28 January 2009
27 January 2009
Civilized. That is how I feel now that my husband has switched to tea in the mornings rather than soda. I love asking" Should I put the kettle on?" and hearing the soft boil of water rather than the pop of a can opening and the fizzing of bubbles against the sides of a glass. It is a much more zen way to start the day.
22 January 2009
We toasted marshmallows in the fireplace over sticks the kids help collect in the backyard.
The bread is a very simple Irish soda bread recipe from joyofbaking.com.
This bread was pretty easy to make. It came together in minutes and bakes in about 45. I added the optional oats, and it really gave the bread a nice body and texture. This is a hearty bread that is great to pair with soups and stews. I will definitely be making it several more times this winter! I can't wait to have it in the morning with some blackberry jam and tea.
1 1/2 cups (210 grams) all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups (210 grams) whole wheat flour
2 tablespoons (30 grams) granulated white sugar (optional)
2 tablespoons old fashioned rolled oats (optional)
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups (360 ml) buttermilk (soured milk)
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C) and place the rack in the center of the oven. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
In a large bowl, whisk together the flours, sugar, oats, baking soda, and salt. Make a well in the center of the flour mixture and add most of the buttermilk. Using yours hands, or a wooden spoon , mix (adding more buttermilk if necessary) until you have a soft moist dough.
Transfer to a lightly floured surface and gently knead the dough into a 7 inch (18 cm) round that is about 1 inch (2.54 cm) thick. Place the round on your prepared baking sheet and then, with a sharp knife, cut a 1/4 inch deep "X" across the top of the bread.
Bake for about 40 - 50 minutes or until nicely browned and a toothpick inserted into the center of the bread comes out clean. You can also test that is fully baked by tapping the bottom of the bread - it should sound hollow. Remove from oven. This bread is wonderful when served warm with butter and jam. It also makes great toast.
From Joy of Baking. She hasn't steered me wrong yet! I have tried her buttercream icing (wow) and her Fairycakes ( scone - like cupcakes. Heaven in a paper cup.)
20 January 2009
Here's the recipe:
- 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup good-quality unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
- 1 1/2 cups sugar
- 1/2 cup vegetable shortening, substitute 1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled
- 1 large egg
- 1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- Preheat oven to 375. Whisk together flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl; set aside.
- Put butter and sugar into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix on medium-high speed until pale and fluffy. Mix in shortening (or additional butter). Add egg and vanilla; mix until creamy. Reduce speed to low. Gradually add flour mixture, and mix until just combined.
- Using a 2 1/2-inch ice cream scoop, drop dough onto baking sheets lined with parchment paper, spacing about 4 inches apart. Bake until edges are firm, 18 to 20 minutes. Let cool on sheets on wire racks. Cookies can be stored in an airtight container up to 2 days.
I used more butter vs shortening. Delicious! I used a 1 tablespoon cookie scoop and I reduced the baking time to 10-12 minutes.
This is a very nice, mellow cookie. Not too sweet, not over-chocolaty. Great with a cup of tea. What I am curious about is how can it be altered? Since it is such a basic flavor, I am wondering what a dash of cinnamon or cardamon will do for it. I also wanted to toy with a light citrus glaze, but I was out of powdered sugar. Oh, well. Next time!
15 January 2009
Wall-E Down To Earth from Anthony Meadows on Vimeo.
Thought this video was cute, and that is the same toy my kids have. "Play Wall-E Mom!" is all I have heard for weeks now.
Of those 11 grandchildren, only 4 of them were girls.
(Aren't they adorable!)
One these little girls has Leukemia.
( Don't go shutting down on me - She is getting the best medical care available, she is well loved and has an amazing support network - see below!)
This little girl has 4 uncles, all of whom vowed to let her shave thier heads after the family pictures!
Each of the grand kids took turns shaving their dad/uncle's head. It was an amazing sight. I have never seen a family so tightly woven together as this one. It was a beautiful sight to behold and I am so grateful to have been a part of this day with them!
(If you have any Holiday money left, and a bit of cheer to go with it, the family supports the Make a Wish Foundation. The do great work. Just sayin'!)
12 January 2009
Since we have been trapped at home by a puking 3 year old (she's just fine, we're worn out), I made a treat for Husband that he has been longing for since we watched Alton Brown make it - blueberry muffins.
Alton had a very specific method to his muffins that results in a wonderful texture. He doesn't over mix the batter and he doesn't fully heat the oven on the pre-heat. He says that over mixing leads to a few large bubbles in the final product instead of a lot of small bubbles that make the perfect muffin texture. He doesn't heat the oven all the way until the batter is in it so as to guarantee the burst of heat needed to make the muffins rise.
The recipe itself is what I want in a muffin - velvety and sweet. If I am going to eat bread for breakfast, I will make it a multi-grain that is healthy. If I am going to eat a muffin, by god it better be soft and tasty.
Now as far as execution goes, I think I am missing a key component in Alton's plan - a good set of muffin tins. I have silicone and I don't think it worked as well with this recipe. My muffins don't really look anything like Mr. Brown's. Don't get me wrong, still yummy - just not as tall and a little more brown on the top.
