Saturday, June 23, 2007

Thank you, thank you

Thanks so much for all your well-wishes and thoughts and especially prayers for Bob's recovery. He felt much, much better today--still tired and not much of an appetite, but obviously on the mend. And as for me, so far so good. I have always been prone to throat infections, so living in close quarters like this with his particular illness just makes me a little panicky. But I believe I have been spared!

I've been cooking up some different things, trying to entice Bob to eat something more substantial than garlic soup or saltines. I made some miso soup with carrots and kale this evening, and he ate a bit of that, so I was happy to at least get some vegetables into him.

This one I was sure would win him over. I was wrong...

Mashed potatoes and lightly steamed kale, topped with The Grit's Yeast Gravy. This stuff is dangerous to have around, because I love it so much. Bob didn't feel up to it, but thank goodness he's feeling better because he loves this too, and he'll eat the leftovers so I'm not stuck with them.

I wanted to get him to eat something with some spicy mustard on it, to help clear out his congestion. He didn't want a sandwich or anything like that, but I knew if I made these he wouldn't be able to refuse them.

Everyone knows that big, soft pretzels are just a vehicle for mustard, right? Right! My little scheme worked this time--he gladly partook. I'd never made pretzels before so I referred to this recipe to get the idea down. I modified it a bit, as usual, so I'll include my recipe at the end of this post. These came out soft and chewy, just like a good pretzel should.

This is a potato stir-fry that Bob made a day or so before he got sick. He was actually able to stomach the leftovers, even with cilantro and spicy salsa. Must have been good! Someone recently asked me for the recipe for this meal so I'm going to include it here too, though the possibilities are obviously endless!

I've been drinking blueberry-banana-flax smoothies for breakfast and eating salads or kale & kraut sammiches for lunch, so despite what the above evidence may suggest I HAVE been eating pretty well--plenty of fruits and veggies and whole grains, and I've been avoiding sugar pretty well. If I must sweeten something, I generally either use stevia (for tea) or agave nectar (for porridge and such).

But what's a hot Georgia summer without fruit sorbet? I was inspired to make this champagne peach sorbet by the open bottle of champagne in our refrigerator, left over from earlier in the week when Bob and I had a little celebration. When he got sick I knew that no one would finish it before it went flat, so I used up some of it this way. Peaches and champagne pair so well, and there couldn't be a better time of year to enjoy a treat like this.

So what were we celebrating with the champagne? Well, I found out earlier this week that I have passed both of the CPA exams I have taken! Woot! Now I just have two more to go, and I'll be done by mid-July. Praise God! I couldn't have been more ecstatic.

Wishing you all health and happiness and peace and joy....


Big, Soft Pretzels

1 cup plain soy milk, warmed (not too hot--around 110 degrees)
1 teaspoon active dry yeast
1 tablespoon demerara sugar

Combine the above ingredients in a small bowl and let sit 10 minutes, or until foamy. In the meantime, mix in a large bowl:

1 cup white whole wheat flour
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt

Make a well in the center and add the milk mixture. Begin working it together, adding more all-purpose flour as needed, about 1/4 cup at a time. I added about 3/4 cup total. Once you can form the dough into a ball, turn it out onto a floured surface and knead for about 8 minutes, incorporating more flour if necessary, until the ball of dough is smooth and soft. No rising time is necessary.

Divide the dough into 6 portions, and roll each piece out into a long, thin log. Once rolled out, let the dough rest for about 5 minutes; then roll each piece out more, if necessary, to a length of about 15 inches and a thickness about the size of your thumb.

Preheat oven to 425. Bring a pot of water to a boil. In the meantime, form each piece of dough into a pretzel shape; where you fold the ends of the dough back over the middle you may need to pinch it together slightly so that it will hold--but don't put too much pressure or you will flatten the dough. When the water is boiling, boil one pretzel at a time, for about 5 seconds, then remove and place directly on a greased pan. I found the easiest way to do this was to place the pretzel on a slotted spoon and submerge it; the pretzel stayed on the spoon and I didn't have to go fishing for it. Once on the pan, immediately sprinkle the pretzel with the desired topping (I used coarse salt on some and sesame seeds on some) and then repeat the process with the remaining pretzels. Bake at 425 for 12-15 minutes, until golden. Serve right away with mustard or your condiment of choice!


Bob's "Hash Browns" (aka Potato Stir-Fry)

For each serving you wish to make, you will need:
One large or two small potatoes (any variety should be fine), sliced into wedges
1/2 yellow onion, diced
1-2 cloves garlic, minced
2/3 cup chopped vegetables (we commonly use mushrooms, green peppers, zucchini, etc.)

Heat a small amount of oil in a large skillet, adding the onions and garlic as it begins to heat. Sauté for several minutes, until the onion begins to brown. Add the other vegetables and the potatoes and cook on medium-high heat for about 15 minutes, stirring frequently. Add more oil if necessary to keep from sticking (but remember--it's much easier to add more than it is to remove it if you've added too much). During the last few minutes of cooking, season with salt and cayenne or black pepper to taste. Serve with ketchup or, as I prefer, with a bit of cilantro and some spicy salsa.


