Friday, July 31, 2009

Word on the Hizzouse

Behold my first home-grown artichoke! I've produced other garden vegetables and they're all lovely in their own right, but I was infatuated with this artichoke on a completely ridiculous level. They grow like weeds on the west coast, especially here in Portland with our wet, rich soil and mild summers (well, except for this past week), and every other garden features those silvery, weapon-like leaves and alien purple blooms. We're trying not to let ours bloom at all, because (as we used to say) them's good eatin'! This particular artichoke met its fate on our charcoal grill, brushed often with a lemony-peppery olive oil baste.

Last night we got the news that the mortgage company approved our loan. And who doesn't crave approval? We celebrated by throwing together a huge veggie feast. Went out to a burlesque show but the place had no air conditioning and the heat wave rages on, so no one else showed up and the dancers were disinclined to perform for an audience of two; after sitting there for almost an hour waiting for the show, we shrugged it off and went home. Oh well.

Supposed to go sign loan papers today, will close on the house on some undetermined day next week. Yes, I'm excited, yes, I'm terrified. I think I'm going to prolong my adolescence for a bit by continuing to refer to it as a hizzouse.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Restaurant Reviews: My Birthday Dinner

I had a great birthday, with dress shopping at Naked City and ice skating at the Lloyd Center (where Tonya Harding trained!), but, as is often the case with us, the real highlight of the day was the meal. After a big breakfast and a long nap, and then shopping, we were ready for an early dinner about four. This worked great for us because Pok Pok was empty at that hour. They weren't serving the full menu yet, so we ordered cocktails and a Pok Pok Special to split.

Words cannot describe how good this is, let me tell you. The special is described as "half a roasted game hen with a small green papaya salad (papaya pok pok) sticky rice and dipping sauce." That's like describing the Swiss Alps as "mountains and some snow." In actuality this bird, served in chunks and meant to eat with your fingers, has a texture almost like creme brulee, all moist and creamy under a crisp, crackling skin. It came with two sauces, an herbed brown tamarind sauce and a spicy sweet-sour sauce that fully engaged every bud of the tongue. We dropped the sticky rice smack into the leftover juices just to make it last. The other side of the plate offered the Thai special that the restaurant was named for, papaya pok pok. Keith couldn't eat much of it; I loved it, but I was paying for it later. This is a salad of shredded crunchy green papaya, bashed in the mortar and pestle with enough hot Thai chiles to cook your gut, drizzled with lime and sprinkled with salty peanuts and cashews. Every kind of taste is at work here - sweet, salty, bitter, umami, tart, and oh that spicy heat. It took a lot of water and all of my apple-vinegar gin rickey (yes, I said vinegar) to get it down.

Once the dinner menu opened up, we ordered again. Pork skewers with a coconut-satay dipping sauce for Keith, and for me, grilled rare flank steak served as a salad with mint, lime, roasted hot chiles, and shallots. We shared more sticky rice and each took a side of cucumber salad with still more hot chiles. I grew up on cucumber salad in hot weather; nice cool cucumbers with a zing of tangy vinegar to cool you off when the weather and spicy food are burning you inside and out - but this one has hidden hot peppers that creep in for a sneaky sucker-punch. I was dipping strips of steak into Keith's bowl of peanut sauce and dropping leftover lime wedges into my water cup for relief. By the end of the meal I was completely cooked, but satisfied, and flying on a magic carpet of endorphins and gin.

At this point we stepped outside into a temperature of 105 and decided it was time for ice cream. But not just any ice cream. We headed a few blocks down the way to Pix Patisserie, best known for their chocolates but in the summer they craft the most stunning gourmet ice cream. Keith ordered a chocolate-based port wine and fig ice cream, served as two small scoops in a lovely little glass dish and accompanied with a small glass of port. I had trouble deciding but settled on a special lemon sorbet, served in a hollow lemon (see pic above) with a glass of Kir Royale. Sorbet was never so creamy. You could've told me this was made with full cream and I would've believed you. I was scraping the insides of the lemon for every last drop, relishing the sensation of all that cool creamy citrus cleansing out the hot peppers and broiling sun. I lingered over that lemon sorbet long enough to read an entire newspaper, licking tiny scoops from a doll-sized spoon, and could've cried when none was left.

I haven't eaten much today. I think I'm still digesting the memories.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

RIP, My Twenties

Half an hour to midnight, when I officially become 30. I wasn't born until afternoon, technically, but whatever.

