Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Going Overbread!

Three days and three loaves. Oh I am a happy and very full girl!!

The newest loaf was foccacia. It didn't come out exactly how I planned and I may have fibbed a bit, but it tasted AWESOME. Feeling confident with my first two breads, I decided to not take the recipe too seriously and see what came of it. (I'll start posting my recipes at the bottom) Firstly, I added about 2 tablespoons fresh rosemary (from my lovely mom's garden far away) and basil into the dough. Secondly, I let it rise twice instead of once. The dough became very elastic and wouldn't really roll out when it came time. So the dough was about 3/4 inch thick instead of the 1/2 inch the cookbook said to do. Finally, I got so excited when it came to imprint into the dough and I just kind of poked it to death rather than pat it down. *Sigh* I've been so patient in this process and I just got a bit... excessive in my excitement. Oh, and I didn't split the dough like the recipe says. It called for a half cup olive oil to dizzle on top. I found this to be WAY too much olive oil. I took off about a quarter cup and decided to leave it at that.

The end result, however. Was .so.delicious. :)

The dip was a perfect match!

I have always loved to bake, and now that I finally had my stand mixer, I wanted to make a simple cupcake. I decided on Martha Stewart's Zucchini-Spice Cupcakes with Cream Cheese frosting. I didn't quite have two cups confectioners sugar, but it ended up being WAY better without it. Just the right amount of sweetness. It's like a carrot cake. Only better.

With a good bottle of pinor noir, some fresh veggies, and good company. Mmmm.

Foccacia Bread
1 packet active dry yeast with 1 1/3 c hot water (105*F). Soak for 5 minutes.
Add 3 1/2 c AP flour, 2 tbl olive oil, and 1 tbl salt.
Knead for about 10 minutes til it's elasticy. (Here I let it rise for an hour) Divide in half and roll to 1/2 inch thick round. Transfered to oiled pans, let rise covered in plastic wrap for 90 minutes.
Preheat oven to 400*F. Press the dough with your fingers.
Drizzle with (I thought this was way to much, I recommend 1/3 c) 1/2 c olive oil. Top with rosemary, dill, basil, thyme, herbs, salt, parmesan, romano, or asiago cheese. Bake til golden brown, about 25 min.
Next time, I'd like to make it thinner and more crisp.

Olive oil and Garlic Dip
I kind of just throw everything together, I don't really measure, but this is a rough guess.

1 c olive oil
5 cloves garlic, pressed (I REALLY love garlic, so I make it garlic heavy. I'm sure it's just fine with 3)
2 tsp salt, basil, oregano, fresh pepper, and sometimes I add a teaspoon of cumin.
The garlic gives you bad breathe, but its SO worth it. And it's good for your immune system, so hey. Whatev.

MS's Zucchini-Spice Cupcakes
I didn't end up making cupcakes, which resulted in having to cook them for an extra 15 minutes. It gave the loaf this gooey yet crispt crust that was one of the best parts.

Preheat oven to 350*F.
In a medium sized bowl, mix 3 c all purpose flour, 1 tsp baking soda, 1/2 tsp baking powder, 1 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg (Use fresh if you can! It's worth it!), 1/4 tsp ground cloves (I added extra), and 2 tsp cinnamon.
In another bowl, or your stand mixer bowl, whisk together 1 c vegetable oil, 2 eggs room temp, 1 tbl vanilla (I added a smidge more), 3/4 tsp grated lemon zest (again, used more) and 2 c brown sugar until creamy.
Once it's creamy, add 3 c (or 2 whole zucchini) grated zucchini (the regular sized cheese grater is perfect), then the flour mixture (I did this in three parts). You may like to add 1 cup walnuts (I urge you to do it!).
Cook for 20 minutes in cupcake tins, or 35 (or so) min in two baking loaf pans.

Cream Cheese Frosting
I'm so glad I no longer have to do this by hand!!! Also, I halved the amounts cause I hate having way too much frosting left over. Here is the amount I used.
1 stick room temp unsalted butter, and 6 oz cream cheese also at room temp, 1/2 tsp vanilla extract, and 1 1/2 confectioners sugar. Whisk til creamy.  I honestly recommend using this amount of sugar or maybe even a little less. It compliments the cake better without being overtly sugary.

I will now be spending the next few days exercising, and eating salads.... maybe I could make the croutons.... :D


Monday, February 14, 2011

The Second Loaf

I didn't post pictures of my first loaf yet, so here it is! It was a simple white loaf that was quite delicious with honey and butter. I made the mistake of adding the flour too fast, but it turned out all right anyway.

After the relative success of my first loaf, I found I was unsure of my second one. We all want to succeed in our endeavors, and I felt like my second loaf would determine whether I can actually do this or not.

