Thursday, September 19, 2013

Gradute School Week 5

So I know it has been forever. I have been going through a period of transition in my life - rather favorable ones, thank you.

Remember all my GRE madness and tears? Well I ended up being accepted into graduate school at my first choice, The University of Alabama. I am actually very excited and I feel very positive that I made the right choice. I am loving reading and discussing about the things (and then some) that I do on a daily basis. It really makes you re-evaluate yourself when you are going in depth about the principles of your future profession. I am so glad!

My husband and I and a fantastical road trip to the University that housed many mis-adventures (as expected), but we came home alive and well.

I have been delving into baking some more, I feel like it has become my catharsis from reading numerous articles, processing rather technical information and jargon-loaded language - I do enjoy it! I had my first paper due tonight and it ended up being a subject matter that I would LOVE to expand on in the future, maybe as a thesis or something.

No worries! More baking fun to come!

Group photo of my cohort. We are all distance students.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Barbari & Beyaz Penir makes the Turkish Breakfast!

So, as one might have guessed from the title that I made Barabri! And we also found Beyaz Penir (Turkish white cheese made from sheep's milk that tastes similar to feta cheese). I'm so excited that I had to write a smaller entry just to share!

The cheese adventure:

So we are lucky to be surrounded by two Middle Eastern markets. One of them is a chain branch that started in Orlando called Apna Bazaar that has been here for years (they're down the road). Then last year, another one opened in Boynton Beach along our shopping route, Samara Supermarket. Apna is mostly Pakistani/Malaysian/Indian with some Middle Eastern items with halal meats (which we buy because they are free-roaming/range, no hormone added, natural meats from local farms). Samara is a Middle Eastern grocery.

I've always disliked feta. I hated the briney taste and the texture and the way it looks. Greek was so salty and bitter that my tongue would burn. Ugh! Then I went to Turkey and met my husband and discovered the deliciousness of Turkish feta. Yes, there's a brine, but it's not a sodium bomb and the texture is semi-firm, somewhere in between a mozzarella and crumbling Greek  yet it holds so very well. Came back to the states (sigh) and my husband disliked Greek also. So our hunt began.

Apna sells a variety of Egyptian feta, which is absoloutly intolerable. The texture is perfect, but I did not think there was anything saltier than Greek. I was wrong. Then the guys at Samara told me that if there's something I would like for them to carry, just let them know. Months ago, I asked for Turkish cheeses. Then we went last week and looked in the cheese fridge and saw *cue angels singing* Turkish feta! I snatched it. Now if they only bring kaşar cheese (hard, stringy pale yellow cheese made from sheep's milk - tastes like a cross between Parmesan and provolone), then I'd be one happy lady!

So last night, I toiled until I made Barbari and it was just the greatest completment to Turkish feta and therefore, we decided to have our weekly Turkish breakfast just a few days early. :) Bon Apetit!

So, Rebekah, what comprises a Turkish breakfast? Well, everything you see here: eggs (soft boiled), fresh sliced tomato, cucumber, olives, Beyaz Penir and bread. Now there are other things that we have no access to...yet!: Sour cherry preserves and kaşar cheese. And one more thing that is optional that takes a long time to make, red lentil soup. Together it makes a one hearty, healthy breakfast that is so filling and delicious. :)

Monday, March 25, 2013


Well, it happened. I figured out how to make bread. FINALLY!

Sad part is that I cannot enjoy this with dad. It was the one baking adventure we encountered and failed miserably at. After all these years, I could not believe how easy it was.

First attempt.

This is a 3 cup batch that makes 3 small baguettes/2 medium/1 large. Instead of doing a boule I chose this shape because my husband and I like to make veggie subs.
Second attempt

Experimented with garlic loaves and at this point I was working on the salt amount.

Fourth attempt

3 cup batch makes 8 rolls. By now, the got the salt down, added poppy seeds to the tops and figured out the baking time.

