Two Ingredient Workout: Soba Noodles!

Two Ingredient Workout: Soba Noodles!

Darling Sister:

Since you’ve been in the family way I know you’ve been trying to find creative ways to work out. Boy, do I have a great one for you here! An arm-toning opportunity to simultaneously feed your belly and, dare I say, your soul. And/or get some aggression out, whichever.

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I was delighted to discover that soba noodles require just two ingredients – buckwheat flour and all purpose flour. Add a little lukewarm water and you’re off – muscling a very resistant blob of dough around for some minutes. I had planned to make these by hand, as done in Saveur magazine – roll the kneaded dough into a flower shape, then massage it into a cone, then roll it into a disc before finally flattening it and slicing the noodles by hand. It looked very instagram, and I was all for it right up to the point where I was required to shape the dough – my “flower” form was ridiculous, and I broke out the pasta machine. Which worked FANTASTICALLY. Dinner tonight? Soba! Lunch tomorrow? ALSO SOBA! I’m quite excited.

Noodly yours,

XOXO

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Handmade Soba Noodles

Adapted from this recipe in Saveur Magazine.

Note: The recipe I adapted required “light buckwheat flour,” which is buckwheat flour milled with less than the whole grain. My local market only had whole-meal buckwheat flour, so I subbed in all purpose flour to good effect.

In a large bowl, combine:

  • 9 ounces whole-grain buckwheat flour;
  • 3.5 ounces all purpose flour;
  • 6 ounces lukewarm water.

With your hands, work the flour into the water, spreading and kneading the dough around the bottom of the bowl until there are no dry bits left and the dough is one mostly incorporated mass.

Turn the dough onto a work surface and knead it until it’s smooth. Form into a disc and slice it into sixths (quarters shown here, but they were a lot to handle at once).

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Resting the remaining pieces under a damp towel, run your dough through a pasta machine on a wider setting several times, until the dough is pliable and holds together well. Slice by hand or using the spaghetti attachment. Toss in cornstarch or tapioca flour to separate the strands. Shake excess starch off the noodles by tossing the noodles gently in a sieve. Turn out onto a tray. Repeat for remaining dough.

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Cook immediately or store tightly wrapped in the refrigerator.

Sewing Roundup: A Week of Saturdays

Sewing Roundup: A Week of Saturdays

Darling Sister:

I’ve had the week off from work, and have been house-bound with a cold. This means I’ve given myself a pass on housework and socializing, and have spent a great deal of time lazing around, and finally getting to sew some things that had been languishing on my sewing wish list. Since I’m on house arrest and can’t see you, either, here’s a roundup!

First and most importantly, I made you a Mommy Bag. I’m not going to call it a diaper bag, because it’s really more for you than for the baby. I found this fantastic navy woven fabric at Joann, and salvaged the colorful interior fabric from a treasured yard of fabric you bought last summer at Stonemountain and Daughter. The external zipper is a navy separating jacket zipper, the internal one is red nylon. I bought a leather belt and split it in two vertically to make the handles. I hope you love it – it’s super roomy! This fantastic pattern is from the book Handmade Style by Anna Graham.

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Runner-up to a Mommy Bag is a comfy cocoon dress for you to wear. I saw a gal on Instagram had made an Inari Tee Dress, a Named Clothing pattern made for a woven fabric, out of a knit fabric for a maternity dress. Hers was super cute, and I think this one will be darling on you! To make sure you have plenty of room in there, I went up one size from your measured size (also shown here is one of the 1,000 Stowe Bags I made for Christmas gifts…I kept one for meeee).

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Since I had enough leftover fabric from your Inari dress, I made myself an Inari Tee with the scraps! It’s comfy and squishy but looks smart – I’m wearing it right now and feeling fantastic! Since I am NOT hatching a baby, and this pattern is made for wovens, I went DOWN a size to compensate for using a stretchy knit here instead of an ungiving woven. The neck band stretches to fit perfectly as written in the pattern, and I love love love the result. Also note I made a to-sew list by backing an old frameless picture frame (remember when I had a zillion of these hung in my room?) with a favorite fabric scrap, perfect surface for a whiteboard marker.

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For Christmas, I asked our darling momma for some flannel fabric and coordinating piping, with which to make some Closet Case Files Carolyn Pajamas. This well-written pattern came together quickly – my only regret was choosing flannel for a first try at the pattern – this fabric sticks to itself and made for a frustrating experience at all of the fiddly parts. However, after ripping and reworking almost every seam, I love the result and have been cuddled up in them as often as possible.

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Last, but not least, I’ve been eager to try bra-making. Ladies on the internet are turning out beautiful, useful garments using a variety of  downloadable patterns. I chose the Cloth Habit Watson Bra, a soft cup with a longline option, for my first attempt. I ordered two kits from The Tailor Made Shop – one in black and burgundy to make a trial run, and one in navy for the real deal. The bra kits from Tailor Made come with all the findings and elastic you’ll need, plus elastic options for modifying your bra to have an all-lace upper edge. Here’s the trial run – I’m very happy wit the result! The pattern was clear, and the sewalong that accompanies it was helpful for any tricky part. There are lots of modifications available, and I’m looking forward to refining my results with a second attempt!

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It’s Sunday, which means back to work and the world and stress tomorrow, but I’m feeling so accomplished!

Craftily yours,

Sister

 

Oatmeal Orange Breakfast Smoothie

Oatmeal Orange Breakfast Smoothie

Darling Sister:

I needed a break from my usual kale-and-almond breakfast smoothies, and came up with this little delight this morning. Combining oatmeal to keep you satisfied, with refreshing orange and lime juice, and banana and a bit of coconut cream for sweetness and creaminess, I think you’ll really like this one!

