Monday, July 8, 2013

Perfect hard-boiled eggs

How to make perfect hard-boiled eggs:

  1. Fill a pot with water.  Add copious amounts of salt, at least 1/4 cup.
  2. Put fresh eggs into the water and put on to boil.
  3. Walk away while the water is heating.  Get dressed.  Do your makeup.  Fix hair.  Forget all about the eggs.  Wonder what that noise is in the kitchen.
  4. Investigate the noise.  Remember the eggs.
  5. Turn off heat.  On a wild guess, set timer for three minutes.
  6. Forget to hit "start."
  7. Five minutes later, realize that the timer never got set.
  8. Rinse eggs with cold water.
Well, that's how I did it this morning, anyway.  I got lucky, despite being a pre-coffee nimwit.
Ugly but delicious salad
Normally my method is more like this:

  1. Fill a pot with water.  Add copious amounts of salt, at least 1/4 cup.
  2. Put fresh eggs into the water and put on to boil.
  3. Once water comes to a boil, turn off the heat and slap on a lid.
  4. Set timer for 9-10 minutes.
  5. When the timer goes off, rinse the eggs in cold water.
Why so much salt?  I've found that it helps prevent the eggs from sticking to the membrane.  We have urban hens, and thus very fresh eggs.  All the stories of vinegar, pricking eggs with pins, etc., have never worked for me.  But a lot of salt does work.

Have you tried the canning jar salads?  I made up three of them this morning.  Score: my lunches are made for over half of the week.  Double-score: I entered one into my account and they're all set for the next 2 days.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Don't want none if you ain't got buns, hon

The morning of Independence Day Gene had been out of town for five days and Kaelen just wanted to snuggle.  Anyone with an active 18-month-old can tell you how unusual it is for them to hold still so I took full advantage of the cuddly child and held him for over an hour.

Around 8 we went outside to open the chickens' coop.  Because a possum killed our fluffy blue cochin in a midnight attack earlier this summer, it's been our renewed priority to lock them up every night ever since.  As we stood on the back porch looking over the yard, Kaelen suddenly threw up.

An hour later he threw up again.  Then again a short while later. 

By episode #2 I'd texted our friends to tell them we would not be joining them for their July 4th barbeque after all.

Kaelen would not let me put him down, even for a minute.  He wailed in misery when I put him on my bed so I could get dressed.  My oatmeal languished in the kitchen while Kaelen dozed on my chest.  I didn't take a sip of water all day because I couldn't get to it without disturbing the sick little boy who was glued to me.

Finally, I texted my brother and asked him to take pity on me: please bring me food!  "How hungry are you," he inquired.  "Starving," I raved.

He brought me a massive double-cheeseburger from the same place that made this one.  I couldn't even finish 1/3 of it.

I pressed my brother into uncle duty and took a quick shower, my first in days (have I mentioned Gene was out of town?).  Suddenly, Kaelen's temperature started to rise quickly.  He had diarrhea.  He wouldn't eat and wasn't drinking much.  The consulting nurse told me to take him to Urgent Care. 

Diagnosis: viral infection.  (Side note: has anyone NOT had a doctor tell them that there's a virus going around 'right now,' whenever that is?)  Treatment: anti-nausea medicine, alternate between Tylenol and Motrin, give juice (he loved it, having never had juice before), and rest.  Cha-ching, that'll be $42, thankyouveddymuch.

Fast forward two days, Kaelen is recovering slowly.  His appetite has not returned and he "horked" (to use my brother's eloquent term) just one more time, after eating his breakfast too quickly.  He has barely touched food since last Monday but his mood is good.

As for me, I'm sick and tired of being a single parent.  Gene will arrive home sometime overnight tonight and I'm so relieved that I can literally feel myself relax when I think those words.  I'm tired of puke, of keeping the house running all by myself, of being stuck at home.  Since Kaelen got sick I've watched nearly every show in the Gordon Ramsey franchise.  Ever notice how often he adds "one stunning burger" to a restaurant's revamped menu?  Well, it's a lot.

Back to my story.

I wanted another burger, only smaller, with a brioche bun, and healthy "fries."  Kaelen was napping and hey, I was game for anything that didn't involve watching TV.  I decided to make my own buns, which I've wanted to try for a long time.

Google "brioche hamburger bun" -> Smitten Kitchen (of course) -> Recipe.  Why don't I just go to her page first?  She always seems to have whatever it is I'm seeking.

Note: I didn't know that a brioche dough is NOT like a regular bread dough.  I didn't read far enough ahead in the recipe and wound up incorporating too much flour during the kneading process.  The hands-on portion of this recipe was less than I'd imagined.  Yes, it takes several hours over the course of a day, but it's totally manageable.  Next time I'll let the machine do the kneading.  I don't know what the hell I was thinking doing it by hand. 

Light Brioche Burger Buns (from
Makes 8 4- to 5-inch burger buns
 3 tablespoons warm milk
2 teaspoons active dry yeast
2 1/2 tablespoons sugar
2 large eggs
3 cups bread flour
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
2 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
Sesame seeds (optional)
  1. In a glass measuring cup, combine one cup warm water, the milk, yeast and sugar. Let stand until foamy, about five minutes. Meanwhile, beat one egg.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk flours with salt. Add butter and rub into flour between your fingers, making crumbs. Using a dough scraper, stir in yeast mixture and beaten egg until a dough forms. Scrape dough onto clean, well-floured counter and knead, scooping dough up, slapping it on counter and turning it, until smooth and elastic, 8 to 10 minutes. The dough will be on the sticky side so it can be a bit messy, but keep in mind that the more flour you knead in, the tougher the buns will get. Try to leave them tackier than you would a round loaf.
  3. Shape dough into a ball and return it to bowl. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk, one to two hours. (In my freaky, warm apartment this only took an hour.)
  4. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Using dough scraper, divide dough into 8 equal parts. Gently roll each into a ball and arrange two to three inches apart on baking sheet. Cover loosely with a piece of plastic wrap lightly coated in nonstick spray and let buns rise in a warm place for one to two hours. (Again, this only took one hour in my apartment and I suspect, you’ll also only need an hour for a second rise.)
  5. Set a large shallow pan of water on oven floor. Preheat oven to 400 degrees with rack in center. Beat remaining egg with one tablespoon water and brush some on top of buns. Sprinkle with sesame seeds, if using. Bake, turning sheet halfway through baking, until tops are golden brown, about 15 minutes. Transfer to a rack to cool completely.
I froze 6 of the portions at step 4, before they could get a second rise.  When we want to eat them, I'll pull them out and allow them to defrost in the fridge overnight.  That's usually sufficient for my frozen pizza dough, and I imagine it'll work for these, too.

As for my burger, it hit the spot.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Stay-cool tip

Our weather continues to be beautiful here in the PNW.  Thank goodness it's cooled down somewhat AND that we won't have our customary rainfall on the 4th.

The recent high temps at and above 90 have meant that my house has been hot and stuffy.

I had invited some girlfriends over for dinner.  As we sat in my backyard, sweltering in the 90+ temps, one said to me, "you know what you need?  A kiddie pool for us to soak our feet in!"

Not having a kiddie pool, I did this instead.

My girlfriends called me a genius.