Monday, February 24, 2014

An Unfinished Life

             

                  February 13,2014 my older brother was killed instantly in a head on collision. I am heading to Oregon this week to bury him and I am going alone. I always knew I would go home again, I just didn't think it would be to bury my only sibling. I've been gone almost 7 years and stepping back into that old life,even if for a short amount of time, is a jarring thought. 

Be back soon....



               








Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Homemade Cream of Chicken Soup

                 

               I apologize up front for the photo..it's incredibly hard to get a decent photo of a pure white mixture. I am in the process of getting a better set up for my photo taking and can't wait for it to happen!

With that aside..I finally found a decent no fail recipe for condensed chicken soup! they don't have that here,nor do they have condensed mushroom soup. I know there are those who are anti condensed soups and for the most part,I am too..only because I've had to be and where I can, I make do with certain products here that can take the part of a condensed soup when needed. I was kinda skeptical about this but wow does it work without any problems what so ever. It firms up as it cools and totally turns into that jiggly condensed soup deal..only this stuff is less creepy,cheap to make and tastes loads better.

Homemade Cream of Chicken Soup

2-1/2 cups Chicken Broth
1-1/2 cups Evaporated Milk ** see below
3/4 cups Flour
1 TBS Seasoning Mix; 1/2 tsp onion powder,1/2 tsp garlic powder,1/2 tsp. black pepper,1 tsp salt,parsley,poultry seasoning..you can change the seasonings to whatever you like!

Combine the chicken broth and 1/2 cup of the evaporated milk in a large saucepan. Bring to a low boil.

While bringing to a low boil,mix the remaining 1 cup of milk with the flour and seasonings...whisk the poo out of it to make sure the flour has no lumps in it and it forms a nice thick smooth mixture. Pour the flour and milk mixture into the saucepan with the chicken broth mixture and whisk like a bad woman/man. Keep the temp at low and continuously whisk while it simmers away and becomes thick and smooth. This will take anywhere between 5-10 minutes. You need to just keep whisking it until that magical moment happens.

Take it off the heat and allow to cool down. It will thicken a lot more as it cools and will turn into condensed chicken soup right before your eyes.

** The original recipe says to use milk, and you can but I also know that evaporated milk doesn't curdle and when frozen won't separate**

This makes enough for two cans so use one and store the other in the fridge or freezer until you need it!

Yield: Makes the equivalent of about 2 cans of cream of chicken soup
Source: Pinch of Yum







Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Take A Peek Wednesday: Around The House

                       

               It's been a busy Wednesday over here in tulip central. The weather has been mild..despite a brief storm and rain here and there,we can't complain to much. The hens are able to stay outside until 5:30 on most days and that does them wonders. They always head inside right around dusk or just before and thankfully it's been happening later and later. It does wonders for the egg laying aswell..extra sunlight means more eggs. 

Yesterday was a baking day for me..breads and buns respectfully. 
          
        
           Look at that beautiful bowl full of free range eggs..It makes me so happy every time I walk into the kitchen and see it. I'm so thankful for those eating and pooing machines outback.
                   
 
         Speaking of those machines..Hello from Daisy,Mabel,Belle,Astrid,Annie,Lily,and Eliza! Are you as tired of winter as I am? I just snapped this photo a few minutes ago and it made me wish for the lush summer days. I can't wait for everything to come into bloom! 
  







Monday, February 10, 2014

Honey-Oatmeal Sandwich Bread

                        

                 When I tell people that I bake on average,20 plus buns a week,3 loaves of bread, and various other bread based items they look at me like I have two heads. Well I sometimes image that's how they look at me since most of my conversations take place online. The usual response is something like, I can't imagine baking like that all the time,or how do you do it?, or I suck at bread baking. The truth of the matter is, it hardly takes any time at all to bake your own breads,buns, and rolls. If I'm at home then there is some kind of yeast product rising in my oven at any given time. I realize I don't have a normal 9-5 job, but even if I did you better believe I would be doing it all on my days off. You can get the dough rising while you do other things around the house or even run a few errands. You come back,shape it,do a second rise, and then bake. It doesn't matter if your bread comes out wonky looking or has cracks or some of your buns didn't come out perfectly round. Do you think anyone cares about that? What people care about is the taste and you know homemade bread tastes so much better than anything else you can buy in the store. You control what goes in and what stays out..like hair. I know that sounds funny, but did you know they use certain products in bread that contains hair from a salon in china? yum,yum. I like fluffy bread, but not that kind of fluff thank you very much!

So bake some bread. Bake this bread! it has both all-purpose and whole wheat flour. It has yummy things like oats and honey, and even nuts if you want to put them in there. There are no funky ingredients like hair or feathers (yep they add those too), and you will just love how soft this bread is and how delicious it tastes when toasted and slathered in peanut butter.

Bread baking isn't hard and doesn't need to be a scary thing. It just takes practice. So get to practicing!!!!

