I’m not proud of what happened last week. Just a few short years ago, I was a poor post-college student with a TV that basically had no purpose. My roommate and I sometimes watched movies, but network television didn’t come in, and we were against (/couldn’t afford) getting cable or a new TV. Now that I’m in my mid twenties and [slightly] less poor, I’ve upgraded to fully-functioning TV with both cable AND Netflix (fancy, I know). After finishing up How I Met Your Mother (six seasons) and Keeping Up With The Kardashians (sorry, I know), I decided to give Revenge a try this past Tuesday. By Friday, I had surged through 13 episodes, by Saturday afternoon I had finished all 22 episodes of season 1. When 6:00 on Saturday night came around, I had my credit card out, ready to subscribe to Hulu so I could watch the first two episodes of the new season. I couldn’t stop.
In my defense, the boy and I had our first “hibernation day” of the season on Saturday. Even though it’s sad to watch the warmth drain away from Minnesota, the colder weather makes way for these perfectly lazy days: a Saturday or a Sunday where you do not leave the house, and instead stay holed up and hibernating. For instance, Saturday we slept until noon, and then I watched episode after episode of Revenge while he worked on the headboard for the bed he’s building us…we had different levels of productivity needs that day.
Although I’m in deep with my Revenge obsession, I realize it may have been a bad idea to start watching Revenge the same week that I finished reading Girl With the Dragon Tattoo. I now look at everything with a suspicious eye, finding conspiracy everywhere. After a few hours of straight TV on Saturday, I decided I needed an activity to keep my hands busy while my mind was taking in all the murder and mayhem. The boy requested I bake “something fall-ish” for our first hibernation day. I grabbed the leftover apple cider from our fridge, a honeycrisp apple, and got baking…with the TV still on in the background, obviously.
I have a bit of an obsession with pretzel rolls. As in, it’s borderline embarrassing. One summer when I lived with my parents, we used to frequent a restaurant that had a different type of bread basket every day of the week. Each time I set foot in those doors I wished and hoped and dreamed that it would be pretzel roll day. In fact, as soon as we sat down my dad would immediately say to the server, “Well, we know what Katie’s thinking…do you have pretzel rolls today?”
This conversation would be fine if I was referring to me at the age of 10 or younger, but nope, I was 18 when this started happening. Yes, I was a college student, home for the summer, so obsessed with pretzel rolls that her dad asked if they were available as soon as we were seated.
My fascination with the salty, airy rolls has only grown since then. I see pretzel rolls on a menu, I do an internal victory dance. I see pretzel rolls at the grocery store, and they’re immediately in my cart, without any memory of me even placing them there. Sadly, the grocery-store variety has failed to meet my high pretzel roll standards. After two recent disappointing purchases of spongey white bread with a misleadingly darker crust yet NO actual pretzel flavor, I decided to make my own pretzel roll dreams come true. Sure, I saw the danger in this choice, since I lack self control where pretzel rolls are concerned. For this reason, I chose to make them with whole wheat flour. Balance, baby. Salty, yeasty, chewy balance.
I’m in love with Fall in a big, bad way. This weekend the boy and I had a full-out Fall weekend, and I went a bit nuts with the baked goods. I should explain that when I say “full-out Fall weekend,” I really mean that I went to “Deer Camp.” Yes, the magical season of deer hunting is upon us, and the boy is walking around with the same gleeful, giddy smile that I carry all holiday season…so it’s like I get it. You know, sort of.
Across 70-acres of southern Wisconsin lies the elusive Deer Camp. I’ve actually mentioned this place before, but that was during the summer when it was but a pretty, lush, creek-lined property. Sure, it’s still beautiful, but here’s the gist of Deer Camp: It’s a house on a hill that’s barely visible from the road because of the tall trees that cover nearly every inch of the land. In several of these trees are strategically-placed tree stands. Where there aren’t any trees, there are food plots to keep the deer happy. Fat and happy.
