A Nest for All Seasons A Nest for All Seasons: December 2010
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29 December 2010

when you wish upon a star...

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"When you wish upon a star...(or a dandelion)" 
Check out more Sunday Citar's @ Fresh Mommy!

What I've been working on lately...  Have you ever tried using a wood burning tool?  I found one a few years ago at a yard sale for probably a quarter...and besides carving initials into our old home, I haven't really used it.  Well...cue clearance wood panels from IKEA ($3) and the wood burning tool got another go at a little more artisitc project...

 It's a little crude...the artist needs more practice :)  
 ...but for $3.25 artwork, I am pretty happy!
...promise I'll show more when  it is complete :)

How to Make Yeast Bread from Scratch

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Overwhelmed by the thought of making your own bread?

It's SO much easier than you might think!  I've got to give credit where credit is due though...My first experience with yeast bread is from my Grannie and then my mom.  The same yeast rolls every time a big meal rolled around - big, lusty, eggy yeast rolls...yum!  Then, my SIL Kjerstin made these TO DIE for rolls with lots and lots of BUTTER...YUM!  Then my dear friend Amy posted this.  I was done.  I had to try it.

So I ruled out Grannie and Kjerstin's rolls for daily bread making because of the butter and the eggs.  I needed something that didn't take attention.  I also needed something I could throw in the fridge and pull out when needed.  I basically followed Amy's recipe, in half, with some sugar to give the yeast something to "feed" on and make the rolls even yeastier. (Is that a word?)

So anyway...here goes...it is so easy you'll cry..in joy...

The Classic Yeast Bread Measurements:

Remember: 6-3-3-13 or in half  3 - 1.5 - 1.5  - 1.5 - 6.5

Get a big bowl and put in 3 cups of quite warm water.  I think of it as warm enough to get the yeast working, but not burn them.  I'm not sure if that is scientifically accurate...but it works!

Add 1.5 Tablespoons of kosher salt.  Do you have kosher salt?  You should.  It is not that much more expensive than the garden variety salt.  In fact, the box is so big, the price might be equal.  Anyway, it is cut into these bigger chunks and the burst of flavor on food is amazing.  Your food tastes more like your food, less like salt.  It's yummy.  It's in a navy blue box on the bottom shelf usually.

Add 1.5 Tablespoons of yeast. 

If you are buying yeast in the little packets, please stop.  You can buy yeast in a big bag for about $4.  I think it might be worth a Costco membership just for the saving on a bulk bag of yeast if you are going to be making your own bread.  The bag looks like this:

I store the yeast in these little jars...they are at garage sales for 25 cents all the time...I find them priceless...If you'll look closely, you'll notice that this particular jar has bacon fat.  Birdy suet coming up! (More details on this HERE) Anyway, store your bacon fat and yeast in jars in the fridge.

So to review...3 cups warm water (don't burn the yeasties!), 1.5 T salt and 1.5 T yeast.  Are you with me?  Now sprinkle in a little sugar to give the yeast a treat!  Your rolls won't taste sweet, but they will be loftier and taste "yeastier" (still not sure if that is a word??)

Now, give it a little stir and go do something else for 10 minutes.  For me, I usually put the coffee on and empty/fill the dishwasher.  That is usually enough time to activate the yeast.

THEN...add flour.  6.5 cups of it.

Big white fluffy flour works.  As does whole wheat. Beware though; your husband might notice and refuse to eat them because they taste too "healthy", so be stealthy and add something like this is small quantities.

By the way, I made that photo of the flour a heaping cup on purpose.  You should follow the exact instructions to start, but eventually you get a feel for how much flour goes in, so you can wing it a little.  I usually add 6 heaping cups and forget the .5 at the end.  the little things, right?

After you add the flour (carefully so you don't have flour everywhere), use a big wooden spoon and FOLD the flour into the dough.  You don't want to work it too much...just incorporate the flour into the wet ingredients.  Once it is fairly well mixed, dust your hands in flour and finish molding a big mound of dough.  PS...this is totally the best part.  Molding warm, yeasty smelling dough by hand is like playdough for adults...so comforting...Sometimes I make bread just for this part.  Don't mix too much!  It will look like this!

Leave it alone in a warm spot (kitchen counter) for 2-3 hours until is rises.  Remold it and then either shape it to bake or throw it in the fridge for up to 3 days to use later.  This post is getting mad long, so I am stopping here, but will post the shaping part later if you are a visual type.  Basically though, flour your hands and roll the dough loosely into the shape you want.  I use a pizza stone dusted with cornmeal for bread and a glass pan for biscuits.  Once you get the hang of the basic dough, you can make a million different variations.  Well, perhaps not a million, but you get the point.  Add honey instead of sugar.  Throw in fresh dill from the garden.  Brush the top with egg if you want.  Dust it with cinnamon sugar.  Make cinnamon rolls.  The list goes on and on.  Have fun!  Enjoy!

