Ask the grumpies: ritz vs. saltines vs. wheat thins vs. triscuits

Leah asks:

Which are better: ritz, saltines, wheat thins, or triscuits?

#1  Triscuits, hands down.  We go through two boxes a week.  Wheat thins are good but if you think about them while eating them you’ll realize they’re kind of sweet like cookies.  Saltines bring back memories of being broke and having a lot of saltines with peanut butter, which actually isn’t such a bad memory since they’re tasty and filling, but saltines are also kind of like salty paste, so…

#2:  Ugh.  Ritz or saltines. Boo whole wheat.  Wheat thins ore ok.

Note that triscuits and ritz and saltines should be boycotted until nabisco stops abusing its workers.

Update:  Strike is over!

Baking

DH has done a lot less baking since gaining employment, but the kids have done some.  The kids have done less since school started, but there are some summer treats in there.  And DC1 now knows the difference between baking soda and baking powder!  Because sometimes you have to learn by making mistakes.

These are from our new cookbook, Time to Eat by Nadiya Hussain. We didn’t make the croissants– those are actually grocery store croissants, but the filling is homemade ricotta berry cheesecake and extremely good.

He’s been doing a lot of banana sourdoughs… when we don’t eat all the weekly bananas before they go bad he throws them in with some sourdough starter and makes a bread. The end result is only very mildly banana, unlike banana quick breads. This one has chocolate chips. It was very good.

Chocolate chocolate chip waffles.

Deep fried day old pizza dough balls.

Another recipe from Time to Eat by Nadiya Hussain. These are (store-bought) puff pastry with chocolate inside and cocoa powder on top. Extremely simple to make but they seem decadent.

DH felt like making drop biscuits. I assume these are from the Old Fashioned Cookbook since that’s our go-to drop biscuit recipe.

Chocolate chip cookies from his own recipe and an interesting citrus pudding from Time to Eat. It separates into cake on top and a citrus pudding sauce on the bottom.

Eggplant pizza from Williams Sonoma Pizza. We’ve been going through the recipes that we skipped the first time through. They have all been surprisingly good.

Focaccia. I think DH has been doing a lot more cooking without a recipe since unemployment hit. I think also he’s been mostly making things he’s made before rather than trying out new recipes (other than things I force on him from Time to Eat and My First Cookbook).

Marinated zucchini pizza from Williams Sonoma pizza. This was amazing. Even the kids were willing to eat it. Even DC1 who hates zucchini and is the reason we skipped this the first time through the book.

These were cheese cookies, I think from an online recipe. I liked them, but nobody else liked them enough to keep the recipe.

This was a pizza from Williams Sonoma Pizza. It was achingly sweet. DC1 isn’t a huge fan of oranges so didn’t eat much. DH and I found it too sweet. DC2, who liked it quite a bit, gradually got through it in a week of lunches.

I think this is a chocolate chip cookie cake from My First Cookbook by ATK. DC2 made it with help.

Chocolate cupcakes (Barefoot Contessa) with leftover lemon frosting (Cake Bible) from DC2’s birthday cake.

DC2 asked for a lemon cake from The Cake Bible for hir birthday.

A slice of DC2’s birthday cake.

We had extra pie dough that we needed to get rid of so these are some kind of empanada even though they aren’t really shaped like empanadas.

Random sour dough.

A pupusa from My First Cookbook by ATK.

I think this hunk is actually the few biscuits remaining from between when the biscuits came out of the oven and when I got the camera. I believe DC1 made these from hir baking book before school started.

Some kind of random bread.

This pizza from Williams Sonoma Pizza was AMAZING.

What is bread?

DC2 made these chocolate peanut butter rice crispy treats from My First Cookbook by ATK.

These are apple cinnamon donut-hole muffins from My first cookbook. DC2 made them.

Some kind of calzone from Williams Sonoma Pizza.

Must be bread.

DC1 made this streusel coffee cake.

Some kind of chocolate chocolate cookie.

DC1 made this raspberry Clafouti.

Cranberry nut bread.

DC2 made these ooey gooey butter cookies from one of MIL’s recipes. They use cake mix!

A fruit pizza from Williams Sonoma Pizza.

This bread got a little burned.

I don’t know…. some kind of cake.

