Tuesday, March 30, 2010

R&R in the Southeast US

Last week was my spring break, so Matt took the week off and we diddled down to the southeast to visit some friends. I had debated taking my computer, but didn't. As a matter of fact, I tried not to think about work/school at all. Good move. First stop: Southern Maryland to visit Jamie. She works for the Navy, and we got to go flying with one of her friends. We went to a tiny little fishing village on an island in the Chesapeake where golf cart was the primary mode of transport. Fishing and crabbing gear everywhere.

Jamie lives in a house with two guys and they don't cook much, but own a dazzling array of cooking appliances that I spent several days lusting after. I made homemade tiramisu (including the ladyfingers) for them from the Daring Baker's recent recipe. Maybe that was just an excuse to use the kitchen aid a lot, but can you blame me?

We spend a few days in DC seeing the sights and went to an awesome restaurant called Founding Farmers. It's owned by a cooperative of farmers, and everything they serve is sustainably raised. And they make a mean ginger ale. Highlight of the night: bacon lollies. Bacon glazed with brownsugar and cinnamon. Say hello to the most delicious heart attack you've ever seen.
Our second stop was Miami, where Matt's best friend and co-game-developers live. And look! They have ferrets! We spent a day wandering Miami beach, a day at the everglades, and a lot of time playing with the little weasels. Food included cuban food at Versailles (which has the best decor ever, though I failed to photograph it), amazing BBQ including alligator meat, and german food at a spot that served beer in liters.
Next week we'll be in Paris, and we shall be sure to take lots of delicious and fab pictures then.

Monday, March 29, 2010

A Goldfish Shirt

I found this shirt at a garage sale with my sister for $2! I'm pretty sure it had been sitting in that woman's closet for decades, and I'm glad I could finally put it to use. A girl that I don't know very well saw me and exclaimed, "You look just like a goldfish in that shirt!" She was very embarrassed afterwards, but I didn't mind. I mean, who doesn't like fish?

garage sale top, Joy Mangano purse, secondhand bangles, Bijoux Terner watch
This watch I bought at the airport en route to Paris to meet up with Ali. I had left my cell phone at home since it wouldn't work in France anyway, but realized that I had no way of telling time without it! Luckily, I found a lovely, little store selling very cheap accessories and fell in love with this watch, which has an enormous face. You can't really tell in the picture, but it's nearly the entire width of my wrist. It no longer works (cheap watches are rarely waterproof), but I still like the way it looks with some bangles.
Somewhat related, Breads and Threads will be traveling to Paris again next week! We plan to ogle in as many patisseries, boulangeries, and boutiques as we can find, with maybe a little sightseeing on the side. Next up, a post on how to pack for Europe!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

March Thaw

We've had a full week of warm weather (that is, above 40 degrees), and the snow has mostly disappeared. Even though I love my winter layers, it's nice to go outside without spending ten minutes bundling up. This doesn't really prevent me from wearing layers anyway. I just have to be more thoughtful about it!
This outfit is pretty typical for me. I find it very easy to just throw on a dress and a few cardigans in the morning, and the tights are must when it's still a bit nippy outside. And yay! I've located a real camera!

vintage dress, forever 21 long vest, gap cardigan, target tights
forever 21 boots, garage sale jewelry
All of the jewelry that I'm wearing in this picture is actually from a garage sale that a friend and I found last spring. The lady buys jewelry in bulk and then sells it very cheaply every year. We can't remember exactly when the sale was, or even the exact location of her house, but we will be on the look out for the next few weeks!
My friends and I are planning a trip to the Mad Hatters Tea House in a nearby city. We're all dressing up, so I should have some fabulous tea party pictures soon.

Some of my very stylish friends! The boy in the front just won an award for being the best male AP scholar in the state, so now the girls are all over him!

Monday, March 15, 2010

Pi Day is delicious

Happy belated Pi Day by the way. Surprisingly, most of my friends didn't know about pie day until we came along. Growing up a proud math nerd, I find this disconcerting. Then again, I am the girl who still knows the 70 digits of pie she memorized in middle-school homeroom.

We did make a pie, but didn't have a camera, so the pictures and less than ideal. The intent was blueberry pie, but we misread the random recipe online on Matt's droid and got 3 cups frozen bloops instead of 6. So it turned into a blueberry-apple pie. Bloople pie. Berry pies always seem to run, so I grated one of the apples with the skin on to increase the pectin.

