• Elle's World
  • Cooking with Elle and The Boy: Weekly Bread

    Yesterday Suzanne mentioned that today would be “I see what you’re saying day.”? (I don’t know why I get pulled into these kinds of things.)? And since people hear Vlog and think me I thought I should stand up to my reputation.? Truth is the boy and I got bored the other week and decided to do something fun.? We filmed a cooking show.? (actually 2, but I haven’t edited the other one)

    In our “pilot” episode we made bread.? This is the bread I make every week for toast and sandwiches.? (a foccacia loaf is also shown.? I made it that day too, but didn’t film that)

    I’m not sure if this is going to become a regular feature around here or not.? We had a ton of fun doing this, but it took me 3 hours to edit this little 15 minute video.

    The recipe comes from “The Bread Bible” by Rose Levy Beranbaum, and is the Cracked Wheat Loaf.? I have stopped putting the actual bulgar wheat into the loaf because I’m a fan of smooth bread.? So that step is omitted.? I will also note that it took all day to film this.? We started at 10:30 a.m. and I put the bread in the oven at 8:00 p.m.? That is why you’ll see my wardrobe change.? And please no comments on the pants.? I don’t know why I keep them let alone wear them.

  • Bitch & Moan
  • Mommy Wars: are you serious?

    It all started a year ago when I was enjoying my breakfast.? Behind me on the TV there was a commercial playing.? I guy on the screen walking around a grocery buck naked talking about the benefits of sugar.? Really?? We are to the point where we are freely advertising something that is making us fat?? Sugar.? Cavity causing, heart disease increasing, obesity making, diabetes inducing sugar.

    A few weeks prior to seeing that we (the trusty husband and I) talked about challenging ourselves to removing all sugar from our diets for 1 month.? It didn’t work because I can’t get the trusty husband to eat Adams Peanut butter or any other peanut butter without sugar.? We let it go.

    Last month my newest issue of Wondertime Magazine arrived in my box.? I love Wondertime day.? Their content has started to slide a little in the past few months, but I always get something interesting from each issue.? In this particular case I happened to get this post out of it.? For hidden in the pages was this:

    Click on it to make it bigger and you’ll see why I’m all in a twitter.

    I’ve been researching stuff for this post for a few days now and had planned on writing it yesterday.? I just ran out of time.? Then, ironically enough, Jen posted something about the same subject today.? If you’ll notice… that ad above, the one I pulled out of my Wondertime Magazine, is for corn syrup.? Not just any ol’ corn syrup I might add.? HIGH FRUCTOSE Corn Syrup.

    It claims that high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) is nutritionally the same as sugar and honey.? While that may be true in a round about manner it is so far from the same thing it isn’t even funny.? Yes, sugar, honey and HFCS all have 4 calories per gram.? But that is where the similarities lie.

    The website cited in the ad* claim that all 3 (we aren’t counting “artificial” sweeteners) are natural.? I beg to differ.? If you cut down a stalk of sugar cane and chew on it it is sweet.? If you had the balls to stick your hand into a bee hive and pull out a chunk of raw honey… also sweet.? If you pulled an ear of corn off of a stalk that is bound to become HFCS or some other corn by-product, you would spit it out.? I know.? I’ve eaten it.

    True, corn is a natural product.? But the stuff they make into corn by-products is so far removed from it’s natural state by the time it gets into that food like substance you can’t call it natural.? It takes many steps to convert corn into HFCS.? It is broken down, treated with enzymes and other chemicals.? Not to mention that the corn itself is genetically modified and two of the enzymes used to create HFCS are also genetically modified.? So tell me how that is natural.

    If you want to learn more just read this interesting article about how HFCS is made.

    The sweetener of choice in our house is honey.? I’ll put that out there.? Why?? Because it is the least processed of the 3.? This isn’t to say that I don’t have a bottle of pure unadulterated HFCS sitting in my cupboard (what do you think those Sweet Hope Truffles are made from).? I also have a tub of refined white sugar, a package of sugar in the raw and a box of Sweet n’ Lo.? But given the opportunity to sweeten my tea or bread I will pick honey.? Not that I drink sweetened tea.? I also don’t salt most food, but that’s a different topic all together.

