The Chives Have It

I am not a beer drinker. In fact, from the very first time I tried beer (at the tender and illegal age of four), I’ve found it to be rather gross. The smell, the taste, the after-taste all make my taste buds want to run for the hills; or at least that part of my tongue that doesn’t detect bitterness. If all my buds could gather at the side where salty, sweet, or even sour thrives, my beer-drinking experiences would be a lot more tolerable.

I really would rather be one of the cool kids who likes, even loves beer. My life would be so much more… chill. Oh well.

One thing that I do like beef for: baking. What did I bake, you ask?

Bread. Delicious Cheddar Chive Beer Bread.

When I was in Korea, I made Jason and myself a yum bread I found… somewhere. Unfortunately, I have NO idea where I got the recipe. I have it written on a scrap of paper that I managed to save. When I made it in Korea, I made plain ol’ white bread, and I used a light beer (more palatable).

Now that Jason’s taken up blogging, there is a steady supply of beer of all colors in our pantry and fridge.

IMG_3585Another thing I did while living is Seoul was scour the YouTube cooking channels. We discovered this lovely Kentucky-based woman sometime in 2010. She recently did a beer bread which incorporated one of my favorite foods–cheese. Her recipe also calls for a good amount of chives.

I made this recipe for the first time with a bottle of Jason’s Shiner Blonde, as well as extra sharp cheddar.

My Recipe:

Preheat to 375*F / 190*C.

3.5 c all-purpose flour, 3 tbsp white sugar, 1 tbsp baking powder, 1.5 tsp salt, 1.5 cups finely grated cheese, 2-3 tbsp chopped chives, 12 oz beer of your preference, 1 egg (beaten).

Add all the dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl until well-combined. I added a small amount of the flour to the cheese before mixing it in to coat it. This helps distribute the cheese more evenly. Then pour in the beer. Mix until doughy. Pour dough onto floured surface to knead first (if your dough turns out dryer) or directly onto a baking sheet to free-form, or into a bread pan (if your dough is wetter).*

*I’ve played around with this: Cold beer is better than warm beer. 3 cups of flour is better than 3.5 (I actually think the 1/2 cup was for sprinkling and kneading, but I never transferred the directions… my bad!)

Betty’s bread dough was wetter than mine, and she uses a bread pan. I have used both a pan and free-formed the dough. Both are yum.

The egg is for glazing; brush it on prior to baking. Betty uses melted butter on hers; about ten minutes before finishing. AWESOME.

Adding the cheese and chives took the bread to such an amazingly savory place. Jason, my folks, and I polished off this loaf in a single night. It was THAT good.

Preggo Girl’s WIAW #4

I have yet to take myself down to the lab at my hospital to get the GD one-hour screening test. Not to worry, though, I’m going tomorrow bright and early.

In preparation for the test, I’ve been focusing a lot on my eating habits. For the last few weeks I’ve been sticking pretty well to a three-meals-a-day diet with a snack thrown in here and there. Due to my crazy weight gains the last two times, I refuse to see another gain as high. So aside from the GD test, I’m also really focused on limiting any more weight gain. I don’t want to risk our health.

In addition to focusing on eating healthier, I have been working on getting in more exercise. Last week, in celebration of completing our child-birthing class, Jason and I went to Target to get our spend on.

He quickly located the Hot Wheels aisle, while I went in search of a prenatal yoga video that didn’t have an obnoxiously upbeat woman on the cover whose face had been photo-shopped onto a pregnant lady’s body. Success was had with this video by Gaiam.

Prenatal Yoga

I had been doing a prenatal “video” via OnDemand, but it didn’t really do a whole lot for me. The Gaiam video, however, kicked my butt. Let me tell you. I managed to get through the first 20 minutes of the video before I had to quit–baby steps. The next two days found me pretty sore in the chest. I blame the downward dog poses. My plan is to do it again today to see if I can get through more than the seated poses. (I quit at the intermission between seated and standing poses.)

So, why all this extra side chatter about my “workout” regimen? The July WIAW theme is “Fun, Food, and Fitness” so that’s what you’re getting.

My food and fun will be lumped together.

In the mailer that Jason received with his Weight Watchers membership card, there was an AWESOME recipe for a light and delectable blueberry angel-food cake. I wanted to make it fancy and a little patriotic, so I picked up some fresh raspberries (the RED), and light whip cream (the WHITE) to top the cake (the BLUE).

Mix one 14.5 oz box of angel-food cake mix with a 21-22 oz can of light blueberry pie filling. Pour into a 9X13 baking dish and bake at 350 for thirty minutes.
*NOTE: I used a 16 oz box and it rose well up over the top of the baking dish. I also baked it a little longer and then let it sit in the oven after I turned the heat off… It may work out differently for you, depending on your elevation, etc.

BBQ chicken, fresh corn on the cob, and spending time with my family will finish out the good times and the good food.

Peas and Crayons

Happy Independence Day, everyone!

**Question: How are you/did you RED, WHITE, and BLUE today?**

A Lil’ Puddin

Jason, for reasons I am still not completely sure of, had a can of coconut milk at work, which he brought home about two or three weeks ago. Ever since he did, I have been aching to use it in a recipe. Most of the recipes I found that call for coconut milk are curries, you know, really savory and delicious Thai and India food. But, I wanted to keep it sweet to really keep the coconut flavor.

I finally found this recipe and I was in business. Now, I did take pictures, but they didn’t come out nearly as well as I would have liked, so I am not including any this time. But, it came out REALLY good. The recipe actually calls for equal parts coconut milk and regular milk, but I didn’t have enough regular milk at the time, so I used the rest of the coconut milk. We also didn’t have lemons or limes, so I omitted that ingredient. It still tasted great (and still does today after chilling in the fridge).

