Homemade blocks out of scrap wood. Yea...that hasn't happened yet. My motivation to sand seems to have waned. Maybe by Quentin's birthday?
Tuesday, April 9, 2013
Monday, April 8, 2013
I've posted about this recipe before. It was featured in a NY Times article back in 2006, which has probably received billions of hits by now. I still go back to this recipe often and change very little. Occasionally, I'll add a bit of chopped up fresh rosemary or thyme, but really it's so so good on its own.
Last weekend, we celebrated the impending arrival of my dear friend's new baby. I asked how I could participate in the shower preparations and she asked me to make what she always asks me to make. Pesto and this bread. I decided to make two loaves for this party of 30 people and took pictures along the way to share the process with my readers.
I suggest you read through the whole process before starting. It takes about 20 hours start to finish, so I usually start it around 2-3 pm the day before I need the bread to be finished. I promise, this is quite easy to pull off. It just takes a lot of time and a little planning.
First, the ingredients:
- 3 cups of flour (all-purpose or bread. I prefer to use bread flour, for higher gluten content)
- 1 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp yeast
- 1 5/8 cup room temp water (the water doesn't need to be as warm as it usually needs to be for bread, since this dough will sit for 18 hours on the counter).
1. Mix the dry ingredients in a large bowl. Then add the water and mix it all up with a spatula or wooden spoon. I would usually use a kitchen aid for making bread, but not for this. It's way too simple to justify washing the kitchen aid after. Just mix until the ingredients are well incorporated. It would be smooth. That's fine, though. Now cover with plastic wrap and wait 18 hours. The original recipe says 12-18, but I really think 18 is best for full gluten development. After 18 hours, it looks like this. Kind of bubbly.
And here's what it looks like when try to pull it off the sides of the bowl.
2. Put some flour on your countertop and remove dough from the bowl onto the floured surface. I have to use a spatula to get the dough out of the bowl. It's a sticky mess otherwise. Cover with the plastic wrap and allow to rest 10-15 minutes.
3. Now put plenty of flour (original recipe says cornmeal or flour. I prefer to use flour) on a clean kitchen towel and transfer the bread onto it.
Sprinkle more flour on top of dough and cover with the kitchen towel. Let it rise for another 2 hours.
4. At least 30 minutes before the 2 hour rise is finished, put a cast iron dutch oven in your oven and preheat to 450 degrees F. The cast iron needs to be really hot to get a nice crust on your bread. When it's time, carefully remove the dutch oven and gently flop the dough in. Quickly put the lid back on and put it back in the oven. (And don't forget, the handle on the lid is very very hot!! I have forgotten this before, since I'm used to using it on my stovetop. It wasn't pretty. I suggest leaving your hot pad on the lid so you don't forget).
5. Bake for 30 minutes with the lid on. Remove the lid and bake for another 15 minutes, until the bread is nice and golden. Place on cooling racks and try to hold yourself back from cutting into it right away. Maybe go out and get yourself some nice cheese to eat with the bread. Or olive oil. Or pesto. Really, there are many good options here. Enjoy!
Saturday, April 6, 2013
When you want to keep your baby (or puppy in this case) close by, babywearing is the way to go. There are just a few rules to follow.
1- If baby still doesn't have good neck control, either support baby's head with the wrap or with your hand.
3- When you're ready to take baby out, support him with one hand, move the wrap, and...
4- Lift baby out. Gently, of course.
Disclaimer: The way Quentin is "babywearing" his puppy is not a good example of a real wrapping job with a real baby. He's just using a makeshift scarf. If you want more "real" information on babywearing, babywearing Faith on youtube has some great videos! You can also connect with your local chapter of Babywearing International to get help from a babywearing educator.
Monday, March 4, 2013
Not everything I post about on here should be a success right? Sometimes, you have to be real and share about things that didn't work out so well. Here's one particular "fail." Moon sand. I had seen it on pinterest for a while and wanted to try it out.
The pin says that you combine 8 cups of flour with 1 cup of baby oil. I only had one of those tiny bottles of baby oil, with 1/4 cup in it. So my recipe was 2 cups of flour and 1/4 cup baby oil.
