Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Whole Wheat Bread - yet again

It's been about six months since this post on making 100% whole wheat bread in a mixer. This recipe worked great...a few times...and then it just wasn't working out for me. The loaves were dense, didn't raise well, didn't taste right. But, I've found the answer to all my bread making problems: vital wheat gluten!

So here is the best whole wheat bread recipe yet:

2 1/2 cups hot water
3 1/2 cups white wheat flour
1/4 cup warm water
1 TB yeast
1/3 cup canola oil
1/3 cup honey
1 TB kosher salt
1/4 cup vital wheat gluten
4-5 cups white wheat flour

Mix warm water and yeast in a cup, let bubble for five minutes or so.

In your mixer, mix hot water and 3 1/2 cups flour.

Mix in salt, oil and honey.

Mix in yeast mixture.

Add vital wheat gluten, then about 3-4 more cups flour, until dough doesn't stick to the sides of the bowl.

Mix for 10 minutes.

Spray 2 loaf pans. Once dough has finished mixing, divide the dough in half, shape each piece into a loaf and place in pans.

Cover with a towel and let rise for about 30 minutes (I've been letting mine rise outside where it's nice and warm).

Bake for 25-30 minutes (mine is done in 26) in a preheated 350 degree oven.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Chicago Style pizza

Giordano's pizza.

When we lived in Chicago, we had a sausage and spinach pizza from Giordano's with our friends, the Churches. And then we had it a lot more. It ruined me for pizza forever.

A few weeks ago I was looking for more meat-free recipes and I stumbled across Annie's recipe for Chicago Style pizza. As if I didn't already love her site enough. It was adapted from Cooks Illustrated, and if anyone can crack the code for Chicago pizza, it's the people from Cooks Illustrated.

So it's not Giordano's pizza. But it's close enough. Oh, it's so good. I wish you could all come to my house and I would cook this pizza for you. And then we would eat it again the next day, because it's that good.

If you're not familiar with Chicago pizza, it's more like a pie. Buttery, flaky crust, cheese on the bottom, sauce on the top.

The first time I made it, I used a cast iron skillet. It was okay.

Yesterday I used the cake pan, and it was soooooo much better.

Just look at that thick crust and all that beautiful cheese oozing out.

I love the cheese only pizza. But J demands more toppings. So next time I'll add some spinach and sausage.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Birthday Dinner

J's birthday dinner brought to you by Annie's Eats.

The Honey Chipotle Glazed Chicken gets my vote for best chicken ever.
Picture from Annie's Eats.

Spicy Citrus Black Beans. They were good. J liked them more than I did. Maybe too much vinegar? Or maybe too much citrus. But the chipotle flavor was awesome. I will be on the lookout for more chipotle dishes.

Cilantro Lime Rice. I don't like rice. But I like this rice. This is the third time we've had it this month.

And for dessert? It was supposed to be peach pie. But the peaches aren't ripe. So too bad for me, I had to make Raspberry Truffle Cupcakes again. I doubled the truffle filling and filled the cupcakes with raspberry ganache rather than straight raspberry jam. And then I had some extra so I topped a few cupcakes with the raspberry ganache rather than the raspberry buttercream. Heaven in a cupcake liner, I tell you.
Picture from Annie's Eats.

At the end of the day, we were getting the girls ready for bed and Boo protested, "But we didn't celebrate Dad's birthday yet!" We reminded her of the special dinner, cupcakes, and gifts. She responded, "But we didn't wear the party hats!"

I'm thinking we can get away with really minimal birthday parties from here on long as we remember the party hats. :)

Sunday, July 18, 2010

I finished it twice

You know me and how I love to start things, and somehow never get around to finishing.

Well here is one project I finished TWICE!

I started this grocery cart cover for Kitty in March. It was a lot of fun to make. Although if my mom hadn't been here, I probably would have had a hard time making heads or tails out of the pattern. I started it and finished it in less than a week. (I used Simplicity Pattern 4636).

I was so proud the first time I took it to the store to use it. Until I realized I had neglected to make little holes in the back for the belt buckle to go through. I thought I could get away with no belt buckles. Yeah, right.

So, this once finished project became unfinished, and sat in my unfinished box for 3 months.

Until today!

Isn't it cute?