This is a cabbage streudel from the Victory Garden cookbook. It is is one of my favorites.

One of the kids made these blueberry muffins. Probably DC1.

Bread?

DC1 made these berry scones.

Ask the grumpies: Ice cream preferences

Leah asks:

Hard scoop ice cream or soft serve? Best flavors? What about things like cold stone, DQ, etc?

I remember the first time I had soft serve ice cream.  It was from a food truck at a lake where we went camping in Northern California.  It was a revelation to me.

Later I had soft serve places like McDonalds and similar food places.  It was… not as good.

Then I had soft serve ice cream from a food truck in San Francisco maybe half a decade ago and it all came back to me.  It was the Northern CA high quality soft-serve that was good, not my memories that were wrong.  Inferior soft serve is not as good as hard scoop, but superior soft-serve is better than superior hard scoop.  Since then we’ve found a single food truck in the city closest to ours that has similarly good soft-serve… I don’t know if it is still in business though.

Just straight-up vanilla for soft serve.  Or a vanilla chocolate twist.  Yeah, the vanilla chocolate twist is best.

For hard scoop I like lots of flavors– probably my favorite is anything with mint and chocolate.  But I also like chocolate with other things as well.  And I like fruit ice creams and gelatos.  I mean… it’s all good.

Not crazy about cold stone– I think it’s overpriced.  Mixins are interesting, but I’d rather have them mixed in during churning or on top.  The last time I had DQ I was six months pregnant with DC1 (driving from grad school city to work city) and threw it up so I haven’t been able to eat it since.

Man, I LOVE ice cream.  Here are more posts about ice cream.

Unemployment baking

DH has slowed down and moved onto other hobbies, possibly because it’s gotten a lot hotter.  But here’s baking from the last quarter.   There’s also some non-unemployment baking represented as DC1 (who is not in the labor force) got a baking book from the Easter bunny and has been going through it for hir weekly required cooking.  Also I (employed) made a birthday cake for DH.

White cake with coconut flakes and some kind of candied citrus bits

Coco cabana from Chocolat.  I don’t think there’s any chocolate or cocoa inside.

Some kind of muffin? I didn’t take notes, so I’m betting banana. We’ve been eating a lot of different kinds of banana bread because the grocery people are bad at picking out bananas for us.

This was some kind of savory bean pie from Home Baking.

DC1 made this: Fudge Pie from Help! My apartment has a (either kitchen or dining room, I’m not sure which) by Kevin and Nancy Mills. Although their meals are great, their desserts only tend to be ok and this one was agonizingly sweet.

Pain de Campagne

Gingered Pear Pizza from Williams Sonoma Pizza. Tasted better than it looks!

DC1 made English Walnut Pie from Help! While sweet, this wasn’t as over-sweet as the fudge pie.

Chocolate Banana Bread from Cook’s Country

I made this pineapple upside down cake! (I think it’s American Classics– definitely one of the Americas Test Kitchen recipes. I use pineapple juice in place of milk for a little extra pineapple flavor.)

DC1 made this Roman Style Foccacia from hir The Complete Baking Book for Young Chefs by America’s Test Kitchens. Zie put maybe too much salt on top in some places, but it was easily brushed off. It did not last long.

Some kind of bread. I wonder if this is one of the breads that had malt in it from The Bread Book. Malt makes yeast breads super fluffy– it’s pretty amazing.

Almond Milk Bread from Home Baking. These were good, but not very almondy.

Some kind of chocolate cake from Chocolot. There’s a couple of layers of marzipan in there. It was good.

DC1 made these spiced apple muffins from ATK The Complete Baking Book for Young Chefs

Some kind of bread… DH has been making a lot of random sour doughs without a recipe, so maybe this is one?

DC1 made these banana and chocolate chip mini muffins from The Complete Baking Book for Young Chefs

Bolos Levedos from Cooks Country. They were good, but I don’t think we’ll make them again.

Pane Casalingo from The Bread Book. Isn’t it beautiful?

Some kind of fruit pizza from the Williams Sonoma Pizza book

DH added malt powder to his grandma’s rolls. This picture does not even begin to express how enormous the usually big but now gargantuan rolls are. Very fluffy!

DC1 made these whole wheat raspberry muffins from The Complete Baking Book for Young Chefs. They have a *lot* of crusty sugar on top.

