Bold Baking


As co-founder of a baking Meetup group, I get to see a lot of what Michael Pollan somewhat crassly calls, “crumb shots.” One consistent error that I see in many of those bread selfies, is that the baker did not leave the dough in the oven long enough. The crust is too light in color.

I’ve found that my best loaves are the ones where the crust is chestnut brown, taken from the oven just before it starts to burn on the bottom. Too soon and you have a light colored loaf with a soft crust and gummy interior. It took me a long time to figure out that you get a good crust by baking your bread almost to the burning point. Josey Baker calls this “bold baking.” It’s bold because it goes against the beginner’s fear of burning.

While crust color provides a convenient clue for when your loaf is ready to remove from the oven, oven temperature and baking times are also factors. If the bread bakes too fast you’ll end up with a soft crust; if the oven runs too cool you’ll get a crust that’s too hard. In our old O’Keefe and Merritt, I bake my bread at 500º F (260º C). If you’re using a convection oven you’ll need to bake at a lower temperature.

So be bold baker!

Shakerato (Why don’t you come to your senses?)

There’s a new afternoon transgression around the Root Simple compound: the caffé shakerato. A shakerato is an iced coffee mixed in a cocktail shaker. Making one is much easier than hauling yourself down to that dreaded temple of  middlebrowedness whose green siren logo will lead us all to financial ruin and sugar-induced comas. No, you don’t need another Frappuccino.

Making a shakerato is simple. Brew some strong coffee (espresso is best, but I don’t have an espresso maker). Let the coffee cool down (this is important–add the ice too soon, and the coffee gets diluted) and put it in a cocktail shaker with some half and half, sugar to taste and a pinch of salt (everything tastes better with a pinch of salt). Add some ice, throw your hands in the air and shake like you just don’t care. Pour, straining out the ice, of course, and enjoy. You’ll find that the combination of shaking and milk will create a satisfying, frothy beverage.

Add a jigger of dark rum to the shaker if you want to upgrade to a cocktail.

This recipe is a dumbed-down version of the one I found in obsessive cocktail guru Dave Arnold’s book Liquid Intelligence: The Art and Science of the Perfect Cocktail. So far I’ve only allowed myself to check Liquid Science out of the library. I fear that if I owned it I would fall down a deep mid-life crisis cocktail hobby hole involving some of the gadgets and ingredients Arnold details in the book: $8,000 centrifuges, canisters of liquid nitrogen and potentially hazardous beverage experiments involving powdered quinine sulfate.

* Do you have Desperado stuck in your head now, like I do? Sorry about that.

050 Who Wants Seconds?

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Want some tips from a professional caterer and chef on how to make better meals at home and throw awesome parties? Listen to our 50th podcast episode with author and chef Jennie Cook of Jennie Cooks Catering. During the show we discuss:

  • Secrets to vegan cooking
  • Tips for healthy home cooking
  • Roasting vegetables
  • Making your own mayonnaise
  • Involving kids in the kitchen
  • The problems with cooking shows
  • Working with leftovers
  • Advice for throwing a party
  • Jennie’s book Who Wants Seconds?
  • How to not burn your soup
  • Food swaps

If you want to leave a question for the Root Simple Podcast please call (213) 537-2591 or send an email to [email protected]. You can subscribe to our podcast in the iTunes store and on Stitcher. The theme music is by Dr. Frankenstein. A downloadable version of this podcast is here.

047 Done is Better Than Perfect


Our guest this week is my East Coast doppelganger, Eric Rochow of (who also interviewed me on GardenFork Radio episode 377). Eric covers all kinds of DIY topics: everything from gardening, to beekeeping to slow cooking to, well, just about anything you can think of. He also produces an excellent podcast. During our interview we discuss:

If you want to leave a question for the Root Simple Podcast please call (213) 537-2591 or send an email to [email protected]. You can subscribe to our podcast in the iTunes store and on Stitcher. The theme music is by Dr. Frankenstein. A downloadable version of this podcast is here.

Cottage Food Operations Workshop Offered by UC Cooperative Extension

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For folks in Southern California who are thinking of starting a home based food business, UC Extension has a class coming up that will help you get started. UCCE assures me that the information provided will be of interest to anyone thinking about starting a Cottage Food operation, not just farmers. For more information contact: Rachel Surls, Sustainable Food Systems Advisor UC Cooperative Extension Los Angeles County (626) 586-1982 [email protected] Here’s the info:

Who should attend?

This workshop is designed especially for farmers of fruits, vegetables, nuts, herbs, and honey interested in making value-added products in home kitchens as Cottage Food Operations (CFOs). Workshop is open to everyone.

What is a Cottage Food Operation?

The California Homemade Food Act (AB1616) allows individuals to prepare and package certain non-potentially hazardous foods in private-home kitchens referred to as “Cottage Food Operations” (CFOs). Processed meat, dairy, fermented foods, and juices are NOT legally acceptable cottage foods.

Learn about:

• Cottage Food Law

• Food science and sanitation

• Information about processing jams/jellies, honey, nuts, dried fruit, baked goods

• Packaging and storage

• Business operations for CFOs

Please come join us for this one day event: Wednesday, June 17, 2015

8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Morning refreshments and lunch will be provided.

UC Cooperative Extension Los Angeles County
700 W. Main Street, Alhambra, CA 91801

Registration required: $25 with online payment by June 10 or Register online:

This project is funded by the California Department of Food and Agriculture’s Specialty Crop Block Grant Program

$40 at the door, space permitting