Saturday, December 29, 2012

Scones Take a Vacation Version 2.0

Dear Turkey,

I hope you aren't sick of hearing about my scone-periments. I wasn't totally nuts about my first scone attempt, so I decided to see what I could do about it. This time, they were really good, but still not as good as the ones at the coffee shop (or is it just the ambiance?). So, you may see a version 2.1 soon. As you will see, these are definitely not on my husband's diet.

Let me show you how I worked up an appetite for the scones:
running on slick roads like these is good for your glutes

i think my phone takes good pictures of winter wonderlands

this is our backyard; it's the view out our bedroom window. what does your backyard look like?

Now, onto the scones. I'm going to reproduce the recipe here because I changed some more stuff, and I want to talk about it. I like that this recipe has few ingredients (read: easy), and no eggs (read: I can eat the batter).

In a big bowl, I threw:
2 sticks of butter almost frozen
1 c cream
1 c whole milk (the cream and milk are the only two problem ingredients because I don't usually have these)
4 1/4 c flour
2 t powder
1/2 t soda
1/4 t salt
1 c choc chips (I still wish I had bittersweet choc chunks but I didn't [read: my mom didn't])

Then I took a pastry cutter (aka "the tuna chopper") and chopped away just until all the butter pieces were marble-sized, but not any more, even though not all the flour was incorporated. As I said before, the over-kneading made too much gluten, which made the scones chewy (which isn't bad, but it wasn't what I was going for). 
Then I took a piece of parchment paper and put it on a cookie sheet -- not a stone, because that spilled butter ALL over my oven and made my house smoky the next three times I baked -- and spread the dough out, flattening it with my hand as little as possible (the other option here would be to roll it out and keep doubling it over like croissant dough, but I was trying to duplicate the flakiness with less work [I know you're opposed to that]). Then I scored it with a knife (like I was cutting a pie). I read online that you shouldn't press the ends to make them square (it can interfere with the rising), so I left the edges ragged. 
I baked it at 400 degrees for 20 minutes. As soon as the butter that was pooling around the edges started to get brown, I took them out. Last time the edges of the scone got brown and, while it was tasty, it wasn't what I was going for. The middle of the scone looked molten, and I was worried, but it actually firmed up just enough after it sat out for a few minutes (I guess this would depend on the thickness of your scone; mine was probably a little less than an inch thick in the center before I baked it). I also learned that scones rise vertically, but they don't spread out, so it's okay to bake them all squished together. 

so we went on another voyage (this time they could sit on the seat because I didn't have a sooty cookie sheet) [cd for size reference]

the way home: success! half gone! (Don't worry, husband, I'll eat the rest)
So I hope this post is in the intellectual spirit of our blog: I made something. I wanted to make it better. I did research. I am sharing my findings. Now it's time for the audience to make them so we can have some peer reviews!

I moss you,

Thursday, December 27, 2012

I Heart Flours

Dear Turkey,

Here is a confession: I have at least fifteen different kinds of flours in my house.
more than can fit in this giant tupperware
I'll spare you a list, since you would probably want to skim that. But I will tell you what I did with them.

I put about ten of them in a big giant bowl
And I added oatmeal, flaxseed, salt, honey, yeast, and warm water. I let it rise once.

then I made them into balls and let them rise a little more
and then I baked them at 350 for 30 mins

It's that easy!

I moss you,

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Xmas at my House

Dear Turkey,

I'm back! Did you miss me? I thought about just putting all of this in one big mega-post, but then I thought, hey, I'm on vacation, and my baby is sleeping and my husband is finishing his book by Carl Sagan, and it's going to snow 16 inches tonight so I'll probably have lots of time to catch up on chores later, so why not just live a little and write two posts in a row?

