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Ciao bella

Welcome to my blog. I like to look for eclectic and chic things. I hope you enjoy reading about my adventures in balancing motherhood, work, and other good things. I hope my ideas are intriguing to you and you subscribe to my newsletter. If you get that reference, we'll be friends. If not, I'm pretty sure we'll be friends too. Have a great day!

I tested making no-knead bread so you have no need to!

I tested making no-knead bread so you have no need to!

Get that bread!

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I’ve said it a million times but America’s Test Kitchen changed the way I cook. My parents told me about it and I could watch Cook’s Country on repeat. My husband learned to dread the recipes that would have long cooking times because they would say what they were making and then they would play these banjos to show a time lapse. He’d yell “how many times do you have to wait a few hours?” Chris Kimball is such a finicky but lovable person. I can’t really explain why I find him endearing. I love his bowties and the fact he has no filter. He’s blunt about what he likes and doesn’t like. As someone who tells it straight, I love how he just says what he thinks. Shortly after I discovered the shows, he started Milk Street Kitchen. My mom suggested I listen to his podcast “Milk Street Radio” and it has inspired me to be more creative in my kitchen. Also, I appreciate him showcasing the expertise of historically marginalized people and how respectful he is to women on the show. He is actually a good listener and you can tell he’s kind. I listened to him talk to the author of the Palestinian Table and he was so attentive and insightful. He also talked about how much he enjoyed learning about the culinary traditions of Myanmar and how the more we learn about a place the more we empathize with people. I know it sounds cheesy and I am paraphrasing but it’s been a nice respite from my usual gory true crime podcasts. Every time I listen I get inspired to be braver in the kitchen and he and  Kenji Lopez - Alt kept on talking about a recipe for “No Knead Bread” and how it is a game changer. After checking out the recipe at the NYT Cooking section I decided to give it a whirl.

Chris Kimball, bowtie

Notes on why I cook and the recipe I chose

I know everyone hates the descriptions of websites where they go on and on about recipes. I get it. Again, though I think this might have something to do with SEO, people write forever. I also think it’s unfair to just put a recipe out there without some explanation. You may ask yourself, why this obsession with cooking? Well, I’ve always loved to cook but after my father passed I lost a lot of desire to go out and meet people or do anything outside of my home. Cooking was something that took time and focus. It used all of the best parts of my personality (creativity, attention to detail, hyperfocus) and let me kind of escape from the world. When I cooked, I got to choose who I invited over. My husband and I used to spend our weekends going out and I was in such shock and doom and gloom I didn’t want to do anything. Or especially meet anyone new.

I mean why we don’t let people grieve as long as they need to? I don’t know. We act like earth-shattering loss can have a timeline. It doesn’t. Once I had my son, I looked at pictures of myself from before my father passed and then after. I just lost some of the joie-de-vivre. Having a kid has helped get some of it back. You learn to prioritize what’s important and what’s not. Making time for myself and feeding my loved ones is something I prioritize. Has anyone else dealt with grief through cooking? Curious? Book deal, please!

I used Mark Bittman’s recipe that he popularized from Jim Lahey of the Sullivan Street Bakery. Who invented this recipe? There is some discussion on it but for the purposes of this recipe I am going to focus on the one that I used. Overview, it was worth the time it took. I made the dough at 6 PM Saturday night and it was done at 4 PM Sunday afternoon. However, due to the nature of the proving and what not, I was able to go about my day with minimal interruption while the bread was working its magic. In the interim, I had brunch with my mother and a friend. Also, my son got ahold of my iPhone 6 and promptly smashed it while I was in the bathroom. He was on a quest for cookies. I had to have my Mom take me to get a new phone and I had to relay the directions to my husband for part 2. There is very little hands-on time with this. While the bread was baking I was on the phone with Apple Support because I couldn’t get my contacts to come up. Did you know when you get a new phone there is some button that you just click to get your contacts up? I found this out after much stress and a few tears. That being said, even with those issues the bread still turned out! How? It is a really amazing recipe. For legal and quite frankly etiquette purposes, I’m just going to put the ingredients and list the link to Mark Bittman’s site. I’ll elaborate with my notes.

Jacques Pepin, Bread

Preschool Shoe Labels - $21.00

from: Mabel's Labels

No Knead Bread

4 cups all-purpose or bread flour, plus more as needed

Scant 1/2 teaspoon instant yeast

2 teaspoons salt

2 tablespoons olive oil (optional) (I did not use olive oil)

Cornmeal, semolina, or wheat bran for dusting (I used flour)

The recipe, or, as Bittman calls it, “technique” can be found here.

  • I decided to make this recipe after hearing you could make it in a Dutch Oven. I used a Lodge 6 quart one and seriously, invest in one. It is truly the most versatile piece of kitchen equipment I use. It also came in handy when we had to disinfect my son’s baby bottles.

red, Lodge Dutch Oven
  • You need to use cloth towels for part two. If you have to leave the house and ask someone else to do it for you, make sure you leave the cloth towels on the counter. Here are some you can purchase on Amazon.

kitchen, white, kitchen towels
  • Make sure you don’t have to move your oven racks after you pre-heat the oven….lesson learned.

  • Set a timer for each part of the bread making process so you don’t get too focused on something else to do each part. I had to put my dutch oven in the oven as it was heating up. It set me back a few minutes

  • The best part of the bread-beside the taste is the fact that as it cools your whole house smells like fresh bread. You also get to hear it cracking as it cools. It’s such a nice thing.

  • Fresh bread and butter is possibly the best thing ever. I would also try this bread with olive oil and spices. After hearing the interview with the Palestinian lady, I got some Zaatar and it’s been amazing. I would add it in. It adds a bit of flavor without being too spicy. I love spicy things (call me a spice girl if you will) but I have loved ones who can’t handle them. I would invest in this.

Julia Child, butter to my bread, butter, flour

Make that dough!

Even though it’s a commitment, it’s worth making for a bunch of reasons. If you make a lot of delicious soups- it is always nice to have a good loaf of crusty bread handy. If it gets stale you can use the crumbs for other purposes like a carb element to meatballs, topping for casseroles, or even making migas (which we are going to make later this week). It’s a delightful hostess gift and incredibly inexpensive. It reminded me of the bread I tried in France. I remember climbing up a hill in the Beaujolais region and eating a slice of crusty bread at the top. One of the comments I read said it saved someone money because they were paying money for this kind of bread every week. Plan ahead and feel accomplished. I personally love this recipe and it’s not too fiddly. I’ll be making it again. I hope you try it out.

“Here with a Loaf of Bread beneath the Bough, A Flask of Wine, a Book of Verse - and Thou Beside me singing in the Wilderness - And Wilderness is Paradise enow.”.png

Further Reading

Here are some books by the people I mentioned feel free to read up.

  1. Christopher Kimball

    Milk Street Tuesday Nights

  2. Mark Bittman

    How to Cook Everything

  3. J. Kenji Lopez-Alt

    The Food Lab: Better Home Cooking Through Science

  4. Jim Lahey

    My Bread: The Revolutionary No-Work No-Knead Method

I chose this graphic because I listen to the podcast Milk Street Radio and I take copious notes while I listen to it. I get so inspired. I hope these books inspire you to cook as well.

I chose this graphic because I listen to the podcast Milk Street Radio and I take copious notes while I listen to it. I get so inspired. I hope these books inspire you to cook as well.

Lauren Ruffle Hem Dress

from: Cents of Style
Mansfield Park:  the luxury of silence

Mansfield Park: the luxury of silence

Branching out with Barre: The Fit Part 3

Branching out with Barre: The Fit Part 3