Hazelnut and Fig Bread with Fennel Seeds and Rosemary

Last fall after baking my way through a few Tartine books I decided it was time to get another bread book.  I had heard great things about Jeffrey Hamelman’s Bread for quite some time so I added it to my collection.  The book is more advanced and technique focused than others I have but is still loaded with fantastic recipes.

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I read through many of the technique and bread science sections quickly but it wasn’t until earlier this month that I actually baked from it.  I was looking for ideas for the March edition of #BreadBakers when I came across the formula for this loaf.  After I had baked two loaves I decided that the presence of fennel seeds wasn’t enough in the spirit of the ‘seeds’ theme to use it for #BreadBakers.  But I am very happy to have discovered this loaf that has a lot of great flavors in it. but I was very happy to have made the loaf.

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Photoshop Phriday: Jack Miller

Anyone who follows football, collegiate or professional, is acutely aware of the risks players take.  Earlier this week San Francisco 49ers linebacker cited health concerns when he retired after just one year of professional play.   Similarly, Michigan redshirt senior Jack Miller announced two weeks ago that he would forgo his final season and move on from football.  In addition to his own issues Miller had a front row seat to the controversy that unfolded this year around Shane Morris’ concussion against Minnesota.  Jack started as center in all 12 of Michigan’s games last season and had played in 10 games prior to that.

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You’ve got to hand it to Miller, having the opportunity to be a senior starter in the spotlight is tough to walk away from (not that I have personal experience to back that up).  He noted concerns about past and potential future concussions in what helped him to begin move on from football, not to mention the fact that he has now completed his degree.  On Tuesday he wrote a short piece for Bleacher Report elaborating on the decision.  Miller felt that with his degree in hand he’s ready to pursue opportunities beyond football.  Perhaps in his spare time he’ll keep up his football skills by snapping some loaves of spent grain sourdough.

Traditional Beef Pho

The calendar says it is spring in Ann Arbor but it hasn’t quite warmed up yet.  I’m eagerly awaiting the warmer weather but in the meantime the cool temperature means there is still a few more weeks to enjoy huge bowls of delicious broth.  Is there anything more comforting, especially in the winter?  Several years ago I had pho for the first time at Tomukun Noodle Bar (my wife and I are also big fans of their Korean BBQ place next door).  Pho is a Vietnamese noodle soup with an intensely flavorful beef broth and handfuls of accompanying herbs, meat, and bean sprouts.

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This isn’t any plain old beef broth, either.  It comes together over several hours and is flavored with cinnamon, fennel, star anise, coriander, cloves, and fish sauce.  You may end up having to go a few places to track down all the ingredients but it is absolutely worth it.  Sitting over a piping hot bowl of this with the steam carrying up all manner of incredible smells will make everything else melt away.

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Photoshop Phriday: Spike Albrecht

March Madness started yesterday and for the first time since 2010 Michigan is not in the field of teams.  Michigan’s roster this year was plagued by injuries and the departure of players for the NBA but did show signs of promise.  Like he has been for three years, junior co-captain Spike Albrecht was one of those bright spots.  Albrecht’s Michigan career has been one defined by continually exceeding expectations on and off the court.  The entire country was introduced to Albrecht his freshman year during the national championship game against Louisville.  When Trey Burke got into early foul trouble Albrecht stepped up in a big way.  After averaging 2.2 points per game that year, he reeled off 17 quick points on the game’s biggest stage.  Overall in the 2013 NCAA tournament he was 9 of 10 from 3 point range.

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Albrecht has great confidence on the court and his development is (I think) a testament to John Beilein’s coaching skills.  Spike notably got only one other Division I scholarship offer and was a key contributor on this year’s team.  His career has been full of gif-able moments, including this Trey Burke-esque steal against OSU (if you need to see the original, here you go).  Michigan won their first game of the Big 10 tournament last week thanks in part  to this amazing behind the back/head pass from Albrecht to Aubrey Dawkins.  It wasn’t even the first time he had done that this year.  Albrecht is clearly a fantastic teammate and player, happily dishing his favorite parmesan pepper loaf to earn an assist.

Banana Bread

Everyone I know has at least one strange habit when it comes to food.  It might be a specific way you peel a fruit, prepare a dish, or eat your favorite food.  For example, at a young age I picked up from my dad the habit of eating grilled cheese by cutting strips off each side and rotating the plate after each one.  This way you gradually cut away at the sandwich while maintaining the same shape.

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One of my other strange habits is that I usually only eat bananas on Thursday or Friday.  This is born from the fact that I only eat bananas when they are very very very ripe, and I’ll buy them at the grocery store on a Saturday or Sunday.  My wife will eat a few throughout the week and then once they reach peak deliciousness (at least as determined by me) I’ll eat whichever ones are left over.

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Photoshop Phriday: Ron Kramer

In 1955 and ’56 the football team had a player selected as a consensus All American.  The next year the captain of the basketball team set the Michigan career scoring record.  The year after that, Michigan’s top football player would be selected 4th in the NFL draft.  This was not three separate people, all these achievements belonged to Michigan legend Ron Kramer.  Kramer, like his coach Bennie Oosterbaan, was a nine time letterman at Michigan.  In addition to football and basketball Kramer also found the time to run track.  And, like many other great stars of his era Kramer played multiple positions on the football field.  In fact it is easier to list the positions he didn’t play rather than the ones he did.

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Kramer’s number 87 was one of a select few ever to be retired at Michigan.  It was brought back recently as one of the ‘Michigan Legends’ jerseys and was first awarded to Devin Funchess.  Though he played a variety of positions Kramer was primarily a tight end and had a highly successful career as one with the Green Bay Packers.  He was surrounded by great football minds, after being coached by Oosterbaan he played for Vince Lombardi in Green Bay.  By all accounts Kramer, who passed away in 2010, was an even better person and friend.  There is a great story about Kramer spreading the ashes of Oosterbaan all around campus.  How did Kramer have the energy to play three sports and earn his degree at the same time?  Buckwheat apple cider sourdough of course!

Six Seed Soda Bread for #BreadBakers

This month Karen of Karen’s Kitchen Stories is hosting the #BreadBakers event and selected ‘Seeds’ as our theme.  I figured to truly get into the spirit I should pick a recipe loaded with different kinds of seeds.  Given that next week is St. Patrick’s Day I thought this would be as good a time as any to finally make a soda bread.  If you’re unfamiliar with soda bread it is a quick bread often made with buttermilk that is leavened by baking soda (particularly popular in Ireland).

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St. Patrick’s Day in Ann Arbor is often accompanied by a few weeks of false spring.  Yesterday it got into the mid 40s and it is supposed to get close to 60 by the middle of the week.  This is especially crazy considering it was about 60 degrees cooler just a few days ago!  But every year without fail this early/mid March warm weather is followed by a few more weeks of cold (and sometimes snow).

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