Here are some things I am not supposed to do on my blog:
Write posts that are really, really long.
Use more than one font.
Provide recipes in paragraph/narrative style, rather than a list and easy-to-follow steps.
Blog about my blog.
Here are some things I am supposed to do on my blog:
Monetize it.
Subscribe to a bunch of blogs in hopes that those bloggers will subscribe to mine.
Take better photos.
Blog on a consistent basis.
What I've learned so far about my blog:
I do all the things I am not supposed to do.
I don't do any of the things I am supposed to do.
And now, I am about to do something that "The Google" tells me that bloggers should never, ever, ever do.
After less than one week of blogging, I am going to stop blogging for awhile.
Until April 24th to be exact.
I began this blogging adventure completely aware that of the fact that Lent was on its way. I was anticipating those words: Remember that you are dust; and to dust you shall return. Lent is my favorite season. Lent is the great equalizer. The long-ing. The Spring. The coming.

Lent means a lot of things for me, but one thing it surely means is quiet. During lent I try to get quiet. For those of you who know me well, quiet isn't exactly my thing. But I'll practice it. I'll try to let this quiet seep into my being.

If I were a pious observer of Lent I wouldn't be sharing my Lenten practices with the world and instead would keep them to myself. But I'm just not that pious. This year, Lent, for me, means going rogue. Email will be checked only as necessary. Facebook, Twitter, and all things web-like will be silenced. Doctor Who will have to wait. I'll refrain from cooking and let raw food do the trick for awhile. I'll eat less, sleep more, and sigh. I'll take as much of a break from the world as I can. I'll go walks, hide in books, and exist in all things lukewarm and dimly lit. I'll just be quiet. In all things quiet.

I'll just be waiting.

And I'll grow tired of waiting, of raw, of quiet.

Lent is honest. Lent is quiet. Lent is healing.  Lent helps me get ready, again.

Whoever you are, wherever you are: Remember that you are dust; and to dust you shall return. And it's going to be okay.

See you on April 24th. Until then, ♥hthr

Homemade Pizza

It’s pizza night. Amen.

A couple weeks ago, I found a bread machine in one of the closets at my house. This was a life changing event. I felt almost dirty with excitement. Most of you who know me, even just a little bit, know that I have equal parts love and loathing for all things [insert words like ‘technology’ ‘machines’ ‘future’ here].  I like kneading dough until my arms hurt. And I think being covered in flour is sort of attractive. I usually try to pretend that there isn’t a bread machine hiding in my closet. But…

Tonight, the machine won. I let it mix up the dough for my homemade pizza. I simply added the ingredients in the proper order, selected the “dough” cycle, and pushed start. One and a half hours later: perfectly risen, slightly warm pizza dough. 

For those of you who have yet to find a bread machine in your closet, this is how I usually do it:

Dissolve 1 t (generous) of active dry yeast in 1 cup of fairly warm water. While that is sitting and getting bubbly, mix 1 ½ T olive oil with ½ t oregano and ½ t basil in a separate container. Next, grab a mixing bowl and mix together: 1 ½ cups of unbleached flour, 1 ½ cups wheat flour, olive oil/herb mixture, and a generous pinch of salt. Once that is blended together well, add the bubbly yeast mixture. Stir with a wooden spoon until it all gathers together. Knead on a lightly floured surface for a bit until the dough becomes smooth and elastic-y. Smear a little olive oil on the top of the dough ball and cover with a dry towel. Let it rise for about an hour. It will have about  double in size.

It is at this point, bread machine or otherwise, that I usually make my pizza sauce. I refuse to give a specific recipe for the sauce because, well, there are too many amazing combinations for me to limit you...

Sometimes I simply warm some ricotta cheese and a can of Italian-style diced tomatoes together in a sauce pan, add a bunch of sautéed garlic and herbs. Other times, I cook a ton of fresh diced Roma tomatoes, a little salt, and a bunch of sautéed onion and garlic over medium-high heat until much of the water has evaporated. I season it generously and let it be.

