Autumnal Food and My First Snowy Ride on the Mundo

Bread For Thanksgiving Dinner

I am truly blessed in that I have three lovely sisters who give me the day off on Thanksgiving. The only things that I am required to do are bring freshly baked bread and carve the bird. I know that my younger sister likes roast red pepper bread, so I usually bring that. But this year I changed it a little by making two doughs and combining them: one was the red pepper, the other was Parmesan. The outcome is visually stunning; the flavors aren't bad either. Here's the recipe in pictures:

I started by making two separate straight doughs, utilizing the sponge method (basic bread dough recipe), the difference is that I added pureed roast red peppers to one (you'll have to adjust the recipe because of the moisture content of the peppers) and Parmesan cheese to the other (click on any of the photos for a larger view).

After they had risen, I cut each dough into 5 pieces, ten pieces in all.

After gently flattening each piece, I placed a piece of Parmesan dough on top of each piece of red pepper dough and gently rolled it into a loaf.

Then I put them in loaf pans, and placed a clean garbage bag across them to rise.

After they rose, I brushed them with an egg wash, sprinkled them with poppy seeds and baked them in a preheated 400F oven.

The finished bread:

Turkey Stock and Mashed Potato Bread

Each year after thanksgiving I always offer to take the turkey carcass(es) of my sisters hands. Sometimes they won't give them up because they have plans for them themselves, and other times--like this year--they are glad that I am interested in taking it/them. Anyhow, we had two turkeys this year and my apartment-sized refrigerator is not nearly big enough to hold them, so I left them wrapped in plastic in the back of my pickup parked on the street all night. The temperature was hovering around freezing, but I have to admit that I was surprised to see them in the morning.

Here they are unwrapped...sort of gruesome looking, sort of like returning to the scene of a crime...almost enough to make a person go vegetarian. But with the resulting broth all these nasty thoughts were forgotten.

Anyhow, homemade broth is as simple as this: put the carcass(es) in a pot with any meat trimmings, scraps, juices, a few vegetables, and just enough cold water to cover it. Bring it to a boil, then lower it to a simmer. Simmer the broth for 2-6 hours, skimming any scum as necessary.

While it simmered I whipped up a batch of potato bread using leftover mashed potatoes. I used a straight dough method with the exception that I added an egg to the dough for a little richness and lightness in its rise. The rear of my house is cold so I rose the bread next to the simmering stock pot.

After it rose once, I shaped it into a loaf, put it in a loaf pan and let it rise again. Then baked it in a 400F oven.

After the stock had simmered for about 6 hours I strained it twice, first through a colander, then through a small fine mesh strainer; a china cap, or as the French refer to it, a chinoise

Freezer ready:

Pear Butter with Red Wine

Last week I was able to take home a couple dozen locally grown pears. They were already past their prime when I received them, that's how I was able to take them home, but I still thought I would eat them before they were too far gone. Well, of course I didn't. Instead of throwing them out I decided to make pear butter, which of course is a variation of apple butter. It is so easy to make. Basically you just cut up the fruit (with or without skins), add a little liquid (I added red wine instead of water), and if you want it a little sweeter, you can add a little sugar (which I did). You cook the fruit and puree it (at this point it will resemble apple sauce). Then return it to the heat to evaporate most of its moisture. The flavors will intensify and its color will darken considerably. The consistency will become spreadable (especially when it is chilled); it will have the consistency of butter, hence its name.

First Snow/Ice Ride on the Mundo Yuba

We got a couple inches of snow today, which by Buffalo standards is next to nothing. But because it was above freezing during the day when it snowed (slushed) and went below freezing this evening, what was on the street turned to ice. The Mundo is built like a tank, and probably weighs as much as one also. %The thing just plowed through. I used to make the comparison of the Mundo to a Hummer or other big SUV, but now I'm wondering if it shouldn't be more compared to a bike version of one of the old Volvo plows through anything, weighs a ton, makes you feel safe, and has a big cushy feel to it's ride. At one point I wanted to test the brake on ice, to see how it would handle. I hit the rear brake and the bike fishtailed to one side a little, but the thing is so big and heavy I still felt were as if I was happening in slow motion. Anyhow, it looks like it will be a good "Buffalo bike," meaning it should be stable enough for all weather conditions. It may not be fast, but it gets you where you want to go and you can carry a lot of stuff with you.