I also experimented making Barbari bread (also known as Tabrizi [-i = from city of Tabriz] bread {where my husband was born}). I can use the same bread recipe but the only drawback, the bread dough method I use is the wet dough method so it's like elastic. Tried it a couple of times without much luck, but I'm going to try. :) But I really like making rolls!

So why bake your own bread when you can buy?
1. Well, it was a goal.
2. After I realized how much bread my husband consumes, and he's used to fresh bread, after reading the labels of the so-called "artisan fresh" bread in the stores, I was flabbergasted at the amount of ingredients. When did bread have 12 ingredients, many of them that I cannot pronounce?? There's supposed to be 4: flour, salt, yeast, water! Since we've eliminated a lot of processed foods, eating everything as fresh as possible, the ease of making my own fresh bread was one obstacle that we overcame. Thankfully, it was stupid easy! :)
3. Cost. Instead of paying $2-$6 per loaf of "fresh" bread in the stores. Making them only costs us $0.88 per 2 medium loaves or 8 rolls. Can't beat that!

Until next time, and yes, I will be writing more!

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Broccoli & Cheese Macaroni

Still on the baking spree, I decided to share a recipe that I created today...because it was THAT good. I included metric measurements because everyone should enjoy this!

Cheesy Broccoli Macaroni

Rebekah’s Cheesy Broccoli Macaroni

1 - 16oz (.5 kilo)box of elbow (or small shell) macaroni.
2  - 8oz (.25 kilo) blocks of cheese sliced and set on a plate
– mix and match extreme flavors like Mozzarella and Extra Sharp Cheddar. Swiss and American. Münster and Emmentaler.
1 lb (.5 kilo) of broccoli (washed and stems peeled and cut into ¼ in pieces. Florets washed and picked apart)
1/3 of half a red onion diced
3 garlic bulbs diced
2 tablespoons (29.5 grams) of flour
3 tablespoons (44.4 grams) of butter diced
1 - 12oz (.3 kilo) can of evaporated milk

Set oven to 375°F (190.5°C). Lightly grease (or use a spray oil like PAM) the bottom of a 13x9x2 baking pan. (No access to a 13x9 pan? Use any 15 cup casserole pan.)  

In a large pot boil heavily salted water. Add the elbows and broccoli. Boil 9 – 11 minutes or until aldente.

While the water is boiling, in a sauce pot, melt over medium heat the 3 tablespoons of butter, add onions and garlic and let that simmer for a minute or two. Whisk in the 2 tablespoons of flour to create a roué.
Remove the sauce pan off of the burner and slowly whisk in the evaporated milk. Place back onto the burner. Keeping at medium heat, whisk in slowly the half of the cheese. Don’t stop whisking. The cheese will eventually melt and the cheese sauce will thicken. At this point, set the heat on low.

The pasta and broccoli will be aldente by now. I personally recommend using a hand strainer to remove the pasta, because the florets would have broken apart and may fall through the holes of the colander. Drain and set into a large mixing bowl.

Pour cheese sauce over the macaroni/broccoli mix and using a scraper, mix everything together. Then pour into the baking pan. Top with the remaining cheese. Bake, uncovered, for 25 minutes.  Serve hot. En Geute!

If evaporated milk is not available in your area, you can achieve the same results by using heavy whipping cream. 1:1 ratio. 

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Baking Away the Blues

So I guess everyone goes through different stages of grieving. Mine apparently are:
-A cynic's view of the world.
-Applying for Grad school.
-Thinking about how that goat farm is looking good right about now.
-Realizing I'm labeling myself in the wrong writing genre.
-Wishing I had friends who actually likes to talk about the weird crap I do. (Passionate one-sided discussion about the Caucasus region and it's culture = blank stares from co-workers)

So as I entered the Baking stage of grieving, I realized that I can do one thing (in the kitchen) really friggin' well - bake. If there's an oven (or flame, I can bake in fire), tinfoil and ingredients, then there will be something amazing.

