Wednesday, August 19, 2009

I Need to Knead

The cards are stacked against me.
Both my parents are type 2 diabetic.
My mom has high blood pressure.
Cancer runs rampant through my family.
Nath and I come from a polygamist family.
He comes from the skinny wife.
I come from the 'pleasantly plump' wife.

(No, we didn't know we were related when we first started dating, but it's not close enough to make our children extra special.)

The women in my family are large.
Not tall. Wide.

I have thyroid issues.

Because of all this, I have to work my darnedest at keeping as healthy as I can. I love to exercise whenever I can. I eat as healthy as I can. I have been a member of Weight Watchers for a long time. The program really does work.... when you work the program. Unfortunately I get distracted, sidetracked, out of focus too easily. I never conciously realized that I do these things until Nath told me about his boss. He is a man who has a higher stack of cards against him. Just his age and his race is enough to put him at the top of the list for several major health problems. Because of this, he is a fanatical eater. No fat. No sugar. Nothing processed. While I'm not that fanatical, I'm trying to make better food choices. I still love and crave sugar. But I don't NEED it to survive. I just WANT it to survive.

So what's the point?
I make bread on a weekly basis. Usually I make oatmeal bread. I'm trying to get more whole grains in my diet and I always add flax to my bread. The recipe I use calls for oil. I add applesauce instead to cut the fat content out. But this week I found a new recipe that uses whole wheat. I want to share it. Many people have asked me to teach them how to make bread. I thought I'd post a tutorial on how I do it, along with little tips I've learned along the way.

I use a Bosch kitchen mixer. I can get 4 large loaves out of my recipes, but if you have a Kitchen-Aid, you will need to half this recipe. Your bowl won't hold that much.

Here's the recipe:
5 cups hot tap water
1 cup honey or 1 cup sugar and 2 TBSP molasses
1 cup vital gluten
4 tsp salt
1/2 cup non-instant powdered milk
1/2 cup potato pearls or 4 Tbsp butter and 1 cup potato flakes
4 Tbsp vinegar
4-6 cups whole wheat flour freshly grounded (I blended Hard Red with Hard white and oats)
4 Tbsp yeast
4-6 cups white flour

First add the hot water, then add each of the ingredients in order. This is what I use. The vital gluten can be a little hard to find. I know Wal-mart carrys it in the baking isle. I got this from Preparing Wisely in Mesa. Right now Costco carries the Morning Moo milk in large buckets. Costco also has the flax. The molasses comes from Smart & Final. It's a local restaurant supply store. I get molasses and my bread bags from them. Definitely cheaper than the grocery store, and most stores don't carry bread bags big enough for my loaves.

This is what it looks like without the flour yet.

Next add the wheat flour, sprinkling it around the top of the other ingredients, mostly covering them.

Then sprinkle the yeast on top of that.

By adding the yeast last, it guarantees that the water will be just the right temperature and you don't have to dirty a little bowl to proof the yeast.

Now turn your mixer on for about 1 minute. Usually this is when I start putting my ingredients away. Turn it off. There will be a little steam build up on the lid. That's OK.

This is what the inside should look like. Bubbles should start to appear on the surface. That means the yeast is working.

Now start adding the white flour to the bowl while it is mixing. Do this slowly because you need to stop when the dough starts to clean the sides of the bowl. It will look like this:

Now leave the mixer on for about 8-9 minutes. This is to help develop the gluten. Before you start mixing the dough will be rough. When the 8 minutes is done, the dough should be more smooth and hold together easily. It looks like this:

Put the lid back on loosely. With wheat bread you can skip this step. I forgot this time and let the bread rise twice. With white you have to let it rise twice. It still turned out OK. When the dough is just peeking out of the top of the bowl, it's time to shape the loaves and put it in pans. I have pans from IKEA. I love them because they are long and skinny. The loaf lasts longer and the slices fit in lunch bags easier than the short fat pans. Spray each pan with a non-stick cooking spray. I use Pam.

Turn out the dough on to a well floured surface.

Now divide the loaves into 4 equal mounds. I know some people weigh their loaves to get them exact. I don't. I just go by what they look like and how they feel.

Now knead each mound into a loaf size. This just comes with practice. I can't really describe how I do it. Just play around, pushing the dough with the heel of your hand, pulling it back, and pushing it out again. It really is relaxing to knead out your frustrations on a little ball of bread dough. Then put the loaves into their pans.

Most people will tell you to cover your bread with a damp kitchen cloth. I don't. I never really liked the results. The bread gets too crusty. I cover mine with plastic wrap. Don't seal it tight. Just lay the wrap over the tops. It keeps it softer.

Let the loaves rise until they are just above the sides of the pan. It takes about 25 minutes.

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. If you have a baking stone, I would take it out. I've tried baking with it in and the bottoms don't cook right. It's up to you and how your oven works. When your oven is preheated to 400, remove the plastic wrap and place your pans in the oven with a little space in between each pan. Now drop the cooking temperature to 325 degrees and set the timer for 33 minutes. Each oven is a little different. This time is just perfect for mine.

