At the request of one of my friends, I documented my bagel-making process and am including my recipe. The recipe has been adapted over time from Bernard Clayton’s New Complete Book of Breads, which is an excellent resource for breads of practically any type. My recipe makes about two dozen garlic bagels (and they are very garlicky!) but you can make whatever kind you like by omitting or replacing the garlic powder and minced garlic. You could replace the garlic powder with cocoa and increase the sugar slightly for a sweeter morning treat. You could scrap the garlic powder and top with sesame seeds, poppy seeds, rosemary, whatever!

To start:

1ingredients8 cups bread or all-purpose flour + extra for kneading
1/3 c sugar
2 Tbsp salt
1 Tbsp garlic powder
2 scant Tbsp yeast
3 cups hot water
4-5 cloves garlic
1 egg

approx 2 qts water for boiling
1 Tbsp sugar
nonstick spray or parchment paper
plastic wrap

Begin with the 3 cups hot water. I put it in a bowl and heat in the microwave until quite warm, but not boiling. Stir into this the yeast, breaking up any clumps. Let it sit a few minutes and the yeast will activate.

2yeastIn the meantime, mix together the dry ingredients: 7 cups of flour (save the rest to add in as you knead the dough), sugar, salt, garlic powder.

Once you have that together, mix in the water/yeast mixture. Before I got my stand mixer I did it all by hand, and used a big wooden spoon for the initial mixing. With a stand mixer use your paddle attachment. Either way, mix until you’ve got a big wet ball of dough, then add a bit of the remaining flour (half a cup or so) and get ready to knead.

3doughIf you’re doing this by hand, turn out onto a floured surface and knead about 10 minutes. If you’re using a mixer, switch to the dough hook attachment, and knead on low speed, stopping a couple of times to scrape down the sides of the bowl.

As you knead the dough should become firm and no longer sticky. Add more flour as needed. I usually end up using about 8 cups total, maybe a hair more.

4kneadedWhen you are finished kneading, form the dough into a ball, get a big clean bowl, and oil the sides. Plop the ball of dough down in there & turn to coat. Cover the bowl with a towel or plastic wrap and put in a warm place to rise for about an hour.

5risingBefore you go watch TV, create your workflow for later. You’ll start with a flat surface to work your dough into bagels. Next to that should be your stove top. You’ll want to fill a medium saucepan about halfway with water, and put in a tablespoon of sugar. You’ll boil this later, but it’s way to early to turn on the heat now. On the other side of the stove, you’ll want a plate or tray covered with paper towels where you’ll put the bagels after you get them out of the water. Next to that, put your minced garlic, and you’ll also put some egg wash (you’ll make this a little later, but just leave room for a cup, and a small basting brush. Finally, your baking sheet(s) which you’ll spray with a little nonstick spray, or cover with parchment paper. Now that you’re all prepped, have a little break.

When the hour is up, turn on the oven to 425°F, and put the saucepan on a burner and turn it to medium heat. You want it to gently simmer, but not boil. There should just be a few  bubbles coming to the surface, if there are lots of big bubbles, dial it back.

Anyway, back to the dough. Uncover it, and punch it down a little with your fingers, then turn it out onto a floured work surface. Use a knife or dough scraper to cut off small portions of dough, about 2-3 ounces and form into little balls. They need to rest for about 8-10 minutes.

6ballsWhile you’re waiting for that, get out an egg and separate the white into a small dish or cup, add a little water and mix up. This is the egg wash you’ll use on the bagels to help make them extra shiny and help the garlic adhere.

Once the little balls of dough are rested, it’s time to form the bagel shape. Roll the ball between your palms until the dough makes a long snake. Wrap the snake around your hand and overlap the ends, then roll the ends between your palms to seal them together. Then lay it back down to rest again and move onto the next.

7bagelsOnce you’re all done, start with the first two or three bagels, and plop them down in the simmering water. Don’t let them get too crowded, just do two or three at a time. They may sink at first, but they should float back up pretty quickly.

8boiling Let them boil about 30 seconds, then flip them and boil another 30 seconds. Remove them to your paper towels and let them drain off while you start the next set.

