Monday, September 6, 2010

Labor Day... Already?

How can it be Labor Day already? My summer was swallowed whole by an online Algebra course that didn't even qualify as Algebra.... It was technically PRE-Algebra which means I still have real Algebra to go. This is not one of those random facts about my life that thrills my soul.

Food wise, my life has been equally unexciting. We have eaten more sandwiches than is humanly possible. And not Huge slices of fresh tomatoes piled on fresh bread.... Oh no! I am talking meat, mayo, and cheese, if you care to dig deep into the cavernous gaping hole that is my refrigerator to find it.

For an even simpler meal I can always eat at the hospital, where the food is.... filling.

So, here is what I have accomplished. Pre-Algebra done. Christian has left home schooling and is in school in Sheldon. I have a laptop (for school) that is being converted to a facebooking, blogging computer, and the chickens are almost old enough to lay eggs.

One year from May I can enter MLT school. I have approximately 20 months to see if there is a living in food for me. I have list of goals that I will share one at a time.... In the mean time, this morning my dishes are caught up. It is Labor Day. I plan to cook, cook, cook. I am going to cruise by to pick up a couple of ideas for the week. And I am going to growl (hopefully under my breath) because NOTHING in my kitchen is where it belongs.

All in all, a good day. Food is on. Within an hour something will be bubbling on my stove. Come on by. I will cook if you will do the dishes.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Mistakes, Mistakes, Mistakes.....

Last week I don't think anything went right. It was odd really, not much went incredibly wrong but everything was slightly off. There seemed to be a slight skew to everything I attempted. Well, almost everything.. It was also the week of the HUGE bread....

I have mentioned before my insane love for all things dealing with King Arthur flour... I love their products, their website, their recipes. So, last week I made yet another batch of their crusty white bread. It is a simple no fail recipe. Have I mentioned yet that last week was slightly skewed??

Slightly skewed UNTIL I attempted this recipe. For some bizarre reason I doubled the yeast. I have no idea why! I looked at the recipe and promptly doubled the yeast... Now, this wouldn't have been such an issue if I had a mixing bowl big enough to double the entire recipe and still fit on my Kitchenaid. I doubled the water, the salt no problem but when I doubled the yeast (in a bit of a hurry so I could still get to work ,) the Kitchenaid promptly threw a good portion of it right back out of the bowl.

So here I am throwing flour in as fast as the Kitchenaid can throw it out. I finally decided it must be about right so I removed it to let it rise. It rose and rose. All the way up the side of my pan, and the 2 hours weren't even up yet! In an act of utter desperation I shoved the whole thing into the refrigerator hoping to salvage it.

Hours later I came home from work to find bread spilling out of the bowl and all over the butter and cream cheese. This should have spurred me into action. I should have attacked with scrapers and soap and washcloths.... But no. I was frozen. For days I would look in awe at this creature that had invaded my refrigerator. I kept thinking the cold would conquer all, that this growing mass would shrink and disappear, a bit like a child with their eyes closed thinking since they can't see you, you must not be able to see them.

The mass was so unmanageable, so sticky, so frightening, I must confess I wasted the whole batch. It took me days to finally overcome my fear and tackle the mess. I have finally won the battle, and tomorrow I am tackling that recipe again. Say it with me now... Do NOT double the yeast.... Do NOT double the yeast...

Saturday, April 24, 2010

The Story of the Zacharies

I recently posted the news about our annual poultry accumulation day. Every year I end up with more poultry than I mean to, the difference being, I usually end up with more chickens, and this year I ended up with more everything. More chickens, more ducks, and definitely more turkeys.

On our way to town last week, Avery asked for turkeys, and when met with an initial no, set about naming the turkeys after herself and her best friend.then texting her friend to tell her about the turkeys. I am not sure whether I was more disturbed by the lack of creativity in the name or by the names themselves. Talk about turkeys with guaranteed amnesty! No way will I have Avery for lunch next November!

A few miles down the road she announced her friend Zachary wanted poultry named after him as well, I guess it was a sauce for the goose sauce for the gander type moment. I am still not quite sure how it happened, one moment we had all these anonymous mallards and the next we had 6 Zacharies. (Or should it be Zacharys?)

The Zacharies are all still so young we can't tell the boys from the girls, perhaps some of them may grow up to have different names. Until then the little villains can keep terrorizing my chickens. Regardless, they can all sleep well knowing they won't be the cause of any additional dishes beside the sink.....

Thursday, April 22, 2010

A Cake at Long Last!