So this week:
-pasta, mushroom and cheese casserole
-ooey-gooey cheesy bake (husband devoured half in one sitting)
-chewy "I can feel it in my toes amazing" dark chocolate brownies
-my lip-puckering lemon cake with lime glaze
-cheesy biscuits

I thank my father who taught me this. Of course, I can cook on a stove (mighty well, danke!), but he really inspired me to love the oven. I always helped him. He was the cook of the house and I was always there next to him. It will be the one thing I will miss the most.

One thing we could never figure out together was bread. If it has yeast - it will fail. So tonight, I gave it another shot after I gave up on bread making 5 years ago. This was my result:
Only edible 
Yup, that flat doughy thing was bread. It was only edible. I think I made the water for the yeast too hot so it didn't rise and my shoulder doesn't let me knead well enough. Oh well, next time.

So tonight, my husband and I enjoyed the Middle Eastern marinated olives I made yesterday. I make them extra garlicky because that the ONLY way to eat the olives!

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

A Foul Prologue to 2013

...this is the first year we will no longer have matching DD/MM/YY...and twinkies, ho-hos, or anything made by Hostess (by the way, good job for closing yet another "made in the USA" source of jobs. Just what we need, more unemployment). I am having the same feeling I did when they announced Pluto was not a planet, and when I pulled the book from the shelf about Burma and replaced it with Myanmar. When I was flipping through the children's history book about Myanmar, no where did it mention that it used to be Burma. It goes straight from talking about its ancient history, skipping over its years as Burma, then to the present. It feels as incorrect as removing women, blacks or Jews from history books - as though they never existed or ever contributed anything. Oh wait, it already happens. *eye roll*

Gracious, Rebekah, where did the snarkiness come from today? Well, we kicked off the holidays with a death in the family (will not go into details) and fudge-awful backpain. Those two combos has turned me into a troll - you know, the kind that eats goat off the bridge. It's not the most pleasant way to start off a new year.
My crappy attempt at humor this week.

Last week was my official week back at work and it was difficult to look at people as they take up space and air and resources, zipping in and out on their wastful iPhones (but they cannot pay $.10 of their fines), hating their life and their kids. They have no clue how privileged they are. No clue how lucky that they can even come into a library and enjoy the free AC, browse books, use computers and have access to luxuries such as knowledge. In many countries, you cannot browse books in a library or even use computers...if there is a library at all. I watch parents treat their kids like animals (I wish I was exaggerating), grabbing, pulling and screaming at them to shut up and sit down - well, newsflash, you didn't give birth to dogs. (not saying that you should treat any animal like this either). And it sickens me that they have no idea how lucky that are to enjoy the miracle that is parenthood.

15 years ago, you only read about this kind of treatment in a newspaper from a 3rd world country or watched it on the news as the covered a story from some poor neighborhood here in the US. You didn't treat people and your kids like garbage or animals in public.

And when you tell people who you have lost, its funny how they look at you like you grew a second head, or they scowl. Either way, they offer no condolence or any sort of attempt to show one nuance of care. Instead they hate you or think you are making it up. I despise going out, I despise the idea of looking at another face of empty emotion. I wish people would just say something, anything. They can even wish my car good health, or even say "good riddance". Sounds dumb, but it's better than apathetic stares.

Nice to know that the world I considered to be fictitious exists. Scary when you've predicted all of this.  

The other night, when I was laying down, trying to fall asleep, a new character formed in my mind. He wanted to join my universe. I thought about how many other characters had come and gone, no longer serving a purpose in my world. They now sit at the karaoke bar (where all my shelved characters go). I told him that maybe there is a place for you, but the world I created 15 years ago, exists now and that you will not have a happy ending. He was and still is persistent and has given me his name and profession. We'll see.

Hopefully, the next entry will be less spiteful.