Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes

Made this loaf of fresh bread last night. It really is the first bread I've made that didn't involve a bread machine (which I highly recommend if you don't have one-- they are so simple to use and fabulous!). It was delicious. I used the recipe from the book Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes. I think the 5 minutes part is how long the bread lasts before it gets eaten. Seriously. It was gone that fast-- Alex, Ron AND Talia chowed it down.

The whole concept of the book is that the authors have figured out a recipe and method for making a large batch of dough (enough for four 1-pound loaves) and storing it in the fridge for up to 2 weeks. When you need some fresh bread you cut off a chunk of dough, do a little magic (cloak it, let it rise for 40 minutes and then bake it for 30 minutes) and you have fresh bread. A one pound loaf is pretty small but I think that's the whole point of the book. It's only supposed to last one meal. Tomorrow I can bake another batch. It's that simple. I'm really excited to try out a more rustic loaf and a rye loaf and some other shapes. This was a boule but I might shape the next loaf as two small baguettes. The possibilities seem endless. Once again I'm rethinking this notion I have of myself as a cook- not a baker. So I don't like desserts. So what. Bread is the ultimate in baking.
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On a Roll

We have entered birthday season in Talia's class. She attended two parties this past weekend and no doubt has a few more coming up in the spring. This 5 set came out really well. I had to piece the bottom trim together from a fat quarter I had and didn't have enough to add it to the top so I altered the twirly skirt pattern. I added two inches of length to the top of the skirt and folded the top down to make a casing. It worked beautifully and I think I will continue to do it that way. Most kids wear their shirts out so the top trim will rarely be seen and it was a little too much work for me. I had trouble turning it on the Care Bears skirt and it came out a little wonky. I also made the same skirt for Talia in the ugly heart fabric she picked out herself. I coerced her into letting me add a more contrasting fabric for the trim-- she had picked a black fabric with pink and red heart as the main fabric and then a black fabric with red lips on it for the trim. Luckily I was able to use a bright pink fabric with multicolored heart lollipops on it instead. I did promise a shirt with the red lips though. Wonder how I'll get out of that one. The fabric is so ugly...

The reason I'm making so many skirts is that I'm procrastinating on three baby quilts (all three babies have been born already!). I think I finally settled on a quilt design for the first one. I was completely stumped. The quilt is already basted so it should be quick from here on. Hopefully I can even finish it this week. Wish me luck.
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Friday, February 20, 2009

Where have all the Care Bears gone?

Talia went to a neighbor's birthday party last week. I had seen the girl a few days before and asked her what she liked. She said she liked Care Bears. Great! Done! How easy is that? She told me the two she had already and I thought it would be simple to find her another. Wrong. Apparently, Care Bears must be sooooooo last year. I know I bought small ones for the kids in April last year. I also know I saw them at Christmastime. For the life of me I could not find one now, anywhere! I checked Target, Toy R Us, Kohl's, Walmart and Party City. When I couldn't find a doll I thought maybe I could get a shirt, or pj's, a puzzle or a book. NOTHING. I know it wouldn't have made any difference if I got the girl a Polly Pocket, some books or the game Hullabaloo. I easily become obsessed with finding the right item and get caught up sometimes. I had promised this girl (in my head anyway) that I would get her a Care Bear. Walmart was the last store I checked and luckily they had Care Bear fabric. I thought maybe I would make her a pillowcase or something. In the end I went with a twirly skirt and matching shirt. I used the tutorial from "house on hill road." It's a pretty easy skirt and I have since made another one (for another birthday). Talia picked out fabric (ugly fabric, in my opinion) for one of her own. In the end I did add a Care Bear stuffed animal to this package. I went to a thrift store and they had tons of them. I found the one that looked new and added it to the gift. It was on sale. For $2.
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Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Pee Time

Apparently Alex wants to use the potty. Who am I to discourage him? I'm sure it's just a phase-- I mean, the kid barely speaks. Let me rephrase that-- he speaks all day long; I just don't know what language it is. I'll indulge this new interest for a while. Problem is he wanted to sit on the potty all day (with no result) and I had many things to do this morning. Funny story-- I brought out Talia's princess potty for him to sit on. Apparently the princess potty is NOT for boys! It is not properly made to accomodate his anatomy. He had no room to point his little thing down. He would've peed right on the floor. At least in Philadelphia when I trained Talia the floors were all wooden. Here there is a lot of carpet. What do I do about that?
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Sunday, February 15, 2009

