Yay for New Things!

The time has come for reckoning. Rather, the time came yesterday. Unfortunately, life got in the way and I wasn’t able to get to the computer to quiz you all about the last week’s proposition. I just couldn’t drag myself away from all those anchovies. As no one commented on my neglect yesterday, I will take that to mean everyone appreciated the extra bit of time.

Anyway, I hope you all are bursting to share what brand new thing you tried in the past seven days. I know I am super-excited to hear all about it! First, I guess it’s my turn.

I’ve always enjoyed baking.  My lack of patience means I am not always successful at this hobby, but I love looking up new recipes and mixing things together into something remotely edible. Back in Calgary, eons ago, I took a class in bread making. Since then, I’ve probably only attempted the task on my own about three or four times. It’s something I’d love to do more often but rarely make the time for. Even my PH’s frequent encouragement does not often see me turning on the stand-mixer.

One type of bread I have always wanted to attempt is brioche. It’s even an item on my life list. The name just sounds delicious, doesn’t it? Since I’ve never actually had it before, I have no idea what it is supposed to taste like. It probably would have been smart to eat it before tackling the task of baking it. Evidently, that’s not how I roll. When I issued the challenge last week, I figured it was time to give it a shot.

Even though I have a ridiculous number of cookbooks, the first thing I did was go online. I found this simple-sounding recipe, admired the pretty photos, and decided it was nothing I couldn’t handle.

Of course, when I got to work, I discovered I only had pizza yeast on hand. Meh, I thought. Yeast is yeast, right?

Pizza yeast = Bad

No, no it isn’t. Luckily, before I scooped the offensive product into my precious mixture, I recalled my former cooking instructor explaining the differences between different types of yeast. I also happened to glance at the writing at the bottom of the jar that clearly stated the pizza stuff was NOT to be used for normal bread-making. So off to the store I went.

Traditional yeast = Good

Whew! That was close.

It’s important to remember what I said above about patience. Bread-making in general takes a lot of it and I often forget this. Thus, I had a bit of a meltdown when the bread dough had the consistency of cottage cheese. There are not photos of this as I was too busy wailing against the unfairness of the world. This is when my PH kindly suggested, after donning full hockey equipment (he knows to wear protection when I am mid-freak-out in the kitchen), that perhaps I just needed to mix it longer.

It turns out the man was right. Dang. Collecting myself, I turned the mixer back on for quite a few more minutes and like magic the lumpy pudding gradually turned into the dough I remembered.

Then it was time to let it rise. Keeping the dog away from the funky-smelling bowl was almost as much of a challenge as putting it all together.

Somehow, despite all my misgivings, the dough rose just like it was supposed to. A few hours later, I pulled it out of the oven and it almost resembled real bread! I was thrilled!

As I say, I will have to try real brioche before I will know if I got the texture or flavour right, but for a first shot, I am pretty proud of myself. Nobody even died!

Yay for New Things!

So. Now that I have told that insanely long tale of me versus non-pizza bread, it is time for you to share your adventures in newness. What did you do for the first time this last week? Did you enjoy it or have you been traumatized?

Because I am sweet, I am giving you four days to comment with your experiences. On Sunday I will randomize the responses and draw for the winner of Jennifer Arnold’s Through a Dog’s Eyes. The winner will be posted on Monday.

Ready, set, go!

34 thoughts on “Yay for New Things!

  1. I love baking too, but doesn’t get to try it often because my Hubby is on a strict diet. I tried bread about a month ago and failed dismally. It really is hit and miss for me – the loaves I made before were perfect! However, I’m now afraid to try it again!

    Sam

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    • Bread is really hard, there is no doubt a bout it. I have had many failures in the past, especially with out lackluster oven. I think it’s a miracle this loaf turned out to be edible!

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  2. Well it looked like it came out beautifully! I have made bread, but never paid attention to different kinds of yeasts…lol.

    I tried a new crock pot recipe. Nothing fancy but at this time of year I am lucky to get a meal on the table that is hot and includes vegetables. :)

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    • I keep meaning to get a crock pot. They are supposed to be perfect for people who hate to cook, like me. I find the kitchen a very stressful place. While baking can be fun, the idea of coming up with meals every day terrifies me. I am very lucky my PH loves to cook! Without him, I’d probably just eat cereal every night.

      Thanks for participating!

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  3. Your brioche looks lovely. I hope you enjoyed eating it even more than you liked crossing something off your life list.

    If you want an easy bread recipe, I like beer bread in which a can/bottle of beer stands in for the yeast and you use self-rising flour. I also throw in some cheddar. Yummmy! And no kneading.

    Ok, by now you know my new thing is fostering a puppy for the SPCA. I’d tell you all about it or post something fabulous on my blog but keeping up with an active puppy has devastated my productivity.

