Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Honey Oatmeal Bread





Do you enjoy making bread?  Or do you avoid it because you feel it is too complicated to make?  It's very simple and I hope if you don't make bread you will give it a try.  If you have a stand mixer it is a lot easier than you think to get a wonderful loaf of bread.  I have the Kitchen Aid Professional with the bowl lift.  Of course you can also make bread by hand.  I remember seeing my Grandmother making bread with such fondness.  I truly have never been able to make bread that tastes quite like hers!  With so many of us being so busy making bread by hand can be out of the question.  A lot of the bread making business involves a lot of time where you can be doing other things.  So I hope you will give bread making a try.

I have used many different recipes over the years to find the perfect bread for my family.  Do we eat bread at every meal?  No. We do eat bread at breakfast for toast and bread for sandwiches.  When I make bread I place the finished cooled loaves in the freezer and bring out a loaf to thaw in the refrigerator for our use as needed.  I made a delicious bread today and I thought you may like to try it.  It's from the Kitchen Aid cookbook that came with my mixer.  So you may already have this recipe.







Honey Oatmeal Bread

  • 1 1/2 cups of water
  • 1/2 cup of honey
  • 1/3 cup of butter
  • 5 1/2-6 1/2 cups of all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup of quick cooking oats
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 packages active dry yeast
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 egg white
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • Oatmeal to sprinkle on top

Place water, honey, and butter in a small saucepan.  Heat over low heat until very warm-120 to 130 degrees.

In mixing bowl place oats, 5 cups of flour, salt and yeast.  If using a stand mixer use dough hook and turn speed to 2 and mix for 15 seconds.  With mixer still on 2 gradually add warm mixture to flour mixture and mix for 1 minute.  Add eggs and mix for 1 minute longer.

Continuing on speed 2, add remaining flour, 1/2 cup at a time, and mix about 2 minutes or until dough starts to clean sides of the bowl.  Knead on speed 2 about 2 minutes longer.

Place dough in a greased bowl, turning to grease top.  Cover and let rise in warm place, free from draft, about 1 hour, or until doubled.

Punch dough down and divide in half.  Shape each half into a loaf by rolling each half into a 9 by 13 inch rectangle.  Then roll your rectangle into a loaf and seal the ends.  Place in a greased 8 1/2 x 4 1/2 x 2 1/2 inch baking pans.  Cover and let rise until doubled in size about  1 hour.

Beat egg white with water to make a wash to cover the risen loaves.  Sprinkle oatmeal on top of egg wash.  Bake at 375 degrees for 30 to 40 minutes.  My loaves were ready in 30 minutes. 






 “Good bread is the most fundamentally satisfying of all foods; and good bread with fresh butter, the greatest of feasts.” 

― James Beard

















Saturday, January 14, 2017

To Keep or Not





Last year I read Marie Kondo's books on tidying up our homes.   “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up" and "Spark Joy."  Reading Marie's books she explains her theory about not keeping  anything in your home that doesn't bring joy!  I know many of you have read her books as well and have used her methods to tidy your homes.  She suggests doing this job all at once!  For me it's too daunting, but we have used her thoughts in cleaning up our storage areas and other areas as well.  Having a finished basement is a wonderful place to store unused items in closets and "away from view" of our normal living space.  It's good and it's bad.  It's very easy to just take it to the basement!  Our son calls it our "marinating spot!"  As much as this is hard to admit, it's true. 





We have always given away items we no longer use to Amvets.  It's very easy to bag up unwanted items that others may want or need.  They pick up your items right from your driveway.  The proceeds go to help veterans, so it's a win win in our minds.  So many bags and boxes have left our home since we began this purge.




I found a box of David Winter cottages recently and now they are displayed on the mantle in our Florida room.  They really remind me of our time in England.