Champagne Peach Sorbet

1 cup sliced frozen peaches (NOTE: If you use fresh peaches, make sure you slice and freeze them 2-3 days ahead of time to ensure a good texture)
1/2 cup champagne*
2 tablespoons white grape juice concentrate (or simple syrup, if you prefer), or more, to reach desired sweetness

Place all ingredients in a food processor and pulse until the peaches are pulverized and the mixture forms a smooth slush. Transfer to a container with a lid and freeze for one hour. Remove from freezer and stir, then retun to freezer and freeze for 2 hours or more, until set.

* If you prefer, you can just use simple syrup in place of the champagne: Combine equal parts sugar and water in a pot and bring to a boil. Cook for a few minutes until sugar is completely dissolved and the mixture has reduced slightly. Make sure to cool the syrup completely before proceeding with the recipe.


Anonymous said...

Glad to hear Bob's on the mend! Your pretzels look so good. I picked up a book at the library the other day because I was hoping to find a pretzel recipe but the one in there was way too much work so I abandoned the idea. I'm so glad you found a recipe that you know works. I can't wait to make these. I haven't had soft pretzels since becoming vegan.

Don't Get Mad Get Vegan! said...

Mmmmmm, that pretzel recipe is gonna be dangerous at our house. Thank you! ;)

'n peach has always been my absolute favorite flavor for frozen treats. this sorbet sounds wonderful.

VeggieGirl said...

Thank you for posting the soft pretzel recipe - sounds (and looks!) amazing. And those blueberry-banana-flax smoothies sound REALLY good as well!!

laura jesser said...

Crystal, I hope these work out for you--they were VERY easy and took less than an hour!

DGMGV, I have a feeling they might be dangerous around here as well!

Veggie girl, those smoothies are one of my favorite things, especially at this time of year... I drizzle in a little bit of flax oil, and sometimes I add some wheat germ as well. Oh yes--and cinnamon, ginger, and vanilla extract are mandatory!

VeggieGirl said...

sounds delish!! thanks!! and thank you for stopping by my blog :0)

Ron and Ginny said...

Praise the Lord that your husband is getting better. I know sometimes that can be scary, but we know Who holds the future. :-D

Those pretzels look MAGNIFICENT! Thanks for the recipe. Everything else looks good, too, but those pretzels are distracting. heehee

theONLYtania said...

Wow, your pretzels look great! I never thought of using spicy mustard to clear you out, but know that you say it.. I always get a runny nose! Haha. Thanks for the recipes, I've been wanting potatoes lately!

aTxVegn said...

Those pretzels look amazing, Laura! I'm not sure I'm brave enough to try them, but thanks for the great recipe. The sorbet sounds fabulous.

Courtney said...

Congrats on passing your exams! That must feel so good.

Your pretzels look amazing--and that was your first attempt?! Way to go--you clearly know what you are doing!


Don't Get Mad Get Vegan! said...

btw, love the new layout! beautiful!

laura jesser said...

Veggie girl again, no problem! :)

Ron and Ginny, yes--you're right (though I do get scared when Bob gets sick, because it happens so rarely). LOL - I am glad that the pretzels distracted you so!

Tania, spicy mustard surely does clear you out, even when you're not congested! So I figured it couldn't hurt to try... This is a good way to cook potatoes, just stop before they get too mushy (we've messed that up before)!

Diann, LOL - I made them for Bob, who stays so skinny no matter what he eats, but I've been working as hard as I can to stay out of them, as they're about 200 calories apiece!

Courtney, thanks! I was really surprised at how easy the pretzels were--much easier than a typical yeasted bread.

DGMGV, thanks! I was getting tired of looking at brown... (even though it is my favorite color). I love yOUR new look, too, by the way--so fresh and clean!

maybepigscanfly said...

Glad to hear that Bob's feeling better. And who wouldn't feel better with those awesome looking pretzels and some mustard goodness. I can't even remember the last time I sank my teeth into a soft pretzel. They were definitely always a treat as kids.

Oh and I love the blog makeover...awesome!


jenny said...

I LOVE the website Laura! I'm a chef at heart and appreciate all the recipes and pictures you post :)

Monika K said...

Love the new format, Laura! The header is quite nice and I can't wait to try the champagne peach sorbet recipe. Hope you and Bob are both enjoying good health!

Judith MacCaellich-Young said...

Thank you for the pretzel recipes, I have adapted it and shall give it a go (soy allergy).
I love your new header, it is so beautiful :)
Remember to take care of yourself too!
P.S. What are saltines? I am a dumb Scot and some American-English words are different...
So if I have to guess, nice word, giving a salty flavour, maybe seaweed?

laura jesser said...

Teresa, I used to love big soft pretzels too as a kid... It's so much fun to revisit something like that!

