Sunday, April 12, 2009

Goodwill Day 2

So of course the other ice cream maker ended up being at the one Goodwill store I swore it wasn't at. Literally the last one I checked and the only reason I checked was to prove to myself it WASN'T there. That show myself who's boss.

Well, we all know the answer to that is Tara, right?

At least I found the damn thing.

Goodwill Day

For today's activities, Tara and I decided to checkout the various Goodwill stores in the area since it was their 50% Sale Saturday. We've been going to them lately looking for some clothes for our upcoming trip to Hatteras, NC. Since Tara got laid-off a couple weeks ago, Goodwill has been a good option.

Last night I'd visited one store and found a couple nice coffee grinders (for grinding whole spices, as I don't actually drink coffee) and a small deep fryer (for doughnut research). I took note so I could visit today.

After another great lunch of dim sum at China Chan near MetroCenter Mall, we headed to the GW at 35th Ave/Northern. It was the southern-most GW on our original itinerary. We didn't find anything of interest, but did see a worker escort out some loser who had tried to shoplift something. From Goodwill. On 50% off day. They didn't call the cops, but warned him not to come back.

Next, we headed to the GW at 19th Ave/Thunderbird, the location of the appliances I had my eye on. Since it was early afternoon, they were long gone. There was a somewhat worse-for-wear lower-end model that I passed on. I did, however, get lucky when one of the workers came into the shorts section and hung up a nice pair of jean shorts exactly my size right in front of me. They barely settled on the rack before I grabbed them. I was happy now.

We hit the 35th Ave/Greenway and 19th Ave/Bell store but didn't find anything. At the 7th St/Union Hills, I bought some jeans and a pair of cargo shorts. From there, we hit Happy Valley but didn't find anything. At 40th St/Thunderbird I found a pyrex loaf pan, perfect for my current bread baking kick. 35th St/Greenway was another goose egg.

The Cactus/Cave Creek Rd store provided one of the deals of the day. While I was looking at jeans and shorts, Tara went into the electronics area. She came over to me bearing a new-looking KitchenAid coffee grinder. At only $4.50 after discount, I was very happy. It was better than the other two I'd seen, so I was quite psyched. I know, it's the little things.

As this was the last of the stores we knew off-hand, I looked at the map of locations I'd printed last night. There was a location at 7th St/Dunlap, just down Cave Creek Rd from where we were, so we headed down the mountain. That store proved to be a treasure trove for us. Two new-looking non-stick loaf pans, a pop-over pan that I saw and Tara had to have, and a Cuisinart ice cream maker. All for only $9.

As we waited to pay, I remembered I'd seen an identical ice cream maker that was missing the paddle at one of the other stores. It would be great for the spare freezer bowl. The problem was, I couldn't remember WHICH store. By this time it was nearly 8pm. We back-tracked to the four most recent stores but it wasn't any of them. It was now 8:50, so we decided to call it a night.

Grand total for it all: $25.
New retail cost of just the grinder and ice cream maker: $80.

That's math that I like.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Gram's Hot Cross Buns recipe

Growing up, the coming of Easter heralded the arrival of Gram's hot cross buns. She'd start making them in the weeks before Easter and drop a batch off at the house. These are my all-time favorite rolls. I loved the sweetness of the bread and especially the glaze that is drizzled over them. She usually added raisins, but would make at least one batch without as some of us didn't like them. Usually we'd just pick out the raisins after the plain buns vanished.

Once when I was young I helped Gram make them, but it was so long ago I only have vague memories. My Aunt who lives in Tucson mentioned that she'd made some this year, so I asked her for the recipe. This was the first thing I made after the dough hook arrived. They are pretty easy to make and they tasted almost exactly like I remember. Hot out of the oven with butter, they were amazing. They reheat very well in the microwave. I cut them in half and spread butter on top and bottom. Reassemble and nuke for 10-15 seconds. The bun gets warm and the butter melts. Not quite as good as fresh, but still quite yummy.

When I made them, I weighed the dough on my kitchen scales and divided them into balls of approximately equal size. I spread my rolls out so they weren't touching on the sheet pan, but you can put them right next to each other if you wish. I got just under two dozen rolls out of this recipe.

Hot Cross Buns

1 package yeast (I used Active Dry)
1 cup milk
1 tablespoon sugar

Scald milk, let cool to lukewarm (~115 or so) and then dissolve yeast and sugar in milk.


1 1/2 cups flour to make spongy mixture: beat until smooth, cover let rise about 1 hour.

Cream together and add to mixture:

1/3 cup sugar
1/4 cup butter
1 egg


2 cups flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
Raisins (optional)

Knead and let rise until double. Shape into balls, place on greased cookie sheet, and let rise again until double. Bake in 350 degree oven for about 20 minutes.

Frost while warm:

1 cup confectioners sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla
2 tablespoons warm water

Traditionally the rolls are frosted in perpendicular lines so that each bun has a cross on it. I prefer more frosting so I tend to cover them liberally. The frosting is somewhat trial and error to get the right consistency for this. If you want a lot of frosting, double the amount. My Aunt uses milk in the frosting instead of water, but I haven’t tried it that way yet.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Weekend Baking - Basic Bread

Ever since I got the new KitchenAid, I've wanted to make bread. My old KA struggled with the pretzel dough I made a few months ago, so I was afraid to push it with heavier bread doughs. Since the new KA was a demo model, it only came with the whisk attachment. I ordered the paddle shortly after I got the mixer, but only recently did I get the dough hook.

For my first attempt at bread, read through the various lessons at The Fresh Loaf, a web site for amateur bakers and artisan bread enthusiasts I'd stumbled across a while back. Their first lesson includes a basic recipe. They use this as the starting point and later lessons explain how various added ingredients affect your bread. My last foray into bread making involved a bread machine, so I didn't mind starting from square one.

I stuck with the recipe except for increasing the oven to 400 degrees instead of 375. I'd read through the other lessons and one method for crustier loaf is to increase the temp. The loaf came our pretty good. It was very dense and crusty. Not the greatest loaf ever, but good for a starter loaf. As you can see from the picture, it didn't look half bad either. Tara and I made fairly short work of the loaf.