    I’m just asking you to think about where your food comes from and how it got into the form it is currently in.


    *I won’t link the website advertised.

  • Bitch & Moan
  • A review of sorts

    If you’ve been reading my blog for some time (or anytime for that matter) you will know that I rarely, if ever, do reviews.? Not because I’m snooty like that, but because if I think a place is good or bad I’ll come right out and say it.? Or rather I’ll work it into a long involved story that in a round about way ends up being a review but without the boring star rating system.? Kinda like this post will likely turn out.? And as with all of my stories you need a little background.

    I bake bread.? I’m not supposed to eat the bread, but there is something therapeutic in baking bread.? So I bake it and sneak bites when no one is looking.? However, I get lazy.? Honestly, who doesn’t.? Isn’t it so much easier just to run down to the store and pick up a loaf?? Especially when I am snooty about what kind of bread can enter our home.? Preferably a local bakery (there are none) or at least handish made.? Unfortunately the one we found that fits our criteria is over $4 at the super market and the same loaf is over $6 at the vegetable store I shop at.? Six bucks for a loaf of bread?? Good lord.

    Sadly, Tacoma lacks in the artisan bread department.? As in (until recently) there were none.? At one point I wanted to build a wood fired oven in my backyard and make artisan bread to sell at the farmers market just so this town could have decent bread.

    *End of back story*

    This afternoon the trusty family decided to take a trip to the Tuesday Farmer’s Market.? (we had to bribe the boy with a cookie to get him out of the house.? I think he secretly knew his pants were on backwards and didn’t want to go anywhere nor fix them… we knew… we didn’t fix them)? As we wandered through our little Tuesday market we (I) spied a bread vendor called the Upper Crust.? Now there are a few bread vendors at the Thursday market, but they sell loaf bread.? Wholly different than true artisan bread.? I’ve thrown my gluten free life right out the window because of the SAD (it’s a side effect, carb craving).

    I told the trusty husband I wanted a loaf of bread and the choice came down to Sourdough Baguette or French Baguette.? I picked Sourdough.? I shelled out my $5 (I know, but hand crafted bread is worth the price).? We planned to eat our bread with artisan cheese from Estrella Cheeses.

    I’ve seen the Upper Crust Bistro before.? They are next door to Dwell on 21st.? When we were shopping there earlier this year I noticed the bistro and though we should stop in at some point.? We didn’t and the thought passed my mind, like many.

    Now here’s where the review part comes in.? My $5 loaf of Sourdough Baguette… not so much with the goodness.? In fact, the pieces that we both took bites of were promptly fed to the worms and the remainder will be turned into bread crumbs as soon as it goes stale.? Why?? As a bread maker I know good bread when I taste it and I also know what ingredients have been left out.? And my friends… salt is a major ingredient in the creation of bread.? This bread lacked any salt. at. all.? I am so disappointed.

    I was hoping Tacoma had finally risen out of it’s chain bakery doldrums to produce a quality bakery.? I guess I will have to continue my quest for delicious bread or fire up my own oven.? Maybe I can start in on wishing for that wood fired oven again.? Who knows.? I just know that The Upper Crust wasn’t the place.


    I tried to find an email address or website for the bistro, but they don’t have one (or I couldn’t find one).? I was going to email to complain, but this will have to suffice.

  • Snack-a-teria
  • A recipe

    At the moment I have the flu. Not the puke flu, but enough to make every joint in my body hurt. I did a vlog, but it turned out stupid so you don’t get to see it. I’ll do another one this week. In the mean time you get the coveted Royal Irish Soda Bread Recipe.