Just a side note, for those of you who are vegan: You can substitute pretty much any non-dairy (ie rice, soy, coconut) milk for cow’s milk, especially in sweet foods like breads or puddings. I also find that applesauce or mashed bananas work really nicely in place of eggs and sometimes, butter in things like muffins, cookies, or breads. Just be aware that the results are a little less fluffy and a little more…sticky/gummy, but a lot more healthful!

Happy baking!

A Busy Week

Since posting last Sunday, I’ve been a bit busy. Vowing to get even more recipes under my belt, I started watching a few more YouTube channels like Laura Vitale’s “Laura In the Kitchen.” This stylish foodie specializes in mostly Italian cuisine, and makes it look easy as pie. Last night’s spaghetti alfredo was inspired by her fettuccine alfredo recipe. Let’s back up to last weekend. I mentioned in that post that I had been having issues with baking powder. The two days following Christmas weekend, I had tried to make a batch of scones. I tried two different recipes from two different contributors to the UCC recipe site I use. These two recipes were a total fail. The dough was too moist (think goop), and the scones turned out inedible (too much BP created an overwhelming scent of ammonia/urea). The solution? Change recipe sites. I found this recipe and after a slight modification (substituting ½ part plain yogurt and ½ part milk in place of buttermilk) I finally got a delicious result (and honestly, I would have been happy for bread that just smelled NOT of urine). Finally, my dough was “solid” enough to actually kneed, form into a ball, and roll out (had I opted to roll the dough as the recipe suggests—instead, I pulled off small, golf ball-sized bits, flattened them slightly and placed them on the greased baking sheet about an inch apart). The result was an amazingly buttery scone. Add a bit of blueberry jam and you get YUM! 

Coffee House Scones with Blueberry Jam

Last weekend (after posting) I decided to also make us a bit of granola. In my pursuit of recipes, I found this woman on YouTube who provides easy recipes and tips for cooking healthy dishes (skip the lobster one, or you might cry). Rita Heikenfeld posted a nice and easy recipe for maple granola. For this one, you really only need the rolled oats, oil, and maple syrup to get your base, but you can add seeds or nuts to the mix prior to baking and any sort of dried fruit or chocolate afterword. Last weekend’s batch was sans seeds or nuts and only Jason’s half had raisins. This week I will add a bit of walnuts and more raisins.

Maple granola, fresh from the oven.

Yesterday was our monthly Costco run. As expats in SK, we’re not so keen on driving (while pretty easy to get a Korean license as a foreigner, forget about trying to buy a car here, let alone drive it in the amazingness that is Seoul traffic on any given day, at any given time) so, we bus. But, before getting to said bus, we have to prepare (both mentally and physically) for the journey. Before leaving the apartment, we ready our backpacks, Jason lining his with a plastic bag to prevent leaks from any meat we’ll get. We also bring at least three of our five Baggu bags (the most awesome things…ever). From our apartment, it takes roughly 20 minutes to walk to the correct bus stop. Our bus runs maybe every 10-15 minutes, so we wait. Yesterday, as we are leaving the apartment, it begins to snow. By the time our bus get to us, the snow has already begun to stick. Jason is actually happy for this, as it will add a little more resistance to the 2 inch thick ice that has yet to melt from two weeks before. After a 25 minute bus ride, we arrive at Costco. Let the insanity begin.

I’m not sure how many of you have lived in a really large city, but if you have, then you know what I mean when I say that the Yangjae Costco on a Saturday morning is like a mosh-pit of bargain seekers. In a city of around 50 million, it’s bound to be, right? Even with three or four other branches placed around the city. But, I digress. We were only in there for maybe an hour, which is long for us, but I was on a mission to find spices not easily found here in SK (such as granulated onion and garlic, parsley, paprika, oregano, etc) and I found most of those for much cheaper than expected, considering the store near us sells dried bay leaves for about 11,000 won (Costco had them for less than 4,000 won). I was also looking for parmigiano-reggiano (to use in the alfredo sauce), but after finding it for 40,000 won, we passed. We leave Costco, each of us with about 40 pounds on our backs and 10 pounds in the Buggu bags. The trek home seems longer, weighted down with 50 pounds of food each, but eventually we make it.


Bread and Jam

In my last care package from home, I received about a dozen packets of active dry yeast. Until yesterday, I had been hesitant to attempt making a bread recipe requiring yeast, but we can all rest easily now… mission accomplished.

I do enjoy baking. As you know, I have made several things – cookies, breads, ect. A while back, I came across this recipe which called for sour cream. We have sour cream here… granted, it’s a little more tart than American sour cream (I think the Costco imports this brand from somewhere like Sweden or Germany or something), but in a fix, it does the job. Yes, a dollop on those carne adovada burritos works just fine, actually.

So, last night, after spending the later part of the morning and early afternoon girly shopping with a friend from work (thank you Grace, for translating!!), and recouping my poor feet, I set Jason and I to work.

Using one of the cool baking thermometers his folks sent me, I made sure the water for the yeast was just right. Poured in the yeast and fed it some sugar. Jason got to mix the sour cream and dry ingredients while we waiting the requisite 10 minutes for the yeast to grow (they grow, right?).

Then I poured the yeast mixture into the flour mixture and boy, that was fun. I had to knead the dough for TEN minutes… it was slimy and gross and we ended up adding, I would wager, about two more cups of flour before it was the right consistency.

Let rise for 1 hour.

Punch down dough and knead for an additional five minutes. Form into the shape of a loaf and place in bread pan for 45 more minute to rise even more. Ok, we did that. This is what we got:

The finished product
Nom Nom
Too hot, but too good to resist
Cooked Inside
Enjoying fresh bread

Jason opted for a slice with butter, while I spread on the jam I made using this recipe. Sooo good!