Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Running here, there, and everywhere!

Good morning, everyone!  (Or afternoon or evening, depending when you are visiting!)

First of all, a bread update for everyone.  This week's loaf is he best yet.  It rose wayyy up and filled the whole pan and is delicious!  Huzzah!  Now I need to work on texture.  It's not quite as deliciously chewy as I would like.  Perhaps I'm not doing something quite right, or perhaps this recipe simply does not make chewy bread . I thought the problem might be that I didn't knead it long enough, so I set a timer for 10 minutes.  After about 5 I was thinking "Oh!  This is never going to end!"  lol  I managed to knead the dough for about 8 minutes and figured that my arms falling off would be a worse consequence than having not-quite-as-chewy-as-I'd-like bread.  It makes excellent toast.


In addition to bread making, we've had quite a lot going on.

We went camping this past weekend, along with my in-laws.  My husband's twin brother, wife, and daughter came on Saturday afternoon and stayed Saturday night.  The weather was less than perfect, but we managed to have a good time, anyway.

We arrived Friday afternoon around 4:00 and quickly set up camp, as it appeared that it might start raining at any time.  Sure enough, 15 minutes after we had the tent up, along came the rain!  It continued to rain all night.

When we woke up on Saturday, we noticed the rain seemed to have slowed down a bit.  Hubby and I took a relaxing walk around the lake (there is a lovely paved path that encircles the lake) and came back to see if anyone else had woken up.  Nope!  We decided to go back in the tent and rest awhile longer since neither of us had slept very well and it was early. (I think we got back to the site around 6:45 am) We awoke about an hour later, and once again it was raining pretty hard.

 It rained until about 2:30 and then started to get nice.  Hurray! 

       Check out the blue sky view from the tent! 

The rest of Saturday, we went on a short hike, enjoyed spending time with our niece, Abigail, and had a campfire/weenie roast.  

Sunday dawned warm and sunny...

                            Good morning! 

  We started tearing down camp and in between eating meals and taking breaks/chatting with one another, we made it out of the campgrounds right at 3:00.  The nice think about camping in a PA State Park is that they offer such a late checkout.  You can stay and enjoy lunch on your last day and still have plenty of time to tear down and pack up. 

It was a nice weekend, all in all, despite the unfavorable weather conditions Friday and Saturday.

On a sadder note, Scott's grandmother, Beverly, has taken a turn for the worse and has been admitted into Hospice care.  She has cancer in several organs and does not wish to pursue treatment.  Please keep my hubby and his family in your prayers as this is a difficult time.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Give us this day our daily bread

I love homemade bread.  Who doesn't? 

I've been wanting to make my own bread for some time now, but a number of problems arise.  Namely, I don't have a lot of spare time on my hands since I work full time, and also I can tend to be rather lazy. 

My grandma used to make homemade bread every other day.  Then, in the 90's, she bought a bread machine.  My grandma thinks her bread machine is the bees knees.  She's gone through 3 of them since she uses them so much.  The only thing I'm not crazy about in the realm of bread machines is the shape of the loaf.  Who wants a loaf with a big hole in the middle of it?   My mom solves that problem by letting the bread machine work its magic by making the dough, then taking it out and baking it in her own pan in the oven.  Does anyone else do that? 

I happen to own a bread machine, but I really wanted to make bread the old fashioned way.  So, last Monday I found a relatively easy recipe that didn't seem too difficult and I set out to make my own bread.  I was pretty disappointed.  My bread did not rise well and I was left with a thick, heavy, and brick-like loaf. 

Yesterday, I decided I would try again, with one change- I used spring water in the place of tap water.  I read online that most town water nowadays has chlorine in it.  Chlorine kills yeast...which is (I believe) why my bread failed. 

So, I dug out the same recipe and tried over again- and success was my reward!  Woohoo!  I had a nice golden loaf of crusty bread.  Even though it wasn't perfect (my loaf pan appears to be a bit too large for this particular loaf of bread), it tasted wonderful, it puffed up like it should have, and it had a really nice texture.  I made toast out of a couple slices and it was heavenly. 

To add even more goodness, I spread on some pecan pumpkin butter (like apple butter, not the milk/cream kind of butter).  A-maz-ing!   You can buy the butter at a number of different Amish shops in the area.  However, if you are desperate to try a fruit butter but don't have a supplier nearby, you can buy online from this site

I would add a photo, but my bread is already about half gone...hubby seems to like it just as much as I did.  lol 

So, are you intimidated by the whole concept of bread making?  You really don't need to be. 

My bread called for minimal ingredients.  I only needed water, yeast, salt, sugar, crisco, milk, and flour.  The only thing that required a real quantity of anything was flour.  Here is the recipe I used.  Honestly, if you have considered making bread, but weren't sure, why not dive in and give it a try.  I think you'll enjoy the results and realize it's not so difficult or scary as you may think. 

If you have a bread machine, dig it out and re-read those instructions.  Fire it up and enjoy a warm, crusty loaf of deliciousness! 

God bless you, dear reader.  I pray that you are happy, healthy, and having an enjoyable day.  :)