Today saw the hottest day in the history of Portland, with a high of 107. It's supposed to do it again, just for my birthday, and then it starts dropping dramatically, getting back down into a much more pleasant low-70's with a little rain to cool everything off. We've closed up the rest of the house and are still camping in the living room, where the temporary air conditioning is, and are living in our undies. And of course, I spent some of the hottest day in history working over my canner. Didn't want to, but I had 10 pounds of pickling cucumbers that were heading south, so I was boiling vinegar brine and handling hot jars for longer than I wanted to. I meant to pickle green beans and garlic too but just couldn't face it. Maybe Thursday.

At least we got out of the house for a bit. We went to the co-op for some grocery staples, and went to a free wine tasting at my favorite little secret spot, Vino Vixens. The sweltering heat was just right for a crisp Prosecco, and before leaving we bought a bottle of the Prosecco to take with us. If we ever close on the house and get the keys, we'll celebrate with this Prosecco Rose. May that be soon.

In the meantime I'm nibbling a whole wheat flax roll I baked this morning from yesterday's dough, getting ready to crash out on the couch and put an end to my twenties. I've been reflecting a lot today - where I was when I turned 20 in the summer of 1999, what I expected for the decade at the time, how things have changed and how they haven't. I'm happy to report that I have little to no regrets. There are things I would've done differently, but I love where I am now and I love the experiences that led me here, both good and bad.

In the past ten years I have starved and feasted, loved and lost, been married twice and divorced once, lived in five cities on two continents, sobbed with heartbreak and wept for joy. I'm fortunate to say there's been a lot more of the joy. And now I'm happier than I ever dreamed a woman could be, so here's to another fond look backwards ten years from now.

Heat Wave

It's so much more fun when it's Martha Reeves singing about it. Yesterday we had a high of 102, and it'll be getting up to 104 today and tomorrow. This has never happened in the history of Portland; just seven months ago we had the heaviest snowstorm in 40 years, and now we're in a record-breaking summer. *sigh*

So we invested in some temporary air conditioning, which leaked gallons of water all over my little patio table outside on the balcony, ruining the paint. I'll add that to the list of things to paint when we move, I guess, but what an irritant. We camped in the living room with the air conditioner last night (and those who know me know I HATE air conditioning, but any port in a storm) and we actually did have a nice time watching movies while doing more preserve work. We peeled several heads of garlic so I can pickle the cloves today, and trimmed green beans for pickling too, and finally finished The Lavender Project. Back when my brother was visiting a few weeks ago, we each picked a huge handful of lavender at a farm near Hood River, and I dried it in the windowsill. Then we had to pick the buds off each stem to transfer to a baggie for storage. We've spent our downtime for the past several days stripping lavender buds, and finally wound up with a cereal bowl full of beautifully fragrant dried lavender. It'll be enough to give some away and still have plenty to cook with for the year.

In the house news, we will not be signing the papers as planned today, and likely will not close this Friday after all. Still more paper hoops to jump through, and maybe we'll close next week. I'm starting to understand why Dennis Miller once compared the home-buying process to a gangrape. Just when you think it'll all be over soon, someone else starts in and you wonder if you'll ever make it through.

But overall we're okay. We have food and water and a place to get out of the worst of the heat. We're living off fresh fruit and cool salads, my favorites. Things could be a lot worse on this Last Day of My Twenties. I'm going to be pickling all day - cucumbers, green beans, and garlic - and I have some whole wheat flax dough to make rolls with in a minute. Going to try to get some writing done and maybe get out of the house later, if I can bring myself to get dressed. In this kind of heat, even my breeziest skirt looks like a wool burqa.

Is it autumn yet?

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Sauvie Island

Yep, two posts in a day. I'm a crazy blogging fool like that.

We spent the day up at Sauvie Island today and it was such a perfect day, I had to share it. Technically Sauvie Island is part of Portland, but it feels like another planet; it actually feels a lot like the Mississippi River Delta, but populated by Oregonians. Getting there from our place just involves about a half hour's drive along the Willamette, over the Fremont Bridge, through the industrial northwest, and over a pretty little bridge to this flat, sandy river island which is all wildlife refuge and farmland. There's not even a gas station on the island, though there are general stores. We got sunblock and a parking pass at the first general store, then stopped at Kruger's Farm for fresh cherries and a snack of fresh-picked roasted corn, crisp and sweet like candy.

