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January 21, 2001
a year ago
two years ago
three years ago

From Scratch

We hadn't had a baked pancake for breakfast for a very long time. It bemused me mildly to find that one of my favorite breakfast foods would, in Britain, be called a giant Yorkshire Pudding; but it didn't turn me off from them. Two eggs beaten with half a cup of milk poured on half a cup of flour, beaten until *just* mixed and then set to sit until the oven gets to 425 and a glass Pyrex pan will make a blob of butter sizzle when it hits. I put the blob of butter in, wait until it's fragrant and then pull the pan out to dump the rested batter into the browned butter and then stick the pan back into the hot oven for 15 minutes. It puffs up like crazy around the edges, crisp and brown and lovely, and in 15 minutes it looks all cooked, smells great, and is nice and all bubbled up. I pull it out. We smother it in fruit yogurt and eat.


That's when I got to start the baked beans. The recipe called for a pound of bacon, but I just couldn't bring myself to do that, so I just used six slices instead. Chopped that up with an onion and instead of the fresh jalapenos Alton called for, I used half a teaspoon of chipotle powder, as it's basically smoked jalapenos, dried and ground up and I always like a bit of smoke in my baked beans. When the onions were fragrant and translucent, I took it off the fire and added the brown sugar, molasses, and tomato paste and it pretty much instantly smelled like 'real' baked beans! How cool. In went the beans and I then watered down some chicken broth as I didn't have vegetable broth, and I didn't want to use the soaking water. Took a while to bring it back to a boil, but when it was, I did the peppers and salt, stirred it all thoroughly and then put it into a 250 degree oven, which is where it stayed for most of the rest of the day.

There were still a few things from our list of Needs that we hadn't gotten, yet. The pull over t-shirts for while the baby still had the umbilical attached, a changing pad cover, and a separate hamper for the kid's clothes. Since we have to launder his stuff differently than ours, it seemed wise to have a completely different hamper for his things. We figured we could get most of the stuff from a Target. So we went down I-25 to find a Target, and as we got off at 104th I blinked and thought that I remembered some kind of baby clothing and stuff store to the west as well as the Target to the east. So we turned west and found an Osh Kosh outlet, which had clothing galore, but very few newborn t-shirts. We did buy two that were very cute, rather expensive even with the post-Christmas sale, but unlikely to wear out before he grew out of them like a weed.

Target actually had the truly newborn sized t-shirts, so we got a packet of those for less than one of the t's from Osh Kosh and then got everything else. I also managed to get a few items for me, as well, contact solution so I wouldn't run out for a while and since I had a coupon for lotion, I got a really high powered one as my hands and my belly are both getting kind of scaly with the really cold, dry weather and they really needed the extra help. The list polished off, we went back home and John fell asleep again on the couch. I think that the naps really do help him get better.

On opening the door, when we got home, the scent of the baking beans had filled the house with their sweet smokiness. It smelled really, really good, and I hoped that they'd taste as good as they smelled. I puttered about, then did the rest of the thank you notes. Read through the rather intense question sets that the Protection book gave for nannies and baby sitters and the interesting questions for child care facilities. Tough stuff. Hard stuff to really think about and yet it's so necessary.

Finally, around 3:30, I decided to make... of all things... hamburger and hot dog buns. I knew that I wanted to eat hot dogs with the beans, but I kinda wanted buns and the diner cookbook that Trip gave me had this really intriguing recipe for hamburger buns and I figured that hot dog buns are like them but just shaped different. So I made what was supposed to be a batch of eight hamburger buns (it's a really simple, soft yeast dough with a really, really well-beaten egg in a mostly water and oil dough) and split the batch in half and made six hot dog buns out of half of the batch. So, for years, I've obsessed about the top-cut hot dog buns that one can only find on the East Coast, and now I had a chance to make them for myself! Eek!

So I did. I put strips of dough near to each other, enough that they could grow into each other, not so much that they'd squish each other. The four hamburger buns were just laid out as flat circles nearby. All of them went onto a baking sheet in a plastic garbage bag (so they wouldn't dry out here) and I put them on the baking beans warm oven to rise. They rose nicely. I pulled the beans out when they were tender and turned the oven up to the baking temp for the buns. When it was up to temp, I put them into the oven. At the same time John started making salad, and I put Wrangler into the toaster oven to broil. In the ten minutes that it took for the buns to cook, everything else was done. Yay! The hot dog buns came out really nice, if a bit rough looking, they were very tender and when I sliced them from the top, they held the hot dogs perfectly! Yay!

My very own homemade top-cut hot dog buns! Yay!

Okay. When most people think 'franks and beans' they mostly think of canned baked beans, packaged hot dogs, and fresh from the store buns, not homemade baked beans, hot dogs, and handmade buns. It was really fun to do it differently. The beans turned out wonderful, redolent with the scent of what I take all baked beans to be like, with just a bit more zing to them from the chipotle and cayenne peppers. Warm enough to just get my nose to run, but still sweet and tender and smoky the way good, long-cooked beans should be. There were a lot of them, but I packaged 'em up, after, for freezing. We'll be able to have franks and beans sometimes that first week after the baby is here.

It's funny to look back and remember that when I was first getting into this pregnancy thing that I was really afraid that I'd start to hate all food, given the aversions that a lot of women get when they're pregnant. If anything, it seems to have sharpened my tastes rather than killed them off.

Dessert was some of Ben and Jerry's Urban Jungle, which is kind of yummy. Chocolate with white chocolate chunks, coconut and various other things that are pretty yummy. I think I like Chubby Hubby best, but this was pretty good. We then settled and happily and mindlessly watched Total Recall while I finished the very last of my Thank You notes. A fairly quiet evening. We went to sleep early as we have a Fish Check in the morning, but around 1, both John and I were doing the dueling snores, so I woke John up and he cheerfully went upstairs. I actually slept pretty well the rest of the night, so it worked this time.

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