My second guy was a little bit of a step up. I'm still not trying to get ahead of myself and I'm still trying to understand how everything works individually and when combined with other ingredients. So my second bread was a simple whole wheat and honey bread.

To my surprise (I didn't really know what to expect) it very much resembled the bread that you buy at the store!! This was quite a bit different from my first loaf. The white bread calls for shortening and it didn't really seem to be kneaded much. The whole wheat loaf called for eggs and needed a bit more care. I think this time I may have added the flour a bit too slowly. I used my stand mixer and at a certain point it just wasn't really mixing anymore. So I layed it out on my floured counter and started kneading. After about ten minutes the dough was still sticking to my hands but the temp had reached 77 degrees (my cook book says that you should gage knead doneness by either an elastic smooth texture or temp) I would love love love some kneading tips. Should I look for temperature? Or is it more important to pay attention to texture? Also, whilst kneading, i needed to add quite a bit of extra flour for my hands and the surface. Is it possible to add too much flour? My loaf came out just fine either way!!

Tomorrow I'm going to a friend's for dinner. I think I shall try my hand at foccacia bread! I don't have a baking stone or a baking pan to use for water. But I do have a very nice Sur La Table baking sheet and a broiler pan that I think will suffice. Any homemade suggestions on what else can be done for humidifying the oven?

All in all, I'm still super excited to be baking bread. My coworkers laughed when I told them I had joined a bread site and had started a bread blog. But as a fellow manager pointed out, there are worse things to be this excited about. :) And with two successes under my belt, I'm feeling pretty optimistic on future loaves. Not to mention that I won't have to buy store made bread again!!!

Saturday, February 12, 2011

A Bread Beginning

The longer I have this blog, the more I realize that I have set some narrow sights on what I should blog about. Well no longer!! Music and retail are not the only things that happen in my life. Nor are they the only things I am enthusiastic about.


Last November I became determined to learn how to crochet better. I can now say with pride that I have learned how. I may not be the best crocheter ever, but I have learned the termanology and can successfully get around a hook and yarn. I still crochet things, but I'm getting a little antsy to learn something new. Strange how after I graduated college, I realized how much I didn't know. There are so many other things that I had no idea appealled to me.

So this enthusiasm about bread caught me quite off guard. If you had asked me two months ago if I wanted to start making my own bread, I probably wouldn't have paid much attention.

But things have quite changed. And it all pretty much started when I did my taxes. Much to my relief, my tax return was quite good (at least I got SOMETHING out of my schooling). And so upon receiving said tax return, I immediately purchased two things. One was a 70s vintage road bike in orange. The second, was a Breville stand mixer.

The idea of the stand mixer caught me off guard as well. I've always wanted one, but had read it off as way too expensive. Well, thanks to my employee discount at a kitchen store, it wasn't quite so expensive anymore.

I started my research. I pulled out my Joy of Cooking book to get the basics (I absolutely heart my joy of cooking!). After reading three pages, I realized I was hooked. THERE ARE SO MANY DIFFERENT KINDS OF BREADS!!

I want to make them ALL.

So I joined a website! where there are basic bread making lessons, suggestions, hits, info on different materials and different ingrediants. But above all, I discovered that there was a community out there of bread enthusiasts as well!! Who knew!?? There is even a Bread Baking World Cup!!!!!! I want to go to there!!!

Tonight I shall attempt my first loaf. I'm trying to start slow and not get ahead of myself (which I do wayyy to often). I'm trying to get into my head what each part of the bread does so that maybe one day I can start experimenting and making my own versions! So tonight is a simple white loaf. I'll take a picture and post it when I'm done!

So. Excited.


Thursday, December 9, 2010

The Retail Nightmare

The holiday season.

Do I really have to say anything more?

Sure, I've worked retail during the holiday season before and it's always been stressful. But it was never more than 12 hours a week (not to mention I would fly home for 2 weeks right before xmas and through new years). And never as a manager. It's been a little rough, to say the least.

The economy is picking up, which is great for business. In order to keep up with the (hopefully) increase in customers, Sur La Table Ferry Building has hired 22 new employees. Twenty-f***ing-two. Most of which have started within the last two weeks. When your store is making roughly $20,000 a day, you do not have time to train 5 new employees, handle questions from customers and new hires, take care of that one person that managed to find you inbetween point A and point B, and help the person on the phone. You are just one person. But this is what happens. It's not that there aren't other managers to help deal with the new people, but they have their own little ball of chaos that they're trying to deal with too.