Serve Immediately

I have always wanted a griddle but never knew what I would do with one. I don't much like sweet food for breakfast and certainly don't cook for a crowd. Recently I ordered Alex some pancakes at a restaurant (The Prairie Cafe, if you're interested) and they were fantastic. A total waste on Alex who seems to like frozen as much as fresh, which is to say, according to his own schedule. Yesterday pancakes = yes; today, not so much. Today was my first foray into making pancakes from scratch and cooking them on the griddle. Certainly they were easy enough (but a little messy) and tasted great (although not as good as the ones at the Prairie Cafe-- how can I get that recipe?). It's fun to make them from scratch and they look great, don't they? I'm just loving my griddle. It was a Valentine's gift to myself, since I knew my husband wasn't going to get my anything. He doesn't *believe* in Valentine's Day (neither do I, really).

In another related story, I also made fresh biscuits last night. I made some Tibetan lentil soup (from the Moosewood Daily Special Cookbook) and I wanted to make some sort of bread to go with it. I'm starting to get into breads that don't have a long rising time because I can't have that much forethought. A few weeks ago I made roti, which was delicious. Last night I chose biscuits because they seemed easy. They didn't exactly go with the lentil soup but they were definitely yummy. I always say I'm not a baker. Maybe I'll have to amend that.

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Saturday, February 14, 2009

Happy Valentine's Day!

I felt really rushed to get Talia's valentines done for school. I wanted to have Talia help me with everything but there just wasn't time after our vacation. Plus, there wasn't really any moment I had with just Talia and not Alex, who would not have done well with a big package of birdseed or the oven. I baked up little heart shaped birdseed feeders using the recipe from Family Fun magazine (3/4 c birdseed, 2 tbl flour, 2 tbl water mixed and pressed into cookie cutters or muffin tins and baked at 175 degrees for an hour. Insert a straw for the hole and leave it in during baking). I found these cute bird valentines online and printed them. Talia is still working on signing each one-- she can only do about 8 before going bonkers. There are 22 kids in the class plus 3 teachers. I packaged them up into ziploc bags that have hearts printed on them. They are quite cute but were definitely a pain in the ass to make. Plus I'm afraid the kids will think they are cookies or granola bars. I'm sure someone will try to eat them.
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Thursday, February 12, 2009

100 days of school

Of course, considering that Talia only goes to school 3 days a week it's really the 70th day of school, minus about 10 days of vacation and sickness so it's really the 60th day of school but... who's counting? And seriously, why do we need a "holiday" that falls *literally* the day before the Valentine's Day party? To celebrate this wonderful holiday the children are asked to bring in 100 of something. In order to represent who Talia is we thought maybe 100 crayons or markers or stickers. To make it a little more creative and waste more of my time we decided to make 100 heart crayons, reminiscent of our valentines from last year. Talia was able to help more this time around-- she was an expert at getting the papers off the crayons that had been soaked in water. This project took too much of my time, as usual, but the payoff is nice. I'm sure her class will enjoy using them for a long time. On a side note, I had to count them about 8 times to make sure I have exactly 100. I'm still not sure I have exactly 100. And if I couldn't count them, how are the kids going to count them?
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Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Trapeze Artist

One of the major attractions at our resort in the Dominican Republic was a circus school. There was a trampoline, tightrope, juggling and a trapeze. I quietly hoped against hope that Talia would be up for it. After a few days of watching she gave it a try. She now says the scariest part was a long long ladder she had to climb up. In the middle of the ladder she had to climb around to the other side. For someone who cries when Mommy goes to the grocery store and leaves her home I really thought she was going to chicken out. She did a great job, although she looked really scared the whole time. Afterward she said she "liked it a little and hated it a lot." A week later she is speaking of the experience fondly. There was opportunity for adults to try it but we never got around to it-- it was during Alex's nap time when we were all relaxing in the villa.

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Monday, February 09, 2009

República Dominicana

Just got back from a trip to Punta Cana, Dominican Republic. It was a much needed break from the Wisconsin winter. We all had a great time and met some new friends. Hopefully I'll have time to post more pictures and thoughts later. Hopefully. Once the bags are unpacked. And the house gets back together. And Talia is back in school. And the kids are back to their normal sleeping patterns. Etc...
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Monday, February 02, 2009

How hard is it?

Why can't I get my kitchen floors clean? Hello!??!? I have maple floors that looked fantastic when I moved in. Now they look awful all the time. I've tried every product on the market. The floor company says to use only Bona. This picture was taken just after I finished sweeping, vacuuming, dustbusting, dust mopping and then wet mopping. Perhaps you can't see the awfulness from the small picture. I even tried steam mopping. PLEASE PLEASE anyone, help!
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