Day 7 & 8: Leave the bread, take the cannolis.

Yesterday was a great success! Actually all last week was a great success. I still can’t believe I did all meals myself and baked 3 bread items AND a bonus tiramisu.

Saturday night I wanted to bake the burger buns for Sunday, so I did and they turned out alright but they’re really heavy and dense. Which, by the recipe description sounds like they’re supposed to be so they don’t fall apart. It’s a very quick recipe, 40 minutes so it’s about what I expected. They were perfectly fine, but for the effort I would say either I’d try a different recipe next time or just buy buns.

The pretzels however were a SMASHING success! I was nervous about those because they require just a bit more skill. Ultimately it’s very simple, make the dough, let is rise, split the dough, roll it, form it, baking soda bath, bake, eat.

I even bought the course salt to sprinkle on top and let me tell, it really makes it come to life. To go with the pretzels I made a beer cheese dip. I didn’t love it, but my friend who came over thought it was good. To me, it was too grainy and didn’t really have the right flavor. I bought a giant block of cheese, $10 worth of sharp cheddar Tillamook, for the recipes last week. I’ve never bought that much cheese before. The recipe said to buy a block because the pre-shredded stuff has preservatives in it and it takes longer to melt. You’re supposed to grate it yourself because shredded cheese melts both quicker and more evenly when making a cheese sauce.

I remembered that I threw out my rusty cheese grater when I moved because I have one of those boxes where you can change the grater on top. So you can grate cheese, slice like a mandoline, make zucchini spirals or whatever. Realistically it’s easy, fun and cute for a small project not for grating 2 cups of cheese.

It took under 2 hours for the pretzels and cheese dip to be ready. I’d never done most of the skills needed for the pretzels. Well I had made dough for the first time a few days before. Having to roll it was interesting, once I got the hang of it it was pretty easy. The baking soda bath was a little daunting but honestly super easy. You just boil 10 cups water and some baking soda and then plop the pretzels in there for about 30 seconds each. I didn’t know what I was looking for so I just went by the time.

They turned a white, gooey-er dough but maintained shape and structural integrity. Then you give them an egg wash bath and sprinkle the coarse salt on. The bake time is only 12 minutes and voila, almost perfect pretzels, but honestly delicious pretzels.

I think the best part of challenging myself with these recipes is that they seem daunting and then when they’re done I’m impressed with myself and realize they’re totally doable.

Same with the tiramisu I made. I did buy the ladyfingers, but after looks at some more recipes there’s a bunch of different ways to do it, including just making a basic sponge cake. I made it on Saturday and was grateful I bought the ladyfingers because again, it was daunting to start and had there been any extra steps I probably just would have convinced myself not to bother. Once I started I realized it was very quick and easy and then boom it’s done and it just needs to sit in the fridge for a while.

Definitely don’t think the flavoring/textures were perfect, but I was really just impressed with myself and did enjoy some. I need to throw the rest out because otherwise I’ll end up eating it all and it’s very rich and decadent.

My friend came over yesterday towards the end of the Steelers game, which ended up being extremely stressful as the time clock wound down and the Bengals caught up. Then, all of a sudden, in the last 3 seconds of the game, the Bengals scored, tying the game. The touchdown tied it 20-20 and so they had to kick for the extra point. My friend, Maggie said what are the chances of them blocking the ball. I told her it happens, she said yeah like once every 10 years, I said no once every season, at least.

Sure enough, the Steelers blocked the extra point and Maggie and I erupted with elated screams and cheering in disbelief. The overtime was wasn’t great to watch, until with 3 minutes left the Steelers finally kicked a field goal and won the game. I will say that sometimes I just root for the Steelers to win because they’re my team but this game they really deserved to win, they played an amazing game and it was so much fun to watch.

Maggie ended up staying though halftime of the night game. That was the game she wanted to watch the most, she’s a Cowboys fan and a Tom Brady fan, so those are her teams. I’m working on getting her taste in football to be a little bit better and am sure by the end of the season she’ll be a Pittsburgh fan. When she left it was 9pm and I was exhausted. After snacking on pretzels and I had made ranch dip with some veggies, we made Oklahoma Onion burgers.

These are essentially just burgers but you chop onions up and sort of place them on one side of the patty as it cooks then flip it and it kind of goes into the meat. Just being so close to OK I wanted to try them, they were good. I used half ground beef and half Italian sausage so the flavoring was really good. I made them in a wok because that’s my only pan, but my pizza pan covers it like a lid so I melted the cheese and toasted the buns and it was great.

I felt really good about everything we had yesterday. It was nice to have made the effort, albeit exhausting. As she left I took the trash out for trash day, which is my favorite thing to do because I always clean out the fridge on Sundays and it feels like a fresh start. My plan was to then write a blog and work on my menu for this week, but I seriously collapsed on the couch and watched 2 episodes of the bake off before just getting into bed.