We had a bunch of egg whites left from something else, so DH made this White spice pound cake. It was very good.

… I don’t remember

These beautiful scones from The Complete Baking Book for Young Chefs were inedible because DC1 used baking soda in place of baking powder. Lesson learned.

These beautiful scones from The Complete Baking Book for Young Chefs were amazing– DC1 used baking powder correctly. I’m more than a little proud that DC1 decided to try these again after the previous week’s disaster. They were so good that they didn’t even need jam, though of course we all put jam on our second.

This is a random enormous sourdough that DH made without a recipe. Regular size honeydew melon provided for comparison purposes.

New-to-me French Toast Technique #LifeChanging

The Easter Bunny brought cookbooks and DC2 has started making something every week along with DC1.

DC2’s cookbook is from America’s Test Kitchen and is called, “My first cookbook.”  Technically it is hir second cookbook, but it is the first one zie has used with minimal parental help.  Zie has made ricotta toast and avocado toast and chocolate dipped things.  Next week zie is planning an oven roasted bbq chicken and broccoli one sheet meal, which we’re excited about (DC2 loves broccoli and dislikes cheese… I don’t understand but more power to hir).

This week’s was a revelation to me.

So basically the idea is you spray a jelly roll pan with cooking spray.  Then you mix up the custard/egg stuff.  Then… get this… you POUR THE CUSTARD INTO THE JELLYROLL PAN (!) (!) (!)  Then, working quickly, you put 8 pieces of bread into the jelly roll pan to cover it.  Then, starting from the top you turn them over.  Then you wait a minute.

After a minute, the egg mixture has completely been soaked up into the bread(!!!!!!)  This is AMAZING.  When I first saw the instructions, I was certain this was going to be a nightmare to clean up after with egg baked into the pan, but it wasn’t!

Then you bake it for 10 min on the bottom rack and then you broil it on the top rack for like a minute until it’s brown on top.  And you end up with perfect French toast. It’s not soggy in the middle. The bread is not dry.  It’s not burned. It just works!

Here’s a version of their recipe online (since I’m not going to violate copyright).  (But I will say you need another egg and 1/3 cup more milk if you use whole wheat or multi-grain bread instead of white bread.  And their recipe really needs nutmeg, that they did not list.)  If that link doesn’t work, here’s the google cache.

How do you make French toast?  Am I the only person who did this the fussy way with dipping and frying and occasionally baking after?