Yesterday, I finally had a chance to bake, and not just anything, a cake! I love to make cake. I don't know if it is the texture of it when I pour it from one bowl to the other or if it is handling the bowls that my mother and grandmother used. Maybe it is the heat of the kitchen. I don't know.

My cake of choice was a devil's food cake. I have been making this cake for 19 years. It was one of the cakes that first converted me from the pie side... Not to knock pies. I will write plenty about them later. The problem with this particular cake has always been the uneven rise while it bakes. It has never mattered how carefully I measured or smoothed, whether or not I remembered to preheat or not, or even whether I baked it in 2 two round pans or one large rectangular one.

I recently made perhaps the biggest discovery of my baking experience. King Arthur Flour. I baked yesterday's cake using King Arthur All Purpose Flour and when I had it mixed I wrapped my pans carefully in Bake Even Strips before putting them in the oven. The result? Both cakes rose beautifully and evenly. They didn't even need levelled. I was amazed by the difference in this cake I knew so well!

In the interest of being totally honest, I will admit my cake was not perfect. It needed one more layer so the KitKats wouldn't have needed trimmed, I wish the icing wouldn't have been chilled before I applied it, I would have like to dressed it up a bit more, but that could be me being picky.
In the meantime, if Food Network calls I am headed out to work, they will have to wait until I am done there. If they come by, just direct to the corner with the dishes and tell them the dishsoap is still under the sink!

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Chickens and Turkeys and Ducks! Oh my!

In the last few days hardly anything has gone as I had planned it. The plan of course was to have an incredible blog set up with all kinds of amazing things to look at and read, a couple of notes on recipes I had tried, a few links to webstores on which I am totally dependent, and wisdom spewing forth from my fingertips faster than my legions of fans can grasp it. That hasn't necessarily been the case.

Instead life has been slightly bogged down with chores, work and the mostly mundane. Until, we went to the local feed store. I went in suspecting we would buy 6 pullets. In 6 months 6 pullets could easily provide me with enough eggs to make a cake a day. We left with 8 pullets, and because they were on sale, and our daughter, Avery, is in love with them, 4 ducks.

We fixed them a nice little cubby and realized we didn't have waterers small enough for babies, back we went, daughter in tow. As luck would have it Avery wanted turkeys, my husband Steve thought maybe two more ducks would be a good idea, Avery thought perhaps a dozen chickens would be better than eight, and last but not least when it was said and done I had to have two of the polish crested chickens. The count for the day 14 chickens, 6 ducks (all named Zachary, but that is definitely a story for another day!) and 2 turkeys.

Meanwhile, my baking blog remains nothing about baking, we have increased the number of daily chores needing done, and the dishes, I swear they have started breeding down by the sink. Oh well, no problem I have my week all mapped out. I'll be caught up by Friday!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

"I brought you flours..."

Have you seen Stranger Than Fiction? It has what I believe to be the most romantic movie moment of all time. A moment when a middle aged ,rather awkward man, totally gets IT and brings the girl he is mesmorized with (who happens to be a baker) a flat with bags of different kinds of flours. It gives me goose bumps every time. Maybe because it is so sweet, but maybe because in my head, I own a bakery. In my head I am also gifted beyond belief, but that is a story for another day.

In my make believe bakery, I take my baked goods from farmers' market to farmers' market, stopping along the way to drop off deliveries at local restaurants that have placed their standing orders, and at each stop I laugh with my regular customers and ask them questions about how their families are doing. I also have a stunning wedding cake business going on in my head and can stack cake higher and decorate it so glamorously that people travel for miles to order one. It is a beautiful bakery....

In reality, I work at my local hospital where I am a phlebotomist. (We are the people with the needles EVERYBODY calls vampires.) Also in reality I am 41, my children are growing up and I am facing my mid-life crisis and barreling right on toward empty nest syndrome. In reality I can't make an icing rose, but I am working on it, and as soon as I am done baking for the day it is time to stop what I am doing, put on my scrubs and head out for the day. This all adds up to a passion that I can't get out of my system, a yearning to make my reality match the picture in my head, and dirty dishes.

I can load and unload my dishwaher until the cows come home, but I always have that stack that won't quite fit in the Frigidaire. I am trying. Oh how I try! Some days I am close, others light years away. Regardless, I have every intention, of making the picture in my head match real life. And, oh yes, if you happen to be in the neighborhood.... There is a load that won't fit in the dishwasher and the soap is under the sink!