Search This Blog


Monday, June 29, 2009

BBA Challenge #7 - Ciabatta (with Rosemary & Parmesan)

In the 7 breads we have made so far, I have found that I enjoy working with soft dough. While I still enjoy the feel of the stiffer doughs in my hands, there is something about these softer doughs that I just find fun. And this ciabatta dough was no exception. The stretching, pulling and folding was just fun; even though I'm not convinced I did it quite right.

I used a bit of my regular sourdough starter and some poolish that I had left over from another bread project. As I set out to begin I pulled the starters out of the fridge, measured them, and was going to leave them out to come to room temperature while I just straightened up about the kitchen a bit. Well, the straightening up turned into hand washing everything that had been left in my dishwasher while we were gone for a week... unwashed.

Yes, "Ewwwww!" is right.

Needless to say that with the two hours that my starter set out while I had to scrub the kitchen and all my dishes that were in the dishwasher and run them all again, it was definitely room temperature.

Sort of at the last minute I decided to add some parmesan that I had left over from something else and some fresh rosemary from my herb garden. I had already done the first stretch and fold, so I just added them in for the 2nd round.

For a homemade couche, I used one of my flour sack dish towels that I had attempted to use for a similar purpose for sourdough a while back. The only problem was that the dough stuck and now I have all these dark little balls that are stuck to it no matter how many times I wash it. However, with Reinhart's suggestion to spray it with oil and then dust with flour, I had much better non sticking results this time.

It was very hot around here on Saturday when I was making this bread. I think the outside temperature was at least a few degrees above 100 F and I considered just setting my loaves outside to cook. But with our old air conditioners and the added heat of the oven, it was, in turn, warm inside my house and I was afraid that I had overproofed my loaves because they proofed so quickly.

I moved the first one over to my peel and it deflated quite a bit and I decided to re-stretch and fold and let it proof again since, clearly, it was not going to take long with as warm as it was. The 2nd loaf I moved also deflated, but I decided to just cook it and see what happened.

See? No big huge beautiful holes. And I had such high hopes with the unexpected oven spring that I got that puffed it back up after deflating.

These pictures are of the first loaf that I baked. I did not photograph the one that I re-folded and let proof again because it was no better & maybe a little worse.

However, it was all good because I loved the flavor - especially the saltiness that the parmesan added and the rosemary just added a gorgeous flavor to it.

My man didn't agree.

But hey... what does he know.


This ciabatta is a great bread to show off and take to a friend's house. I took a loaf with us to dinner with some friends on Saturday night and the rustic beauty of it impresses. It makes me look like I know what I'm doing.

Overall Impressions:

Ciabatta was really fairly easy. I'm just not sure where I went wrong to not achieve the big beautiful holes.

I'm not sure about you, but I made a huge mess in my kitchen with this one with all the flour dusting in between stretches and folds. I had flour from one end of the kitchen to the other by the time I was done.

Will I make this bread again? Yes. But apparently I won't be adding rosemary to it again if I want my man to enjoy it.

Mama Braggin' Monday - Time at the beach

Mondays are the day of the week that I shamelessly brag on my kids here on the blog.

To see my original post about Mama Braggin' Monday, go here

So, join me if you like. I'd love to see what awesome things your kids are up to. I am no longer adding the Mr. Linky, but please leave a comment and brag on your kids. Or you can brag on mine. Either way.


We had a wonderful time at the beach and I just wanted to overall brag on my kids for how well they did. They snorkeled, rode the waves, went on a boat and generally tried just about anything we threw at them.

And in the midst of it all, they understood and responded with quick obedience when I needed them to the most.

Now it's your turn. Go ahead. Brag on your kids. It's fun!

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Divine Appointments

You may have picked up from some of my posts this last week that we went on vacation. We went to the beach in Destin, Florida.

We planned this vacation back in January. Those of you who read here regularly know that we are at a difficult time financially since Mike lost his job and the projects for his contract work have been slow to come in. I remained open, but honestly never sensed God tell us to not go once all of the news about our job and financial situation became reality. Just to be clear, we do not go on this trip alone as my mother in law travels with us and does help with the expenses. If it were not for that, we probably would have cancelled it immediately. However, it was not until the day before we left that I started thinking that we needed to cancel the trip.

