Red Fife Pizza dough

There is a bigger post coming.
When my brain is not fuzzy.
When I can remember my middle name without stopping to think first.
When I can dig myself out of the laundry piles in my house.
In the meantime we've been celebrating friday nights with pizza night at home.

And because I've got this red fife flour that calls me so sweetly and looks so beautiful, I decided to make Red Fife pizza dough.  Don't have Red Fife Flour?  Substitute whole wheat or ... something else, I don't know - get creative, go out on a limb.

I like this pizza dough because I don't have to fight with it.  I don't have to stretch it out only to have it bounce right back.  I don't have to resort to using canned beans to hold each side down while I stretch out the other side.  I don't swear in front of the kids and get drunk before dinner because I'm so frustrated with the stupid dough.  So for a family friday night it's a good thing.  Technically this isn't pizza dough, it's foccacia dough.  It will be our secret.
Happy Friday Night.

Red Fife Pizza Dough... adapted from my own blog(!)
makes enough for 2 pizzas

2 cups warm water
2 tbsp dry yeast
1 tbsp sugar

Mix together and set in a draft free place for about 10 minutes to proof the yeast.
Once you know it's bubbled and the yeast is good then mix it with:

2 cups Red Fife flour
4 tbsp oil
2 1/2 tsp salt
1 tbsp sugar

Mix together loosely.
Then add:

about 3 cups (maybe a little more) all purpose flour.
Enough flour to form a consistent dough ball.
Begin to knead the dough and add more flour if needed (sprinkling a little bit at a time).  Knead for about 10 minutes.  The dough should be smooth and silky.
Place in a buttered or oiled bowl and cover with a clean cloth.  Place in a draft free spot for about 55 minutes or until the dough has doubled in size.
Punch it down and divide the dough in half.
Place each half on a pizza pan or cookie sheet that has been lined with parchment paper.  Use your fingers to spread the dough out evenly over the pan.  Let it rest for about 10 minutes.
Meanwhile preheat the oven to 475 degrees F.  Get your toppings ready.
After 10 minutes top the pizza as desired.
Bake for about 12 - 14 minutes depending on the toppings.

Cabbage Soup

I have to tell you that I've been feeling a little bit off my game lately.  I have been having what I consider to be some misses in the kitchen department.  Aside from the Lime Cupcakes (which I made as much - or even more - for me as for my kid) I haven't been wowed by anything recently.  Ho-hum.
Winter Blues?
No sure... What I do know for sure... without one shadow of a doubt... not a question in my mind... is that this soup has come damn near changing my life.  I had to make this soup twice just to get pictures before it got eaten.  That means everybody else loved it too.  However, I wasn't expecting to L O V E cabbage soup and here's why.

You see, I have these memories from the seventies and eighties.  Yup, I just said that in public.  What the hell.  In the seventies, although my memories are pretty dim, I distinctly remember eating AYDS weight loss caramels while my Mom was teaching piano in the other room.  Guess why they stopped making them????  In the eighties the cultural zeitgeist was just as obsessed with dieting and weight loss as it is now.  So we ran the gamut in our house.  No carbs.  The grapefruit diet.  And the Cabbage Soup diet.  My brother and sister and I didn't know what Mom was doing (I think that my brother came home from school and gobbled about half of her first batch of soup while she was out of the room - she wasn't happy) but it smelled good and I decided that although grapefruit 4 times a day made me want to hurl that this cabbage soup thing mightn't be bad at all... that is until day 5 or something when you're supposed to continue eating this stuff for another month or something and all you want to do is eat something... anything else but cabbage soup.  I think I just sneaked french fries and gravy at the school cafeteria instead.

So me, seeing this cabbage soup receipt from Louisa, had to first get past the fact that this cabbage soup was, well... cabbage soup.  If you know what I mean.  I'm so glad that my yearning for soup superseded my history with cabbage soup because this is a soup that you need in your life.  This soup isn't about weight-loss or anything other than tasting good.  I've added bacon to my soup - you can leave it out if you like.  I've skipped the raisins... what?  Raisins in soup.  Ew.  But if you think it's an amazing idea then by all means throw them in.  A dollop of sour cream on top certainly wouldn't be out of place here but I can't tell you for sure because it didn't last long enough for me to try it.  As I'm typing this I'm wondering what it says about me that cabbage soup has changed my life but there it is.  The bright food light in my Jan/Feb 2012 has been a meek and homely cabbage soup.

Cabbage Soup adapted from 'The Wednesday Chef'

4 cups green cabbage (not savoy) thinly sliced
1 med/sm onion, diced
1 cup (or so) carrot thinly sliced
2 lg cloves garlic, minced
3 rashers bacon diced
400ml diced tomatoes
1/4 cup tomato paste
1/4 cup tomato ketchup
chicken or vegetable broth
1/4 cup sugar
juice from 1 lemon
1 1/2 tsp. salt
2 - 3 pinches pepper
1 bay leaf
dash of cayenne

Heat a Dutch oven or soup pot over med. heat.
Add the diced bacon and cook until it's browned.  Add a little bit of extra oil if necessary.  Turn the heat down to med/low and add in the onion, cabbage and garlic.  Cook together for about 15 - 20 minutes, stirring regularly.  The cabbage should be nicely browned and wilted.
Add in the tomatoes, tomato paste, ketchup and just enough broth to cover everything.  Stir well and continue to heat over med/low heat.
Add in the sugar, lemon, salt, pepper, bay leaf and cayenne.
Stir well and check the tastes.  Adjust if necessary.
Simmer at low heat for another 15  - 20 minutes.
Serve with a little sour cream on the side.

