Rosemary Lemon Oops Bread

This started out as a really simple baking exercise: I pulled out the bread machine, skimmed through my favorite bread machine cookbook for something that uses ingredients I had on hand, and picked the Rosemary Lemon Bread, because I have fresh rosemary this week from Boston Organics.  Yay, using up things from the veggie box!

I didn’t *quite* have everything the recipe called for:  I decided to use almonds instead of hazelnuts, and to not bother skinning them.  I planned to use regular raisins instead of golden, but I couldn’t imagine that making much difference except in presentation.  Fine, fine, on we go.

This is where things started to go wrong.  I *massively* failed at reading comprehension, and started adding things from the ingredient list to the bread machine pan. Unfortunately, the 3 tablespoons of baking soda were not *supposed* to go in the pan—they were supposed to be used for boiling the hazelnuts to skin them.  No harm done–I rinsed off the rosemary, which was the only other thing in the pan.  The massive failure was in not noticing that the 2c of water listed next *also* did not go in the pan.  I didn’t realize that until all the ingredients were in and the bread was almost an hour into it’s cycle, but still looked like soup.

Uh oh.

I *almost* threw out the whole thing, but I couldn’t bear to give up so easily and waste all those nice ingredients. Besides, I had promised Jr Baker that there would be bread, so bread there would be if I could possibly make it happen.  I poured and scraped the “dough” into a big bowl, and started adding flour.  3.5 cups later, it was starting to look like dough. I added another 3 tbsp of butter and an extra tablespoon of dried lemon zest, added the chopped almonds and the raisins, let it rest an hour and decided to bake my chances…

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It worked! My creation lives!  B. made two *brilliant* suggestions that really helped:  the first was to divide the giant mass of dough into two loaves, so they would bake through more easily.  The second was, instead of their lemon frosting, to glaze before baking with an egg, lemon juice and some sugar.

It took about 45 minutes to bake—I was really unsure, so we used Science:

At 30 minutes my thermal probe reported 180F and came out sticky

At 40 minutes both loaves turned golden-brown

At 45 minutes they both measured around 212F inside and were done!

For the bread:

  • 2 cups water
  • 1 cup milk
  • 6 tbsp unsalted butter, cut into pieces
  • 3.5 cups plus 450g all-purpose flour
  • 5 tablespoons gluten
  • 1 large egg plus one egg yolk
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • chopped fresh rosemary (about 2 tbsp)
  • 2 tbsp dried lemon zest
  • 1.75 tsp salt (more would actually be better, because of the more flour)
  • 2.25 tsp SAF yeast
  • 1 cup raisins
  • ~ 1 cup chopped almonds

For the glaze:

  • 1 egg
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • ~ 2 tbsp lemon juice

Mix together all the ingredients and knead until mixed well. Some flour will remain in the bowl.

Let rise for 1-1.5 hours, then shape into two loaves. Paint the loaves generously with the glaze.

Bake at 350F for 45 minutes or until a temperature probe reads around 212F.


Chard cubes


I often can’t use greens fast enough to keep them from wilting, but I hate throwing them out! At some point, I realized that blanched greens can be frozen, but a whole pound is too much to use at once. Then B. found this giant silicone ice cube tray and I found the solution.

I chop the chard (or kale or whatever) into useable pieces, wash it and boil for 2-4 minutes to blanch. Then I drain it (reserving some of the liquid if I can) and pack the greens into the ice cube tray. A pound of greens fits nicely into one tray. I fill the interstitial space with water (like the reserved water if you caught it, or fresh water if you didn’t) so that it freezes into a solid block. When you want to use it, just drop it into soup or a sauté or even smoothies. (Kale is almost undetectable in berry smoothies)

Ca Kho



B got a night off from #paternitycooking last night, and instead I got to make fish! This is my favorite dish at Le’s (formerly Pho Pasteur) in Harvard^2, and eventually I decided to learn to make it. I have had great success in the past, but my last attempt, a few weeks ago, was completely inedible, so I was a bit nervous.

Turns out I needn’t have been—this turned out great! I didn’t get a clear idea of what went wrong last time, though.


