Hi there. Did you miss me?
It’s been over a week since I posted anything, and I’ve been feeling pretty guilty about it. Here’s the thing: real life got in the way.
These past couple months have been kind of stressful. When I returned to my job from maternity leave, my boss was gracious enough to allow me to come back part time. I work three days a week and have the other two off to devote solely to Kieran. Well, Kieran and the blog….and mundane things like laundry, cooking, and cleaning. My work load at my job is still very large despite my part-time status, and meeting some huge deadlines this past month was hard. I don’t mean to complain, though! Many parents don’t get a part-time option at all, so I am very grateful. I’ve just been spread a little thin these days.
And as any new parents out there are sure to understand, the baby has become my biggest priority. The blog (and everything else) has had to come second. I mean, I knew that this would be the case to an extent, but I was underprepared (duh) for just how much attention a 6-month-old baby requires. The days of long naps and happy satisfaction in the baby swing are over. Kieran is in this really fun (but high maintenance) stage where he MUST be entertained at all times when he is awake. Activities only keep him busy for 5-10 minutes at a time. It’s amazing to watch him grow and develop into this little person with such a BIG personality, but it leaves very little time for all the other…stuff. Kieran has also had some unique health issues that developed around two months of age. Nothing serious or life threatening, thank God, but still exhausting and stressful. Anytime your child has a problem, whether it’s big or small, it feels like the most gigantic challenge in the world. It’s all consuming, really. I’ve had to come to terms with the fact that he requires more attention than your typical baby (honestly, I STILL find myself coming to terms with this on a daily basis). Which also means that everything else will continue to receive far less attention.
On top of all that, I am a type-A person. Typical first-born child. I am a control freak. I don’t like to half ass anything. I want to be good at everything I attempt, and when I’m not, I then immediately hate said thing and want to quit. I tend to set very high standards for myself, and sometimes my expectations are out of scope. Along with new parenthood, this blog has been a challenge for me from the beginning. I ADORE doing it, but it’s hard work! It requires tons of planning, prep, cooking, cleaning, writing, and…oh yeah…photography skills. I am still learning…more slowly than I’d prefer, but learning nonetheless. I really wanted this blog to serve as a creative outlet, and I’m happy to say that it’s still managing to do that. The key for me is to remember that it is supposed to be FUN, not another chore to add to my seemingly endless list these days.
With that all said, letting the blog take a back seat has been hard. Heck, letting everything else in life take a backseat has been hard. But. This is parenthood. No one can fully prepare you for it. It is the most rewarding, amazing, incredible, fulfilling, selfless thing a person will ever do in his or her life, but IT.IS.HARD. A true feat. I feel like I would be doing a disservice to all those expecting parents if I didn’t put out there that it’s going to be tough at times (probably way more often than you’re prepared for). But it is still the best thing ever. I wouldn’t trade it for the world.
OK, so now that I’ve rambled on and on about why I haven’t been posting as regularly as I would like (thanks for indulging me), it’s time to get to this incredible bagel situation. Bagels make everything better. Especially when you serve them with lots of topping options.
I’ve been wanting to try bagels at home for ages now. I finally took the plunge, and while they do require a little extra work, the result is pretty fantastic. Crisp exterior with that awesome chew inside. I made sesame seed bagels because they are my all-time fav, but you could top yours with anything you like: poppy seeds, “everything” seasoning, or even some coarse sea salt. Just like most things you make at home, the possibilities are pretty much endless.
I wanted to make homemade bagels and then give a few serving options, and these are what I came up with: toasted with orange-honey cream cheese; a lox, arugula, and pickled radish option; and the all-time breakfast bagel classic: bacon, egg, and cheese. And not to continuously and obnoxiously pat myself on the back, but they all came out AWESOME. Pick your fav or make all three! It’s totally fun to have options. My sister was visiting when I made these, and she and I tried a few bites of each and couldn’t pick a favorite. They’re all great.
OK, so that runny egg yolk maaaaaay just edge out the competition. But that should be no surprise given my obsession with eggs and their buttery, silky, golden centers.
Remember how I said I wouldn’t trade being a parent for anything in the world? Can I amend that statement to say…except maybe for a bagel? KIDDING.
1 tablespoon active dry yeast
1½ cups warm water
4 cups bread flour
2 teaspoons salt
3 tablespoon barley malt syrup, divided
1 tablespoon sugar, for water bath
1 large egg white, beaten with a splash of water
Sesame seeds, poppy seeds, or coarse salt for topping
Strips of bacon, crisped
Sliced cheese (cheddar, American, etc)
Cooked eggs (fried, poached, scrambled)
8 oz cream cheese, softened
2 tablespoons honey
Zest of 1 orange
Pinch of fine salt
1 cup thinly sliced radishes
½ cup apple cider vinegar
½ cup water
¼ cup sugar
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
Combine the yeast and water in the bowl of a stand mixer and let sit until frothy, about 5 minutes. Add the flour, salt, and 2 tablespoons of the barley malt syrup and mix on low for 10 minutes. The dough should be stiff and will hold is shape when the mixer is stopped. Remove the dough from the bowl, oil the bowl lightly, and then return the dough to the oiled bowl. Cover with a damp towel and allow to rise for 1½-2 hours.
Transfer the dough to a work surface, and divide it into 8 pieces. Roll each piece into a smooth ball and place on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Cover the balls with a damp towel and let them rise for another 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 425°F and bring a large pot of water to a gentle boil. Add the remaining malt syrup and the sugar to the water once it is simmering.
Poke a hole through the center of each dough ball and then twirl the dough around your finger to stretch the hole to about 2 inches in diameter. Return the formed bagels to the parchment-lined baking sheet.
Boil the bagels in batches (I did 2-3 at a time) for 2 minutes per side. Return the boiled bagels to the prepared baking sheet. Once all the bagels are boiled, brush them with the egg wash and sprinkle with desired toppings.
Bake the bagels for 15 minutes, rotate the baking sheet, and then bake for another 10-15 minutes or until they are deeply golden brown and crisp. Cool completely before slicing.
Slice bagel in half and top with slices of cooked bacon, sliced cheese, and cooked egg. Wrap lightly in tin foil and bake for 5-7 minutes in a 350°F oven until warmed through and gooey. Eat immediately.
Whisk together all the ingredients for the cream cheese until well blended and smooth. Spread on toasted, sliced bagels.
Combine the vinegar, water, sugar, salt, and peppercorns in a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Stir until the sugar and salt have dissolved. Meanwhile, place the sliced radishes in a heatproof jar or bowl. Pour the hot liquid over the radishes and allow to sit for at least 30 minutes. Transfer to the refrigerator if using at a later time.
Slice and toast a bagel to desired doneness and then spread with cream cheese. Layer lox, baby arugula, and the pickled radishes on top. Sprinkle very lightly with salt and pepper and serve.
Bagel dough recipe adapted from here.