Good Friday Vittles

Today I spent eight hours in the kitchen baking and cooking. What you say? I spent the day baking and cooking. My part of Easter dinner at my daughter’s house is to bring a houska sweet bread. I remember my mom making these every Easter, so that is what I wanted to do. My recollection of the recipe did not exist, so I searched for a recipe from the All Recipes website. Houska is a yellow bread with a sweet taste, yellow raisens throughout, and scattered slivered almonds for interest. The bread is braided from three or four ropes of dough. Having eaten a truckload of these breads, but never making one it became the adventure of the day. Any bread requires yeast, and like a complete jerk I chose to use some outdated yeast for the first loaf. I know better, because I learned the hard way that yeast is like a pretty woman, finicky as hell. If the water used to dissolve it is too hot, you kill the yeast and bread becomes a dense flatbread instead of a light, fluffy, soft, airy, mellow bread. If the water is too cold, the yeast refuses to grow. The result is the same as killing it with hot water. Anyway, my old yeast worked, but not well. Did I mention that I never braided anything before? Well, I didn’t until today, proof that you can teach an old dog new tricks.

For the next loaf I used some fresh cake yeast, and mixed it with luke warm water. I stored the mix in the microwave to keep it warm. When I went to use it, I learned that the yeast grew so well it foamed out of the bowl all over the inside of the micro, messy to say the least.

It was way past lunch when I got the second batch of dough rising. I stopped to make egg salad for lunch. It turned out great. Good Friday is a meat-less day for us therefore, the eggs. Back to the bread after lunch, and a backyard bird watching session with Peg. We actually had a pair of Canada geese walk through the yard this morning, and during lunch a gander landed in the pond and swam through it.

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Can you find the goose in the 2015 Monet Vision-Early Spring?

Because I had such active yeast in batch two, I split the dough in half and made two loaves. The yeast did its job and the bread swelled to a good size. I got two beautiful loaves each braided from three ropes of dough. The big loaf in the photo used seven ropes, and two braidings. The first braid used four ropes and served as the base for the second which used three. I stacked the  three braid on top of the four braid. Does that make sense?

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About the time I had the baking dishes and utensils cleaned up, it was time to begin supper. My original idea was to make salmon patties. Again, I searched All Recipes and printed the first recipe. The first ones are the simplest and easiest to make. I went about gathering the ingredients, and much to my dismay the last two onions in the mesh bag were rotten. No salmon patties today. I remembered a dish my mother made practically every Friday during lent; buttered flat noodles with sour cream and cottage cheese folded in. Luckily I found some fettucine instead, and I also had the sour cream and cottage cheese on hand. It turned out great. Even though I am aware of not adding sour cream to a very hot mixture to keep it from curdling my stomach rushed the job, and the cream curdled a wee bit. It didn’t matter, the flavor was as I remembered it from boyhood. Currently, I am waiting for a high carb sleep to take over my body.

Fettucini, fried in butter  with sour cream folded in, topped with cottage cheese, and garnished with parsley.

Fettucine sautéed in butter with sour cream folded in, topped with cottage cheese, and garnished with parsley.

I told Peg that tonight I was celebrating the anniversary of Jesus dying on the cross for my sins, and that I would reciprocate by having a personal Irish wake in remembrance. In this case, with a newly opened bottle of Merlot.

Thank you Jesus for gifting me with Merlot.

Crumbling Ego

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Today, I decided to bake some Hungarian walnut filled  crescent cookies(Kiflik) for Christmas. I whipped out Mom’s trusty green covered cookbook and found the recipe. I had all the ingredients handy, so I jumped into the activity headfirst. The project began at nine this morning and finished at noon. The result was disappointing. The last time I made these cookies was last year. It was a baking day with my grand-daughter. Last year was the first time in my life that I made them, so this was a second chance at glory. I failed to achieve glory, but because they are not perfect I have a rather large batch of cookies to consume by myself.

Foe some reason unbeknownst to me the dough was very crumbly. The crumbliness made the dough hard to roll out, even more hard to hand-roll into shape, and after baking they crumble in your hand. They still taste good, they just don’t look good nor do they behave like a crescent cookie should, that is, to stay firm in your hand as you bite into the lusciousness. If there are any readers who bake, and know what makes a dough crumbly please tell me what the heck I did wrong.

Dough after one hour of rest.

Dough after one hour of rest.

Hungarian Crescent Cookies (Kiflik)

Hungarian Crescent Cookies (Kiflik)

As bad as they are I cannot stop eating them.

Tradition, Ah the Aroma to Die For

This year the urge to bake bread for Easter became overwhelming.  The aroma of fresh bread permeated my brain and olfactory senses. I dreamed of  big loaves of white bread. Childhood memories of slicing a huge slab from a fresh loaf and smearing it with thick gobs of yellow butter played in my mind. I had to do it. At one time I baked bread often. Many times the dough was flat. The number of times I killed yeast escapes me, but killing yeast became my trademark. Either the water was too hot, or not warm enough. Sometimes the water was just right, but the bowl too cold. A lot of dead dough went into the trash.

This year, my determination to make the yeast perfect  dominated the process. The persistence paid off, the dough rose to the occasion. Here is how I did it:

1. Place two tablespoons of tepid water in a clean soup bowl.

2. Mix in tow packets of dry yeast and stir

3. Place the bowl in the microwave and heat it for ten seconds. This heat the bowl as well as the mixture. Set is aside

4. Place a greased mixing bowl into the micro and heat it for thirty seconds. We don’t want to chill the yeast when we pour it into the bowl.

5. Continue with the remainder of the recipe.

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