Friday, January 30, 2009

The Deal Breaker.

So I started reading this clever little book on Tuesday. I saw it on a shelf of recommended books at the library and thought it sounded cute. Not because I am a fan of any particular breed of dogs, but because of how the quirky relationship between the dog and its owner was portrayed. I was enjoying how witty this book was until page 85. Then the deal breaker happened. I have a hard time seeing some swear words in print, especially those beginning with the sixth letter of the alphabet. I am tired of that word being thrown in a book for no apparent reason. I decided that there are plenty of other books to read, and this one made me mad, and so I was content to not know how it ended. How I wish there was a rating system for books, and then I would not need to waste my time with books that find it so cool to swear.

Summers at Castle Auburn

So I am not a huge fan of Fantasy/Science Fiction Novels. I think it is because Barney the big purple dinosaur never could get through to me as to how to use my imagination correctly. I read them on occasion, but my favorite genre is historical fiction. I would recommend this book if you enjoy a nice little fantasy book. I enjoyed the development of the main character as she matured and came to an understanding of the other character’s flaws and no longer saw things as a little child. There were also a couple of fun twists.
Several years ago, my oldest son read Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card and wanted me to read it because it was his favorite book. I drudged through it never really seeing what he saw in it. I don’t think my mind can quite imagine the characters and scenes the author intended his readers to envision. I like reading things that are more reality based.

Whole Grain Banana Bread

For many years I have been trying to find the right combination of flours to make my banana bread recipe 100% whole grain. When I use 100% whole wheat flour, it comes out too dry. The last few times I made it, I used about half whole wheat and half white flour just because I got tired of making it and nobody eating my experiments. Well, I can't blog a half whole grain recipe on a whole grain blog, so I was determined to try again. This time I used spelt flour and barley flour. I liked the texture, but the flavor was a little different than I was used to tasting. I think next time I might try a combination of whole wheat, barley, and spelt flours. I love my banana bread with lots of walnuts. My family, however, prefers it with lots of butterscotch chips.

2 1/4 cups spelt flour
1 1/4 cups barley flour
1 1/3 cups sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
2/3 cup unsalted butter
2 cups mashed bananas (about 5)
4 eggs, slightly beaten
2 tsp vanilla

Mix first 6 ingredients with fork. Cut in butter. Stir in eggs, bananas, and vanilla. Add nuts or butterscotch chips.
Pour in two greased loaf pans.
Bake for 55 to 60 minutes in a 350 degree oven.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Does Al Gore's can opener look like mine?

After 25 years of service, my electric can opener said enough already, and it has gone where all faithful can openers go when they pass on. It's been about a couple weeks, and I just wasn't sure what the respectful amount of mourning was for a can opener before I could purchase a new one. Last week, I did look a little at Wally World but none of them really screamed "I am the one." Well, on Monday, I was using my trusty hand held build up your muscles can opener when my husband asked if it was my new go green can opener. The light bulb went on! I thought why not just save a little energy and rid myself of unwanted arm flab every time I open a can. I'm not sure if Al Gore has thought of ditching his electric can opener. If he hasn't, I would like him to seriously reflect on having sculpted biceps like mine!

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Letters for Emily

I finished reading Letters for Emily last week. It was a pretty easy read. No big words and nothing too complicated. A nice book to read each night before falling asleep. It was a sweet story that had some good messages and advice in the letters written to Emily by her grandfather Harry. I did feel at times that it was a little predictable, but not any more than most books that have a happy story with a positive outcome. I also could have used a little more background and insight to a few of the characters, but then again it would have made it a longer book. So if you want a nice story that makes you reflect a little bit on your family relationships but nothing too deep, I would recommend this book.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Impressive Homemade Bread in 1 Hour and 35 Minutes :)

I have been making this homemade bread recipe for longer than I have had my wheat grinder. My friend Michelle gave me this recipe years ago when she was so kind to let me grind wheat at her house before I had my own whisper mill. I used to make bread all the time, but then it seemed as if my children didn't appreciate it because we had it too often. Now my excuse is that I don't have time to make homemade bread, so I decided to see just how long it would take.

I begin the process at 4:43 PM

I begin by dissolving 1 1/2 T yeast in 3 cups warm water. I then grind the wheat and gather the remaining ingredients while I let the yeast begin to foam.

And by 4:52 the following have been added:

1/4 cup oil
2 T honey
1/2 cup non-fat powdered milk
1 T salt
1 T dough enhancer
1 T vital wheat gluten
6-7 cups hard white wheat flour

I add just enough flour that as it mixes the dough pulls away from the side of the bowl. I let it knead for about 7 minutes. Usually at this point, most people will let the dough rise until it doubles in size. This bread turns out great without taking the extra time to let it rise. So when I am in a hurry, which is most of the time, I let the dough rest for about 5 minutes and then shape it into 3 loaves and put it into the bread pans.

And by 5:14, I can let the bread rise and bake while I fix the rest of dinner.

It usually takes about 20 -25 minutes for the bread to rise in a warm (170 degrees) oven. I then bake it for about 25 minutes at 350 degrees.

By 6:18, the bread is out of the oven and cooling on a wire rack.

I enjoy my whole wheat bread with lots of honey butter. My 11 year-old son said that this bread is the best bread ever! Thanks Michelle for a great recipe that my family has enjoyed for many years.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Hot rolls that melt in your mouth!

There isn't anything fancy about this dinner roll recipe, but I just love homemade hot rolls. This recipe is simple to make, and hot rolls with butter are yummy!

Dissolve 1 T yeast with 1 T sugar in 1 1/2 cups warm water.
Add the following and mix in bread machine or knead for 7 minutes:
5 T sugar
2 tsp salt
6 T dry milk
3/4 cup butter
2 large eggs
1 T dough enhancer
1 T vital wheat gluten
5 - 6 cups hard white wheat flour, add just enough flour that dough begins to pull away from side of bowl when mixing. Dough will be a little sticky.
Let rise for at least 1 hour. Shape and let rise. Bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Books, books, and more books for Christmas break.

During Christmas break, it seems that I don't feel too guilty just lounging and reading. For the past few years, I have read Skipping Christmas during the month of December. I love this book. This year I purchased my own copy with the original cover. This book was made into a not so good movie called Christmas with the Kranks, and then of course the original book cover had to be replaced with the movie cover. It really bugs me when they take a great cover and replace it with a picture of the actors. I like to picture the characters how I see them and not how Hollywood does. Pass on the movie and read the book.
The Christmas Sweater by Glenn Beck was enjoyable. I would read it again. It made you think about what is truly important in life and to be grateful for the little things.
One of my all time favorite books is Small Change: the Secret Life of Penny Burford. It is a really quick read. It gives me a warm feeling when I read it. It exemplifies how the little things we do in life can really make a big difference.