So, Xmas. I am calling it Xmas because it's kind of like Christmas, except with  fake Jews and no Jesus. I would like to explain our new gift-giving regimen here, because I am proud of it, even though it has nothing to do with anything and you already know all about it:

A few years ago, I got really sick of Xmas being all about stuff and presents and consumerism and I wanted the day to be about just being together and hanging out. So I became the Official Xmas Scrooge/Dictator and made a decree that everyone is going to give everyone else one (1) gift costing no more than twenty (20) dollars ($). Then we are going to match our gift spending with a charitable donation (we take turns picking the charity; this year my dad picked Southern Poverty Law Center). We've also done this and this and a few others. This way, we help people, we don't spend all day opening presents (we also use lots of re-usable bags and stuff for wrapping), and I don't have to have an OCD attack when I get home with tons of stuff to put away.
Exceptions for my mom to get all her gift-giving out of her system: stockings and Hanukkah. Phew. I'm not complaining.

Here is another important part of the holidays at my house:
running to work up an appetite

even when it looks like this outside

For Christmas we had delicious bagels with toppings for brunch. For dinner we had stuffed mushrooms:
before baking

after baking

on beautiful glass plates
Then we had an old standby of my mom's, Moroccan Shrimp (man, I love it when I can find the recipe online and I don't have to type it all up; Real Simple has a lot of good recipes, I am not ashamed to say):

served on holiday plates
And, this is the best part, for dessert my mom made an ice cream cake with mint chip ice cream, oreo cookie crust, hot fudge, and maraschino cherries. Oh, you don't want any? I'll have yours.

I moss you,

I Was at Your House

Dear Turkey,

While you are relaxing in the sunny South, I spent Christmas Eve at your parents' house, as per tradition. So I just wanted to share it with you, so that it would be kind of like we were together.

As you know, your parents are famous for their Christmas Eve menu, which includes lots of unhealthy appetizers, beer-cheese soup (which is made with beer and cheese? or a cheese called beercheese? I actually helped make it once, but I don't remember), delicious salad, shrimp cocktail with many dipping sauces, and lots of expensive little cookies for dessert. I personally drank two bottles of sparkling cider (and I had to pee all night because of it), so I think I got my money's worth. I had a great time, but it was really weird not having you guys there, and, even though you TOLD me that you weren't going to surprise me this time, I kept waiting/hoping for you to pop out from behind a piece of furniture or something.

here is the traditional table

with your mom's cool holiday china
Anyway, I really moss-ed you, and our baby had a good time petting your dog (even though I kept trying to wash his hands afterwards...I'm not OCD...).

I moss you,

Friday, December 21, 2012

Scones Take a Vacation

Dear Turkey,

Here is a little holiday fable for you:

Once upon a time my friend and I went to this awesome new coffee shop. Everything there is great, especially the scones (and the coffee). Upon coming home, however, I realized that I probably didn't need to pay $2-something for one scone when I could make a whole batch for that much. So I made these from one of our aforementioned favorite cookbooks. 

as you can see, I used chocolate chips instead of currants

I used soymilk instead of cream (because I didn't have any, except what's in my breastmilk)

they were a little chewier and sweeter than the ones from the coffee shop, so next time I think I will cut the butter in with a pastry cutter instead of using my hands, and maybe use bittersweet chocolate and no sugar

then the scones went on a car trip to my friend's house...and my car smells really good now

luckily, we didn't eat them all, so I brought some back home (even though they are NOT on you-know-whose diet)
This morning, they were part of this complete breakfast. Well, let's just say this breakfast was completely delicious.

I moss you,

Thursday, December 20, 2012


Dear Turkey,

As a Licensed Massage Therapist, I would like to make the following recommendation for all of our readers for the holidays: "it's less work to just start with a bigger pot than to have to clean out the stove after your stuff boils over." Oh wait, that's what my mom tells me every time I cook at her house (which is frequently, since the ingredients are subsidized). I think that advice actually came from my grandma (not the Jewish one).

Here's my real advice that is within my scope of practice (not being a grandma myself): pamper yourself. Wow, that's original. Let's make it a little more specific: pamper myself. Or, if you're not me: pamper me.