I had suddenly become concerned about how it would appear to everyone who knows our current situation that we were going on vacation. I thought that we would appear irresponsible by going out of town to the beach for close to a week.

And then, at some point, it dawned on me that if all I was concerned about was appearance then I just needed to get that out of my head. Being concerned about how something appears to another is not a good reason to change plans. I then sensed God calming my spirit and saying to me that maybe He had a plan for us this week while we were gone.

That plan became apparent very quickly as it seemed that almost every day (5 out of 7 to be exact) we encountered someone that needed help; someone that we could minister to.

On Friday as we were driving on our way from Dallas/Fort Worth toward Shreveport, we were coming around a truck and noticed a car stopped with two women outside of it. By the time it registered with Mike and he said, “Should I stop and help?” it was too late to do anything. But neither of us could get it out of our heads. So we exited at the next exit which was a mile or so down the road, turned around, drove back, exited and turned around again only to find that some one was helping them. It may have been one of their husbands that they had already called on their cell phones. Who knows. But our minds were at rest that they were taken care of, so we continued on… only to come upon someone else stopped with her hood up who wasn’t there the first time we drove by.

She was clearly not as well off as the other women we passed. She was alone. She had no cell phone. Her car was overheating and the radiator had finally bubbled over and I could see the puddle of water underneath her car. There was nothing, not a gas station, fast food restaurant or anything around for miles. It was hot and we could not let her wait there by the side of the road for her parents to come from Tyler, easily an hour away. We rearranged some things in the car, shuffled some seats, made room amidst all our junk and brought her into our car and gave her a ride to a gas station in Canton which was a good 15-20 minutes by car.

She was absolutely the sweetest thing ever and it just boggles my mind that she is who we were supposed to help. God put the other women on our hearts who likely already had someone on the way to help, but this woman is who He had in mind for us to help. I love him and His sweet provision.

On Saturday on the road from Jackson, MS as we headed toward Mobile, AL we stopped to help another woman who had a blow-out. We stayed until some police officers showed up because they were going to have to figure something out has her lug wrench wouldn’t fit the bolts on her tire. The bizarre thing with that situation was that it was a brand new car and brand new tires.

On Monday it was the situation I wrote about in this post.

On Wednesday, we had decided to take a family and kid oriented 3 hour cruise and fishing trip. A little boy cut his thumb (on something he shouldn’t have been messing with) and I was able to help him and his dad get it bandaged up as his mom had her hands full with a 4 month old. We also were able to offer him an ice pop (popsicle) which very much helped his tears to disappear.

As it turns out, it was a miracle that I had band-aids at all. Among the million other things that I forgot to take on this trip was our first aid kit, so I bought some band-aids at the Wal-Mart when we did our grocery shopping for the week. I happened to see them as we were leaving to meet the boat and put them in my bag because you just never know.

And can I just give myself snaps for a moment that I helped bandage up a bloody finger without passing out? I didn’t once even feel light headed. I was proud of myself.

On Thursday as we were on our way back up toward Jackson from Mobile, we witnessed a single car wreck. We were headed north and all of the sudden, right in front of us, we saw was this car veer off the road, catch a tire in the center median ditch, flip over and land facing south in the southbound lane of traffic. Mike immediately stopped to help and I grabbed the phone to call 911.

Amazingly, the two probably college aged girls got out of the car and walked away from it. It was a sweet sight to watch one of them as she opened her door and stepped out of that car. The bad thing was that I had little to no idea where we were, but the 911 operator was so sweet and kept asking me questions about what we had passed and what I could see around me. The girls were okay and Mike got them a couple of bottles of water from our ice chest. Several other people had stopped as well and police were on the way, so we were able to head on our way.

It seems like we were around a lot of drama this last week. But looking back, I believe these situations were divine appointments. They were opportunities for us to step out of ourselves and help other people; and to do so in front of our children. I believe that was the plan God had for us this week and we would have missed it if I had acted on my concern about appearances.

As I sit here at home and look back on the week, I am newly mindful that God has a plan for us and wants to bless us through that plan. What is His plan for you today? Have you sought it? Are you going to miss it because of superficial concerns?