Start your Sunday off right!

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Oatmeal Orange Breakfast Smoothie

Makes 2

In a blender, combine:

  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • 2 cups orange juice
  • 2 ripe bananas
  • 2 tablespoons cream of coconut
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice

Blend well (until oats are nearly all pulverized – about 4 minutes in our blender) and serve immediately!

Snickerdoodles: Cookies for People who Don’t Feel Like Making Cookies

Snickerdoodles: Cookies for People who Don’t Feel Like Making Cookies

Darling Sister,

Last night, when my husband was begging for cookies and I just couldn’t be bothered to pull out all the doodads needed to make his favorites (pecan, oatmeal, and dark chocolate delights), I compromised by making snickerdoodles. As I was putting them in the oven no more than 10 minutes after the inspiration struck, I thanked the cookie gods for a perfect sugar cookie recipe like this one. I’ve made ‘nilla wafers’ before by omitting the rolled-in-sugar part; you can make more of a stand-up cake-like cookie by freezing the dough rounds and baking them from frozen; made as written they come out thinnish and tender inside, with a snap around the edges and a sugary crunch.

I know you don’t feel much like baking lately, which is the perfect mood for snickerdoodles – they take barely any time at all!

Sweetly yours,

Sister

 

This recipe is adapted just a pinch from this one by Deb Perlman.

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Snickerdoodles

Makes 2 dozen adult-sized cookies.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, use the paddle attachment to beat 2-3 minutes until fluffy:

  • 2 sticks of unsalted butter at room temperature (or straight from the fridge and microwaved 10 seconds)
  • 1 1/2 cups of granulated sugar

Use a spatula to scrape the bowl down before adding (with the mixer running at medium-low):

  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 teaspoon table salt
  • 2 teaspoons cream of tartar
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda

Mix until smooth, then scrape the bowl again. Turn the mixer on low and add:

  • 2 3/4 cups all purpose flour

Mix until just combined.

Use a small scoop or two spoons to form balls of dough. If you want a classic snickerdoodle, roll those balls in a cinnamon-sugar mix (I used 1 tablespoon of cinnamon and 1/3 cup granulated sugar) before placing on a cookie sheet and flattening with your fingers or the bottom of a measuring cup.

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Bake at 350 for 10-12 minutes, until the edges are rippled and set, but the insides are still puffy and quite tender when touched. Remove to a wire rack to cool.

ISO: Soft, Sweet Brown Bread

ISO: Soft, Sweet Brown Bread

Darling Sister:

I can’t begin to tell you what an absolutely wonderful time we had on our vacation to Europe. We walked everywhere, climbed anything that was climbable, and ate everything we laid eyes on. While we were in the Netherlands, I was enchanted by bruin brood, a deeply dark brown wheat loaf that’s soft like wonder bread, rolled in oats, and absolutely fantastic.

I’ve been trying to come up with a perfect loaf, and thus far I’m six recipes in and definitely not at bruin brood just yet. However, I stumbled across two whole wheat bread recipes that are pretty darn fantastic. Firstly, if you have eggs and milk in the house, I recommend making Smitten Kitchen’s Oat and Wheat Sandwich Bread, using buttermilk for the milk and adding 2 tablespoons of cocoa powder to the flour. It came out swimmingly as written, and we baked half the recipe on the spot and left the other half to ferment in the fridge, yielding a flavorful, tender, complex loaf mid-week.

If you are low on eggs and milk but still want a brown bread, here’s my new go-to recipe, adapted from An Oregon Cottage.

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Soft Brown Bread

In the bowl of your mixer, combine:

  • 2 1/2 cup of lukewarm water
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons of instant dry yeast
  • 2 cups whole wheat or ‘white whole wheat’ flour

Set this aside and let it get good and bubbly, about 20 minutes in a cool kitchen. Then add:

  • 1/3 cup neutral oil (vegetable oil, not olive oil)
  • 1/3 cup honey or agave syrup or maple syrup
  • 2 tablespoons cocoa powder

With the paddle attachment, you can mix by machine at this point to get everything combined. If you’re dish-averse (like me), just use the bread attachment – holding it in your hand – to mix the contents together. Then hook the bread arm up to your mixer and add in:

  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 3 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup white all-purpose flour (you can use all wheat flour, but I think the all purpose gives your bread a little extra softness, which is what I was going for)
  • 2 tablespoons vital wheat gluten if you can find it (gives the dough more ability to rise; I found it at my local Nob Hill in the Bob’s Red Mill rack)

Mix all that business together on low speed. At first it will be a hot mess, but after 5 minutes or so it will start to come together. After 7 to 9 minutes you’ll have a fairly smooth, resilient dough that has cleaned the sides of the bowl for you (how nice!) and makes you feel proud to look at (seriously, you’ll be very impressed with yourself at this point).

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This is Smitten Kitchen’s oat and wheat bread dough, but you get the idea. Seriously you’re going to be bursting with pride at this point.

Ease your dough onto the counter, and slice it in half with a sharp knife. Form each half into a loaf by patting it out into a rectangle, and folding it burrito style (roll the lower edge up 2/3 of the way then fold the ends toward the center and roll the rest of the way) and dropping it into a greased loaf pan. Cover and let rise until it crowns the bread pan by about an inch, which could be an hour to 90 minutes, preheat the oven to 350 toward the end.

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from left: just rolled, rising, risen!

Bake for 30 minutes, remove from pans and thump the bottoms to make sure they sound “hollow” (the sign of a done loaf). Rub the crusts with a little unsalted butter to help them stay soft. Cool on a wire rack before slicing and enjoying!

 

 

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