Pan de Muertos

I know it’s the stereotype and all, but even though I’m female I really hate baking. The cutesy aprons, adorable flour tins, and rainbow cupcake scene just ain’t my bag. Give me pastas and sauces and gravies and roasted veggies and spices. No precise measurements needed- that’s where I’m at home! But baking? Sheesh, recipes have varied instructions based on elevations, and a cup isn’t just a cup… it has to be a sifted cup, or a perfectly level cup, or better yet weigh the ingredients… bah. Also, since I have a generalized disdain for aprons and wear mostly dark t-shirts that much loose flour can be an issue.

But I had pan de muertos to make for Dia de los Muertos. And the thought that the dead wait for no one really kept me to a pretty tight timeline here. Pan de Muertos means BREAD OF THE DEAD!!!!! (but without the overwrought punctuation and capitalization). With a name like that I’m sure a sweet bread that’s great with coffee is like, not what you were picturing. Anyway, I had an offrenda to put this on and so had to make it and did, in fact, quasi enjoy it. I did also, in fact, get flour god damn everywhere.

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I see now I should have made either one loaf or three… two seems like… yeah…

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…like this scene from The Naked Gun, only in bread.

ANYHOO…

Pan/Bread Ingredients

1/4 cup butter

1/4 cup milk

3 Tbsp orange juice

3 cups all purpose flour (don’t get me started on how many different flours there are…)

1 package (1 1/4 tsp) dry active yeast

1/4 cup water

1/2 tsp salt

1 tsp. anise seed

1/4 cup white sugar

3 eggs, beaten

2 Tbsp orange zest

 

Glaze Ingredients

1/4 cup white sugar

1/4 cup orange juice

1 Tbsp orange zest

Turn oven on to 325 degrees. Heat milk and butter over medium/low heat till butter melts. Add warm water and a pinch of sugar to a bowl and sprinkle over the yeast to activate it. (Weird bubbling ensues). Zest off the outer peel of an orange with a zester or by carefully slicing and dicing. Once butter is melted into milk remove from heat and let cool a little. In a large bowl add anise seed, 1 cup flour, 2 Tbsp orange zest, sugar, and salt together and then add eggs, yeast, and milk/butter. This is the part where folks would use a stand mixer, but since they sure as hell didn’t have that in 1932 Guanajato Mexico, I mixed by damn hand with a spoon. Here’s the secret though, get that first cup of flour mixed until smooth before adding the rest of the flour slowly until it’s all incorporated.

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I took the picture so I’ll damn well use it

Once it’s all added together it’s a little sticky and a little shaggy looking. Turn out on a lightly floured counter to knead.

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Turns out that’s an assload too much flour

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Then just knead until stretchy and you’re bored

Once the bread is kneaded (5 minutes or so) put back in a lightly greased bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and let rise for 2 hours.

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I took the picture and I’ll damn well use it

Then once the bread has risen, punch it down and form into loaves. I pulled about 1/4 off and set to the side to do the design on the tops and then divided the remaining dough into two balls. I then made the crossed “bones” and knob on the top (stylized skull? Not sure, but it’s the tradition) by forming it like it was playdough. Then I just pressed them into the top of the balls of dough. (AGAIN, though that’s what I did, maybe form into one big loaf or 3 small ones.) Place on a lightly greased baking sheet, place in the oven, and cook for 20-25 minutes.

While the bread cooks, add the orange juice and sugar to a pot over medium heat and stir to prevent burning. Heat until your glaze is lava.

Once bread is done, remove from oven, drizzle on the glaze, then while still hot sprinkle with white sugar.

It’s tasty, and not too anise-y, which I don’t really like, but this amount isn’t too much. I think Mexicans do anise WAYYYY better than the French do, frankly, so really don’t worry about it- you’ll like it. This bread is great heated up the next day, spread with butter and eaten with coffee. And remember- the dead wait for no one, so like… hurry it up.

 

 

 

 

Carrots Agrodolce with Currants

Like dude, that title amiright? Agrodolce means something about sweet and sour, and I’m 90% sure it’s Italian. You don’t get that kind of half assed explanation outta the Barefoot Contessa, now do you! If you can’t blaze your own path, store bought is fine.

This is the culmination of a long search for a carrot side dish. I don’t know why I made this my thing- the THING- I worked towards for years. But I always knew there had to be more to these orange bastards than I’d run across so far. Roasted baby carrots left me bored. Various other glazed carrot recipes always came out kinda weird or bland or required celery salt.

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The enigmatic jerks!

But this one? Tangy, not cloyingly sweet, and the currants upped the flavor depth. (Upped? Not deepened? Odd choice, brain.) Also, when done in the pan after cooking pork chops or chicken, you also incorporate the fond from the meat and the whole thing then gets served over said cut of meat as a sauce. Bitchin.

