French Model Barbie Loves Baguettes

by Libbie Summers
Assisted by David Dempsey

Barbie dreamed of being a high fashion model in Paris. When Sears called and asked her to pose with a bike and french baguettes for their Spring/Summer catalog she remarked that “dreams really do come true”.
Barbie, Baguettes, Barbie Says, Libbie Summers, Fun with Barbie, French Food
Learn how to make a baguette HERE!

Pretzel Bread

by Libbie Summers
Photography by Chia Chong

I think it was in fifth grade that I studied states and capitals. Each student’s final grade depended on an oral presentation about an “adopted” state. Our teacher wrote all the states on colorful pieces of paper and placed them in a goldfish bowl for us to choose. I picked Montana. It could have been worse; my friend Randy picked Idaho. I don’t remember much about the presentations aside from the Missouri one given by my classmate Paul, who had a talent for the theatrical. Paul donned a coonskin cap as he talked about Daniel Boone, then deftly removed the cap and taped on a white felt mustache as he read a poem by Mark Twain. The best part of Paul’s state performance was the German pretzel bread he passed around as he talked about Germans immigrating to St. Louis in the mid-1800s. The bread was the best thing I had ever eaten inside the walls of our school. Still warm from Paul’s book bag, it tasted like a thick slice of pretzel. I’ve been obsessed with it—and Paul—ever since. I hope Paul earned an A on his presentation. He deserved it for the bread alone. I’ll ask him the next time we talk. All these years later, Paul and I are still the best of friends.

Libbie Summers, A Food-Inspired Life, Sweet and Vicious, Pretzel Bread

Pretzel Bread
(a sliceable hot pretzel)

yields 2 loaves, or twelve 4-inch rolls

What you need:
1⁄2 cup plus 2 tablespoons warm water (115° F)
1⁄2 cup warm milk
3 tablespoons butter, melted
2 1⁄2 teaspoons active dry yeast
3 tablespoons packed dark brown sugar
1 teaspoon salt, plus more for sprinkling
3 cups bread flour, plus more for dusting
1⁄4 teaspoon vegetable oil
1⁄2 cup baking soda

In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the dough hook, put the water, milk, butter, yeast, and brown sugar. Mix until combined, then let the mixture rest for 10 minutes, or until it begins to foam. Mix in the salt.

Libbie Summers, A Food-Inspired Life, Sweet and Vicious, Pretzel Bread

With the mixer on low speed, add 2 cups of the flour
and mix for 1 minute. Continue to add the remaining flour as needed until the dough forms a firm ball that is tacky, not sticky (think about a Post-it note—it’s tacky, not sticky to the touch). Transfer the dough to a mixing bowl. Drizzle the dough ball with the oil and turn it over in the bowl to coat. Cover with plastic wrap and let the dough rise at room temperature for 30 minutes.

Libbie Summers, A Food-Inspired Life, Sweet and Vicious, Pretzel Bread

Knead the dough at medium-low speed for 10 minutes, until the dough has a satiny shine and is elastic. Cover the dough and let rise for 1 hour, or until it doubles in size.
At this point, if you would like to make Pretzel Brats see the variation on page 110.

Libbie Summers, A Food-Inspired Life, Sweet and Vicious, Pretzel Bread

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and divide into two equal pieces. Roll each piece between the palms of your hand in a circular motion to form two smooth balls. (If making rolls, divide the dough into twelve equal pieces and form into balls, then continue with the following steps.)

Libbie Summers, A Food-Inspired Life, Sweet and Vicious, Pretzel Bread

Preheat the oven to 400° F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside. In a stockpot, bring 4 quarts water to a boil. Slowly add the baking soda without stirring.

Libbie Summers, A Food-Inspired Life, Sweet and Vicious, Pretzel Bread

Working with one dough ball at a time, use a large spider or slotted spoon to slowly lower the dough ball into the boiling water. Boil for 30 seconds, turning once to make sure the complete surface of the dough has been covered with water. Remove with the slotted spoon to drain and transfer to the prepared baking sheet. Repeat with the second ball of dough.

Libbie Summers, A Food-Inspired Life, Sweet and Vicious, Pretzel Bread

Make a cross in the top of each loaf using a sharp knife or razor. Don’t worry if the dough looks rather ugly at this point; it will pop up and become beautiful during baking.

Libbie Summers, A Food-Inspired Life, Sweet and Vicious, Pretzel Bread

Sprinkle the loaves with salt (kosher, pretzel, or Maldon salt). I like a salty pretzel bread and salt-free pretzel rolls.

