Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Bread, Rhubarb, and Custard

After I graduated a couple years ago, my mom and I made a pane bianco. I'd been meaning to make it again and just hadn't found the time. Newly inspired by GBBO, Ryan decided we should do that this past weekend. It's been a ton of fun to work together as a family on these bakes. We ended up making two loaves, one per day, because we had the basil and may as well use it all up, right?

First day:

Mal channeling GBBO and anxiously watching the dough prove

Cutting the sun-dried tomatoes into pieces

Choosing some basil to chop

Into the oven for the second prove

Finished product!
It's quite an elegant loaf, but I felt it was a little dull looking. Decided an egg wash would be worth trying the next time we made it.

Day 2, I did mostly by myself. I was more confident with cutting the bread and letting it open up more. But also forgot about the dough while it was proving initially, so may have been a little over-proved. I wouldn't really know how to tell. We opted for a whole egg + milk wash and I loved how it gave a nice shine:

For Memorial Day, we had some rhubarb and so I needed a recipe to use that up. When I traveled to the UK in college, we were frequently served rhubarb crumble with warm custard and it was pretty much the best thing ever. No one was able to give me a recipe ("It's just from a packet!"), so I haven't had it in years. I was able to find a recipe and made that up. None of my family were huge fans of the raw rhubarb (Gareth didn't seem to mind it much, but he likes to eat raw cranberries too...), but everyone loved the rhubarb crumble and the custard.

Gareth has been making dinner for us once a week, which he seemed hesitant about at first, but now seems to be enjoying. It's great to see his confidence grow - when we last did this ~3 years ago, he needed help with every step. Now we can pretty much leave him to his own devices and he'll figure things out, but knows we're available to help when needed. So far he's done smoked gouda mac n cheese, scrambled eggs and biscuits, and a "southwest falafel" with avocado (basically pinto bean patties that you serve in pita with guacamole).

This next weekend we'll be making a chocolate cheesecake for Ryan's birthday. And, if time permits, may make up the Julia Child leek quiche for his birthday dinner (we've done it dozens of times before, but it's been years since we last made it). Macarons are also planned for this week since we have a bunch of egg whites leftover from making the custard.

Saturday, May 16, 2020

Quarantine, Part III

One nice perk to quarantine is that our weekend days are suddenly very empty. Not that we don't enjoy the things we usually do with them, but now we're having the opportunity to do some things we enjoy doing that maybe wouldn't have been prioritized previously. Among those a couple weekends ago was a cheesecake trial run. Ryan has done German chocolate cake for his birthday for several years, though we've also occasionally purchased a cheesecake. We've never made one before, and he was thinking he'd like that this year, so decided to try it out.

Our local baking supply shop (just a couple blocks away from us!) is taking phone/email orders and then no-contact pickup and delivery. We didn't own a cheesecake pan, so I placed an order and was able to walk with Mal to pick it up that afternoon. Love our local stores!

Everyone pitched in with measuring/mixing/grating of lemon zest. Ryan took charge of spreading the base across the bottom of the pan, though I helped get it up the sides a bit.

The recipe we used called for a biscuit crust. I was a little worried when it puffed up a fair bit in the oven, despite our having pricked it with a fork.

But it seemed to be okay when we poured the filling over it, so into the oven it went. Apparently the key to not having a big crack across the top is to cook it until it's just set about 1 inch in from the edge, then turn off the oven, leave the oven door open a bit, and leave the cheesecake there for another hour. It sets the rest of the way as the oven is cooling.

I had no idea if it would really work or not, but it came out looking quite good - no crack and set all the way through!

I was making a store run that day anyway, so picked up some frozen tart cherries to make a fruit glaze with.

It turned out way better than I expected, very creamy, with the fresh lemon zest definitely coming through. The base was a little thick at the edge, so next time we know to leave a little more in the center! Gareth wanted us to finish this one off by the next weekend so we could make another, but I think if we did that we'd be tired of cheesecake before Ryan's birthday rolled around!

We got a new raised bed the other day, intended for patios/decks. I was able to pick up some seeds at the grocery store this past week. I wanted to keep it on the deck since last year we put some tomatoes down in the yard and they were woefully neglected since we just didn't make it down to them that often. Hoping that on the deck it will be more visible to us and we might actually remember to tend to whatever manages to grow. Not sure how it will fare against the bunnies though (not sure they can get up to the deck, so maybe another pro to putting it up here?). I also got a planter to go on the deck railing that I'm hoping to grow some herbs in. I've been wanting to do that for a while and am excited to finally get around to it - if it goes well then I'll expand next year. I know we should've been planting ages ago, but Seattle's a little forgiving in that respect since it can take a while to get warm here. Better late than never, I figure. Even if we don't get much to eat from it, it'll be something else for the kids to do.