RBOC

  • Seems like the busier I get the more RBOC and snippets of my life you get and the fewer thoughtful substantive posts.  Ah well!
  • Vaccine update:  Second shot of Moderna, arm was sore almost right away.  Next day I woke with a massive headache.  Then I had chills alternating with overheating most of the day.  I had a hard time getting to sleep, but also wasn’t any good for work, though I participated in several faculty meetings!  It was pretty miserable and I thought to myself that if this is covid lite, then I don’t want the real thing.  Then the next day I woke up and felt great although my arm was still a little sore.
  • In case you were not eating Annie’s products because they have yeast extract, they stopped using yeast extract like 5+ years ago.  I immediately went out and bought a bunch of their cheddar snack mix.
  • We keep dried fruit and trail mix near the cat treats, and nice kitty has been trained that when we make crinkly sounds by the trail mix, she gets treats too.  I keep chocolate things in the pantry and my kids have been trained that if they catch me, they get chocolate too.  Basically, if I go to the kitchen and make crinkle sounds I suddenly have extra shadows now.  I’ve turned into Pavlov.
  • One of our tenured faculty has started talking about the same hobby horse at every single meeting at great length.  Many of us have discovered that it is a great idea to schedule another meeting right when the faculty meeting is supposed to end rather than leaving extra time.
  • It’s sad that Beverly Cleary died.  If you haven’t reread her core books as an adult, you really should, especially the Ramona ones.  They’re delightfully layered with things for kids and things for their parents that go straight over the kids heads.  Also, I always identified with Beezus because my sister is SUCH a Ramona.  Which Cleary character are you?  (I can definitely see DH as Henry!)
  • My parents always made sure we had a mix of meat, veggies, and starches at every meal.  On Wednesday we had carrots (roasted with olive oil, pomegranate and cilantro) for dinner.  On Thursday we had sweet potato fries (with a little oil, salt, paprika, and chipotle powder).  On Friday we had Korean beef slices (with a marinade and green onions).  So… we get variety over the course of a week.  (They also tend to have healthy lunches, but those are not necessarily balanced either.  Breakfast is usually cereal but not always.)
  • Our uni is having a spike in Covid cases.  But we’re opening up completely for fall with no social distancing and vaccines can’t be required of students unless the vaccine gets full approval by the FDA instead of just emergency approval.  We got those three emails one right after the other, which was really bad timing.
  • The Great British Bakeoff is hilarious whenever someone introduces an American food.  Like they were wowed by Chicken a la King and super impressed by what I consider to be a pretty sloppy pineapple upside down cake (the ones I make for DH are always quite beautiful– you’ll probably see a picture in the next batch of baking photos and I’m sure there are pictures of earlier ones).  But the most hilarious thing was when a woman was saying she was going to use peanut butter and grape jelly together in a dessert and they were like, grape with peanut butter?  There’s no way that’s going to work.  And then they were SHOCKED, shocked! when it turned out to be great.  I had to pause it to yell at the screen a little bit before I could continue.  Peanut butter and grape jelly, who would have thunk it.  What an innovative crazy idea.
  • The other thing that got me was that none of them had any idea what pita bread was supposed to look like.  They all made them oblong.  The only person who had actually eaten them before thought they were triangles because they’d been served as wedges!  PITA BREAD!!!  Do they not have Greek food in the UK?  What is UP with that?  It made me love living in the US because we may not have madiera cake or chelsea buns (which look like slightly fancier cinnamon buns), but *we have Greek food*.
  • If you do watch the Great British Bakeoff, the diversity of contestants in Season 6 is pretty awesome.  We skipped Season 4 because the young woman student character was really irritating (so far in the three seasons we’ve tried, we’ve liked Martha and Flora, who were the young woman student characters in their respective cohorts– wikipedia notes that we were not the only people turned off by season 4’s student) and the cast was so very white.  Also it turns out that Tamal (my favorite in season 6) is gay, though it isn’t mentioned in the show itself.  According to Wikipedia he was interviewed after being put on some hunks list and he was like, sorry ladies, I’m flattered and single but also looking for my own Prince Charming.  (If you’re watching on Netflix, series 1 is season 5, series 2 is season 4, and series 3 is season 6.)
  • DC1 had to read an Ayn Rand novella for English.  I’m starting to believe that QAnon poetry site wasn’t an accident.  Did you know that there are objectivist societies that provide free Ayn Rand books along with propaganda-laden lesson plans to teachers?

Unemployment baking

Haven’t done one of these since November– that means you get some holiday baking too.

Greek biscotti with wine and spices from Home Baking. IIRC these were very sophisticated and good by themselves or dipped into a hot beverage.

Partybrot from The Bread Book.  It was fun but dried out quickly.

Jamaican coconut pie. This was sweet and gooey.

Torta di testa di proscuitto e formaggio from The bread book. It was fine. Lightly flavored and the fillings kind of disappeared into the bread.

Peanut butter chocolate reindeer from an online recipe. They did not last long.

My Ginger Cookies from Alice Medrich’s Chewy Gooey Crispy Crunchy cookie book.

This one is smiling. (Pizza from Williams Sonoma Pizza book in the background)

Olive Panini from Home Baking

Muffins? These are Dec 12, so who knows.

Chocolate Decadence cake from Alice Medrich’s Cocolat: Extraordinary Chocolate Desserts

Chocolate Prune Bread… I think this is from the bread book?

Melting Snowman cookies from the internet

Ekmek from The Bread Book

Lavender cake from the internet

Probably from the Williams Sonoma pizza book. I don’t always get pictures of them, but we’ve been making a different one each week (give or take) for a few months now. We’re down to fruit pizza and calzones at this point (and a few we skipped because I don’t like tuna on pizza or we have trouble sourcing ingredients)

Buttermilk fruitcake from Home Baking

Burekas from Home Baking. So good.

Piadina from The Bread Book

Pide from The Bread Book

Probably banana bread. Who knows.

Torta al testo from The bread book. “Not at all worth the effort, could make a better pizza in a fraction of the time” is what it says in our book. It sure looks nice though.

