No-Knead Bread for Beginners

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It’s Mental Health Week! Seeing as baking is proven to be good for your mental health, I wanted to celebrate by sharing one of my favourite baking recipes: No-Knead Bread.

Like most novice bakers, I thought making bread would be too difficult to master. The stakes seemed much higher than they did for cookies or quick breads. I was afraid of failing after dedicating so much time to making a loaf of bread, so I avoided it. But as my baking skills improved over the years, I wanted to try something more challenging. Enter no-knead bread.

The recipe I’ve shared below is a mash-up of other recipes, namely Mark Bittman’s recipe from the New York Times, Mark Bittman’s recipe from How to Bake Everything (which has different proportions), and The Kitchn’s no-knead bread recipe. My first few loaves had problems (too gummy, too bland, unsatisfactory crust), so in an obsessive quest to resolve these issues, I turned bread into a science experiment.

This is my recipe for no-knead bread. I have baked this bread repeatedly and adjusted the recipe to suit my idea of what a perfect loaf looks and tastes like. That’s the cool thing about bread: it’s part science experiment, part magic. The slightest adjustments can yield different results. It’s all good, though; in the end, you have bread.

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You can make delicious bread, too. No-knead bread isn’t difficult, and you don’t need any fancy equipment, but it does take time; this recipe will take 22-24 hours from start to finish. Most of that time is hands-off, obviously, but if you’re baking bread for a specific occasion, be sure to start your dough early enough to avoid disappointment! If you put a batch of dough together before you go to bed tonight, you can have this bread for dinner tomorrow.

And finally, remember to trust and believe. This yields a very wet, slack dough that may look different from what you may have seen elsewhere. As long as your yeast is working (you’ll be able to see and smell it), then you’re on the right track. Don’t give up!

Continue reading “No-Knead Bread for Beginners”

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Things I Read This Week: April 28, 2017

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How was your week? Buds appeared on all the trees seemingly overnight and May is just around the corner, so I think it’s finally safe to say this: it’s springtime. Here’s what I’ve been reading:

Bon Appetit – Grilled Steak Salad with Beets and Scallions
I’ve made variations of this salad before, and it’s always delicious. Use a mixture of greens you like, and go for skirt steak if you can find it — despite its reputation as a tough cut, skirt steak is really tender when cooked to medium-rare and cut against the grain, plus it’s usually less expensive per pound than strip steak.

Saveur – The Real Reason Chinatown Produce is Crazy Cheap
Hint: it has nothing to do with subpar produce. Thanks to low overhead and their proximity to distribution warehouses, Chinatown produce vendors are able to pass on savings to their customers, as well as offer a wider selection of fruits and vegetables that are difficult to find elsewhere. Bring a reusable bag and experiment with produce you’ve never tried before!

The Guardian – The Ungrateful Refugee: ‘We Have No Debt to Repay’
A great read for anyone looking to get a more nuanced understanding of the challenges refugees face when arriving in a new country.

Racked – Princess for a Day, Disney Bride for Life
“The ceremony begins at 10 a.m. on a Wednesday morning, because Disney weddings happen ’round-the-clock … Brides and brave-faced loved ones arise as early as 3 a.m. to begin hair and makeup prep, employing glam squads whose typical call-times occur in the middle of the night. The guests, too, rise promptly — weddings that take place inside Disney’s Florida theme parks begin two hours before regular parkgoers enter, which means they can start as early as 7:30 a.m., or two hours after parks close.” This is next-level commitment.

Extra Crispy – Why Baking Is Good for Your Mental Health
File under “articles to refer to next time someone asks me why I’m baking yet another loaf of bread.”

Things I Read This Week: April 21, 2017

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How was your week? Toronto’s a good place to be this weekend — the Maple Leafs and the Raptors are still fighting through the first round of their respective playoff matchups, the High Park cherry blossoms are predicted to bloom any minute now, and tomorrow is Record Store Day! Here’s what I’ve been reading:

Bon Appetit – Braised Chicken Thighs with Squash and Mustard Greens
This is more of a cold-weather dish, but this spring has been all over the place and I think I have at least one more weekend of slow braising ahead of me before we (finally!) set up the barbecue for the season.