Jenny, I know who you are! Thanks for checking out my blog--I think I knew you liked to cook! Hee hee--I checked out your blog and when I saw the "Happy Birthday Big Man" post, I was like "Hey, I've seen those faces before!"

Monika, thanks so much! Good health is definitely something to be thankful for... I hope you like the sorbet!

Judith, thanks--I'm partial to my new header too! I hope the pretzels work out for you. A saltine is actually a small, square-shaped cracker with a salted top. They're good with soup or chili, but many people eat them when they're sick because they're very plain and easy to stomach, and the salt in them is good for healing the body. Oh, and don't feel dumb--there's no way you should have known that!

Anonymous said...

wow. know im hungry!!! those pretzel looks so good!!!

urban vegan said...

Hope Bobis ALL better by now. He's lucky to have such a sweet, caring lady to help him mend with such delicious healing food.

Thanks for the recipes, too. Those soft pretzels look better than Philly's famous ones.

KleoPatra said...


Oh Laura, if you only knew how much i <3 big, soft, chewy pretzels... with lotsa mustard. Thanks for that great photo AND the recipe. i think that some mustard with a little wasabi would do wonders to clear the congestion, 'eh?? Spicy mustard is KING!

And NOT that it's an afterthought at ALL (but i'm sorry 'cause i did get distracted from those pretzels) but i am so glad to read that Bob's feelin' better. Again, how could he not with you there to help him on the road to recovery, ya know what i mean!?

LOVE the new topper on here, too. Your updated look is better than ever, Laura. That is precious with the animals. Truly like Eden, yes.

OK, the yeast gravy on those mashed po's... i would have had Bob's portion... if only i lived closer... i'm so selfish! Hope he'll be feeling well enough to go for the leftovers when he's good and ready. (If not... does Southwest Airlines fly out your way!? JUST kidding... Well, sort of...)

i am happy to read that you are eating pretty well... it's important especially if you're around someone who is not feeling well, to really take extra good care of yourself, Laura. Like i'm telling you something you don't already know! But good for you to have the fruit, veggies and grains and using stevia and agave (mmmm... agave!)

The sorbet is gorgeous. What colour...

And last but NOT least...


on passing the CPA exams! Well done, Laura! It's been a long road for you, i know... there's still a little left and i know you have what it takes to get there all the way to CPA!

In the words of the cheerleader i never was: "Two down, two to go, go Laura go!"

Good job, girl friend. Here's to more good times ahead.

Julie said...

I haven't been around for awhile and I've missed some wonderful posts!! First, good to know you are healthy and Bob is getting better. Secondly, thanks for posting the recipe for the Barley-Quinoa Breakfast Porridge. It's super hot here, but somehow porridge sounds good still. I'll make sure to visit more often, so I won't miss anything else :)

springsandwells said...

I'm glad to hear that Bob is feeling better... and also CONGRATS on your big exams!! All that hard work is paying off.

Now that I have the niceties out of the way, (just kidding) - I am SO going to make some soft pretzels. WOWabunga!! Those look so delicious and amazing. I can't wait to try.

Also, I am hoping to make your barley quinoa porridge soon. It looks and sounds delicious.

love Amey

Anonymous said...

i love your new blog layout! i've been craving PRETZELS - guess what i'll be making tonight! i'm glad to hear that bob is feeling better, too!

Ruthie said...

YUMM Pretzels :- )

Laura Faye said...

Your pretzels look great! After seeing Alton Brown make pretzels recently, I've been craving some.

Congrats on passing your CPA exams!

laura jesser said...

Johanna, LOL - thanks!

Urban vegan, I'd say he's all better now, thank goodness! And I didn't know that Philly was famous for its soft pretzels--maybe someday I'll get to sample them.

Kleo, maybe you should have been a cheerleader! Thanks for cheering me on! And yes, as a matter of fact Southwest Airlines CAN get you here--so hop on board! :)

Julie, it's funny but porridge makes a great breakfast, even in the heat. Thanks for stopping in!

Amey, you're so sweet--thanks! I hope you enjoy the recipes if you try them. I like the combo of barley and quinoa--the barley still has a bite to it, but the quinoa gets very soft. I love texture contrasts like that.

Stonielove, thanks! I love when someone posts a recipe for something I've been craving... it's a happy moment. Hehe.

Ruthie, LOL! :)

Laura Faye, I'll have to look up Alton Brown's recipe and see how he did them. I love watching him make anything, and I swear by his waffle recipe!

Jackie said...

Glad to hear Bob is feeling much better. With the wonderful food he is getting and all the care you are taking of him I am not surprised :)

Kati said...

Wow - way to go on your exams! That's awesome - I wish you lots of luck on the next ones. Glad Bob is feeling better! Those pretzels were probably what did it. ;-) They look excellent. What's really calling my name though is the kale and potatoes with gravy - yum! I need to look out for that cookbook as I'm hopping around the used bookstores...

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the pretzel recipe. Hopefully we'll only eat half of them before heading out to soccer. If not, what to eat after?