Saturday, January 31, 2009

Garlic Bread

Sometimes I happen to forget about dough in the fridge, left over from pizza making, which then sours and starts looking nasty, or inviting, depending on your view of hooch. When you think about it, this is just another take on sourdough - fermenting wheat flour. There is no real characteristic sourness to this particular loaf. But it does have a hardish crust without fooling around with squirt guns blasting water into the oven walls every five minutes to create steam and a hard crust. It also is moist and tender inside and smells wonderful when baking.

A bonus to having dough sitting around in the fridge, is that a fresh baked loaf can be made quite quickly for a mid-week meal. This loaf I made yesterday afternoon. Buff polished off about half after school and the rest disappeared at supper. Had I remembered it earlier in the week it may have become cinnamon raisin sticky buns but was, in my opinion, past that, so savoury it became.

Chunks of broken cheddar would have been good in this too, with or without the garlic. I also had a bit, less than a 1/4 pound, of frozen dough which happened to have some whole wheat in it, which I let thaw and added to this particular loaf. To get the base for this bread, go to basic white dough to learn how I do that and click back to sourdough for a bread primer if help is needed in bread making basics.

Garlic Bread - 1 long loaf or 2 smallish loaves or 16 - 20 little buns - just remember the bake times will vary - approximately 30 min. for the long loaf, 20 min. for the smaller loaves and 15 minutes for rolls.
  • 2 - 2 1/4 pounds white bread dough
  • 1 large clove garlic, minced
  • 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
  • 2 Tbsp. parsley flakes
  • some flour to knead with
  • cornmeal and lard to prepare baking pan bottom
Let 2 pounds of bread dough sit zip locked in the refrigerator for a week. Actually, fresh dough will work, but the crust will be softer. The dough was a little sticky so I put down some flour on the work surface and patted out the dough. Then I added 1/2 tsp. garlic powder, about 2 heaping Tbsp. of parsley flakes
and started to fold the dough over onto itself and knead.
Then I remembered that I'd forgotten the fresh garlic. So I added 1 fat clove of minced garlic and started folding the dough over onto itself
and kneaded that in, adding some more flour to the work surface and kneading a little longer, making sure the garlic and parsley were well distributed.
Then I shaped the dough into a long log
and transferred it to one of my lovely pristine flexible foil pans, greased with lard and coated with some cornmeal. This dough is very soft, so to keep the bread from spreading out, the dreaded bread spread, prop the sides up. Push the long sides of the pan upward toward the sides of the dough creating a crevice wherein the bread lies cradled.

I used my stock pot on one side and a crock pot on the other to support the pan sides. It doesn't look pretty, but works. Professionals do essentially the same thing with well floured linen sheets, corrugated up alongside the dough. That, and each loaf resting closely to the next, separated only by the floured linen help keep the shape while rising.
They then use paddles to slide the risen bread into ovens. We will just let our dough rise about an hour in a warm place and bake on the same flexible foil pan. The dough will fill the length of the crevice. Preheat the oven to 400 F. Just before putting the loaf into the oven, gently pull the pan sides back a bit. Bake about 30 minutes or until bread is golden brown and sounds hollow when tapped. Let cool on rack.

Friday, January 30, 2009

January Adieu

Bitter January,

friend of none,

summer sleeps;

frozen sun.

Gray above,

dusk below,

frowning earth,

hopeful glow.

(Okay, so January actually doesn't end until Saturday midnight. And then, we still have to wait two days for the little guy up in Wiarton to do his thing. But, hey, we've had next to zip sun this winter, so maybe that means he won't be seeing his shadow.)
And FURTHERMORE!...Blogger clearly was not designed by any arteestic type. No sirreeee bob. I've been tooting around with this thing for, I refuse to say how long, in an attempt to get that wee poem centered beneath the photo. Ha! So just use your own artistic license and pretend it's centered, OKAY? Apologies for shouting. Oh my, this winter is getting long.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Granola Bars - Good, Easy, Frugal

I guess I've been slacking off. I was cleaning out Violinist's smarty pants car the other day hunting for missing lunch containers, when hiding amongst folders of sheet music, music stands, ice scrapers, wool socks, spare duffle coats and aha! the ubiquitously missing lunch containers, I found an half-eaten box of commercial granola bars.

The box originally held 18 little rectangular bits of granola dipped in chocolate and wrapped in foils. I lined up the remaining itty-bitty bars underneath my 9 x 13 baking dish and concluded that all the bars in this one box would fit neatly into the bottom of the baking dish. However, the commercial bars are less than half the thickness of my granola bars and have a lot of funny sounding ingredients listed on each foil.