The New York Times – The Year of Conquering Negative Thinking
Have you ever noticed that it’s much easier to help a friend see their strengths and talents than it is to recognize our own? Why is that? We may never be able to completely escape our negative or anxious thoughts, but we can certainly learn to control them. One strategy: consider what advice you would give to a friend in a similar situation, then apply it to yourself. Deep breaths! We can do this.

Chatelaine – We Packed up the Kids and Moved to Tanzania. Then Things Fell Apart
This author’s account of moving her family from Ontario to Tanzania is far from the Eat, Pray, Love-esque travelogues we’ve become accustomed to seeing in the past few years, which is refreshing (not to mention incredibly anxiety-inducing!). Would you ever make such a huge, life-altering decision without a back-up plan?

The Stranger – The Heart of Whiteness: Ijeoma Oluo Interviews Rachel Dolezal, the White Woman Who Identifies as Black
Wooow. Ijeoma Oluo’s patience is unparalleled. This whole conversation seems like it required nerves of steel.

High Park Zoo – Help Name the Baby Capybaras!
The High Park Zoo’s three new #capybabies need names! You can submit your suggestions on the Zoo website until May 3rd; voting begins May 8th.

Things I Read This Week: April 13, 2017

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How was your week? The Toronto Blue Jays are back! The NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs started this week! This can only mean one thing: watching loads of sports and eating tons of snacks. Here’s what I’ve been reading, a day early because I’m traveling tomorrow for the Easter holiday:

Food & Wine – 17 Great Grilled Cheese Sandwiches
If you missed National Grilled Cheese Day on Wednesday,  catch up this weekend with one of these delicious-looking sandwiches, including the Époisses Grilled Cheese and Pepper Jelly Sandwiches (above), which I need in my life immediately.

NBC Sports – Flipping Out
October 2015 was a heady time: “Hotline Bling” was on heavy rotation, Obama was still President, and the Toronto Blue Jays won the 2015 American League Division Series over the Texas Rangers after a controversial 53-minute seventh inning in Game 5 that had everyone in our neighborhood bar gawping at the screen, occasionally breaking the silence to ask, “what in the hell is going on?!” MLB.com columnist Joe Posnanski and Parks and Recreation co-creator Mike Schur recap “a game NOBODY HAS EVER SEEN BEFORE” in what is definitely my favourite piece of sports writing ever.

PRI – These Capybaras Escaped the Zoo for a Summer of Love. Now They’re Back, With Babies
The High Park Zoo: come for the cherry blossoms, stay for the #capybabies!

Stereogum – What Happened To Ludacris?
Ludacris got married in 2014, is currently worth an estimate $25 million dollars, and has a huge movie coming out this Friday, but something tells me that wasn’t really the point of this question.

The New York Times – The Fighter
This feature on Sam Siatta, a veteran Marine who committed a violent crime upon his return from serving in Afghanistan, is one of three NYT pieces to win a 2017 Pulitzer Prize. It’s a sad story about PTSD and the cost of warfare, but worth your time this weekend.

Five Pie Recipes to Try on Pi Day

It’s March 14th, aka 3/14 or 3.14, and you know that that means — Pi Day! Seeing as so much of the East Coast is housebound due to a blizzard, it’s a great day to tackle a pie project, because pie is a) delicious, and b) a great way to pass the time when you’re stuck indoors. I’ve rounded up a few of my favourite savoury and sweet pie recipes, most of which can be made using pantry ingredients and won’t require a trip to the grocery store:

Continue reading “Five Pie Recipes to Try on Pi Day”

Things I Read This Week: March 3, 2017

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How was your week? This post is up bright and early because we’re going on a mini-road trip to Syracuse today to watch some sports and hang out for the weekend. I have a lengthy list of bars and coffee shops to try and I am READY. Here’s what I’ve been reading:

The Kitchn – 17 Favorite Trader Joe’s Products That Our Readers Love
“What do you want to do in Syracuse when we’re not watching sports?” “Trader Joe’s.” “And?” “Target.” “And?” “Any place they sell craft beers.” It’s going to be a great weekend. If you have any Trader Joe’s must-buys, leave them in the comments below!

