Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Bread Matters...well of course it does!

You will never believe what has happened to me...little old me. It was a normal day in my house and everything was going the way it usually does. Boys being being me...Mike being Mike and then I checked my email. Someone from Andrews McMeel Publishing contacted me to review a cookbook they have out. I thought this was some kind of joke because let me be honest I am not a writer. So the first thing I did was of course check out their website to see if the book existed...yes it did...ok so maybe this isn't a joke. I actually recognized some of the other books they have on there which was exciting. (I mean I usually look at amazon for book stuff and really never on the publisher's website.)

I am sorry this has taken me so long to write up my review because I have had it for about a month. All of us in this house got hit with a cold...yup every one of us got this cold and was sort of out of commission for about a week. Then the normal busy days came and went which made it hard to have time to sit down and write this up. So get ready here comes the review:

My Review: I know they say you shouldn't judge a book by it's cover (or photos) but I do sometimes. When it comes to cookbooks I think it is a must in some ways. As much as I love food I love looking at food. I also think that when a cookbook has pictures of the finish product it just makes it that much easier to want to make that recipe. A pet peeve of mine is when a cookbook as NO pictures in it. That being said this cookbook has some really nice photos in it and I get a warm and fuzzy feeling from them...if only I could take pictures like them!

The next thing I enjoyed in this book was that the author put some example time tables in it. It just gives you an idea on how long it will take you to complete a recipe. I have tried to make some recipes to only realize that I actually don't have enough time to do them in. I know I probably could do that on my own and figure out how much time it takes to complete but it is just so much easier when it is done for you.

You all know I am a big fan of King Arthur Flour (who are actually on the supply list in the back of this book) they always say it is better to use a scale when baking. It is just more accurate then volume measuring. I have a scale and I prefer that method now. The awesome thing in this book is that you are given 3 different measuring methods...cups, pounds/ounces (Imperial) and grams (Metric) for each recipe. Another thing you can figure out on your own but just easier when someone does it for you.

Another nice thing about this book it has a chapter on gluten-free baking. From some of the blogs I have looked at it seems that can be a hard thing to find for the average person. I have not tried this section out and probably won't just because of the ingredients needed.

If you like sour dough bread making this book has at least one chapter on it and seems to be a theme in the book. I do want to try making a sour dough starter but not right now. I just don't feel comfortable with one in my refrigerator (or counter top) especially with an almost 4 year old who seems to live in it. Also to me right now it is just another thing I would have to take care of when I already have too much of that.

That all being said is this a book I would have purchased on my own...maybe. Don't get me wrong it is a very nice book and a great reference book. To me it is just not a cookbook in the what I think a traditional cookbook does have recipes but about half of the book does not. It is perfect for someone who wants to get started baking bread at home or just wants to know more about baking bread. You don't get a look at your first real recipe until after about 140+ pages. I am glad I have this book to look back at when I have questions about the bread I am making.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Monkeying Around Bread

I really never need an excuse to bake some bread. So when one of the at home suggested activities for Jacob this week was bake some bread with your can I say no to that! I am willing to do whatever it takes to help Jacob learn. Since I bake bread at home a lot I wanted to make something that would be fun to do with Jacob.

First I looked at my list of things I want to make and did not really see anything on it that would be "fun" to make with Jacob. It did not take me long to figure out what would be both fun and easy enough to make with Jacob...Monkey Bread. I could not believe that this was not on my list I have been wanting to do that for a while now.

So I went to the website I trust most with bread recipes when I don't have one in mind (King Arthur Flour) and found one right away.

Monkeying Around Bread
King Arthur Flour



1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon cinnamon

1/2 cup lukewarm water
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 large egg
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon sugar
2 teaspoons instant yeast
2 cups King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour

1) Make the topping: Blend the sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl, or shake them together in a small lidded container. Set aside.
2) Place water, vegetable oil, egg, salt, sugar, and yeast in a medium bowl and stir well.
3) Add 1 cup of the flour, stirring to blend.
4) Add the second cup of flour, stirring to make a cohesive dough. Let the dough rest for 5 minutes; this gives the flour a chance to absorb the liquid, making it easier to knead.
5) Knead the dough — by hand, mixer, or bread machine — till it's soft and smooth.
6) Place the dough in a lightly greased bowl or large measuring cup, cover it, and let the dough rise for 30 to 60 minutes, till it's doubled in size.
7) Gently deflate the dough, and place it on a clean, lightly greased work surface; a silicone mat works well here. Divide it into pieces about 1 1/2" in diameter; you'll make 16 to 18 pieces.
8) Lightly grease an 8" round cake pan. Dip each piece in water, then roll it in the cinnamon-sugar mixture to coat.
9) Place the pieces in a single layer in the prepared pan. Sprinkle any remaining cinnamon-sugar over the top.
10) Cover the pan, and let the bread rise for 30 to 60 minutes, till it's visibly puffy. Towards the end of the rising time, preheat the oven to 350°F.
11) Uncover the pan, and bake the bread for 25 to 30 minutes, till it's golden brown and feels set.
12) Remove from the oven, and immediately turn the pan over onto a cooling rack. Lift the pan off the bread, and scrape any leftover topping in the pan onto the bread.13) Pull the bread apart to serve.
Serve warm, or at room temperature.

Review: I remember making monkey bread when I was in middle school and even though this was a different recipe the taste was just like I remembered (well even better then I remember). Making the dough was really simple and did not take much time. I was busy doing stuff so the waiting in between each step seemed to go by fast. The only thing I might do different is make the individual pieces instead of 16-18 I might try 20-22 and see how that size is for each piece. This is a keeper and I really want to try a savory type next because the dough isn't sweet and would work well. I think everyone would be amazed when you put that on the table at the next family meal.

Monday, November 16, 2009

My New Tea Toy.

It is official I have a child in school (well pre-school) and with that comes the obligation of fundraisers. I know I have to pace myself because this was only the first one and I am sure there will be many more. I approached this as I do my souvenir shopping when I am on vacation. (Those who know me know I love my gift shops!) Find something that you haven't seen before or you can't get around home.

Since this was the old wrapping paper/chocolate one I didn't really see much that fit this criteria. Then I turned the page to the handful of gifts they had and saw what I wanted. A silicon strawberry tea infuser which in the catalog was RED and the one I got is YELLOW (anyone ever seen a yellow strawberry?). I love drinking tea and with the winter weather coming I am going to be doing that a lot more often. Also it fit my criteria of I have never seen this before in any store around my house...SOLD!

Strawberry tea infuser with lid.
Action shot
Another action shot
Review: I now need to go and buy more loose tea so I can use my new tea infuser more. The tea I made was...wait for it...strawberry sencha tea. I just realized that I made a strawberry tea in my strawberry infuser which was totally not on was the first loose tea I found in the cabinet. I have used those metal infusers before which always seem to leave a lot of tea leaves at the bottom of the cup. This one really did not leave much behind but I will hold my final approval in that department for when I have tried a few more teas. Overall I am happy with this purchase and I think I did good.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Happy Birthday to Me...oh and Heidi.

Today is my birthday and I plan to eat chocolate cake all day long...and look like Jacob after he eats a donut!


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