19 February, 2010

This week's happenings...

This post has photos from a little while ago. I have two cameras that i use often and don't always upload at the same time.
Last week, we ran out of bread sooner than expected and because of my strict adherence to our meal calendar  and shopping budget, decided to try my hand at making bread the good old fashioned way.
Only... i somehow forgot to knead my bread. I think i was just too excited about the idea of actually making bread by hand that i forgot the "by hand" part. LOL! I also researched the importance of kneading bread. To summarize, kneading basically helps develop the gluten and adds air bubbles to the dough so it can rise to its fullest potential. Also it helps spread out and redistribute all the ingredients to aid the fermentation of the yeast. That way when you bake it, you get a full, high, and amazing bread. This particular recipe tasted really good, but was only a couple inches tall - as you can see in the above photo. Here's the recipe, if you'd like to try your hand at home made bread! 

Homemade Bread (sans machine)
  • 1 (.25 ounce or 7g) package active dry yeast
  • 2-1/4 cups (10oz) warm water -- warm, but not too warm. We dont want to ruin the yeast.
  • 1 tbs salt
  • 3 tbs sugar
  • 2 tbs butter -- you'll want to melt it so it's just beyond soft, but not a puddle
  • 6 C all-purpose flour (also can substitute for whole grain flour) -- divide this into 3 C and 3 C  
In a medium-largeish bowl, combine yeast and water and let sit until yeast is bubbly. Add sugar, butter, and salt. Beat in 3 C of the flour until smooth. Mix in remaining flour until dough is soft and cleans the bowl. You may not need to use all of the flour. Turn dough out onto a floured surface and knead for no less than 9 minutes. Cover and place in a warm place to rise for about an hour and a half, or until your dough is twice the size. Punch down your risen dough, cover and go watch an episode of Big Bang Theory (about half an hour). At this point, your dough should be ready to divide into two loaves. Place into loaf pans, cover and let rise for another 30-45 minutes (this should really be called "wait" instead of "bread") or until your loaves are doubled. Somewhere in this last 30-45 minutes, you should preheat your oven to 375F (190C). Place risen loaves into oven and bake until golden brown (or about 35-40 mins).
Good luck! May your bread rise better than mine (it should... if you remember to knead and do it long enough!)


Last Friday, my husband was on his way to work in the dark of the morning, when he ran out of diesel in his car! I couldn't believe it when he told me. Poor guy. He was having a hard time that morning anyway- and to have to walk to work on top of it was like adding insult to injury. He walked for an hour or more to get to work, but couldn't call anyone at work because his phone ran out of credit as he was texting someone to let them know the situation.
The "downtown" part of the village we live in Rathcormac, is just a half an hour's walk away. V was able to catch a ride home to Rathcormac, and i met him in the village to walk with him home. He seemed happy to see me :)
That little walk inspired us to walk into town (into village? lol) the next day, Saturday, to pick up some groceries for a little dinner party we were throwing with some friends later that evening. For some reason, we were inspired to push the car from where it rested all the rest of the way home.
It seemed like a good idea at the time. lol!
We pushed it home, about a quarter of a mile, on a small two lane road, maneuvering around a stopped vehicle and some little hills. It was a lot of hard work! The car is only about 1,500lbs but it was a lot harder than it looked. I'm glad we didn't have to go very far. haha!

In an effort to finish off some salad greens from the dinner party before they went bad, i had a lovely salad made with different types of lettuce, a medium boiled egg, grated sharp cheddar cheese, and some amazing homemade ranch dressing before i went on another walk (this time with my camera) into Rathcormac to look around.
    V gave me these beautiful tulips for Valentines Day. What a wonderful guy!
    I must say that this ranch style dressing is the best dressing i have ever had. Including dressings that i have made in the past from packets. I found a general ingredient list online to get an idea of what goes into it, and then i winged it from there. It's zingy and tangy and full of garlic, and everything i like about a good dressing. I would like to share it with you, before i forget what all i put into it :)

    Creamy Garlic Ranch-Style Dressing

    • 1 teaspoon dried parsley
    • 3/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
    • 1 teaspoon salt
    • a little less than 1 teaspoon garlic powder
    • 1/4 teaspoon onion powder
    • 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
    • a little less than 1 C light mayonnaise 
    • 1 C whole milk + 2 capfulls of white vinegar (or i suppose you could use regular buttermilk)
    Now... if you are using milk + vinegar and not buttermilk- combine it in a measuring cup and let sit while you're mixing all the other stuff together.
    In a "shakeable" container (i used an old jam jar with original lid), put in mayo and all the other stuff, then if your milk + vinegar has sat for at least 5 minutes, pour it in too. Put your lid on it and shake, Shake, SHAKE!
    Give it a little taste and adjust your ingredients to how you like it, then pop it into the fridge for about an hour before you serve it.
    Mine was delicious. I hope yours is too!


    Gotta love a man who can cook, right? Yep. Mine can flip pancakes! What talent! For Shrove Tuesday (the day before Ash Wednesday) we followed a cultural tradition of eating pancakes for dinner. Actually, these are crepes. After they were cooked, they'd go onto a plate to be filled with yummy things like jam or nutella or a myriad of other wonderful goodies. My husband can even flip crepes while sitting down ;-)

    The following day we went to the beach near Ballylongane, Ireland to look for sea glass for an upcoming project.
    We went right before sunset and while the tide was coming in. Hopefully, we'll go again this weekend and make sure to watch the tide schedules.
    But we still got some pretty good findings! Sea glass was hard to find, but I found about 5 or 6 pieces. Yay!


    Yesterday we discovered that we are already out of kerosene for our central heat. Which means... our radiators are cold... which means... we are cold. lol! Good thing i've got experience! haha! We went out after V got home from work to look at wood/coal burning stoves, and found one for just the right price! Unfortunately, we have to wait until Monday to pick it up, but i wont complain. It means that we'll be warm next week! Outside of the store, there's a big rubbish pile of stuff that is on its way to be recycled. Usually just old wood skids and various other junk, but last night we found something glorious. No less than SIX discarded glass doors for standing showers. GASP!
    We had planned to build a greenhouse this spring (within the next week or so), and these would be absolutely perfect for our intents and purposes. We hurried over to our friend Paweł's house to ask for his help in transporting the doors. We shared two of them with Paweł and ended up taking four home. I can't wait to see how they work out for our garden!
    After we took the doors home, we went grocery shopping at Tesco in Cork where V was very supportive of my recent vegetarian decision, then V was wonderful enough to offer to make dinner. We had a light meal consisting of penne with an amazing Basil Pesto mixed in with a little olive oil. 
    OH. My. Goodnes!!! It was delicious. Go to your store right now and look for Basil Pesto spread. You wont regret it. I'll wait here. ;-)

     Today i enjoyed some lovely oatmeal mixed with rasins and apricot jam, and a side of pineapple juice to drink! (i was amazed to find that one can buy pineapple juice here! I mean, you have to mix it with water because it's highly concentrated, but it is completely awesome!)


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