During one of our recent clear outs, we discovered a drain issue that needed repair.  After Grayden made the repairs we needed to fix the floor to the cabinet.  So while retrieving the wood for the repair, I came across a box marked, dolls.  I used to have my dolls above the chifforobe in the guest room upstairs.  Thinking about these dolls made me realize that I needed to display them or get rid of them.  I can't get rid of these dolls!  Some were my childhood dolls and some were my sister's dolls.  They have been with me for so long, they need to be displayed.  We had a shelf downstairs that used to be in my kitchen.  It would make a nice shelf to put a few of the dolls on in the guest room downstairs.


This shelf would have been on the should we keep it or should it go list.  I'm happy we were able to find a place for my dolls and use the shelf as well.  The Kon Mari method is a little too strict for me, but it has helped us to rid our home of many items we were not using.  I can feel our home sighing relief.  





Last year we purged our closets of our clothes that we no longer used.  I now can store all of my seasonal clothes in my closet as opposed to storing non seasonal clothes downstairs.  We've lived in our home for 43 years.  I imagine if we had moved more we would have gotten rid of a lot of the stuff we are now.  Even though we have gotten rid of many items that would never be used in our home, I have come across items that should be used again.  That makes me happy.


Have you used the Kon Mari method?  I'd love to hear your ideas of tidying up your home for better organization.  








 


Sunday, January 8, 2017

Snow Lessons




Snow brings squeals of delight from most children.  Most adults have different views.  I guess I'm still a little child at heart when it comes to snow!  I feel like I did when I was a child watching the snow fall and hoping for canceled school, so my sisters and I could go sledding down the big hill we lived on.   Even though I no longer sled down the hills,  I enjoy watching the quiet beauty that comes as snow is blanketing our area.  It gives me an excuse not to go anywhere, just enjoy the cozy fire, make chicken and dumplings and potato soup, read and relax.




It's been cold for the last few days.  Please don't think we are wimps!



  
Our son had twice as much snow fall as we had.  He reported this afternoon that schools will close tomorrow and the boys are just ecstatic!  Even though they are very good students, who doesn't like an unexpected holiday?  They have enjoyed rides down the hills just like their Dad did years ago and like I did as well.  I'm glad some things don't change.




  
Grayden and I gifted each other a new bird feeding pole system for Christmas.    Grayden installed this system a couple of days before Christmas and now only the birds are enjoying it.  We have had quite a squirrel issue, but with this new system they are baffled from getting the bird seed.  We also bought the baffle that deters raccoons as well as squirrels.  Last year we had a raccoon  peer into our home on our roof.  One night I was unable to sleep and was sitting in my Lazy Boy resting.  Above my head is a skylight that had two little beady eyes peering at me!  It really frightened me.  After doing research, we found it is not a good thing to have them on your roof as they will find a way inside!  So Grayden and Samuel cut a limb off of the oak tree that was serving as a highway for the little bandits!





We have so enjoyed seeing all of the birds come to the feeders as well as the suet feeder we have on the tree. 












I hope you are enjoying the quietness that winter brings.  Whether it be snow or the cold weather, I hope it brings peace to your soul. 




Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening 


BY ROBERT FROST


Whose woods these are I think I know.   

His house is in the village though;   

He will not see me stopping here   

To watch his woods fill up with snow.   


My little horse must think it queer   

To stop without a farmhouse near   

Between the woods and frozen lake   

The darkest evening of the year.   


He gives his harness bells a shake   

To ask if there is some mistake.   

The only other sound’s the sweep   

Of easy wind and downy flake.   


The woods are lovely, dark and deep,   

But I have promises to keep,   

And miles to go before I sleep,   

And miles to go before I sleep.










Thursday, January 5, 2017

Hello New Year



Hello New Year!  I'm sure all of you are getting your homes put back in shape after the holidays.  I for one am always happy to get all of our Christmas decor put away at the start of the new year.  It's a good time to get organized and label boxes and bags so we don't have to pull it all out again next year.  Sometimes we hurriedly put away the decorations.  Then when the holidays come we have mess.  Hopefully it will help us next year.  Well that is the plan anyway.





