Ode to peanut butter

I'm not sure what it is about a PBJ that I love so much.  A lot of it is the bread its on.  I have very fond memories of my mom's homemade wheat bread that was sometimes pretty crumbly, but with peanut butter to glue it together, it was awesome.

Elementary school sack lunches with a PBJ on Wonder white bread with grape jelly is another story.  The jelly would sit for hours soaking into the bread.  Then when you finally got to take it out of the fold-over plastic bag, it was smooshed and slightly dried out, but it was a bite of happiness.

And honey!  When honey soaks into white bread it gets crunchy.  Mmmmmm.

My very favorite store bought bread is Oroweat Multi-grain.  But its expensive so I settle for the Farm Bread at Lin's.  I like making bread when I have time, and homemade wheat bread with peanut butter is delightful.  Have you ever needed a peanut butter fix, but all you had in the house were hot dog buns?  Or tortillas?  Hot dog buns are better than tortillas.  I'll leave it at that.

I used to buy Jif because, well, choosy mothers choose Jif.  And it was yummy.  But I like Western Family just fine.  I cleaned out the last jar with a rubber spatula to get it ALL and went to get my backup jar but couldn't find it!  Gasp.....Panic attack!  I checked the closet and all the cupboards and almost ran to the store when I remembered the twirly cupboard...Yessssss!  I think I'd better have a few more in my storage closet.

When the kids were small and my husband came home for lunch unexpectedly, I offered him a peanut butter sandwich.  He replied that he wished he could have peanut butter more often.  I said he needed to come home for lunch more often.

This is a haiku I wrote to express my joy for peanut butter.

Creamy nutty spread -
delight with apricot jam...
peanut butter

Early Thanksgiving

We had our family (minus two) over for an early Thanksgiving dinner yesterday.  Since four of our kids and their families were here this last weekend, we decided to go all out and have a full blown feast with those who were here.  It was so much fun to have Dan, Debbie and Jordan, Erica and Nate, Stephanie and her boyfriend, Rodney, Anne and my niece Katie over for dinner.

While I was making gravy, I heard a high pitched scream and thought in a split second panic, "Where's Jordan?!?"  Debbie calmly said, "She's just excited.  Welcome to my world!"  What an exuberant way to show joy - scream at the top of your lungs.

I tried a new brine recipe for my turkey that turned out really well.  I usually just use salt and water but this looked interesting.  Its a citrus turkey brine I found at allrecipes.com.  I didn't have any lemon wedges so I used RealLemon instead.  It was delicious!  The white meat was a little dry, but its usually drier than the dark meat.  Next time I'll turn the turkey upside down and roast it with the breast sitting in the juices.  I've done that a few times before and it sure comes out moist.

And I love homemade country-style mashed potatoes, with the skins left on.  One year I made mashed potatoes for a family Thanksgiving dinner that turned out beautifully.  I heard from my sister-in-law that her daughter commented on them.  "Mom, these potatoes are heaven!"  :-)  Yay!  That made my day.

Just add lots of butter and sour cream!  If you're a wimp like me, use reduced-fat butter spread and fat-free sour cream.  At least that way I don't have to feel too guilty about over-indulging.

I hope you all have a delicious and fun Thanksgiving, surrounded by people you love.

Ginger wins!

So I added powdered ginger to my wheat bread recipe and made the best bread ever.  I picked up a magazine (LDS Living) that had baking tips from the head baker at the Lion House in Salt Lake City.   I guess waiting an hour and a half for a new muffler wasn't a complete drag.

Her name is Brenda Hopkin and she said that by adding 1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon ginger to your wheat bread you could increase the volume of your yeast.  She wasn't specific, but I think she meant "per loaf".  I thought I'd give it a try.

This recipe came from my sister, Valerie, who makes it for her husband and five very active boys.  Its a great recipe - hot wheat bread in an hour and a half.  I had a hard time getting the hang of it (think bricks) until I asked her what I was doing wrong.  The recipe wants you to let it rest for 15 minutes, not rise until doubled like most bread recipes do.  I'd go off and get distracted by something shiny and forget I was making bread, and come back to find dough oozing over the side of the bowl.  More bricks.

So here's the recipe for 100% Whole Wheat Bread

5 cups hot tap water
1/3 cup vital wheat gluten
2/3 cup oil
2/3 cup honey
2 tablespoons salt
3 heaping tablespoons yeast
12-14 cups wheat flour (I used 13 cups)
1/2-1/4 teaspoon powdered ginger

I grind my own wheat.  I believe this is hard white wheat - its a good way to rotate our home storage supply, and cheaper that store-bought wheat flour.