  • Last time we had 1.5 lbs of cod instead of 3/4 lbs catfish. It fell apart to mush, but that doesn’t account for the taste issues.
  • Last time I put dulse in the fishless fish sauce. This time I only used garlic, lime juice and soy sauce
  • Last time I may have burned the sugar. This time I watched it more carefully and took it off the heat just as it turned brown
  • Last time, I used an entire tablespoon of powdered garlic, a tablespoon of black pepper, and a tablespoon of powdered ginger. This time, I shorted the ginger and pepper a little (maybe 2/3 tbsp) because I only had 3/4lb of fish, but cut the garlic to 1 tsp

Anyway, one of those made a difference, because this time it was delicious!


  • 1/3 c white sugar
  • 4 tbsp fish sauce OR 1 tbsp soy sauce, 4 tbsp lime juice and 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 4 small onions (I used red) or scallions or 1-2 large onions
  • 1 tbsp ginger
  • 1 tbsp black pepper (or less to taste—this is reasonably spicy
  • 1 tsp red chile flakes (or to taste, these contribute less to the spicyness than the black pepper)
  • .75 to 1.5 lbs catfish, fresh or frozen, cut into 1″ strips.
  1. In a heavy saucepan, cook the sugar over medium heat. Swirl/stir with a heatproof rubber spatula until the sugar melts and just turns golden-brown.
  2. Remove the pot from the heat and dump in the fish sauce.
  3. Return to heat and boil, stirring frequently, until sugar dissolves
  4. Add onions and cook 1-2 minutes, then add everything else.
  5. Bring back to a boil, then reduce heat to low and cover.
  6. Cook until fish is tender, 20-25 minutes for 3/4 lb, 30-40 for 1.5 lbs
  7. Serve with white rice and tea.

Patient Thumbkin: an analysis

The patient, who goes by the name “Thumbkin”, displays classic signs of post-traumatic stress and social anxiety. Even when engaging in the predominant social ritual of his tribe, he feigns polite conversation (“How are you today, sir?”) using formality as a shield against more intimate human contact. The response is ritualistically content-free and equally formal: “Very well, I thank you”, but the apparent content of that selfsame response is proven false by the immediate and rapid withdrawal from contact. (“Run away, run away”)

So we are moved to ask: why *is* Thumbkin so afraid of members of his own tribe, those who are nearly mirror images of himself?



This vile specimen of dragon god, and his rainbow dragon children have pursued and threatened to consume Thumbkin and family for generations. The dragons, posing as a harmless but insipid “dinosaur rainbow”, work their way into the territory of Thumbkin et al. and prey on the unsuspecting digits.

Mr Thumbkin’s terror is not pathological, it is fully logical! At any point, a previously-innocuous hand may suddenly be occupied by the ravenous heads of Tiamat—Mr T’s caution is well-advised.
The tyranny of finger puppets must end!

Oatmeal-Apple Cookies


I hear one isn’t supposed to *do* things other than sleep and care for the baby when he is this new, but Jr Baker was bored, the baby was asleep, and B was at the dentist. She asked to make cookies, so I pulled out my favorite oatmeal cookie recipe because it is very easy. Instead of chocolate chips or raisins, though, she asked if we could use apples in the cookies. I agreed out of a sense of adventure, even though I suspected they might need some modifications since apples add a lot of moisture.

We used the raisin version of the recipe, with lots of cinnamon, and chopped two apples (a Braeburn and a Macintosh). The first batch baked *forever* and still came out very soft, but with a caramelkk apple taste that is amazing. For the second batch, I turned the oven up to 400F, which made them even tastier and crisp, as well as back to 10m cookies.
The 350F version are super soft and crumbly, and stick together in the cookie jar: more like a bar cookie than a drop cookie. The 400F cookies are crisp and golden-brown and caramel-ly.

The original recipe is essentially this one but back when I copied it down from the oatmeal box it had 2 sticks (16 tbsp) butter instead of 14 tbsp, and 1c brown sugar instead of 3/4c. We used two medium chopped apples instead of raisins, and baked at 400F instead of 375F. (The old recipe also said 350F, apparently they have modified it a little too!)