Zvi and I made our next recipe from Rose Levy Beranbaum's The Bread Bible today. It was a lovely focaccia that featured our very own homegrown rosemary and thyme. Zvi says "too bad it wasn't made with our own flour - maybe next year." Haha, that's what he thinks! I'm really not planning on growing wheat in my backyard.

There are a couple of things I would do differently when making this again. I already added in thyme and more salt than was called for, but I think even more herbs would be really nice. The biggest change is that I used a large baking sheet for the focaccia, leaving a smaller baking sheet to go into the oven ... this may have contributed to a bit of uneven browning and heat distribution on the bottom. Next time I will put the dough into the smaller one and put that on top of the bigger one. Either that or buy another baking sheet in the large size. Anyway, these are just minor details. Overall, it turned out really great.

The dough needs about 6 hours of total rising time so it's best to start this process in the morning if possible, or at least before 4pm which is when I started our process. Oh well - a little taste of focaccia at 10:15pm never hurt anyone!

Zvi and I both also thought that the dough would make for an excellent pizza dough. We could both totally imagine it spread with some tomato sauce, some oregano and basil and maybe some buffalo mozzarella. Except for the cheese we could make it all from homegrown ingredients. Another time.

390 grams unbleached all-purpose flour (2 3/4 cups)
1.2 grams instant yeast (3/8 tsp)
442 grams room temperature water (2 cups minus 2 tbsp)
3 grams sugar (3/4 tsp)
5.2 grams salt (3/4 tsp)
36 grams extra virgin olive oil (2 tbsp plus 2 tsp divided)
2 tsp fresh rosemary
2 tsp fresh thyme
1 tbsp coarse sea salt

1. Mix Dough. Using the paddle attachment in a KitchenAid mixer, combine flour and yeast on speed 2. Gradually add water until the dough comes together - about 3 minutes. Increase speed to 4 and beat until dough changes from a wet mixture to a smooth ball - about 18 minutes. Add sugar and salt and beat until they are well incorporated - about 3 minutes.

Mixing Focaccia Dough

2. Let Dough Rise. Using an oiled spatula, scrape dough into a medium sized, lightly greased bowl. Dough will have consistency of melted mozzarella. Lightly spray oil on top of dough. Cover bowl. Allow to rise in a warm spot for about 4 hours until dough has at least doubled.

3. Shape Dough And Let Rise Again. Coat a baking sheet with a heaping tbsp of olive oil. Pour dough onto it. Coat hands with some of the remaining olive oil and spread dough as thinly as possible without tearing it. Let it relax for 10 minutes then spread it to almost fill the baking sheet. Make sure to maintain the bubbles in the dough. Cover baking sheet with greased plastic wrap and allow to rise in a warm spot for 1 1/2 to 2 hours until volume has doubled.

4. Preheat Oven. Place another baking sheet on lowest level in oven. Preheat oven to 475F 1 hour before baking (I think we only did half and hour).

5. Sprinkle Toppings And Bake. Uncover dough and drizzle remaining olive oil evenly over top. With oiled fingertips, deeply dimple the dough. Sprinkle evenly with herbs and salt. Place baking sheet directly onto baking sheet already in oven. Bake until golden - about 12 to 15 minutes. Remove and serve immediately.
Focaccia Out Of Oven
Freshly Baked Focaccia

In other news, I'm so glad Bayla learned to put her head down sideways when she's on her tummy. She's started rolling over in her crib at night but at least now that doesn't make her wake up screaming because her face is planted flat into the mattress. Of course, she does sometimes manage to get her entire leg stuck through the slats in the crib. No clue how this even happens. It really is amazing watching her do tummy time though because she is so much stronger than when she started out. Not only can she hold her arms straight and lift her whole chest off the ground, she pretty much lifts her hips up too. It's like she's doing the cobra pose from yoga. Great for her - I'm not sure I can hold the pose for as long as she can at this point. It looks like she's at the beginning stages of figuring out how to crawl. (OMG, which means we need to tidy up the house ASAP and get a cleaning lady!!) She hasn't quite figured out how to consistently role onto her back yet either but she can spin around 360 while on her tummy. I love watching her go around and around playing with various toys as she goes. Am I supposed to be this by my child?! Here's a picture of her enjoying some sweet potatoes today. This was taken before things got really messy :-)
Sweet Potato Mess

Well, we did it ... we fed solids to Bayla. She was exclusively breastfed for 6 months which was really important to me and now we're starting to introduce her to different tastes. This milestone was a bit bittersweet for me. On one hand, I'm so excited for her to grow up because she's getting to be so much fun and I want to see what she'll be like and really be able to interact with her. But on the other hand, my baby is growing up so fast and I'm already starting to forget what she was like at her tiniest and I'm already starting to miss it and feel that incredible yearning that I'm sure all mothers feel for their little babies who need them so utterly and completely. But, I am going to continue to nurse for hopefully the rest of the year that I'm home so Bayla and I do still have lots of opportunity to cuddle and bond together.

