Category Archives: Groceries and Ingredients

Pretzels and a little peer pressure

“Now you’ll be glad to know the president will practice safe snacks.” —First Lady Laura Bush, talking about Bush’s pretzel mishap, on the Tonight Show

A few of my lovely coworkers have been reading this blog.  (Thanks guys!)  And, not surprisingly, one of them inquired when I was going to bring something off the list to share at work. (Our office has a healthy rotation of regular carb sharing)  In fact, he even made a couple suggestions, since obviously, no one wants to share lobster at the office.  Well…maybe at this office, but not at our office.

So I took the hint and started looking at the list.

I was browsing some back issues of Everyday Food by Martha Stewart and stumbled upon this recipe for Sweet Soft Pretzels.  Perfect!  I can make something off the list AND have a carb-licious treat to go with everyone’s morning coffee.

The pretzels start with a basic dough recipe, which Martha supplies here.  And of course, Martha’s recipe is totally simple and versatile. (Pretzels in the morning, pizza for dinner!)  The dough is really easy: mix the water and yeast and let sit for a few minutes.  Then whisk in the sugar, oil and salt.  Finally add the flour and mix until it forms a sticky ball.  Like this:

Freshly mixed dough

Cover and let the dough rise for about an hour, until it has doubled in size.   For some reason, this is always thrilling to me.  Coming back an hour later and seeing it grow like some crazy science experiment…it’s just weirdly exciting!

IT'S ALIVE!! (Technically, it is "alive". Damn, science is wild sometimes)

A quick note: I made the dough the night before making my pretzels so it would have time to rise.  I also timed my walk the next with the flyover pup around the dough.  The dough was resting while we were busy barking at joggers in our neighborhood.  This way I could make fresh pretzels for work without having to get up at 4am.

Ok, so we have the dough…now on to pretzels!  I separated the dough in half and mixed 1 half with chocolate chips and one half with some golden raisins.  Then let it rest again while walking my fluffy friend.

After the dough has risen, I used 1/8 of each half to make the individual pretzels.  The hardest part was pulling and rolling the stretchy dough into a thin enough length to then form a pretzel.  I found that I was stretching, forming into a pretzel, then holding it up to stretch it again so it would be thin enough.

Formed Pretzels...in a (unintentional) variety of sizes!

NOTE: the Everyday Food recipe has a super simple diagram of how to make a pretzel shape.  (Make a U shape, cross the long ends, the bring down to the bottom of the U).  So used that if you need help.  Despite having watched the pretzel makers at the mall, I’m 95% sure I would have had trouble figuring out the process.  I can’t even draw a pretzel!

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The Polenta Search or “How I learned about an Italian staple”

“She did not so much cook as assassinate food.” – Author (Margaret) Storm Jameson

DISCLAIMER: If you are an experienced Italian chef, or have traveled Italy extensively,  or (just to be safe) if you are a part Italian, it’s probably best if you do not read the following post, lest you lose all faith in me.

A Healthy Reminder

A Healthy Reminder

Last night I was writing a grocery list while standing in front of the list of 30 Before 30 list taped on our fridge.  I have fallen slightly behind, so I wanted to buy ingredients for several dishes.  One of those dishes being polenta.

I had a basic idea of what polenta was and I’ve eaten it once.  Strangely enough, I do feel like it shows up on “Molto Mario” or even “Top Chef”  more often than it shows up on the average menu in flyover country .  Hence, my knowledge is limited.  That being said,  I couldn’t  find polenta at the grocery store.  I looked in the Italian section. Nothing. Then I looked by the grains and flours.  Nothing. I even asked the assistant manager where it was, saying, “Polenta….it’s like cornmeal”.

(Some of you are now shaking your heads.  I told you!)

Not only is polenta “like cornmeal” , um, it IS cornmeal. Riiiiiight.  Teachable moment: do your research.

Polenta is made from cooking cornmeal slowly with liquid until it becomes creamy.  It is very clear from even this (questionable) source and is pretty damn obvious from a cursory glance at this basic recipe.  (Shakes head).  Seriously.  I bet even the “Jersey Shore” kids know how to make polenta.

Ok, now I’m being hard on myself.

The elusive Polenta

SO: The good news is that I already have all the ingredients, so I can make polenta without further embarrassment (I hope).

The bad news is that I didn’t even make it 6 months on this blog without a Jersey Shore reference.

xoxo The Flyover Foodie