Posted by: bcbarano | June 10, 2008

GARDENING!!

Since it’s now officially summer here in NC (been over 95 for the past week or so), I’ve not been baking.  But… while we were at the farmer’s market on Saturday, I did find a deal I couldn’t pass up.  48 heirloom tomato plants for 5 bucks, the catch was I had to buy all 48.  For those of you that haven’t seen our apartment, there is absolutely NO WHERE to plant even 5 plants, so I went and rented one of the community garden plots.

Monday morning the whole family went down to the garden and we put in the plants.  So far, I’m not that optimistic.  Tuesday I went over to do some weeding and watering and we already had about 3 of the 30 plants that looked near death.  A bunch more were pretty wilted and even the ones that looked good had some yellowing on the leaves.  I’m hoping its just some shock to moving them in the ground and that a few days with some good watering will help.  If I only get 10 tomatoes out of the 30 plants, it’s still worth it.  I’ll post some pics in the next few days.

Posted by: bcbarano | March 23, 2008

The most perfect tomatoes

Suze and I went shopping the other day at one of the local “organic” food stores and they had the most perfect, locally grown tomatoes (I’m still trying to figure out how such good tomatoes are grown in NC in the winter). For lunch today, I made some Bruschetta. I just free-handed the recipe: Some olive oil, a bunch of minced garlic, one of the tomatoes and some oregano and parsley. We were out of basil otherwise I would have loaded up on that too. I cut some pieces of the white bread I made yesterday in to halves and toasted it up. It was delicious.

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Posted by: bcbarano | March 22, 2008

Cinnamon Raisin Bread

So I’ve wanted to experiment with baking bread other than just white bread. My white bread is good, but I can really start getting cost effective by making “specialty” bread. One of my favorites from my childhood is cinnamon raisin bread so I thought that would be a good place to start. I used the regular bread recipe (3.25 cups flour, 1 tsp sugar, 1 package highly active yeast) and added 1/4 cup regular sugar, ~1/3 cup cinnamon and a bunch of raisins after I had mixed the basic ingredients together. I let it rise in a bowl and was worried because it wasn’t rising like I wanted. I thought I might have saturated the dough with sugar and the yeast wasn’t reacting correctly. After punching it down, letting it rise in the bread pan and bake it (for ~ 35 min) it turned out great!! Susan suggested (and I agree) that I should use a different kind of sugar. It’s not that the bread tastes bad, but that it might be better by using something like brown sugar or even molasses. So I’ll try that next time. Anyway, here is what it looks like:

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P.S. Next on my list is a Garlic-Parmesan Bread as soon as I can get the recipe from my mom.

Posted by: susanbarano | March 18, 2008

Susan’s First Post

Hi, everyone! Susan here. Ben said I have to write a post about the dinner I made today, so here I am. And here it is:

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This is called Vegetable-Barley Medley, and it is from our slow-cooker recipe book. I love that thing! This recipe was so easy and so filling. All you have to do is put:

1 15-oz can black beans, rinsed and drained (or 2 cups cooked)

1 14-oz can vegetable broth

1 10-oz package frozen whole kernel corn

1 large onion, chopped

1/2 cup regular barley

1 medium green sweet pepper, chopped

1 medium carrot, thinly sliced

2 cloves garlic, minced

2 Tbsp snipped fresh parsley

1 tsp dried basil or oregano

1/2 tsp salt

1/4 tsp pepper

in a slow cooker, cover, and cook on low heat for 7-8 or high heat for 3 1/2-4 hours, then add:

1 medium zucchini, thinly sliced

2 medium tomatoes, coarsely chopped

1 Tbsp lemon juice

and cook on high-heat setting 30 minutes more.

THE END!

Now, having said that, let me tell you how I did things a little differently. First, I used a little extra barley, more like 3/4 of a cup, because that’s how much I had. Then, I used baby carrots and just cut them into thirds. Also, I didn’t use fresh parsley, because it wasn’t available. I used dried and it turned out just fine, although I’m sure it would have been different, and maybe better, with fresh. I left out the zucchini also, because I am not a fan of zucchini, and because we had a recent bad experience with zucchini in shepherd’s pie. Oh, and I used a can of tomatoes, because it was one of those days where I used up all my free time and free hands chopping the rest of the vegetables.

So…it was pretty good! Ben put cheese on his, but I resisted the urge to do the same. It was somewhat bland, and I wondered if that had to do with the parsley issue, but I added a little extra salt and pepper and it was great, nice and creamy from the barley without actually being creamy. And it was nice to have a slow-cooker meal that was more of a grain dish and less like a stew.

All in all, Ben and I both liked it (shocking!), and we’ll probably have it again soon.

James demands it.

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Posted by: bcbarano | March 14, 2008

Cranberry Muffins

So my office-mates have been bugging me to “bake something for them”. So for our group meeting Friday I made some cranberry muffins. They turned out pretty good since I goofed on the recipe. Here is a picture:img_4456.jpg

Recipe:

1.5 Cups of organic all purpose flour, 0.5 of a cup corn meal, 1/4 Cup sugar, 3 teaspoons baking powder, 0.5 of a cup cooked oatmeal, 1 cup organic milk, 3 tablespoons melted butter.

Preheat oven to 400 F. Combine dry ingredients in a bowl and wet ingredients in another bowl. I didn’t check before I started cooking if we had all the ingredients, so I had to use the oatmeal instead of 1 egg. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and pour the wet into the center. Fold in as opposed to mixing together until all of the dry ingredients are “wetted”. The batter should be lumpy. At this point I added random amounts of cinnamon and lemon zest with about 1 – 1.5 cups of dried cranberries. Put in greased muffin tin and bake for about 25 minutes.

I served them with some home-made honey butter.

Posted by: bcbarano | March 10, 2008

Clear-Cut Kitchen

So for those of you that haven’t heard, we’re getting a new kitchen. But first they have to rip out the old one. This procedure currently is a blessing and a curse. We only had about 3 days to completely move all of our kitchen items to another apt. but at the same time we’re getting all new stuff so I can’t really complain, especially since I’ll have a brand new full size stove/oven. I was getting so sick of only having room to use 2 burners at once. On top of that, the oven would never heat evenly, so I would always have to rotate the dish 1/2 way through to make sure it cooked evenly.

As will be the staple for the next few days, here is the progression of the new kitchen.

This is the “old” kitchen:

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And here is what it looks like tonight:

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The finished product

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Posted by: bcbarano | March 9, 2008

mmmmm Bread

Lately I’ve been making a lot of bread (real homemade, not in a breadmaker). It’s very easy to make and tastes great. The recipe I’ve been using just mixes everything in the food processor (which is really quick). For the new recipe, I mixed by hand and then kneaded the dough for about 8-9 minutes. The difference ends up being the size of the CO2 holes that get made by the yeast. So I got a larger loaf than the short little breadsticks I usually get, so I think I’m going to play with this version for a while.

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Posted by: bcbarano | March 8, 2008

Expectations

Recently I’ve made it a point to learn how to grow and make my own food. I’m starting slowly (last year I had a parsley plant!). For Christmas this past year, I bought a book about how to cook EVERYTHING. So you can expect to see my experiments in trying to make everyday food items. In general, my cooking style is very basic (my wife calls it “picky”), I like to use a lot of garlic and onions. So I hope you enjoy…

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