    Other recipes to come:

    Asparagus & Scallops
    Derek’s Chicken & Rice

    Royal Irish Soda Bread (by Rose Levy Beranbaum)

    [1 scant cup raisins]
    [1/2 cup Irish whiskey or hot water]
    [I don?t use the above]

    4 T cold, unsalted butter
    2 cups unbleached all purpose flour (or 1 cup all-purpose and 1 cup whole wheat)
    3 T sugar (the only bread recipe in which I don?t substitute honey)
    1 t baking soda
    ? t salt
    ? cup + 1 T buttermilk

    [combine whiskey/water and raisins in a small bowl, cover and allow to sit, stirring once, until the raisins have softened, about 30 minutes]

    Cut the butter into about 4-5 slices to warm it up slightly. Mix the dry ingredients in a bowl. Cut the butter into the dry ingredients as if you were making a pie crust. (I just use my fingers for this) [add the raisins] Add the buttermilk and stir with a wooden spoon until the mixture just comes together. (don?t use your Kitchen Aid) Turn the whole mess (and it looks like a mess) out onto your wooden counter and knead 5-8 times or it just forms a ball. Try not to add any more flour than necessary. Pat into a 6ish? round about 2? high. Make a ?? deep X across the middle with a sharp knife. Bake at 375 for 30 minutes or until golden brown and a skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean. Place a linen or cotton tea towel on a wire rack and place the bread on top. Loosely wrap the towel around the bread and allow to cool at room temperature. Or just cool it on a rack. (I do the towel method)

  • Snack-a-teria
  • Burny goodness

    With my recent onset of bitchy (in which I went postal on my husband last night) I am in need of some relief.? I was so desperate for candy yesterday I resisted the urge to raid the boy’s treat bucket and opted for a gigantic Hershey bar.? Do you know how disgusting Hershey’s chocolate actually is?? Not to mention it was a chocolate bar I won at a Christmas party.? Yep.? A Christmas party.

    This morning I ate 2 snickerdoodle cookies.? They were store bought from Safeway.? And I liked them.? I also had a 2nd cup of coffee and it didn’t effect my hyperactivity level at all.? Something must be wrong.? Normally anything over my alloted one cup a day makes me all kinds of uppity.

    Then this afternoon I ate leftover Panang Curry and pretty much licked the bowl clean.? I didn’t even bother with rice.? That would just dull the burny curry goodness.

    Hot food is my comfort food.? We aren’t talking Mexican spicy that burns on the return visit the next morning.? This is burn your lips off Asian hot.? I luuuurves me some hot curry.? I could mix coconut milk, and curry paste and add a banana for a breakfast shake.

    I know I’m a little odd.? Most people go for Mac and Cheese or fried chicken for comfort food.? Me?? Spicy Curry.? So let me have it… what are your favorite comfort foods?? When you are feeling down or homesick what is the one thing that makes it all better?

  • Snack-a-teria
  • Answers

    Thanks for participating in my poll.? You guys didn’t do so bad.? Here’s the low down.

    1. It is better for you to eat:

    a) a diet fully devoid of fats
    b) a diet containing just a ?pinch? of fat

    the answer would be B.? Fat is essential for human survival and therefore you need at least a small bit of it in your diet.? I could go on and on about fats, mono-unsaturated, poly-unsaturated, transfat and the like, but you might get pissed and try to mug me for that chocolate cake.

    2. If you were stranded on a desert island with nothing but water and unlimited quantities of one other food, which would be best for your survival?

    a) corn
    b) alfalfa
    c) hot dogs
    d) milk chocolate
    e) bananas

    I apologize for not including the other 2 choices that appeared in “In Defense of Food.”? Those would be peaches and spinach.? And to be totally honest it is alfalfa sprouts not the stuff the cows eat.? I was at the church when I wrote that post and couldn’t remember exactly what was on the list.? In the example in the book 42% chose bananas as the healthiest, 27% selected spinach, 12% corn, 7% alfalfa sprouts, 5% peaches, 4% hot dogs and 3% milk chocolate.

    71% of you guys picked bananas, 14% picked corn and 14 % picked milk chocolate.? Ladies, most of you will be happy to know that the best answers were milk chocolate and hot dogs.? I do like me a good Hebrew National.? Reason behind it is fat.

    So next time someone strands you on a deserted island ask for the good stuff.

