March 25, 2008
We were just in Seattle visiting family (oldest son N, daughter-in-law T, middle son A, girlfriend E. The occasion was to meet N&T's new baby, our first grandchild. Babycakes is fabulously adorable at five weeks old, and we had a terrific time helping out around the house and taking care of her. The delicious-looking veggies above were knitted for Babycakes by the very talented E. One rattles, one crackles—all are pleasingly soft and cuddly.
I could talk all day and night about the scrumtious baby but, this is a vegan food blog, and Seattle is a vegan's paradise so the rest of the posts concerning Seattle will be about food. The nature of the trip was more home-cooking than restaurant-going, but we did manage a few ventures out with Babycakes in tow. We cooked from this blog and others and even watched a cooking show that should result in a carrot cake at some future date. There were restaurant foods that I want to reproduce at home, too, but that will have to wait.
First, a little back story. With all the snow we've had, we encountered problems with a leaking porch roof. Then, two days before departure, a downstairs front room began dripping from the ceiling. We called our roofer who said water had leaked in from the porch roof. We called a house remodeling and roofing company who said it was from an ice dam. Both said it would have to drip out and then we could do repairs but not to worry. Ha. I wanted to stay home until it was resolved but Ken convinced me to go and he would follow as soon as possible. The night before departure we were in bed and I said, "did you hear that?" Ken said, "I didn't hear anything." I said, "I heard a ker-plunk." He ran downstairs and called me immediately to see that a large part of the ceiling had fallen and water was dripping many places other than in the buckets I had arranged in the room. We cleaned up the mess as best we could. All the furniture was already in the living room and hall, the rug was a disaster. Ken called the insurance company. In the morning, after taking me to the airport, he called our plumber for advice and a disaster recovery company was suggested. They discovered a slowly leaking pipe in the wall coming from the upstairs bathroom. The plumber came and fixed the pipe, the leak stopped and the disaster people set up air and infrared machines, or whatever, to dry out the ceiling and kill the mold. Ken left on Tuesday and the machines were removed on Thursday. Whew. What a mess. Guess we won't be having company for a while.
Friday, my first day in Seattle, I made a batch of ginger bars. For dinner we had some delicious leftover vegan paella that T's mom had made when she visited, and froze. She doesn't use recipes so I can't provide one but it tasted great. The next day I baked "Outrageously Easy BIG Bread" from vegweb. I found a link to the recipe on my friend Claire's blog. I pretty much followed the recipe except I used half whole wheat instead of all-purpose flour. It was as easy as described and had a nice texture and taste, but it was a little too salty for me. It was so easy that I began to wonder why I use a bread machine at home. (Just kidding-I know why...)
Seriously, it was really easy. I think using hot water made the dough form much more quickly than cool water does. Kneading it was no problem - I wanted the dough to be kneadable, but still soft. I also wanted to use less yeast and have it rise longer. This fits into my schedule better as I was able to let it rise as long as I wanted until I was ready to form the loaves. It also improves the texture. As long as you use a big bowl, you can pretty much let it rise as long as you want. I think I left it at least four hours on one of the rises. I baked the bread two more times in Seattle and again today at home and changed it a little each time. The original recipe can be ready in two hours but I prefer my version. I use three cups whole wheat flour for the first addition and three cups unbleached (or one cup whole wheat and two cups unbleached) for the second. I use one scant tablespoon of yeast, two scant teaspoons of salt and 1/4 cup of olive oil. I use enough flour to make a soft but kneadable dough and knead it briefly right in the bowl. I cover the bowl with plastic wrap and a towel, let it rise, punch it down, let it rise again then form the loaves. I let the loaves rise about 1/2 hour or until double. I preheat the oven to 475˚ and bake the loaves on a stone. I bake for four minutes and then turn the oven down to 350˚ and bake for about 25 minutes. This is a very soft and delicious bread. Today I made it with caraway seeds but I want to try adding kalamata olives next time. The instructions from the link "Outrageously Easy BIG Bread" are very complete so there's no need to repeat them here.
That night for dinner I made braised greens with tofu, cashews, and raisins over polenta. I love this recipe. T doesn't like raisins so I used dried apricots instead. I made a double recipe which served five big eaters generously and provided lunch for three. I put my youngest son, J, to work making steamed carrots flavored with dill and a small amount of sugar and olive oil. No one could resist the bread so we had that too.