Once the bagel has drained and cooled for a minute or two, brush the top with egg wash, then sprinkle on a bit of the garlic. Then it goes on the baking sheet. The bagels shouldn’t puff up very much while baking, so they can be relatively close together, but don’t crowd them or let them touch each other. Continue in this pattern: boil, cool/drain, egg wash, garlic, tray until you’ve worked through all the bagels, then bake for 25 minutes, or until golden brown on top. The garlic will be crispy and brown on the edges.

9finishedLet them cool completely before storing. Since there are no preservatives, they’ll only last a few days before they get stale, so your best bet is to freeze any you won’t use right away.


baking day

Yesterday was baking day in the uglythreads household. My husband had a cookie carry-in at work, and I had a wicked craving for some homemade sugar deliciousness. To wit:
chocchipChocolate chip cookies. Classic and delicious, I used mini and jumbo chips to increase the chocolaty goodness. I adapted from the New York Times recipe here. I used regular AP flour, and mini & jumbo semi-sweet chocolate chips instead of “bittersweet chocolate disks or fèves” which I assume is foodie for “chocolate chips that are much more expensive than the ones currently on special at the local foodmart” (2 for $4!)

I also made a treat to keep at home. We’ve always called these “Seven Layer Bars” though that’s a misnomer, because it only contains six ingredients. Some internet research tells me these are also sometimes called “Magic Bars” and may have originally included butterscotch chips. The recipe is super easy, and yields this gooey wonder:


Seven Layer Bars:
melt a stick of butter in a 9×13 baking dish
crush a package (about 8) of graham crackers, and pour in the dish with the butter. Mush it down into an even layer with your fingers.

Next open up a can of sweetened condensed milk and pour evenly over the graham cracker layer. Next comes a layer of chocolate chips, followed by one of shredded coconut, followed by nuts (I use walnuts, you can also use pecans, cashews, macadamia nuts, whatever) then pop it in an oven at 350°F for about 20 minutes, it until the coconut gets toasty.

Let it cool a bit to set up, and then cut into bars and eat with a big ol’ glass of milk. Holiday baking: accomplished.



Halloween is my favorite holiday, and my favorite part of Halloween is carving a pumpkin. I like them elaborate and awesome. Last year my pumpkin carving took a total of probably 8-10 hours. This year, I had nothing even vaguely resembling that kind of free time, so I’m just going to share last year’s pumpkin:

It is seriously one of my favorite things I’ve made. I’m thinking of just posting a picture of it every year, because I love it, and was a lot of hard work.

Pumpkin Carving Tips:

1. Think 3-dimensionally. Start with your design, and select a pumpkin with a shape and surface that will work for what you are trying to do. Pumpkins come in different colors, (including white for your ghosts and skeletons and such) textures, and shapes.

2. Use creative tools. You will probably have a pretty tough time trying to create a multi-layered look, or fine detail with nothing but a big kitchen knife. The specialized pumpkin tools you buy at your local box-mart along with a set of patterns are helpful for punching through the pumpkin, because they’re small and serrated. To create any significant depth–like you see in the eyes and background above–you need some type of scraping tool. And for details you’ll want a small, very sharp knife. Ideally, go to your local craft or art supply store for sculptor’s tools, those work best for me.

3. Preserve. Sometimes you don’t have a huge chunk of time to work on a pumpkin. Or you do, but not the day of your Halloween party. To preserve an already cut pumpkin to complete or display later, take wet paper towels and fit it down in any cut areas (including the top cut-out). Really soak them, and try to make sure there’s no air between any of the cut areas and your towels. Then cover the lot with plastic wrap and store in the fridge. It will keep the pumpkin from drying out too much and add a day or two to the life of your Jack-o-lantern. Just a couple of days, though, so do not carve any sooner than you have to.

4. Display. You can always go with your typical tea light candle, but if you do, make sure to cut a notch or hole completely through the top of the pumpkin. Because the front is not cut all the way through, if you don’t take this step the candle will be suffocated and will die after just a minute or two. You can also buy tap lights, battery powered lights, or flameless fake candle lights (check the Halloween section of your favorite store) instead. If you’re using these, you don’t have to worry about the candle suffocating and/or blowing out, but I don’t think it looks quite as cool as a flickering candle.
Happy Halloween everyone!!!