Be open to whatever He has for you even if it takes you off of your intended path. You will be blessed.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

He called my bluff

We are on our way home from the beach (Destin) today. Nathan has been mercilessly kicking the back of my car seat our entire trip that began last Friday afternoon. You know how as moms we sometimes make ridiculously empty threats? Well, this morning I'd had enough and this is how the conversation went down.

Mom: NATHAN, if you don't stop kicking my chair, I'm going to cut your feet off!

Nathan: But Mom, there aren't any scissors, or knives or swords for you to cut my feet off.


Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Bread Machine Focaccia

Please welcome with me my friend Lisa from the blog Stop and Smell the Chocolates where she encourages us to slow down and enjoy the richness of life. While at her blog, you might have Tea for Two-sday. Or she may ask you, "Would you like chocolate with that?" She may just be a little silly or serious. You just never know. But I do know that Lisa is a sweet soul who loves Jesus, her family and chocolate - and probably in that order... maybe.


When I knew I would be writing a guest post for Donna, I thought it would make sense to write about food (though her blog is about so much more than that). She’s been showing all that beautiful bread lately, so it was on my mind! I happened across a bread machine cookbook in a thrift store a couple days ago and then I knew! I am too intimidated to make bread all the way from scratch - that is way more homemade than I am used to! But I have a bread machine and I do know how to use it - a little. So here is my little more homemade bread. :)

I decided to try making focaccia bread. It sounded a little easier, quite yummy, and the recipe called for fresh herbs - I have an abundance of fresh rosemary in the front yard. Fresh Herb Focaccia it is!

Hi bread machine! Long time, no see!

Got it all dusted off and then proceeded. I put the ingredients in the pan in the order listed.

Liquid Ingredients
1 cup, plus 2 tablespoons water
1 tablespoon olive oil

Dry Ingredients
3 cups bread flour
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon sugar

2 ¼ teaspoons Active dry yeast

I set the machine to the Dough setting. When it was done, I had to punch the dough down by shutting off the machine and restarting the kneading for just 60 seconds. Then I removed the dough and let rest for 5 minutes.

Then I had to do the hand-shaping: Sprinkle hands with flour. With fingertips, spread dough evenly into a 13x9x1 in. lightly oiled baking pan. Cover with a clean kitchen cloth. Let rise until doubled in height, about 30-60 minutes.

Almost done: Preheat oven to 400 F. Make light indentations with your fingertips in the surface of the risen dough. Brush with 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil and sprinkle with up to 2 teaspoons coarse salt (kosher or sea salt) and fresh ground black pepper to taste. Add ¼ cup chopped fresh herbs, if desired. Bake on bottom rack of oven (oops - I missed that part!) for approximately 30-35 minutes, or until golden brown. Let cool in pan. Cut into 12 equal pieces and serve at room temp.

I have to say that this bread is yummy! My son already told me he wanted to eat the whole pan! And once hubby gets hold of it, I think I’ll have more requests to make bread.

Thanks Donna for inspiring me to step outside of my comfort zone and try to be a little more homemade!

Lisa @ Stop and Smell the Chocolates

You can also find Lisa blogging at her Healthy blog, Stop Eating all the Chocolates and on twitter @stop4chocolate.

Bread machine focaccia works for Lisa and I'm thinkin' it's gonna work for me. To find other works for me posts, visit Kristen at We Are THAT Family.

BBA Challenge #6 – Challah: The Spiritual Side of Bread

I love it when things like faith and food come together for me in meaningful ways. That happened last week when I made Challah.

If I may quote Peter Reinhart:

“Challah, the braided Sabbath bread of Judaism, is a European celebratory loaf symbolic of God’s goodness and bounty. The braids traditionally separate the loaf into twelve distinct sections representing the twelve tribes of Israel. The use of eggs in the bread was probably a way to use up excess eggs, as harvesting is one of many activities considered work in Orthodox Jewish communities.
…. garnishing the loaves with seeds, such as poppy or sesame, symbolizes the falling of manna from heaven and the covering of the challah with a cloth as it is served at the Sabbath meal represents the heavenly dew that protects the manna.”

I honestly did not know these symbolic aspects of the challah loaf. But it got me to thinking about it. And then I got into a bread discussion with a co-worker who enjoys making bread in his bread machine for himself and his kids.