Mystery December bread!

Pain d’Epice from The Bread Book. “Christmassy w/o being too sweet (but it is sweet)”

Nutty Yogurt Bread from The Bread Book  This was a really nice quick bread that doesn’t seem like a quick bread, you know?  Less soda-y than a soda bread, even though it kind of is one.

I’m guessing this is avocado toast using the nutty yogurt bread.

Shrimp Pizza with Sweet Paprika. From Williams Sonoma Pizza. I think we all liked it. Or at least, I sure did.

Ciambella mandorlata from The Bread Book. This looks nothing like the picture which is a flat ring. It was enormous and a bit dry, but overall did not last very long.

OMG these were AMAZING. They’re called Beirut Tahini Swirls and they’re from Home Baking (Dugood and Alfors) and… I can’t even describe how wonderful they are. They’re chewy but flaky, not too sweet, filling. I loved them so much. Kids… didn’t like them. More for me! We tried them again with chocolate peanut butter as a filling and it just didn’t work, partly because the chocolate peanut butter was pretty poor quality, and partly I think because it wasn’t oily enough to make the bread flaky. The peanut butter version was more bready and not anywhere near as magical (though the kids liked them better).

Fougasse from The Bread Book

Yet another excellent pizza.

Pan de Meurto.

I think this pie was from Cook’s Country. Not entirely sure. January, man, so long ago.

Uzbek layered walnut confection from Home Baking. Not quite as good as it looks (the bread part itself is a bit cardboardy), but still pretty good.

Parker house rolls from cook’s country. I think we didn’t like these as much as the Old Fashioned Cookbook version, but they went fast and were good with jam.

Danish log from Home Baking. It’s got a nice marzipanny thing going. The first one lasted almost no time at all since the kids devoured it. The second one stuck around a bit longer.

British tea bread from an online recipe again.

Chocolate Bread Batons from Home Baking. I LOVED these. The kids were less enthusiastic. Maybe not sweet enough? I thought they were substantial and not too sweet.

Cherry strudel from Home Baking. Excellent.

A small portion of the Large batch whole wheat pan loaves from Home Baking. These were fine, but not special. Very similar to other decent whole wheat loaves, but made a huge amount. The kids went through a lot of jam with these and their loafy breathren.

Curried Fruit and Cream Pizza from Williams Sonoma Pizza. Very popular!

Peanut butter chocolate ganache brownies from cooks country. DC2 made these with a little help from DH.

Tender potato bread from Home Baking. Not our best potato bread recipe (I think Old fashioned is better) and boy was it way bigger than the loaf pan.

This is a foccacia version of the potato bread dough overflowing its pan. It was better, though not the most amazing foccacia we’ve made (probably the Bread Book’s is the best so far).

Carrot cake! From the internet. Using America’s Test Kitchen’s American Classics cream cheese frosting which is the best.

La Brioche Cake from the Cake Bible. It didn’t turn out as advertised, but was still a good brioche. And it was good soaked in rum. And it was good slathered with gianduja. Still not as good as the brioche from Pure Dessert, but all around a good solid brioche. Not the worst we’ve made either.

DH is back to making granola.

Challah. Not sure which recipe though.

Mystery bread loaf

Mystery pie

I think this was from the Laurel’s bread book, but I can’t say for sure.

I have no idea.

You would think I would know what this is, but I don’t!

We are missing some pictures.  One is of Double Chocolate banana bread from Cook’s Country which was AMAZING.  Definitely recommend.

Another was of Quark stollen, which we didn’t like as much as regular stollen.

There’s other banana breads and daily loafs and pizzas that are also missing.  It’s weird, I’ve been trying to take a picture of the recipe after taking a picture of the bread, but for some of the breads, only the picture of the recipe saved in my pictures (I tend to text both pictures).

My spice rack

Many areas of my life are not at all organized. But I do have a bit of (undiagnosed, probably colloquial in nature rather than clinical) ocd. When the world is falling apart, I get some relief from having certain things organized. Alphabetical books in the bookcases. Pens organized by color. Clips in their appropriate bins by size. Silverware, stationary etc. separated by type and organized in appropriate places in their appropriate drawers.  When I went into work and the supply cabinet was kept stocked, I would make sure the teas were organized by type (caffeinated one shelf, greens together, etc… after one botched restocking, I explained to the student workers the system I had put in place. Luckily they like me!). Many of these things are things you can’t see and maybe it doesn’t matter that I have piles of work papers all around me optimistically organized by vintage (newest stuff on top).