We took the long road through the farm country, a twisty two-lane shoulderless thoroughfare with surprisingly little traffic. At the far end of the island, after the road peters out into gravel, we parked to visit Collins Beach. We found this hidden little gem last summer and I don't even remember how we found it; you have to hike a minute or two through cool heavy forest before the sandy path spits you out on a wide, sunny clothing-optional beach where the river meanders over shallow, velvety-slick sand. We spent the afternoon swimming in the chilly river, nibbling the fresh cherries, lying in the sand under the shade of a low tree. I'd brought Under the Tuscan Sun to read and Keith was reading The Thin Man - what does that say about us?

About the time I noticed our own sun was getting that dark golden hue more commonly ascribed to Tuscany, we decided to go back to Kruger's Farm. By this point it was almost 7 pm and it had cooled off enough to enjoy the breeze of open windows in the summer evening air. Someone was having a wedding at the farm, but we joined other partycrashers in admiring the baby chicks and picking blueberries, and then we stopped by the farm store and bought some work for me: a 10 lb. bag of pickling cucumbers, a handful of garlic to pickle in spices and cider vinegar, artichokes the size of melons, and freshly-picked corn. I'll be doing more preserving this week, at the peak of a heat wave, but it was worth it. I'm so relaxed from this day I'll be able to can all week if I have to. Right?

Chillaxed Weekend

Big Saturday yesterday. I got up early to make four dozen corn muffins - half jalapeno, half honey - for our friends' wedding, and then Keith and I went on the Tour de Coops. There were 26 chicken coops on the tour this year, all little backyard coops here in Portland, and there wasn't time to see them all, so we just devoted ourselves to the ones in our quadrant (southeast). Still a huge variety and lots of chickens. We got some excellent ideas for designing and building our own coop later in the summer. Pretty educational day and I scored some great gardening tips, too!

After the tour we straggled home sweaty for a shower and a change of clothes, then loaded up the corn muffins, a bowl of honey butter, and a bowl of pepper-garlic butter, and headed over to the wedding. It was one of the loveliest weddings I've ever been to, in the backyard of their new house, under the shade of a grand old maple tree. Centerpieces were fresh lavender in beer bottles with little candles scattered around, and the ceremony itself had musical accompaniment provided by the next-door neighbors' dogs. We ate delicious Texas BBQ and lingered over local wine and beer. Good times.

Today it's supposed to be hot - mid-nineties, what the hell - and they're predicting record-breaking heat in the triple digits for this week. Just to ruin my birthday, I suppose. The plan was to spend my birthday picking berries and lounging in the Columbia River out at Sauvie Island, but now that it looks like we'll have to skip town or spend the day at the air-conditioned movie theaters instead, we'll go do Sauvie Island this afternoon. I'm looking forward to it, but I'm sure I'll regret some of it when I pick too much and wind up spending the heat wave over my boiling canner. Maybe I'll just freeze the berries.

Anyway, since I'm proud of these corn muffins and they were super-easy, have a recipe.


2 cans creamed corn
4 c cornmeal, divided
2 Tbsp cider vinegar + milk to make 2 cups
4 eggs, beaten
1 c butter, melted
1 jalapeno, seeds and all, minced finely
2 c flour
2 Tbsp sugar
1 Tbsp salt (use black smoked sea salt if you have it)
1 Tbsp + 1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp cumin
About 1/3 cup grated cheese (sharp cheddar or jack)

Preheat oven to 450 F, and grease two muffin tins (or line them with paper muffin cups). Heat creamed corn in the microwave until bubbling hot. Stir in half the cornmeal (2 c) until it's a thick mush. Mix in, one at a time, the vinegar milk, beaten eggs, melted butter, and jalapeno. Mix the dry ingredients together in another (very large) bowl, then make a deep well in the middle and pour in the wet mixture. Stir until just barely blended - lumps are okay - and ladel into the muffin tins, filling to just under the top. Sprinkle a little cheese over the top of each muffin. Bake 15 minutes or until a toothpick/fork comes out clean. Let cool on a rack and serve the same day; they're too moist to keep well. This makes 2 dozen muffins.

Friday, July 24, 2009


Aaaaaaand preserve season continues. This week I've put up rosemary jelly and lavender jelly, frozen garden greens, made several batches of honey corn muffins (trying to perfect a recipe by tomorrow), and broken out my new dehydrator (thanks, Dad)! Last night Keith and I put on an excellent movie - Barton Fink, I recommend it - and kicked back to keep busy. I pitted a gallon of huge, succulent dark sweet cherries until my hands dripped like Lady Macbeth's; Keith hulled the last of Pawpaw's pecans. Some of the pecans went into pecan pralines today. The cherries, much as it killed me to do it, went into the dehydrator. It violates everything I stand for, to be standing there with a huge bowl of lovely juicy fresh cherries and alter them this way, but I'm trying to keep my mind focused on how delicious these dried cherries will be once fresh cherry season is over.

