Sunday, May 31, 2009

Misc. Kitchen Adventures!!!

This may come as a surprise to some of you (or NOT! Hahahah, NOT jokes are the best, am I right???) but I like to take pictures of food; specifically food Dunc and I make. I don't know where it came from - maybe Duncan, or the goddess of photography, or the numerous food blogs I follow - but somehow I have become artistically and deliciously inspired by my food adventures.

But alas, I do not always follow through entirely with my kitchen experiments, photographically speaking. So this week will feature my food photos and recipes from the last few weeks.

Mmmmmmm, fooood photooooooos....

First off, I don't have photos of the final product (it wasn't very pretty... but tasted DELISH!), but I do have a photo of the ingredients for Strawberries and Cream Bread Pudding - yes, amazing I know...
This is what I decided to do with the first bread Duncan and I made. Recipe was found here, but I added like quadruple the amount of strawberries. Why? Because they are delicious and who asks such silly questions?!??!

Next, no "expert" photographic documentation of my foray into the Pioneer Woman's Orange-Marmalade version of her cinnamon rolls, but evidence of their deliciousness no less!
I would like to eat them all, please!
Rob and Sarah came over to enjoy a Memorial Day breakfast with us, and to be mildly creepy in the morning... Thanks Rob!

And for our Memorial Day din din, I was inspired to cook up some Copper River Sockeye Salmon. If you aren't familiar with Copper River salmon, you may need to shed a little tear right now. But honestly if you don't live in Washington or the Pacific Northwest, those words may mean nothing to you - but THEY SHOULD. In short, Copper River Salmon is THE BEST SALMON you can eat IN THE WORLD. SERIOUSLY. Look at it:

We covered 1.71 pounds of this deliciosity with olive oil, salt, pepper, and fresh onion and garlic chives from Dunc's garden - topped it off with some lemon slices, surrounded it with bell peppers and put the foil packet of amazing on the grill. Oooooh, Dear Salmon of the Sky, thank you for this most delicious and nutritious fish. No words... well I guess a few words can describe it, see above. 

Buuuut, I was a bit over zealous with our Memorial day dinner - I also grilled some marinated asparagus, roasted sweet potatoes, new potatoes, and broccoli and threw some of Dunc's baguette on the grill. It was more than enough food. And we did not eat all of the Copper River wonders. Not one to waste such an amazing fish, I whipped up a quiche. I say whipped because although I do not photograph my quiche (until now) - I make it fairly often. This quiche is an example of how sweet and simple Betsy Quiche can be...
Takes about 10-15 minutes of prep...
I use a frozen, buttery-tasting (although vegan), whole wheat frozen crust from Whole Foods. Cook some veggies or meat or fish, in this case, mix it with a few eggs, a splash or so of milk and some cheese. Pour it in the crust. Bake at 375 for 30 or so minutes et voilà - quiche!

And because I have attempted to take some other photos of things I didn't cook... here!
Some delicious wine I got from Garagiste - I usually am a red wine kinda girl, but this was a good citrusy white, not too sweet.

And a photo of my friend Kelly's engagement ring. We spent last Saturday hunting for her dream wedding dress and when we came home she was talking about sending photos of her re-set engagement ring to her mom in Trinidad. Welp, I love taking photos, I love Kelly, (I do not love diamonds... I know weird, aren't Diamonds supposed to be a girl's best friend?), but again, I love photos and Kelly - so I snapped a few for her mom, and I thought this one wasn't too shabby!

And some of the animals - which I definitely did not cook - but they are so beautiful.


Butters enjoying the lush grass in the backyard. He gets supervised outdoor time only.

Although I caught Dunc's arm/hand in these photos, I just love them - they totally show Oly reacting to a treat (in this case, some fresh baguette).
Oly "speaking" softly.
Oly happy and ready for bread.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Booooooot camp!

You may or may not know this, but I am getting pretty obsessed with my fitness classes - I guess if you've been reading this blog for some time you may have noticed my nerdy obsession with step aerobics and to be honest I have legitimately thought about detailing my High Intensity Training classes on here as well. 

But I won't bore you with a revolving list of jump squats, plyometric jacks, flying lunges, mountain climbers, shuffles.. and other ridiculously hard work out combinations. I will however talk about how I have taken my new found love of fitness to the next level... my very own BOOT CAMPS! That's right, I've been kicking my own ass as well as a select few, mostly Duncan, but Anna and her boyfriend Nick have joined us. Nick in fact provided another awesome butt-kicking move, called the TOYOTA! Which I will illustrate soon enough! These weekend boot camps are becoming more and more important as Duncan discovers his skill in crafting delicious breads  and Anna and I perfect the art of Strawberry Rhubarb Pie. (Sorry, no post on our pie secrets, we are still honing our skills as pie bakers.)

Back to camp! Sooo, last weekend Dunc and I took along a camera to illustrate some of the more unfamiliar moves we executed with ease and fitness-awesomeness... not true, these workouts are  still REALLY hard, even though I've been doing them for almost 6 months... Without further ado, I give you a sampling of Betsy's Boot Camp!


First off, you need water, so DRINK IT! Even if you aren't in a boot camp. Also, I use my water bottle to remind me of what sort of butt-kicking plans I have - and yes the last line on the blue tape says "3 Suicides" - also known as "Ladders", "Lines", "Awful, painful sprints", "Why are we doing these agains"... and so on. They are hard and involve sprinting from one point to 1/3 of the way down a line and back, to 2/3 of the way down and back, and finally all the way down and back... or any other variation of sprinting lines multiple excruciating times. 

