“Good bread is the most fundamentally satisfying of all foods; and good bread with fresh butter, the greatest of feasts.” James Beard (1903-1985)
Cold weather brings out the baker in me, so making breads & rolls has been my weekly Friday 'thing' to do. It amazes me how tossing together simple basic ingredients ~ all normal every day items found in just about every kitchen ~ results in something most folks totally take for granted & don't really think about...bread. There's nothing like the taste, touch & smell of homemade bread. It's beautiful. And there is a satisfaction of knowing you took that water/milk, flour, sugar or honey, salt, butter, and added that magical ingredient ~ yeast and made it into that simple little thing called 'Our Daily Bread'.
"I am going to learn to make bread to-morrow. So you may imagine me with my sleeves rolled up, mixing flour, milk, saleratus, etc., with a deal of grace. I advise you if you don't know how to make the staff of life to learn with dispatch."
Emily Dickinson, American poet (1830-1886)
Here's some pictures of my adventures in Bread Baking....
My Yeast Runneth Over!
I usually 'proof' or soften the yeast by putting it into some warm water & adding a little bit of sugar. If it bubbles & grows, your good to go. Modern yeast is pretty reliable, so this step may not be essential, but it's still pretty cool to see it change from a grainy teaspoon full of nothing into this...
(I usually don't let it bubble up this much, but I walked away for a few minutes & returned to this!)
Mixing...I use my standup mixer, but usually end up kneading it by hand at the end. In my opinion, at some point in the process, breadmaking should be hands-on.
All kneaded & ready to rise.
“If thou tastest a crust of bread, thou tastest all the stars and all the heavens.”
Robert Browning (1812-1889) English poet
Garlic Knots - surprisingly easy to make & quite yummy. I love the texture of this dough.
Cheese Bread - easy, easy, easy! Here it is ready to be baked.
And, after its baked.
Pizza - I've been using the same pizza dough recipe for 20
+ years. It's basic, easy, and just plain good. I've tried other recipes, but just keep coming back to this one.
Cinnamon Bread - still my favorite to make & eat. A slice of cinnamon bread toast is the BEST way to start my day. The aroma that comes from this bread as it's baking is totally beyond words.
"The smell of good bread baking, like the sound of lightly flowing water, is indescribable in its evocation of innocence and delight..."
M. F. K. Fisher
Honey Rolls - this is a new favorite of ours. I've been making them in large batches, but tossing most of them into the freezer to bake as we need/want them. Sure beats anything that Pillsbury Doughboy ever baked! I made a batch this morning, at Ian's request, for Youth Breakfast Sunday. Having Ian's best friend telling me 'they were really really really really really good! I ate 5 of them!' makes my heart smile. AND, as far as teenagers... If you bake for them, they will come! =)
"And Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst."John 6:35 (KJV)
Sunday, January 30, 2011
Posted by Donna Mc at 1:58 PM
Friday, January 14, 2011
Considering we live in the South, you'd think winter would be pretty mild, boring, & dull. Everything a blah, boring winter-color. The temperatures cool, but nothing brutal, and no excitement. Well that changed big time last Sunday! It started snowing really hard, and then a load of sleet & freezing rain was dumped on top of the 5+" of snow we got.
This is Bobbin, on the porch railing, begging to come into the house because it was snowing all over her. She DID NOT like it!
Even the birds were having a hard time coping. Blake put out plenty of birdseed, but I saw birds slipping & sliding around. They couldn't grip & would loose their balance...a very funny sight!
A little squirrel trying to keep warm & out of the wind.
School ended up being canceled (one day at a time) the entire week. What started out as a WAHOO ~ No School or Work Celebration slowly turned into Cabin Fever. Everyone wanted to get out & go somewhere...but we couldn't. The entire area has been completely encased in ICE. And not just a little ice.... A LOT of ICE. The roads are a nightmare. The tv news has had non-stop coverage of the chaos to the point we're sick of it. Enough! Yes, it's snowy & icy. Yes, GA doesn't have many snow-plows. Yes, it's inconvenient...but pull up your big girl panties & deal with it, people. It's mother nature...you can't change it! So just sit back - enjoy the view, appreciate the down-time and chill.
Georgia Snow Plow
I missed 3 days of work, and VERY cautiously went in on Thursday & Friday. Upon arriving at work, I discovered an 'ice skating rink', sidewalk-slide, and beautiful icicles with the long awaited sun shining on them.. No matter how bad things seem, there's always something beautiful...if you look. Here's are some pictures from around FBCLS.
The Neanderthals finally got out of the house Friday afternoon. They went up to FBCLS to try & use their neanderthal skills to bust up the ice on the sidewalk. It was a tough job - but I think it will make a difference, & be a bit safer on Sunday.
It's now Saturday morning...almost a full week of this "Snowmageadon", as the weatherman calls it, and the melt down is finally in motion ~ slow motion, but finally in motion. (Altho' I just heard the weatherman say there might me some more freezing rain soon!) According to local folklore, if snow stays on the ground for 3 days, we'll get more before winter is over. It that's true...we're doomed!
Posted by Donna Mc at 11:45 PM
Monday, January 3, 2011
Our Pastor had a fantastic sermon on Sunday about making the most from your New Year. One of the main points was simply having goals.
His outline made it simple as A B C D...
Assume Responsibilty for my life. Gal. 6:5.
Believe that I can change. Phil. 4:13
Clarify What I really want - What's important? Job 34:3-4, I Cor.10:23
Don't Wait to begin. Eccl. 11:4 Do it NOW!
He challenged us to make SMART Goals....
Specific Motivational Attainable Relevent Trackable = SMART Goals.