Bloople Pie
  • Your favorite double-pie crust recipe
  • 3 apples of baking inclination
  • 3 cups frozen blueberries
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 2 tsp orange zest
  • 2 Tbsp orange juice
  • 2 tsp cinammon
  1. Make your pie crust dough first and divide into two balls. Let it sit in the fridge for at least 3 hours.
  2. Grate one of the apples, skin on into a bowl. Peel and dice the other two.
  3. Add the rest of the ingredients and mix. Let is sit in the bowl until your crust is ready
  4. When your crust dough has been sitting in the fridge for a while, roll the bottom part out and put into the pie pan. Roll out the top crust too while you're at it.
  5. Put the filling into the crust, and top with the top crust. Crimp the edges together to minimize the leakage of tasty filling juice. And to make it pretty.
  6. Cover the crust edges with foil and bake at 375 for 40 minutes. Remove the foil and bake another 20.
  7. Cool completely before eating unless you want runny pie juice everywhere. Maybe you do.

Forgive the crappy mobile phone photos

A little bit of spring in the renewed winter weather.

Winter came back with a vengeance yesterday as rain/snow fell most of the day in most of the state. We were up in the mountains in the morning and had planned to go skiing, but after seeing how windy and snowy it was, we decided to just stay in. We're so spoiled. I'm out of town most weekends for the rest of the season, so I may not get many more ski days.

At Matt's work, they run a shindig called "Cafe Chopin" on Thursdays, where every week, someone brings in a tasty snack to share. I always get unreasonably excited when Matt is signed up to bring something because it means I can make something amazing and decadent and not have to eat it all myself. I've seen a lot of pictures of citrus upside-down cakes and they're so pretty, I decided we had to make one. Plus, I've been madly eating citrus this month because it's been so good.

Upside-Down Orange Spice Cake
adapted from David Lebovitz

  • 4 Tbsp butter
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 4 medium navel oranges, peeled and sliced into 1/4" slices
  • 1/3 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 2 cups flour
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 2 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 8 Tbsp butter, at room temp
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 2/3 cup milk or half&half
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • zest of one orange
  1. Preheat: 350F
  2. For the topping, melt the butter with the brown sugar and nutmeg in a 12-inch cast-iron skillet (The original recipe is for a 10-inch). When all melted and smooth, set aside to set.
  3. Layer the orange slices in some pretty manner atop the caramel topping.
  4. Mix the flour, salt, baking powder, and nutmeg together in a bowl.
  5. Cream the butter and sugar together in a bowl. Add the eggs one at a time.
  6. Combine the milk, vanilla, and orange zest in another container.
  7. Add half the dry ingredients to the sugar/butter, then add the wet. Add the rest of the dry and mix until combined.
  8. Spoon batter over the orange slices and bake for 5 minutes at 350.
  9. Let the cake cool for 15 minutes, then invert onto a plate.

Supposedly it's best warm, but it was still darn good the day after.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Going feral alone in the apartment

Matt was up in the mountains this weekend with a bunch of college friends. Luckily, the snow up there is finally beginning to shape up, so they had a great time. Despite going to bed at 9 most nights for lack of entertainment, I had a good weekend too. We had prospective student visit day in our department, which involved lots of cool people and even more good food. I finally came up with a research idea that doesn't suck. I went for long runs in the beautiful weather. Still, by the time Sunday morning came around and I had finished cleaning the kitchen scrubbing the stove burner pans, and doing the laundry, I was going a little nuts. Thus the baking spree. I asked Matt if he wanted muffins in addition to biscotti and chocolate cookies and I think he thought I was loony.

Also, I've been baking really good bread from my sourdough starter (no yeast added!), but have thus far failed to document it, so hopefully I will post on that soon. Mmmm bread. Mmm chocolate (I also made Dorie Greenspan's amazing World Peace cookies, which have become my go-to cookie recipe)

This weekend up the canyon in the crazy hippie/hick town (Nederland) they had a festival celebrating this frozen dead guys whose family is waiting for cryo technology to progress to a stage where they will see their icy grandpa again. Frozen dead guy days involves coffin races, frozen salmon toss, jumping into freezing water, bluegrass, and general mayhem. Not really my thing, but we went up for the coffin races Saturday. It was mildy entertaining, and there were so many cute dogs!

I've made this biscotti recipe before and have since become entirely enamored of it. I sent some to my friends, to my family, to my labmates, to Matt's friends. I think it's enchanted me by the fact that it can be so deliciously addicting without any butter. Not that I'm against butter. Just amazed that cookies can be good without it.

Orange-Almond Biscotti
adapted from Cooking for Engineers

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • zest and juice of one orange
  • 1 cup whole roasted almonds
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp almond extract
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  1. Whisk together the sugar, eggs, and zest until light yellow and fluffy.
  2. Stir in juice, almonds, and extracts
  3. Fold in the dry ingredients until just combined
  4. Shape into a log (about 3/4 inches thick) on a baking sheet lined with parchment/silpat
  5. Bake for 40 minutes at 350F
  6. Cool until you can handle it, and slice into 1/2 inch slices. Return pieces to baking sheet sliced-side down and bake for another 8 minutes.
  7. Cool on a wire rack and enjoy with your favorite hot beverage. Or just alone.