Blog and Bake Day

I'm at home today catching up on various projects around the kitchen. My parents are having company for dinner tonight and my mom asked me to bake some bread for the occasion. We decided on Semolina Bread with Basil Butter filling, so I mixed the dough last night, let it ferment in the frig and took it out this morning to finish rising. It is just about ready for shaping and proofing and I'll run it over to my mom this afternoon, still warm from the oven.

I scalded some milk for a batch of homemade yogurt, which is now incubating in my food dehydrator. I'm also drying some green bell peppers and a red paprika pepper at the same time on the top rack, hoping my yogurt does not take on a pepper flavor!

I cleaned out the crisper in the refrigerator and decided to roast the odds and ends of root vegetables in my mini slow-cooker. I pared the baby carrots and left them whole. Pared and quartered the yellow beets, sliced the red onion and tossed them all together in some olive oil and gros sel de mer (fancy french sea salt). That will be our side dish for dinner.

No football practice for my son today, which means we actually get to sit down for a family dinner before 8:00 pm. The main course will be chicken breasts that have been pounded thin and quickly browned in olive oil, topped with a marinara sauce I have simmering on the stove. A friend gave me a big bag of tomatoes, which I combined with some of the Black Krim heirloom tomatoes from my garden, and my own bell peppers and onions. I cooked the onions and peppers, along with three giant cloves of garlic from the farmers market, in some olive oil until everything was tender, then added the washed and quartered tomatoes and a huge handful of fresh basil. I crushed some of the tomatoes with the back of a spoon to make enough juice to get things simmering. When the tomatoes are soft, I'll run it all through a food mill to strain out the peels and seeds and then continue simmering it, uncovered, until it's thick. Seasoned with salt and pepper, it should make a fine topping for the chicken and for mopping up with a slice of semolina bread. I'll probably serve it over spaghetti with some freshly grated parmigiano-reggiano I splurged on at the Rogue Creamery, but it would be good over brown rice too.

We are entirely out of cookies, which is a cardinal sin at my house. I almost always have cookie dough balls in the freezer, just waiting to be plopped on a parchment-lined cookie sheet and baked, or (my personal indulgence) eaten straight from the freezer. The butter is softening on the counter and I will whip up a batch of chocolate chip cookies shortly, putting a smile on my son's face when he gets home from school and making the house smell wonderful.

I got carried away buying different varieties of apples at the farmers market the last few weeks and we haven't eaten them all quickly enough. Some are past their perfection for fresh eating, so I'm getting ready to make a batch of Lazy Lady Applesauce in another slow-cooker. I'm thinking of adding the last of the frozen cranberries I have and turning it into cranberry applesauce (incredibly good if you've never tried it) because it's time for a trip to Bandon to stock up on fresh cranberries for the coming year.

With all the chopping and peeling I've been doing today I managed to clog up my garbage disposer. I know, I know, I should have taken it all out to the compost pile, but I'm still in my slippers and I just didn't feel like it. Anyway, here's my method for getting things unstuck: Pour a half cup of baking soda into the clogged sink, right through the standing water, if there is any. Follow that with 1 cup of plain old white vinegar. It will bubble a bit. Let that sit while you heat a tea kettle full of water to boiling. Pour the boiling water in and let it work a minute or two, then give it a quick plunge, if necessary. For some clogs you might have to repeat the process, but unless something is actually jamming the disposer this method always works for me.

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