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Okay, question time.  The most-viewed post on this site is my blog about tapioca, and I’m trying to figure out why.  I’m not saying it’s the link people click on most on my Recipes page; I’m saying “tapioca” is the most-Googled/searched for term that leads viewers to this site.  What is it about tapioca?  Why do so many people seem to do a search for it every single day?  I’m asking you, readers.  Help me out.

Thank you.  That is all.

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Uh…so if any of you are still following me in your Google readers, I reformatted a few things in my blog, and for some reason, old (bad) posts are showing up as “new.”  And I don’t know how to make it stop.  Sorry about that.  Just mark them as read without reading and move on…  As you can see, technology isn’t my strong suit.

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Radio Silence

I apologize for the radio silence on my blog.  I’ve been in Dubai and London for the past week and am currently at the airport, waiting for my flight to — wait for it — Paris!!!  From there I head to my mother-in-law’s house in the UK for the holidays, so I probably won’t write up any posts until I return to the States.  But I’m sure there will be plenty to share about my travels, particularly in Gay Paree, so stay tuned :).

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We’ve hit crunch time, as far as Thanksgiving is concerned, so rather than leave you with a recipe that you no longer have time to make, I thought I’d give you a peak at the President’s Thanksgiving menu this year.  Of all the press releases I receive from the White House, I always take the most pleasure in reading the menus for heads of state and holidays. 

So what do you think?  Is it me, or does the gazpacho seem a little out of place with what otherwise is a pretty traditional menu?  How does your Thanksgiving menu compare??

THANKSGIVING MENU AT CAMP DAVID

Free-Range Roast Turkey

Cornbread Dressing

Cranberry Sauce

Sautéed Green Beans

Morelia Style Gazpacho with Spinach Salad

Zucchini Gratin

Whipped Maple Sweet Potatoes

Buttered Mashed Potatoes

Giblet Gravy

Fresh Clover Rolls with Honey Butter

Pumpkin Pie with Whipped Topping

Apple Pie

Pumpkin Mousse Trifle

Fresh Fruit Platter

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Pile of Muffins

*chirp, chirp*

*chirp, chirp*

Are those crickets I hear? Yes, the blog has been a little…how shall we say…”quiet” lately. Believe it or not, I have been cooking. But I’ve also been working and planning and traveling and…well, lots of other “-ings.” And all of those other th”ings” have thrown the proverbial wrench in my plans to blog. Drat.

I realize I may have entirely lost anyone who, at one point or another, read my blog. Alas, that would be very sad indeed. So in the hopes of recruiting people back to POTP, I give you…Homemade English Muffins.

English Muffin

Remember when I made that sourdough starter all those weeks ago? Well, I found an excellent use for the leftover starter, replete with Nooks and Crannies. Oh. Yes.

The recipe is super easy, as long as you have a starter going (and if you don’t, starting one is super easy too). I made my muffins with 1/3 whole wheat flour and 2/3 regular flour because, well, you know me. I likes me some whole grains.

So my apologies for my absence — both on this blog and all of yours. I assure you that once I’m a Mrs. in less than two months (!!), the nooks and crannies between my blog posts won’t be so large…

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Sunday Night Dinners are big around here. I cook during week, but given that I don’t get home until 7pm or later most nights, any recipe that takes more than an hour to get from the refrigerator to the table is instantly nixed.

But ah, Sundays. On Sundays I can spend a leisurely afternoon in the kitchen, pottering around and trying my hand at a few of the hundreds of recipes I’ve bookmarked. Sunday dinners also provide a nice break from the hassles of the week and the busy socializing of the weekend. I can snuggle up next to my fiance as we share plates, enjoy our apartment and bask in a moment of cozy domesticity.

Sunday Night Dinner doesn’t have to be fancy; in fact, it rarely is. The meals I whip up on Sunday are usually more homey, rustic dishes — like roast chicken (and I have an excellent new roast chicken recipe to share with you soon) or saffron risotto. In fact, on some level it isn’t so much what I cook but rather that can take time to enjoy the process of cooking it. Cooking is always fun, but it’s just more fun on Sundays.

This pork tenderloin and arugula salad is simple, light and delicious and comes together quickly enough that I could probably prepare it on a weeknight. But then I’d rush through it, foregoing the enjoyment I get from smelling the toasted walnuts, deglazing the brown bits from the pan, emulsifying the vinaigrette. On Sunday, I can appreciate all of those steps — and even have dessert in the works at the same time.

Throw in a loaf of crusty bread, some goat cheese and a bottle of red wine, and this salad might have you thinking you’re in France, forgetting that your weekday routine begins again the next day…

Well, maybe doing the dishes will remind you.

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There’s a living thing growing in my refrigerator…and I’m loving it!

This weekend I tried my hand at cultivating a sourdough starter, the yeasty, bacteria-laden joy of bread bakers around the world. For bread baking enthusiasts, sourdough starter is serious business. Given my newbie status to the Sourdough Club, I decided to wade into the shallow end of the pool rather than dive in head first. I didn’t make bread; I made pancakes. How could I run into trouble with pancakes?

Growing a starter indulges all of my nerdy impulses. In college I majored in molecular biophysics and biochemistry. (Why didn’t I just tattoo “NERD” on my forehead, right?) I spent hours in the lab, toiling with bacteria and the occasional radioactive isotope. I didn’t mind lab work — in fact, sometimes I found it relaxing — but in the end, lab work wasn’t for me. Too solitary, not my style.

But given my interest in science, the idea of growing a colony of something that I could ultimately eat thrilled me. I already make my own yogurt on a regular basis (a nerdy but hugely satisfying process, and one that I highly recommend), so why not give a sourdough starter a try?

Now, minor disclaimer: I don’t think the starter I created is “authentic” as far as starters go. Traditional sourdough starters are basically just a mixture of flour and water that you let sit for an extended period of time, discarding some of the mixture and feeding the remainder with flour and water. Fresh flour contains yeast and bacteria spores, so as you feed the mixture, the water breaks down the flour’s starch into sugars, the yeast feeds on the sugars, and the bacteria feeds on all the stuff the yeast produces in that process. The cycle goes on and on as long as you keep the mixture alive.

The starter I used combines flour, water and a dash of yeast to get it going. Then you let it sit for 12-24 hours, at which point you use most of it but keep a half cup in the refrigerator for future use. And that’s it. No feeding, no multi-day schedule — and you even cheat by adding a little yeast at the beginning. But the recipe came from Jeffrey Alford and Naomi Duguid, two people who know their bigas from their poolishes. Surely they wouldn’t lead me astray.

They didn’t. The pancakes — enormous, and easily a half-inch thick — charm the tongue with that characteristic sourdough flavor. As someone who likes her pancakes sweet, I was worried they’d be too puckery, but their yeasty, hearty flavor won me over. They soak up warm maple syrup like sponges, but I also imagine they’d be wonderful slathered with warm jam and whipped cream.

So now the question remains: What do I do with the remaining 1/2 cup starter living in my fridge? I could always make another batch of pancakes, but as resident scientist, I was hoping to experiment…

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