The thing is, that bread is spoken of throughout the Bible and is a food that has many spiritual implications for us. The Passover consisted of a Festival of Unleavened Bread where the Israelites were to remove all yeast from their houses (Exodus 12:15). Manna was called bread from heaven (Exodus 16:4). There was a table for the bread of the Presence in the tabernacle (Exodus 25:30). Christ quoted the Deuteronomy 8:3 when he rebuked the devil and stated that man does not live on bread alone (Matthew 4:4) and referred to himself as the Bread of Life (John 6:35). I know my list could have gone on and on, but I wrote the bulk of this in the car and the rest of it without my chain reference Bible.

I have mentioned this video of Peter Reinhart before. It is worth a watch.

I know that we have “traditional” ways that we spiritually look at some of the elements of bread making, but hang with me here for a minute.

Think about this for a minute… as Mr. Reinhart points out, when we get the wheat into our hands, it is dead. Then, we introduce the yeast and it introduces life. Then, in the process of baking, the yeast dies to bring a transformation.


I know we normally view yeast as bad stuff (see Matthew 16:5-12), but can we think of it in a good light for a moment? Like the yeast, Christ came to bring life to us and gave up his life so that we (the flour), who were once dead in our sins (flour is technically dead wheat) could be transformed into a new creation (bread).

I don’t know about you, but the entire bread baking process is just amazing to me, much like salvation. One of the most amazing things is the wild yeast in a starter, but that’s another post for when we do sourdough. But just the thought that the yeast must die in order for there to be transformation from dough into bread just as Christ had to die for there to be transformation in my life from unrighteousness into Christ’s righteousness… it’s mind boggling.

Anyways, I know that’s a much heavier topic than just talking about the bread itself for this post, but it’s what has been on my heart from the time I began reading about this bread.

So on to my experience with the challah.

Mine didn’t turn out as pretty as I had hoped. I had a hard time getting the kind of stretch that I wanted to achieve the window “pain” test. And then, I may have braided my loaves a little too tightly. Therefore during proofing, at least one strand ripped. Then during baking and with a pretty decent oven spring, several more strands ripped and or broke.


We ate some with our evening meal one night. I also made French toast one morning for the kids and that was pretty good. In the past, I have purchased challah to make my Chocolate Bread Pudding so I’m looking forward to being able to make my own bread for it now.

Overall impressions:

I have purchased challah loaves that were much softer with a more tender crust. I’m not sure what is more authentic and I’m not saying that it might not have been baker error that caused mine to be drier than it should be.

Will I make this again? Yes, but I may look around at other formulas and try some different ones. Do you have any suggestions?

Monday, June 22, 2009


Sometimes you are a witness to something and are forever changed. There are images that are stuck in your head forever. Some are happy images, others are not.

Last year was a happy image of a mother reunited with her son who had been missing on the beach for a period of time one day.

This year falls in the category of not.

We are curently in Destin, Florida on vacation, in case you didn't know. Our morning started off just as normal as it could be. I went for a mile walk, had some quiet time on the beach, morning coffee and Cookie Crisp for breakfast. After our normal thirty-minute ordeal of slathering SPF 2000 sunscreen on my poor fair skinned daughter and husband (and my not so fair skinned son and self), we headed toward the sea green umbrellas, beach chairs, white sand and waves.

Sarah was having a great time in the surf with her boogie board. The water was rough and the waves bigger than yesterday, which made for some good boarding. But it also made me a little nervous as a mom. So rather than hanging out in the sun and watching from the beach, I was right out there with her the whole time. And we were having fun.

Then I noticed a woman about my age asking some people if they were strong swimmers. Someone was in trouble. Some men headed out to help. After he realized that something was going on, my man was one of them.

He was floating.

His tube was drifting away.

He was face down.

My first thought was to get my children out of the water. They were so excellent. They sat right down on our beach chairs and stayed there so well.

They pulled him from the water.

They were calling 911.

The rescue crew arrived.

I sat with my children trying to distract their attention away from the commotion, but it was difficult. And I noticed the young woman again.

She was worried.

She needed to call her husband.

He was her husband’s dad.

I hadn’t taken my cell phone with me down to the beach for fear of it getting lost or taken into the water. She needed to get back to her children, so I gathered up my children to run to the room to get my phone for her. As we ran back down I left them sitting on the steps to the condo to keep them out of the middle of it. It was a bad situation.

