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Cooking with Irene

I brushed my teeth, grabbed my coffee, and set out to beat the elderly to the checkout lines (Yes, I feel guilty). Everyone else had the same idea.

The hurricane was coming and the meat lady promised we would all lose our electric. She was so convincing that I didn’t get far  before turning around and putting back  two packages of ground turkey that were on sale. It was hard to do, but as I said, the meat lady was very convincing.

The water was nearly sold-out and the milk was well-stocked. (I had to keep reminding myself that this was a hurricane, not a snowstorm. It’s all so confusing.)

I forgot D batteries. (My in-laws picked them up for me at 7-Eleven that night. My friend had stopped into a superstore that had sold out of them and was told by a cashier that security was called in to break up a fist fit over D batteries. Yes, a fist fight.)

While she handed me my receipt, the cashier told me to “be safe” and then she gave me this sad look. Oh dear. She too was very convincing.

I came home, kissed my babies, and went on a baking, cleaning, packing, prepping rampage.

I cooked a chicken, a turkey breast, and six bags of frozen vegetables. I made a couple of lettuce salads and baked granola and focaccia bread.

Here’s the recipe. It’s from Jamie Oliver.

Focaccia Bread

1  3/4 cups white bread flour

1  3/4 cups whole-wheat flour

1  1/2 teaspoons sea salt

1/4 teaspoon active dry yeast (1 envelope)

1  1/2 teaspoon sugar

1 cup lukewarm water

extra virgin olive oil

sea salt

freshly ground pepper

3 fresh garlic cloves, thinly sliced

a nice bunch of fresh basil (optional)

a handful of ripe grape or cherry tomatoes (optional)


Whisk the yeast and sugar into the lukewarm water and set aside.

In a large bowl, combine the flours and the salt. Make a well in the center.

When the yeast mixture foams, pour it into the well, blending it into the flour with a fork as you pour. You may need a splash more of water to make the dough come together. I usually need about 2 more tablespoons of lukewarm water.

Once the dough comes together, turn it out onto a lightly floured surface and knead it like crazy (not sure what that would look like if taken too literally) for 5 minutes or until it’s “smooth and springy.”

Oil a bowl, throw the dough in and cover with a damp towel. Put the bowl in a draft-free spot for about 30 minutes or until it has doubled in size.

Once it has risen, pound it down to knock the air out and then transfer it to a flour-dusted 11 x 15 baking sheet. Spread the dough to the edges of the pan. Cover it with the same towel used previously and let it alone for another 30 minutes to allow it to double in size. It may take a few more minutes depending on the weather, but it’s well worth the wait.

While you wait, prepare the topping by slicing the garlic and tomatoes and combining it with 3 tablespoons of olive oil, 3 pinches of sea salt, and 3 small pinches of ground pepper.

Next, you remove the towel, poke at the dough a bit, sprinkle with olive oil and then pour on the topping.

Bake for about 20 minutes or until golden.

Remove it from the pan and allow to cool on a wire rack. If you decide to use fresh herbs, this is when you want to put them on.

I’ve made this bread with different toppings. A favorite topping combo is roasted garlic, sliced ripened grape tomatoes, and fresh Thai basil. You can top it with different cheeses, meats, herbs, and vegetables. Try it out and then let me know what you come up with.


Day 2 of the hurricane:  I went to town. Everyone was losing electricity. I needed to bake as much as possible. It was a must at the time. I wanted to make a sour cream pound cake, but was afraid to make such a time commitment in case we did in fact lose electricity. According to everyone, it was just a matter of time.

So, I started with MaryAnn’s Pecan Goodness (see a past post for recipe), my own rocky road cookies (recipe may be unveiled), and soft spice biscotti (recipe will not be unveiled). Then, I made an apple slab pie (which baked for an hour, the amount of time the sour cream pound cake would have taken).

While I was working on the biscotti, Josh asked if I was done baking. So, when he asked if I was done when I was working on the pie, I knew he was really telling me to stop. I did.

We never lost power.

Day 3: We still have power and hopefully we still will because my honey whole-wheat pan bread is just about fully risen.

Make something. Do it while you still have power.


4 responses »

  1. the bread looks good! great post!

  2. Thanks! There’s nothing quite like homemade bread.

  3. Hello, I love your weblog. Is there something I can do to receive updates like a subscription or something? I am sorry I am not familiar with RSS?


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