Sunday, November 20, 2011

baking:: trying a new recipe

I recently checked The Bread Bible out of the library and wanted to try the Basic White Sandwich Bread -I had heard great things about this recipe so yesterday morning around 11am, I started making the sponge starter. The starter needed to sit for at least an hour (I let mine sit at room temp for about 2hrs), then I used my KitchenAid to knead the dough together for the first rise. The recipe called for three rises (!), so I knew it would take a while- but last night around 11pm I finally gave up and stuck the two partially-risen loaves into the fridge. This morning I pulled them out, let them rise one last time and then popped them into the oven to bake.

The resulting loaves were DELICIOUS! And honestly, they should be, considering the amount of work that went into them: if I only count the rising time, it was about 7 hours! Add two hours for the sponge to come together and it's an all-day process. My normal bread recipe goes from mixed to baked in about four hours with two rises.

The flavor of the Bread Bible white bread was good, but it was the crumb and the lovely chewy crust that really stood out. I took a few photos to highlight the differences between the Bread Bible recipe and my regular recipe (sorry for the awful lighting- it has been dark and stormy all day!).

Here is my regular recipe: the Amish White Bread-
Amish White Bread
Note the denseness of the crumb and the thinner crust. This bread uses just water and flour with some sugar for sweetening. I usually use 2/3 all purpose flour and 1/2 whole wheat flour with this recipe.

Here is the Bread Bible Basic White Sandwich Bread:
Basic White Bread
See how much more air there is in the crumb? This recipe also uses powdered milk and less flour to make for a wetter, more pliable dough. I also used about 1/3 (by volume) wheat flour and added some wheat germ for crunch. The crust of this bread was really nice and crisp right out of the oven.

And the two slices side by side (Bread Bible on the left, Amish White on the right)
side by side

After all the effort making the Bread Bible recipe, I was surprised that it wasn't much different in flavor than my normal recipe. The biggest difference between the two loaves was the tenderness of the crumb. I'm now wondering if I can try making a sponge for my Amish White Bread recipe....

Thursday, November 17, 2011

::thrify thursday::

Why is it when I go to the Goodwill to drop off donations, I always manage to come home with a little something?! It happened again a couple of days ago- I found a set of four vintage mugs for $3.99...the fun footed design caught my eye so they followed me home. I'm a sucker for the perfect coffee mug- these have a nice shape and size (I drink coffee slowly so narrow cups work well for me as they keep the coffee warm longer).

Here are the small men enjoying hot chocolate out of our "new" vintage mugs:
hot chocolate in new (to us) mugs

Evidently the pattern is called "Spice of Life" and was originally made by Corning/Pyrex:

Love the retro fruit and veg!

mmmm whipped cream!

These are probably about 30 years old....still in amazing condition and a fun addition to our everyday glassware.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

::cooking:: homemade granola bars

Monkey Boy and Little Man are going to different schools this year...something I neglected to blog about simply because having two kids in two different schools means 2x the volunteer hours for me! We sent MB to a new charter school and have been super happy with how it has turned out- small class sizes and a collaborative, "21st century' approach to learning has made MB's 1st grade outstanding so far.

One of the other differences between the kids' schools is that MB's school is nut-free- no peanuts, tree nuts or any other nuts are allowed. LM's school allows nuts and has an 'allergy table' for those kids who need to avoid nuts (or other allergens) at lunch time. One of kids' favorite things to eat is granola bars, which I never had a problem sending until this year...did you know it's practically impossible to find nut-free granola bars?

I searched high and low and found gluten-free granola bars, dairy free granola bars, sugar free granola bars- but it was impossible to find nut-free bars. Of course I then turned to the internets and found a granola bar recipe that I was able to change to be completely nut-free so that both LM and MB could bring bars to school. Here's the recipe:

ready to go
3 cups rolled (old fashioned) oats
1/2 cup wheat germ (not pictured)
1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips or chunks
1/2 cup dried fruit- I use a berry medley from Trader Joe's
1 can (14 oz) sweetened condensed milk

Preheat oven to 325

Line a 9x13 inch pan with parchment paper or heavy duty foil. Make sure the lining covers the bottom of the pan and goes up the sides part way- otherwise your bars will stick like crazy to the pan! Grease lining with cooking spray.

Mix all the ingredients in a big mixing bowl.
mix it all up

Pour into the prepared pan and pat down until it's evenly and firmly packed.

Bake until golden- approx 30 min. Let the pan cool on the counter till granola is firm, then use the parchment paper/foil to lift the bars from the pan.


Cut into bar shapes with a sharp knife.
cut into bars
Wrap individually in wax paper or plastic wrap, or store in an airtight container.

Makes approx. 16 bars.

This makes for a firm, slightly chewy granola bar that tastes a lot like a big oatmeal cookie. The kiddos love them and will eat two batches a week. It's a very versatile recipe, too, since you can use different dried fruit: I've tried a raisin medley, plain cranberries, wild blueberries, and chopped mangos in different batches and they all came out delicious.

If I let Little Man make a batch, he will add some honey or molasses for some added sweetness but I think it tastes fine without. The sweetened condensed milk not only binds the granola together, but adds a nice carmel-y flavor once it's baked.

And of course, you can add any nuts you would like...just reduce the amount of rolled oats by the amount of nuts you add. So adding 1/2 cup of almonds means you will only use 2.5 cups of rolled oats.


Monday, November 14, 2011

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Thrifty Thursday

I went to lunch with the Dearest the other day and on the way home I spotted a (new to me) thrift store. Since it was *right* by the freeway entrance I needed to take to get home....well- I had to stop didn't I?!
Walking in, there was a sign that said "50% off entire store". Really?! I'm so there! It was a quick blow-through the store kind of trip (I had to get home because Little Man's school was letting out) so I went straight back to the books. I found these three in beautiful, nearly new condition:

thrifted books

Total cost? $1.59 for all three!

The Little Red Riding Hood book is perfect for Monkey Boy to read himself. And check out these sweet 70's illustrations!
sweeet 70's artwork

I especially like the woodcutter's mutton chop sideburns and CHiPs 'stache:
check out those muttonchop sideburns

Wednesday, November 02, 2011


we carved pumpkins:
proud crafters

we made costumes:
Little Man's mini-fig costume

we made 'mummies' at a block party:
making a mummy

we trick or treated:
ready to trick or treat

Our Halloween was a blast!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

love thursday

this thursday, I'm loving the hot (95F!) weather, which spurred us to visit the beach one more time....

trying out their new boogie boards at sunset

nearly dark