One of the things that must be organized alphabetically (and that makes me yell “Who has been messing with my system?!?” when it gets out of order) is my spice rack. Back when we were living in an apartment, spices lived alphabetically on set of cheap shelves in the living room because our kitchens were tiny (or, for two years, shared). When we moved here, I decided I wanted a rack like I’d seen on the backs of doors. Our pantry has enough room that we didn’t need to put it on the back of a door– this is screwed into the wall. I picked out wire rack modules at Home Depot and DH installed them.

Here are the top few shelves (currently I don’t have any little spices sticking out on top– we used up a few of the containers we had duplicates of [like Northwoods seasoning which is my favorite replacement for spice mixes like Emeril’s, blackening, cajun, etc.] so I was able to spread things out.)  The holes in the wall above the spice rack pre-date us.  I’m not sure what the previous owners had here because whatever it was they took it with them.  (They used the walk-in pantry mostly as alcohol storage!)

Here are the bottom three shelves where we keep bagged spices, also in alphabetical order.  It’s mostly Penzey’s but they were out of ground cardamom when we needed it (cardamom is one of my favorite spices) so I got some from nuts.com.  (In the jarred spices we’re mostly Penzey’s but I don’t mind having different jars so long as they’re about the same shape/size and, importantly, everything is in alphabetical order.  We have mostly Penzey’s not because I need all the yellow labels matching but because they have excellent quality spices at reasonable prices.  We are not getting paid to say that and they don’t know we exist.  It’s just a wonderful company in so many ways.  Pick up some of their Northwoods seasoning, and if you like things hot, their Berebere mix. Try their mixed seasonings to make flavored roasted nuts or put them in sour cream for a fun veggie dip.  *love emoji*)

You can see each shelf is connected to the wall by brackets that came with the shelf.

Here you can see that the shelf is modular– it’s composed of multiple sets.  You can also see the envelope we use to list the spices we’re going to need to get on our next Penzey’s run in The City.  Or, since the pandemic started, our next Penzey’s order.

I know these are not very pinteresty pictures– I think I had the light off and the pantry is a bit dark and I was too lazy to play with the lighting, but you get the idea.

To forestall people who question whether we can use all these spices before they go stale:  not always, but I would rather have a spice available and stale (meaning we have to use more of it) than to not have it at all.  We do go through our regular spices pretty quickly.

And… this is not all our spices.  We have a box on the floor to the side that is just different kinds of dried chiles (also alphabetical). On the shelves to the left in between the cereal bars and the crackers I keep different kinds of seeds and fancy salts.  On the shelves to the right between the chocolate bars and candied fruit we keep extracts and waters (and would keep food coloring and cake decorations if DC2 weren’t allergic to red dye).  Cocoa powder we keep in the back shelves with the flours.  Peppercorns are shelved, oddly, in front of the chocolate bars, but I think that’s just because it’s really easy access.  But still, a place for everything and everything has its place.

How do you keep your spices?  How do you self-sooth when the world is going crazy?

Stress Baking R Us

With DH’s company going under and all their work mostly being done, DH has had a lot of time for stress baking. Also he’s gotten a couple of dessert books (including one on cookies that MIL got him for Christmas!) (All Amazon links are affiliate)

Fruit and nut powerpack from Home Baking by Alford and Duguid.  This was a hearty dried fruit and hazelnut bread.

Nigella-date hearth bread from Home Baking by Alford and Duguid. I have decided I love nigella seeds–they taste like everything bagels all by themselves. This bread was soft and sweet and oniony and I loved it SO much. It doesn’t really need the dates, but it definitely needs the nigella seeds. (Also called charnushka if you’re getting them from Penzey’s, I think.)

These are chocolate tuilles from DH’s new cookie book that he got for Christmas: Chewy Gooey Crispy Crunchy by Alice Medrich. I found them a bit overly sweet. They were super crispy day one and still crispy day 2, but kind of got sad day 3. They’re really the kind of cookie I expect with something like ice cream or pudding at a fancy restaurant, but not on its own, you know?  They were also a bit of a pain to make so halfway through DH gave up and just made two giant sheets.