I had seen him floating.

I had seen his face.

I had seen them performing CPR.

I had seen no response.

She already had found a phone to use but didn’t know whose it was. I took it and told her not to worry about it; I would find its owner. She asked me if they had revived him. Not knowing what to say, I said I didn’t know. I told her that they had just taken him up the beach access to an ambulance.

She said he all of the sudden was having trouble breathing. He passed out.

And then her husband arrived.

I didn’t see her again.

Mike was holding his head in his hands to turn it to the side as CPR was performed.

Another man I talked to helped bring him in.

We all assume he had a heart attack or something.

At this point I don’t know for sure the final outcome, but it’s likely that everyone that was on our stretch of the beach today witnessed a man die.

It was a while before anyone got back in the water.

I know that those images are forever in my mind.

And I’m probably not the only one.

Friday, June 19, 2009

My Boy's Birthday Cake - Fire Truck Cake & Cookies

I wonder if my son knows that there are other things to ask for besides a fire truck birthday party. Click here and here to see last year's fireman themed creation.

When he originally asked for a fire truck cake this year, I thought that I would do a standing up 3-D fire truck cake.

But I lost my nerve.

I decided that I wasn't confident in my ability to make it actually look like a fire truck. And I didn't have enough time or money to spend on making sure that it did look like a fire truck. So I gave up that aspiration and went with a flat cake, but cut it up to make it fire truck shaped.

For being a "fly by the seat of my pants" design, I was pleased with how it turned out.

I didn't take any step by step photos this time, but I can tell you that I did all of this out of a single 9 x 13 yellow cake. I iced it in red butter cream and covered the majority of it in red marshmallow fondant.

When I realized, though, that I didn't have enough red fondant to cover the whole thing, I decided that it was okay and used what was leftover from my daughter's cake to do the bottom portion in a different color like a road.

The piping was done with a combination of butter cream and royal icing. The wheels are thinned royal icing (like for flooding cookies). The light on top was Wilton fondant (neon colors).

Since we were doing coordinating cookies to go with my daughter's cake, we decided to do the same with Nathan's and also send them home as party favors.

I'll admit that the yellow cake was not as big of a hit as the chocolate one I did for my daughter, but it was some of the best yellow cake I've ever tasted or made.

Here's to cake NOT out of a box - the WAY more homemade style!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

My Girl's Birthday Cake - Butterfly Garden Cake & Cookies

When Sarah and I first began talking about her birthday cake this year, she mentioned a Cinderella cake. I have to admit I wasn't excited. We've done the princess party and castle cake... twice. My first thought, honestly, was, "Not again."

Then, out of nowhere she piped up with, "OH wait. I want it to have butterflies. Flowers and butterflies."

This was a theme I could get with.

I immediately began to design it in my head and I have to admit, I'm a little amazed that it came out so close to how I imagined it.

I iced the cake with blue buttercream and used blue marshmallow fondant to cover it. The flowers are a combination of free-hand, cookie cutter, and templates made by my Cricut and are cut out of Wilton fondant (neon colors). The grass and stems/leaves are piped buttercream & royal icing.

The cake is chocolate and she decided that she wanted a chocolate filling between the layers.

I already had some chocolate ganache leftover in my fridge from a while back that I had been looking for a reason to use up. I used some of it to mix with the royal icing to do the bodies of the butterflies.
Then, I mixed what was left of that together with some butter cream and did a base for my filling, then added the rest of the ganache on top of that before adding my second layer. Oh my... it was heaven.

The butterfly cookies on top led us to decide that making coordinating cookies to send home as party favors would be a good idea.

Who needs goody bags when there are cookies to be had, right?

And I'll toot my horn and say that it all tasted good. The chocolate cake was all gone except for one little slice that we took home and shared. But that's the way I like it.


Edited on 7/16/09:
I have added this cake to the Birthday Cake Roudup over at Life as Mom.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Provision? or Blessing?

As I look back over my adult life, each major life experience has brought me to know God and certain attributes in a real and personal way.

After two miscarriages in two months in 2001, I came to know Him as my Comfort when no one on earth could possibly comfort me.

