Jul 16, 2012

Devo does babka

Last Thursday, while clicking around on the internet, I rediscovered Smitten Kitchen, a food blog written right out of the Big Apple.  Nick and I had been aware of this particular blog for several years, dating back to when we first moved in together, and had already tried Deb's recipes for ricotta (a quasi-success) and pastry cream (a near-unparalleled disaster).  After clicking through many promising posts, I stumbled across one for little chocolate swirl buns and then this other one from whence the buns were adapted.  And suddenly I was reading all about chocolate babka, and wanting some very badly.  

The bakery has just run out of chocolate babka.
Chocolate babka is sort of like a chocolate croissant ... but bigger.  And better.  It's an Old World relic that is popular enough in New York (but then, what Jewish food isn't in these parts?).  A Midwesterner by origin, my only familiarity with babka came from watching Seinfeld, where chocolate babka plays a prominent role in "The Dinner Party" episode.  So naturally, after perusing the Smitten Kitchen recipes, I assumed I would quickly get over the whole babka phenomenon.  

But I was wrong.  By that night, I knew that I would be making babka within the next few days.  But which recipe to use?  The original made three loaves and called for an obscene amount of chocolate (two and a half pounds!!) and streusel topping, but the swirl bun recipe was scaled down and made twelve cute little rolls that baked in muffin cups.  After a lot of thought, I decided to use the amounts listed for the swirl bun recipe but made a loaf instead.  

Since I have made bread from scratch a few times, the recipe was actually pretty manageable--up until you do the filling, you're essentially making bread.  My new Sunbeam hand mixer came with dough hooks, which helped to facilitate the kneading process, and otherwise the recipe went pretty smoothly so that after a few hours, I opened the oven and pulled out one golden, crusty, delicious loaf and IT WAS DELICIOUS.  

Jul 9, 2012

Summer 2012 update

So far this summer has been very eventful.

Nick and I moved into a new apartment, located very close to Brooklyn College ... and a Baskin Robbins.  The apartment has just about everything we wanted: lots of closets (no more storage unit!), lots of (storage) space, a large kitchen (with a walk-in pantry), lots of light, on-site laundry, and a quiet neighborhood.  Our new building has plenty of young Orthodox families with small children.  This means things are pretty quiet over Shabbat (plus we get the elevator nearly to ourselves on Saturdays), and we are otherwise getting used to hearing the incessant patter of small feet next door and above.

The move itself was pretty rough, unfortunately: it was a rainy day, and the movers sucked.  I've encountered plenty of movers over the five years I've lived in Brooklyn, and this crew was the worst I had ever seen.  Among other things, they broke one of our bookshelves and lost several key items, including the chair cushion from one of my mid-century armchairs, a tower fan box that contained 40+ books (mostly mass-market paperbacks), a table lamp, and a computer backpack that contained a set of small speakers and our t.v. remote.  Subsequent calls and emails to the moving crew and company went unreturned.  Groupon, who had offered what I thought was a wonderful deal on this move, refunded me the voucher amount, but that doesn't even cover half of what it will cost to replace everything.  Plus,  some items very well may be impossible to replicate.  Like the chair cushion (seriously, how do you lose a CHAIR CUSHION?!), and the two or three missing books that are hardcover editions from the 1960s.  And the 1960s plain-cover edition of Franny and Zooey.  So ... Nick and I may very well be pursuing this matter in small claims court this summer.
The ironing board.  

ANYWAY.  Enough about the move.  We're mostly settled into the new place, and I spent several days making apartment-related stuff, like an ironing board cover, a bedside rug, aprons for myself and Nick, and curtain ties for the 'drapes' in our sitting room.  We also started an herb garden out a sitting room window.  The thing is anchored to the mostly permanent child safety bars and seems pretty secure.

We spent last week, including the Fourth of July, with four of our friends at a beach house on Cape Cod.  It was a pretty amazing trip that involved a lot of drinking for those who were inclined, and a great deal of game-playing, cooking, grilling, and eating.  Oh, and the beach.  The house where we stayed was a ten minute walk from a private beach, which we visited every day.  I'm glad I invested in a bathing suit for this trip, because it meant that I got to spend some quality time immersed in the Atlantic Ocean.  Everyone was too busy relaxing and beaching it up to take many pictures, but here's a shot of the ocean at night.  It was absolutely gorgeous, although my iPhone shot hardly does it justice.  One 'trip' we did take was to a seafood restaurant at Wood's Hole for our last dinner.  The restaurant was called Landfall, and was mostly built from and decorated with nautical paraphernalia.  Our seafood was delicious, and we ended up walking around a nearby town to investigate all the touristy shops before getting Dairy Queen on our way back.

In other news, I will be returning to Iowa for a brief visit over Labor Day weekend.  Since Nick's fall schedule is still very much up in the air, we're not sure whether he'll be able to come along.  Looking forward to seeing everyone!

Landfall Restuarant, Wood's Hole, MA