Ingredients:

½ smallish yellow onion, chopped
5-7 carrots, cut into rounds about 1/3 of an inch thick. Approximately.
2 Tbsp. olive oil
2 Tbsp. honey
4 Tbsp. red wine vinegar
4 Tbsp. currants, more or less
Salt and pepper to taste

In a pan over medium heat (after cooking pork or chicken, or can also be done in clean pan if required) add a good glug ( thats 2 Tbsp-ish) olive oil. If you are cooking the carrots after cooking meat make sure you have enough oil and your heat low enough that you don’t burn the fond. Once oil is heated, add the chopped onion and salt and pepper. Stir occasionally, scraping bottom to loosen fond, until onions are softened and starting to turn golden. Add carrots; stir once and then let sit for 2 minutes before continuing to stir and scraping the fond. Once carrots start to soften a little add honey, currants and vinegar, stirring regularly from here on out (another couple of minutes). If the sauce starts to dry you can add a little water. Continue scraping fond until you have a nice glaze that has coated the carrots and a bit of extra sauce. Serve as a side dish or spoon over meat if at all humanly possible.

I had this tonight with pan seared pork chops, sautéed spinach with red pepper flake and garlic, and wild rice. Spooned the carrots half over the pork and half over the rice. Pretty as a picture and tasted like I’d pay $26 for it in a restaurant.

Linking up with Samantha over at Fake Fabulous Here- check it out!

Random Word Generator Prompts

Like a random word post, and it’s been awhile, so figured I’d give it a whirl today. But first- I JUST realized that after I send a post live I often have some editing (misspelled words, etc.) that I correct and update. Those updates do NOT seem to be going to those of yall who get the post emailed to you. I will try to fix that and also be more vigilant with my pre-launch editing moving forward.

Sheep: My brother and I had the odd history of growing up in a city neighborhood with a feral sheep. His name was Stinky, and he supposedly belonged to the young married couple at the end of the street, but he wandered wherever he wanted to. As toddlers my brother and I was terrified of this huge, male, unshaved sheep. One time he trapped us in the garage and we climbed on my Dad’s car to escape him. I prefer Stinky to any religious or political sheep though, boy those are the worst.

Material: Well hmmm, I’m having a hell of a time finding acceptable fabric/material for new curtains in the kitchen. I want something Scandinavian with a white background and multi color print without being too twee or whimsical… or geometric. Hence the “hell of a time.” I did finally find fabric for my slipper chair in our living room. I reversed it so the side showing is actually the back of the fabric, but we like it more like that. I recovered the chair last weekend.

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Wouldn’t have worked for the curtains though…but similar to style I’m looking for.

Warning: Had enough health warnings lately that the husband and I are walking more, drinking less, and cutting back on cheese. Cholesterol. Weight. General weird ailments (plantar fasciitis sucks but is almost cleared up) that it’s time to just commit. Heed the warnings… we’re trying.

Art: I still haven’t finished the 4′ painting I’m doing of my husband… but I hung it on the wall so it didn’t get toddlerized- I better finish it or that will be the picture I’m “almost done with” for the next 40 years. I showed it to my mom and she asked if his hair was supposed to be a bike helmet. Actually its a bandana in the picture I’m working from… but thanks Mom.

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I swear the rule needs to be don’t hang it up until you’re done…

Bullet: At our last house I found a bullet in our hallway once. We don’t have guns. It remains one of the weirdest feelings to bend down and pick that up of the carpet. Someone brought a gun and bullets in my house. Or didn’t and didn’t realize a random bullet fell out of their pocket. Or… I have no idea. It could be from some totally different scenario I haven’t considered. Weird to think you know so much less than you think you do about what goes on around you sometimes.

Advice: I try to stockpile advice for the girls’ use later in life. Like, if a boy doesn’t seem a little nervous around them, they need to realize he’s trying to play them, not love them. Or that washing you’re face with a face cleanser every night really DOES make a difference. Or that starting to moisturize in your 20s is important. Or that there are no princesses waiting to be rescued in this family- they need to be women who are always capable of rescuing themselves. So far there are only two pieces of advice I’ve ever given them that seems to have stuck. First is that they should try to be the hero of their own stories. And the second is that the thinner the eyebrow the crazier the woman. GOD HELP ME why that last one that I just tossed off without thinking after a couple of glasses of wine should be one of the main ones they remember and cleave to, but parenting is weird like that. I bet you anything they mention it in my eulogy. I SAID IT ONE TIME FOR CHRIST’S SAKE!

 

 

 

Ice Dyeing: Last Night’s Batch Turned Out Like This…

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NICE!

So why are there no white spots, even though these were more tightly crammed in than the previous batch? I may have soaked these more than the other ones… so maybe the white on the previous set were dry parts in the center of some folds? Not 100% there…

Here is the thing- LOOK at the color variability within the batch though!