Here's what I did last night (dramatization by paid actors -- do not attempt):
Me: honey, will you hold this sleeping baby so that I can pamper myself righ now, even though you had a stressful day at work and I had another day off with the baby at daycare?
Honey: I will do anything as long as you don't have a meltdown


Hot chocolate with frothed milk (normally I don't go for gadgets, but this one is worth it) in everybody's favorite mug with cinnamon on top. You might wonder why this is so pamper-riffic. It's because we have a rule: babies and hot liquids do not mix. So normally this isn't something I enjoy. For this reason, I had lots of time to contemplate this blog post last night when I couldn't fall asleep because of the chocolate before bed.

I moss you,

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Jew Food Extravaganza

Dear Turkey,

Wow! That was one amazing gingerbread project. Good thing your boyfriend is a masterbaker.

In honor of Hanukkah (or however you spell it), my husband put on his honorary gastronomical-Jew yarmulke and helped me make some of our favorite Jewish dishes. Rather, he did most of the work and I read him the directions from our cookbook while I played with our baby.

Actually, I finished making two of the things yesterday, which was a very special day for me: it was the first day since I became a mom that I had eight hours ALL TO MYSELF. That's right: no work, baby at daycare. It was a productive day, and I was glad to have it, but I was already grateful to have a job by about hour six. I could go on, but I'm sure your half of our audience doesn't want me turning this into a mommy blog.

Normally, I would make a different post for each of these dishes. But today I'm just going to get it all out of my system a la you.

First, matzo ball soup.
We usually do something like this: cut up an onion and some celery and sautee it, then add two boxes of broth, some carrots, a sweet potato, a zucchini, and whatever else. Cook it until it's just done, then puree it. Then throw in some spinach and tomatoes.
For the matzo balls, I use the recipe on the back of the matzo meal container, or, if I can't find that, the matzo meal mix (they pretty much the same). As per my family tradition, I cook the matzo balls separately  not in the soup (this is so that at Passover, vegetarians can add the balls to their soup without them being contaminated with meat).
delicious soup; so many things I could say about cooking the balls:

Second, mushrooms and barley. On that subject, let me share three fundamental rules of Jewish cooking:
1) Barley is actually pasta
2) "If it's brown it's cooking; if it's black it's done"
3) Use lard. If you can't, use butter. I break this rule and use olive oil all the time and my Jew food is delicious. Sorry, Grandma.
So, you sautee some onions and mushrooms in some oil, salt, pepper, garlic powder, and paprika (fundamental Jewish spices). Then you add a box of broth and one bag of "barley" -- and boil it until the barley is done (aka black -- just kidding). Then I put it in a baking dish and put some more Jew spices on top and bake it for a few minutes.

Finally, I tried something new:
the dough

the filling


And one more thing:
if you put a hot baking stone on your cutting board you can  find out that there is a design on the bottom

I moss you,

Monday, December 17, 2012

Ginger My Bread Yo: Now THESE Are Adult Cookies


I hope you enjoyed your anniversary candy. I would be ashamed to admit that I ate Twizzlers (no food included) on our cooking blog (all about food); your courage and honesty are impressive. But ew. So gross.

I have had a very busy weekend. Here at Chez Turkey we carried on my parents' tradition of lavish holiday parties. And yes, there was singing around the piano. And no, no one had seen a tree so big before.

Of course there were tons of delicious desserts (oh and some savory dishes too; more on those another time), but ours took the cake (get it?). As you know, my boyfriend (no not my husband) is a master gingerbread maker and this year our creation was appropriate for our first year in Boston. As always, everything in it is edible (OK, OK, not the gold foil on the coins, but everything else is).

