App review: Bread Baking Basics by Michael Ruhlman

6 Aug

Four years ago Steve Jobs introduced the world to the iPad.  Initially I was skeptical of the practicality (and the name) of this device.  I had an iPhone and a MacBook…why did I need more technology?   Despite my reluctance, I did see a good application for them at work.  The office bought two first generations and I used one from time to time for surveys, presentations and note taking.  It was useful, but it was also a $699 novelty I didn’t think was worth my personal investment.  Lucky for me, in 2012 I randomly entered a contest from ING Direct and won a 2nd generation iPad.  Now that the Kool-Aid was free, I decided it was mighty tasty!

One of the first apps I bought was Bread Baking Basics from Michael Ruhlman.  It provides a great step-by-step method on making a variety of home made breads.  The best feature of this app is that the ingredients can be scaled.  Need to make three baguettes?  Or only have 600grams of bread flour?   Simply dial in your figures and the app calculates the ingredients.  It can be adjusted to a variety of measurements, and is based upon Ruhlamn’s overall ratio methodology.


This is just one example of the usefulness I’ve found for the iPad in the kitchen.  What’re your favorite kitchen apps?


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How to make bread {INTRODUCTION}

14 Apr

If fourteenth century french peasants can do it, so should you.









I’m really going to defend bread for the next while.  It’s getting very poor media profile these days with everyone* jumping on the gluten-free train. [Mental note: find out where that train is going and make sure never to go there].   I’ve decided to take a firm stand and publicly announce that I’m pro-gluten.

Feel free to leave. In fact, you can click on one of my advertisers to the right on your way.

Now then, I’m also going to be making a case for why everyone should try making his or her own bread.  Even if it’s just once.  It’s not going to cost anything except a couple of bucks for good quality bread flour (if you don’t traditionally stock that type of thing).

Before I loose the other 35% of my readership, please don’t stop reading because you have zero inclination to make your own focaccia or baguette.  The only requisite for participation in this bread pilgrimage is that we share one tenant:  bread + butter = happiness.

So, even if your knowledge of bread making consists only of the instructions you once read on a package of Pillsbury Oven Rolls, I promise to provide some of the best instructions on the interweb about bread making.   I even have a fermentation export on retainer (he works for sourdough).

The first step in this journey is getting excited.  So the first assignment is to pour a glass of something and watch this TEDtalk.  It’s in Napa. Then, watch this space.

* I’d like to note that only 1 in 133 persons is predicted to be an actual celiac.  So many fakers. [source]

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Why you should grow garlic [reason:ONE]

5 Apr

garlic scape botanical drawingI ran out of home grown garlic two weeks ago.  It’s been terrible. I bought some grocery store crap, and threw half of it away in frustration.  I even forked out $14.99 a kilo at The Root Cellar for some Russian hardneck.  (That’s works out to an insane $1 per clove BTW).

Then I remembered I had a secret weapon stashed away in my freezer – garlic scape pesto.

Garlic scapes are basically the flower part of the garlic bulb (kind like the tulip).  Scapes are harvested to stop sending energy into the flower production, and back into the bulb.  So they’re actually just a by-product.  Lucky for us, they also taste delicious.  Wikipedia can tell you more.

They’re very recognizable in the garden by their pig-tail curls.  In the shops, they are usually accompanied by an equally cute price.  Especially at organic markets.  If you need to buy some, then find a real farmers market (not the hipster kind, they’ll charge you double), or head to China Town where they sell them at a reasonable price.


garlic Scape pestoGARLIC SCAPE PESTO

Rinse and dry freshly cut scapes.
Puree along with some olive oil in whatever machine you prefer.
Use enough so that you’re left with a paste strong enough to stick to a spoon held upside-down.
Portion into small freezer containers or cubes (probably not the same container you make ice in).
Label and freeze for up to 9 months.

TO USE: Defrost in the fridge and use a teaspoonful as needed where you might otherwise use garlic or pesto.  As with a pesto, use in applications that don’t involve direct heat to avoid burning or loosing the bright green color.


I have a couple dozen bulbs growing in the back yard.  I’m REALLY looking forward to harvesting the scapes later this spring. I’ll share some recipes.  If your really smart, you’re already growing garlic.  If you might have overlooked this in your extremely busy life; I understand completely.  But if there is only one thing you plant in a garden, it should be garlic in the Fall.   Don’t worry, I’ll remind you again.  And in the meantime, I’ll see how many people I can convince with at least five more good reasons to grow garlic.

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