In other news, Davey and Roxy enjoyed a little overnight trip to the vet's office and came home with their procreative organs missing. Davey's fine, Roxy's still a bit woozy, but I think they'll be okay. Fry was too tiny to go - be glad you're the runt, my little one - and she seemed to enjoy a fun night of wrestling with our hair and chewing our fingers as we tried to sleep. Now it seems she's very glad to have her brother back home for these games.

No word yet on the house. I guess now we'll hear back on Monday. Set to close one week from today...

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Have I said it yet today? I love Oregon.

So yesterday we got up early to do a bit of hiking with our friend Elizabeth - funny how it takes an out-of-town guest to push you out to the best parts of your own world. Our day started out with cheesy polenta topped with garlic and redeye gravy, and of course Stumptown coffee with hazelnut milk (a non-negotiable breakfast staple around here). We took a peaceful drive about an hour and a half south to Silver Falls, where we hiked through the rainforest on a beautiful clear day. The waterfalls weren't exactly at their most majestic - it is summer, after all, with little snowmelt or rain - but the company was good and the forest looked like something from a fantasy film. Wild salmonberries, raspberries, and blackberries made tasty little snacks along the trail. About halfway through the hike, Keith spotted a nice mossy-rock spot across a stream from the trail, so we took off our shoes and socks and waded the stream to get there, and then we kicked back and had lunch - homemade tomato-basil bread dipped in olive oil and freshly ground black pepper, local gorgonzola cheese, snap peas, and fresh cherries straight from the farm Elizabeth visited the day before. We relaxed there in the middle of the stream for awhile after lunch, but then returned to the trail and eventually to the car, sweaty and glowing from the clear air and sunshine.

It was dinnertime soon after we got home. I had blackeye peas in the crockpot all day, and Elizabeth and I put together some turnip and kohlrabi greens from the garden, kohlrabi and garlic cloves roasted in balsamic vinegar and olive oil, and a lovely cucumber salad with cukes and a baby Walla Walla sweet onion from the garden. Toasted the last of the corn muffins to go with it all and washed it down with water and an excellent bottle of red wine which was a gift from the production last month.

Keith was tired by then, so Elizabeth and I went out without him, to watch the sunset from the rooftop at Noble Rot over a hot brownie topped with house-made vanilla ice cream and dotted with a caramel sauce that could've stood alone, it was so delicious. And just to make it a thoroughly Portland day, we went to see the fire strippers at Devil's Point, who were in excellent form with flaming fans and other incendiary devices. You really haven't been to Portland until you've seen a beautiful dreadlocked woman wearing more tattoo ink than clothing, setting her stage on fire while she spins flaming chains from her fingertips.

In all, a pretty good day. Now today's agenda starts with catching up on my screenplay, and then ratatouille for dinner while canning lavender jelly and possibly a honey-vanilla jelly as well. Oh, and in other news, we got the appraisal back on our house and even with the new higher price to help cover the new roof, we are still paying $11,000 LESS than its market value. So it looks like we'll close on time by the end of next week, possibly sooner. Home ownership on the horizon...!

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Marionberry in a jam. But I'm not talking about DC politics.

Got up this morning and made a test batch of savory corn muffins, since I've been asked to bring some to a wedding next weekend and I want them to be perfect. Surprisingly, these were! I made them with creamed corn and black smoked sea salt for a nice light smoky flavor. Half had jalapeno, half didn't, and all were topped with just a bit of shredded Tillamook cheese for a nice look. Keith and I ate a few of them straight from the oven, spread with the marionberry jam for yesterday (we had to open one jar to test it before giving the others away, after all). The jam was perfect, ripe berry flavor and a thick buttery consistency, and it went so beautifully with the savory corn. One of the best breakfasts I've had in awhile.

Then we finally got around to cleaning the house, which took all day because we were lazy about it. We've now got five loads of laundry in the wash (yikes, but it includes bedding and couch slipcovers) and I really should be making lavender creme brulee for tomorrow, and lavender jelly for gifts later, but eff it, I need more jars and don't feel like shopping for them at the moment. What I really want is a nice cool bath to finish reading my book in.

