Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Bready Goodness

Above is the very first loaf of bread I made using the methods described in a really neat book called: Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day (it's a pretty nifty website as well). Notice that we had already eaten half of it before I remembered that I wanted a picture of it to share. This book is not new, it came out last year, I read about it on Angry Chicken, I put a hold on the book at the library, and about two weeks ago got the book... I think we may have to buy it as I don't want to give it back.

The book has many base recipes that you may then tweek slightly (mostly in the shaping) to make many kinds of bread and is based on the idea that you can make a large-ish batch of moist dough, keep it in your refrigerator for up to two weeks, and just pull off hunks of dough to bake that day so you can easily have fresh bread in your home without starting form scratch nor running to the store. So far I've only done the basic recipe-- and it is really good-- who knew what four really basic ingredients can do? Water, yeast, salt, and flour-- that's it!-- and oh so good! I'm still working on my technique and we're learning what we like-- as the dough ages it develops a sourdough flavor and aroma which is interesting but we haven't decided if we like it better.

I like how convenient it is although you do have to plan ahead a little-- once you've shaped the loaf you leave it on the counter for 40 minutes-1 1/2 hours (but you don't have to attend to it) then you bake it for about half an hour (for the little loaves that we make). The five minutes the title talks about refers to the hands-on time which is minimal.

I like that I can make loaves the size that we need them and I like that I know exactly what is in them. Another thing that I like about the book, besides it's straightforward nature, is that they also give you dinner recipes that the bread should compliment. I'm always open for good dinner ideas!


As a side note I wanted to mention one of the many reasons I love my husband:

It was the Saturday before last. I had a busy day. I attended Women's Conference in the morning. When I got home I laid brick borders around the new flower beds (one is 10 feet long, the other is 3o feet long-- Dennis helped!) then proceeded to plant over 100 Gladiola bulbs. I came in, showered, made dinner and a new batch of bread dough to have on hand. At the end of the day I was tuckered out and hadn't done the morning or mid-day dishes so the kitchen was showing signs of neglect (tiny kitchens show neglect very quickly). When the beau came back home I apologized for the kitchen being a mess and walks over, gives me a hug, and says "but the bathroom's clean so 'Thank you!'"

Now it's not that I always keep a spotless house-- that's just not the case! Nor do we as a couple consider it my "wifely duty" just I make an effort since I am at the house a lot more than he is. And since he's so nice about it it makes me want to get more done around the house so then when he is home his time can be spent either building something useful or spending time with me-- not vacuuming-- because he will vacuum if I don't and that in itself makes me want to vacuum. Well played, Honey, well played.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Happy Birthday to Dad

Since he has already received (and eaten) his gift I may now post about it. Earlier this month my dad turned 60-- I'm glad he made it thus far! So for this monumental occasion I made him something he's always said he'd want...

Chocolate Chip-less Chocolate Chip Cookies

Yeah, Dad's an odd duck. I remember growing up and my oldest sister, Heather, would make chocolate chip cookies... she liked doing things like that every now and then-- I'm glad she did. And I remember on several occasions as she transferred the freshly baked goodness from the cookie sheets to the over lapping rows of tin foil that covered a portion of the table (in our house, we never made small batches of cookies!) our dad would walk through the kitchen and say something to the effect of: 'It's too bad you had to ruin them by putting those chocolate chips in there.'

Of course that didn't stop him from eating a bunch of them!

Here are the cookies with the card I sent along. On the inside the card read:

The Bad News: we're all headed there eventually

The Good News: you still have a few years until you get there

I'm glad you liked them, Dad, Happy Birthday!

Friday, April 17, 2009

Road Trip! episode 3

I've had some connectivity issues lately, and sadly they are not quite resolved... but I'll do what I can. So here is the last installment of the Canada Trip with Jayna. We had a good time!

Jayna has an affinity for trains so of course she really likes having a few sets of tracks right outside the door! I thought it was pretty cool however I would have liked it if the trains stopped at night. I found myself waking up four or five times a night. I was able to get back to sleep quickly but over a few days it started to catch up with me.

This is Jayna's friend Veronica-- she's super nice! She's part of a community marching band (umm she plays the tuba). Jayna and I went with her to a rehearsal-- Awesome!

And of course I have to include a picture of the dog-- we love him! I haven't seen him in a few years and was looking forward to hanging out with him. His age is starting to show... he doesn't like to go for walks and things so much anymore which is kind of sad but he does seem to enjoy his time on the couch. He's a funny cutie with many many nicknames... my favorites include "Floppy Ears," "Dog Face," and "Kitty." Yes we love the dog.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Road Trip! episode 2 Niagara Falls Picture-palooza

We had a great time at Niagara Falls! Of course pictures don't do it justice so... of course I'm posting a lot of pictures-- stands to reason right? Above is Jayna in front of the Horseshoe Falls-- which was completely and mind boggling-- all that water-- every second! It's huge... and this being the off season there was not as much water as one would see in the summer.

This was taken from an observation deck "Behind the Falls" that you can pay to go down an elevator. Again with the off-season the ticket was cheaper but the lower deck was closed since it was filled with ice. I'm still glad we went down.

He was cute

This one looked melancholy

The amount of ice is pretty amazing in it's own right

Lots of ice

You can see that weather conditions were ideal for scenic viewing

I don't think this requires comment (says the comment)

I love the sister

Between the falls and our parking place there was this highly trimmed garden that we both thought was interesting.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Road Trip! episode 1

I love my sisters (especially when they make funny faces)! So I was very happy to have an adventure with one of them: Jayna! Nothing against Heather and all, she's just far away and didn't fly to Michigan to take a road trip. I love you too Heather so when you come to visit I'll blog about that. And if you get your passport I'll take you to Canada.

Jayna flew in on a Tuesday afternoon and we had an action-packed day and a half while she was in town which was fun and included making a batch of CranApple Butter for her to take with her and her getting a hair cut. After the action-packed day and a half we got in the car and headed for Canada-- which is only about two hours away. I took her to see a friend in Quebec and we planned to stop by Niagara Falls on the way since it was not too great a detour.

We left the house a little after 8 am which is a little later than I was planning but it was good that I got full night's rest since I had a long day of driving ahead.

At out first gas stop I noticed this apartment complex for birds. In this shot alone there is no fewer than eight birds and there were many more flitting about... these were just the ones holding still.

We got to Niagara Falls a little after 1pm. The real Niagara Falls pictures will be in the next post so I will close with pictures of Jayna and I having our lunch in the deserted restaurant. Yeah, it's the off-season.

Yum! At this point of the day I was very much awake and enjoying these tasty vittles.