolate that came out of the big mess was “the best thing [she] ever tasted.” This blog post is meant to offer some beginner warnings for those of you thinking of trying this out. I have absolutely no natural baking skills- so every success of mine is a true wonder and thanks to a detailed recipe. Hopefully, other amateurs can learn from my mistakes.

Everything should start with your basic butter foundation.

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Weeks in review

I haven’t done a legit post in an extremely long time, so I’m ridiculously behind on food adventures. For example, I’ve completely missed the chance to tell you about everything I ate at the Union Square Holiday Market (which I guess is just as well, since the friend I went with has not yet chosen a blog pseudonym). I also have no pictures of the excellent life experience I had at Murray’s new cheese bar, so I’m going to skip that too.

But here are some other food-related adventures of note. Or not of note, but I will talk about them anyway. (And more good things upcoming–I am now in possession of a really cool vegan soup cookbook (thanks Ma), so there will be more soup, and cool soup accompaniments if I can find/afford rye flour.)

1. Whole-wheat pancakes with almond butter

It looks horrible, but it’s good. It’s these pancakes—presumably with a milk/lemon juice mixture to approximate the buttermilk, since I never have buttermilk—they were good, except for the fact that I used very old blueberries that had been frozen, thawed, refrozen, rethawed, used as an ice pack, etc.

The almond butter is made by roasting raw almonds for 10-15 minutes, then putting them in a food processor and processing them for an extremely long time. My food processor is a mini, low-power one and it didn’t enjoy the process, but I was eventually able, after maybe half an hour and a lot of stopping and starting, to create a reasonable facsimile of almond butter. It’s good with honey, and keeps forever (I hope; I made it months ago and have been eating it ever since).

2. I more or less figured out the barley. I just cooked it in a pan with this sauce, though I didn’t measure anything. Then when I was eating it, I kept finding cat hairs in it.

3. The dread Cat Food Incident. After posting that, I got emails that said things like, “Whhhhhyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy?” I also had the following conversation with my younger sister.
Me: I ate a piece of cat food.
Her: WHY?
Me: I was curious. [It was a very expensive piece of cat food.]
Her: Why do you always eat cat food???
Me: I have never eaten cat food before!
Her: Yes you have.
Me: I have? What did I say about it?
Her: You said it was horrible.
Me: Oh.

I also have a picture of my empty hand, after I ate the cat food.

4. Diner Eggs. I make diner eggs all the time, but these looked nicer than usual.

(I call anything “diner eggs” that involve cooking eggs in melted butter, in a neither totally fried nor totally scrambled way. Usually I also cook the toast in butter in the same pan; this rendition involved home fries. Yum.)

OK, more in the next post, this is getting ridiculous.