Red Velvet Cupcakes

  • 2 ½ cups flour
  • 1 ½ cups sugar
  • 2 Tbsp cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 Tbsp red food color
  • 1 tsp white vinegar
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 cup chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. spray 2 muffin tins with cooking spray & line with cupcake liners (this recipe should make 2 dozen). In medium bowl mix flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, salt.

In separate, larger bowl, whisk together wet ingredients-oil, egg, milk, food coloring, vinegar & vanilla. Slowly add dry ingredients until just combined. Fold in chocolate chips.

Spoon mixture into muffin tins, filling approximately 2/3 full with batter.

Bake 18-20 minutes, or until toothpick inserted into center of cupcake comes out clean.

While you let those cool, make cream cheese frosting.

  • 1 8oz. package of cream cheese
  • ½ cup butter
  • 4 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 Tbsp milk

Cream cheese and butter should be room temperature. Cut together sugar, cream cheese and butter, add milk and vanilla, then mix with stand or handheld mixer until thoroughly mixed.

When cupcakes have fully cooled, ice with cream cheese frosting. Ta da!!!

How Tuesday: Awesome Tacos

For the second edition of How Tuesday, your humble host will bring you into her kitchen for taco night at the Barrow household. Behold, the awesome taco:

Awesome tacos are soft tacos, made of pork, marinated in an asian-inspired sauce, and topped with fresh salsa verde and cheese. It takes about 30 to 45 minutes to make, so it fits pretty well in our weekday dinner schedule. Because of that, and because it’s one of my husband’s favorite dinners,  we have it probably 3 times in a month. The recipe below makes 6 small tacos, which is just right for the two of us, but the recipe is easily scaled up to accommodate a larger household, or guests.

Here’s what you’ll need to get started:

  • Pork loin
  • Hoisin sauce
  • Fresh ground chili paste (Sambal Olek)
  • Rice wine vinegar
  • Soy sauce
  • Sesame oil
  • Honey
  • Ginger
  • Garlic powder
  • Cinnamon
  • Tomatillos
  • Onion
  • Cilantro
  • Jalapeno
  • Lime
  • Salt
  • Small tortillas
  • Shredded cheese
  • Oil for frying

Start off with a cut of pork loin, approximately 8 ounces. Trim any excess fat from the edges, and slice the pork up into 1/2″ strips.

Once you have that, we’ll make the sauce. In a small bowl, measure out a half cup of hoisin sauce, add a tablespoon each of the chili paste, rice wine vinegar, sesame oil, and honey. Add two tablespoons of soy sauce. Mix in a teaspoon of garlic powder, a teaspoon of ginger, and just a pinch of cinnamon.

Mix that all up, and add in the pork to marinate. Cover, and put in the fridge, while you make the salsa.

For two servings, we will only need a little bit of salsa. Dice up a quarter of an onion, and two medium-sized tomatillos.

If you like spicy salsa, you can dice up a whole jalapeno and add it. I prefer a mild salsa, so I cut it in quarters and remove the seeds and white bits from the interior before dicing

Add some chopped cilantro to taste, the juice of one lime, and a scant tablespoon of salt.

And you’re done with salsa! Set that aside, and heat up two pans, the first should be a small skillet or pan with a half-inch or so of oil, on med-high to high heat to fry up the tortillas. The second should be on medium heat, with just a bit of oil to keep the pork from sticking.

Once the pans are up to temperature, remove the pork from the fridge, and cook in the larger pan.

In the smaller pan, with the oil, you will fry the tortillas. Allow the tortilla to fry for about 10 seconds each side or until slightly browned and puffy. You want the tortillas to have a bit of crispiness, but you don’t want to burn them, or turn them into hard tacos.  Once they are fried, remove them to a paper towel to drain the excess oil.

Meanwhile, the pork should brown, and the sauce should caramelize just a bit. Since the strips of pork are small, they should cook in about 5-7 minutes.

Once it is done, assemble the tacos with pork, salsa and shredded cheese. Enjoy!

How-Tuesday: Wrist Pincushion

Welcome to how-Tuesday, wherein your humble host documents a crafty project or activity, with photos and instructions to hone and expand your repertoire of crafty activities, tasty treats, and handmade delights.

Today is the first of what I hope will be many installments. We are going to start off pretty simply, by making something every craftress needs: a handy-dandy wrist pincushion.