    And the chocolate cake photo.? Interesting answers.? Of course Willow had to come up with some kind of photography thing.? And Carrie, honestly.? I don’t like cake either, but I could force myself to snarf down a piece or twelve of chocolate cake.

    I asked that one because when Americans were shown a photo of chocolate cake most said something very similar to Jenny, “guilt.”? When French people were shown the same photo most said, “celebration.”? An interesting observation on our food culture don’t you think.

  • Snack-a-teria
  • Pop Quiz

    Out of curiosity I want to test your food knowledge or feeling. You just read that and went, “aw crap, there she goes talking about food again.” But just indulge me for a moment.

    There is this newish “disorder” that I feel deserves some attention. It’s called Orthorexia nervosa. Or “An unhealthy obsession with healthy eating.” One could say that is what is going around our house, but we don’t see it as that. Ours isn’t unhealthy rather we are trying to find ways to eat real food as opposed to food like substances. We aren’t consumed with specific nutrients, reducing fat intake or counting calories. We are just trying to rid our house of the ingredients on packaging that is not found in nature.

    So in a highly unscientific poll I want to see how you rate. (If you have read the book “In Defense of Food” you are not allowed to participate as you will know the answer or other responses to these questions.) So give me a few minutes of your time and answer the following 3 questions. I’ll elaborate on them a little more tomorrow.

    1. It is better for you to eat:

    a) a diet fully devoid of fats
    b) a diet containing just a “pinch” of fat

    2. If you were stranded on a desert island with nothing but water and unlimited quantities of one other food, which would be best for your survival?

    a) corn
    b) alfalfa
    c) hot dogs
    d) milk chocolate
    e) bananas

    3) When you see the following picture what is the first word that comes to mind?

  • Elle's World
  • Superhuman

    In an attempt to be more healthy around here I’ve cut out all non essential snacks.? This means no more bags of little candy bars and no cookies.? Let’s not look in my fridge at the moment shall we.? You won’t see a 3lb container of Chocolate Chip Cookie dough.? Shuddup… I’m PMSing.? It’s like Beth and the Cookie Crisp.? It would qualify as an essential snack.? I may or may not eat it directly out of the container.

    So in this grandiose gesture to make our lives just a little healthier I thought fruit might be a good option for a sweet treat.? And since it’s winter those delectable little boxes of Satsumas are everywhere.? Our local veg market is selling a 5lb box for $4.99.? In my neck of the woods this isn’t terrible.? It’s better than the $2.50 chocolate bars I’ve been known to purchase.

    I bought a box of oranges last week.? It is the 3rd I’ve bought this season.? The first one was OK.? The second… we threw out 1/2 because they tasted bad, sat in our pantry for 3 weeks and rotted.? But last week’s box… it was like little bits of healthy crack.? Kinda like a Lays potato chip *mmmm Lays potato chips* you can’t eat just one.

    If you run into me on the street and pick pocket me you are likely to only find oranges.? I squirrel them away in my purse, my coat pockets, the cup holder of my car and there may be a few adding some emphasis in the chest area.? You know, for that orange emergency that might pop up.? I have eaten so many of these things my hands smell permanently like orange.? It’s a cross between Johnson’s baby lotion and citrus.? I may have a new marketing gimmick here.

    I have eaten so many oranges I’m beginning to believe that I’m going to have a super immune system come this spring. I may be as bold as to walk into my son’s preschool class not wearing a protective mask.? You know those toddlers.? Carrier monkeys, all of them.? I’m going to be able to kick scurvy’s ass with one of my pointy toed stilletos.? Because scurvy is such a big problem here in the northwest.? Isn’t it in your state?? I’m worried about it.? You should be too.

    I think the oranges are making me delusional.

