When we started eating only foods grown or raised within 100 miles of Portland, one of our exceptions (in addition to salt, coffee, olive oil and game that Stefan hunts) was that we would not be as vigilant when we were traveling, whether that is 100 miles away or 2 blocks away. Traveling is an exception for two reasons.
We didn’t want to feel like our eating choices would prevent us from being on the go and, more importantly possibly inconvenience our traveling companions. The second reason is really simple. For us, this is an intermittent, every other week, experiment for now. As we learn how to be more flexible and curious in the kitchen and make friends with more local farmers, shop owners and ranchers, we will be more comfortable making this experiment a permanent part of our lives. However, right now, we don’t expect our friends to follow suit.
Traveling creates and encourages community. I am what I eat and I most enjoy eatting with others at their home, with Stefan in another city, during a weekend holiday or a long vacation in an exotic place, always with friends. The people that I travel with or to meet always have qualities that I admire and want to absorb.
This weekend, we spent Saturday morning at our friends’ house, a mere 2 blocks away. We shared delicious food and interesting conversation. We laughed and cried. We are a family (albeit, we share no blood) that comes together at least once a week to share some kind of food and consequently many other things—ideas, thoughts, dreams. There are many parts of these people that I want to absorb and I believe that by sharing a meal, I may be lucky and soak up some of their good stuff.
Although not every ounce of what we ate with our friends was grown or raised within 100 miles of Portland, it was all from the Pacific Northwest or Northern California. We had cinnamon buns, frittata, pancetta, and Stumptown coffee with Strauss ½ and ½. And, it was delicious.
1/2 cup milk (plain soy milk will also work)
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/4 cup wrist-temperature water
1 1/4 teaspoons yeast (half a package)
3 tablespoons sugar
1 large egg
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
About 2 1/3 cups bread flour or unbleached all-purpose flour
(Enough to make a soft dough)
Nonstick spray for the bowl, the work surface, and your hands
Babka Dough Instructions
1. DO THIS AHEAD: Gradually heat the milk in a small saucepan until it becomes very hot but is not yet boiling. Remove the pan from the heat, and add cut in the butter in about 4 or 5 slices. Set aside to cool to wrist temperature, during which time the butter will melt.
2. Place the water in a medium-large bowl, sprinkle in the yeast, and let it stand for about 5 minutes.
3. When the milk mixture has cooled to wrist temperature (and no warmer!), add it to the yeast, along with the sugar and salt. Beat in the egg.
4. Add the flour one cup at a time, beating after the first addition with a large whisk, and after the second with a wooden spoon. At some point you will have to graduate from the spoon to using your hand. Add small amounts of flour to keep your hand from sticking too badly, and mix until all the flour is incorporated, and you have a soft dough. It’s OK if it’s slightly sticky.
5. Lightly spray a clean work surface with nonstick spray. Turn out the dough, and knead it just a few times, pushing it into itself, so it comes together in a smooth ball. If it is too sticky to handle, spray the palms of your hands with a little nonstick spray. The goal is to keep the dough as soft as possible–even a little wet!
6. Clean out and dry the bowl (or use a second clean, dry bowl) and coat the inside surface with nonstick spray. Place the dough in the bowl, and spray the top surface with more nonstick spray. Cover the bowl with a clean tea towel, and put it in a warm place to rise until doubled in bulk.
7. Punch down the dough, and proceed with filling and finishing. (below). You can also refrigerate or freeze the dough at this point, if you don’t intend to fill and finish it right away. (Wrap it in a sealed plastic bag.)
Preheat oven to 350.
2 Tbsp sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
Throw in some nuts—pecans are best
Stretch the dough into a rectangle the size of a cookie sheet. With a rubber spatula, spread 1 Tablespoon softened butter around the rectangle leaving about ½ inch rim. Sprinkle over the sugar mixture over the dough. Roll up and pinch the seams tightly closed and cut in 16 equal slices. Put slices on the pan about 2 inches apart. Fill crevices of buns with leftover sugar mixture. Cover with clean towel and let it stand for about one hour. Bake for 15-20 minutes until lightly brown. While the buns are baking, make a powdered sugar glaze to pour over the top of the buns once they come out of the oven.
Powdered sugar glaze
1 cup powdered sugar
¼ tsp vanilla
Tad of water in order to make syrupy like
1. Boil two potatoes, sliced in 1/4 inch rounds.
2. Saute in a skillet an onion and a green veggie (asparagus is my favorite and should be cooked in advance, as should any veggie you add) and spices (garlic, thyme or rosemary…. keep it simple) in olive oil until soft.
3. Add potato slices in single layers to cover the skillet.
4. Add six slightly beaten eggs to the skillet (on med-low heat). Do not stir. All ingredients should be covered by egg.
5. Add a few handfuls of your favorite cheese by scattering on the top (this can be cheddar, we use chantal which is a french cheddar. It is also good to add some cooked pancetta or cooked bacon.
6. Cook by pulling the cooked egg away from the edge of the skillet to let the raw eggs run down and replace it. When 3/4 of the egg are cooked, put the entire skillet in the oven under high broil until top of frittata turns golden and brown in some areas.
***there are so many different ingredients you can use in this dish, fun to try new things