Quickly: Quick Bread #2/50

I had to take something for an informal lunch-time potluck. I wanted to bake because I’d had a bad day. I also didn’t want to pile on to the sweet-overload I knew awaited us all at this meeting (because everyone in this department is having a bad day). So, I turned to my 50 Quick Breads booklet, and I found the savory savior: #45, Buffalo Quick Bread.

45. Make Parmesan-Herb Bread (No. 42), omitting the Parmesan and herbs. Add 3/4 cup shredded Jack cheese, 1 teaspoon smoked paprika and 1/2 teaspoon celery seeds to the dry ingredients. Add 2 tablespoons Buffalo hot sauce to the wet ingredients. Sprinkle 1/4 cup shredded Jack cheese over the warm bread.

I admit, I saw bread that contained Buffalo Hot Sauce and I was skeptical. I shouldn’t have been. This bread is very tasty.

I made only one substitution: I used pepper jack cheese instead of plain jack cheese. That, I think, was a good call, but I’m sure regular jack would be just as good. I think the vinegary hot sauce changes the texture a little, and the bread tastes almost a little grainier than the usual quick bread. This could also be because it’s the color of cornbread.

Either way, definitely good. I would make this again.

Another note: the smoked paprika is VITAL here. Do not substitute regular stuff. Please. Please.

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Quickly: Quick Bread #1/50

Having almost nothing to do with anything else that I usually write about, I was given (and enjoy) a Food magazine subscription two years ago. In every issue, there’s a little booklet that gives you 50 variations on some food or recipe. For instance, they’ve done 50 Burgers, 50 Potato Salads (a favorite), 50 popcorns, etc. This month, they had 50 Quick Breads.

Now, I like quick bread. It’s quick. It’s bread. It’s also, traditionally, either banana or pumpkin, with various mix-ins, at my house. So I was happy to see this little booklet, and I think it may be the one I finally use completely.

The first one I made, on pretty much the day I got the magazine, was Earl Grey Tea bread (No. 31). It’s a variation on their basic vanilla bread that uses strong Earl Grey as the main liquid and is supposed to have a tea-and-honey glaze. Sounds good, right?

This bread was… meh. My tea-and-honey glaze never set up, so it just soaked into the finished bread. I think I didn’t make my tea strong enough, either, as the flavor didn’t much come through. Next time, I’d try at least two tea bags/two teaspoons of tea per boiling cup, and I might brew the tea well in advance (I admit, I did it as part of the cooking process).

But hey, good idea.

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#X-Man

So, I read The Skimm every day, and today they had this as the end note:

#X: If someone texts you that, it’s not a typo, a drug reference, or something involving porn. It’s a hashtag PSA that people use via text to let you know they’ll be radio silent while on the road. Ex: “Getting on the road #X” Don’t text them.

I can’t tell you how tempting it is to make “#X” my e-mail signature line. I’ve never had one. Maybe now is the time?

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Recipe of the Night: Sweet potatoes with roasted grapes, honey, and goat cheese

I think I found this recipe by searching for things to do with goat cheese. Goat cheese is one of those items that we buy in big logs whenever it’s on sale, or whenever a recipe calls for even a small amount, and I always have really good intentions of using it up. Then, a few weeks later, I end up scraping a moldy log into the trashcan. So, after using half of it to make an uninspiring vegetarian lasagna the other night, I decided to be vigilant and find a good home for the rest of it.

That home, it turned out, was on a sweet potato.

sweet potato

If you want cute photos, visit the original site. This just serves as proof that I made it.

I microwaved my sweet potatoes instead of baking because it’s summer. A very large one took 8.5 minutes; regular-sized potato took 5-6, and baby potato took 3-4. Next time, I’ll be sure to leave one side (the bottom) unpierced to make these better shells. I used regular canola oil because I have neither the time, patience, or funding to stock grapeseed oil and my high-heat avocado oil seemed inappropriate to the task. Everything else was in proportion, and this wound up taking about 30 minutes total to prepare, though that was all pretty much hands-on time (nuking potatoes at the same time the grapes roasted). The grapes took a little less time than advertised, and I eventually had to turn the heat down to keep them from burning.

Results:

Everybody liked this for different reasons. I liked it because, well, it’s like eating dessert for dinner. C liked it because he said the tangy goat cheese with the grapes was unexpectedly good. Our two-year-old liked it because the mix inside the potato ends up feeling like Play-Dough that can easily be smashed and thrown on the floor, to great effect (parent exclamations).

This ended up not being as messy as I’d feared. Anytime honey gets involved, it gets dicey in my kitchen, but because this is just poured into a recipe it worked out fine. The pan I roasted the grapes in, however, is a total disaster area.

I’m curious about whether cream cheese could fill most of the functions here in the future. The goat cheese broken up on top could be replaced with something else tangy/salty, like a dollop of sour cream. That would make these an even easier/cheaper dish with very common ingredients, and a good way to use up leftover grapes.

