Wednesday, February 27, 2008

More Ceramics

Our second ceramics technique was coiling. The instructor wanted us to build something big, so we'll get enough coiling experience, but I'm sure she didn't envision something quite as big as my toucan...

It was intended to be a pitcher, but no one can lift this thing with one hand. I think I will use it as an umbrella holder - it rains a lot here in the desert! We do need to get an umbrella!

Mark wanted to make an eyeball.

Ask anyone who ever tried their hands in coiling and they will tell you - it's hard to bring the clay to go in - but Mark did it. The pupil can be removed and the rest of the eyeball can serve as a pot, but I think we'll just keep it as an eyeball. We'll see ;)

Tuesday, February 26, 2008


I should first explain that the reason you recently see more of my baking rather than Mark's is not because he's not baking. It's just that he's baking the same things that already got the spot light. On Friday he made a pizza that was just as great as the Christmas pizza, but without any toppings; and on Sunday, he baked a sandwich bread, which this time I ate with goat cheese, marinated artichoke, green olives, a slice of tomato and balsamic vinaigrette - it was delicious!

I've been wanting to make empanadas for quite some time now. I never ate meat empanadas until my friend's ex made them vegetarian style, and it was delicious! (Note for self: need to find synonyms for delicious). So I decided to try and make them. Of course, there's no way to ask my friend's ex for the recipe, so I used this one instead. Needless to say, I used ground meatless, and I also added olives, because I saw them in other recipes.
The dough was hard to work with, but my empanadas turned out pretty good:

Mark didn't like the cloves, so next time I'll omit it, but overall I think it was a success. I would like to try some with corn filling as well sometime.
Though I think I will have to go back to Chile if I want to eat those really good ones - steamed cheese empanadas - I got from the kids who came onto our bus as it was loaded onto a ferry, on the way to Chiloe.

Monday, February 18, 2008


For Rebecca's Master party (Master Rower, that is) I decided to get frozen burekas from the store, so I will have enough time to make a card. Getting frozen burekas seemed like a great idea to me, because it would be super fast to make them, with minimum effort, AND everybody will like it because they've never had it before and it's completely unfamiliar to them - they might even think I made it myself! So I looked for a place that might sell such a thing, namely a Kosher grocery store, on the web, and found one that was right off the greenway, about 4-5 miles away. Perfect - I can ride my bike! I was on the bridge over Salt River when it suddenly occurred to me that a "Kosher" store might be closed on Saturday - you know - the holy day. When I lived in Raleigh, I could get such things from the Persians - they were open all the time. So I called Mark and asked him to call and see if they're open before I make it all the way to there. Sure enough - they're closed! And not only for Shabbath, but completely, since 2001!
Then I thought that maybe the Turkish grocery store would have something. It's only about a mile from our place, so I was off on my bike again. When I arrived I found a couple of people loading boxes of groceries on their van, parked right at the storefront. "Oh, they must be having a party or something," I thought. I walked in to find empty shelves and cleared floor. "Khalas, no more store," the owner told me.
Oh, no! What am I gonna do? Will I have to bake them myself?? I went to Food City to look for ingredients - butter and Feta cheese. Butter was too expensive, and they didn't have Feta. I'm doomed!
So I went back to the house, and google-mapped "Bulgarian grocery", because Bulgarians have the best burekas. The results included a middle eastern grocery store located too far for a bike ride (for me) but not too far by car. I went there and looked for frozen burekas. They didn't have them. They had filo filled with cheese and spinach (spanacopita?), but not burekas. But, they had Bulgarian Feta and puff-pastry leaves. I figured I can handle that - making the filling wouldn't take all that long, and I won't need to make the dough myself.
So here they are, in the container, on the way to Rebecca's party:

Indeed, it did not take long to make, and I still had time (despite spending hours just looking for a store!) to make the card (with a rowing leaf-cutter ant, of course).
The party was fun! I watched, yet again, "The Triplets of Belleville", and it was still good, and there was a lot of good vegetarian food. I think my burekas turned out pretty well. Well, at least they were pretty :)

Friday, February 8, 2008

Playing with mud and muffins

I know that they're not edible, but still they are baked goods. I'm talking about ceramics, of course! Mark and I are taking a ceramics survey course (a.k.a a beginners class), and this is our first batch - the technique was pinch-potting - the very simple technique that kids use in 3rd grade. It was fun, nonetheless! Then we glazed our pieces, which gave some very surprising results - that stuff drips a lot more than you'd expect!
Well, here are our masterpieces:

We brought them home on Tuesday. Then Mark baked his staple muffins: banana-walnut-butterscotch muffins - yum!
They are so moist and good (the addition of butterscotch chips was my idea!) that the muffins I made for today's lab meeting (healthy low-fat banana-granola muffins) seemed, well, not-so-good. My muffins did get a good score by the food critics Dani and Rebecca, but that's only because they never had the banana-walnut-butterscotch muffins :)

No, they're not as good as they look - they're better!

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Imagine We Are Greek

This pizza is mostly Mark's invention. It all started when he made something out of the internet - we both completely forgot what it was - that had yogurt in the dough. He later experimented using the dough (or some modified version of it) as a base for spinach and feta, added some Kalamata olives, sun-dried tomatoes and garlic, and yasu - a great Greek-inspired pizza!

I really liked how the olive oil brushed new pizza pan made the crust really crispy!

Monday, February 4, 2008

Flotation and Levitation

The weekend began with Mark's lemon poppy-seed scones. He made them using a lemon we picked from a tree by our place. The lemons were pretty high up and Mark had to jump in order to reach them. It was quite a treat to see him do that!

Of course, they were yummy - soft and fluffy on the inside, crispy on the outside.

On Saturday I decided that I should bake something. Although the ensaimadas were on Mark's "to bake" list, I decided the recipe looks simple enough for me to give it a try. This is how the turned out:

Nice, ha? I must say, they look much better in the picture than they did in real life. And I really had trouble getting the dough to rise. The recipe said to keep it in a warm place for an hour or until double in bulk. I waited more than an hour, and it still looked as if it hadn't risen at all. But when Mark lifted the dough, we saw air bubbles, so I guess it did rise a little bit, only not noticeably. I thought that maybe in the second rise, after the shaping, I would have a bit more luck, but no. It stayed exactly as it was before. But then they did rise in the oven (well, some of them).
Now Mark has to make them again sometime, so I can see what they really should be like!
They tasted good despite all the trouble they gave me :)

Last night I made these heavenly clouds. They have nothing to do with baking, but they look so nice, floating in a sea of vanilla custard, I had to put it in. It's some kind of a French dessert, I guess, made out of eggs and milk, and since Mark never finishes his cow milk before the expiration date, I figured I can use it up this way. I made it according to this recipe, except I cooked the clouds in warm milk (actually it was leftover fat free half 'n half).

We had a lot more clouds that didn't fit in the dish, so we could refill the dishes as we watched "An Unreasonable Man". The custard was a bit too sweet for me - I think that next time I'll put less than what the recipe calls for - but Mark liked it as it was.