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Making Toast

I listened to the author of Making Toast on Fresh Air a few weeks ago. I really enjoyed the interview, so I picked up the book from the library.

It's sad. The author's adult daughter dies suddenly from a heart condition, so he and his wife move in with his son-in-law to help out with his three young children.

But I loved it. It's not a long read. It's sobering to think about one's own mortality, but the author's memories of his daughter are inspiring - she was compassionate, devoted to her family, and passionate about education. It reminded me that life is short, I should make the most of my time.

Which maybe explains my sporadic blogging. :)

Friday, July 16, 2010

Two Tutus

My sister-in-law, Leigh-Ann, made the girls these cute tutus for Christmas.

Kitty has always been fascinated by hers. She likes to poke it.

Boo has always been a little scared of hers. She likes to let other kids try it on.

But now the stars have aligned and the girls love their tutus.

Boo especially loves this conversation:

Boo: Mom! Look what we are wearing!
Me: How cute, I love your tutus.
Boo: Did you just say TOOT-TOOTS? Followed by 10 minutes of giggling.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

The Fourth

I love the Fourth.

But sparklers sure are loud.

It's best to solemnly observe fireworks from a safe distance.

But hanging with cousins...that is cool.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

The Great Garden Project

Last year I got Landscaping for Dummies from the library and learned all about raised gardens.

So this year it was time to build one.

It's only a little raised. And it's only a little garden. But I figure I can expand if it turns out that I like to garden and I can grow things.

I'm really happy with the finished product.

Illness, bad weather, and work schedules all combined against me. so that I didn't get my plants in until mid-June. So my crop will be late, but this is my practice run anyhow.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

One Big Happy Family

NPR has become my new source for good reads.

One afternoon I heard an interview of One Big Happy Family by Rebecca Walker. It's a collection of essays by people finding their place in non-traditional families.

I loved it.

Although I did not care for the essay on polyamory. Disturbing.

The essay by a woman dealing with raising a child while her husband is in prison was really sad and difficult to read.

In one essay a man details his experience of working from home. His wife also works from home. Their child is also always at home (either homeschooled or too young for public school). In the essay (IMO), the guy comes across as a bit nuts. I wonder, is this what happens when everyone is home together all the time?

But I found the majority of essays inspiring and enlightening.

Two of my favorite essays centered around adoption. One regarding open adoption, another about a couple struggling to help their adopted son's mother, who chose to live on the streets.

An essay on equally shared parenting had great insights on communicating with a spouse.

The essays on cross-cultural families were so interesting.

It was fascinating to learn about the experiences of other families. Different backgrounds, different life experiences. But as they say in The Muppets Take Manhattan, "Peoples is peoples" (and yes, I get a lot of inspiration from Jim Henson). Everyone is different, but everyone is loving and learning to cope with what life throws at them.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Fun with James and Sabs

We had such a great time with James and Sabrina, their last day with us came too soon.

But before they left, James and Boo ran wild with the soccer ball and backyard obstacle course.

That James, he has some mad skillz.

Before they left, James and Sabrina introduced us to How It Should Have Ended. I'm especially fond of the Twilight and Lord of the Rings episodes.

As James likes to say, "Let's go eat some people!"

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Another day, another zoo trip

We were so tickled to have James and Sabrina visit us this spring.

Of course we had to go to the zoo... touch the sharks...

...and sit in the giant snake....

...and James tried to feed Boo to the giraffes. But in the end the giraffes wanted the sweet potato instead.

We saw the cheetahs race up the hill...and the Discovery Channel is right, they are dang fast.

Kitty was tuckered out.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Kitty's first

In June we celebrated Kitty's first birthday. Boo, Kitty and I spent the morning at the zoo. The penguins were especially entertaining, Kitty stood on the step and watched them for quite awhile.

That evening we had a little party, planned by J and Boo. For Boo, it just isn't a party unless there are party hats.

Boo gave Kitty a zhu-zhu pet. She loves that thing. She will chase it around the kitchen for a good 20 minutes.

The bubble gun was a hit.

And the puzzles.
Grandma sent her the cutest I Spy blanket, picture to come.

We decided to forgo the cupcakes, since we had some at Grandma and Grandpa's house. Instead we had homemade raspberry ice cream with raspberry truffles. Awesome.