All and all, I will be making these again, only I will make them with chocolate chips - the kiddos and I aren't huge fans of the blueberry. I will post that little experiment when it occurs.
09 January 2009
08 January 2009
Daughter got an Indiana Jones whip complete with a John Williams soundtrack built in on Christmas eve. Every child that has touched it since loves it madly. It really doesn't hurt when it hits you in the face. More of a shock than pain...
Surprised Husband with Callisto figure (a villain from Xena, my daughter's favorite TV show.)
Presents were opened hungrily on Christmas Morning.
And homemade buttermilk biscuits and handmade cinnamon rolls were hungrily eaten as part of our breakfast feast. (All courtesy of Alton Brown of course!)
And up until Christmas dinner, the worst injury sustained was my boy. He wanted to cancel Christmas because he hurt his "present opening" finger.
Then came dinner. Oma fell over a baby gate while getting my girl some milk. She fell. Dislocated and broke her ankle. It was the most horrifying thing I have ever seen. It was like something from a zombie movie, since things weren't attached the way they were supposed to be. I managed to get the children out of the room before they saw or heard anything. Oma was in a terrible amount of pain. That was the worst of it. As the panic rose and so did the tears, I had to remind myself that of all the reasons to have an ambulance on it's way to the house, this one is alright. a broken ankle isn't life threatening. Oma is young, very healthy and active, so I knew she'd recover. I guess it is all about perspective. Easy for me to say - it wasn't my ankle!
She is recovering well now and the pain is under control. All's well that end's well I guess.
OK, on to happier things:
I did a lot of handmade things this year and received one as well!
Here is the present I received. Love it! How awesome is this pillow! My cousin-in-law made this guy. I am smitten. My daughter and I fight over it - I keep finding him in her bed.
I made presents that comprised of a few of these killer brownies and a salted caramel sauce. This pairing is to die for. Some notes on these recipes:
Brownies: I like a cakey brownie so I add an extra 1/2 cup of flour. It also makes the batter hold up in the shaped cupcake pans.
Sauce: The recipe calls for kosher salt. I have learned to use ground sea salt instead. it melts faster.
I made these stocking stuffers for my boy, and I will be doing it for every birthday and Christmas from now on. They are coupons. Eight " get out of eating your peas", 16 " Good for staying up one hour past bedtime to play Warcraft with Dad" and 24 " Good for one hour of Playstation." He really digs these as he isn't allowed to play Playstation on school nights. I love that I can recycle the used coupons and I didn't buy any more PVC toys to put in a landfill via his stocking.
I made ornaments for our friends and mailed them out. I love getting fun packages in the mail, so I thought it might be fun to send all of them a surprise!
Both types of ornaments were made using t-shirt iron-ons. The first one is on fimo clay that has been rolled and cut then backed with fabric. The second one is basically a little pillow that I ironed the image on. They were fun to make and not terribly hard. I made about 20 in three night's work. The clay ones were the hardest - it took awhile to master the transfer technique. All of the failures looked really cool, so I foresee that process appearing in my husbands work very soon.
Enough! Christmas is over so I need ot stop babbling about it! On to 2009.
I reduce the cooking time to 45 minutes to compensate for the shallower pan.
ps. This bread topped with honey makes for a very decadent breakfast or snack.
from The Pastry Queen, by Rebecca Rather
- 3 cups all purpose flour
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 3 tablespoons sugar
- 1 (12 ounce) bottle good-quality beer or ale ( I use Harp. I also don't let it go flat , I have heard some people do this. I don't and I get a nice texture to the bread.)
- 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Generously grease a 9 by 5 inch loaf pan with butter or cooking spray. In a medium bowl, stir together flour, baking powder, salt, and sugar. Pour in the beer and stir until just incorporated. (The dough will be sticky and heavy). Pour half the melted butter into the bottom of the prepared loaf pan. Spoon in the bread dough and pour the remaining half of the butter on top. Bake for 50 to 60 minutes, until the bumpy top is golden brown. Remove from the pan and serve immediately.
03 January 2009
We hit the Festival of Lights last night. Usually we go during the week so we can avoid the crowds, but the (kinda) mild weather got the better of us. We were rewarded with a long lines, parking nightmares and a constant panic that someone was going to run into my camera while trying to push past me. It wasn't all bad. It truly is beautiful and the kids loved the train ride. We will just make sure to plan a bit better next year and go on a Tuesday night!
02 January 2009
As usual, this little lady took the cake! She is always in the middle of the craziest moments of the evening.
While dressed as Wonder Woman, little lady wanted to know where she could fight crime. Her (adopted) Aunt sent her after our friend D.
She proceeded to pretend to glue his hands together and apply make up to his face. Then she attacked another man, gluing him into place and making him over as well. She turned her sights on my boy and it didn't go so well. He fought tooth and nail as he refused to be glued down anywhere!
Then D said that the problem is that all the older men have already had their souls broken by women, so when our little lady started to boss them around they just did as they were told, whereas my boy was still too young to be broken!
I am just including this shot as a warning to what a group of determined children can do!