Yesterday I was trying to help this gentleman buy some pots. He had already bought a $3,000 dollar coffee machine, so I was giving him extra attention. He ends up buying $1,500 of copper ware. I'm in the back trying to find the boxes and someone has sold two other cookware sets. Great! But no one knows how to ring up a send sale. Another employee has sold something else, but can't find the right box. Someone else can't locate a man's knife which had been left overnight for us to sharpen. And I'm the manager on duty trying to deal with all of this while trying to deal with my own customer. You learn to delegate. But that only goes so far.

Then you get slow in the evening. A woman comes up to you and wants do to a price match from another company. Which is fine. But you can not find this store she speaks of online, much less the items she's wanting. So she lightly says that "Well the people in Berkeley know me. They'll do it for me. Obviously you don't know what you're doing." She then goes on to tell you how many thousands of dollars she spends in your store every year and you can't place a simple phone call (Wait... you wanted me to make a phone call??? When did this get brought up??).

All of this makes you go and sit in the managers office for a moment of peace. You try not to bash your head on the desk, or maybe you're trying not to cry from stress.... And then you see some ornaments sitting on the desk..... So fragile.... And you're all alone.....

I can't even report on the Favorite Customer of the Day because 1.) My days are all running together. I had to tell myself on five different occasions that it was Thursday today, and 2.) THERE ARE SO MANY.

It's like... They feel since they are buying something for someone else (they are being oh so selfless in buying this $250 Le Creuset pot for their brother) that if you can not help them, YOU are the asshole and they may act like you have done them a great wrong.

A friend of mine told me of how she went in search of a particular item for her mother. Unfortunently the model that she had in mind was no longer being made, but had been upgraded. When the employee told her this, he actually recoiled in preparation of her anger.

What has happened to us?!???? When it is common knowledge that people are actually MORE rude during the holidays and yet they CONTINUE to be rude, what is this saying about us? 

I'm not buying any sort of christmas tree. Or decorations. I wanted to, but by December 9th, I'm already tired of everything surrounding christmas. Okay, I did buy the Holiday hard candy mix that my mom would always put in our stockings. But it was a comfort thing only!!! And it was on sale!!!

This shall be my first christmas spent away from my family. It had to happen at some point, I guess. Maybe it's made me a little extra bitter. The boyfriend's family is coming down for a few days, which is nice. I probably won't get to see them much, however, seeing as I'll probably be working the days before and after christmas.

I'm glad 2010 is coming to an end. I long for January when we are dead slow and I can refold the linen napkins to pass the time. And they'll actually stay folded.


Sunday, December 5, 2010


So the outdoor performances went well! The first day we got rained on and had to stop mid show. Then it was a mad dash to put everything away before they got soaked. Day two was a success all around, as far as I know. I had to leave during the second show to go to my REAL job.

That's not totally true. Magik IS a real job. Its just that nothing I've really done with them feels like working. I've put in a couple all nighters and all... but they were spent in places like.. an all night dinner. Minna and I on our computers, sitting across from each other, whilst consuming curly fries and milkshakes. Maybe 4am wasn't the best time to be eating such fattening food, but when we ordered it, IT SOUNDED SO GOOD!!!!

I'm grateful for my job opportunites with Magik. I'm getting paid to be involved with musicians or to sit on my computer and write music. Unfortunently, Magik gigs are not consistent.

A college degree doesn't really mean much anymore, I feel. It's experience that gets you jobs. Or maybe I just haven't looked for a job since graduating. But I hardly feel that an extremely specified degree in music will help me get a job that I can pay the rent with. Yes, having a music degree is what got me the job with Magik, but at the same time, they hired me because I interned with them. They know I have the experience to do what they need me to do and they've seen me in action.

That must be the same for everyone that's gotten a specific degree. Like nursing, or biochemestry.

I guess it's the fact that you stuck it out that matters. If I applied at Sur La Table for a manager job, I don't think a classical music degree is going to help me more than someone who hasn't gone to college but has already had some experience. Sur La Table doesn't know that I only took about... 3 classes that weren't related to music. And even if they weren't... the teachers TRIED to make it music related SOMEhow just to keep our interest.

Luckily for me, putting my time in got me promoted and now I have a degree AND manager experience...


This is not where I was going initially with my blog....

This was:
Videos from the first performance in Union Square in San Francisco. : )


Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Finally A Music Blog!

Since graduating, I haven't really done much, musically. But! I have been involved with a couple projects and the one I'm currently involved with, is, I must say, super friggin cute. And it being officially the holiday season, it comes to no surprise that the Nutcracker is involved.

