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Wednesday, February 11, 2009

I Cook for the Smell

I turned in my revisions on Monday (hoorah!) and immediately got cover copy to check over, a proposal for a website to look at, and a draft of Kate Pearce's new book which I've been dying to read and teasing her to let me get a sneak peek at FOREVER, and it's pouring kittens and puppies outside. Perfect day to stay in and work, right?

Except I want to bake bread.

Do you ever get those urges? It's like a craving. Not to eat the bread, so much as to bake it. I want to get my hands in the dough and knead the air bubbles out of it and get that little thrill when it actually rises in the bowl on its own. I want to slash the top of the shaped loaf to let steam escape in the oven, and make a pretty pattern, and most of all, have my house smell like fresh baked bread for a couple of days, now that the delicious aroma from my homemade vegetable soup has worn off.

I never made plain vegetable soup before, as in not beef vegetable, or some kind of puree. First I made a vegetable stock, inspired by Deborah Madison's Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone (my new cookbook obsession), then I chopped up a bunch of winter vegetables like carrots, parsnips, celery root, parsley root, swiss chard, and leeks. I softened the leeks in butter first, then added salt, pepper, and the rest of the vegetables to give them some color. When they began to get tender, I added enough stock to cover them, a few handfuls of leftover saffron rice, and let the whole pot simmer away for about 15 minutes. Delicious! The sweetness of the parsnips and carrots balanced nicely with the bitter chard, and the leeks gave a soft, oniony piquancy to the broth. I was a little over-generous with the pepper, having forgotten the way pepper intensifies overnight, so the leftover soup has quite a bite, but it's still good. And almost gone!

So clearly, I must bake bread. I've baked bread before, most memorably brioche loaves with my kitchen accomplice, Meg, when she visited from New York. But I don't know that I'm ready for some complicated pain de campagne poilane loaf that will require a starter, a sponge, and three days to get it right, although that's what Stinger has been agitating for. We'll see what happens.


Hmmmmmm...maybe go halfway, and make a couple of the rolls recipes from this month's Gourmet? That way you don't have to eat all of it right away (they probably freeze nicely), plus you get a smattering...

Or, now that the revisions are in, it could be time for the great baguette experiment (complete with steam & piping hot brick), though I'd selfishly rather you wait for petite moi. :-) is butter vegetarian? lol

Okay, enough blog hopping. I have work to do.

Challah is a nicy easy one-day bread, with plenty of kneading and rising and that wonderful yeast smell. I just baked my Dad's family recipe a couple of weekends ago and it was incredible. Picture and recipe at

It's raining like crazy here in Michigan, too, and I have to admit I'm enjoying the break from snow snow and more snow.

Mmmm.. all sounds delicious, Louisa. Do not pay attention to Kristen. Butter is definitely vegetarian;)

I never ever said I would be a vegetarian! I just like the cookbook. And either way, I wouldn't be a vegan for anything on earth. Sorry, Ms. Raw Diet.

Molly! I'm afraid of challah. It's the braiding, it intimidates me. Yours came out gorgeous, though!

Did you get the five minute bread recipe from Divas?

And I hate figs.

I would explain, but it's X rated and it might make you hate figs, too.

No butter/eggs is vegan.

Eva, I could never hate figs. Period. Is the Diva bread good?

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