Saturday, October 4, 2008

The First Loaf

For all those who love making bread and all those who wish they could make bread. For all those who always turn out a beautiful loaf and for all those who can’t ever seem to get a loaf to turn out, this recipe is for you.

We live in the high altitude of Colorado and it’s very hard to bake a loaf of bread that doesn’t turn out hard or with a crunchy crust.

I tried this recipe called The First loaf by Bernard Clayton’s book: Bernard Clayton’s New Complete Book of Bread’s.

This is a simple white bread recipe that turns out perfect every time.
My kids and husband love it for sandwiches and toast. I like to take a whole loaf and make the most beautiful and delicious French toast you have ever laid eyes on.

I will never buy another loaf of bread again, and since this recipe freezes well I always have a loaf in my freezer.

Have fun and I hope you enjoy it as much as we do!

(Note: I don’t know if its because we are in Colorado and things cook and loose moisture faster or if it’s the recipe but my bread never has to cook the full cook time It usually takes my bread half the cook time.)

(Note: Below I have included his instruction to make by hand or with mixer, his cookbook also offers instructions to make using a food processor.)

The First Loaf

5 to 6 cups all purpose flour, approximately
3 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons salt
1 package dry yeast
¼ cup nonfat dry milk
2 cups hot water (120-130 degrees)
3 tablespoons shortening at room temperature

Baking Pans:
2 medium (8” x 4’) or 3 small (7” x 3”) loaf pans, greased or Teflon

By Hand or Mixer 15min:
In a large mixing bowl measure 2 cups flour, sugar, salt, yeast, and dry milk. Pour the hot water into the dry ingredients and beat by hand or with mixer flat beater to blend thoroughly. Add the shortening; continue beating. Add 1 cup flour and with a wooden spoon beat 100 vigorous stokes, or for 3 minutes at medium speed in mixer.
If by hand, continue adding flour, ¼ cup at a time, and stirring with a wooden spoon until it becomes a shaggy mass. Work more flour into the dough with your hands if it is sticky.
If by mixer, attach the dough hook and add flour, ¼ cup at a time, until dough forms a soft, elastic ball around the revolving hook.

Kneading 10 min:
If by hand, turn the dough out onto a floured work surface and begin to knead with a strong push-turn-fold motion. Occasionally bring the dough down hard against the work surface with a sharp whack! Do this several times during the process. If the dough continues to be sticky, add light sprinkles of flour.
If using the dough hook, continue to knead for 10 minutes. If the ball of dough sticks to the sides of the bowl, add sprinkles of flour. Should the dough try to climb over the protective collar at the top of the hook as it turns, hold it back with the edge of a rubber spatula.
When properly kneaded the dough will be soft and elastic. It can be pulled into a thin sheet when stretched between the hands.
A caution: too much flour will make a hard ball that will behave poorly. Work 1 or 2 teaspoons water into the dough. By the same token, if the dough is wet and slack and difficult to handle, add 1 or 2 tablespoons flour.

First Rising 1 hour:
Place the dough in a lightly greased bowl, cover tightly with plastic wrap to reatain the moisture, and leave at room temperature until the dough has doubled in bulk, about 1 hour.

Shaping 10 min:
Turn back the plastic wrap and punch down the dough. Turn it onto the floured work surface and knead for a moment or so to force out any bubbles. Divide the dough into 2 or 3 pieces with a sharp knife.
Shape each piece into a ball and let it rest on the work surface for 2 or 3 minutes. Form a loaf by pressing the ball of dough into a flat oval roughly the length of the backing pan. Fold the oval in half, pinch the seam tightly to seal, tuck under the ends, and place seam down in the pan.

Second Rising 45 min:
Cover the pans with was or parchment paper and leave until the dough has doubled in volume, about 45 minutes at room tepaerature.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees about 20 minutes before baking.

Baking 400 10 min. 350 25-30 min:
Place the loaves in the hot oven for 10 minutes, then lower the heat to 350 degrees for an additional 25 to 30 minutes. Midway through baking and again at the end turn the pans end for end so the loaves are uniformly exposed to the heat.
If using a convection oven, reduce heat 50 degrees)
When the loaves are a golden brown and sound hollow when thumped on the bottom crust, they are done.

Final Step:
Turn out onto wire racks to cool. If you want a soft, tender crust, brish the hot loaves with melted butter or margarine.
This bread may be frozen for a later presentation – up to 6 months at 0 degrees. Toasts beautifully.

Finally, if this is your first loaf, stand back and admire your creation!

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Quick, healthy, and nutritious Meals

I learned a new one pot cooking method the other day; it is very easy and very yummy!
It’s from a cookbook called Glorious One Pot Meals. Here is the creator Elizabeth Yarnell’s website

It’s a simple way of cooking nutritious, delicious meals for me and my family, using just one pot and it requires very little prep work or forethought you just stick what you have in a pot, put it in the oven and 45 minutes later a complete dinner of meats, vegetables, and grains is ready to eat!
You will need:
1) An enamel coated cast iron pan that has a lip on the inside lid that’s also been sprayed with cooking oil (you can pick these up very inexpensive now at Walmart instead of spending hundreds for a Le Crueset)

2) Frozen or fresh meat in individual serving sizes enough for your family size, She suggested freezing meat in individual serving sizes usually ¼ to ½ pound per person putting them in a small zip loc back and putting those in a labeled large freezer zip lock bag so you can take just what you need to use that night out.

