Happy St. Patrick’s Day

I’ve written about my recent tradition of buying one or two Irish soda breads from Whole Foods every year. This year, however, WF changed their game, and at first I wasn’t sure I liked it. Having tried another soda bread, from Formaggio Kitchen, I think it’s still pretty tasty. (I am a huge fan of Alice, the baker at Formaggio–excellent granola.)

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Anyway, I finally made my own soda bread this year, something I’d been promising myself I’d do for some time. The recipe is from the Food52 blog. An easy-to-follow recipe with some excellent tips from the author and from the community, it turned out a very nice dough, and I think would have been perfect if I’d used the correct pan size and some lemon oil. The pan I used was too small, and I realized about halfway through baking that the center was going to take a lot longer than the edges.

The bread tastes great, and mostly has a decent texture and crumb, although it does not slice cleanly. As I suspected, it is a bit too gummy in the center, but if you toast it and butter it the problem disappears. So next time I’m making 2×8″ loaves instead of one.

I will be celebrating St. Patrick’s Day by running a half-marathon in New Bedford, Mass., and thinking about Moby-Dick and the soda bread I will devour afterward. Slainte!

Nutzola! Sweet ‘n’ Salty 2012

I’ve been making granola for Christmas gifts since about 1992—wow, that is 20 years! Since I can’t be sure of the first year, maybe I will make 2013 the 20th anniversary of Nutzola! and come up with a new blend.

Nutzola! Sweet ‘n’ Salty on its way to the oven

I still make the original–what I call Nutzola! Classic—for the greater part of my gift list, but Nutzola! Sweet ‘n’ Salty, a mere two years in production, has become my favorite. Does the world need another granola? Yes and no. Yes, because it is endlessly variable and always good; no, because . . . hmmm . . . cannot think of a reason.

Sweet ‘n’ Salty just out of the oven

Sun and Shapes

At the Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, MassachusettsNov. 23, 2012
At the Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, Massachusetts
Nov. 23, 2012

Just started taking photos of interesting shapes illuminated by sunlight or artificial light. Really only practicing, capturing stuff I like. These three were taken on the same day in Salem, over Thanksgiving weekend.

PEM lobby #2
PEM lobby from another angle

 

 

 

PEM lobby #3
And yet another angle

 

 

 

 

 

I took this photo on Dec. 23, 2012, after a 7.25-mile run along the Charles. Fabulous run, topped off by a view I never tire of.

Cambridge Boat Club, Dec. 23, 2012
Early morning light on the CBC boathouse

Tend your own garden

This is a look inside a raised-bed greenhouse on the grounds of Boston Latin School. I need to find out who built the beds, who is tending them, and what the project is meant to accomplish. It’s hard to think of a downside to this exercise. Wish I’d had something like this at my grammar school. Our next-door neighbor had a garden to end all gardens, which inspired all sorts of fancy, but we weren’t allowed to enter.

UPDATE: According to the November 22, 2011, issue of the BLS Community Service Spotlight, this garden was launched in 2010 as part of the 10.10.10 National Day of Service. Now in its second year of operation, this student project has introduced students to gardening and the concept of sustainable food sources. The garden’s location on busy Avenue Louis Pasteur also gave student the opportunity to talk with passers-by about the project, a nice community-building bonus. Nice work, BLS!

Greenhouse at Boston Latin, Avenue Louis Pasteur, Boston