Libbie Summers, A Food-Inspired Life, Sweet and Vicious, Pretzel Bread

Bake for 25 minutes (15 minutes for rolls), until the loaves are a dark golden brown, turning the baking sheet around once in the middle of the bake time. Let the loaves cool slightly before serving.
Libbie Summers, A Food-Inspired Life, Sweet and Vicious, Pretzel Bread


Skier Barbie Loves Bean Soup

By Libbie Summers
Assisted by David Dempsey

“There’s nothing I like better than having a big bowl of bean soup after a day on the bunny hill.” –Barbie in St. Moritz, 1962
Barbie, Vintage Barbie, Skier Barbie, Bean Soup, Libbie Summers, A food-inspired life
Get 4 of Barbie’s favorite bean soup recipes HERE!!


The Year of the Rooster

By Libbie Summers
Assisted by David Dempsey
With Joshua Summers (rooster masked man)
Rooster Mask Portrait by Chia Chong

Happy Chinese New Year!
2017…the year of the rooster…are you a rooster…do you know a rooster?
Roosters, Origami, Fun with Paper, Paper Crafts, Paper Decorations
(watch this video from Origami Time to learn how to make this rooster origami)

People born in a year of the Rooster (1909, 1921, 1933, 1945, 1957, 1969, 1981, 1993, 2005, 2017) are observant, hardworking, resourceful, courageous, and talented. Roosters are very confident in themselves.

Roosters are always active, funny, and popular within a crowd. Roosters are talkative, outspoken, frank, open, honest, and loyal individuals. They like to be the center of attention.

Roosters are happiest when they are surrounded by others, whether at a party or just a social gathering. They enjoy the spotlight and will always be charming.

Roosters are a little self absorbed. They expect others to listen to them while they speak, and can become agitated if they don’t. Roosters like to brag about themselves and their accomplishments.

Their behavior of continually seeking the unwavering attention of others annoys people around them at times.
Chinese New Year, 2017 The Year of the Rooster, Chinese Food, Funny Photography, Roosters
Roosters are loyal and make devoted friends. They ALWAYS keep their promises and are true to their word. Sensitive individuals may find it hard to get along well with Roosters, because they always brag about themselves and their accomplishments, which may make others uncomfortable.

Roosters are typically healthy people. They are active and enjoy sports. Roosters don’t get sick very often because they tend to fight illness well. Even when they do become ill, they feel better quickly. Are you a rooster?
Chinese New Year, Year of the Rooster, Rooster Pictures, Farm Pictures, Farms, Roosters, Libbie Summers
If you are a rooster, or know a rooster, or wish you were a rooster, here are a few things you need to know.

  • Lucky numbers: 5, 7, and 8
  • Lucky days: the 4th and 26th of any Chinese lunar month
  • Lucky colors: gold, brown, and yellow
  • Lucky flowers: gladiola, cockscomb
  • Lucky directions: south, southeast
  • Lucky months: the 2nd, 5th, and 11th Chinese lunar months
  • Unlucky color: red
  • Unlucky numbers: 1, 3, and 9
  • Unlucky direction: east (what????)
  • Unlucky months: the 3rd, 9th, and 12th Chinese lunar months

Party Decorations, Over the top parties, Libbie Summers Parties, Chinese Lanterns
Happy Chinese New Year!!! Celebrate the rooster or any new beginning with a party like THIS!

Eat This and Keep Your Eyes on the Horizon

By Libbie Summers

Photography by Chia Chong


A Food-Inspired Life, Libbie Summers, Oranges, Stories

Disclaimer: The healing power of the Mandarin oranges noted in this article are not substantiated by any medical authority aside from a surly retired oral surgeon and a novice yacht chef.

I could hear his laughter as he came down the dock so I was a little less anxious. This was one of my first professional jobs as a yacht chef and I was eager to make this boat owner happy. I had heard stories about him –a retired oral surgeon, nearly 80 years old who snow-skied, played tennis and yacht raced better than men half his age. Dr. “K” had the reputation of being aloof, thrifty and more than a little hard on the crew. I was confident I could win him over. Back then, what I lacked in brains, I made up in false confidence.

As he stepped on the boat, I chuckled to myself, “I got this.” He looked like Bjorn Borg (circa 1977) was his wardrobe stylist. Cream colored tennis shorts (that were just that much too short for a man of dangling participle age) and a white tennis shirt topped with a tattered FILA sweater vest. I couldn’t help notice that his Aspen Mountain backpack weighed more than he. What was so scary about this toothpick of a man? This was going to be a piece of cake. I’d wine and dine this old bastard and have him eating out of the palm of my racket hand…boy was I ever wrong. In the week we spent on the boat he never said a word to me. Actually going out of his way to not look me in the eyes and a couple of times even pushed me out of his way. On our last day offshore and just when I thought my ego couldn’t take any more punishment, the seas around us started getting rough and I was feeling queasy. I came up on deck and walked past the rest of the crew to the aft of the boat and promptly threw up over the side. As my spinning head hung over the life lines, I got a gentle tap on the shoulder. Dr “K” was standing there with a concerned look on his face and a Mandarin orange in his hand. “Here, eat this Libbie and keep your eye on the horizon.” I can’t say if it was the orange, horizon or just knowing that the good doctor knew my name, but somehow I was cured.

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