Merry Christmas!

I hope you all had a Merry Christmas. Ours was a whirlwind tour of western Pennsylvania and Ohio. We hung out with our immediate families in Pittsburgh and then went to Ohio to visit with the hubs's extended family - all 80 of them! 

The Steel City




The Sibs
But we're glad to be home. And our itty bitty apartment is starting to feel a little like home even though we know it's not a forever place. We even got some more "home" things that make our home feel that much more special. Even though I'm an interior designer, I really hate buying things for our house. I don't mind buying bigger items and practical items, but photos and accessories I want to feel attached to - something linked to a vacation, gift, or other memorable event.


So, it was just perfect that Nick's aunt/godmother gave us these beautiful bowls. Using them with our dishes adds warmth to the table and a pop of color. It's just the thing I would have bought to accent our kitchen and dining area if I would have chosen something myself. But I love them that much more since they were a gift.




Each one has a different design and this on the bottom:


It translates to "Painted by Hand in Deruta." I love our wedding date on the bottom also. I am sure we will get plenty of use out of these - look for them in some upcoming posts!

We also got some bedroom items - perfect since we've neglected every room other than the kitchen. We're waiting for this to come in the mail. I think it's so cute, but not too girly, since now I share the covers with a man.

via Pottery Barn
via Pottery Barn

While we were in Pittsburgh, we couldn't help but do a little shopping for ourselves. And what did we get? I'm sure not what most people pick up on vacation. Semolina, "00" Type Flour, and Durum Wheat Flour. We've heard all make great pastas, so we're going to make small batches of each and hold a taste test to see which we like the best.



"00" Type, Semolina, Durum Wheat

We also got some beans and dried mushrooms, since they are ridiculously cheap in Pittsburgh.


And some fun loose teas.



Down in Florida, we stopped at Whole Foods to pick up a basket full of sheep and goat's milk cheeses and spotted a variety of Dogfish Head beers. We picked up four different types we can't wait to try. We're going to review them and try to pair them with some meal ideas since they are expensive - but sooo good!



What did Santa bring you for Christmas? Are you settled in from the holiday craziness yet?

The things we do for love...



Why, yes. That is an easy over egg inside a pancake. The husband loves eggs. During college, he gave blood regularly to the local Blood Bank. On one particular visit, they warned him that his cholesterol had spiked noticeably from his last visit. Turns out, it was because that week he had eaten only eggs for breakfast - everyday.

Now, I give him his (possibly only) daily serving of fruit for breakfast in the form of a fruit smoothie each morning - during the week. On the weekends, we usually have eggs and bacon with potatoes and toast. This particular weekend, however, we were out of toast and bacon (the horror!!), so I suggested pancakes. He still was craving his eggs, so we came up with this - egg in a pancake. It solved the no bread for toast problem and he seemed quite happy with it.

I still made mine with chocolate chips.

Thankful

This year, I have so much to be thankful for.

My friends and family. They helped so much in making our wedding happen and for making it so beautiful. I'm thankful I am able to take off some time at Christmas to visit them. I'm thankful that good things are happening to them, also. New marriages, new healthy, happy babies (Congrats Mike and Laura!), new jobs (yay Kristi!).
I'm also thankful for my job. Whlie it can be stressful and tiring and frustrating at times, I'm thankful that I am employed in a job in my field when so many people are unemployed.

And, of course, I'm thankful for my husband and the life we are building together. While I have been super busy at work, he's been cooking me dinner and keeping our place in a reasonable state of clean. He stays in bed an extra five minutes to cuddle when I ask him to (let's be real, it's everyday). I'm thankful that when he makes a cup of coffee, he thinks of me and brews two. I'm thankful for the apartment that we're making into a home. It's not the most amazing, beautiful place (heck, all the walls are beige), but it's comforting and warm and is relaxing to come home to. So, for him and our new, happy marriage, I'm thankful.

And, last but not least, I'm thankful for the maid that we hired to clean up this mess:

Thanksgiving aftermath
Just kidding about the maid.

Mr. & Mrs.

Just in case you were wondering why there were so few posts in your reader/email from us this summer (because you are a subscriber, no?) - I was getting married. So, to compensate for the lack of posting during those months, I thought I would share a few photos - good deal right?







                            

Some food pics since, you know, it's a food blog...



Our fabulous allergy free cake - Pittsburgh Penguins, of course, made by my talented Aunt Reen:


The traditional Pittsburgh cookie table (made by loads of moms, aunts, and neighbors):

 

 All photos are by Catherine McKinley Photography.

Paska (Easter) Bread

Paska bread is a Ukrainian Easter bread.  We would have some every year for Easter dinner. Here in Florida, I haven't seen any bakeries carrying the bread, so I asked my dad for a recipe so that we could attempt to make some on our own. He sent me a recipe from the book Ukrainian Easter.


Ingredients:

3/4 cup lukewarm water
1 Tbsp. sugar
2 yeast cakes (fresh, not dry yeast)
1 cup flour

Mix 3/4 cup lukewarm water, sugar, and yeast cakes till dissolved in a small bowl.
Add 1 cup flour, stir until smooth. Cover and let rise in a warm place until bubbly, about one hour.

12 egg yolks (do not substitute whole eggs)
1/4 cup sugar
1 tsp. salt
1/2 cup melted butter, cooled
3 cups flour , unsifted

In a large bowl, mix together the egg yolks, sugar, and cooled melted butter. Add the yeast mixture prepared above; beat well. Gradually add the 3 cups of unsifted flour. This dough will be very soft. Knead or mix well, scrapping sides of bowl. Brush dough with melted butter. Place in a buttered bowl, cover with a towel, and set in a warm place to rise until double in bulk, approx. 2 hours.


To shape, knead lightly on a floured board, shape to fit the bottom of your bread pans. Fill pans (well greased with shortening) only  1/3 full. Place loaves in a warm place to rise until double. Bake in a 350 F oven for about 20 to 25 minutes. For a golden gloss, brush top of Paska with an egg yolk wash (egg yolk well beaten with a little water) about 10 minutes before end of baking time. (Brush with egg glaze too soon will risk over browning.)
When done, remove from oven handling very gently. Remove from baking pans to an oven rack covered with a dish towel. When cooled, paska bread may be stored in plastic bags in freezer. If 2 lb coffee cans are used for bread pans, this recipe will make 4 loves.


We had to make a few adaptations from the original. First of all, we seem to live in a fresh yeast wasteland, so we had to convert to the instant dry yeast we had. For this, we substituted 5 1/2 tsp of dry yeast for the 2 fresh cakes the recipe called for. We also didn't have coffee cans, or even enough bread pans. We made two full loaves in the bread pans we had, and two smaller loaves in some throw away pans that we had from a lasagna night a while back. Lastly, we don't own a cooling rack yet, so I lined a plate with some bamboo skewers to allow the bread to cool on those.

Since this was my first attempt at making paska bread, I didn't add any decoration or mix-ins (like raisins). Maybe next year I will be a little more adventurous and attempt some. I'm happy with the end result, though, as it tasted delicious - light and fluffy, slightly sweet and just like Easter.