Home Alone: Let the Cooking Commence

10 Oct

Here at Cornell, it is Fall Break.  The foliage is almost at its peak in color change, the weather is cool but sunny, classes are out for a couple days…and everyone went home.  I, however, am here at Cornell for the break.  Since student employees at Statler Hotel are encouraged to work for Fall or Spring break, I decided to hold out for Spring break off.  And what the hell?  It’s nice in Ithaca, and it’s peak food season (in my opinion) at the farmer’s market.

Last week, I went to the market and found some incredible artisanal flours–buckwheat and whole wheat, locally grown and ground.  Finally, a week later, I found some time to make bread with them!  Last night, I made a wet dough and did not knead it for too long–just long enough until the gluten network seemed to be pretty well-formed.  This morning, I woke up to a bowl of risen, spongy dough, but it had lost shape and did not rise as properly as I’d hoped.  Either the weak yeast or less kneading was to blame.  Still, I gathered it up, kneaded it, and shaped it into 2 batards.  After about forty minutes in a 425 degree oven, they were beautiful and smelled great.  Minutes later, they tasted great!  Crispy, dense but chewy, earthy, and delicious are a few words I would associate with these lovely breads.  Success!

buckwheat bread--sexy enough for a centerfold!

I also made an apple pie after stocking up on so many apples at the Ithaca Apple Festival.  I started by making a crust–this time with goat butter.  What can I say?  I’m a curious soul.  Next, I sliced a bunch of Northern Spy apples and mixed them with flour, ginger, and sugar.  After placing them into the bottom crust, I decided I could top them with some peanut butter–apples and peanut butter are a great match!  OK, I was a little drunk.  But the result was good!  As for the goat butter crust, I found it delicious!  For me, a perfect pie crust must be flaky and buttery–it doesn’t have to look smooth and “perfect.”  While I toiled with messy lattice-work on this pie, my friend laughed, thinking I was probably too wine-impaired to make it work.  But ya know what?  My crusts don’t come out any more symetrically when I’m sober.  And I’m here to tell you it tastes amazing.

drunk pie

cross section

sober pie--no big diff!

And thusly, I have started turning my alone time at Cornell into cooking time!  More to come!

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