When I questioned Violinist about it, he confessed he paid around 5.00 dollars. I think, with frugal shopping, buying the specials and making our own sweetened condensed milk (recipe is below), the cost to make Granola Bars is less, makes more and the ingredients not so scary. Violinist, Violinist, Violinist! Let your Mother make these things for you!

Granola Bars
  • 3 cups quick cook oats or enough pulverized large flake rolled oats to equal 3 cups
  • 1 cup sunflower seeds, raw, unsalted
  • 1 cup coconut, dry unsweetened
  • 1 cup raisins or chopped dates or chocolate chips or other dried chopped fruit
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 300-ml. tin sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 2 heaping Tbsps. butter or margarine
  • pinch of salt
Mix all the dry ingredients together and set aside.
Beat softened butter/margarine,
egg, and vanilla together.
Add sweetened condensed milk to the egg, butter and vanilla. Mix well.
Pour the wet into the dry and mix well.
Spread into a well greased 9 x 13 baking dish.
Bake at 325 F for 25 minutes or until just golden. Remove from oven and let cool in the baking dish. When cooled down, cut with a very sharp knife into 24 or 16 big honking pieces as shown here.
If desired, they could be coated with melted chocolate. Mine have never lasted long enough for me to do that. :)

Homemade Sweetened Condensed Milk
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1/8 cup butter or margarine
  • 2 cups instant milk powder
  1. Combine water and sugar over medium heat and stir until the sugar dissolves.
  2. Pour mixture into blender or use a hand held blender and mix in butter, gradually adding the milk.
I haven't made this for awhile and my directions say that this equals one, 300 - ml. can of sweetened condensed milk. If you decide to use this for the bars, make sure you measure out only 300 mls. for the Granola Bar recipe.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

A Long Distance Phone Call

There are days when the phone does not ring and days when I think I am on speed-dial. Yesterday, was one of those days in between. It also was one of those days when you pick up the telephone and receive one of those phone calls you never forget. Nothing tragic. Just something hard and difficult, like, "Mom, what do you think about me moving to China?" Remember, I just got through someone sneaking around here inquiring about engagement rings.

"You don't speak Chinese."
"I know. But I can teach English."
"Can't you find someplace a little closer to home?"
"Well, there's Korea and Japan."
"Of course, why didn't I think of that,"...and I listen to the angst of a twenty-something deep in the middle of a very long and cold Canadian winter slogging through yet another heavy-duty semester and sounding a bit in need of some Vitamin D..."are you eating alright?"
"I'm just frustrated. I want to get this all behind me. I want to get on with life. I want to play badminton."
"You mean, "When will we ever get to ZED", and you think moving to China will help...don't you?"
Poor Speedy, he has always been on speed-dial. He has always been a go-getter. He has always wanted to go, go, go. The closest I've ever been to this was somewhere back in 1970 something when hampered by super efficient, yet, rule-bound Miss Bucky home-ec teacher.
"Today, class, we will read the pattern envelope, front. Snort." "Tomorrow, class, we will read the pattern, envelope, back. Snort." "Next, class, we will cut little, lunch bag envelopes, for our pattern, envelope. Snort." "First, class, we will decide which, lunch bag is the most, cost-efficient. Then, class, we will...Snort, snort, snort."

And on and on it went. Until I was so bored, that I finished the whole stupid dress one weekend...plaid at that...tiny saying something about needing to take the thing home because I was going to be leaving for a long, long time. Oh my. And come to think of it, I once worked with a nurse who used to do the same thing. Not fib. Procrastinate. "I save work so we can be busy all night," she directed. "I get work done, in case we get busy all night," I re-directed.

So I listened to poor old Speedy. And comforted and advised. And agreed that, yes!, going to China would be an excellent idea, but, "finish what has to be done first...then go teach a billion people English, while they teach you badminton." And we kissed and hung up. It is so hard to let go. Next.
(About the photos. Thanks again to Patricia, over at Pollywog Creek for the inspiration. The coffee tin is one I found in the tool shed of the farm where I grew up. It's old, probably from the teens or 20's. Rideau Hall, located in Ottawa, Ontario, is the official residence of Canada's Governor General, the Queen's representative in Canada. I keep the tin filled with mixed silk flowers and topped with a wonky Monarch butterfly on my kitchen table, where I was seated when the above conversation took place.)