  • Elle's World
  • Cookie Poll

    Last Wednesday the boy and I made the trek to my mother’s house to have our annual cookie day.? Of course mom spent most of Monday at doctor’s offices and then Tuesday at the dentist and with the old people so she didn’t get any shopping or planning done.? Of course my mom isn’t big on planning much of anything so that isn’t really surprising.? She phones as I’m walking out the door to go to her house asking what she should buy at the store.? I am trying to load a giant mixer (that we didn’t use), a potty chair (that was over used!), accouterments for a potty training child (ergo changes of clothing) and said small child into the car.? All the while, talking to my mother on the phone and trying to explain that I barely have the brain capacity to hold the phone to my ear and breathe at the same time let alone plan an entire cookie day that is to take place in little over an hour.

    I get to my mother’s house and she is prepared with everything except a list of the stuff we are going to make and peppermint extract.? I spent 1/2 an hour pouring over Martha Stewart’s website trying to find recipes using the ingredients we had (which included: flour, sugar, eggs, butter, brown sugar and green, yellow and blue food coloring).? The sum of those things adds up to many variants on sugar cookies.? We all know my history with sugar cookies.? But for the love of gawd I did not drive an hour to make cookies and go home empty handed.? We pressed on.? We made icebox cookies and, much to my chagrin, sugar cookies.? Mom and the boy made almond bark covered pretzels (because I love those) and I covered the cookie department.? At that point I was so used to running the kitchen I kinda took over.? Mom called me a kitchen hog, but she wasn’t serving rum like she did last time so it wasn’t as fun.? Note to my mother: rum.

    Feeling a little defeatist in the cookie department I have declared that the boy and I are going to have our own cookie day the Wednesday.? I will pencil that in right between my acupuncture appointment and the Christmas Party with my high schoolers.? Cookie day may spill over into Thursday just because I don’t want to do laundry.

    But here’s the problem.? I don’t know what kind of cookies to make.? The trusty husband says chocolate chip.? My theory is that chocolate chip is not a Christmas cookie and besides, I really don’t want to pull out the remaining 10 pounds of chocolate.? Neither of us will eat coconut.? Neither of us believe that nuts should be in cookies, cakes or brownies.? And we really aren’t fans of gingerbread or gingersnaps.? I suck at sugar cookies.? So I need some suggestions.

    So far my list of cookies for Wednesday includes:

    Rosettes (because I have a fancy new Rosette iron)? and shortbread (all the fun of shapes, but not sugar cookies)

    Give me your best shot.? What cookies are your favorites for Christmas?? Remember no nuts, coconut or ginger.

  • Snack-a-teria
  • You were going to get a photo

    You were going to get a photo of the boy to tide you over for the weekend, but instead I closed Photoshop and my computer is too old and busted to open it back up.? Not that I really need to photoshop images of the boy, but I rather need to resize them (and add a watermark).

    So in lieu of a photo of the boy I direct you to take a trip down to the popcorn shop in downtown Tacoma.? I can’t remember the name of the place, but there is only on popcorn shop.? Oh and it’s in the Harmon Building, which you can see from the freeway.

    I had the pleasure of visiting the popcorn shop with a friend today and believe me I certainly was not in there for popcorn.? A business owner downtown informed us that they have the best chocolate of all time.? Now I’m not one to go around town tasting all the chocolate… oh wait.? So I had this tumor removed and in its place the doctor inserted a love of chocolate.? I should sue.? Oh wait…

    So the moment the deliciousness of chocolate is mentioned I am out the door.? And she was right (Thanks Julie).? I counted the remaining cash in my wallet ($8 in cash and $400 in change, ok not so much $400 but a lot) and figured I could get a nice little snack.? I spent all $8.

    I purchased 1/4 lb of dark chocolate turtles (there is 1 left), 1 dark chocolate covered caramel, 1 mountain magic (I think that is what it is called either way it is a giant marshmallow covered in caramel and then the whole thing is covered in chocolate a;leirulr *sorry keyboard got slippery from the drool), and one thing called a chocolate almond puddle.? They lay out some almonds and pour pure unadulterated dark chocolate on top.? $8.75 poorer happier I took my leave of the place only to stuff it full by the time I got to the train.

    And yes.? I am hoarding it.? The trusty husband got his 1 turtle.? He should be happy I let him even have that.