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 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.

Things I Read This Week: April 7, 2017

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How was your week? I woke up to snow this morning, so I’m hiding out with a book and coffee until it melts. It’s also the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Vimy Ridge, so if you’re a history nerd like me, you should watch CBC’s 360 documentary, narrated by Peter Mansbridge. Here’s what I’ve been reading:

The Kitchn – How To Make a Cheese Danish for a Crowd
How amazing does this danish look? I’m visiting family next week and can’t wait to make this for brunch on Easter Sunday.

Wired – An Aircraft Design That’ll Make You Love the Middle Seat. No Joke
I’m six feet tall and mildly claustrophobic, so unless I’m traveling with two other friends in my row, I always book an aisle seat to avoid hours of anxiety and battles over the armrest. This new, wider middle seat design looks like a great concept and I hope to see it on planes in the near future — I’ll probably still choose an aisle seat, but at least I won’t feel so badly for the person in the middle!

Vice – Life After Betraying the Hells Angels
A fascinating glimpse into how the witness protection program changes someone’s life.

Food & Wine – 98-Year-Old Man Bakes Over 144 Apple Pies to Honor His Late Wife
“Everything [Leo Keller] bakes, he gives away for free. He whips up baked goods for the sick, for fellow widowers and widows, and even provides baked goods for funeral receptions. ‘To see the smile on their face. That’s worth all the money in the world. Nobody can buy that,’ Keller, whose caregiver occasionally helps make the baked goods, commented. ‘That smile means so much to me.'”

Munchies – These 3 Dudes Drove 1,000 Miles to Try the Only McDonald’s Pizza in America
I remember eating McDonald’s pizza as a kid and being less-than-impressed — after my friend’s “Make Your Own Pizza Party” at Pizza Hut in 1993, every other chain restaurant pizza paled in comparison — so I don’t know if I would spend two days traveling to West Virginia to try it again. How far would you drive for a taste of vintage McDonald’s menu items? I wonder if they also still carry the Arch Deluxe

Things I Read This Week: March 24, 2017

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How was your week? Listen, I know what you’re thinking: “Sarah, you just posted about carrot cake a couple of weeks ago.” And you’re not wrong. But hear me out! First of all, this is carrot bread. And second of all … okay, fine. You’re right. Here’s what I’ve been reading:

Smitten Kitchen – Carrot Cake with Cider and Olive Oil
Look, if you love carrot bread, you love it, and if you hate it, you should move on to one of the other links in this post. I promise* to lay off the carrot-based baked goods in the future.

Vulture – The Year of Living Publicly
You’ve probably seen this profile of Jenny Slate posted all over the Internet — I guess the Chris Evans connection makes this story pretty juicy — but you should read it because Jenny Slate seems like a hilarious, genuinely nice person. Another good read: Chris Evans Fights Back (the title makes it sound like he and Jenny are fighting, but really it’s just about being a superhero).

Food & Wine – How Your Instagram Posts Created a New Starbucks Drink
It’s satisfying to see a brand listen to customers and move so quickly to put a popular “secret” item on the menu to offer a consistent experience, like Starbucks did with the Cold Buster, though I’m still on the fence about steamed lemonade. Has anyone tried this drink yet? Did you like it?

Washington Post – SNL to Finish a Record-Shattering Season by Doing Something It’s Never Done Before
Beginning on April 15th, SNL will go live coast-to-coast for its final 4 episodes of the season, airing live at 11:30pm ET/8:30pm PT. As someone who watched SNL religiously during the Will Ferrell years before completely abandoning it for over a decade, I think that the show’s sudden resurgence in popularity is fascinating. Will you be watching these episodes live in your time zone?

Science of Us – There’s a Psychological Explanation for Why Tetris Is So Addicting
Did you know individual Tetris pieces are called Tetrominoes? Isn’t that just the best?

*note: promise not binding.

How to Make Any Regular Weekend Feel Like a Holiday

Last Monday was the first day of spring, which seems hard to believe given the negative temperatures and bare trees in Toronto this week. This, combined with the fact that there are no long weekends in March this year, has made it difficult to really, truly enjoy weekends. Sure, the days are getting longer, but it’s freezing and I can’t sit on a patio. Sure, I could stay home and binge-watch a Netflix series, but I want real, “thank goodness Monday is a holiday”-type R&R. What’s a girl to do?

Frigid, rainy weather be damned: with a little imagination, any weekend can become a long weekend, regardless of whether or not Monday is a work day. Here’s how I plan to spend my faux-long weekend:

Continue reading “How to Make Any Regular Weekend Feel Like a Holiday”

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”

Things I Read This Week: February 10, 2017

(via The Kitchn)

How was your week? The Super Bowl was a nacho-fueled roller coaster of emotion — Lady Gaga jumped off a roof, the Stranger Things season 2 teaser had me cancelling my plans for next Halloween, and the Patriots engineered an unbelievable comeback that is probably already being made into a movie starring Matt Damon as Tom Brady. Here’s what I’ve been reading:

The Kitchn – Steak with Drunken Mushrooms & Roasted Blue Cheese Potatoes
We’re staying in on Valentine’s Day and making this recipe for dinner instead of settling for a prix fixe menu that never seems to include the dessert I actually want to order. I feel good about this decision.

New York Magazine – Barack Obama on Five Days That Shaped a Presidency
An oldie but goodie. I keep going back to this article because the contrast between the former President Obama’s remarks on the economy and healthcare and the current administration’s stance on just about everything defies explanation. Barack, we miss you. I hope your kitesurfing vacation is treating you well.

https://static01.nyt.com/images/2017/01/29/nyregion/29jpMYSTERYALBUM8/29jpMYSTERYALBUM8-master1050-v2.jpgNew York Times – Love and Black Lives, in Pictures Found on a Brooklyn Street
“When I returned to Lincoln Place a few days later with the whole album, Mr. Burton and his wife, Lenore, were doing a puzzle at a card table. ‘You say you just found this album on the street?’ she asked, laughing. ‘I wouldn’t touch it. I’m amazed you would touch it.'” Would you have picked up this album?

Exclaim! – The Silver Dollar Still Facing a Very Uncertain Future, Despite Recent Reports
Between a number of smaller venues announcing closures in the past few months and others (Sound Academy, Molson Amphitheatre) changing their names in an attempt to revitalize attendance, something worrisome is happening to the Toronto music scene right now.

Tish Murtha, © Ella Murtha, All rights reserved

Metro – Tish Murta’s Powerful Photo Series Captures Unemployed Youths of Thatcher’s Britain
“Unemployment and all its associated deprivations are not only getting worse, but new technologies threaten to make the situation permanent. Behind empty pathetic talk of increased leisure opportunities and freedom from repetitive labour, stands the spectre of enforced idleness, wasted resources and the squandering of a whole generation of human potential. This is vandalism on a grand scale.” Tish Murta wrote this in 1981. Oof.