He really seemed to enjoy it for a while. The fail came when...
...he tried to eat it. Again and again. And you're really not supposed to ingest baby oil. So we had table this activity until he's a little older. For now, we'll stick to homemade play dough (flour, salt, water and oil).
Saturday, March 2, 2013
Sorry for disappearing on you guys again. I'm not promising regular updates in the very near future, but I do hope to come around more often than I have been.
Here's a quick project that I finished a little while ago and forgot to post. I found the pattern for this Double Bump Dishcloth on Ravelry and decided to give it a try. As a fairly novice knitter, I liked the idea of trying something new to me (the double bump), but still pretty simple. And I'm always a fan of making something utilitarian, so this fit the bill nicely. I finished it in a couple of hours, so for knitting this is as close to instant gratification as you're going to get.
So there you have it! The double bump dishcloth, complete with a bar of my homemade soap. Unfortunately, I've confirmed that I'm really more of a sponge person, so this has been relegated to a bath/shower wash cloth. I prefer the idea of dishcloths, since you wash and reuse them, but I never feel like they get my dishes as clean. This is all in my head. I'm sure of it. But I like squeaky clean dishes so sponges it is. For now.
Saturday, February 2, 2013
I lost a lot of sewing momentum after Christmas. I was sewing sewing knitting knitting knitting sewing so much that I needed a break. I'm starting to get back in the swing of things though and I finally have something to share with you today.
We bought Quentin a really warm and cozy sleep sack when we were in France last May/June. We were there during a cold spell and weren't prepared. Luckily, just because it was June didn't mean there were no warm sleep sacks available. The French have a thing about making sure their babies are warm. I mean REALLY warm. We're talking bundled up in wool socks and a a heavy blanket while outside in 80 degree summer weather. It's a bit over the top. But in this case, the sleep sack was well needed and appreciated. So much so that I decided Quentin needed a second one, but these types of sleep sacks are no where to be found here. I've only been able to find fleece, which is fine, but less breathable than cotton with batting.
What I made is basically a quilted sleep sack. I used a stretchy main fabric, stretchy lining fabric, and cotton batting in the middle. For the neck and arm holes, I used strips of cotton ribbing that I folded into bias tape. The only difference between this sleep sack and the French one is that the zipper on mine opens downward and the French one opens upward. I tried to figure out how to do that, but I just didn't have the right tools to make a zipper long enough for the sleep sack that opened upward. Oh well. I know sleep sacks have to be sold that way for safety reasons, but this is not being sold and I have deemed it safe enough for my level of comfort. I do still need to make a little fold that covers the zipper, but it's pretty much ready.
Also, notice the very cool personalized label on the sleep sack. Trevor got them for me for Christmas this year. Such a thoughtful gift for a maker of handmake things. Thank you honey!
So there's my latest creation. Hopefully I'll get enough motivation together to work on some more projects to share with you soon.
Sunday, January 13, 2013
This post has been a looong time coming. I have really let you down, blog readers. I apologize for the lack of posting lately. Every year as the holidays approach I think about all the great holiday-related posts I could write. And every year, I fail. Maybe I should write my holiday-related posts in the summer in preparation, huh? :)
Anyway, hopefully I'll get back into the swing of things soon. In the meantime, here's a post I've owed you for a long time. Trevor started building the coop back in October right after we got our chicks. He spent 3 or 4 weekends working all day on it. I helped with some small parts, but really this was Trevor's project. He designed the coop after spending many hours researching coops on www.backyardchickens.com. He's almost done with it now. There are a few last things to finish that haven't happened because it was rained almost every single weekend since he last worked seriously on it. We plan on painting it and sealing the wood once it dries out completely in the spring. Ideally, that would have been finished BEFORE the rain started, but oh well.
