Tag Archives: love

It really should be said that bagels are not the most photogenic of baked goods – at any stage. They go from looking like pancake batter to a bowl of psoriasis, from dry looking monster slugs to shiny boiled bread. It is only in their last moments that they lay in beautiful full baked and browned glory, transforming from yeasty pimpled teenager to sleek bronzed beach babe.

Hence, there is a distinct lack of bagel photos here. But fear not what is lacking in pictures is made up for in the extensive directions below! I would seriously recommend trying your hand at these – they were simple, easy, and though a little bit of a time suck they really are worth it. I would couch my encouragement in one simple suggestion: pace thyself.

I made the mistake of starting these late on Monday night, my baking day, and what I was thinking I will never know. Jared came home to me meticulously weighing dough on the only scale I could find (a vintage postage scale) and attempting to look up “the windowpane test” (bah humbug – never found it in time, and mine worked fine) on a flour covered Mac. I was up this morning at 5:30am trying to finish 1/2 a batch to photograph and have ready for Wednesday’s post. That smile you see in the following photos? Pure, caffeine induced delirium.

These bagels however were well worth it – crisp, delicious crusts, just enough of the homemade yeasty scent, crisp sesame seeds and a whole lot of delirious love. I’m going to freeze 1/2 and watch J, (who begrudgingly got out of bed as I leapt up and down on it this morning yelling “Look at my bagels, bitch!”) eat the rest.

{This Recipe is adapted from the Peter Reinhart Bagel Recipe.  Any changes are noted.}

Sponge
1 teaspoon instant yeast
4 cups unbleached  bread flour (or high gluten flour)
2 1/2 cups water, room temperature

Dough
1/2 teaspoon instant yeast
3 1/4 cups bread flour* (or high gluten flour)(originally called for 3 3/4, but I bailed after the first 1/4, my dough was perfect)
2 3/4 teaspoons salt

(This recipe also calls for 1 tbsp of malt syrup or 2 tbsp of malt powder. Given that I already have an allergy to wheat, adding any further guarantee of watching the Bachelor from the comfort of our washroom seemed unnecessary. From what I can tell, there isn’t much missing here as the bagels tasted phenomenal. Phenomenally dangerous.)

To Be Fancy: Sesame Seeds, Poppy seeds

To make the sponge, stir the yeast into the flour into a large mixing bowl.  Add the water, whisking or stirring only until it forms a smooth, sticky batter (like pancake batter). Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and leave at room temperature for approximately 2 hours, or until the mixture becomes very foamy and bubbly. It should swell to nearly double in size and collapse when the bowl is tapped on the countertop. (Mine never collapsed, and I put it near a warm oven and it took about an hour and a half to reach the desired consistency.)

Once the sponge is ready, add the additional yeast and stir. Then add 3 cups of the flour and all of the salt (and malt if you choose to use it). I sifted the flour and salt together because I’m a bit retentive about distribution. Thanks Mom!

At this point the recipe instructs you to stir with a dough hook, however being too poor for a Kitchen Aid and unaware of any pirates for hire, I used my hands. Stir with hands until the ingredients for a ball, slowly working in the remaining 3/4 cup flour to stiffen the dough. (As mentioned, I only used 1/4 cup of that.)

Knead the dough until firm, approximately 10 minutes. The recipe says that it “should be firm, stiffer than French bread dough” however, I have no idea what that means, so I went with the other directions, that it should be “pliable and smooth” and “satiny but not tacky”. I tested this by running it across my face and thinking about sleeping on a slip. Science!

There should be no dry flour – all ingredients should be mixed in and nothing should be flaky or chunky. The dough should pass the windowpane test and register 77 to 71 degrees F. (See the link. I had no idea what this meant at the time, I just kept kneading the dough until it felt like a nice pillow…) If the dough seems to0 dry and rippy, add a few drops of water and continue kneading, add flour if it’s too tacky.

Divide the dough into balls – I weighed mine to 65 grams each, and they were the perfect size later. Put these on a cookie sheet and cover them with a warm damp tea towel and let them rest for about 20 minutes. When this is done, take each ball and roll it into a sluggy worm shape, about the 2/3 the thickness of (shocking) a bagel. Put one end of the slug in your palm, stretch it around the back of your hand and place it on top of the other end piece. Roll your hand back and forth on the counter to seal the bagel together. Put these on a pan lined with parchment paper and lightly oiled, cover with plastic wrap, let sit for 20 minutes.

