Category Archives: Food & Drink

Turnip Your Doughs

I have a sourdough starter I created years ago, a sturdy rye/potato base inspired by a recipe in the cookbook put out by the Blood Root restaurant in Bridgeport.
Last week I had some turnip water lying around after making mashed turnips for dinner.
This may be a fantasy, but it appeared to me that the resulting loaf baked more evenly, and lasted days longer, than much of the sourdough I bake. I’ve used potato water as an extra ingredient many times, and typically put dried potato flakes in my non-sourdough sandwich breads. But turnip water, no, and I don’t think turnips have the same starchy properties of potatoes. I’m not getting any internet research action on the qualities of turnips in bread dough.
How did it taste? Sour and turnippy. Great for grilled cheese and Tofurky sandwiches. Great for buttered toast. Not so great for jams.
In any case, here’s the recipe. Note that I had yeast in this sourdough. That may seem like cheating, but it’s more about reliability in the rising. I add sourdough mainly for the taste. When I use my sourdough regularly, it can be the only rising agent I need, but gosh, I don’t need it to do everything. The yeast is right there in the refrigerator.

Sourdough with turnip water

Half-cup sourdough starter (mine is pretty heavy, fueled with rye or spelt flour and potato water)
2-and-a-quarter teaspoons yeast (my handy “yeast spoon,” purchased at the King Arthur Flour store)
3 cups turnip water (from the act of boiling turnips)
3 cups (approx.) white flour
1 cup (wheat flour

That’s it. No salt, no oil, no other added veg or fluids.

In a mixing bowl, ake a soft dough that’s not so soft that you can’t knead it with your hands. This can get sticky fast. You may need more flour than I suggested.You don’t have to knead as long as with white or non-sourdough—just so long as it’s blended and smooth and a little sticky.
Roll the dough into a ball, keep it in the bowl, and throw a dishcloth over the top. Let rise for 90 minutes.
After that 90 minutes, punch down the dough, knead it a little more, and put in a loaf pan. (I use a long ceramic loaf pan. Metal pans are not to be used with sourdough. Sometimes I use a rising bowl or no shaping vessel at all, but unless the dough is really firm it’s likely to sprawl a bit.)
Second rise should be 45 minutes to an hour.
Bake in a pre-heated 375-degree oven for an hour. You really want to make sure sourdough is fully cooked through.
Really interesting taste, with the turnip water. I’m going to turn what’s left of my last loaf into breadcrumbs/croutons now.

My Best Bread

This is the soft white (mostly) sandwich bread I make every week for my family. I do sourdoughs and ciabatta and various French breads too, but this has been the staple for years.

2 teaspoons dried yeast

2 cups warm water

1 tablespoon honey

1 teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons margarine

1/4 cup dried milk powder

1/4 cup dried potato flakes

5 cups all-purpose flour

1 cup wheat flour

Do everything in the same big mixing bowl. Dissolve the yeast in the water. Add the honey, salt, margarine, milk powder and potato flakes and stir until dissolved. Sift in the flours. Knead, and keep kneading. It’ll get sticky, then taper off to where you can handle it easily again. When it’s “smooth and elastic,” as the bread cookbooks say, leave it in the bowl with a dishcloth over it and let rise for an hour and a half. Punch down. Divide into two, and put into two buttered loaf pans. Let rise 45 minutes. Bake at 375 degrees for 35 minutes or so.

I was given cast-iron loaf pans for my birthday last year and love them. They give the bread a crunchier crust.