    Scooter is a good puppy and easy to manage (as puppies go). But supervising his potty training means constant attention (he hasn’t had an accident in the house in 4 days). And he likes to climb things. I hope to post a picture soon of him standing on my husband’s drafting table licking out a cereal bowl.

    The time Scooter requires is making me rethink all kinds of life decisions. His presence, along with being car-free for nearly a week (and maybe forever?) has me thinking hard about how to structure my time and my life.

    Did you have any idea what you’d be starting when you issued your challenge?

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    • That recipe sounds delicious! Right up my alley as well. Simple with beer and cheese? You just can’t go wrong!
      I wish I could say I had bread-making in mind when I issued the challenge last week. Truthfully, I had no idea what I was going to do and figured I’d pull it off on the fly. We like to live on the edge around here. ;-)

      Thanks for confirming that puppies change everything. I guess when I think about how my priorities became so different when I suddenly had a dog to care for, it makes sense that adding on a second, much needier puppy, would do the same. Is it really twice the work to have two around? Or do you think having Honey helps ease that load?

      I have been car-free pretty much my entire life. Relying on my feet and public transit is not easy, but it is much cheaper. My PH, however, is inconvinced. Since he drives a lot for work, I don’t think I will ever convert him. Will your husband continue to drive or are you going total-no-car?

      Thanks again for participating!

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  4. I didn’t do anything as spectacular as fostering a puppy, there were however a couple of firsts for me last week.

    First I bought and ate an “Asian Pear.” I know, what the hell is an ‘Asian Pear?’ That’s exactly what I thought so that’s why I bought and ate it. I had seen it in the store about a week before your challenge and while my interest was piqued, it wasn’t enough to buy it. Until you challenged me! It was actually quite tasty sort of a cross between a pear and an apple.

    The next new thing I tried was doing a give away on my blog. That is something I had not done before and I really liked it. So much that I think I will do them more frequently.

    Last (but certainly NOT least) I volunteered at Our Companions annual wreath sale.

    It was a great week of firsts for me and I’m grateful you challenged me to step out of my comfort zone.

    Thank you Kristine.

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    • Asian Pears sound yummy! I am not, in fact, a pear lover but perhaps if there is more appley-ness I would find the fruit more appetizing. It’s a texture thing, mostly. I am going to have to look for these myself now. Thanks!

      Three new things! That’s just awesome. I love it when people surpass expectations, especially when one of those things was volunteering. Thank you so much for taking the challenge and running with it!

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    • Thanks, I really hope so. Maybe it’s better that I don’t have anything to compare it to, I can’t get down on myself for not being perfect. :-P Not that I would ever do that…

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  5. I did not know there was such a thing as pizza yeast! We make pizza dough all the time, and it’s never quite right with our breadmaker yeast, haha.

    I keep trying to make bread, and it always turns out more dense than I’d like it to, although this last attempt was better than previous attempts…

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    • I didn’t know either until I saw it a few months ago in the store. We make pizza a lot at our house and it’s almost easier to just make the dough ourselves. It seems to be the same texture as fast-acting yeast and is probably much the same thing. The little granules are smaller and thinner, whereas traditional yeast granules are more like little balls.

      I’ve never used a bread-maker before. Do you find it easy to use?

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      • It’s easy to use, absolutely, but it has yet to produce anything I really enjoy. We mostly use it for it’s dough setting, and then cook the bread in the oven. Maybe it’s the recipes that are the problem…I don’t know.

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  6. OMG i’m a bread freak… i’ve made lots of different types of bread .. my 15 year old bread maker just kicked the bucket (it’s now burning all the bread :( ) so I have been doing mostly dessert breads that don’t require yeast.

    I started teaching a new training class that I designed and … i’m not sure how it’s going to go. I didn’t write the ‘blurb’ about the class for the website but i’m not entirely sure it clearly stated the goals of this class so i’m not sure I have the ‘right’ students… but we’ll see…it’ll certainly be an adventure!

    On much less exciting news, I tried two new restaurants (1 REALLY good one, eh it was good but I wouldn’t go out of my way again). After dropping former-foster Chase off for his transport to his furever home, I took the dogs on a walk at a state recreation area that I’d never been too before. We weren’t there long because the trail was more like a swamp….but we tried AND I didn’t get lost!

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    • Four new things! You are awesome!

      What kind of training class is it? I’m always curious about the types of things out there. Is it related to a specific behaviour problem? Good on you for taking risks! No matter what I am sure you will be helping many people.

      I am still so excited for Chase! He sounded like such a fun little guy and I am sure his new family is in love already.

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  7. Hi, well it looks nice, you didn’t burn it…and I bet that Shiva and your PH thought that it was great and I’m very pleased that you got to cross another item off your life list. I would have tried a piece too :)

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    • Thanks! I don’t know if it is possible to burn anything in our oven. The poor thing is so old it takes hours to heat up properly. I am always impressed when anything turns out remotely well!