I tried to make black pretzels in honor of the steelers, but I didn’t quite add enough coloring. They looked black before they were baked. 😦

I still haven’t worked out what I’m making this week. I just went back to my announcement post to see what I had sort of outlined for week 2 – I remember I was going to do Greek cooking and Italian baking. I jumped the gun with the tiramisu then.

I remember wanting to do Italian week after an episode of the bake off where they had to make margherita pizzas. I wanted that challenge and I think I’ll do that this week. After looking up some more Italian baked recipes, I think I may take a crack at zeppoles and *dramatic music* cannolis! I love cannolis. They seem hard to make… add them to the list!

I don’t love Italian food. I hate telling people that because they think I’m crazy. I’ve been to Italy a couple of times and even then, meh. The best Italian food I ever had was in Vietnam. So, go figure. I do like Italian pizza though. Which is rare here in the states. The dough in Italian pizza is so much better and crisp and chewy so that’s what I’m gonna go for, those are going to be my 3 baking challenges this week. *sweats a little*

So I paused writing this to look up recipes and add things to my cart and here’s what I learned: there is yet another type of flour. There’s a movie called “Stranger Than Fiction” and the main character has a crush on a baker and he brings her an assortment of “flours” instead of flowers. When I was young it took me a minute to get it, but now I’m like wow ok that’s the cutest thing ever. But seriously, who knew there were so many types of flour! I’m currently looking for 00 flour, which is specifically for pasta and pizza dough.

I’ve read that you don’t necessarily need to use double 0 flour, you can get away with bread flour but I’ve also decided to get a pizza stone so why not just go all the way. Plus the flour is only $3, not exactly breaking the bank. I keep thinking about when my brother was here when I moved in to this house. He kept telling me how much stuff I have. I know what he means, I get overwhelmed by the amount of things, but I do like having certain things. I think the difference is that a lot of the things I have are meaningless trinkets from TJ Maxx and the like, whereas a pizza stone just seems like an investment in well made pizza.

A lot of the comments on these sites (especially the NY Times Cooking site) has bakers say they freeze dough. I may start doubling recipes, like for the pizza dough and then making 2 batches. I feel like making pizza from home will be one of those things that you make and immediately want to make again to try different techniques, ingredients or toppings. I forgot I wanted to try making pasta from scratch too. This may be the week but I need to do more research and see if I can do it without a fancy pasta maker tool.

After week 1 the one thing I can say is I don’t know how people cook every day. This is tiring. The planning is time consuming, the doing is time consuming, the eating is amazing and then the cleaning is time consuming and always makes me sad. I know a few people who are single who don’t like to cook for themselves because it’s so much work and it’s fun to share your creations with others. I really enjoy cooking for myself because it just feels like self care. It creates more work (planning, shopping, cleaning) but I really think this is an important part of the process and for me the process of healing food related trauma.

I’m going to go now to focus on my shopping cart this week, it’s already pretty late on Monday afternoon so I either have to go to the store and hand pick it out or pick it up tomorrow. Store pick up in a miracle gift from covid. It helps people like me stay focused and on menu and budget, but also I don’t walk down the chip isle and decide I want those. Until the tiramisu I don’t think I had anything sweet last week. I didn’t even want ice cream to sooth my throat, now I kind of do, lol.

Alright I added some mint chocolate chip ice cream and waffle cone bowls to the cart for this week! My brother and sister in law sent me a thrifty ice cream scoop, which if you don’t know, is a specific shape and reminds me of childhood. Thrifty was a drug store, I think since bought out by Rite-Aid, but they had the best ice cream and one scoop was like 70 cents for the longest time. I could almost always scrounge up that amount in the couch and walk to Thrifty and buy myself an ice cream while my mom was at work. I haven’t used the scooper yet, so that’ll be a treat this week.

Ugh, I just read the cannoli recipes. It says I’d need a food processor, which I don’t have. I wonder if there’s a workaround for that? I also don’t have a rolling pin which seems like something I’ll need this month. The mold for the cannolis are less than $10 but I bet I could figure out a way to make a mold out of things I already have. After all, I’m not on the bake off, my cannolis do not need to be any sort of uniform, just edible and in the words of Paul Hollywood “simple, yet effective.”

That’s my new motto.

Alright wish me luck.

2 thoughts on “Day 7 & 8: Leave the bread, take the cannolis.

  1. Ok I forgot to write in that last comment, have you ever seen like up and down line graph where every point is at a different height but each point says “best” and it’s ordered by days? So doing your “best” every day is a different best. That’s what I try to tell myself when I’m having a bad day. I also think about the meme (?) that talks about how taking time to rest is absolutely necessary and is self-care. Anyways. Love you!

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