First, a confession: I have a weakness for things that I can attach to my person. This stems from a weakness I have for losing everything, always. I make little clutch purses that clip on my belt loop because occasionally I go to some type of bar or club-type establishment, and I will either lose my purse, or hit someone with it while I’m trying to dance around. Or both.

I also lose things when they are right beside me. I will set my scissors down on the couch, and they will slide in between the cushions and then I will spend twenty minutes trying to remember where I put them. I will set down a knitting needle momentarily, and I will never see it again. Sometimes I do this with a sewing needle that I have threaded, and I don’t know if I stuck it on my own clothes, or the garment I am sewing, or if it just fell on the floor. Five days later, my husband will find the missing needle, usually with his bare foot. He does not care for this even a little bit. And I don’t blame him. So, to help with that, I recently made this little gem

It’s a little pincushion, and it velcroes to my wrist. Now, I am certainly not the first person to think of this. And they are commercially available. But this one is cuter, and you can make one in the charming fabric of your choice through the following process

Fabric of your choosing (I recommend calico or other cotton fabric)
Fiber-fil or other stuffing/batting
Medium-weight Interfacing (I always use fusible)
¾” or 1” wide Velcro

Needle (or sewing machine)
Chalk or dressmakers pencil
Ruler & measuring tape

You’ll see that I used a fat quarter I bought from a craft store for $1.99. I used less than half of it. You can use scraps from other projects to make this–all of the materials are used in small amounts.

Step 1: Mark wrist band

let’s take out or fabric, and lay it right side-down on a flat surface so we can mark our measurements. Get out your chalk (or pencil) & ruler here.

First, measure the wrist band. My wrist is approximately 7” around. I’m going to need extra for both seam allowance, and for overlap from the Velcro, so  10″ is what I used. If you have extremely skinny or fat wrists, adjust accordingly.

Then measure down 3” and make a line there. Make sure you have two straight lines that intersect at right angles. You have the start to a 10″ by 3″ rectangle. Go on now and finish marking the rectangle off.

There you have your cut lines for the wrist band.

Step 2: Mark pin cushion
For this one, we’re going to make a big circle. Circles are hard to make properly, so I just traced a cereal bowl. I’m sure you have one of those.

Step 3: Cut out

Now go on and cut out your pincushion & wrist band!

Step 4: Lining the wristband

Using the same measurements as the wrist band (or just using the wrist band itself as a pattern) cut out a piece of fusible interfacing. Following the interfacing’s instructions, iron the wristband & lining together.

Step 5: Sew wristband

Then fold the wristband in half longways, now you have a skinny rectangle. Sew it up the long end, then turn it right side-out.

Here’s how I turn straps and other long, skinny things: first, take a safety pin and stick it in one of the corners

Then push the pin down the center “tunnel” with your thumb. It will take the strap with it, and help turn it right side-out.

It’s a little finicky at first, but once you’ve pushed the pin through the other end, you can just give it a pull, and the whole thing should be right.

Next, give it a press. I like to do so with the seam in the center bottom, so it doesn’t show.

While you’ve got the iron out, turn the ends under, and press them that way.

Step 6: add Velcro

Cut an inch to two inches of Velcro, and separate the hook side from the loop side. Pin the hook to the outside of one end, and the loop to the underside of the other end.
We’re going to sew close the raw edges on the end  of the wrist strap at the same time as we attache the velcro, so make sure your stitch runs through all the layers of fabric/velcro.

Step 7: Sew Pincushion

To make your round circle of fabric into a cushion, first, you’ll need to stitch along the outer edge of the whole circle. I just use a needle & thread, because sewing circles on a sewing machine is kind of a pain, and because this part will just be gathered up underneath the wrist strap.

Tighten your thread a bit, and the flat circle will start to close up into a little pocket. At this point, you will want to stuff it full of fiber-fill or cotton batting or whatever stuffing material you have procured. When it is full, just tighten the thread all the way, and you’ll have this:

Stitch over the center closure a few times to make sure that it stays closed.

Step 8: sew wristband to pincushion

Pin the cushion to the wristband center. Then, using a needle & thread, run a whipstich around the edges to hold it tight.

Hey, we’re done! Put on that pincushion and sew something (else)!