When the time is up, lay out some paper towel. I don't have cooling racks, so paper towel works great. Then when the bread is cool, I use the paper towel to wipe out the bread pans. Lay out your loaves, and then brush the tops with crisco. This keeps the crust soft and it makes them look better.

Let the loaves cool for about 1 hour. Then put them in bags. I get mine from Smart & Final.

You can freeze the loaves after they cool to make them last longer. I just take them out the night before I need them to defrost. If you need it sooner, about 3 minutes in the microwave speeds up the process considerably.

Here's to whole grain healthy living! Enjoy!

Feelin' Crafty

OK. So now that school is in again, and we are home for a while, I've been itchin' to get crafty. So for the next several pics you can see what I've been up to. Let's start with cards:

This is a Father's Day card I made using my scraps. It would work for any theme, just change the monogram letter for stuff like 'Thank You', or 'Birthday. An easy design that would work for anything.

With the help of my sisters, we made a ton of these cute Birthday cards. The origional design was for my daughter's birthday. Her preschool didn't allow food of any kind in the class (lots of kids with severe food allergies) so I thought I'd make some hypo-allergenic cupcakes for her to pass out on her Big Day! It turned out so cute! Then in church, our Primary President wanted to send Birthday cards to our Prophet. I volunteered to make the cards. Each child in our primary is to do a service on his birthday, then we write what they did in his honor, take a picture, and mail it off to him. I'm excited about the whole project. Plus the cards turned out soooo cute!

Next, I made some hairbows for my little girl. She loves girly things, and since I have mostly boys, it was fun to get to make her some 'girl stuff'. I'm still working on the actual bow part, but these are my first attempt.

I think her hair turned out pretty cute if I do say so myself.

Next was a recycled jeans skirt. And since I love tutorials, here goes:

First make sure the waist of the jeans fits on your little girl. It's OK if there are holes in the knees. Next cut the jeans straight across just below the zipper. Make sure the pockets are tucked up or you will cut holes in the bottom of them.

I surged the bottom edge to keep it from fraying. If you don't have a surger, zig-zag will work the same way. Next I measured how long I wanted the fabric part to be. My girl is 5 so I think I cut about 12 inches off the whole width of the fabric, then sewed the ends together, right sides inside, and surged one of the edges. Since I had some extra lace, I thought it would be cute to layer the patterned fabric and the lace. The pink fabric is just a little bit shorter than the white background fabric that I attached the lace to.

I also hemmed the bottom edge of the pink fabric. Just a simple rolled hem. Next make sure the two layers are lined up and gather the top edge. My machine has a gathering foot that makes quick work of gathering fabric. If your's doesn't, sew two lines close together with a wide stitch length. Then gently pull on the threads to gather the fabric up, evening out the gather all the way around.

The gathering turned out a little too tight for the jeans, so I had to adjust the fabric a little by stretching out the stitching. Now pin right sides together and sew the skirt to the jeans.

You're almost done. To finish, I topstitched along the seam between the fabric and the jeans. And voila! you have a cute recycled jean skirt that you made yourself!
I wanted to add two more things I made this week. They turned out great and I had to share.

I made this bag out of some scraps I had. The floral and the check are left over from my kitchen curtains. Sorry the photo is upside down. I'm not sure how to turn it.

Lastly is this cute smocked dress I made for my little girl. It was super quick and easy. Just switch the bobbin thread for elastic thread that you hand wind on to the bobbin. Widen the stitch length, and sew 6-8 lines fairly close together. You will have to pull the fabric flat as you go. I added a contrasting edge to the top before sewing it with the elastic thread. Add ties, and a gathered ruffle at the bottom and you're done!

I love being Crafty!

Friday, August 14, 2009

It's about time.

Summer has flown by and I've been to some amazing places this summer. I want to share some of my favorite photos of some of God's handiwork. So here goes:

These were taken at Cascade Falls in Southern Utah. They are just below Navajo Lake near Duck Creek. We go every summer and they never cease to take my breath away.

I know this is man-made, but the Salt Lake Temple is His house and this photo turned out amazing.

Would you believe this was the park next to the hotel we stayed at in Seattle?

Alki Beach on the Puget Sound in Seattle.

Another 'park' in Bellevue, WA. I use the term 'park' loosely because it was more like a nature preserve. I couldn't get over the dense foilage. I guess plants really do grow when they get lots of water.

Lincoln Park, Seattle, WA. We spent a lot of time at this park because it was beach front, had a playground, and a forest all rolled into one park. Simply amazing.
Recently Nath had someone come down to AZ from the Pacific Northwest. While they were driving around the Mogollon Rim, she said, "Oh look, Baby trees!" I thought, 'well that's a funny thing to say. Those tress are big!' Boy was I wrong when I saw the trees up there. We really do have Baby Trees in Arizona.

Keep checking back. I have lots more amazing places to show you!

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