To me, Deer Camp is just an excuse to hibernate, bake, and drink wine while gazing outside at the pretty Fall trees…and that is just precisely what I did. To start my Fall weekend/Deer Camp experience off the right way, I made the best Fall breakfast a girl (or boy) could ask for: brown butter pumpkin waffles.
Aaaaand this is me being a hypocrite. Last week I boldly stated that the BEST thing you could do during zucchini season is make chocolate zucchini cake. I’m not taking that back, heavens no, but I’m just admitting that there are a couple great things you can do.
Since one can/should only eat so much zucchini cake in a span of 2 weeks, I wanted to make a main entrée with my overflow of zucchini. A recipe I’d been eyeing from Smitten Kitchen came to mind…a buttery galette recipe with zucchini and cheese.
Did I mention there’s butter? Butter and marscapone and parmesan and goat cheese and grilled corn. And, as a sort of joke, I decided to adapt the crust to be a whole wheat pastry. Now I’m not only a hypocrite but I’m also an oxymoron…whole wheat pastry dough?…with a stick of butter folded in?…and topped with three kinds of cheese? That’s just dumb.
Dumb and brilliant.
This weekend was one of those summer weekends. The kind where you do nothing all day but are tired because of it. The kind where you get sleepy eyes from too much sun, and need an afternoon nap after a midday happy hour. I like those kind of weekends.
This weekend was also an experiment in vegan-ism…or at least sort of. We went to a friend’s cabin with a 50% vegan-friend population, so I wanted to make some things that would be enjoyed by all, including the little 1.5-year-old who entertained us the whole time. My first order of business was to get my sweets covered…I decided to fashion some kind of muffin that was healthy enough to be breakfast, but yummy enough that the non-vegans would also partake.
I figured we needed to come in with a plan for food. Partially because of the group’s varying food preferences, but mostly because I didn’t want anything silly like cooking to interfere with our days of doing nothing. This girl’s got priorities.
If you’re a TV watcher, you’ve probably noticed that there is a Nutella commercial that comes on all.the.time. It’s possible that I have selective hearing/memory for Nutella, but that’s neither here nor there. Anyway, in the commercial, a mom discusses how difficult it is to get her kids to eat breakfast. Fortunately, (Ta-daa) there’s a solution! Her kiddos happily eat Nutella spread on “multigrain” toast (it’s apparently very important that it’s multigrain), so it basically fixes all her breakfast woes. This makes me laugh every time. Like these sugar-hungry children, I too love Nutella, but allow me to state the obvious, “Dude, you’re feeding your kids chocolate for breakfast, of COURSE they’re eating it!” I mean come on…duh.
This weekend when I saw the commercial, my sarcastic side continued its mockery, yet the much more dominant, Nutella-obsessed side got to thinking that maybe this lady was onto something. Maybe not everything with Nutella needs to be a ridiculous dessert (although there is NOTHING wrong with that). Perhaps a semi-healthy treat can just have a touch of Nutella to make it something special. Channeling Barney Stinson, my mind slowly-yet-proudly stood up and decisively said, “Challenge Accepted.”
I really love simple food. Sure, there’s a time and a place for complex meals, but that time is not during the week, and that place is [usually] not in my tiny apartment kitchen. This past Tuesday, I knew I needed to cook, because multiple recent impulse purchases had resulted in a stocked crisper. Yes, I impulse buy vegetables, because I’m a nerd about Spring and fresh produce. Fresh asparagus? I can put that in ANYTHING! Leeks? I love leeks! I’ll take four!
While both of these statements are true, because I DO put asparagus in everything, and I DO love leeks, my excitement blinded the rational part of my mind where I could have told myself, “Katie, you really don’t have time to cook this week.” Time shmime, I’d make it work.
Fortunately, leeks and asparagus go wonderfully together, and with a touch of lemon, some cheese, and simple seasoning, I had myself a completely delicious, perfect pizza in about 20 minutes. Sure, you need 2 hours for the dough to rise, but you can make it in under 10 minutes, then have it to use for 10 FULL DAYS with this recipe. 10 days of quick pizza at my disposal? That’s the kind of schedule I can work with.