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HAVE SOURDOUGH, WILL TRAVEL - OAT PORRIDGE BREAD WITH TOASTED ALMONDS

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Two weeks ago, I flew to Columbus/Ohio, to visit my daughter. In my carry-on I had a freezer bag with sourdough, hoping it wouldn't cause suspicion and confiscation at the airport security.

Valerie had asked me to show her and her co-workers at "Two Caterers", how to bake a high hydration bread à la Chad Robertson of Tartine fame.
"Tartine"-breads are known for their "holyness", and their excellent taste. They are great favorites of mine, and I bake them in all possible variations (Brewer's Bread, Acorn Levain)
The next day I walked to a nearby "Giant Eagle"-supermarket to look for ingredients. I wanted to bake a porridge bread (the grain mush makes it especially moist). And it should have nuts in it.

The different flours I needed were easy to find, and, also, rolled oats for the porridge. For the nuts I opted for almond slices. Fortunately, my daughter owned a scale. A polka-dotted sal…
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MODERNIST BREAD - GORGEOUS BOOKS, BUT SOME CURIOUS FLAWS

When I first learned of genius entrepreneur Nathan Myhrvold's endeavor to create THE Ultimate Work on Bread Baking, pouring thousands of dollars in his state-of-the-art scientific laboratory plus baking station, I was rather skeptical. After Modernist Cuisine now molecular baking?

But a presentation last summer at the Kneading Conference in Skowhegan/ME, with stunning photos of the process, was so convincing that I overcame my doubts (and qualms about spending so much money), and ordered my copy at Amazon.

The massive metal box set (History and Fundamentals, Ingredients, Techniques and Equipment, Recipes I and II, and a spiral bound kitchen manual with formulas) arrived in November, too heavy for one person to carry. Totally awed by those gorgeous, atlas-sized tomes, I asked myself the obvious question:

"Am I good enough for this Rolls Royce of baking books?"


Being the anal Virgo, instead of undisciplined rushing at the recipes, I started reading the first volume…

COCONUT CREAM PIE FOR INTERNATIONAL PI(E) DAY

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To mathematicians the Greek letter π (Pi) is the symbol for the ratio of a circle's circumference to its diameter. This number is so important that it has its own holiday day: Pi Day.

Pi Day is March 14, since π starts with 3.14... and continues, irrationally, ever after. (But don't despair: for your daily use you can get by with just the first six numbers: 3.14159).

Not only mathematicians observe Pi Day, bakers honor it, too. After all, the Greek letter sounds in English like pastry and, with the help of a little "e", it easily turns into pie.

Though never a great ace in math, I'm all for celebrating such a meaningful holiday.


Here in Maine we still have one snowstorm ("Nor'easter") chasing the other. Therefore, only a cozy comfort-food-pie would do. (My husband's provocative suggestion, Cherry Pie, faced an instant rebuttal).

But Coconut Cream Pie met with wholehearted enthusiasm from all sides.

GREY GARDENS COCKTAIL - SERVED BY "VAL"

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"Would you like to see my new book?" was the message from Heike Kevenhörster, a friend and former colleague from Public Address Press Agency in Hamburg (where I counseled students for many years, as online-"Dear Abby").

Two weeks later I found my copy of "Craft Cocktails by Val: Drinks Inspired by Hillary Rodham Clinton", Heike's self-published book, in the mail.

Bartender "Val", the alter ego of Hillary Clinton, played by herself in an episode of "Saturday Night Life", doles out drinks and sympathy to a full-campaign-mode, hyper (and slightly tipsy) "Hillary Clinton" (played by Kate McKinnon).

This hilarious skit, and the catchphrases thrown at us during last year's presidential election campaign, were the inspirations for the cocktails Heike presents in her book.

Hillary fans will appreciate the "Glass Ceiling" (with St. Germain Elderflower Liqueur…