The Ice Cream Dream

When I learned they had 102 ice cream flavors, I had to try 17 of them. That was about six sundaes, plus toppings. I would have been embarrassed to ask for so many taste spoons.
The flavors:
• Chocolate Chocolate Chips Ahoy Ripple
• Frozen Cheese
• Shoe Sherbet
• Low Hanging Fruit
• Vanilla Monkey
• Curry Couscous Swirl
• Friends of Moose Tracks
• Sprinkle City
• Yellow
• Black Bubblegum Burst
• Mice Cream
• Vegetable Medley
• Plain Ice
• Cruller ’n’ Cream
• Batman & Raisin
• Stinging Nettle
• Taste-o-saurus

Rutles Time

Purchased this box of tea at a Bed Bath & Beyond in Massachusetts

IMG_4183and of course thought of this:

Tea_1

and this:

At the end of it, they met Bob Dylan in the idyllic San Francisco of the mid-60’s, and he introduced them to a strange substance that was to have an enormous effect on them: Tea. Despite the warnings that it would lead to stronger things, the Rutles enjoyed the pleasant effects of tea. And it influenced enormously their greatest work, “Sgt. Rutter”. IMG_4184

The Pie Inside Us All

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In awarding the prize for Best Savory Pie at the big Pie Contest in the Ninth Square last night, Matt Feiner of Devil’s Gear Bike Shop announced that he was physically ill from eating too much pie. “I’m not kidding,” he said. “I may throw up.” But this was because all the pies were so good, he was quick to add.

My family was as excited about the lead-in to the event as we were about the eating at it. We each baked a pie. None of our pies won a prize, but the beauty of the event is that we got to taste many of the winning entries. That’s a prize in itself.

Over 80 folks brought pies to “Pie On9” Pie Contest, which benefited CitySeed’s Food Stamp Double Value Program. Hundreds were there to eat them. Ashley’s provided ice cream to complement the slices.

This was one of those full-blown “On9” affairs with events at multiple Ninth Square storefronts as well as outdoors. We couldn’t drag ourselves away from the pie, however. Few could. This felt like a smalltown Midwestern summer pie social, only it was happening in a good-sized Eastern hipster city. At least three mayoral candidates (Harp, Fernandez and Elicker, naturally) showed up, which suggested that this was THE place to be.

Three of my family’s four pies were completely devoured. The fourth had a few slices untouched, probably because it contained the single most popular fruit of the evening, blueberries, which are ubiquitous at farmers’ markets right now.

Here’s the recipe for what I brought. My parents came from the United Kingdom, so I grew up eating a lot of kidney pie. When I became a vegetarian 20 years ago, I needed to find an alternative. I now have this pie (or some variation of it) every year on my birthday. I’m sometimes the only one in the family eating it, but that’s mainly because nobody else is as crazy about mushrooms as I am.

Savory Mushroom/Tofu (Fake Kidney) Pie

One pound extra-firm Tofu

One pound Mushrooms

One tablespoon chopped fresh Basil

One yellow onion, or two shallots

One medium-size green pepper

One small tomato

Pinch of chili powder

Two cubes bouillon dissolved in one cup broth (or one cup salty homemade broth)

Olive oil

Simple Pie Crust (with top and bottom crust): water, margarine and whole-wheat flour

Cut tofu into cubes. Fry with a little olive oil in a large frying pan until the tofu is even firmer. Remove from frying pan and place in large bowl.

Fry onions in frying pan.

Chop mushrooms and pepper and add to onions in pan. Add basil and chili powder. Cook a little, then add the cup of broth to the pan. Simmer and stir until nearly all the water has boiled away and a thick gravy is left.

Add vegetable/gravy to tofu in bowl and mix thoroughly. Chop up the tomato and add that too.

Pour contents of bowl into prepared pie crust in average-sized pie plate. Add top crust.

Bake in a 400 degree oven long enough for the crust to brown. Bring to Pie Contest.

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Sliced Dragon


The girls sculpted this “dragon bread” (with bonus baby lizard spawn), inspired by the old crafts manual Making Things Book 2—A Handbook of Creative Discovery by Ann Wiseman (Little Brown, 1975) which we found in a used book store in Vermont over the summer.
I like how it looks, but, to tell the truth, it doesn’t taste like dragon at all.