Here is how one of the first two scarves I was struggling with turned out:

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Meh. It’ll do. But compared to the color on the left…

So those scarves were 40% synthetic and 60% cotton… JUST like the ratios on the pashmina’s I did in the same dye batch. Can you imagine if I had just decided I couldn’t figure this out and thrown up my hands because of those things? Because here is how the pashmina’s turned out:

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From left to right: 80% cotton scarf, 100% cotton bandana, 40% acrylic/60% cotton pashmina, and the original scarf I was playing around with, also 40% acrylic/60% cotton.

Check OUT that color variability from the same dye batch.

So if at first you don’t succeed… try a different fabric!

As to the color: funny how when I was a kid purple was my favorite color but it doesn’t do ANYTHING for me these days… I like the previous set better, but I’m also not a huge fan of turquoise. Blasphemy, I know! But it’s not about what I like best… it’s having a nice range of choices at the craft fair and using all the dye in my collection. I do think they turned out purdy though.

 

Caramelized Onion and Jack Cheese Chicken Breasts

Okay, see, I’m starting to wonder if I shouldn’t be giving these recipes more obscure names. Like, should I call this Arroyo Ojo Chicken and have you think it’s something I ate in an exotic location in the Southwest? Because the truth is this is one where I started yet another late afternoon staring into a fridge and coming up with something; in this instance it was 2 chicken breasts, some leftover jack cheese from another meal, and a whole heap of onions because I forgot I had bought a bag and then bought ANOTHER bag two days later.

So let’s give it a shot here and say I’m typing this next to an adobe hacienda, sitting in the shaded courtyard, eating this chicken, drinking a michilada and staring across at the Arroyo Ojo. There’s… cactus. Some lizards maybe? Sierra Nevada’s in the distance. And I, your ever vigilant author, am thinking I should adapt such an exquisite meal for my loyal readers once my husband and I are back from our three week vacation.

Yeah. That’s the ticket.

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Looking at it right now. Swear.

Cooking time: neighborhood of 45 minutes

2 boneless skinless chicken breasts, pounded to ½ inch and cut into 4 pieces, total
1 and a half onions, sliced thinly
Jack cheese, either thin sliced or shredded
Cumin
Adobo seasoning (if you have it)
Mexican oregano
Salt
Pepper
Olive Oil

Serve with sour cream, lime, and sliced avocado

Slice the onions and add to a pan with 2 glugs (about 3 tablespoons) of olive oil over medium heat. You’re going to want to cook these, without burning them, for 10 to 15 minutes. The good news here is that you don’t need to stir them constantly, just stir occasionally and make sure they’re getting brown, not black. Once they’re caramelized remove them to a bowl, wipe out the pan, and return it to the stove, turning the heat up to medium high. Pound the chicken while the onions are caramelizing to ½ inch thick. It will plump back up a bit as it shrinks during cooking, so really wail on it. Cut each breast in half to make a total of four pieces. Season liberally (how much? Free college and outlawing assault rifles liberal) on both sides with cumin, adobo seasoning (If you have it), Mexican oregano, and salt and pepper. Add another couple of glugs of olive oil to the pan as it heats, and once hot add the chicken in batches. Cook for 4 minutes (plus/minus) per side, flipping a couple more times if needed to cook through.

Remove chicken to a cookie sheet, arrange onions liberally on top, then cover in cheese. Place cookie sheet in oven under broiler to melt cheese for just a minute or two- make sure you watch this step LIKE A HAWK! Serve with sliced avocado and dob with sour cream, then squeeze a lime on top.

Impress your spouse! Impress your mother in law! Boggle the minds of your friends! And your kids will eat it in spite of the vast amount of onions!

Major League Gun Control

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“Politicians… I go to you. I stick up for you. And you no help me now… I say fuck you Politicians. I do it myself.”

 

Here is to voting out EVERY goddamn worthless politician that fights harder to save embryos than our children. Who thinks outlawing the means of death for one will stop it but outlawing the other isn’t even worth trying.

Here is to ANYONE that can spend the infrastructure money to make our goddamn schools fortresses so I don’t have to glance sideways to just double check that a crazed gunman isn’t stalking up the elementary school steps where my 8 year old goes EVERY. FUCKING. TIME. I. DRIVE. BY. IT. Just you know, let’s at LEAST do that while we talk about fixing the problem itself.

Right to bear arms was instituted when we had muzzle loading guns- so go back to that. Everyone can have a muzzle loader. AR fucking 15s… not so mother fucking much.

And I am SORRY- we have pussy hat marches… and yet this keeps happening in our country?! Our marches should be bigger for this issue. What would those hats look like? Can you crochet a head wound?

My government doesn’t protect my children. They don’t protect your children. They. Don’t. Protect. Children.

What stone can I throw, what effort can I make, what horn can I blow…I guess lets recall that the walls of Jericho were felled by a horn (In that made up story) so maybe, if we blow the horn often enough and harder…

And so I say fuck you Jobu. I do it myself.