Honey-Oatmeal Sandwich Bread

1-1/4 cups (10 ounces) Boiling Water
1 cup (3-1/2 ounces) Old-fashioned rolled oats
2 TBS (1 ounce) Unsalted Butter,cut into 3 pieces
1-1/2 tsp. Salt
1/4 cup (3 ounces) Honey
1 cup (4 ounces) Whole Wheat Flour
1-2/3 cups ( 7 ounces) All-purpose Flour
1/4 cup (1 ounce) Nonfat Dry Milk
1/2 cup (1-7/8 ounces) finely chopped Pecans or Walnuts;optional
2 tsp. Instant Yeast

In a medium bowl,place the boiling water,oats,butter,salt, and honey,stir, and let the mixture cool to lukewarm.

Mix the remaining dough ingredients with the oat mixture, and knead,by hand, or mixer until you've made a soft,smooth dough. Place the dough into a lightly greased bowl,turning once to coat,cover the bowl and allow the dough to rise for 1 hours or until doubled in bulk.

Grease a 9x5 inch loaf pan and set aside. Gently deflate the dough, and because it will be slightly sticky,make sure you oil your hands a bit. Place the dough out onto a counter top and shape into a 9 inch log. Place into prepared loaf pan. Cover it gently with either a tea towel,lightly greased plastic wrap or shower cap, and allow to rise until it's crowned 1-1/2 inches over the rim of the pan,about 1 to 1-1/2 hours. Towards the end of the rising time preheat your oven.

Preheat to 350 or 180 celsius. Uncover the bread and bake for around 45 minutes,tenting with foil after 20 minutes to prevent the top from over-browning. Bake until golden brown,sounds hollow when tapped on the bottom or when a thermometer inserted in the center registers 190F. Allow the bread to sit in the pan for 1-2 minutes. Gently remove and allow to cool completely on a wire rack. If you want an extra soft crust,brush the top with melted butter. I didn't do this step and found the crust to be very soft on its own.

Yield: 1 Loaf about 12-16 slices
Source: King Arthur Flour Whole Grain Baking  
 




Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Take A Peek Wednesday: Good Morning from,Enschede!

              

               Good morning from Enschede,The Netherlands! I ran upstairs and snapped a photo from my bedroom window when I spotted the beautiful sunrise pouring through my downstairs window. 

I hope where ever you may be today that your morning is as beautiful as the one I experienced.

P.S. My bare bottom hens are getting their feathers back :) the foul spray seems to be working!

What is on your agenda for the day? mine has been filled with laundry and baking bread. I really miss my American washer and dryer. We have small washer and dryers over here and it takes me hours and hours and to dry one load. It drives me crazy!!! I could have had all of this done in two loads back home. I guess I should be thankful I even have those and I am grateful. I just sorta wish I had my old set from home.

Happy Wednesday!!!!




Monday, February 3, 2014

Cinnamon Raisin Bagels

     

                  It should come as no surprise that we are bagel freaks in this house. We love them slathered in peanut butter, cream cheese, butter, and even sandwiched between an egg.

This is a super easy recipe to try if you are new to bagel making. The hardest part is creating the hole in the middle and then dunking them into the boiling water...easy peasy

Cinnamon Raisin Bagels

2 tsp. Active Dry Yeast
1-1/2 cups Warm Water
1/4 cup Packed Brown Sugar,divided
3 tsp. Ground Cinnamon
1-1/2 tsp. Salt
1/2 cup Raisins
2-3/4 to 3-1/4 cups Flour; All-purpose,Spelt,you pick!

In the bowl of a stand mixer with the dough hook attachment ( you can do this all by hand if you want),add the yeast,warm water, 3 tablespoons brown sugar, salt, and raisins.

Slowly add in enough flour to form a dough that is not sticky and pulls away from the dough. If using the stand mixer continue to knead the dough for 5-6 minutes. If kneading by hand, it will take you around 8 minutes or so. You want the dough to be smooth and elastic no matter which method you use.

Shape the dough into a ball and place into a greased bowl and turning once to coat. Cover and allow to rise in a warm spot until doubled in size, about 1 hour.

Gently deflate the dough and on a floured surface,divide the dough into 10-12 balls ( I went with 10 to get a slightly larger bagel). Push your thumb into the center of the ball to form a 1-1/2 inch hole. Gently stretch the dough to form an even ring.  Place on a floured surface,cover and allow to rise 25-30 minutes.
                       

                    Preheat oven to 375 05 190 celsius. Line one or two baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.

Fill a dutch oven or large pan with water two-thirds full with water and remaining brown sugar;bring to a boil. Gently drop bagels,two at a time,into the boiling water. Allow to boil for 30 seconds,flip, and allow to boil on the other side for another 30 seconds. Scoop bagels out with a slotted spoon or spatula and place onto prepared pan 2 inches apart.

Bake 18-20 minutes,or until golden brown. Cool on wire rack.

Yield: 10-12 Bagels
Source: Adapted from Taste of Home and Ambitious Kitchen