People who knew me before I had my child knew I loved to eat, but did not cook. It was unknown if I could or not because I just didn’t do it. No kidding. Breakfast, lunch, dinner 364 days a year were spent eating out. I am being very generous giving myself one day a year of cooking for myself. I worked in restaurants and had no desire to figure out if I could do it at home when I had so many amazing talents feeding me. Even my (now) husband did all of the cooking right up until our son was born. Casey had to teach me how to cook bacon. I had no idea how to do it, but I certainly knew how to eat bacon. When our son was born and Casey went back to work I had the option of starve, pack up a newborn to a restaurant 3 meals a day (money that some may say should be used on diapers and laundry), or learn to finally feed myself. I loved food and had seen thousands of dishes created, I understood flavors, how hard could it be? So I began collecting and reading cookbooks. Thankfully I am an avid reader. I tuned into all those who had cooked for me in the past and brought those dishes to life and to my table. I’m going to be honest, I have no knife skills, in the beginning my timing was off, and it would take me a full afternoon to make a dinner that may or may not even resemble the original vision. Then I was presented another curveball, my son had a dairy allergy taking away the easiest food group for kids, but also my favorite food group. In the beginning I cried “what will he eat?!” but now I look at it as my blessing, it taught me to really cook and really get creative and how to get out of the cookbook and into my own kitchen. As my comfort level has grown and I actually create my own recipes with confidence, grow some of my own food- the rest is bought at farms and farmers’ markets, and make most things from scratch my son looks like he will grow out of his allergy. Ah life, it does have a funny sense of humor.
It’s funny people used to ask me where to eat, now they ask what/how to make dinner. That’s how Arubula’s Kitchen was born. Every day around 4 or 5 my phone would start ringing or beeping with phone calls and texts from a friend who had this and that in their pantry “what should they make for dinner” or looking for a different way to prepare a dish. It progressed. I started emailing out a weekly menu to my friends with the grocery list, writing it up while my kid took his daily nap. I’d type up menus for dinner parties, holidays. Finally someone said “you should do this for a living” and I thought to myself “finally a stay at home mom job that I would enjoy!” The rest is history.
Now I am taking on my new endeavor, finishing my BS in Sustainable Agriculture. It means those blissful hours of naptime can no longer be used to create menus for Arubula’s Kitchen clients, but for hitting the books. I am excited. It was through Arubula’s Kitchen that doors opened and excitement found it’s way into something that I finally want to finish my degree. I look forward to all this learning and sharing with you as I go along. I also look forward to more food explorations in my own kitchen and out in the food world.
My husband and I recently celebrated our wedding anniversary at Top Chef finalist, Bryan Voltaggio’s restaurant, Volt in Frederick Maryland. It was my husband’s first tasting menu and what a great one to enjoy! If you have the opportunity I highly recommend taking the detour out of D.C. and enjoying the chef’s tasting room where you can enjoy observing all 7 courses prepared by Chef Voltaggio (yes, he really was there cooking) and his incredible kitchen staff. As we enjoyed this dinner we were given our choice of 5 different breads, one being bacon bread. I decided that I will share my version inspired by Volt’s bacon bread as my first blog post recipe. It seems appropriate as bacon seems to come up in my life during milestone moments.
Welcome to Running Amuck with Arubula! I look forward to our adventures together!
*For an extra fun, savory bread I recommend ordering some bacon marmalade http://www.baconmarmalade.com/. Order 2 jars, or 3, it’s totally worth it! It is truly heaven in a jar.
2 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast
2 1/4 cup warm water
6 cups of bread flour (to make wheat bacon bread sub 1 cup whole wheat flour for 1 cup of the bread flour)
4 tablespoons bacon grease*
20 strips of bacon, cooked, finely chopped*
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon salt
*substitute 1 jar of bacon marmalade
Dissolve yeast and 1/4 cup water water with a pinch of sugar for about 5 minutes (while mixing the rest of the ingredients)
In a large mixing bowl combine 3 cups of bread flour, 2 tablespoons sugar, 1 tablespoon salt. Mix in yeast. Add bacon grease, water, bacon. Mix by hand or on low speed for 1 minute. Gradually add in 1/2 cup at of time the remaining flour. Knead for about 10 minutes by hand or with dough hook on medium speed until the dough is smooth and elastic. Transfer dough to a oiled mixing bowl, turn over once to coat and cover in plastic wrap. Let rise in a warm place until it has doubled in volume, 1 1/2 hours. Grease to loaf pans or 2 muffin pans and a loaf pan (for rolls and a loaf). Split the dough in two (or two and then taking one half and divide into 12 equal pieces). Punch the dough and place in pans. Let rise for another hour, covered loosely.
Preheat oven to 450. Place dough in preheated oven for 10 minutes at 450, then reduce heat to 350 for about 25 minutes (loaves will sound hollow when tapped when done) for rolls, reduce heat and cook for about 10 minutes longer. Remove loaves from pans to a rack and let cool completely. ENJOY!!!