Sunday, September 28, 2008


How cute is this kid? At this point, Tara's greatest ambition is life is just to squeeze Jacob's cheeks. My sister is lucky we live so far away.

Yes, Tara IS alive

I've had at least one query, so I wanted you folks to know that, yes, Tara is still alive. I haven't buried her in some convenient plot of saguaro-covered landscape. She's been crazy busy at her new job. Between her regular work and "projects", she put in nearly 60 hours this week alone, including working yesterday. I have duly chastised her for letting her blog suffer. :)

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Some Twisted Fun

A few weeks ago, Tara came across a recipe for soft pretzels. She sent me this recipe courtesy of Ramblings of a Frantic Home Cook. It looked really good, so I saved it for later.

I was in the mood for a snack this afternoon, and since the recipe is very simple, I decided to give it a try. Luckily my little KitchenAid mixer was up to the task (or at least it didn't burn out).

Soft Pretzels

1 1/2 pkgs dry yeast
1 1/2 cup warm water
2 Tbs brown sugar
1 tsp salt
1 cup bread flour
3 cups all-purpose flour

1. Sprinkle 1/1/2 pkgs of dry yeast onto 1 1/2 cup of warm water and stir to dissolve
2. Add 2 Tbs brown sugar and 1 tsp salt and stir to dissolve
3. Add in 1 cup of bread flour and 3 cups of all-purpose flour
4. Knead until smooth and elastic. Place in lightly oiled bowl and let rise for at least 1/2 hour in a warm place
5. While dough is rising, mix 2 c. of warm water with 2 Tbs of baking soda. Stir until completely dissolved
6. Pinch off a bit of dough and roll to about 12-14 inches long
7. Dip the pretzels into the baking soda/water mixture and shape into pretzels. Brush with melted butter and sprinkle with course salt. Bake at 450 deg. for about 10-12 minutes

I made a few to sample and they tasted really good. I had some errands to run, so I let the rest of the dough rise for a few more hours. When I got home I rolled out the rest of the dough.
As you can see, I'm not a professional. :) Still after baking for 13 minutes, they looked pretty tasty.

Somehow I managed to miss the salt on three of them. Still, they taste pretty good. Tara sampled some of the first batch and they met her approval. Nice and crispy on the outside with a soft, chewy interior. If I'd thought, I would have sprinkled some of Tara's bacon salt on a few. :) Oh well. Maybe next time.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Teriyaki Chicken

Well, after a beef-tastic week, we are finally going to cook some chicken. I decided to use a slightly modified version of the grilled tuna teriyaki I made a few months back. I substituted 4 tbs each of mirin and sake for the Jack Daniels, as well as adding some grated orange zest from an orange we've had hanging around. I mixed the marinade in my blender and put the chicken into a Ziploc to soak overnight. Tomorrow night I'll fire up the grill and see how it comes out. I've used this recipe recently on more tuna, but only soaked it for an hour or two. Hopefully more flavor will infuse into the meat with the much longer soak time.

Friday, September 5, 2008

How to get Tara really excited

We stopped into Sweet Republic after dinner tonight and Tara started jumping up and down and grabbed my arm when she saw this flavor. We sampled it and she really liked it. She wanted to get Sugar n Spice ice cream, but I gently reminded her how badly she felt after out last visit, so she got Peachy Keen sorbet instead. I got Real Mint Chip. Very good.

We ended up chatting with the owners for quite a while. They are much younger than we expected. They are very friendly and discussed everything from where to get good bacon, what kind of ice cream flavors we enjoy, to Chinese and Thai food in the Valley. I introduced myself because I'd responded to a deleted thread one of them posted on Chowhound. It turns out that Sweet Republic is quite the CH gathering place. She knows quite a few of them now from their repeat visits. :) Or from the fact that one has always shown up wearing kilt... What's THAT about? :-D