Now for pictures!
|Trevor's work station|
|Rocks that Quentin and I collected in the yard to backfill the trench. These are the make the run more "predator proof" because an animal trying to get in wont be able to dig through the rocks.|
|Trevor demonstrating his jackhammering skills.|
|Framing out the run.|
|Lots of progress done at this point! It's still missing a door for the coop, door for the run, nesting boxes, perching rack, welded wire on top of the run, and probably lots more.|
|See that irrigation tube? We dug it up while digging the trench. Eventually we'd like to add a hose right by the coop to make filling water and cleaning easier. It's not top priority but it's on our list.|
|Trevor adding paneling over the welded wire so that varmints can't rip it off and get in. You can't see it here, but we also ran the welded wire down into the trench before backfilling. This adds to the predator protection.|
|Q decided to "help" Dad with the clamp.|
|Chickens exploring their new home. I think they like it!|
|Nice work, honey!|
|Why hello, ladies. Gosh, they've already grown SO much since this picture was taken. Time for an update to my update. I'll try to get new pictures of the coop and chickens soon.|
Monday, January 7, 2013
Bourbon Butternut Squash Risotto, huh? Isn't risotto Italian? Isn't Bourbon...deep south? Well, yes on both counts. But that doesn't mean they cannot be amazing together. I thought of this combination when I decided that we were going to have Butternut Squash Risotto the other night. That much was certain. We grew butternut squash last summer and have been getting them weekly in our CSA. I try to keep up, but I think we have about 10 butternut squash in our garage right now. They must be used up! We also had arborio rice in the pantry that was just waiting to be made into risotto. And being the beginning of the year, I'm newly motivated to clean out our pantry, use up stuff that has been in there too long, etc.
As I gathered my ingredients I realized that we didn't have ANY white wine in the house (not even a bottle of 2 buck chuck chardonnay). It was cold, rainy, 5pm. All factors to make me not want to leave the house with my toddler to buy a $2 bottle of wine. I wondered if risotto could be made with any other kind of alcohol and immediately thought bourbon would be pretty tasty with butternut squash. I did a quick google search and found out that I wasn't the first to think of this (dangit...you mean this isn't an original idea?!). Then I texted my foodie friend to make sure I wasn't crazy. He approved of the experiment and off I went a-cookin'.
The end result was delicious. Probably the best risotto I've ever made. I highly suggest you try it if you have some extra butternut squash laying around. And if you don't want to use bourbon, I'm sure it would be very delicious regular butternut squash risotto without (or with the more traditional white wine)...this was just a very fun twist.
1 Butternut squash
1 yellow onion, chopped
3 Tbsp butter
1 1/2 cups arborio rice
1/2 cup bourbon (note: most risotto recipes call for 1 cup of white wine. I reduced it to 1/2 cup of bourbon...figured a cup of bourbon would be a bit much).
6 cups chicken broth (you might need more...keep an extra couple cups on hand)
Creme fraiche (about 1/4 cup...you can omit it, or substitute cream cheese. As much as it pains me to type that.)
A good handful of shredded parmesan cheese
1 tsp dried thyme
Salt and pepper to taste
1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Cut the butternut squash in half. Remove the seeds. Lightly coat a baking dish with olive oil and place the butternut squash face down on the baking dish. Bake for 45 minutes, until a sharp knife pierces and goes into the squash easily.
2. Heat a heavy-bottom pot over medium heat (I used my Le Creuset). Lightly coat bottom of pot with olive oil. Sautee onion until it begins to "melt."
3. In a separate pot, pour all 6 cups of chicken broth. Heat broth until it begins to simmer. Then turn down so that it stays hot, but doesn't boil.
4. Add butter to the onions and allow it to melt.
5. Add arborio rice and stir to coat the rice with butter. Stir continuously until the outside of rice grains start to become translucent. The inside will stay white.
6. Add bourbon. Stir until bourbon cooks down to about half. Start to slowly add hot broth, one ladle-full at a time. Make sure to stir fairly continuously, but especially right after each ladle of broth goes into the rice.
7. Continue until you have no more broth. If you're not serving immediately, save one ladle of broth to add right at the end.
8. Scoop butternut squash out from skin and roughly chop. Mix into the risotto.
9. Mix in creme fraiche and parmesan cheese. If you've reserved a ladle-full of broth, add it now. Crush the dried thyme over the risotto with your fingers.
Serve and enjoy!