Let the pans sit at room temperature for about 20 minutes.

In order to see if the bagels are ready to be “retarded” (I know, awesome.) do the “float test”. In a bowl of room temp water, drop one of the bagels and wait for it to float. If it floats within 10 seconds, you’re good to put them in the fridge (just pat off the wet bagel and put it in too), and if it doesn’t wait another 10 minutes, and try again. Once they float – put the trays in the fridge immediately.

Preheat the oven to 500 degrees F with the two racks set in the middle of the oven. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Drop your bagels gently one by one into the boiling water, and boil for one minute on each side. (I boiled my bagels in batches of five in a really large pot, and this was a really manageable batch to deal with). The longer you boil your bagels, the chewier they are going to be. I got mesmerized by an A-Team trailer, so one batch boiled for at least three minutes. Whoops! Still delicious.

When the bagels are boiled, put them back on the parchment on the baking pan. Put the bagels in the oven for five minutes, then rotate the pan 180 degrees and continue baking for another five minutes. (I took them out at five minutes, lightly brushed the tops with an egg wash and sprinkled sesame seeds on top before replacing for the remaining time.) I didn’t actually bake these for five minutes – more like 13-15 minutes total, and judged entirely by the color of the bagels.

Take them out.. let them cool.. enjoy!

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String Theories

DSC_0757

With my winding steps, with each push of my bike pedals, with every cab ride I have taken, with every car I’ve gotten into, this city has knit me a story; it’s streets no less than needles, it’s alleys no less than looms. 

There are reinforced stitches around pubs and coffee houses, there are quiet and soft blankets around hills and parks where I’ve spent so many hours asleep or reading or holding hands. There are fresh threads, tender and vibrating to parts of our cities west and east and north to new friends, there are old, dusty and fraying strings to lost and forgotten loves that I only ever trip over and shake my head at. 

There are dropped stitches near those places I don’t go, by choice, by memory, by fear, by sadness, there is heightened tension in the stitches and the pattern where I work, where I stress. 

My city has knit my memories,  my story, into it. I wondered as I drove about this week how exactly I would leave such a city, a city that has made me and my memories so much a part of it’s knit and pearl, how the drop stitch and double crochet of this city could every be recreated anywhere else. 

Sitting across from a friend I love on Saturday morning,  she tied a veritable string to my finger. She handed me a blanket crafted of granny squares, made across this city, this province, and others; made over months, over moves, over triumphs and accidents and with love. And she told me with her hug that that string around my finger stretched very very far. And I could travel, and I could stray, and I could leave in 3 days; but this city and she would still be here, knitting, waiting; it’s streets no less than needles, it’s alleys no less than looms.

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Not So Mad (Libs) – Guest Blog by Apronstrings and Pretty Things

Damnnit Tammy – you made me cry. And you made me realize that I really will write my own adventure, as soon as I stop referring to this move as “a two year extended vacation where I take all my stuff”. Sometimes it takes somebody half a world a way to remind you that the courage you need, and the words you need, are right in front of you. Thank you lovely lady. (Please, go be inspired by Tammy’s incredible blog – the woman transported her life from the USA to Brazil for love.. I got nothing on that. 😉 

***

 

finger 3{via}

3340297573_ef4d393883{via}

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I RSVP’d to the invitation with nary a thought.  Guest write on Andrea’s lovely blog, you betcha!  But then the pressure mounted.  What angle should I approach?  I thought of breathing a bit of Brazilian Bossa Nova into a Canadian Goose.  But after the initial run through of Samba, Soccer, bikinis (small bottoms), Feijoada and Brigadeiros, I thought to myself, I’m no expert on Brazilian culture.  I just live here.  The most Brazilian thing I seemingly possess is my husband, my zip code, and a pressure cooker.  Speaking of pressure cooker, I started to feel like one–chock full of Brazilian beans, tension mounting. 

And then the idea came.  A game–the quintessential ice breaker at the blog party I’d been so kindly invited to enjoy.  Do you remember Mad Libs? So here goes.   An ode to brave Andrea and her courage to transplant her life 5,000 kilometers in the name of love and adventure.  My fingers and toes are crossed for you, dearie.

