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Monday, January 9, 2012

Homemade Bagels

If the well is ever running dry, all I have to do is look at our lists of favorite things.  There are so many fun topics to write about!  Today, since I am quite hungry, I think it's time to talk, once again, about food.  This post covers a couple of favorite things...  homemade bagels and Julia Child. But, before I get started, let's get rid of some of the unfortunate misconceptions about food, post-holiday diets and nutrition in general.

I recently read a post on Susan Branch's blog where she talked a bit about the perils of holiday feasting.  She stated that she had become "her grandmother's stuffing".  Now, you'd have to eat a lot of stuffing for that to happen...  If I were to follow along the same vein, I would say that I might have become one of Susan's Mary's Mother's Snowball cookies.  I have eaten enough of them, both in dough and cooked form, to create a small person.  So good are they, that I can't honestly say that I regret it for a moment.

In response to her blog posting, I provided Susan with some important information about winter weight gain.  You see, it is commonly known in some circles that the cooler than normal winter temperatures cause most clothing fibers to contract, thereby making your favorite pieces of clothing feel somewhat more restricting than usual.  By the same token, most home scales are similarly impacted by cold weather.  Certain mechanisms within can seize, causing the readings to be as much as twelve pounds over the correct weight.  Once you subtract the weight of your clothing, usually eight to ten pounds, you may have actually LOST weight over the holidays!  Congratulations.  One final note - those scales in your local doctor's office are useless.  Their readings are clearly wrong and are likely part of some medical/weight loss scam.

Now that you realize that you either weight the same, or even less, then you did before the fun and feasting of late 2011, let's talk about one of my favorite things...  Homemade bagels!

Several years ago I was given the companion book to Julia Child's show, Baking with Julia.  Unlike so many beautiful cookbooks, this one is very useful.  It contains several of my favorite recipes, including Hungarian Shortbread and the aforementioned bagels.

I should say that I've never had a real New York bagel.  We hear a lot about them, we are told that nothing compares and are reminded that those available anywhere else are poor excuses for real bagels.  Therefore, I have no way of knowing how these stack up.  But!  I can tell you this...  The bagels described in Julia's book are the absolute best I've ever had.  The recipe comes from her guest baker, Lauren Groveman.  The flavor is incomparable - yeasty, savory, just a bit sweet - and the texture is sublime - crisp on the outside, perfectly soft and chewy inside.  They're also fun to make!  Taking the scrawny dough rings, submerging them in boiling water and watching them grow into fluffy, dumpling-like shapes is quite satisfying.  Tossing iced water into the hot oven, creating the necessary steam bath, is also kind of a kick.  But, the best part of all is eating the bagels!  At our house, two batches are necessary to keep up with the adoring fans of these yummy creations.

So, next time you need some real comfort food, and you have the desire to try out a new recipe, I can highly recommend this one, which comes from Lauren Groveman's own website... Enjoy!

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