For those who want the simple recipe:

6 cups warm water
3 T yeast
3 T salt

Mix and let sit for 10 minutes.

Add 13 cups flour.

Mix and let rise 2-3 hours.

Deflate dough with wooden spoon.

Shape dough into biscuits of a loaf.  USE EXTRA flour on your hands to avoid sticking and make sure you spray the pan before adding the dough.  Flouring the pan as well helps to keep the rolls from sticking.

Shaped Biscuits - Use lots of flour on your hands!

After the shaping into biscuits of a loaf, there is a second rising, but it is fairly short 15-30 minutes.

Risen Biscuits ready to go into the oven!  This is the SECOND rising. 

Coming soon?  This basic recipe stttrrreetched out to make homemade ciabatta bread


Want more DIY in the Kitchen?  You got it!  Click the pic below for tons of recipes!

For a loaf, it takes approx. 45-60 minutes at 350 depending on how you like it. When the crust turns a very light brown, take it out! (unless you egg washed it in which case it will be browner).


...and I forgot to mention these biscuits are best served with this...

27 December 2010

Is there really an Everything Bagel?

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Yes there is!  ...and I never would have known if it weren't for Mad Hungry...one of my two new favorite cookbooks.   I think I was reading blogs too much because when I opened this book it was a totally tactile experience.  The cover doesn't give you a true idea of what is inside.   It is a beautifully constructed book with silky pages, bound with string and simple, tasteful, artful photography.  ...all that before you even start reading.

The author is a Martha Stewart icon and the recipes are of that caliber...but they are for guys.  Hearty, wholesome, yummy food...it is amazing...

This morning, I made the everything bagels:

How amazing does that look?
 Don't those pages look good enough to eat?  Now, look at the outside...totally different feel, yes?  My guess is that they wanted men to buy this book too, so they couldn't make the cover too pretty...but who knows?
  Anyway, click on that cover over there on the left and you can buy your own copy of Mad Hungry on sale from around 30 bucks to $16.  It is worth every penny - I promise!

So this is the "everything" bagel.  I had never heard of them before this book, but basically it is a bagel with the works...poppy seeds, sesame seeds, garlic, onion, etc, etc.  It is yummy.
Next you will need to fry some bacon.  
(Click on the link above to see how!)
Then you need two eggs - room temp.
...and some butter...
...and a slice or two of cheese...
Assembling the bagel is fairly easy.  You just warm a skillet on Medium, drop a Tablespoon (or hunk as I do) of butter into the pan.  As soon as it has melted, crack the eggs gently to fry them.  The whites will slowly go from clear to white.  At that point, puncture the yolks and place the cheese on top.  Allow it to melt a bit, add the bacon and fold the eggs over like an omelet.  Lay it all on a sliced, toasted bagel and you get...
YUM.  ...but a bit much for one person...so split it with a DH...

If you missed the link...here it is again.  I can't say it enough - BUY THIS BOOK!

How to Fry Bacon

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Most people know how to fry bacon.  I am one of those people now.  I was NOT one of those people five years ago.  In fact, I completely embarrassed myself trying to fry bacon in front of a former employee.  I was a nanny for a guy who was a chef for the Library of Congress.  ...not just a lowly line cook, mind you....he was a full on chef.  (They paid me $30,000+ a year to watch their kiddo, so he was making quite a tidy sum I'm guessing...)  Anyway, I was cooking lunch for his 3 yr. old and he happened to be home.  I decided to make BLT's.  I didn't know that you shouldn't fry bacon on HIGH heat.  So I burnt the bacon and filled the house with smoke...SO embarrassing...

I eventually learned how to fry bacon correctly.  It starts with a pan on MEDIUM to maybe medium-high heat.  Lay out the bacon closely, but not touching (or they will become friends, bond together and be hard to flip).

See how those strips in the back are starting to bubble just a bit?  That is good.  Here go a few more...
When they start to look like the following photo, 
they are browning on the bottom and are almost ready to flip.
Flip the strips one by one with a fork and fry the other side.  They should look like this:
As soon as it gets this look...froth on top, light brown all over and shriveled up a bit, 
pull it off quickly and get it onto a plate lined with paper towels (to catch the grease).  
After they cool, they should look like this:
If you are being more precise, you could have several plates to line the bacon up on to dry 
so that it doesn't clump together, but I didn't need to be precise with this recipe:
After  you finish pulling the bacon off, make sure you turn the burners off!  I let the grease sit in the pan until cool, then slide it off with a spatula and save it for things like sliding grease under the skin of a turkey or making a pot of beans taste delicious.  The grease will freeze too and also makes good suet bakes with birdseed during winter.  Do not use bacon fat suet in the summer because it might rot and/or attract meat eaters. 

Bambooee As Seen on Shark Tank

Party like a 4-YR old...

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A glimpse into a preschool Christmas party...

Notice not one, but two Target clearance stickers on that glue...go preschool! 

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