Monday, January 26, 2009

January Fun at the Marina

Geek Guy and I decided to head off today to Point Pelee National Park to do some winter sightseeing and shoot birds. Not kill them...take their pictures...(really...ever since I mentioned the thing about hunting rabbits.) However, when we arrived at the gate we found it closed due to unsafe conditions. Hmmmm. Later in the day we learned a deer cull was in progress - so nevermind the birds.
Off we turned, following the Lake Erie shoreline back toward the Leamington Marina. Far offshore and visible as wee dots we could see a lot of icefishing activity. There was no wind, but there also was no sun and the cold penetrated within just a few minutes. Relax - that is not some new nuclear energy symbol on the side of the Jiimaan. It's a stylized trillium - the symbol for our Ontario provincial government.
A few teens, taking a break from exam studies were out skating on some cleared patches of ice in the marina. There sleeps the Jiimaan. Spooky. Sp-ooo-ky. Ships quietly sitting icebound always give me chills. Spooky. Sp-ooo-ky.
And here below is the little Pelee Islander. I know she is sitting crooked in this photo. By the time I took this, my fingers were fumbling around very stiff, it was getting impossible to think from the cold and tech support had hightailed it back to the safety of a heated van.
But I decided to include the photo, because the brightly coloured buildings and sniggly wharf all appear quite whimsical. And, I don't want to go back tomorrow and do this all over again - so maybe if you just tilt your head or lay a piece of paper over the top to square things up that might work. Anyway, if you have ever ridden the Islander you would know, that that is exactly how it appears from onboard too - low in the water and a little askew.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

A Wee Tipple to Rabbie Burns - 250th

A Red, Red Rose
O my Luve's like a red, red rose,
That's newly sprung in June:
O my Luve's like the melodie,
That's sweetly play'd in tune.

As fair art thou, my bonie lass,
So deep in luve am I;
And I will luve thee still, my dear,
Till a' the seas gang dry.

Till a' the seas gang dry, my dear,
And the rocks melt wi' the sun;
And I will luve thee still, my dear,
While the sands o' life shall run.

And fare-thee-weel, my only Luve!
And fare-thee-weel, a while!
And I will come again, my Luve,
Tho' 'twere ten thousand mile!

Robert Burns, 1794 - Albainn Gu-Brath
(Click on the title and enjoy this sung by Andy M. Stewart.)

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Mother of the Groom

I could hardly type that. Mother of the GR...oo...m. Groom. Groom. There. I said it. What the heck happened?! I got married. I had some babies. I showed them how to read. I fed them. I drove them places. I did their laundry. They ate and grew beards. Now, one of the wolves/men in this house has up and decided to get married. There were inklings.

"Mom, you ever heard of DeBeers?" And, "Which jeweler do you recommend, Mom?" Then, "Do you wear Grandma's diamond earrings much?" Next, "Which ring do you like better?" Until this, "What do you think of this ring, Mom?"- upon which he whipped out a crumpled bag shoved into his front jeans pocket and pulled out a diamond ring.
"You just keep that stuffed in your pocket?"
Shrug, "I'm asking her tomorrow."Now I have to find a Mother of the Gr...R RooM. Groom. Dress. Dreadful stuff. Have you taken a look at the offerings for women in this category? I like the Queen, but I don't want to dress like her. And then there is that little saying, "Mutton, Dressed like Lamb." Despairing over the options, the past while I've been distracting myself by nosing around engaged wolf asking little questions like, "What colour are the dresses?"
"I dunno."
"Does the Mother of the Br...Ri,, (there I got it out...almost), have hers?"
"I dunno."
"Would it matter if I wear something long?"
"I dunno."
"Look, I have a permanent record of yours, and each of your brother's gestations right here, on my leg. Does it matter if I wear long?"
"I dunno."
This couldn't have come at a better time in Decadent's life. You see that picture of Decadent to the right? That was just a few years, one mid-life crisis and a pan or two of cinnamon raisin sticky buns ago. So. While everyone else diets, forgoes, lives a life of meal deprivation for reasons of keeping some nebulous New Year's resolution, I, Moi, Decadent Housewife, will slowly turn into a growling, snapping she-wolf attempting to retrieve her youthful form, so posterity does not think, was fat! There, said it.

Last night, while enjoying a cup of steaming black coffee and sliced apple, whilst wrapped in fleecy pajamas in a vain attempt to add comfort factor, I managed to get out of engaged wolf that the girls' dresses will be short, tea-length. "OH my GOODNESS!" I shouted at him, showing my teeth and then flinging out a leg. "I will have to buy BUCKETS, do you hear me?! BUCKETS, of concealer to hide these veins!"
"Relax, Mother of the Bride refuses to go short, too."
Smart woman. Settled. It's long and it's going to be a longer winter.

(Photos cropped from Decadent's own wedding, long ago and far away. Thanks to Max Moran, photographer.)

