Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Good Eats

Friday night I made a brave move. I went to Sam's Club. With Parker. Alone. This might not seem like the impossible feat but it is if you know this little girl. Shopping carts are only tolerated if snacks are provided. If there are no snacks or if they fill up her belly, I'm screwed because then the world (aka Sam's) is her playground.

She wants to push the cart, or run down the huge aisles, or follow other babies, or try to eat grapes off the floor. I don't know what's worse--putting something in her mouth from a very dirty floor or trying to eat a whole grape. Either way it's not good.

I've drastically tailored my grocery shopping style since Parker arrived. Pre-Parker I would shop for food at my leisure. I'd text Kris asking what he was in the mood for and we'd pick up the ingredients that night. Now there's no time to waste frolicking around Kroger/Whole Foods/Meijer. I make a detailed 4 to 8 week meal plan and stick to it. I buy the bulk of our food on a massive trip at Sam's and run out once a week during the day to stock up on fresh fruits, veggies, eggs, milk, and the few odds and ends. Life is good this way since Kris can typically accompany me to Sam's once every few months and I get the other stuff on my own.

But Kris was out of town and our deep freezer was dangerously low in the meat department. I could survive as a vegetarian. Kris...yeah, not so much. Friday was my only opportunity to shop since we have plans this weekend and vacation the week after next (!!!) so I had to go at it alone.

I had a list with my items listed by their location in the store (I realize how lame this is). I loaded Parker up with snacks and 1 hour and $400 later we made it through with only one escape from the cart. Thankfully cookies, aka Pub Mix, was enough motivation to corral her back into the cart. A nice lady helped me load everything into my car, proving that there are still good people in the world, and we were on our way.

We were rewarded at home with freezer pops.

With a box of 200 there's plenty to go around.

Now I have all the ingredients I need to make these bad boys again.

Soft Pretzels via Pinterest. I'm going to go with bite sized pieces next time. Next time will be whenever I have enough will power to not eat the entire batch in one weekend.

Soft Pretzels

1 1/2 c. warm water (110-115 degrees, and warm to the touch)

1 Tbsp. sugar

2 tsp. kosher salt

1 package active dry yeast

4 1/2 c. all-purpose flour

1/4 c. unsalted butter, melted (Plus an additional 2-4 Tbsp. unsalted butter, melted, for later.)

vegetable oil, for pan (I used canola oil.)

10 c. water

2/3 c. baking soda

1 egg + 1 Tbsp. water for egg wash (I melted that extra butter and preferred that over the egg wash.)

sea salt for sprinkling

Combine the warm water, sugar, and kosher salt in the bowl of a stand mixer. Add yeast and allow to sit for 5 minutes so mixture can begin to foam. Add the flour and melted butter and, using the dough hook attachment, mix on low speed until combined. (Macheesmo has tips on kneading this dough by hand too.) Change to medium speed and knead until the dough is smooth and pulls away from the side of the bowl, about 4-5 minutes. Place ball of dough in a clean bowl that has been coated well with oil. Turn dough to coat, cover bowl with plastic wrap, and sit in a warm place for 55-60 minutes. The dough will double in size.

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and lightly brush with vegetable oil. Set aside.

Bring 10 cups of water and the baking soda to a rolling boil. Turn the pretzel dough out onto your work surface and divide into 8 even sections. Roll each piece into a 24″ rope. Make a U-shape with the rope, cross the ends over each other, and press onto the bottom to make a pretzel shape. (Again, Macheesmo comes through with great tips.) Place the pretzels, one at a time, in the boiling water for 30 seconds on each side. Remove each from water with one or two large spatulas, and place on baking sheet. Reshape as necessary. Brush pretzels with egg wash (or that extra melted butter!!), sprinkle with sea salt, and bake until golden brown, approximately 12-14 minutes. Transfer to a cooling rack.

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