Open Wide

We started her on organic brown rice cereal. Zvi had both the video and still cameras on hand to document the funny faces we were sure we'd get. But Bayla was so well behaved ... she was brave and tried it without a fuss. She smiled most of the way through it and let out the cutest little "mmmm" after each spoon. It was impossible not to melt for our little girl. What a cutie.

I know that generally you're supposed to wait a few days in between new food introductions for babies so that any sensitivities or allergies can be noticed. But I didn't want to keep her on just the rice cereal for too long because as I've heard from every mother who has been through this before me - it doesn't make for happy baby tummies. I had hoped that by choosing a brown rice cereal instead of white that it would help with the situation. But even still, I didn't want to risk it. In any case, it is extremely rare for anyone to have sensitivities to rice so I wasn't too worried about breaking this rule. Also - I was so excited about the whole experience that I just really wanted to give Bayla new things to try. So we did 1 day of the rice which I fed to her twice in the day. Then for the next 2 days we moved on to avocado which I had thinned with some milk. I only gave it to her once on each day partly because that's how our schedule worked out and partly because how much avocado can/should a baby really eat, right? Bayla seemed to really like the avocado too.
Mmmm Avocado

And now we're on to 2 days of apple which so far is going just fine as well. I've also started giving Bayla little bits of boiled water from a sippy cup. I don't want her to have too much because I'm still nursing and I don't want her to fill her tummy up with non-nutritive sucking. However, I'm really adamant about getting her used to drinking water instead of juice as she grows up (I'm convinced that because I was raised on juice, albeit diluted, I am now completely addicted to sugar) and also it's a great way to rinse out her mouth and not get leftover bits of mush all over me and everything else in the house!

And so for now, I leave you with this last picture of my little big girl. There really are no adequate words to sum up the amount of love that I feel for her.

Weekend Cooking

Yesterday, Zvi and I made our first recipe from Rose Levy Beranbaum's The Bread Bible. Admittedly, it wasn't the most bready thing we could've made but it sure was delicious. Cinnamon Crumb Surprise is the first recipe in the book and I would call it more of a coffee cake than anything else. For the first time in my life, I actually followed the recipe EXACTLY. And now that I have, I've made note of some changes for next time. For starters, I found it to be a little too sweet so I would cut back some of the sugar, at least in the crumble topping. Secondly, I would increase the amount of apples in the middle layer. I know this isn't supposed to be an apple cake but I found that just one apple really didn't add much of a surprise to the cake and I would have liked to feel more of that flavour. And last but most importantly, the recipe calls for the use of a food processor to make the crumb topping and then a stand mixer to make the dough. Zvi and I both agree that it's just not worth the clean up - in the future, we think that the crumb topping can easily be made by hand.

In general, I'm quite opposed to this extremely precise way of making food. I think it's important to understand the elements and feel your way around the preparation. However, it was really fun measuring everything using our brand new kitchen scale (thanks Zvi!) and watching the cake flour transform into a silken batter after a specifically stated amount of time in the stand mixer. I was tempted to mix a little less ( I mean, do I really need to count to 90 - really?!) but Zvi was around so he kept me on track. It was definitely an experience but one that I don't regret because after about an hour and a half, Zvi and I sat down to quite a lovely little treat.

Cinnamon Crumb Surprise

Earlier in the day I also made some ratatouille. It's a favourite around here. It's so cheery and summery and full of flavour and easy to make! I was thinking yesterday that one day I would be able to make the entire dish out of vegetables grown in our own yard. Not this year as we don't have any eggplants growing but everything else is well on its way ... various coloured peppers, green and yellow zucchini, onions, garlic, tomatoes, basil, thyme, rosemary ... how wonderful is that?! I also love that it's so healthy. In fact, we first got the idea of making it from The G.I. Diet Cookbook.


1 eggplant, quartered lengthwise, then sliced into 3/4" pieces

2 zucchini, halved lengthwise, then sliced into 3/4 " pieces (I used yellow)

3 peppers, cut into 1" pieces (I used 1 each of green, red and orange)

1 sweet onion, cut into large chunks

1 can plum tomatoes ( I used San Marzano), drained except for 1/4 cup of juice

3 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped

2 tbsp red wine vinegar

2 tbsp each of fresh basil, parsley, thyme and rosemary

olive oil, salt, pepper

Step 1: Arrange eggplant on baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Broil until golden brown. Flip and repeat.