In 2004 when we moved to a different state, I came to know him as my Friend when I had to leave friends and family behind and had no friends to speak of nearby.

Also in 2004 I came to know him as my Strength when I was gripped by fear after finding out I was pregnant again.

In 2007 I came to know him as my Rescuer as I found myself thrust into a pit of depression and wallowing in self pity.

And now, in 2009 I am finally coming to know him as my Provider.

I never dreamed that I would find myself in the position I am today. My husband has lost his job and we have only my little bitty part-time income. But the Lord is providing for us.

As I mentioned in this post, Mike has a job doing contract work. Of course the catch is that he doesn’t get paid until he has a project to work on and the client pays the fee. Just in case you were curious… that hasn’t happened yet.

He is also pursuing a business that he has been looking into and planning to eventually get into for a year or two now. He is working to fulfill all the requirements to get his dealer’s license to buy and sell used cars. My man, the used car salesman. HA!!

It will mostly be an Internet based business and we believe, with him being such the car guy that he is, that this will be something he could potentially really enjoy while providing us some extra income. However, there are a lot of hoops to jump through to get the license and he is in the process of checking off that list.

So here we are in June. It’s been over two months since getting the news that Mike was losing his job and two months since his last day.

Where are we today, you ask?

We are trusting God and his leading. I believe that we are right where he has told us to be and that is huge for me. I’m a person that has historically had a problem with trust and it is very easy for me to try to take things over. But I have been spurred on as I have seen God’s sweet provision for us as we have taken each step to continue to trust His plan.

In short, you might say technically employed but with no paycheck. But in reality, I would say completely depending on God to provide is where we are.

And providing for us, He is.

Here is a list, although no where near complete, of some of the ways the Lord has provided for us recently.

He has provided:

* a direction for Mike to take before he even had his last day at work.
* this time in life for Mike to pursue some other business interests besides the field of his training and vocation.
* a computer for Mike.
* office space at a very reasonable rent (one of those requirements for the dealer’s license) that he can split with a friend also in need of office space, thus making it even cheaper for us.
* a great deal on some office furniture for Mike.
* money to pay for Sarah to go to camp this summer through our garage sale last week.
* money to pay for the kids’ birthday party through our garage sale last week.
* a book that I had wanted to read but couldn’t afford to purchase.
* a partial scholarship for tuition for our kids’ school.
* a delay in paying tuition for Nathan’s school for next year so that it and our paying the daycare didn’t overlap.
* for my car to miraculously start working again after being "dead" all week and allowing my man to take back the $450 - $500 in parts.
* a network of supportive family and friends who are faithful to pray with us and for us as we walk through this season of life.
* and the list, I'm sure, could go on and on.

You know, I keep telling Him, “Thanks God. Just don’t forget that we also need a PAYCHECK!”

I believe He will provide that, too. We are excited that Mike has some project possibilities on the horizon.

My friend Keal said to me just the other day, “I think sometimes that God works on the principles of ‘just in time’ accounting.”

I get nervous because our “just in time” is coming pretty quick.

But you know what, I think she might be right.

And I believe much of what we are experiencing goes far beyond just provision. I firmly believe we are in blessing territory here.

How has God been providing for and blessing you recently?
Make a list. Tell me in the comments.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

BBA Challenge #5 - Casatiello

This week's bread was Casatiello. It's a brioche type bread but it is an Italian variation on the brioche theme. Therefore there is meat and cheese involved. Specifically salami.

Upon seeing this is when you hear my man say, "AWWW YEEEAAAHH!"

Just suffice it to say, he likes him some salami. I can't even begin to describe how he salivated as I read him the formula for this bread. And the day that I came home with the salami from the grocery store, I had to hide the salami from him. Needless to say, he was looking forward to me having leftover salami for him to eat.

My favorite part is the cheese. I chose Gouda for this bread because I don't hardly ever get to use Gouda. And it's SO Gouda. (OH can you blame me? I couldn't resist. Really.)

I made several different sizes. Some shredded, some small cube and some larger chunks.

During the mixing stage, I found that I flipped back and forth between paddle attachment and dough hook. The consistency of the dough changed so dramatically at several different stages that switching back and forth just made sense.