During the holidays I received a lovely giveaway from Cathy.





  Cathy writes several web journals.  She is learning to water color and posts her progress each month.  This past year she has focused on the works of Beatrix Potter.  So her giveaway was Beatrix Potter A Journal.



 





This journal is a joy to read.  It is full of writings of Miss Potter and fun ephemera.  Thank you Cathy for this lovely journal!


The year before Cathy focused on the water colors of Edith Holden.  Cathy has really become quite proficient in her water colored paintings.  She wants to self publish her children's story and illustrate it herself.    I am more than thrilled to have this journal as I am a huge Beatrix Potter fan.  You may remember that I was fortunate to go to England and visit Hilltop and the surrounding areas that Beatrix lived in the Lake District.  If you want to read about our visit, it all resides on this blog beginning with our trip over on the Queen Mary 2.  You can start Our Grand Adventure to England and continue to read the posts that follow.





“What heaven can be more real than to retain the spirit-world of childhood?”  Beatrix Potter 




















Saturday, December 31, 2016

December Ends




The year is ending as well as the holidays and I find myself reflecting on all of the blessings and joy that have come to me.  Is my life perfect?  Certainly not!  I choose to focus on the abundance of joy that I experience.  Our Christmas was certainly joyful.  We were blessed to have our children and grandchildren in our home on Christmas morning. 

 







Joyful faces experiencing Christmas as only a child can do!





During the hustle and bustle of the holidays there is little time to take photos.  Most of these were taken by Grayden.  I don't know how some of you friends take the lovely photos you do when your homes are full of family. 

Our children and grands stayed with us through Wednesday.  We celebrated Christmas, celebrated Noel's birthday, ate, played games and enjoyed each other's company for five whole days.  It's kind of like we had a vacation together.



“Best of all are the decorations the grandchildren have made ~ fat little stars and rather crooked Santas, shaped out of dough and baked in the oven.”  Gladys Taber



On Tuesday my extended family came for dinner.  Unfortunately my brother-in-law was in the hospital so eight of our family was unable to attend.  We are glad that he is now on the mend and is doing well.  My sister and her family were able to come so we had a smaller group of fifteen. 

We are now relaxing and reflecting on all the precious time we were able to spend with our family. 




“Christmas is a bridge. We need bridges as the river of time flows past. Today's Christmas should mean creating happy hours for tomorrow and reliving those of yesterday.” 

― Gladys Taber



 

I hope you are looking forward to the New Year and all of the possibilities it may bring to you!  I will be making Hopping John for good luck for tomorrow's dinner.  If you need a recipe you can go Here  


Happy New Year to all my friends!  I hope you continue to find joy in all that you do! ♥











Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Christmas Preparations






Our home is bustling with Christmas preparations as I'm sure it is at your home as well.  I try to do as much as possible in advance of  the big day ahead.  Both of our children and our grandchildren come to stay for a few days beginning on Christmas Eve.   All of the beds in our home are made up to accommodate the big ones and little ones.  Along with the master bedroom we have a guest room upstairs and two bedrooms downstairs that will serve as home for our family.  Also the office will be turned into a little bedroom for the youngest grands.  Our home will literally be full to the brim.  It's all good and we are so thankful to share this special season with our family.



Long Night's Moon



There is food to buy and cookies to bake.  Cookie making has started as Samuel and I made a double batch of chocolate chip cookies yesterday.  We had to bake off two dozen to check to see if was of the finest quality!  The rest of the dough is resting in the fridge and will be baked next week.  This saves a lot of time for last minute preparations.  I also made sugar cookies with the younger grands, but they are at their home now along with the cookies.



Sadler Christmas Teapot



I've mentioned before that our daughter Noel was born on Christmas Day.  Years ago I asked her what kind of birthday cake would she like.  She said she wanted Peppermint Ice Cream Cake.  This is a cake that I first had when I was a little girl at my great aunt's home.  It all seemed so exotic to me at the time as I'd never had an ice cream cake.  It's quite simple to make and is very tasty and suits the holiday season.  I've been making this cake for Noel ever since she graduated from princess cakes, Miss Piggy cakes and such.