Mix everything together.  I have never bothered with dissolving yeast in water before adding it.  The only time I do is when I'm not sure if the yeast is still active.  I only use enough flour to keep the dough from sticking to the sides.  Mix it on high for six minutes.

It will be sticky and very soft!  Put the dough in a greased bowl, cover it and set the timer for 15 minutes.  In the meantime, get your pans ready.  

I used to have eight nice bread pans, but who knows where they are now.  Probably in the backyard with all those plastic containers we used to call Tupperware.  I have two left.  Bread pans, not Tupperware.  I have some 8" foil bread pans that I keep reusing and they're so cute!  This recipe made two regular loaves and four smaller loaves.  If you're using regular pans, it will make five.

Divide the dough into six separate lumps and don't worry, the counter has been disinfected...Shape them into loaves and place them in the greased pans.  

Cover them and set the timer for 25-30 minutes, just enough time to watch a few of Mater's Tall Tales.  Yes, the kids are all grown, but my husband and I are kids at heart.  
(A few minutes before the timer goes off, preheat your oven to 350 degrees)

The recipe says to bake for 30 minutes, but that's a little too long for me so I baked them for 25 minutes instead and they were perfect.

Light and fluffy and delicious with butter and honey.  

If you have a favorite bread recipe, I'd love to try it!

I love poached eggs.

Making them the "right" way always seemed so intimidating though.  My idea of poaching was to use a little metal custard-like cup sprayed with Pam that was placed in simmering water.  It was good, but I've always been intrigued by poaching an egg by plopping it right into the water.

But you know what?  It's not that hard.  I looked around for a few websites that explained it and always came away scratching my head, until I found one that made sense.  I wish I knew which one it was so I could give him credit.

The trick is using a little vinegar.  Something about vinegar holds the protein together so the egg doesn't turn into egg drop soup.  I'm not a chemist so I couldn't even start to explain why it works.  I personally can't taste the vinegar, but two of my daughters said they didn't care for it.  I guess it's like my mom trying to convince me that I really couldn't taste the difference between real milk and powdered milk.  (Like I'm so sure.  Powdered milk was gross when I was 15.  Now that I'm older its not that bad).

But I digress...I made poached eggs this morning and thought it would be interesting to take some pictures.

Start with a medium sauce pan and about 3" of water, 1-3 teaspoons white vinegar (I used cider vinegar) and 1 teaspoon of salt.  Crack your egg into a custard cup or small bowl and set it aside.

Bring the water to a boil and then turn the heat off but don't remove the pan.

Dip the cup with the egg into the water just enough to let a little of the hot water in with the egg then gently tip the egg into the water.

Please ignore the old pot.  I've been using this thing for 28 years and its been burned and boiled dry but its still one of my favorites.

Cover the pot and set the timer for three minutes, unless you don't like runny eggs.  Leave it in a few minutes longer if you want them firmer.

This is my egg at three minutes.

Remove it with a slotted spoon and drain it as much as you can.

Serve on toast or an english muffin.

Cut up with pepper...


I love to cook.

Waiting for a pattern

So I've decided to make the Sweet Harmony bag, but no one in town has the pattern.  I could order it online, but I don't want to pay $6-$8 in shipping.  I'm cheap.  I'll most likely pay more than I need to for nice fabric, and with the pattern costing between $8 to $12, that's going to make one expensive bag.  So I've asked Quilted Works to order the pattern.  At least that way I can avoid the shipping costs.

In the meantime, I'll make some wheat bread.  My sister, Valerie, gave me an awesome recipe for 100% whole wheat bread that is ready to eat in an hour and a half.  I've really enjoyed the recipe, but lately the loaves are coming out a little heavy.

I picked up a magazine at the mechanic while I was waiting for a new muffler and read an interesting article.  The head baker at the Lion House in Salt Lake City was being interviewed and she said that by adding 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon of powdered ginger, you would get more volume from your yeast.  Who would have thought that?  How do people figure these things out?  I'm going to try it and see what happens.

No shows

I was all set to teach the makeup class for the Bellanca Bag, ready to put my new-found knowledge to work, but no one came.  So I went shopping instead.  I found some new shoes, a pair of jeans and some khaki pants.

I think what I'll do instead is go get some more fabric and make another bag.  I'll take photos as I go and post them here with instructions.  Maybe I'll try a different bag.

Here are few ideas:

My Favorite Bag Pattern

They're all pretty neat for different reasons.  I would choose a bold fabric from a quilt shop.  I like adding my own flair to projects.  Some people want their project to look exactly like the model they're copying, which is fine.  But I can't conform...must rebel...

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