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Fresh Beginnings

Congratulations America
on your new and fresh beginnings
with Mr. Barack Obama.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Salt and Pepper

I have another set just like this one...somewhere.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Cinnamon Raisin Sticky Buns

Wolf bait. I once had the idea to set up a self-serve roadside bread stand as a hands-on home-school learning experience for the boys. I baked like mad and the kids counted money. The boys seemed to take special pleasure in observing the kinds of people who stopped at our bread stand. The stand was in plain view from our home school room and every now and then someone would shout, "somebody's buying bread!" with additional comments similar to, "What's she need bread for! She's FAT enough!" Oh my. Detentionable offenses no doubt, had this happened in real school.

We hit the jackpot of sorts one afternoon when a hydro and construction crew pulled up in heavy trucks and began hauling out equipment and setting up roadsigns. An hour later all but one of the crew left, all of them having filled up at the bread stand. The remaining twenty-something finished tossing equipment into his truck, went into the cab and came back to the stand. We watched him buy a round of sticky buns, and standing half way between the bread stand and his truck, eat it, all of it. He then returned to his cab, came back to the stand, bought another round of sticky buns and standing right there, ate that one too. It was all too much even for my little wolves jumping up and down, hooting and howling at this fellow, "What a PIG!!" "No.  Wolf.  He's a wolf, not a pig," I corrected them. Not too long ago, I reminded them of this.

The amounts given here make a single 8-inch round pan of sticky buns. Go to Multi-Purpose White Bread recipe, for the dough recipe and how to do that. The amounts given there will make approximately 7 - 9 pounds of dough. So you will need to decide what to do with all that dough. On Fridays, I generally make 4 - 6 - 8 pizzas and 0 - 2 - 4 rounds of sticky buns or a dozen or so of lunch buns with one batch of the Multi-Purpose White Bread recipe. It just depends what kind of crowd I'm expecting for Friday night pizza. More often, it's easier after having made my pizzas, to divide the extra dough into 1 pound balls, ziploc them and refrigerate to use later in the week.
  • 1 pound of basic boring white bread dough, my recipe or yours
  • 2 1/2 Tbsp. soft butter or margarine
  • 1/3 cup light brown sugar, 1st amount
  • 1/4 - 1/3 cup light brown sugar, 2nd amount
  • handful of light raisins
  • cinnamon, sprinkled on as much as you like
Measure out the first amount of brown sugar and butter or margarine directly into the baking pan, mix it up and spread it evenly over the pan bottom. Set this aside.
Pat out 1 pound of dough to about an 8 x 10 rectangular shape - just use your hands. Spread second amount of brown sugar over this. Add raisins and sprinkle thickly with cinnamon powder.
Form a fat little roly-poly log, beginning from the top, short side. Lightly score the log into 8 equal pieces. Then cut and remove each piece to the prepared pan one by one. It helps to use a very sharp serrated knife and to not cut them all at once.
Place the pieces into the prepared pan.
Let them rise until just above the pan top. Place in preheated 400F oven for 12 -15 minutes turning the pan mid-way for even baking.
Expect the syrup to bubble up and boil over. To deal with this, place the pans on a little bigger pan that won't interfere with the oven's air circulation. I use the bottoms from spring form pans and place foil on the oven bottom. Remove from oven when the tops are well browned and let stand 5 minutes in the pan on a cooling rack.
Loosen the edges with a knife and flip the pan upside down onto a cooling rack. If the hot syrup has not cooled quite enough, it will run rapidly out and pool on the counter top. If that happens, quickly flip the pan back over and let it sit a bit longer.
Remove the pan. Use a rubber spatula to scrape any remaining sticky stuff from the pan bottom and counter top back onto the buns. Wolf bait, every time.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Winter Friends

Speedy's efforts in creating a backyard skating rink didn't work out so well, but the Sparrows and Starlings loved him for it.
No sooner had the flooding begun, when the birds came to inspect, then enjoy bathing in the icy waters. I stayed inside taking photos through a window. The red cast is from the brick of a neighbouring home. (The humans to whom Taffy belongs.)Cropping in produces images with low resolution. GG told me this technological bit. I just noticed that the photos looked painterly when viewed close-up. In this case the effect was that of a child's storybook painting, so much so, that I included this post in the Artwork category just in case this winter gets really, really, really long and I decide to paint these little guys.
Taken just after New Year's Day, we are all under snow now and the birds are keeping their hineys warm roosting in my lilacs. The photo with the tree trunk has had the colours enhanced. All the rest appear exactly as is, after cropping in. Not that it matters...just thought I'd say so. That's all.