we carved pumpkins a few days ago and i kept a bunch of seeds to experiment with. i was looking at an article in the october issue of the food network magazine, and there was a feature about roasting pumpkin seeds. it’s probably something that a lot of people already know how to do, but i’ve never tried it before, and i don’t know why really because it’s super easy. basically all you do is dry the seeds (either by roasting in the oven first, or laying them out for awhile) and then coat them in some oil and whatever flavors you want, and then bake! the article that i read said to rinse the seeds and then place them on a baking sheet and bake at 300° F for 30 minutes to dry them out, then mix them with oil and spices, and then bake again for another 20 minutes or so. even though i read through the directions first, i stil forgot what i was doing and mixed the oil and spices with the seeds before drying them. i somehow always manage to skip some steps in recipes by accident. oh well. since the recipe said they should be in the oven for a total of 50 minutes, i just figured to bake them for that long anyways, which worked out just fine. since i had so many seeds i made two batches and tested the official recipe from the magazine on the second batch by drying them out first and then adding spices. this way also worked, so do whatever works for you. i made the first batch with olive oil, cinnamon, and sugar. these made the kitchen smell exactly like autumn in a jar if there was such a thing. they were also tasty. for the second batch, i used olive oil and some mrs. dash garlic and herb spices we had here in our kitchen. the kind i used had a mixture of spices like pepper, rosemary, basil, cayenne pepper and garlic of course, making them spicy, garlic-y, and addictive.
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as i mentioned before, i’m temporarily living in berlin for a few weeks to house sit a friend’s apartment. the last few days i stopped at the grocery store a few times to stock up the kitchen. i’ve been eyeing the figs lately, and ended up buying one yesterday. i really like buying new food because i’m curious of the taste, but i also like experimenting with different ways of preparing food. i’ve never eaten a raw fig before, and i’m not really sure why. i like fig newtons, but even those i haven’t eaten in a very long time, and i don’t think those can be considered the equivalent of a real raw fig. i googled (like i do everything these days) on how to eat a fig. i wasn’t sure if you can eat the skin, or if you have to cook it, or how to know when it’s ripe. on a side note, one of the reasons i don’t eat seafood often (besides not caring for the taste) is that i usually don’t know how to eat it. i always feel so awkward and embarrassed trying to figure out which parts are edible and which parts will make me look like a dummy if i eat them. anyways, back to figs. there were lots of recipes online for baking figs and adding them to sweet and savory dishes. but there were quite a few articles mentioning that you can totally eat them raw, skin and all. i did come across a really simple way of serving them with creme fraiche and honey, and i decided to try that because it just sounds nice. and the images from the recipe were so pretty, so that is what probably won me over. basically all you do is quarter the fig, and then serve with with a dollop of creme fraiche and drizzle some honey all over. easy peasy. and i have to say that a fig is probably one of the prettiest fruits to be photographed. it didn’t taste like much to me, i’m not sure if i ate it maybe too soon and it wasn’t exactly ripe enough, or maybe it’s because i added the extra flavors and i didn’t pay attention to the fig. the texture was nice though. and combined with the honey and the cream it was still very tasty.
later in the day i made a homemade pizza. i couldn’t find packets of yeast in the store i was at, so i bought a little bag of bread flour which already includes it. i haven’t ever made a homemade pizza before i think, but it turns out it is oh so easy. i followed the directions on various recipes on how to make dough, just skipped the step about adding the yeast of course. on top of it i put creme fraiche, arugula, tomatoes, zucchini, and mozzarella. before adding the toppings, i sauteed the tomatoes and zucchini with garlic first, and then added them on top of the cream and arugula. then it only had to bake for maybe 15 minutes and it was done! creme fraiche has turned into my favorite pizza topping. it’s so common over here in europe, and i’m afraid when i go back to the states i won’t find it as often, or it will be double in price. here it’s unbelievably cheap. i bought a mini tub yesterday for 30 cents. and it goes with everything. i think when you add it to recipes, the frenchiness of the name makes it sound super fancy without actually doing any super fancy tricks.
my first encounter with authentic croissants happened in Paris. it sounds typical, but the hype about French croissants exists for a reason in my opinion. my most favorite version is pain au chocolat, which is basically a croissant with chocolate inside. dough and chocolate = my favorite things. i’ve been to Paris only a few times, but each time i was able to enjoy a few of the pastries fresh from a bakery. i love the bakery culture that exists here in Europe. you can have fresh pastries any time of day, and you can actually find a bakery on every corner. the pastries are cheap too! in Germany, i find so many for under 1 euro! apfeltasche is a really good one by the way. back to the story i was telling, i think i have formed a lifelong romance with pain au chocolat. i tend to eat them very slowly to make them last as long as possible, and i wish i could have one everyday. i live in Germany now, and while they are not quite the same as in Paris, the chocolate croissants here will happily suffice. i ate some a few weekends ago in Dresden when i was visiting a friend. you can see in the picture how cute they look.
well, it inspired me to try and make my own croissants. i’ve tried once before back in February when i was baking props for my semester design project presentation. for some reason, in my head i think of accomplishing the “perfect croissant” equal with being an accomplished baker. it seems so daunting, and i expect it’s not something i will successfully master for years to come, hopefully i’m wrong. but practicing is so tasty. i get to make one of my favorite pastries and perfect my skills at the same time. making croissants takes a long time too, but for me baking has always been a way to relax and spend free time, so when i do have the time i don’t mind at all. i really love working with dough too. i’ll start to sound like a weirdo again and mention that i love the texture and smell of fresh dough. it makes me happy. the recipe i used back in February was quite easy and the pastries turned out pretty delicious, but the texture wasn’t the true texture i’ve had from bakeries in France. my goal is to eventually recreate that. i’m on a continuous search for the best croissant dough recipe, but this one i tried out last week. the results were again delicious, and i was very excited to see the texture resembling the croissants from European bakeries that i know so well. i made some normal croissants, and also experimented by filling some with dark chocolate. they were really lovely to wake up to in the morning and have with coffee. i haven’t perfected any specific recipe of my own yet for these, so i won’t retype the one i used from the website. i’ll keep looking for more techniques and tips, and i love croissants so much that i will use a cheesy cliché… but in this case practice makes perfect and my tummy happy.