Friday Five

For those of you wondering, I have still NOT had a pumpkin spice latte. Atlanta is making it easier for me by having highs near 90 everyday. No one wants a PSL when they are sweating.

1) Thursday I undertook the most ambitious project of my cooking lifetime — making homemade challah from scratch. Challah is a traditional Jewish bread eaten during the holidays (or whenever you want some delicious, carby goodness). Eric is half Jewish and Thursday was Rosh Hashanah so I was like, hey, why not? Now challah isn’t as labor intensive as it is time intensive. I chose to make this Apple-Honey Challah which required few ingredients and not too many steps — just a whole lot of wait time while the dough rose. I did not realize how much time it would take when I started the dough at 5 pm, but waiting until 10 pm to dig in was worth it when we dug in to a beautiful, delicious, sweet challah.

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Even I was impressed with how it came out. I followed the recipe quite strictly, as I am prone to do while baking. The only time I deviated was adding a bit more flour during the first kneading to achieve a more bread dough consistency. But it turned out perfectly. I am hoping the rest of the loaf survives until Saturday when I can make some killer french toast.

2) I want to give a big, BIG shout out to Martha Stewart this week. She is responsible for the above challah recipe as well as the one for the Red Wine Braised Brisket I made for dinner (I’m going to go more in depth about that brisket in a post next week so be on the lookout). That lady knows her stuff — as if there is any doubt. I have a few of her cookbooks in my collection which I now want to dive in to more. Her cookbooks and website will definitely be the first places I look the next time I need a great recipe.

3) I’ve been obsessed with granola lately, specifically Cascadian Farms French Vanilla Almond granola. It is the perfect breakfast or snack with a handful of blueberries thrown in and a splash of almond milk. I’ve had it every morning for two weeks.

4) We got a really nice set of Cuisinart pots and pans as a wedding present. They are great. But I have recently been feeling the need to get a mini sauce pan.

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You might not think of such a small pan as a necessity, but when I was making the challah, I wish I had something this size to melt down the butter that I brushed on the outside of the dough before baking. It would also come in handy when making simple syrup or a balsamic reduction.

5) I am a big fan of portable snacks. I mostly work from home, but sometimes I have to rush out to a meeting and like to bring a few snacks in case the meeting runs long. My new obsessed are the Quaker Snack’ems Oatmeal Squares in Brown Sugar. They are additive and delicious. I randomly tossed them in my cart while at Target last weekend and have already gone back to get more. Now of course you can buy a full box of the cereal and divide it up yourself, but when I aim in a hurry, I can just toss a pack in to my purse and don’t have to worry about it. Also there is built in portion control. If I had a box with me, I would mindlessly eat the whole thing. And probably wouldn’t be ashamed.

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Grocery Haul: Buford Highway Farmers Market

It took a few weeks of this blog’s existence for me to share a grocery haul. Granted, I do go to the grocery store a few times during the week, but what’s exciting about me buying bananas and sparking water? Nothing really. I figure I’ll share what I buy if I find some fun things at a specialty store.

I had to pick up an ingredient for dinner tonight and wasn’t sure my Kroger would have it. So I figured I’d go to my fail safe spot for hard-to-find ingredients — Buford Highway Farmers Market. Now this isn’t the farmers market you might be thinking of where a bunch of vendors set up shop once a week in a parking lot somewhere and sell local veggies and such. This is more of a supermarket — on steroids. It has everything you could possibly want from all over the world. They have incredible produce and meat departments as well as shelves upon shelves stocked with stuff from Asia to South America to Eastern Europe and more. And the best part is that everything is super cheap. It’s incredible. This was just a quick trip so I didn’t do as much exploring as I normally do, but next time I go, I’m going to take a bunch of pics and write up a whole post about it.

Now on to the haul.

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Not the biggest haul in the world, but I did get some fun stuff.

Starting from the left, I got this pack of tofu miso soup which comes with three little individual packets inside. I love miso soup when I eat out at sushi places. In theory I would like to make it myself, but having to buy miso and tofu seems like a hassle to me. Hopefully this stuff will be delicious and I can stock up for cooler weather.

The bundle of green right there is some baby bok choy. Bok choy is Chinese cabbage and is delicious braised or roasted. I’ll probably whip this up with dinner tonight using some garlic, salt and pepper. UPDATE: The bok choy was quite tasty. I chopped up the greens and sauteed them with some coconut oil (I used the spray from Trader Joe’s), chopped garlic, ginger and soy sauce. It was great topping for the green curry.

In the center is a giant bottle of extra virgin olive oil. Like any cook from an Italian family (or any cook really) I go through EVOO like crazy. I usually get it at Trader Joe’s where it’s pretty inexpensive, but I got this one liter bottle of it for 10 bucks. And it’s imported from Italy so you know it has to be good stuff. They also had really inexpensive balsamic vinegar, which I didn’t need today, but I’ll probably get it from there next time I run out.

The next item is green curry paste. This is the reason I went to the store. Eric has been making homemade green curry for me pretty regularly in the four years we’ve been together. We ran out so we needed some more. This is a different brand from the one we normally use so hopefully the results will be just as delicious.

The last thing I picked up was this Chinese Restaurant Tea. I am obsessed with the tea you get when you eat out at a Chinese restaurant. I always thought it was just straight jasmine tea, but this blend includes some oolong. I’m very excited to try this. Side note: they had the most AMAZING tea section. I could have spent forever there looking at everything. Any flavor you could imagine was there. Vanilla chai. Raspberry white tea. Plain jasmine. The last thing I need is more tea, but whenever the time comes to restock, this is where I am going.

One thing I didn’t pick up this time that I’m going to get the next time is a soup base for pho. Whenever it is cool and rainy in Atlanta, I get a major jonesing for pho, but never want to leave the house to get some. From the looks of the container, it was basically like chicken or beef bouillon in the sense you boil some water and put the powder in there. Seems easy enough. I will probably get the pho soup base, some rice noodles, more bok choy and a variety of other ingredients for pho the next time I am there.