What I’ve been cooking up since I can’t Dine In The D like I used to

My “boredom baking” is in overdrive

Michelle making bread
Michelle making bread (WDIV-TV 2020)

If you’ve watched one of my Dine in the D segments before (you can see a bunch of them here), you could probably tell I love to cook! My passion started when I was about 16 years old. I came up with a deal where I would make my family dinner one night a week, to save my parents money from eating out, and they could use that money to pay for my car insurance. I learned how to cook from my mom, and the rest, as they say, is history.

So now that I can’t go out and film my regular Dine in the D segments, I’ve brought the camera into my kitchen and have been filming some of what I’ve been cooking up.

Nothing smells better than freshly baked bread!

So I have recently taken up the hobby of making my own bread. For the longest time, I thought bakers were wizards and you needed some magical tools to turn flour, water, salt, and yeast into the crusty warm deliciousness that is bread. News flash - that is apparently not the case. The first recipe I ever tried was one I found on Pinterest. It was a simple recipe you could lazily make in one afternoon. I say “lazily make” because the most time-intensive part about making bread, is just letting the dough sit on your countertop with a cloth over it, letting it rise.

You start by adding yeast to water, to make sure it is active and blooms (yes, that is what they call it... maybe it’s because you add flour to it later? Get it flour... flower... blooms?). Then you add in the flour and salt, mix it all together, and let it rise. Next, you form the loaf and let it rise again. Forming the loaf is so much easier than it sounds, if you can dust something with flour and you understand the concept of folding, like a piece of paper, you’ve basically got this. Finally, stick it in the oven, bake, and voila, fresh bread.

Michelle's bread rising
Michelle's bread rising (WDIV-TV 2020)

When it comes to baking bread, Tammy, one of our Executive Producers, suggested I make her 5 minute artisan bread recipe. The recipe was very similar to mine, but made a larger batch so that you could keep it refrigerated, and pull off a hunk of dough to make a fresh loaf whenever you felt like it. Always up to try something new, I gave it a try and filmed it.

Just a tip to whoever is thinking about trying to become the next Julia Child, and is trying to film themselves while baking bread, bread dough is sticky, very sticky, and flour will get EVERYWHERE! I had to clean my camera after filming.

Michelle trying to film the natural sound bread makes when cut using a microphone.
Michelle trying to film the natural sound bread makes when cut using a microphone. (WDIV - TV 2020)

Luckily it turned out delicious. You can watch the segment on it here.

I made this loaf with a pizza stone (you can get them for about $35 online) and a broiler pan filled with water. The trick to crusty bread, as it turns out, is steam. Kind of counter-intuitive if you ask me. My personal recommendation is to use a covered dutch oven if you have it. This traps the steam the bread releases as it cooks in the pot with the loaf, making it extra crispy.

Michelle's end result after making 5 Minute Artisan Bread
Michelle's end result after making 5 Minute Artisan Bread (WDIV-TV 2020)

Learning how to cook dried beans

Another cooking-at-home adventure I tried was cooking dried beans. Now, I have cooked with beans before, but never dried beans. My thought was always: But why? Don’t they take a long time? In researching for this segment I found out a lot.

Reasons why to make dry beans:

1) They are A LOT cheaper (a pound of dried beans cost around $1.50 and will give you upwards of 10 cups of cooked beans, whereas canned beans cost about the same, and a 16oz. can of beans only contains 2 cups)

2) You can customize them! Watching your cholesterol? Put in less salt. Wish your black beans had a fresher flavor? Cook them with some cilantro.

Also, in short, dried beans don’t require a lot of active time to prepare, much like the bread, it is a leisurely, lazy process to cook beans. You can either soak them overnight (seriously just put beans and water and leave them overnight and they are ready to cook with), or you can do the quick soak method where you boil them for 2 minutes, and then let them sit for an hour.

So, lesson learned, dried beans are super easy to make, and are very cost-effective as well. Keep an eye out for the segment, it should be on air in the next few weeks.

Cooking dried beans using the quick soak method
Cooking dried beans using the quick soak method (WDIV-TV 2020)

Another tip for the Rachael Ray wannabees out there: If you have a cat, like I do, maybe keep them from getting into the kitchen. Here’s my cat Zuko interrupting the filming of my bean segment.

Zuko, Michelle's cat, Interrupting filming
Zuko, Michelle's cat, Interrupting filming (WDIV-TV 2020)

More of my boredom baking

Besides cooking stuff for the show, I’ve been making a ton of stuff at home. One of my favorite things to make is banana bread because I always seem to have all the ingredients. I made this recipe and added walnuts to it for some extra crunch, and it was delicious. I am still having it in the morning for breakfast. I also made some lemon blueberry scones, and cream puffs so I could have Saunder’s style cream puffs for my birthday. Next on the docket, shortbread! If you have any good recipes for shortbread, let me know!

Michelle's Banana Bread
Michelle's Banana Bread (WDIV - TV 2020)