A SF ballet troupe came up with the idea of cutting down the origional 2.5 hour ballet into something that a small human could easily enjoy. It's colorful, energetic, and most importantly, short. So they contracted Michael Morgan, the conductor of the Oakland Symphony to go in and decide what parts are the most crucial to the story. Not only did he have to cut so much music, but he had to condense the 60-100 piece orchestra into something 9 people can play.

Last year, things were a bit rough. I was interning with Magik*Magik Orchestra at the time, so there was plenty to do. Music to correct and copy, errands to run, etc. etc. The show doesn't just involve musicians and a ballet troupe, but little kids as well! They play the Nutcracker's gunmen, the two ADD kids in the toy shop causing trouble, and the minions of the Sugarplum Fairy. I think it just adds a little something extra by including kids IN the show.

Basically, this show is flippin cute.

There's one part in particular where the dancer dressed as a nutcracker, unknowingly to the audience, crawls under a table and places a doll sized nutcracker where he was. Another character is holding up a cape so that the kids don't see what's happening. And when the little nutcracker is revealed, I always look at the audience. The kids in the audience will actually get out of their seats in wonder. It's so cute.

Well this year, things went a lot smoother. We had the same musicians even. I'm not interning with Magik, but they did request a budget in order to hire me. : )

I actually told my boss that I felt bad that she was paying me to do this. I quite literally just show up and stick around.

Something else that's different this year is that we're providing a couple free shows in downtown SF. Why limit this to just families that can afford it? Isn't the holidays about giving? We do, however, have to condense the performance even further! Regardless, I think it'll be fun... unless it rains. It's suppose to rain. We'll see!!

In other news, Happy Hanukkah!!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Gravity is a little heavy

I'm not going to go into the pity party that was my mono experience. I already tried to write a blog about that and it ended up deleted. Aaaaand I just don't have the energy to rewrite it (I blame it on the mono fatigue). However, I will ask--


It was the sickest I have ever been in my life. I would much rather try and loose 25 lbs (btw-- I did NOT loose weight. I actually took care of myself) than have this stupid thing.

That being said...

Fun Customer of the Day:

It's late in the shift. You're staffed for a slow evening (one person at the cash register, one to watch the front of the store, one to watch the back, and maybe one of two other people to float around). A woman comes up to your cash register with a look on her face which says that she has smelt something very terrible. You know, THAT customer. The second she walks up, you know she's going to be a hassle. Now, I'm tired (yeah thanks, mono), and as soon as she walks up, three more people get in line. She not only wants seperate bags for everything... But do you have any boxes? Do you have any ribbon? Do you have any tissue??

Basically, she's the customer that will want everything from you. I hate these customers. I'm fine giving you a box, or tissue, but when you want me to do every. little. possible. thing. you can think of? Not to mention that slight superior-than-thou attitude?

I give her the box, the tissue, but draw the line at giving her a bow. At that point, we charge for gift wrapping (I get another look of spoilt milk for this).

After all this, she's held up the line so that now there are five people waiting, and just little me at the cash register. Five people in line isn't a big deal. After doing this repetative job for so long, I can ring a customer up faster than it takes for the new people to sign into a computer. But this woman is holding everyone up, which is going to make those people angry. And they're going to be angry at ME. Not HER.

So here's a tip for anyone who hasn't been in customer service and probably doesn't know any better. Be a simple customer. Be aware that there are other people waiting in line. Don't ask the world of your cashier when they're just trying to do their job (mainly, getting everyone rung up in a timely manner). And if you're that customer waiting in line, if you start yelling and asking if there's another register or if there's someone else to help ring up? Yeah, you just got yourself an extra five minutes in line. Your welcome.

Don't be these people.


Now back in real life, I feel like gravity has gotten just a little bit heavier. After I graduated college (mmmm, I like saying that), I had absolutely no energy. Every waking moment was spent catching up on sleep. Or regenerating in some way. I did not go out. I did not do anything exciting. I simply existed. Oh, and I went to work. After a few months, I started going to yoga. I started exercising. I started hanging out with friends. I started to think about what I'm going to do to get back into music. And then the mono hits. I suddenly feel just like I did outside of college.

I know this is normal. I know that it's to be expected. But that doesn't mean it sucks less!!! I WANT to go to yoga again, to go running with my boyfriend, to get stuff done, etc. Gravity is just a little too heavy right now.

It's not just the physical aspect, though. My brain goes through these fuzzy periods... Where I just find myself staring off into space... (I just did it, which reminded me that I've been doing that....) It doesn't do much for your morale.

I watched Date Night tonight. Hilarious movie. In the bloopers at the end, they're improving a scene where they're trying to be super pretentious. So naturally, they go into the french accent. And at one point Steve Carrell starts talking about Sur La Table (Su' la Tabl' in french).

I can't wait to tell my coworkers tomorrow.