Rules of Play:  Give it some months and then fill in the blanks:

Once upon a time, there lived a (insert adjective) girl from Edmonton.  At the invite of her (insert adjective) boyfriend, she accepted the invitation to drop all of her (insert noun), (insert noun), and (insert noun) and pack her (insert noun) and travel many, many kilometers to a new city.  It was hard for her to pack her bags.  She was not zen and owned lots of (insert noun).  Aside from packing up her worldly possessions, she was (insert adjective) about leaving (insert noun) and knowing that she would not be able to (insert verb) at (insert noun) anymore.  But she put on a brave face and tried to pretend that she was (insert verb) on a travel holiday.  After all, she was planning on stopping at (insert noun) along the way and eating (insert noun), as well as (insert verb) at (insert noun).  Quickly the day approached, she said her tearful goodbyes and promised that she would (insert verb) as soon as possible.

The trip was (insert adjective) but J was (insert adjective) and soon they arrived to the land of folk and traditional music.  J promised he would make her proud (insert verb) and quickly they set up home in their new (insert adjective) (insert noun).  What she loved most about her new abode was the (insert adjective) (insert noun) and (insert noun).  The first months passed (insert adverb) and she discovered that her favorite breakfast was at (insert noun).  The coffee was (insert adjective).  She found a vintage shop that sold amazing (insert adjective) (insert noun) and only had to buy (insert noun) at etsy.com.  She replaced her love for chocolate and blue cheese steaks with a new local dish called (insert noun).  She also was pleased to discover that her Chimay Blue Cap drinking habit was replaced with (insert noun).  She even found a place that cut her bangs just (insert adjective) enough.  The new town inspired her to foster a new hobby, (insert noun or verb).  She also spent (insert adjective) hours staring at the walls of her new favorite gallery (insert noun).  She liked the work of local talent (insert noun). 

Overall life was (insert adjective).  She started to make many a (insert adjective) friend.  And soon the (insert adjective) invitations came.  Her first fiesta was (insert adjective) and she wasn’t even embarrassed when she (insert verb) at the (insert noun).  A sure sign that she was again her old self in this new land…and a better more (insert adjective) version.  J was (insert adjective) and so was she.  They decided they could finally uncross their (insert noun).  It seems they weren’t so mad after all. 

The End.

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The Happy Returns

Feed_Me_Cake_by_Zorg_One_One{Via DeviantArt}

Hello little gateaux. I should have been up with the birds doing yoga and celebrating the first day of being a certain age, drinking soy shakes and meditating on philosophical, dietary and spiritual goals, but alas, it was not to be. Instead I heaved my un-yoga’d, year older self out of bed to go to work at 9am. Whomever thought that was a funny trick to play on a girl the day after her birthday, hats off to you my friends. Not going to lie, I peddled that body over to McDonalds for a hashbrown.

Despite initially uneasy feelings, my birthday was wonderful. We had a big breakfast and watched Planet Earth, we dawddled and snoozed and unwrapped gifts at a leisurely pace, my brother met us for lunch at Delux…then we napped again. (Geriatrics are on to something..) We met Graham and Kelly and strolled down Whyte Ave for soy ice cream and coffees, and ended up having a beautiful dinner on their patio and playing board games until the wee-hours. It was everything I didn’t know I wanted it to be.

Birthdays always seem like a good time to look around and assess where I am and what I have, and over good wine and good food with good friends last night, I’m happy to say I’m exactly where I want to be, with exactly what I want to have – even if I didn’t know it until last night.

I’m taking the rest of the long weekend off of blogging to eat the remaining cupcakes (one Strawberry Cheesecake, One Lemonade, One Cocoanut Creme) and relax. Thank-you to everyone for the wonderful birthday wishes and e-mails, they made me smile all through the day as they showed up. Wish you were here to eat cupcakes/save me from myself. xoxo

 

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Merry Christmas

My lovelies. I’m signing off for the holiday and some time off. All my love to you and yours, thank you so much for visiting, commenting, and being here when I need you. (And giving me such beautiful things to read, and see, and love.) J – I miss you more than I can possibly describe, and I’ll see you at home to celebrate the New Year together. Merry Christmas to the F. Family, wish I could be there. xoxo

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Wanted Wednesday

{“The Meeting Place” statue by Paul Day at St. Pancras}

My lovelies. The weather is so terrible here, the flights so delayed, the sky so grey, that even the airline that shall not be named is handing out 500$ vouchers to people as they get ON the plane. Nobody is going anywhere, and faces are grim.