All I know is that I prefer a chunky, drier “sauce” to a runny smooth sauce. Make what you like. And add a bunch of garlic.

As your sauce simmers, roll the dough out into whatever shape you like. Just make sure the dough is no more than ¼ inch thick. If you want a thicker, chewy crust, then cover the dough once again and let it rise for about a half hour before topping it. If you are like me, and prefer a thinner, crispier crust, then transfer that dough onto a pan and get started with the fun part. 

This is the part that gets tricky. If I were a legitimate foodie, I would own a pizza stone.  But I don’t. (So I guess I’m not? ) I love the perfect crust that a warm stone creates. I am never completely satisfied with the crust on my homemade pizzas due to my lack of a baking stone. That said, I use a regular, old, scarred up jellyroll pan. There, I said it.

Go ahead and preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Spread the warm sauce over the dough, leaving a ½ inch edge for crust if you like. 

Topping time! There are many schools of thought on pizza toppings, but they all seem to have the same goal in mind: keeping the toppings from sliding off of the crust. I achieve this by layering like this:

Dry stuff like thinly sliced mushrooms and onions
Little bit of mozzarella cheese
Wet stuff like thinly sliced red and green bell peppers
Chopped spinach leaves, broccoli, or other delicate green things
Little bit more mozzarella to prevent charring
I then sprinkle the whole thing with thin slices of tiny-baby tomatoes, feta cheese, and herbs.
Then it is time for the finishing touch. And it is kind of a big deal. 
This is the point at which I crack an egg in the middle of the pizza.
Yep, I do. Why? Because I miss Romania and because I like it. Don’t doubt me on this one. It is epic. 

Before baking I lightly salt the pizza and brush olive oil on the exposed crust. The pizza is baked at 450 degrees until it is done. Sometimes I like the cheese really, really done. Other times I like it good and string-y. Make it how you like it.Tonight I accidentally left the pizza in for a little too long. So it was extra crispy. But we enjoyed it anyhow. Food can be forgiving in a way that sometimes amazes me.

There are number of things about this recipe I could have done differently. I could have prebaked the crust a bit. I could have rolled strips of string cheese up with the dough around the edges for a stuffed crust effect. I could have poked a bunch of holes in the dough with a fork to avoid bubbles. I could have forgone the mozzarella entirely and let the feta speak for itself. I could have made a few little pizzas instead of one big one. Heck, I could have folded it over and called it a calzone. Bottom line: go nuts. Fear not. Do whatever you want. 

I usually give a bit of nutritional information for my recipes. Not today folks! Why not? Because pizza is the holy grail of consumption. And because the nutritional information will vary greatly depending upon what you use for sauce and toppings. Suffice it to say that the universal nutritional value of all well-made, non-grease-based pizza is: 100 grams of epic. 

Trivia: Name someone you know who once wrote 1000 words about pizza making.I won't give you any hints. ;) Love yourself well! ♥hthr


If all good food says: "I love you", hummus says: "I love you more!"

I've eaten hummus made with chickpeas (garbanzo beans), black beans, white beans (cannellini), and edamame (soybeans). I've tasted hummus made with roasted red pepper, green chilies, pumpkin, spinach, sun-dried tomatoes, and basil pesto. Hummus with lemon, hummus with lime. Cumin and paprika. Pine nuts and sesame seeds. Sometimes blended, sometimes chunky. Made with beans from a can and made with reconstituted beans.
And I've loved each. and. every. different. kind.
I've recently learned two things about making hummus: it is ridiculously forgiving and you don't need a machine to make it. That's right Sara Janzen, your $6 blender is totally superfluous. Harken back to the days of old when mashed potatoes were mashed by hand using a metal.....potato masher? That's right, a potato masher. I like the square-ish metal kind, not the round-ish plastic kind. And certainly not this kind. Yikes.