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  8. Yum – I love brioche! (And I agree with Pamela – you should give beer bread a try. It’s yummy too.)

    As for my new thing, I tried a new chili recipe on Sunday. It was pretty yummy. :)

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    • Yum, chilli! That is actually what I have for my lunch today, believe it or not. Made by my very talented husband. :-)

      Beer bread is going on the life list!

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  9. Does Gwynn and I attempting sheep-herding count? it was a bit before the challenge was issued, but it was definitely a new and intimidating thing! Since then, the closest thing to ‘new thing’ i’ve tried is practicing the dance for our company’s xmas party ‘flash mob’ (because we’re cool like that… or the higher-ups wanted cheap entertainment for the party this year…), which happens tonight.

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    • Sheep herding totally counts! And I will also give you a gold star for flash mob practice and performance because it sounds like such a blast! I’ve never participated in anything like that. I hope you had a great time!

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  10. I finally bought something on e bay. Liked it so much I bought 4 more things. Didn’t quite melt the visa but it was close. I made a carry sack and snuck my dog into the grocery store. I think my other new thing is that I am turning into one of those crazy dog people.

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    • Oh well, at least you are in “good” company? It’s not so bad on the dark side. ;-)

      Ebay is fun, the search process just intimidates me a little. It’s like shopping in Winners. You have to search through to find the treasure.

      Thanks for participating!

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  11. yay yay yay! Go you! As you already probably know I LOVE bread. I am SO glad you tried your hand at baking again. One of the hardest parts of bread baking I think is getting the right rise and crumb (texture). From what I can see you got a lovely rise, much better than my own first attempt at brioche, so the crumb was probably just right too. I wish I could take a bread class teaching myself has not been the easiest when you have no basis for comparison. I hope to see you bake more bread. You should try the lemon bread I made, it really is easier than it looks. You should check out KingArthurFlour.com for their recipes, often they blog about most of them with lots of pictures. They even have a baking hotline. But I will shuddup.

    This week I purchased and cooked up Quinoa… I don’t even know what it is but I heard it was similar to cous cous but healthier. So picky ol’ me gave it a shot. It was not bad, but I don’t know if it agreed with my stomach. I will give it another try though as I really do want to add it to my menu.

    I also tried my hand at actually believing in my photography skills, and offered it as a service to a local venison butcher… and wouldn’t you have it they actually are in need of a photographer and are willing to barter with me in exchange for meaty dog bones. Double score!

    Great challenge to us all, and kudos to you for baking again! let me know if you ever have any questions, I don’t know much but I love sharing what I have learned the hard way. Oh and I have never heard of Pizza yeast, maybe it is fast acting or something though, which we do have here.

    Anna
    http://www.akginspiration.com

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    • Thanks! I really hope you are right. It’s pretty rare for me to get something right the first time – or the second, or the tenth – so I was happy when it wasn’t a complete mess. Breadmaking is fun but I do find it to be much more of a challenge than other forms of baking. Perhaps because of the patience required to knead to the right consistency. I can never be sure it’s ready and I tend to lose it if it doesn’t come together fast enough. But I do really appreciate your encouragement!

      A baking hotline, eh? Do they actually provide advice during baking emergencies? That’s kind of cool… I wish I’d know about that before!

      Good on you for attempting quinoa! I barely know how to pronounce it. But if you are a picky eater than I am doubly proud of you for trying it! And congratulations on your photography gig! That actually sounds really interesting. Will you be taking pictures of meat?

      Pizza yeast is probably just the fast-acting variety. I am now positive it was just a marketing thing that I totally fell for. Oh well.

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  12. Yay for bread!

    I bake bread every single day at work, so I’m kind of the queen of patience now. After making all the hamburger buns and pitas at my last job, and then now baking ciabatta and trevis at work now… I must say I actually really enjoy it. And I have an uncanny knack for it. I never baked really growing up because you did it for me. :P

    But every bread is different.

    I didn’t know there was special pizza yeast. At work we use the same dry-active yeast for everything, and the pizzas still turn out amazing. :)

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    • Pizza yeast, I am convinced now, is an evil marketing scheme. I am now ashamed I fell for it. I bet they just stuck a different label on the jar and charged an extra 50 cents. *sigh*

      You are too funny! But I am so glad you have discovered a new passion for baking! My little sister, the next Iron Chef.

      By the way, what is trevis? I could look it up but I am too lazy.

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  13. That bread looks mouth watering! Now I’m hungry!

    As far as trying new things goes, I’m still trying to live with the savage puppy beast! I’ve also tried glass painting this week at work since the kids are painting glass ornaments for their parents as Christmas gifts. I had to try it for myself!

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