This is Pane con Pomodori e cipolle rosse from bread by Treuille and Ferrigno. OMG I loved this one so much. It’s a tomato onion bread, which meant DC1 refused to even try it, so it lasted a couple days. It was still good at the end! It’s I dunno, it seems more like a meal than bread. It’s savory and wonderful and very good with melty butter.

These are coconut sticks from Chewy Gooey Crispy Crunchy by Medrich. My notes: Wonderful, amazing, coconutty but not too much. What the coconut cookie in the Danish tin wishes it could be.

I think this is just a plain white loaf from Treuille and Ferrigno, which may be the first recipe in the book. DH was looking for something not ostentatious that would be a good vehicle for jam after doing a bunch of fancy breads. He’s made this one a few times, but not as twisty. I could be wrong though. This could be some other bread. Who knows!

Gorgonzola and Walnut Pizza from Pizza by Williams Sonoma. It’s advertised as a savory dessert pizza and I think it would do very well. It’s super easy to make too and quite impressive. Like, just pizza dough, blue cheese, walnuts, and some kind of citrus zest on top. Super easy and very fancy.

DH woke up one morning and said, what if I made snickerdoodles but with cardamom instead of cinnamon? So he made snickerdoodles from the Old Fashioned Cookbook by Jan MacBride Carleton and half of them had cardamom sugar and the other half cinnamon sugar. It was a brilliant idea. Cardamom sugar works really well with a snickerdoodle dough. Try it sometime!

Zopf, which is a swiss braided loaf from bread by Treuille and Ferrigno. DH notes, “Great, but it’s really just challah.”

Doesn’t that hot gooey mozarella/gorgonzola mixture look amazing? It was. This is Foccia Farcita from bread by Treuille and Ferrigno. It was spectacular. This is how much was left after I got out of class. Luckily they saved both pieces for me (I had one for lunch and then one the next day.)

I think this is a modified bean bread that DH made from the Laurel’s Kitchen Bread book. One of my work colleagues knows I really like red bean paste so sometimes she drops some off with me, and this time DH made bread with it.

Hot cross buns from The Old Fashioned Cookbook by Jan MacBride Carleton. These are so good. Like, if I got them at a super expensive bakery in the city I would not be disappointed at all. They’re rich with nutmeg and the dough is just perfect. There are little presents (but not too many) of candied fruit and dried fruit (thank you nuts.com) inside. They’re just wonderful. These are the unfrosted version.  (You can see the red bean container in the back there with the green lid.)

Hot cross buns with frosting. The frosting itself is a wonderful complement but I can’t have too much. Generally what I did was take an unfrosted bun and scrape off a little frosting from the pan where it dripped. These are so so good. Unbelievably good.

… some kind of bread. Probably from Treuille and Ferrigno, but some of them look alike after a while.

What a lovely looking bread that DH made on October 28th. Do I remember what it was? Nope!  Maybe Pain de campagne from Treuille and Ferrigno?

Focaccia con olive from Treuille and Ferrigno. This was super yummy. Very soft and fluffy. Did not last long.

Well, what a nice looking loaf this is. Do I recognize what kind? Nope. Is this from back in October, yep. I would eat a slice now. I bet it is good with butter.  AHA!  It is South African Seed Bread from Treuille and Ferrigno.  It was good with butter.

DH made one of the fruitcakes in the Old Fashioned Cookbook. This was the only one we hadn’t made yet because it was pounds and pounds of candied and dried fruits and nuts and it just seemed like a lot. Boy was it a lot. But DC1 took a liking to it and it disappeared in a few days. I prefer a fruitcake with a bit higher bread to stuff ratio. I found this one a bit overwhelming. (Don’t get me wrong, I love fruitcake, but this one wasn’t my favorite.)

This is probably irish soda bread. DH often gets a hankering for it and just bakes it. We have three different recipes he rotates between, but I’m not sure which one this is, other than I don’t think it’s the one from the old fashioned cookbook which looks lighter.