If you want to make it, now is the perfect time to find Peppermint Ice Cream.  Not all stores have it so you will have to probably visit a few groceries.  Even though I originally had it in the summer as a child, I've only seen the Peppermint Ice Cream around Christmas these past few years.  Of course you can make this cake with any of your favorite ice creams.

All you need is two ingredients!


Peppermint Ice Cream and Angel Food Cake


First tear an Angel Food cake into pieces.  It doesn't matter if they are uniform.






Place the torn angel food cake and the softened ice cream into your mixing bowl.  You can do this by hand, but I find it's easier in my stand mixer.





This is so easy, now after all of the ingredients are mixed,  spread the mixture into a greased pan.  I often use the plastic container the angel food cake came in.  I've also used a Christmas ice mold and also a bundt pan.  Then wrap your cake and place it in the freezer to harden. 





We always make a special time in the afternoon to recognize Noel's birthday.  We bring out this cake and presents wrapped in birthday wrap.  If you want to read ideas on how to celebrate a birthday that falls on Christmas , you can read what Noel wrote last year Here


After seeing many of all of your lovely decorations, I was inspired by Liz  to dress up our chandelier in the dining room.  I've always kept it plain, but I just adore what Liz has done.  I used some little angels to hang from our chandelier.  I have many angels and I thought this theme would look well in here.  I used an old swag that has seen better days and just doubled it.  I think I like it!





Here is a close up of one of the angels.  They were a gift from my sister-in-law years ago.




My sister gave me this angel a few years ago and she lights up the dining room when the lights are off.




And there were in the same country shepherds  abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.  And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.  And the angel said unto them , Fear not: for behold I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.  For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. 







   

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Hygge




Have you heard about hygge?  I started seeing this word being used a few weeks ago on social media sites.  I believe the first person I heard mention it was  Deb .  Then a few days ago I started seeing it everywhere.  Susan Branch recently did a blog post about it.  You can check out her post Here that really is a wonderful explanation of what hygge is.  Really Susan Branch is the epitome of hygge!




Hygge (pronounced hoo-gah) is a Danish word that closely means cozy.  In order to survive a long winter we all want to make our homes cozy and warm.  Anything that makes you feel that way is hygge.  Lighting candles, taking bubble baths, reading, sewing, writing, creating, cooking, painting, baking --whatever creates a joy filled life for you!




Hygge was never meant to be translated-it was meant to be felt.


ToveMaren Stakkestad




I made a lovely soup this week that will bring hygge to your home.  As the weather turns colder soups are always a welcome addition to our menus.  If you are vegetarian I'm sure you can still make this soup and just add more vegetables.  If you like stuffed peppers, you will like this soup.



Pepper Soup


  • one large onion chopped
  • two to three large bell peppers chopped
  • one clove of garlic minced



Saute' vegetables in a tablespoon of olive oil.





When the onion is translucent add one pound of ground lean hamburger or ground turkey.  Brown until cooked.  Then add:


  • one 28 ounce can of diced tomatoes
  • one 15 ounce can of tomato sauce
  • one tablespoon paprika
  • one tablespoon chili powder
  • one teaspoon salt
  • one teaspoon freshly ground pepper 
  • one tablespoon of basil
  • 4 cups of water
  • 1 tablespoon of Worcestershire sauce 

Let this soup simmer for one half  hour and then add :

  • one half cup of uncooked rice

Simmer the soup until the rice is done.  If you want, you can top each bowl of soup with a grated sharp cheddar. Enjoy.




Another hygee activity around here is making s'mores.  The eldest grand adores it.




I hope your days are full of hygge moments!  ♥
I've been misspelling hygge --opps!  Correction now made.  Thank you Vee.