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December 2009

December 21, 2009

How-to Shape Christmas Tree Bread

I really dislike posting a recipe I have only made once. What seems to be a simple bit of culinary magic one day may fizzle on second try. Even well-tested recipes can run into problems when moved from one region of the country to another: the moisture level of flour changes noticeably from a wet climate to a dry one, for example, and altitude screws with baking and boiling, not to mention your alcohol tolerance. (My brother-in-law who works as an EMT a mile up in the mountains tells great stories.)

There are, however, a few writers whose recipes I trust enough to go with a single pass at a recipe when I am short on time and I turned to one of them for the sweet roll dough I used for the tree. Modifications were made, of course: I zested an orange, toasted and ground cardamom, sprinkled in cinnamon, and tipped in a splash of vanilla; milk became buttermilk; sugar was reduced a little bit - there was a LOT of sugar. Ten minutes after I put it in the oven the house was filled with a heady mix of spices and I was regretting not putting an extra 'tasting' loaf in the oven. (After I took photos, I tore into a golden ball of dough; I can report the flavor lived up to its aroma-vertising.)

The crumb, sadly, did not. Dense and chewy, not tender and light. Totally wrong.

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December 03, 2009

Holiday Gift Deal of the Day: Shun Ken Onion Knife Set

Knife2 Tis the season to covet shiny things, and these knives are at the top of my current list of tools to drool over. I used a Shun knife once and it was oh so sweet: well balanced, comfortable, sharper than sharp, and that blade is so darned pretty to look at. Then I went home to my haphazard collection of cheap knives, with that sweet Shun but a fond memory.

If you have longed for some Shun knives of your very own, this may be your lucky day. Amazon has a set of three Shun Ken Onion 3-Piece Knife Set on sale for only 199 (instead of almost 600 bucks.)

Dear FTC: Yes, that is an affiliate link and, if people click on it and shop at Amazon, I may make a few nickels. If I make enough nickels, I might buy myself some of those Shun knives. I am not holding my breath.

edited to add: someoneElse looked at my computer and commented on the lovely Shun knives. Asked what was so cool about them. I babbled something marketing-like and reminisced about how lovely the Shun I played with felt in my hand. Those lovely Shun knives are now making their way from Amazon's warehouse to my house. Simply. Lovely.

(This is clearly the sort of reinforcement I need to get back to serious blogging, although someoneElse is going to have to get a second job to support my coveting...)

Now, go, shop. Don't forget to buy yourself something nice, too.

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