It’s a funny thing to miss somebody. Our family is smaller, the places around the table jostled and uneven, in a way that 4 people at a square table never thought they could feel uncomfortable. We are playing musical chairs with tradition, dodging and laughing and grabbing in the hopes that when that music stops, all chairs will be covered, all traditions remembered, temporary rolls filled, and all eyes averted from staring at the only other four people playing. We are doing well, we are doing, which is all you can ask for, but it’s a strange shadow puppetry made real only when we all break down and talk about what we’re really doing, new things and new ways, instead of punch and judying to what we should be doing. We are lonely, and sometimes, I think that perhaps that is just as valuable of a tradition as any other, creating what is missing from loneliness and acknowledging it in kind as its own seat at the table.

Which is not to say that we aren’t having fabulous and beautiful and new laughter and smiles. We are all aware that loneliness ends, either by it’s dulling from use or the return of what was missed. We all know that for moments after the chair is filled, it is better than before and fuller and doesn’t quite fit our hearts. And we know, in time, it will be so.

So, my Wanted Wednesday, for all of you – is to be with the ones you love. Maybe not now, maybe not for a few hundred days, maybe without the knowledge of who you love. But at some point, with some one, somewhere, when you know – to be with them. And until then, to keep playing music chairs, to laugh, and grab all the 500$ vouchers you can.

xoxo

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Baby.. it’s cold..

dscf39431{From my living room window}

I took this photo yesterday morning, when the little bits of frost were collecting on my front window, winter pulling a lace veil down over our home in the minus 25 degree weather. This morning it was a complete, nullifying, quieting curtain of frost, our own private modesty screen. It’s truly beautiful. From inside. I haven’t ventured anywhere today while studying, save down to the mailbox to pick up the 4 (!) Christmas cards snuggled away in my mail. It seems like almost a full decade of mailing out Christmas cards has almost paid off!

dscf3973{Snowflakes in the living room…}

J and I celebrated our Christmas this Sunday, seeing as how Wednesday I head out east and five days later he goes south. So we decided we would enjoy Christmas in advance, take a day to relax, exchange gifts and just.. enjoy each others company. Because we couldn’t enjoy any beautiful snowy walks through the glowing cityscape (it being -40) I made a million of these snowflakes and at two in the morning strung them all through our living room on our Christmas Eve. It was really pretty and a good surprise for J, and we haven’t taken them down yet..

dscf3975{trying to peer through the frost}

J and I put a big limit on our spending for Christmas this year, as we’re going to Italy in February and.. well, exchange rates suck and we’re generally not rich, so, we spend a lot of time imitating the dust bowl around here. BUT, we went out to dinner last night to our favorite restaurant and ate and chat for a couple hours. J isn’t just my partner, he’s my best friend – he’s interesting and funny, and sometimes, when I sit across from him at a restaurant, I think my heart turns into one of those cheesy sparklers on a birthday cake. We had a wonderful evening, despite me being a cardiac fire hazard.

dscf3994{J calls himself the Canadian Ninja}

I don’t know what tis been like everywhere else – but its been so incredibly cold here.  We really didn’t leave the house for too much of the weekend, and like I said, today I only ventured out to the mailbox and regretted even that. Our poor little building is crackling and screaming as it tried to fend off frozen pipes, and I have to say, I feel fairly smug for getting renters insurance. But there’s J, replete in his “Canadian Ninja” outfit – he sort of looks like he’s doing the robot, but he’s actually slicing the air in a ninja motion. Yeah. I think we have cabin fever.

dscf3934{and they smell like cinnamon!}

So my lovelies, I think I’m going to wrap up and bid you farewell until the end of the week. I’ve got exams from 9am tomorrow until noon on Wednesday, and I leave at 1pm on Wednesday for the airport. As much as I would love to think that I am superwoman and will post witty things at regular intervals (this, of course, assumes I also slip on the ice, bang my head and become witty) there is little chance of that happening. But, some fabulous news, there will be another wonderful, witty and if I do say so myself, beautiful guest blogger here this weekend for a Sunday Kind of Love. Make sure you tune in! I’ll be back online Thursday or Friday, once I’ve caught up on some sleep debt and eaten enough to make my mother happy. Stay warm friends, talk soon. xoxox

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