So, we’d do it again. Yay!

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Battle For The Net

I’m all for Net Neutrality. We’re a fairly Internet reliant home, and we’ve been under the thumb of the least fair of the Internet players for years (hiya, Comcast). So I take this all kind of personally, with a heaping helping of dread.

Do better, FCC. Please!

Battle for the Net says:

If you woke up tomorrow, and your internet looked like this, what would you do? Imagine all your favorite websites taking forever to load, while you get annoying notifications from your ISP suggesting you switch to one of their approved “Fast Lane” sites.Think about what we would lose: all the weird, alternative, interesting, and enlightening stuff that makes the Internet so much cooler than mainstream Cable TV. What if the only news sites you could reliably connect to were the ones that had deals with companies like Comcast and Verizon?On September 10th, just a few days before the FCC’s comment deadline, public interest organizations are issuing an open, international call for websites and internet users to unite for an “Internet Slowdown” to show the world what the web would be like if Team Cable gets their way and trashes net neutrality. Net neutrality is hard to explain, so our hope is that this action will help SHOW the world what’s really at stake if we lose the open Internet.If you’ve got a website, blog or tumblr, get the code to join the #InternetSlowdown here: https://battleforthenet.com/sept10thEveryone else, here’s a quick list of things you can do to help spread the word about the slowdown: http://tumblr.fightforthefuture.org/post/96020972118/be-a-part-of-the-great-internet-slowdown Get creative! Don’t let us tell you what to do. See you on the net September 10th!

via Battle For The Net.

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I tried the coffee nap, and the coffee nap won

Last week, I read this article that said “Scientists Agree: Coffee naps are better than coffee or naps alone.” At first I thought we’d again seen a new branch in the “two great tastes that should never, ever go together” vein, like Peanut Butter Bacon Cookies or Chris Martin dating Jennifer Lawrence (ok, tastes may vary). But, no:

But here’s the trick of the coffee nap: sleeping naturally clears adenosine from the brain. If you nap for longer than 15 or 20 minutes, your brain is more likely to enter deeper stages of sleep that take some time to recover from. But shorter naps generally don’t lead to this so-called “sleep inertia” — and it takes around 20 minutes for the caffeine to get through your gastrointestinal tract and bloodstream anyway.

So if you nap for those 20 minutes, you’ll reduce your levels of adenosine just in time for the caffeine to kick in. The caffeine will have less adenosine to compete with, and will thereby be even more effective in making you alert.

Today, because my kid went down for a nap two hours earlier than usual (and also because she woke up three hours earlier than usual), I had not only the time for a coffee nap, I had the incentive — because she’s going to be all rested and rarin’ to go and “let’s play train-dinosaur-mall-tea party!” this afternoon. I, usually, will be like, “Let’s play couch.” Maybe the coffee nap could help.

So, I brewed some coffee. There’s a whole story here because there always is. See, I just got back from a seven-week vacation/work crew tour of the Midwest and South, and I think before I left, I also brewed a pot of coffee. And then I left. For seven weeks. The coffee pot I came back to had stuff crawling up the sides and out the top. I took some of it outside to the kiddie pool and threw it in and guess what? It wasn’t a witch, so that’s a relief. Because some of my two readers may drink coffee at my home in the future, I’m going to leave you in suspense as to whether I just burned the pot on the driveway and bought a new one or whether I cleaned it thoroughly with The Internet’s Best Friend (vineagar) and then used it again.

Coffee thus brewed, I read the instructions carefully about how I’d need to drink quickly. This was hot, strong coffee, so I added the one thing in my fridge guaranteed to make anything go down much more quickly: heavy cream. I drank the coffee as I walked back to the bedroom, kicking off my shoes as I drank for maximum nap efficiency. Coffee thus consumed, I set a timer for 20:30 and went into a half-daze nap.

The result?

At the end of twenty minutes, I woke up — and actually woke up. I didn’t have that awful post-nap muzzy feeling like usual, and I didn’t want to kill my phone alarm or its makers. I just got up, got my coffee cup, and went back to the kitchen for a refill. And then I wrote this. It’s possible that this reprogrammed my brain to function only on coffee (with heavy cream). I think maybe I don’t need water anymore. Or air. Or a job. This is the best nap stuff ever. I feel absolutely ready to take a five-question quiz, play a memory game, or spend a few productive hours playing Tower Defense.

Thanks, Internet.

(cross-posted to AllTheFussy.com, as I’ll probably do with most things baby-related).

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The problem with Ebola stories

It seems like most of the Ebola stories I’ve read recently have begun with some variation upon, “The Ebola strain that has now killed hundreds of Africans has now sickened several Americans so we should really start taking it seriously.”

Because clearly only once an illness affects Westerners, that’s the best sign that this is something we should all worry about. Like The Hot Zone.

Sigh.

Examples:

The Washington Post

USA Today

FOX News

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