Pumpkin cookies from the recipe DH’s mom uses (probably from the back of a pumpkin can several decades ago) in their unfrosted state and some kind of onion flatbread I’m not immediately finding in Treuille and Ferrigno.  But maybe it’s a pizza from Williams Sonoma?

Barefoot Contessa brownies.

Pretty sure this is a pizza from Pizza by Williams Sonoma.

Pumpkin Pie. We used the old fashioned cookbook recipe because that’s my go-to. I think I actually made this one, though DH did the pie crust.

Pain aux Noix, from Treuille and Ferrigno. This is Walnut bread.

DH bought himself a cake book. This does not have any chocolate in it, but it is from a book called Chocolat by Alice Medrich. It was pretty amazing. This is an apricot souffle. It was a multiple step process.

This is what a slice of the apricot souffle looked like.

French Apple tart from Home Baking. Yum.

An olive hearth bread from Treuille and Ferrigno. This did not last very long.

Pumpkin bread from Treuille and Ferrigno.

Italian Cherry Torte from Chocolat by Medrich. This is the unfrosted version.

This the frosted version.  We loved it and said it was even better day two.

Chocolate hazlenut torte from Chocolat by Medrich. Divine.

Some kind of fruit crumble but we can’t remember where it was from. Maybe Cook’s Country? September is a long time ago.

Cornbread?

This is tea sandwich bread from made in a pullman loaf pan from an online recipe. (Which we got one year when I wanted English tea really badly but could not get it.)

 

What looks good?  Do you have anything exciting planned for Thanksgiving eating?

Ask the grumpies: Recommendations for Bread books (with some bonus other baking books)

Natka asks:

It looks like your husband uses a mix of on-line recipes and cookbooks… Any recommendations for tried-and-true bread books (especially sourdough) for amateurs?

Bread by Treuille and Ferrigno has a lot of explanation of different bread-baking processes and a number of their recipes involve a starter and they explain how you can modify any recipe to use a starter in the intro. I got a copy for my sister because it explains so much. (There are multiple editions– we have the 2004 one.)  I can’t think of any dud recipes we’ve made from there.   I think we started with the Stromboli recipe (so did my sister, actually) and are currently going through it somewhat in order, skipping recipes that require ingredients we don’t have (I keep telling DH we should just get malt extract, but our local brewing store only sells it in gallon increments…)

If you’re into whole grain only breads, The Laurel’s kitchen bread book is the one you want. It explains how whole grain breads being thirstier means they are treated differently. I’m sure at least one of those mystery breads listed is a bean bread from Laurel’s.  These have all been good and there’s some discussion of things to look out for while making the breads which is helpful.

Ok, so those are our two books that are both tried-and-true bread books and good for people who want a little more guidance.  We also have a number of other baking books.

Baking with Julia doesn’t have a lot of bread (it does have some though!), but it is a fantastic teaching book for other baked goods.  This is how DH mastered the pie dough, for example.  It’s an all-around fantastic book.

Home Baking by Alford and Duguid is a wonderful book taking you around the world and helping you make different breads.  There’s not so much detailed how-to as in the Treuille and Ferrigno book, but we’ve found it pretty easy to make things like pita bread from their instructions.  And the pictures are gorgeous.  For a long time it was our coffee-table book.

If you want to up your sourdough game, Flour Water Salt Yeast is where to go.  I personally don’t have the patience for this one, but DH does.  We also have Artisan Bread in five minutes a day, but DH quickly got tired of it.  I’m not sure why.  Maybe the Jim Lahey original no-knead recipe is just good enough.

We talk a lot about Pure Dessert.  This is mostly a desserts book, but it has our favorite brioche recipe in it.  The recipes are generally pretty simple but often call for unusual ingredients that we have to special order.  (Nuts.com, not a sponsored link, has a lot of them.)

Simple by Ottolenghi isn’t a bread book, but it does have some quick breads in it. So far we’ve been astonished with how good a lot of the recipes are.

And, of course it is no longer anywhere near in print, but I taught myself baking from the Old Fashioned Cookbook by Jan McBride Carleton which remains one of my favorite cookbooks of all time.  The bread section is especially wonderful, particularly all the Christmas breads.  (Likewise the cake section, and the stews… really it’s just an all-around fantastic book.)

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Grumpy Nation, what are your favorite baking books?  Do you bake bread?  Where do you get your recipes?