I used the paddle to mix together my dry ingredients and also as I added the wet ingredients and mixed them together. The dough quickly became too thick for the paddle.

I did have some dry flour at the bottom that did not mix in. I simply took a little milk (maybe 1 - 2 teaspoons) and warmed it in the microwave just to take the chill off. I then added poured the milk right on the dry part of the flour and it incorporated in to the ball of dough immediately.

This is what Mr. Reinhart describes as a coarse ball of dough.

I switched to the dough hook and let it run for another minute or two and it worked into a smooth ball. At this point it, and the Kitchen Aid, got to rest for 10 minutes or so.

After rest time (excuse the mommy-speak) I began adding butter. I switched back to the paddle after the first piece of butter was added and pretty well incorporated. Once all the butter was added it reminded me of cookie dough consistency.

I worked the dough with the paddle attachment for several minutes and then switched back to the dough hook as it seemed to get more elastic. Working with the dough hook, it did eventually pull away from the sides of the bowl pretty much on its own just like Mr. Reinhart said it would. I did help it along with a little sprinkle of flour just to be sure but it was no more than 1 - 2 teaspoons.

After adding in the good stuff.

And now it's time to ferment.

Poof. That's a lot of dough.

I thought very seriously about trying the paper bag in the coffee can baking method, but I just really didn't get the point. And the only coffee can shaped dish I have is a Pampered Chef stoneware crock that I use for storing utensils. I've baked beer bread in it before but honestly, I didn't think it would turn out as pretty as some of the pictures and blog posts that I have seen so far using the round cake pans.

Even still, I was digging through my cupboard full of baking pans just hoping I'd find something that would let me do something a little different with this dough. I found these little tart/quiche pans that turned into the perfect size for some casatiello rolls/buns

The rest I put in an 8" round cake pan.

And so, here is the final product.


On Sunday, I took a "kind of" page out of Big Black Dog's book and while we didn't make Eggs in a Nest, we did put a fried egg on top of a sliced open small roll/bun. It made for a tasty breakfast.

I also made sandwiches on the buns using some leftover salami and mozzarella. I cut open and buttered the insides of the buns and heated them on the griddle while also heating the salami and mozzarella. That was a tasty variation of a grilled cheese sandwich.

Overall Impressions:

This is a really very easy dough and bread that packs some punch with the meat and cheese involved. I think it could be made even better with some herbs (like maybe oregano) in the dough as well.

Will I make this again? If my husband has anything to say about it I will. :)

Monday, June 15, 2009

Mama Braggin' Monday - Swim Lessons

Mondays are the day of the week that I shamelessly brag on my kids here on the blog.

To see my original post about Mama Braggin' Monday, go here

So, join me if you like. I'd love to see what awesome things your kids are up to. I am no longer adding the Mr. Linky, but please leave a comment and brag on your kids. Or you can brag on mine. Either way.


Now, that's a face only a mother could love!

Oh and I do!

Nathan took swim lessons at a local swim school once a week over the last couple of months. The swim school is rather pricey, but well worth the money to have him exposed to swimming over a long period of time and in order to be ready for our vacation to the beach next week.

He has been doing so well. He doesn't particularly like to float on his back and has a hard time rolling over to his back, but I've yet to meet a child who liked floating on their back.

Of course, one of the most important skill learned is jumping in and being able to swim unaided back to the side of the pool and get out.

And they also get to slide down the slide at the end of each lesson. It's always their favorite part.

Way to go my little "fish boy"!!

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Hello Thursday

Do you mind if we just fast forward on to Friday?


If you didn't realize, we live in North Texas (which by definition includes two major cities that I would prefer to go un-named). And if you saw any news or the Weather Channel at any point since Wednesday evening, you might know at this point that we had some nasty thunderstorms come through here Wednesday night and Thursday morning.

When it all was said and done, we had no damage, just some tree limbs down from some pretty high straight line winds (several very large ones in our neighborhood).


Our electricity went out at 11:30 pm on Wednesday night.

My little man was awoken by another loud thunderstorm in the middle of the night and ended up in bed with us because... there was still no electricity.

I was awakened to a wet bed because little man had an accident while he was in bed with us and... there was still no electricity.

I was late to work, took a shower in the dark and dried my hair at my office because... there was still no electricity.