If you have a good potato masher and five minutes, you can make hummus. Here's one way I do it:
Open one can of chickpeas (think: any generic brand, reduced sodium) and drain, reserving 3 T liquid. Pour the chickpeas into a sturdy mixing bowl (not plastic). Add the reserved 3 T of liquid along with 1/2 T olive oil, 2 t lemon juice, 3 cloves of minced garlic, 1 T minced onion, and 1/2 t salt. Then, using your potato masher, mash mixture until it's smooth-ish. At first you'll see the skins coming off the beans. But then they'll get all smashed up. Don't worry. Keep mashing. This recipe makes about 1 1/2 cups or 8 servings, 3 T each.
I can hear some of you now, "But what about the tahini?" Here's the deal: tahini is expensive. Yes, it is delicious. Yes, it gives hummus that signature smoky flavor. But I can't afford it. This means that most of the time I just make hummus without it. Sometimes I try to compensate by adding toasted sesame seeds or a little sesame oil (also expensive). Other times I just let it be. So, if hummus just isn't hummus to you without the tahini, then I suggest you buy some in bulk and give me half. Seriously. 

While pitas everywhere are just waiting to to be stuffed with hummus, there is really no limit. I like hummus on just about anything: tortilla chips (think: blue ones), veggies (think: peppers, carrots, broccoli, radishes, etc.), sandwiches (think: toasted bread, spinach, tomato, cucumber), crackers, rice cakes, and my Greek flashcards (apparently).

Here's the skinny (per 3 T hummus):
About 72 calories
About 2g fat
About 6g carbohydrates
About 2g protein
Eat well, love well, cook together. Change the world with food on your shirt and garlic on your breath. ♥ hthr

Somewhat Wheat "Everything" Bagels

There is something about making my own bagels that makes me feel like a superhero. It might have something to do with how often people say things like:
"You made those? Wow. I didn't know it was possible to just make bagels. How do you get them to be, well, like normal bagels?"

Well, folks. This is how I do it...
In a large mixing bowl, stir together 2 2/3 cups unbleached white flour, 2 cups whole wheat flour, 2 t sugar, 1 t salt, 1/2 t coarse black pepper, and 1 1/2 t active dry yeast. Make a well in the mixture. Pour 1 2/3 cups warm-ish water and 1 T softened butter into the well. Stir with wooden spoon until dough gathers together.
Knead dough on the counter for about 5 minutes so as it can become smooth and elastic. Divide dough into 12 equal-ish sized balls. Brush each ball with a bit of melted butter. Drape a clean, dry dish cloth over the dough balls and let sit for about 1 hour.
After the dough balls have about doubled in size, preheat oven to 425 degrees. Fill a glass casserole half full of water and place on bottom rack of the oven. Then, put 1 qt of water, 1 t baking soda, and 1/2 cup granulated white sugar into a medium-sized sauce pan and bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium. Then, use fingers to make a hole in the center of each dough ball.
One at a time, drop a dough ball into the sauce pan. Leave in for about a minute. Use a slotted spatula to retrieve dough from water and place onto a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper.
Mix one egg white with 1 t water and brush generously onto bagels. Sprinkle bagels with mixture of 1 T poppy seeds, 1 T sesame seeds, 1/2 t onion powder, 1/2 t garlic powder, 1/2 t paprika. Place on a rack in the middle of the oven and bake for about 15 minutes. Makes 12 delicious bagels. Toast them if you want them to be epic.

I like to eat these bagels with a french onion Laughing Cow cheese wedge and some veggies (think: spinach, red/green/yellow bell pepper, carrots, tomatoes, green onion, etc.). Or I just use them as the base for an epic sandwich (think: sprouts, hummus, mushrooms, veggies, etc.). They bagels will freeze well if they are sealed tightly in a Ziploc bag. Don't forget to wash and re-use the Ziploc bag (fill with soapy water, scrub a bit, rinse, turn inside out, let dry) at least one hundred thousand times. 

Here's the skinny (per bagel):
About 260 calories
About 50g carbohydrates
About 2g fat
About 3g protein
(Nutrition guesstimations made based on information from a free nutrition website)

And, as usual, I ask that you adulterate my recipe as much as possible. You, too, can make magic. Food says, "I love you". Cook together. ♥hthr