Alice in Ovenland Thanksgiving!
What happened to the “boring” part?
The saying goes…“The first year they scare you to death. The second year they work you to death. The third year they bore you to death.” Not. True. Year three is off with a vengeance! Barely had time to blink in the last two weeks, let alone bake and blog. Truth be told: I just spent two amazing weekends away at weddings. Danced my socks off (if I wore socks). Even got a stress induced flu to prove it.
I am finally settling back into work, research projects, trial team prep (Yes. I am on a Trial Team. Two actually. Nerd!), networking events, commuting and school. The stress is already piling up…meaning it is time to bake. Good news: I spent hours last week baking up a storm with my best girl friends to create a delectable dessert bar for a good friend’s wedding over the weekend. I will post recipes from the extravaganza shortly! Keep checking in for the baking and blogging (venting) to come! Happy Fall!
The Best Bread Ever. Really, Ever.
I am a bread person. Plain and simple. Always have been, always will be. I mean…I eat a healthy balance of fruits, vegetables and proteins, and am careful to mix in complex carbohydrates like oatmeal, quinoa and brown rice. I hydrate. I exercise like a maniac. I only sample my sweets. I avoid soda. I drink in moderation. But…there is one thing that I wouldn’t dare “moderating”, and you guessed it, it is bread. I am not talking about your average sliced sandwich bread, but a quality loaf of fresh-from-the-bakery, hard on the outside chewy on the inside, BREAD. The kind of bread panini’s only dream about. And the kind of bread one Portland bakery cranks out daily.
A few weeks ago, a high school friend of my father was in town (which is rare considering my father went to high school 3,000 miles away from here). This high school friend’s son tagged along with his girlfriend, both roughly my age and Portland residents. Thank God. At 26, I would not feel like the only “kid” at the table. Little did I know that this son happens to work at Fleur De Lis Bakery and Cafe in Northeast Portland, and would arrive with bread in tow. Loaves and loaves of bread in tow. One particularly large loaf was described as “sandwich” bread with a slightly sourdough taste. I was skeptical. This looks nothing like any sandwich bread I know!
But the bread lover that I am, I couldn’t let it go to waste! We sliced it up, bagged it and tossed it in the freezer. The next morning as I wandered around the kitchen hemming and hawing over what to whip up, I popped a slice of this mystery sandwich bread in the toaster just to hold me over. Unaware of what was about to hit me, I spread on a bit of butter and bit in. Oh.My.God. This is the best bread I have ever tasted. Wait, it might be the best thing I have ever tasted (as if this bread were just a “thing”). How good you ask? It is so good that when my parents happened to be traveling to Portland the following weekend, they walked 7 miles round trip to Fleur De Lis, just for this bread. So good that they purchased one of those weird granny, personal grocery rollers to stuff with loaves (and loaves) of bread to bring home (sorry mom—I know you think it’s totally hip and EURO). Three giant loaves of “sandwich” bread, one bag of ciabatta rolls and several wheat rolls later, the freezer is stuffed. I only hope Fleur De Lis believes in overnight shipping, otherwise my new food obsession could come with a hefty gas bill. What can I say? I guess we are bread people.
Fleur De Lis Bakery & Cafe is located at 3930 NE Hancock St, in Portland, Oregon and open Monday thru Friday from 7am to 4pm, Saturday & Sunday 8am to 3pm.
Cut the Fat: The Best Baking Substitutes
Worried about the fat? The best substitutes can be just as tasty as the real thing! Although it is my belief that moderation is key to overall health (well…also a lot of running), I know people love to experiment with healthier options to quench their cravings without (as much) guilt.
Replace fatty Butter, Crisco and Vegetable Oil with…
AVOCADO. This is one I have never tried, but people swear by it. The rule of thumb is cut the amount of butter in half, replacing the half you cut with pureed avocado. I will definitely make my next batch of banana bread with avocado…we shall see just what this substitute is made of. It will be like green eggs and ham…without the eggs or ham…just green banana bread. NOTE: most replacement recipes using avocado suggest reducing oven temperature by 25% to compensate for the change in baking dynamics produced by the avocado and this will naturally lead to a longer baking time!
APPLESAUCE. Now this is something I can get behind. Applesauce is a great substitute for oil in any baked goods, especially those chocolate cake mixes and rich flavorful brownies or bars. It will yield more sugar, but if you use unsweetened, natural applesauce it will be much better for you in the end.
PUREED PRUNES. Prunes have a pretty distinct flavor. Not so sure about this. You can replace vegetable oil or butter with this prune paste at a one-to-one ratio, adding a bit of boiling water when processing the prunes to add liquid (prunes do not provide the same amount of liquid as oil will and do tend to dry out when baking). NOTE: replacing oil or butter with prune puree and applesauce will add sugar to your recipe, so also consider dropping (slightly) the amount of real sugar…though if you can’t have fat at least you can keep the sugar. Let’s not get too crazy here.
NONFAT PLAIN YOGURT. Replace vegetable oil one-to-one. The perfect rich substitute for cake or brownies that will not add sugar. NOTE: yogurt contains more moisture then oil, so be careful to skimp on milk, water or other liquids if this substitute strikes your fancy.
More Healthy Alternatives
Always opt for nonfat. Despite the fact that I would never consume nonfat sour cream, cottage cheese or any nonfat cheese-ish substance for that matter, when these heavy hitters are used as ingredients for other dishes such as casseroles, quiches or cakes I always opt for nonfat. Why not? It isn’t like you can tell when a chocolate cake contains NONFAT instead of FULL FAT sour cream…you are too busy marveling at the sweet chocolaty gooiness! HOWEVER…when that nonfat sour cream is a dollop on the top of a plate of nachos you better believe I can tell the difference…and it ain’t worth it!