We called our babysitter and told her to not come because... there was still no electricity.

We talked to our babysitter later that morning during what was torrential downpour of a storm and found out that their house had water coming into it and... we still had no electricity.

Our phone at home which is connected to our digital cable doesn't work because the modem's backup battery only lasts a couple of hours. So don't call our home phone because... there is still no electricity.

My man is now trying to salvage a few things out of our fridge and take them to his dad's house because... there is still no electricity.

The likelyhood of a Foodie Friday post tomorrow is pretty slim because... you guessed it, there is still no electricity.

You know, I think I wouldn't be so bothered if we had a lot of damage, or if our entire neighborhood or community was without power. But it is just a few houses in our little neighborhood. Do you have any idea of how low on the priority list that makes us? My guess is pretty low.

So now I'm off to figure out if the bread dough I mixed last night it still any good to bake today, how to clean my mattress and figure to out where to sleep tonight as it doesn't look hopeful for our electricity situation.

On the upside, our usage and subsequently our bill will be a little bit lower.


Wednesday, June 10, 2009

BBA Challenge #4 - Petites Brioches à Tête

Whenever I think of the word, “Brioche,” I envision Hugh Jackman. Not a bad association, huh?

The reason is because of this line from the movie Kate & Leopold that he did with Meg Ryan.

As Leopold, he says, “Ah yes, you mock me. But perhaps one day when you've awoken from a pleasant slumber to the scent of a warm brioche smothered in marmalade and fresh creamery butter, you'll understand that life is not solely composed of tasks, but tastes.”

Oh, here. Just watch the first couple of minutes of this clip of the film & you’ll see the whole scene.

Do you see how the word "brioche" just rolled off his lips?

In the BBA book, there are three “levels” of brioche that we could choose from to make. Rich man’s, middle class and poor man’s. The delineations are made based on the amount of butter found in each as the upper class would have historically had more access to butter than the middle or poorer classes.

My initial feeling was that I would make the poor man’s brioche because, well, we’re feeling pretty poor these days. But I was having a hard time carving out the single block of time that the poor mans would have taken (as it appeared to me that it did not require the refrigeration time that the other two required. So, in consideration of the small amounts of time that I had available sporadically through the day and my man convincing me, I decided on the middle class brioche with only 2 sticks of butter as opposed to the 4 sticks in the rich man’s brioche.

Sunday morning, I mixed together my sponge, set out my butter and eggs to come to room temperature and off to church we went.

The formula specifies 30 – 45 minutes of fermentation for the sponge, but we were gone to church and I didn’t get back to it for about 1 ½ hours and it was absolutely fine. It was nice and puffy and fell when I jiggled the bowl a little bit. Perfect.

I whisked my eggs in a bowl, then added them to the sponge and mixed with the paddle attachment.

I whisked together the flour, sugar and salt.

Then I added the dry ingredients to the wet and continued mixing with the paddle attachment.

Then I began to wonder… are we making cake or bread? And I thought of the Marie Antoinette references in the book about how she may have likely actually said, "Let them eat brioche."

And I began to add the room temperature butter a large pat at a time.

Wait. How did that one get in there? Oh, no bother. It's a cute picture anyways of my kids playing with my son's new bow and arrow set. He wanted to teach her how. ;)

And this is what it looked like after adding all the butter. It was very soft and like a batter.

I spread it on a lined baking sheet and refrigerated it until…

...that evening.

I shaped my petite brioches à tête without using the little fluted tins. I don’t have any and can’t spend any money right now to purchase. So, we just went free form with them.

I had originally made a video of how I shaped them, but Pinch My Salt, our BBA challenge hostess posted a much better one that is far more correct than mine. See it here.

After proofing for 90 minutes.

Many of them lost their shape as they baked. Looking back I think it's because I didn't press the "head" down into the "body" enough. But no matter; they were so good fresh out of the oven with a little orange marmalade or strawberry preserves.

Overall Impressions:

This recipe is a little fussy in the shaping step as all the butter melts and the dough becomes a little difficult to work with. You have to work quickly or just keep all the dough in the fridge and take only one piece out at a time to shape.

Mostly, however, it was a fairly easy bread to make.

I have serious plans for some things I can make with this dough.

Would I make it again? Absolutely, yes.