Dinner tonight is flaxseed tortilla chips dipped in the rest of the currant salsa, which we added more corn and black beans to this morning to make it sturdier. We've been watching the "Blue Planet: Seas of Life" documentary series on Netflix and thoroughly enjoying it, and I expect we'll finish it tonight. Probably not too exciting, but we should rest up anyway... Elizabeth arrives tomorrow and it's always a whirlwind of good times whenever she's around here!

By the way, this morning I spoke with my grandmother, who was surprised that I'd made jam yesterday and said she'd never made homemade jam before. She made it sound a lot more impressive than it actually is. Just to prove how easy it is to make things yourself (and wind up with a far superior product than the crap at the store), here's a recipe for that marionberry jam in the above picture I took this morning. You can also use blackberries and/or raspberries for this in any quantity; just make sure you've got equal parts fruit and sugar, so it preserves safely. (I know it sounds like a lot of sugar, but remember you're only eating a little at a time.)


2 c marionberries
1 c blackberries
3 c sugar
Juice of one lemon

Puree berries in a food processor or blender. Transfer to a saucepan and stir in sugar and lemon juice. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring constantly, until it thickens into the consistency of melted ice cream. Transfer to sterilized jars, leaving about 1/4" headroom, and seal. Process the jars in boiling water for about 10 minutes and let cool at room temperature. The jam will thicken considerably as it cools.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Opening Day, Canning Season

Today kicked off canning season in style, with five jars of marionberry jam and a quart of spiced baby pears. I had a big day today, which began with a loaf of tomato-basil bread studded with chopped garlic whistles. (I discovered garlic whistles, which would grow up to be flowers on the garlic plant if we didn't pick them first to enjoy their tasty flavor, at the farmer's market a few weeks ago and am currently putting them in everything.) I made the jam while the bread rose, and fortunately Keith helped me with putting up the jam as I threw together a version of my friend's incredible Raspberry Lime Rickey Granita, with black-cap raspberries. But then I had to throw the granita and bread dough into the refrigerator to go see a "Harry Potter" matinee.

The movie was pretty good, if completely unfinished with a disappointing ending. After the movie we went to Ace Hardware for a torch so that I can make lavender creme brulee for my friend who's coming to visit on Sunday. We pondered the various butane torches, debating whether to get a big manly one with which to flambe the kitchen, or a little tiny handheld version, and the store manager genially suggested, "For creme brulee?" Why, yes. He then proceeded to follow us about the store for the next five or ten minutes, suggesting cassoulets and the propriety of French versus Mexican dinners for the creme brulee aficionado. As we paid and left, he added one additional suggestion: "Dust some bananas with brown sugar and cinnamon, and then use the torch to caramelize it." Oooh, sez I. "It's tough," he groaned ruefully, "but somebody's got to."

Our culinary tour then took us to the grocery store for the creme to brulee, and then it was back home for dinner. Too effing hot to cook, with a high of 96 today. But the tummy was growling, the granita finally in the freezer, bread in the oven. So it was quesedillas stuffed with baby zucchini and zucchini flowers - and of course, garlic whistles - with extra-sharp white Tillamook cheddar. We topped them with some of the amazing currant salsa Keith made earlier in the week. I never thought a MexAmerican meal could be such a religious experience, but it was.

Had a longer agenda of things to cook today, but it is hot and I was tired, so I just preserved a quart's worth of tiny baby pears we bought from a farm in the Hood River Valley last week. They ought to be delicious later, and pretty healthy too - they're just floating in apple juice and mulling spices. There was one little pear half that wouldn't fit in the jar so we put him out of his misery, sharing a fork as we watched music videos online.

Now I want something icy, and wet, and sweet, and I'm hoping I can cool off in time to get some sleep tonight. Got a long day tomorrow of cleaning the house and test-driving corn muffin recipes for a friend's wedding next weekend. Typical summer... you never remember the details until you realize they're the same every year.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Food, Inc.

I saw the most powerful movie last night: Food, Inc. This is without a doubt the single most important film about the single most important issue of our time. In an era when we're expending tremendous energy talking about healthcare, hospitals, crime, poverty, families disintegrating, and a failing economy, we need to be addressing the issues surrounding our food. All these other issues stem from a corporate corruption of our food supply.