3) Frozen or fresh vegetables cut up or whole skin on or off doesn’t matter it’s your preference and she says there is more nutrients in the skin so she leaves hers on

4) A grain or Carbohydrate of some sort, she used Quinoa, Sweet potatoes, potatoes, canned beans, really the possibilities are limitless (with the exception she said of brown rice and dry beans because they don’t seam to get done all the way) and enough liquid according to package to cook the grain if using.
5) Any flavorings you wish such as any kind of salad dressing as long as its not a creamy dressing, any kind of vinegar based dressing, tomato sauce, juice from lemons and oranges once again the flavoring options are endless its all your families preference

To Cook
Just throw in the carbohydrates, flavorings, meats, and vegetables in the enamel coated cast iron pan and throw it in the oven at 450 degrees for 45 minutes or she says you will know its done when the fragrance of the dish finds you wherever you are in your home it will be done 3 minutes later. When you pull it out you have a delicious complete meal that is cooked to perfection and tastes even better!

I think this is a great way to feed my family healthy nutritious meals that require little prep or thinking ahead and little time. She describes her method in full in her cookbook and also has recipes in her cookbook for macaroni and cheese, eggplant parmesan, etc. using this one pot cooking method. Hope your family enjoys as much as 7 year old had three helpings of this and my 3 year old finally ate her vegies all gone!!!!!

My Small Kitchen

My Small Kitchen,

We have a very tiny eat in kitchen with our family of four. I don’t know about any of you with small kitchens but for me its been a struggle to keep my kitchen looking clutter free and keep the food and appliances organized. I have found a few things that have helped with the kitchen organization but still it takes a lot of work to keep up on a small eat in kitchen!
In order to find a place for everything and have everything in its place we had to get creative and maximize all kitchen space available. That little gap between the cupboards and the ceiling holds our boxed cereal, oatmeal, pitchers, large mixing bowls, etc.
I use one shelf in hour linen closet to store dried and canned goods.
I try to keep my counter space clear from any gadgets, this is hard to do in a small kitchen so I keep my stock of kitchen gadgets to a minimum and I store them in the bottom of a cupboard we purchased to serve in our kitchen as a pantry for food.
Another thing that has worked so well for me through the years is my cute little yellow crock that sits next to my oven and houses all of our cooking utensils. It works so great, doesn’t take up precious drawer space and while I’m cooking I never have to go digging for a spatula in a drawer, I always know right where to find them.
The biggest problem I have with my small kitchen is it gets cluttered fast and requires consistency by putting things back in their places. I haven’t figured out how to do this yet with three other people in our house so I go through it every couple months and spend a good portion of the day reorganizing and de-cluttering.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

A Lesson in Gratitude

I had the worst nightmare last night that involved my oldest daughter. I woke up and tried to get back to sleep but I was feeling too upset.
I was thinking to myself, do I thank the lord enough for the blessings he has given me? The answer is no, It isn’t near enough that I thank him for all he has blessed me with; My two precious daughters, my wonderful husband that provides for us no matter what, my very close and supportive family?
I said a prayer right then and there for all the many blessings in my life and I prayed for my loved ones good health, protection and strength.

After I awoke this morning it was as if all that insight I had gained last night had flown out the window. Bethany was in a cranky and whining mood, Audra had a friend spend the night that was allergic to milk so I had to fix her a special breakfast, I had laundry to put in, dishes to do, and I was trying to figure out how to afford a gift for a friend who’s having a surprise shower today and still be able to pay the mortgage next week.

It’s funny how the pressures of everyday life could make me forget so easily all in this world that’s really important.
So what if I have to make a special breakfast for Audra’s friend? I am thankful for Audra being in my life and that she has such a good friend that lives close and she gets along with so well.
So what if Bethany is cranky? There are many days I wake up feeling the same way, I am grateful that Bethany is in my life, she is by far not always the easiest child with her strong will and her ability to completely demolish any room in under 60 seconds, but I couldn’t imagine my life without her, it wouldn’t be the same. Bethany has this uncanny ability to lighten up any mood, she can charm the socks off anyone, and she has brought so much joy and laughter to our lives, and for her I am thankful.
So what if I have another load of dishes and laundry to do? I am thankful for having running water, a roof over my head, food in our tummy’s, and clothes on our backs. If this is part of the responsibility the lord has given to me for these gifts than I am grateful for it.
I am grateful for my friends and thankful of the time I get to spend with them and having them as part of my life; If one small gift breaks the bank than I will have faith and be grateful to the lord that he is the master of this world, of my life not I, and I know he will get us through it.
In the daily muck of things there is still so much to be grateful for if we only look for it.
I remember the story of the 10 lepers Luke 17:12-19. Jesus heals all 10 lepers and only one comes back to thank him. I have been like the other 9 lepers that did not return to thank Jesus. I get too busy and I can see all that is gong wrong and ask the lord for help in fixing it, but very seldom do I stop to thank the lord for all that is good and all the blessings he has poured out unto our lives………..I am sure this must sadden him as it does me.
Today I make a vow that when I am going through life trying to get the to do list done and I can only see the hardships, I am going to take a moment to reflect and thank god for all that he has done in my life that is good.