We're starting to do more Zoom visits for work, and after having a few in one day I realized my side-of-bed work setup just wasn't sustainable for the long-term while doing video calls. So we kicked the boys out of their fort and I took over the music room as my office. I made our first trip to Costco in a long while and was able to use my work badge for priority entry into the store. Picked up a folding table for a desk. My back is appreciating my new setup, though a certain 8 year old has decided that me being on the same floor as them means they should be able to knock on the door and ask me questions all day long.

Ryan's finally given in and started watching Great British Bake Off (I was doing a re-watch). So while I've watched all of them available on Netflix, he's new to it and it's been a ton of fun to watch all together. We're making notes of bakes we'd like to try and hoping to gradually work through them over the next many weeks/months.

Saturday, May 2, 2020

Quarantine Part II

As it became obvious that this wouldn't be a short stint of us all at home, we decided that Ryan definitely needed a better work setup. I need one as well, but we just don't have the space; since I need to be able to keep patient appointments/discussions about patients private, working up in our bedroom really is the only option and there isn't room for a desk and good chair up there. So folding chair at the side of the bed it is. I pulled in my sister to help with ideas on how to rearrange our space to create an "office" for him. Had to map out our outlets as well, since his laptop requires a 3-pronged outlet, which helped remind us that we need some electrical work done at some point.

Our couch lives in front of the window. I never would've thought to get Ryan a desk in the corner between the couch and the fireplace, but she suggested it and it's brilliant! We weren't able to find a cheap corner desk that would fit (actually, there was one on Ikea, but they were stupid with their ordering system and you couldn't order it despite it saying it was in stock. But you only found that out after you were halfway through the order process.). We found a cheap desk that we'll give away after this is done. He gets to enjoy having sunlight and looking out the windows while he works now!

We did the usual outdoor egg hunt on Easter. As usual, the kids missed many of the most obvious eggs. They tend to wander around, swiveling their heads to and fro, but not actually looking. It becomes clear why I'm apparently the only person in the house who can actually find anything.

Speaking of finding things, as all of this started, Ryan lost one of his jackets. We both looked everywhere. I wondered if he'd left it at his drum lesson or at the restaurant we'd been to recently. No luck at the drum school and we were both positive he'd put it on before leaving the restaurant. He was very sad about it. We were watching a show a few days later and one of the characters had their blue bomber jacket stolen - Ryan sympathized with the character deeply. This past weekend I got in the basement closet to pull out my sewing supplies for masks, pushed aside some clothes hanging there, only to realize I'd just moved the jacket out of my way!

He must've washed it, hung it there to dry, then forgot it was there. I had a good laugh about that one. And we just saved ourselves a few hundred bucks, because I was very ready to have him just go buy a new one once the stores opened again. Yay!

We've also celebrated becoming parents to a teenager:

Lighting the candles on this cake went much better than lighting them on the pie, for the record. He was excited to get lots of books and some video games he'd been eagerly waiting for.

Ryan made time to get in the first mow of the season, and almost mowed over some bunnies in the process! Thankfully they ran away in time. Of course, we won't be so thankful if we try to plant anything we care about and they eat it. Neighborhood has been having a huge rabbit boom lately. But we've also seen coyotes around (though not right near our house yet), so maybe it'll all balance out?

And I finally finished a mask! My sewing is definitely rusty. Huge thanks to my mom for her tips and guidance. I don't visualize things well, which causes issues with sewing sometimes and she is remarkably patient putting up with it. Now I just need to make a LOT more so we have plenty for all of us.

I've agreed to take on an interim position at work as a biochemical genetics dietitian. These RDs work with patients who have inborn errors of metabolism - where there are genetic errors that make it so they can't metabolize certain proteins or fats or where they are unable to break glycogen down to make glucose. You know the newborn screening they do? Some of these inborn errors are screened for on that, because the consequences of not diagnosing these conditions early are severe. Nutrition is key to managing them and the RDs take turns being on call 24/7. It should be a fun challenge to undertake. I'm training intermittently through the next few weeks, and will start covering in mid-June.

Our stay at home order has been extended until the end of May at least. Summer camp for the kids is up in the air, which is disappointing all around, but obviously we prefer everyone stay safe and healthy!