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breads

How to have the perfect English muffin: Buy bag of Thomas’s.  Open.  Toast.  Top with butter and jam, or peanut butter, or cheese and tomato. Finis!

But I jest! You won’t even contemplate that old standby in the orange-and-white box once you have tasted these homemade versions, and you won’t believe how easy they are to make.  It’s like making pancakes, with a half hour to wait before you can griddle them up (ideal for sipping your coffee, taking your shower, poaching up those eggs for the Eggs Benedict that these would be an incredible ground floor for… ) And the extra-nice thing is that, unlike pancakes, these keep a bit better and toast up beautifully the next day, if you have any left.

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Given my kitchen activities over the past few weeks,  today’s post could well be about how I managed to turn microwave mac-and-cheese into a gluey mess.  Or about how “pasta surprise” happens when I have four nearly-empty boxes of different pastas and cook them together and top them off with some sauce from the freezer.  We’re in a bit of the cooking doldrums here, people, and I cannot say I have a ton of inspiration to offer.

And then I think back to last week when inspiration did strike.  Necessity, is, after all, the mother of invention.  It was rainy, and Husband was away, and the kids weren’t interested in napping.  I had very few groceries on hand, and no interest in attempting a shop with an overtired entourage.  It was time for a project – something that the wee ones could help with, and something we’d all like to eat when all was said and done.  I had flour. I had water.  I had yeast.  I had little hands looking for something to play with.  I had … an idea, at least, and a plan, at best! Read More

Is it a vegetable disguised as a treat, or a treat pretending to be good for you?  It might be both.

Morning Glory Farm on Martha’s Vineyard always has the best zucchini bread, and I love to grab a loaf when I get on-island.  When I was there a few weeks ago, though, it was not only too early for the market to be open, but the farm stand was also rebuilding after a fire last summer.  Not having the chance to pick up the bread made me really want it – or want to at least track down the recipe.

Then came the Great Zucchini Incident, in which I made breaded zucchini sticks as a vegetable for dinner, and bad, bad things happened.  The failure of the side dish left me with a few extra zucchinis, and no one but me to eat them.  Flash back to the zucchini bread, and the mini muffin tins that I’d just found on sale: little muffins, with vegetables hidden inside.  It was an inspired solution!

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It’s once again raining buckets in Boston, and the Lad was having a friend over this afternoon.  I wanted to have something on hand that they boys could snack on, and that the other mom and I could enjoy with a cup of tea.  Banana bread would have fit the bill, but, yes, we had no bananas …

But we did have some frozen raspberries, and this little recipe.  This bread is much like the banana, blueberry, date nut, and zucchini loaves we’ve surely all enjoyed (and even taken for granted), but surprises with the unexpected, subtly sweet taste of raspberries.  When I first found the recipe, I assumed it would be like a blueberry loaf – just a big muffin, studded with fruit.  That sounded good.

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Last weekend, I decided it was high time to put on my big girl pants and stop eating cookies for breakfast and lunch.  I’ve been trying to eat with The Lad and The Lass, and I’ve probably consumed more eggs, yogurt and fresh vegetables in the past five days than I had in the previous month.  It seems a totally reasonable thing, to put the sweets back into the Sometimes Food category that preschoolers know all about. But, boy, I picked a terrible week to try this.  Husband has been across the Pond since Sunday night, and The Lad and Lass have joined forces against me.  It has been raining literal buckets in the Boston area since Tuesday, with little sign of stopping, making for a very housebound week with the mutineers.  Mama does not want a glass of wine – she wants brownies.  Gooey ones.

But whipping up a batch of brownies seemed egregious – I couldn’t give in that completely. Still – I needed the kitchen to be warm and floury.  I needed to smell bread in the oven.  And, so, I pulled out the recipe for my grandmother’s sweet bread.

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Cinnamon and sugar atop baked goods just make me happy.  The combination calls to mind the cider doughnuts we’d get at Echo Hill (as a child) or Atkins Farm (in college) after a day of apple picking in the fall.  I love the sweet crunch of the sugar crystals, tempered by the warm spice of the cinnamon.  There’s not a lot that goes better with a hot cup of coffee, I think (and, based on Viennese coffee and all the cinnamon shakers at your local coffeehouse, I think I’m not alone in that sentiment!) So, what could be better than a muffin that acts as a moist, fluffy vehicle for this classic flavor combination?

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