Friday, March 18, 2011
Romance in the Everyday
I'm a romantic. Not the flowers, candy and candle-lit dinners kind of romantic, but the kind that yearns to enjoy little things like sunlight on my skin, people-watching, multi-tasking to old favourite CDs and working in cafes. I used to love working cafes -- way before everyone got wifi and you'd like annoying people with one cup of coffee occupying a table for four with their eyes glued to their laptops. I didn't even have a laptop. There was just something so comforting and exciting and fulfilling about sitting alone in a calm, quiet place and working in between thinking, day-dreaming, watching people and soaking up the world.
But cafe culture has really changed, in Toronto anyway, and I'm hard-pressed to find a calm coffee shop on sunny day, much less get a seat by the window, or be able to tune out the loud conversations around me. Thankfully, since moving out, I've realized that I can re-make that working-in-the-cafe feeling right here at home. My huge floor-to-ceiling balcony windows help. So does my trusty Bodum coffee press and largeish Ikea work table. I realized during this March break, that I'm lucky enough to re-make that romantic, cafe feeling in my cozy home. And you know the best part? I can do so many other things in between watching the sun stream onto my balcony, planning my next unit for school, drinking coffee, listening to Alanis Morissette and Jean LeLoup and watching the construction folks on ladders in the building across from me .. like make bread.
Yes, I made cinnamon bread. Twice. Monika tempted me. So did Kickpleat. So did Joy. But ultimately, I went with a recipe from Robin over at A Chow Life. It was easy, wholesome and easy to play with. The first time, I pretty much followed the recipe exactly, but the next time, I switched it up by adding lemon juice and zest, reducing the cinnamon, and replacing the raisins with dried cranberries (that was inspired my these gorgeous-looking rolls). If you've never made bread before, and are afraid because you don't have a fancy, kitchen aid mixer with a dough hook, please get over it! I have no such equipment, and my bread came out beautifully. And the kneading is so much fun! Really relaxing and calming. And when you get that that 7 minute mark, after you've sung along to three songs on your favourite CD, that sticky, stringy ball of dough suddenly becomes a beautiful, smooth, elastic ball of happiness.
Ultimate slow-food ... Go do it. Unleash that romantic side of yourself and take a little time to soak up some happiness.
Lemon Cranberry Buns
adapted from A Chow Life, inspired by Everybody Likes Sandwiches
1/2 cup of warm water
1 teaspoon of sugar
1 package of quick-rising yeast
1.5 cups of all purpose flour
1.5 cups of whole wheat pastry flour (yes, pastry .. it was all I had, but it worked!)
1 pinch of salt
3 tablespoons of sugar
1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon
zest of 1 lemon, juice of half
1/4 cup of water
1 cup of dried cranberries
1/4 cup of melted margarine (or butter)
1. In a large bowl, combine the yeast, warm water and 1 teaspoon of sugar. Mix to combine. Let stand for about 10 minutes, or until it yes frothy.
2. Dump in the flours, salt, sugar, cinnamon, lemon juice and zest, water, cranberries and margarine. Mix to combine.
3. Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and knead for 7-10 minutes, adding additional flour if the dough gets too sticky. Knead until the dough is smooth and elastic.
4. Place the dough in an oiled bowl and cover with a kitchen towel. Let the dough rise for 45 minutes, or until it was doubled in size.
5. Punch down the dough and give it a few kneads. Divide it into 12 equal portions (or as equal as you can get them!) and place them into oiled muffin tins. Cover and let it rise again for another 45 minutes.
6. Bake in a 375 degree oven for about 20 minutes, or until the tops get nice and brown, and the rolls sound hollow when you tap the bottom.
7. Enjoy with a cup of coffee, seated by the window with our favourite CD playing the background.