Food & Wine – Around the World in 17 Breakfast Sandwiches
Your plans for the weekend should involve a croque-madame, a French classic that involves ham, cheese, egg, bread, and tons of butter. There’s no better Saturday morning meal!

Bon Appetit – What It’s Like to Be Rihanna’s Personal Chef
Doesn’t this job sound amazing and also extremely scary? What if Rihanna didn’t like my croque-madame? But it seems like Debbie Solomon is killing it: “That [certain and elegant] demeanor is likely one of the reasons Solomon has been so successful at her wildly unpredictable job: She gets what the perks are, but she understands the stakes, too.”

Fortune – Meet the Only Woman Who Knows the Oscar Winners Before You Do
I read this article on Sunday morning, a few hours before the Oscars. I thought it was interesting to know more about how the results are administered, but I never thought this background information would become so relevant. YIKES. To echo a million thought pieces on the subject: Moonlight deserved better.

The Atlantic – How Will History Remember Your Lifetime?
This is cool. Apparently, I’ve never lived in a world without Macintosh computers; I became a teenager the same year Can’t Hardly Wait was released; and at this moment, my life can be divided into two halves: before and after the International Space Station. #thisis31

Slow Cooker Chicken Burrito Bowls

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Confession time: if left to my own devices, I would eat burrito bowls every day of the week. There’s just something about the combination of flavours and textures that you get from a burrito bowl that keeps me coming back. Besides, I always make sure to load it up with lots of vegetables, so I don’t feel too badly about all the sour cream and cheese.

I love any excuse to pull out my slow cooker and have it do the work for me. This is a great meal prep recipe to tackle on the weekend and enjoy all week. You can use this chicken in a variety of ways — stirred into pastas, added to salads or sandwiches, or whatever you prefer. What I prefer is a burrito bowl heaped high with toppings that makes lunchtime more exciting, so here’s how to make that: Continue reading “Slow Cooker Chicken Burrito Bowls”

Things I Read This Week: February 17, 2017

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How was your week? Monday is a holiday and the new season of Chef’s Table is out on Netflix, so I’m looking forward to a long weekend spent planning lavish food-themed international vacations (a girl can dream, right?). Here’s what I’ve been reading:

Food & Wine – Michelle Obama and Martha Stewart Will Appear on MasterChef Junior
Ooh, this season is going to be good!

Science of Us – Psychologists Explain Why Ikea Is a Relationship Death-Trap
Forget the actual trip to Ikea — where any arguing can be placated with a well-timed trip to the hot dog stand — it’s assembling the furniture that always seems to bring out the worst in me. My brain just doesn’t seem to work that way.

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The Atlantic – What Mirrors Tell Us About Animal Minds
“Are eagles intelligent enough to recognize their own reflections?” Also: #notallcorvids.

Vulture – Rap Is Less Homophobic Than Ever, But It Has a Long Way to Go
“To be a rap fan that identifies as anything other than male and straight is to wade against a current pushing back at your very being, to be constantly driven by your heart to decisions your mind ought to reject.”

Ask Polly – I Got Sick, Dumped, and Fired. What Now?
“No one is watching you closely. No clock is ticking down. True emancipation means escaping the ravages of ego, escaping that second-to-second hunger and confusion that an insatiable ego entails. Emancipation means having the power to say: I am what I am, for better or for worse. This is me. I am here.”

(Pictured above: I recently made Smitten Kitchen’s dark chocolate tart with gingersnap crust and it was every bit as good as it looked. I sprinkled the top with Maldon salt prior to baking, which was a good decision. You could also easily make the crust with graham crackers if gingersnaps aren’t your thing.)

Instagram Favourites: Food Edition

I get so much cooking inspiration from Instagram that it’s hard to imagine a time when it didn’t exist. Seeing other people cook and bake beautiful things has given me the confidence to try new recipes and cobble together recipes of my own. In honour of Valentine’s Day, I thought I’d round up a few of the food-related Instagram accounts I love best … Continue reading “Instagram Favourites: Food Edition”