So other things we did?

The dreaded SQUAT THRUST!
Begin standing with a thumbs up.
Bend over your knees and....
Jump back into plank position... then...
Jump your legs back towards your arms...

Stand back up, and if you love squat thrusts, jump in the air! And repeat, at least 50 times. Just kidding! Maybe like 12...

Mountain Climbers! 
Begin in plank position. Dunc makes good plank.
Then alternate each leg, bringing your knee to your chest. Left leg...

Right Leg! You do not need to look at a camera while doing this exercise, but you can if that motivates you. I wouldn't object.

Plié Squats/Plié Jump Squats
Begin in a plié. Now you can just squat up and down in this position or you can pump it up and...
Jump! Or you can go one step further and...
Click your heels together as you jump out of your plié squat. Your choice.

The TOYOTA! Why is it called the TOYOTA!? You will find out, very soon, just you wait.
Begin crouched down...

And then explode with joy, because you just won a TOYOTA!

The Plyometric Jack (Plyo Jack) - similar move to a Jumping Jack except you squat the whole time and explode between movements - that is confusing... pictures, help?
Start in a narrow squat.
Jump out to a wide squat.

You should end in this position. Except it never ends, ideally you are doing a 30 second, 45 second, or 1 minute interval of this move at the same speed you would do a Jumping Jack.

Up Downs, via Duncan's wrestling career:
Here, I tried to photograph "fast feet" - meaning you run really fast in place while keeping your upper body still.
See, he moved his right foot, then he his left foot... 
Then at any given moment, whoever is in charge (Me, baby... ME!) will yell DOWN! And you stop doing fast feet and hit the ground.
Then you push out of it, like a push up and get right back up for more fast feet.

Dunc tired... he no like up downs. Also I made him do a minute straight. I'm mean.

And there you go, a peek into part of my world of fitness.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Bread time!

One of the most amazing things about the Professor is his ability to read minds and track mutants down across the country, or even across the world! Oh wait, that is the wrong professor - I meant the one in my kitchen, who is extraordinarily accomplished at kneading bread with a handy dandy dough hook:


(The little piece of dough on there is the only proof I have of using the Professor to make bread... too easy, I forgot to photograph.)

So what else would I do with Duncan and the Professor besides bake bread? I mean seriously, give me another answer. When you are trying not to spend a lot of money (because you are planning a kick-ass adventure to Hawaii) what could be cheaper than flour and yeast? Nothing. Maybe something, but nothing that turns into bread or other baked goods. And so we made bread. 

I used a seriously simple french bread recipe, because honestly, bread making intimidates me - all the proofing, rising, creating a starter, the hours of waiting for deliciousness - I just am not educated enough on the science of bread and all its glory. Simple it is... for now...

First, and most importantly for bread making, you need some yeast! In our case, dry active yeast! ACTIVE-y! Fun!



I am curious about the yeast...



IT'S ALLLLIIIIIVE!!!!



Even while Duncan tries to illustrate the letter "Y" - the yeast is still a bit scary...



YEAST!

Okay, enough pictures of yeast... seriously, we are baking up in here! Since this bread is such a simple recipe, all I needed was the yeast, which we let ferment in a warm bowl and warm water (105 - 115 degrees) for 20 minutes. Which consequently means there is not a lot flavor - if you want real tasty artisan bread, you need to let the yeast work its magic for at least a billion hours. Or 12... your choice. Then we added flour, melted butter and salt. That is it, that is all you need. Maybe a bit too simple. Turns out the trick with bread is not the ingredients, it is the time you spend letting it rise multiple times. This recipe is relatively short and sweet because you only need to let the kneaded-dough rise for about an hour in a bowl and another hour after you have formed it into loafs. The most fun was punching the risen dough down. Punch!



Kneaded dough goes in a buttered bowl. Butters? 



No, not that Butters, although he is an adorable kitten. And currently a beautiful cat.

Back to bread!



Look how risey! NOW PUNCH!



After you punch the dough down, you make two loaves by rolling out half of the dough into a rectangle and rolling it up like a jelly roll. (and repeating for the other half)




Very important: remove all pet hair from your baked goods before baking!



Also: remove all flour from your pets before petting! Oly helped roll out the dough.

The next steps: let the loaves rise another hour, then cut diagonal slices on top of the loaves (you are suppossed to use a VERY SHARP knife for this, and we thought we did, but it still made funny wrinkly cuts...), and bake!


Rising on a cornmeal covered baking sheet.

Slicey.

Baked! After 15-20 minutes in the oven, I took the loaves out, brushed them with an egg wash and put them back in for another 5 minutes. It made them look perdy.

No offense to the bread, but it looked a lot better than it tasted... sorry bread, but you are boring. If this is the case with your bread, I suggest letting your cat attack you to liven things up!





See, he may not be the innocent kitten (although he never was an innocent kitten, only while sleeping...) he once was, but he is still beautiful and full of spunk!

Also, if you want to make better bread, which this experience inspired Dunc to do, devote 36 hours to bread making and you can make the most delicious homemade baguettes ever. Just you wait for Duncan to write about his baguettes. He made four and we ate all four within 12 hours...

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