When I was 11, I went vegetarian largely as a response to factory farming. Many people still promote vegetarianism and veganism as a solution for healthier living. While vegetarianism is preferable to diseased, processed meat from Concentrated Animal Feedlot Operations (CAFO's), and I'm very glad for the 12 formative years I spent as a vegetarian, I don't think it's the answer anymore. 90% of the soy available in the USA is genetically modified and unlabeled. Organic soy has been contaminated by GMO pollen. Furthermore, there are far too many "meat-and-potatoes vegetarians" who live off packaged food. I love Morningstar Farms as much as the next West Coaster (and don't ever get between me and my mac & cheese), but this lifestyle does nothing to address the pollution involved in mass transport of flavorless, out-of-season veg trucked across continents and flown overseas, nor does it address the desperate problems faced by our nation's farmers.

I'm no longer vegetarian, but I love my vegetables. And lately I've been devouring certain fruits and vegetables I always thought I didn't like. Tomatoes, for example. I never really much liked them - mushy, mealy berries with no flavor beyond a faint whiff of watery ketchup. Turns out I just never had a tomato before. These past couple of summers I've been enjoying several varieties of fresh-picked heirloom tomatoes from local farms, and the experience has been sublime! Last year I tried my first one on a whim, sliced a little piece off to taste it, and wound up devouring the entire thing whole, leaning over the kitchen sink with the juice running down my elbows. Probably an odd source for religious ecstasy, but I dare you to try it.

I'm really starting to believe that salvation lies at the farmer's market. There are several here in Portland, with a wide variety of vegetables and fruits for a diverse, nutritious diet. If you think there's not a farmer's market near you, look harder. And failing that, go straight to the farm or grow your own. A patio or balcony can be surprisingly productive. Farms are happy to sell you chickens, beef, pork, whatever you want, and often it's cheaper to buy direct. If it isn't, the cost is worth it.

My grandmother often says, "I'd rather have a big grocery bill than a big doctor bill." Fortunately it doesn't have to be one or the other.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Recipe: Double-Garlic Sandwich Bread

I came up with this the other day when I wanted something more than basic wheat bread for sandwiches and other everyday nomming. It goes beautifully on a grilled cheese!

2 whole heads of garlic
1/2 head additional fresh garlic
1 1/2 cups water
2 Tbsp olive oil, divided
2 c unbleached white flour
1 c whole wheat flour
2 Tbsp sugar
1 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp yeast
Parsley, basil, oregano, rosemary, and/or other herbs, to taste
1/4 cup pine nuts, optional

Preheat oven to 350 F. While it preheats, separate the cloves from two heads of garlic and peel them. Toss the peeled cloves together in a bowl with 1 Tbsp olive oil, spread them on a foil-lined cookie sheet, and roast in the oven for 45 minutes to an hour, until they're golden and soft.

While they roast, peel the remaining garlic and mince finely. Set aside.

Once the roasted garlic is ready, mash it up into a paste, stir in the fresh garlic, and put in the pan of your bread machine. Add water and olive oil. Sprinkle the flours over the top, put sugar in one corner and salt in the other, and add yeast to a deep well in the middle. Add the herbs over the top and turn the bread machine on to the dough cycle. If you're using pine nuts, add them five minutes before the end of the kneading cycle. Coat the inside of a bread pan with olive oil and flour.

When the dough is ready, remove it from the machine and transfer it to a floured surface. Punch it down and shape it into a smooth, even loaf; transfer to the oiled floured bread pan. Let it rise in a warm place until the sides come to the top of the pan and the top looks nice and loafy. Put it in the oven and mist water all around in there, or pour a big glop of water on the bottom of the oven so it steams up. Close the oven door and set the timer for 30 minutes.

When the timer goes off, knock lightly on the loaf to make sure it's done (it should sound hollow) and transfer it to a wire rack to cool, carefully turning it out so it doesn't stick to the loaf pan. Enjoy at least one slice while it's still fresh and hot, with a little pat of butter (herbed butter if you have it) or peppered olive oil.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Happy Independence Day!

I just saw a decent little documentary called The World According to Monsanto. You can see it online here, and even though it's a pretty dry film with questionable technique, the information is valid and necessary. Monsanto will stop at NOTHING to control every detail of the global food supply, even if it means poisoning us and destroying the very ecology we live on. Watch the film and spread the word.

Today let's celebrate not just our nation's independence, but our own independence as well. Make something yourself, from scratch. Eat something from your garden. Make some step toward self-sufficiency. Our founding fathers valued nothing more than freedom, so let's cherish ours today and make the necessary steps to keep it.

Enjoy the fireworks.