Thursday, July 30, 2009

cranberry walnut celebration bread - bread baker's apprentice challenge #11

Another week, another bread. Bread number 11 in the Bread Baker's Apprentice Challenge is a braided cranberry walnut loaf, and if I'd known it was going to be so delicious I would have pushed myself even more to make last weeks corn bread.

This loaf was my first attempt at a celebration braid - one larger 3 braid, with a smaller 3 braid on top. Quite a sexy looking get-up if you ask me. While it worked well, even if the braids did fall apart slightly, some sections end up so small you may need to cut a few times to fill your tummy. Peter does mention of course you can bake it as a boule or in a regular loaf pan, something I would try next time.

This bread is absolutely jammed pack full of cranberries (9 oz) with a healthy side (3 oz) of chopped up walnut pieces. The trick I've learned with a bread like this, is to knead the dough without the goodies first. Once you are almost ready to give up, start incorporating the bonus goodies. By the time you're happy, the goodies will be peppered throughout and the dough will be ready to rise.

I was really impressed with the crust of this bread; for some reason it really appealed to me. The loaf was devoured in a day and a half as my fellow homesteaders enjoyed the bread with every meal, and my father claiming it made for a great midnight snack. We are all out of walnuts at the moment or else I wold bake it again pronto. Next time however I will cut myself a larger piece...or maybe hide it somewhere!

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Wednesday, July 29, 2009

the week that was and is - july 29th, 2009

Phew! Another week. Some days I just don' t know where the time goes. Besides a major lack of baking due to Edmonton's surprise heat wave, I've been busy building a new fence with my father, continuing the job search, and enjoying every second of the Tour de France. God I love that sport...anyone with me? In fact it was so fantastic, I had no problem waking up at 4:30 AM to watch live, and then watch the replay at 6:30 PM.

With cooler temperatures already, lets hope to get the hot box back on. Nothing overly exciting this week on the news, as I was busy, but here are two tidbits.

  • North Korea gets around to opening their first fast food joint. "You still can't get a hamburger in Pyongyang, but the suspiciously similar "minced beef and bread" is for sale at the North Korean capital's first fast-food restaurant"
  • Don't let your taste buds fool you, Consumer Reports proves that Burger King fries aren't as good.

Unfortunately I didn't get to Fork Fest, which saddens me inside a bit, but I hope for all that did it was fantastic. Anyone have insights into any must sees at this years Edmonton Fringe Festival? Or must eats at the Heritage Festival?

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Tuesday, July 28, 2009

holy carrots batman!

Every time I pull one of my carrots from the ground, my inner child can't help but do the happy dance. As a first time gardener, I hope I never lose this feeling.

This long line of carrots is growing so beautifully, that I can't help but snack once in a while; and for a guy who eats 5-6lbs of carrots a week, I'm surprised I can hold myself back.

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Monday, July 27, 2009

deer and lamb meet grill

The heat has put a damper on my creative baking, and basically brought the bread oven to a halt. Somehow cranking ye ol' hot box up to 450 or 500 degrees when it's over 30 degrees outside seems foolish. What is a man to do? BBQ I suppose, but even that can feel hot when it's still hovering around 30 degrees in the evening. I digress. Hankering for some BBQ'd tubes of meat, a coin toss was had to decide between Spolumbo's offerings or Valbella's. Vabella won out, and after a quick stop in at Sunterra we had Venison Smokies and Moroccan Lamb.

The venison smokies are similar to your typical sausage. It has a wonderful smokie flavor, not overly spiced and no gameyness. It tasted equally as good coming from the microwave as it did off the grill. The lamb is a different beast all together (no pun intended) and I was the only homesteader to enjoy it. While part of the problem may be a general dislike for lamb by my fellow eaters, I actually found the spice mixed used steals away some of the true lamb flavor.

Biting into the lamb, you instantly notice the lack of snap you get from the venison (or most smokies for that matter), and pick up on the softer texture. Where a typical sausage has a dense interior, the lamb reminded me of blood sausage. I think it's almost unfair to judge the two on the same scale. The venison is so close to your typical sausage/smokie that the softer, lack of snap, lamb version almost sits limp in this comparison. I think if you were to eat the lamb by itself, with out a direct comparison, the difference wouldn't be as obvious. Regardless, both products are worth a shot, so if you want to splurge a bit, try them both like we did..just remember that these two smokies are from different leagues.

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Thursday, July 23, 2009

corn bread - bread baker's apprentice challenge #10

This weeks BBA Challenge was cornbread, which in itself is normally straight forward enough, but with the addition of corn and bacon (two things I didn't have stocked) I just couldn't seem to put everything together.

Not picking up enough corn on my first grocery store visit, and then subsequently forgetting both additional corn and bacon, this recipe didn't seem like it was going to come around. Throwing in the towel on Tuesday, I decided to move forward without the corn. This recipe, which I think is the only quick bread in the book, is included for a reason; it's good. It is a sweet corn bread recipe that comes out beautifully moist with just the right amount of heaviness.

Without including the recommended 2 1/2 cups of corn kernels, I figured it would easily fit in a pie plate (instead of the recommend cake pan), and while it did fit, I ended up baking it 40 minutes instead of 30. Even so, the center still came out a little soft. Oh well, live and learn. The bacon topping adds a bit of extravagance and I think, along with corn, I'll bake this again soon..but in a 9x13 pan.