Step 2: Saute onion in olive oil until slightly softened. Add zucchini and peppers. Season with salt and pepper. Cook over medium until vegetables have softened.

Step 3: Add tomatoes, reserved juice, vinegar, garlic, rosemary and thyme. Simmer about 5 minutes.

Step 4: Add basil and thyme. Mix thoroughly and enjoy.

Our cookbook suggests eating this with a poached egg. We haven't tried it but it sounds great.

Last weekend we took Bayla to meet Zvi's grandmother for the first time. She lives in a nursing home and we didn't want to take Bayla inside because of all the germs. We have been waiting for warm weather so that we can take Zvi's grandma outside and finally the weather was just right - not too cold, not too hot (though it was quite windy unfortunately). Zvi took some great pictures of their introduction but this one is really my favourite because it is so very Bayla. She sees something ... and then she wants to eat it. 

Nice To M(eat) You!

Here's another great example of Bayla putting EVERYTHING into her mouth. She figured out how to get her feet into her mouth a while ago but I haven't been able to capture it on camera until recently. Usually she gets so interested in seeing what I'm doing that as soon as I point a camera in her direction she stops doing everything to interact with me instead. It's really nice but makes catching all the funny stuff she does a bit of a challenge. 
Caught You Red Footed

I was REALLY disappointed last night when UPS rang our doorbell with a delivery from Amazon at 7pm. Zvi had asked for a coffee hand grinder for father's day so that is what he was expecting. I decided to throw in a little bonus with that gift so that there would still be some element of surprise. I checked the Amazon website and I was actually expecting the delivery yesterday but when it didn't arrive by 5 I figured it would just come today instead. But at 7pm when the doorbell rang, I tried to get Zvi to not answer it to no avail. So he got this book about coffee as a little early present. Hope he's liking it.

We had nachos and slushie strawberry daiquiris. It was amazing. Unfortunately we gobbled it all up before I thought of taking a picture. But really, it was awesome ... I even made some guacamole for dipping.

And the best part of all of this is that I realised how absolutely easy it is to make slushies which means I won't really need to go to 7-11 anymore to get a fix. I can just make my own slushies using juice or fruits even. Much healthier, cheaper and only takes about 5 seconds to make.

Actually, on the weekend we went to Aroma and I had a limonana slushie which was really good. Considering we always have plenty of lemons on hand and we've got 3 different kinds of mint growing in the backyard, I think this may very well become our signature drink.

Yum Yum Yum :-)

First Harvest

So here we have it - our first harvest. 14 French Breakfast Radishes. I planted 16 but we pulled one out a week ago to check on it and one of the ones we pulled out yesterday really didn't develop at all. I should've taken a picture of the whole bunch but I was too lazy to lay them out somewhere with all the dirt still attached. The leaves are edible too ... when they're young and small you can eat them like salad greens but when they're bigger they should be treated like spinach and sauteed or steamed or something like that. Either way, we just chucked the leaves cause they're a bit fuzzy and neither Zvi nor I really liked the texture. 
First Harvest June 3 2010

I was pretty unimpressed by this harvest ... it really is a meagre bounty. But you know, in retrospect, I think it was actually quite great. For some reason, that little bowl of radishes seemed so small and pitiful it just didn't seem worth it to pack them away and eat them a few at a time over the course of a week or whatever. Zvi and I ate the whole bowl all at once. 7 radishes each. OMG - who does that?! They were really tasty - soft and fresh and spicy ... but 7 at once is just way too many. It gave me heartburn like I haven't had since I was pregnant. No matter how small the bowl looks in a few weeks when I pull out the next square of radishes, we are NOT going to eat them all at once. 

Unfortunately our Oregon Sugar Snap Peas are kaput. Either something is chewing away at them or the crazy rain over the last few days has damaged them beyond repair. We still have 2 squares of Sugar Snap Vine Peas and I really hope they survive ... I'm so looking forward to eating them when they're ready! Maybe I should just dig up the remains of those Oregon Peas and replant them. Yes they'll be a bit behind, but so what? This way the harvest will be staggered rather than all at once. If it's not raining all weekend, I'll do that. 

I'm actually so glad for the rain ... it's been crazy hot the last few weeks so despite the headache the impending rain brings with it, it really is quite welcome. 

About this blog

I started out just being me but I always wanted to be a little like my grandma. Then I became a wife. Then I also became a mom. This is the story of how I learn to put it all together :-)