Chocolate pudding cake

You are what you eat is a phrase that most of us are familiar with and maybe just a little tired of hearing.  I've been thinking lately that the phrase 'You are what you do' is also very apt.
Recently Kid #1 was having a conversation with her uncle and telling him that she wasn't very good at sports.  That got me thinking.  We're a pretty music and dance focussed family.  She's been doing piano lessons since she was about 4 and dance of some kind or other from about the same age.  Now it's not that she hasn't done anything else.  She's had the requisite skating lessons.  She's done a couple of years of soccer teams.  She loves bike riding with me and sometimes I can even twist her arm to do some yoga.  But when you compare the kind of hours that she spends doing music or dance compared with just about anything else outside of school then it's not surprising that she would say she's not good at sports.  I actually talked to her about it after her conversation.  I told her that it's not fair to say that she is simply not good at sports.  It would be more accurate to say that she hasn't spent time on those things.  You see, she might be very good at sports but because she hasn't spent any time honing or training, then she's inevitably not good at it.
That got me thinking some more... if that goes for her then it certainly goes for me.  What do I spend my time on?  I totally respect one of my co-workers for her ability to focus on one thing.  She has become a leader in her field because of it.  It's wonderful to watch her live in the moment and do her thing.  It's like nothing else exists for her at the time.  I've got a lot to learn from her because a lot of my life has been spent doing quite the opposite.  I've always resisted focussing on one thing and wanted to diversify.  I've walked away from a lot of things because it would require me letting go of a lot of other things in my life.  It required focus and sacrifice.  I wasn't willing.  I'm not in a regretting mood right now so I just accept that those were my choices and they've made me what I am today.  That's the larger picture though.  What about the small one?  What do I spend the largest chunks of my time doing everyday and do those things reflect what's important to me, what I want to be, what I'll be happy about later?  I can already tell you that housework won't be one of those things that I'll be happy I spent so much time doing later (not that it won't happen I just gotta find a way for it to not dominate my home time)... if you know what I'm sayin'.  I know that I find myself instinctively in the kitchen, almost without thinking about it.  I'm puttering around in there if I'm not purposefully getting something ready.  It's where I'm at home and comfortable but it's also where I feel creative, satisfied and even (a little) fulfilled.  I like my job and doing music and getting the boys at school jazzed about doing music well.  I like spending time there.  I love running and biking and spending my time outside where I feel like I'm connecting with the world around me.  I know that I'm going to be so glad that I've done those things.

Those are my thoughts and here's my recipe.  I've wanted to make this bad boy for a long time.  We were having a friend over so I thought I'd just go for it.  For the record, you might want to have about 6 or even 7 friends over for this one.  It's super sweet - a little too sweet for me and I'd already cut the sugar down from the original recipe.  The espresso powder helps to cut the sweet a little but I think that you could probably cut the sugar back on the topping even more.  It's impressive for guests because of the pudding sauce and a little old fashioned as well which seems to go over well these days.  Best part... you can make it a day ahead and then just finish it during dinner so it's ready and hot for dessert.  BEST PART.

Chocolate Pudding Cake adapted from 'bbcgoodfood website'
serves 8 - 10

In bowl #1 sift together:

375g self raising flour
175g sugar
2 tsp baking powder
6 tbsp cocoa powder
2 tsp espresso powder

In bowl #2 combine:

140g butter (just about 1/2 cup) melted
350 ml milk
3 eggs
1 tsp vanilla

Butter a 9x13 baking pan or baking dish and set aside.
Combine bowl #1 and bowl #2 and mix until combined and smooth.  Pour the batter into the baking dish and set aside or cover with plastic film and refrigerate for up to 24 hours.
(If it's been refrigerated, remove the baking dish from the fridge and bring to room temperature)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Bring 700ml of water to boiling

In bowl #3 combine:

400g light brown sugar
7 tbsp cocoa powder

Pour the contents over the cake batter.
Pour the boiling water over top of everything.
Bake for 35 - 40 minutes or until the middle is firm to the touch but still jiggles underneath and the sides will be bubbly.
Remove from the oven and serve hot with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream or marshmallow fluff... or all of the above.

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St Michael's Choir School is celebrating it's 75th anniversary year of service to St Michael's Cathedral. Part of the school celebration is a trip to Italy where our boys from Grades 5 - 12 will be performing and celebrating Mass. This blog will be chronicling our adventures. Wanda Thorne is the Vocal Coach at St Michael's Choir School. Gerard Lewis is the Grade 7/8 Homeroom teacher at the Choir School.

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Wanda Thorne
St Michael's Choir School is celebrating it's 75th anniversary year of service to St Michael's Cathedral. Part of the school celebration is a trip to Italy where our boys from Grades 5 - 12 will be performing and celebrating Mass. This blog will be chronicling our adventures. Wanda Thorne is the Vocal Coach at St Michael's Choir School. Gerard Lewis is the Grade 7/8 Homeroom teacher at the Choir School.
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