Our gingerbread landmark map of Boston, and behind it our
enormous tree. Scale: cartoonish proportions.
Old Ironsides (near us in Charlestown), the Bunker Hill
Monument (no longer a hill since they used it to fill in the
area around Boston), and the Zakum Bridge.
The giant Prudential building (with lots of little Toblerone
buildings downtown), our Logan Airport airplane, and the
Charles River complete with shark (shark may or may not
actually exist)
Here you see Harvard (complete with all the money that BS
costs), the MIT building nearby, Fenway (with baseball
diamond painted inside, of course), and the giant Citgo sign
that marks the end of the Boston marathon (sorry for the
product placement, but hey, Citgo, major giveaway
 opportunity here!)
The Massachusetts State House, complete with gold caramel
corn dome (no teasing--it's really hard to make a sphere from
popcorn!), our house on the hill (who's read and who's green?
you tell me) and you can see signs we used to mark the T
stops. The Twizzler ropes (gross) map out the T routes.
Here's another full view for you, just because it's so awesome
And as promised....
I think this means you have to rename your cookies because
these are clearly the true Adult Cookies.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

How are YOU Celebrating the Anniversary of our Friendship?

Dear Adoring Blog Public,

In case you don't know, today is a special day. It's the anniversary of Turkey and Tofurkey's friendship (or should I say Tofurkey and Turkey). No, December 13th isn't necessarily the day that we actually MET (much like December 25th isn't necessarily the actual day Jesus was born -- no offense, people), but that doesn't mean we can't celebrate 2012 years of friendship (at least sometimes it feels like it's been that long).

To celebrate, I am enjoying the traditional Turkey and Tofurkey Friendship Anniversary candy extravaganza (served on a seasonal New Yorker magazine platter):
that's right
Like many aspects of my life, this post might be about love and friendship on the surface, but, deep down, it's about candy (deep down, I am probably MADE of candy, if you go by how much of it I eat at work). So, yes, I am ashamed. Not of our long-enduring friendship, but of the fact that it took me about two minutes to eat all this candy. And you can tell that I am ashamed, because as soon as I unwrap a piece, I immediately throw away the wrapper. Because a mountain of uneaten candy is beautiful. But a mountain of candy wrappers cascading off of my desk just makes me feel like a pig.

I raise my Twizzler to you, Turkey (after I took a bite out of it). Here's to 2012 more years!
by the way, did you know that all Twizzlers taste different? like, the individually wrapped single ones, the two little short ones wrapped together, the ones that come all stuck together in a package...?
I moss you,

Monday, December 10, 2012

Things My Husband DOES Like, and thinks should go on the blog

Dear Turkey,

If I were to make a new label for this post, I would call it Things My Husband Does Like, because...well...he likes this stuff...a lot. When we were doing our weekly ten mile run yesterday, he told me that I should put all this stuff on the blog. And this was before we'd even made it.

Usually he gives me some reason or another why not to put something on the blog ("I made it, not you," "you should only blog about the best recipes," "it needs tinkering"), and don't even get me started on the reasons he gives to not put something in our joint cookbook. Luckily, unlike the cookbook, this is my blog (okay, my and your blog), and I can put whatever  I want on here and he can't stop me.

First, Split Pea Soup from The Moosewood Daily Special (a really great cookbook). We pretty much follow their recipe. This is a truly awesome soup, and we love to have some in the freezer. The Moosewood recipes always have secret ingredients for the umami flavors that so many vegetarian recipes lack.

this is what it looks like when it's cooking; our windows got all fogged up with pea soup fog haha

when the peas begin to fall apart you know its done

so good
Then we made cranberry sauce, because we just didn't get enough during Thanksgiving. We boiled a bag of cranberries (minus the bag) with one cup of water and one cup of sugar until they started to bust open. Then we ate the whole thing in one sitting (no kidding). We also love to make orange and pear versions, but we decided to kick it old school yesterday.

well worth the ten minutes it took to make
and the two minutes it took to eat
I also made bread inspired by my favorite bread cookbook. This book taught me how to bake bread. Yesterday I made my usual sourdough, with special guests shallots and olive oil.

it went really well with the soup

and it should keep all week

I moss you,