Thursday, September 3, 2015

Rainy Day Twisted Cheese and Herb Bread

It's been so hot and humid these last few days
and today the skies darkened and the rains came down.
A perfect day to bake some bread.

Well, actually I was boiling some potatoes to make a potato salad
and was left with a nice cup of potato water ....
why not bake some potato bread I say??

I found this recipe on line and adapted it a wee bit:

Twisted Cheese and Herb Bread

5 1/2 - 6 1/2 Cups of Unbleached Bread Flour
2 tsp. salt
3 Tbsp. white sugar
2 Tbsp. brown sugar
1 Cup potato water - luke warm
1 Cup buttermilk - luke warm
1 1/2 Tbsp. instant yeast
1/4 Cup melted butter

4 Cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1/2 Cup minced herbs (I used parsley and chives that are growing in my herb bed in abundance)

In stand mixer or mixing bowl, combine the flour (keeping one cup aside) with the salt and sugar.
In another bowl or large measuring cup, combine the potato water and butter milk. Whisk in the yeast. Add this and the melted butter to the dry ingredients and mix with the dough hook or by hand till combined - let rest for 5 minutes (oops, I forgot this step).
After the 5 minute rest, add in the remaining flour a bit at a time, until you get a soft smooth and tacky but not sticky dough.
Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead for several minutes.
Form the dough into a nice smooth ball and place into a lightly greased bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise till double in bulk (1-2 hours).

Divide the dough in half and form into two balls. Roll out the dough with a rolling pin to a rectangle of approx. 10 inches by 16 inches.

Sprinkle half of the shredded cheese and half of the chopped herbs onto the rolled out dough. 
Begin rolling it like a jelly roll from the short side.

Pinch the seam together.

With a sharp floured knife cut the loaf in half length wise keeping cut side facing up.
Pinch together the top ends of the loaf and turn the right strip up and over the left strip. Straighten it up and do this again till you reach the bottom.
Now pinch the bottom ends together too.
Carefully move the twisted loaf into a greased loaf pan.

Repeat with the second ball of dough. Cover the pans with a tea towel or waxed paper and let them rise again till they are 1 inch higher than the pan (approx. 35-40 minutes).

Bake at 350F for 40-50 minutes, rotating the loaves and covering with foil if getting too browned at the half way point (after approx. 25 min.).
Let them stand in the pans for a few minutes before removing and run a thin knife around the edges if the cheese has caused it to stick to the pan.

Voila - twisted cheese and herb bread made on a dreary rainy afternoon ...

Taste notes - this bread turned out soft and delicious. I like the texture of bread when using potato water!

Till next time ....... tomorrow is tackle the overgrown and weedy garden day (unless it rains again).
                                       What are you up to this first week of September? 

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Pickles Galore!

Went to the farmer's market  and was foolish enough to buy a 1/2 bushel of cucumbers!
I should have known how much work this was going to be after lugging
the heavy load of cukes to the car - eek!

Without ado I began scrubbing, trimming and brining these beauties,
after-all they weren't cheep and I wasn't going to waste my money.

As they sat in the salty brine for a few hours, 
I took a quick trip into town for some 
pearl onions, sugar and vinegar.

5 quarts and 13 pints
were cold packed using my
moms Sweet Dill Pickle Recipe.

By the wee hours of the morning,
I had most of the sweet dill pickles in jars and ready for the hot water bath - where they stayed for 12 hours.

Here is my Mom's Recipe - as I took notes at her kitchen table:

You need small pickles – any amount, fresh dill heads, peeled pickling onions, pickling spices, vinegar, sugar, alum and turmeric and you’re ready to go! I buy my pickles at the market but Mom always grew her own!
Scrub pickles and trim ends off.  
Soak pickles for at least 3-4 hours or overnight in a salty brine (mom said to add enough salt to the water so that it tastes really salty J) - no actual measurements required.
Fill cold pack canner (1/2 full) with water and bring to a boil while you pack the jars.
To pack quart jars – put a nice head of dill in bottom of jar, pack in one row of pickles – packed tight, top with a couple of little pickling (pearl) onions, repeat with another row of pickles and onions.  Top with ½ tsp. pickling spices, and a little more dill (use stems too).  Set the jars near the heating canner to “warm” the jars when packed.  Fill each jar with the following hot and simmering syrup
Makes enough for 4 quarts or 8 pints of pickles:
5 Cups vinegar
5 ½ Cups white sugar
½ tsp. alum
1 tsp. turmeric
Bring mixture to a rolling boil.  Keep it simmering while ladling into packed jars.  Seal immediately with sterilized snap lid and ring.  Set the jars into the hot canner (had been boiling water – heat turned off but left on stove).  Cover canner and leave jars in hot water bath for at least 12 hours.

This morning  I pickled the remaining cucumbers - 6 jars, with a Garlic Dill Pickle recipe
(without all that sugar) I found on line.
Hope these turn out but we will have to wait for 6-8 weeks before trying them. 

There was enough of the sweet dill pickle syrup left over to make a jar of
pickled eggs.
After trying to peel the first two eggs with little success (oh, well I needed something
for lunch anyways), 
I was desperate to find a method of peeling these eggs without having most
of the egg white stick to the shell and thus destroying the egg for using as a pickled egg!

Here is a tip I learned after seeking some advice on line:


BTW - I tried something new this time. I read somewhere that by adding a small grape leaf
to the jar of pickles will help to keep them crisp. We'll have to wait to see if this actually works.
Nothing worse than having the pickles go mushy after all this process.

Till next time - heading out to the garden to see if my next project needs to be picking and preserving the beets!
I think I'll need to stalk up on some more vinegar and salt ... or maybe have a nap.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Write it on your walls and doorposts ... Deut. 11:20

Their home is filled with love, warmth .... and inspiring words.
on the walls, on the shelves, and even on the pillows.

We were witness to a most sacred event in the life of our sweet daughter Becky
and much loved son-in-law Patrick
as they welcomed a precious gift from God into their home and lives ...

I can hardly believe that it's been one month since I arrived at this far away home
for the birth of our first grandchild, little darling Noa ...

We were there for her first official walk to the park:

Let's go Daddy!
What's a walk in the park without some ice-cream? Yum.

Sleepy baby
For her first bath ...

... and to see how much she is loved by her daddy as he comforted her.

My heart was full as I watched this little family love each other and their beautiful daughter!

I was standing on Holy Ground and thank the Lord each and every day for this blessing!

They need one of these now

Happy One Month Birthday sweet Noa Marie!!!

In the meantime ... staring at the pictures of her and waiting each day for more to come :).