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Wednesday, July 22, 2009

the week that was and is - july 22nd

Did your garden survive the Edmonton storm. My tomato plant lost a few goodies and the hail messed with some lettuce..but all in all, things survived in decent shape. At least I didn't open my door to this..sorry Maki.

  • Fellow E-Town blogger Sharon, Only Here for the Food, has been invited to ring the opening bell this Saturday at the City Center Farmers Market How fantastic is that. The market opens at 9 AM, incase you were thinking about going down.
  • And because Sharon mentioned cupcakes this week, how about a new world record coming out of Minnesota. A 151-pound cupcake that is 12 x 24 inches with 15 pounds of fudge filling and 60 pounds of yellow icing.
  • And why not a little more gluttony. Our provinces very own Calgary Stampede produced this monster. The burger weighs 141.73 lbs. "It's more than three feet high, boasting three patties weighing 45 lbs each, with a custom bun, more than a lb of pickles, 10 lbs of tomatoes, two lbs of onion, five lbs of lettuce, five lbs of cheese and two lbs of sauce."
  • This makes me all warm inside. As the son of an Australian mother, my brother and I would eat enough lamingtons at Christmas each year to feed a small town.
  • Camel Candy anyone - "Dubai's Al Nassma , the world's first brand of chocolate made with camels' milk, plans to expand into new Arab markets, Europe, Japan and the United States"
  • A possible Starbucks name change, and the sale of beer in the works. I actually like the rebranded name - 15th Ave. Coffee and Tea.
  • What do you mean no fruit in my fruit juice - "A range of imported drinks marketed as fruit juice has been recalled after the Commerce Commission found the products contained little or no trace of fruit."
  • Fast Food Mafia, from silentsketcher at deviant art. Looks awesome.
  • Slacking on this weeks BBA challenge (cornbread) meant I had some time to whip up another loaf of challah bread. This time with Japanese toasted sesame seeds. So good, and I think this officially makes it the most baked recipe in the book to date.
  • And finally, if you haven't been watching the new season of No Reservations, Anthony started in Chile last week and was in Australia this past Monday. Things are good as ever, and he has already eaten some delicious looking meals (bone marrow on toast, yum!). Always gets the travel bug going in my mind.
Now, I'm back to the early morning broadcast of the Tour de France. I'm addicted!!

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Tuesday, July 21, 2009

rhubarb cake

I ended up putting together this cake after harvesting some rhubarb a few days back. Instead of cooking the rhubarb down, I sliced it really thin so there were coins of it throughout. Delicious and light without an over the top rhubarb profile; a big success at the homestead. I have a feeling this cake recipe may not even need a fruit addition, as it was super tasty on its own.

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Monday, July 20, 2009

capital ex - part two

What..more food options. You better believe it. Just remember, eat and walk! That way, we can get some exercise at the same time!

Sip! The food and wine experience wasn't open to the public when I arrived in the afternoon. It's described as a "gourmet alternative to traditional fare celebrates the unique, the unusual, the new and the tastiest beverages and foods in an upscale, modern environment." You buy $1 sampling tickets (sample are 3-5 tickets), and absorb the culinary atmosphere. It doesn't open until 5Pm though, with David Adjey being the big showcase this year.

They were prepping for a private event when I wandered by.

More exciting food inside.

Best part about Bob's Bombay stand was...

this massive pot of chicken curry.

I often think Filipino cuisine is under represented in our city.

This little stand had the coolest little machine.

Cute little cake molds, and dancing baker men!

Believe me when I say there are even more options, they just don't look as exciting. Plus there is only so much time you can spend eating before you need to shop. Everything you can think of. Vacuums, hair products, clothes, paintings, games...

Candy galore!

If your bored of shopping, why not have a go at the casino.

Or get your learn on at the King Tut exhibit.

All of the console makers were out demoing their latest games.

Food starting to digest, why not go throw yourself around on some rides.

Slingshot mayhem!

You will not find me on these rides. Too much for this guy.

Ferris wheel. Yeah!

This is my kind of ride. A nice 5 seconds on a giant slide.

Why not mix in some evil carnie games.

No matter what you enjoy doing, even if it's just people watching, Capital Ex has something for everyone. The Ed Fest stage this year includes K-OS, Our Lady Peace, Howie Mandel, Paul Brandt, Thornley and more.

Don't forget the sunscreen!

And finally, I took one crack at this $3 dollar water gun game. Even though I came out the lucky winner, somehow I don't think this prize is even worth 3 bucks. Oh carnie prizes!! Let me know if you head down this year.

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Sunday, July 19, 2009

capital ex - part one

I haven't been Capital Ex in many years but with all the culinary curiosities now, and gates opening Friday at noon, I decided to wander around on opening day. So here is a look at what you can expect. Let me know if you try any goodies.

Mini donut stands are out in force. Not only can you get your fix at every corner, but there is an array of 'competing' vendors.

A serious must have. So good.

Make your own giant slurpee.

Beignets and my first sign of deep fried Oreos.

Fried dough of all kinds

Taco in a bag isn't new, but the Arizona frybread taco was to me.

The worker described it as taco ingredients on a elephant ear. WTF!

There is definitely some good looking corn dog stands...

and some not so exciting ones

Chinese food

Why have a food long hot dog when you

can have a mile-long hot dog.


Wings and fries or


More elephant ears with every topping under the sun.

Award winning recipes here!

Maybe you want some Texas taters and tender beef.

Don't fill up on beef though...more deep fried goodies!

Including Twinkies, Snickers, and Cheesecake.

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