And he reminded us that 'life must be enjoyed under imperfect circumstances'. If we wait for the perfect time, we'll never take that first step out the door.
So with all this in mind I found it very ironic that I had already decided that I would make some goals for the new year. I truly want to accomplish somethings and by putting them in writing - I'm hoping that will make me more accountable for them.
My GOALS for 2011 are:
1. Spend a lot less time in Walmart! ...or any other stores. 'Nuff said.
2. Find time to practice & play music together more often. Either flutes, hammered dulcimers, guitar, or mountain dulcimer...or any combination of the above. Blake & I are blessed by our musical abilities, we need to share that blessing more often. He's been playing in church more regularly, but I just haven't made time for it. Soooo - I want to return this blessing from the Lord but playing for Him more often.
3. Quilts! I have so many projects in my head, as well as numerous UFOs (UnFinished Objects) in boxes that I want to work on. I need to work on these projects - they relax my mind and feed my soul. So, I've made a list of the quilting projects that I want to work on this year. They may all not get done, but if I make some progress ~ ANY PROGRESS!~ on them, then the goal has been met. I WANT to sew, so I will make it a priority instead of making it something to procrastinate about with the best of intentions.
PROJECT LIST: (In no particular order...)
Work on the Feathered Star Medallion Quilt thats been sitting too long. I have the center done - but need to keep going. It's a long term project inspired by a quilt I saw on a calendar. So I have no pattern...just work out each 'layer' as I go. I'm up to the first appliqued floral level...and need to go for it!
Quilt the Celtic Stained Glass - it's ready to be quilting. It's sandwiched together & pinned, all the quilting designs are marked (assuming the marks haved disappeared with the humidity!) so I just need just sit down & do it! I could do this in one day if I concentrated & kept myself motivated.
Put together the Amish block exchange I did with the LallyQuilters. The blocks are done, I just need to assemble them. I've designed a setting on EQ with lots a Flying Geese...just go for it & learn how to make those geese fly!
Various others - Nativity Wallhanging, Plaid Stars, Monster-Alien quilt for Cole, figure out the The Ocean Waves Cross I want to make for my office, the Celtic knot bracelets for next year's Christmas gifts AND the 3D folded fabric star for next year's gifts.
And my #1 one - a labor of love in 2011 is for the Church...make the new Advent Banners!
Wahoo - I've always wanted to make this pattern, now I have the 'go ahead' blessing from our minister of music. I showed him a picture of it as a suggestion for the cover of our Christmas Eve bulletin. He REALLY liked the design, & got all excited about the possiblity of it being our Advent banners....so I offered to make it. So no more thinking & dreaming about this one. It's time to order the pattern, shop for fabric, gather a team of ladies who want to help, and DO IT! This one is a GO for 2011!! WAHOOO!
Posted by Donna Mc at 8:40 PM
Our Christmas celebration this year was fun. We started out the day MUCH too early thanks to 2 boys who shall remain nameless,... who just couldn't sleep & HAD to get up. These 2 nameless children have spent most of their Christmas break sleeping in until noon, but not on Christmas morning! Despite having a hard time going to sleep on Christmas Eve, they bounced into our bedroom and dragged us out of bed & demanded that the fun should begin! So, being the good but sleepy parents that we are, but finally let them enter into the livingroom so they could see their loot.
Among the goodies - Ian got a new MP3 player & some funny Cookie Monster undies, and Cole got a massive Nerf gun that is bigger than he is. And they both got several video games as requested. Cole also got something unexpected - 'Big Lenny' the giant crappy he caught back in the spring finally came back from the taxidermist. We didn't tell him, or wrap it up - we just hung it on the wall & waited for him to notice it. It took awhile, but when he finally spotted it - he was pretty impressed. He was also quite surprised with his bacon themed gifts.... Cole being silly, had put 'bacon' down on his Christmas list. So I found a bacon wallet, bacon bandaids, and a book all about bacon for him! Too FunnY!!!
The best Christmas surprise arrived around noon...it started snowing! The Atlanta area hasn't had a white Christmas since the 1880s, so this was quite the Christmas present for everyone. The flakes were huge & fluffy - so pretty to just sit by a window & watch it fall.
New Years was a little bit quieter than usual this year. No special reason...we just were all in a mellower mood I guess. The kids played with their sparklers & some small fireworks, and the adults sat around the campfire chatting & laughing. It was so quiet & mellow that Blake fell asleep in his chair! But all in all it was a pleasant evening.
Rusty made his weird burnt paper flying things....
Its starts out with newspaper twisted & poofed into a bubble. He lights the 4 corners & it burns up...but then if all goes as planned, something really cool happens - it takes flight! It is the coolest looking thing you've ever seen!! (And according to Rusty, in his wilder teenage years, he use to launch them while night-fishing from underneath a local road's bridge. I can just imagine the stories that driver of a car that was passing by still tells about the night he was a 'burning hot UFO'!!! )
We spotted this big ol' barred owl in Pops' driveway as we were arriving for New Years Eve dinner...and finally got a fairly good picture of him.
All in all, 2010 was a good, but challenging year. The economy still stinks - but our Faith in the Lord providing for our needs has carried us through. We are blessed to be together, healthy, and have our home. I am blessed beyond words to have a job I love and be able to serve the Lord while doing it. Blake would much rather be working - but having this unexpected blessing of time off has given him something precious...time with the boys. So, while the $ situation could definitely be better...it could always be worse, so we'll take each day as it comes & continue to count our blessings...because when you get right down to it, God has really & truly just blessed our socks off.
Posted by Donna Mc at 7:46 PM