What are your thoughts on Gratitude and Thankfulness?

Luke 17:12-19
12As he was going into a village, ten men who had leprosy met him. They stood at a distance 13and called out in a loud voice, "Jesus, Master, have pity on us!"
14When he saw them, he said, "Go, show yourselves to the priests." And as they went, they were cleansed.
15One of them, when he saw he was healed, came back, praising God in a loud voice. 16He threw himself at Jesus' feet and thanked him—and he was a Samaritan.
17Jesus asked, "Were not all ten cleansed? Where are the other nine? 18Was no one found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?" 19Then he said to him, "Rise and go; your faith has made you well."

Friday, September 26, 2008

A little girls birthday and a lesson in the price we pay for beauty!

Yesterday was Audra’s seventh birthday. She has been talking about having her ears pierced for almost a year now so we made an agreement on her seventh birthday we would take her to get her ears pierced.
We decided to take her to the pediatrics office because they offer a special type of earring that is plastic and is not suppose to get infected, does not have to be turned, you never need to use alcohol, and only have to leave in for 6 weeks.
We showed up at 9:30AM and Audra sat on the Doctors table full of anticipation and excitement. The Doctor came in and explained to Audra how to care for her earrings once they are in. Still excited and full of anticipation Audra asks the Doctor “Does it hurt.” Of course the doctor could have chosen a number of ways to answer this question for example; no, just a little pinch or just for a quick second you will barely notice, any of these would have sufficed but instead the doctor responds with “Yes it hurts it’s like getting a shot it will hurt for just a short period of time”.
I could not believe my ears; a pediatrician surely knows that children are terrified of shots and yet she still chose to use a shot as an anology to describe the pain!
Audra was now less than excited she was crunching up both shoulders against her ears and had her head tucked as far down as possible. I went over to her and tried to relax her with some reassuring words, I said “don’t worry most people I’ve spoken with say it doesn’t hurt, it feels like a quick pinch and then its over”.
No sooner had I gotten these words out of my mouth and had she started to relax a bit when the doctor piped in “Yes mom it does hurt it is more like a shot and may hurt for a while after ward”. WAS THIS WOMAN TRYING TO SCARE HER?!
Audra was now confused and rethinking the whole ear piercing thing, her shoulders nudged tightly against her ears. The doctor asks her “do we need to rethink this?” I pipe in “We are here to get your ears pierced and we aren’t going to get them done anywhere else so its now or not at all” Audra slowly put her shoulders down, the doctor holds the gun up to her ear and says “I’m just going to put this up to your ear to make sure its in a good position” (the doctor was concerned about how the piercing would turn out because Audra has such tiny ear lobes) Audra got very brave for such a terrified little girl and held on to me with all her might closing her eyes as tight as she could, the doctor says “okay take a deep breath” and shot the gun. Audra jumps from the sound and the earring is in….. but wait the back didn’t go on the stud. The doctor fidgets with her tiny ear lobes to get the back on the stud and finally one ear down one more to go.
The next ear went much smoother; Audra still clutched to both my arms and buried her head into my chest. POP! The gun went off and WALLA, it was done! A beautiful little girl now with two beautiful diamond looking plastic stud earrings.

We left the office and went home deciding the science museum we had planned for today was not within reasonable driving distance.
When we got home Audra was eager to open her presents, but she knew she had to wait until her dad got home. Audra is in a stage right now where she is into all things science and she was just praying and hoping that she got something science. All I heard for the next few hours was “when is daddy going to be home” “I wish daddy would hurry up and get home” “can I call daddy”.
I was reaching my wits end, It was 90 degrees outside on this beautiful Fall day and was starting to bake inside the house, I had a seven year old that was growing more impatient by the minute, and we where all hungry, so we decided to get out for a while to get our minds off things. We went to daddys work to pick up his check and then I took the girls to grab a bite of their favorite food in the world….pizza.
When we got home time had flown by and daddy arrived soon after. Before he could walk in the door Audra realized he was home and stood at the top of the stairs holding a present in her hands, ready to open it. She got to open all her presents and they were all science projects, she was thrilled!
We went to see Igor at the movie theater and when we got home Daddy, Audra, and Bethany made the Carnivorous Green house she received as a present, it then went into the fridge where it will stay for 8 weeks so it can germinate…see you in November!
All in all it was a good day. I can’t believe how fast Audra is growing up; she is already seven years old! She is doing great in school; she has lots of friends, and cares so deeply for her family. She knows Christ and sometimes I find her reminding me of how god wishes us to live our lives. She is very responsible and well beyond her years. It is such a gift watching her grow into a beautiful, well rounded, young lady!