Saturday, June 22, 2013

Colorado, We're Here!

Well we've made it!  I am so overwhelmed by the graciousness of my heavenly father!  He is so kind and caring and I am continually in awe of his marvelous works.

First off his craftiness and eye for beauty and things lovely and pleasing... The breath taking (literally :P) landscapes from 10,000; the glassy lakes and ponds barely ruffled by the wind, or the wavy lakes churning in the breeze!  We also are privileged to help build on a cabin, on a mountain side, I've loved working with wood for years and so we got too, and got paid for it!   And funny how I've been looking for work and here it was dumped in our lap!

And we've been able to sing at several different assisted living places and the atmosphere is somewhat dark here, as far as spiritually and we could tell.  While playing we'd have every block thrown our way, broken strings, missing words, anger, and everything.  But God saw us through that we sang his message and afterwards it was so nice and quite a relief.  He is always faithful!
And we got to ride horses on the open prairies as a rainy storm came up and a dust storm left!  That horse I was riding was big too, compared to the one I'm used to. :)

So here's some photos and take care where ever you are in your part of the world.  And as Christ's elect we mustn't back down or give in to failure!  We are the victors and His power will work through us, if only we give up our ways and let his Spirit do it for us.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Homemade Bread

Bread is so fun to make! I have worked at this for a long time. I still haven't gotten a 'like-store-bought' loaf but I have been able to find a few tricks to help get it lighter and fluffier.

Here's my favorite recipe. Around here we call it the New York No-Knead Bread. The reason, well because we 'youtubed' it once how to make bread and we found two very simple and similar recipes, one Artisan No-Knead and the other was just five minute bread reported on by New York Times. So we call it that. Melody prefers the Artisan but to me the New York is easier and even more fancy looking in the end!

So New York No-Knead (with or without seed crust)

(3x the recipe they had, our family is big)
9 cups flour
3 teaspoons dry yeast
3 ¾ teaspoons salt
Mix then add
4 ½ cups water

Pull together with a fork 'till its a dough. Cover and let rest/rise 12 hours (you can use it immediately too). Preheat oven to 500 (yes that hot) and put a dutch-oven in to preheat, a cast iron pan. Pinch off the amount of dough you need for your loaf. *stop here for seed-crust recipe and see below * Pat out lightly and fold in, as little as possible to form loaf. Let set 10 minutes to rise. Once oven and dough is ready put the dough in the preheated dutch-oven. Bake for 20 minutes with cover on. Then 15 minutes without top.

*Seed-Crust*: After pinching off your dough, lay that aside. Get a towel ready with about ½ to 1 cup of seeds on it, (flax, sesame etc. I even used wheat bran once, but pictured is the flax seed). Spread seeds evenly over towel. Then take your dough fold into a loaf, as little folding as possible, place in center of towel. Barely pat out then fold towel up around it, covering all the way around with seeds. Let set 10 minutes to rise. Once oven and dough is ready put the dough in the pre-heated dutch-oven. Bake for 20 minutes with cover on. Then 15 minutes without top (If you're like me and just have the dutch-oven and no lid use a flat cookie sheet for the top)!

This cooking style, hot 500 degrees, gives the bread a hard crust and a moist inside, its pretty with the dark flax seeds and it makes you look like some classy restaurant’s baker! I even like messing around with different seeds, I haven't yet but I wonder about nuts, like pine nuts, or chopped pecans. You could even stir in some raisins (for those who like that) and sugar and just let it rise longer, and get a monkey bread. We've even used this recipe for pizza dough, but I'd pull back on the yeast for that, and for cinnamon rolls too. We usually make a bucket of this dough and keep it in the fridge, so we'll have bread whenever. Just be careful it sours quicker if its hot and you open the fridge a lot :)

I want to give you another recipe too. I love old recipes and I found this in my Great Aunt's better homes cookbook she gave me. Its from the '40s.

Its a different but interesting way to make bread. Best thing about it, its from scratch and I love that! It probably could be done in a machine, but I like making it in the bowl.

White Bread (I use wheat and it works :D)

3 TB dry loose yeast
¼ cup warm water
2 cups milk or water, very hot
2 TB sugar
2 TS salt
1 TB butter
6 ½ to 6 ¾ flour  (sometimes half and half, sometimes a little more wheat, or sometimes a little more white)

Get all ingredients ready ready. Soften yeast in ¼ warm water. Combine milk, sugar, salt and butter. Cool to lukewarm. Add 2 cups flour; stir well. Add softened yeast; stir. Add flour to make a moderately stiff dough. Turn out on lightly floured surface; knead till smooth and satiny (about 8 minutes). Shape into ball; place in greased bowl turn to grease all surface. Cover let rise in warm place till double in bulk (about 1 ½ hours{I let go about 2 so its even more light}). Punch down. Let rise again till double (about 45 minutes {or more}). Divide into 2 balls (smooth); let rest 10 minutes: shape into two loves and place in greased loave pans {or beside each other in a pie pan}. Let once more rise till double (bout 1 hour). Bake at 400 for 50 minutes. (You could leave out one of the punching down and rises, if you want.

The more the dough rises the lighter the bread!
Also the more yeast you add, the lighter the bread (with wheat it needs more yeast so it rise more and add more air pockets).
Do as little handling as possible, you don't want rock-bread, or would it be bread?
Keep yeast warm, but not hot (even in dough)! It will die if its too hot and it will 'freeze up' if too cold.
Don't over salt or over sugar, but for a less bland flavor add a pinch of each (but this of course has to be tested after you bake it and eat the loaf).

Don'ts (as in dos and don'ts)
Don't let dough rise in preheating oven it will slowly cook.
Don't punch too much (even when instructed).
Don't cut when hot. Let cool or else you'll have bread crumbs or bread gum balls.

Around here I love to place sliced bread on a plate lined with a paper-doily. And to serve homemade fruit jams and butter on the side. We make our own butter out of cow cream sometimes and its the best! I love making jam too. And all you have to do to make that is boil, an eighth part water, 4/8ths fruit (soft fruit) and 3/8ths sugar, stirring constantly, at a simmer or boil until jellied and gooey! Enjoy! :)

So share with me your bread tips and/or experiences!