Friday, January 30, 2009

no knead artisan bread

Look at this picture of my daughter.She has always liked to dress up.

And not much has really changed now that she's 13.

Our Stake hosted a Daddy/Daughter Dinner/Dance/Date (duh -- that's a lot of d's) last night. Some of the sweet girls/women in our ward offered the Young Women the use of their old prom dresses. The Oldest Carrotstick was ready and willing to take them up on the offer. She borrowed this swishy sparkly sequiny dress of wonderment last night, so she could dress up like Cinderella going to the ball. She was pretty. And, even more importantly, she felt pretty. And witty. And bright. And a little giggly.

She and her dad had fun together. I think. But the best part of the whole night was when a high school aged girl (that she didn't know) came up to her and asked her if that was the dress she wore to prom.

"Ummm, well. No. I'm only 13." She admitted. But she loved every minute of it. She came home and told me. And then she told 153 of her closest friends.

One friend responded, "Well, it's cool when someone thinks you look like you're 17 when you're only 13. It's not so cool when you are 20 and someone thinks you look like you're 30."


20 versus 30?

Looking 30 is an insult?

Well, look here, Mr. Know-It-All-Smarty-Pants-Kid-On-My-Naughty-List. 30 is NO insult. 40 isn't either.

Some things get better with age.

Like this super good, easy, impressive looking bread.

You mix up the ingredients, and then you let it sit. For like 24 hours. And it only gets better the longer it sits.

Just like me.

If you cook it too soon it would have no flavor and it would be flat and hard like a rock. So there.

Teenagers Knead to Get Real Like This No Knead Bread

3 cups all-purpose or bread flour, more for dusting
¼ teaspoon instant yeast
1¼ teaspoons salt
Cornmeal or wheat bran as needed.

1. In a large bowl combine flour, yeast and salt. Add 1 5/8 cups water, and stir until blended; dough will be shaggy and sticky. Cover bowl with plastic wrap. Let dough rest at least 12 hours, preferably about 18, at warm room temperature, about 70 degrees.
2. Dough is ready when its surface is dotted with bubbles. Lightly flour a work surface and place dough on it; sprinkle it with a little more flour and fold it over on itself once or twice. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rest about 15 minutes.
3. Using just enough flour to keep dough from sticking to work surface or to your fingers, gently and quickly shape dough into a ball. Generously coat a cotton towel (not terry cloth) with flour, wheat bran or cornmeal; put dough seam side down on towel and dust with more flour, bran or cornmeal. Cover with another cotton towel and let rise for about 2 hours. When it is ready, dough will be more than double in size and will not readily spring back when poked with a finger.
4. At least a half-hour before dough is ready, heat oven to 450 degrees. Put a 6- to 8-quart heavy covered pot (cast iron, enamel, Pyrex or ceramic) in oven as it heats. When dough is ready, carefully remove pot from oven. Slide your hand under towel and turn dough over into pot, seam side up; it may look like a mess, but that is O.K. Shake pan once or twice if dough is unevenly distributed; it will straighten out as it bakes. Cover with lid and bake 30 minutes, then remove lid and bake another 15 to 30 minutes, until loaf is beautifully browned. Cool on a rack.
Yield: One 1½-pound loaf

Give it a try. You'll only be out some time, and you'll end up with a beautiful, chewy, crusty, super good-looking loaf that only improves with time. Again, just. like. me. Better. With. Age. But not crusty.

Kate, here's a link to the original recipe.

And here's an article for your reading enjoyment.

I think the pan is kind of important 'cause it holds the heat and that makes the nice crust happen. According to my cooking Bible, Cooks Illustrated, it said you can get a decent cast iron covered pan for about $40 at Wallie's. Mine's green. Liz got a cuter looking (red) one from Target for a little more money. Maybe you could start a fund. I'll donate.

bread picture by Peggasus

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

trading treats tuesday

Today, for Trading Treats Tuesday . . .


Today is opposite day.


You didn't know?

Didn't you get the memo?

Well it is.

And so I can't post a treat.

But I don't want to be totally negative, 'cause that is such a downer.

So today, in honor of opposite day, is really Positively Peeved Something-Or-The-Other. No clever alliteration today, kids.

My Pet Peeve for today is Elementary School Kids Chronic Chapped Lips Syndrome.

This is the one single reason why I could never be an Elementary School teacher. But I salute all of you who can and are.

When I go to help in my kids classes, it PAINS me, I mean REALLY PAINS ME to see the poor poor kids who just keep licking and licking their lips, trying to make them feel better, and succeed in only making them worse.
For the love of your mother, your school teacher, the Lunch Lady, the crossing guard, the librarian, the garbage man, and the Schwann's guy, please please please please use chapstick. Chapstick is your friend.

Chapped lips are not.

Say no to Chap.

And Crack.

Butt, if you're a fan of Pioneer Woman, you can't say no to Chaps.

What's your Positively Peeved Pet Peeve today?

(to my more sensitive readers, I sincerely, and profusely, apologize, for this post.)

chaps picture by pioneer woman

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

a peaceable passing of power

PB&J sometimes travels for his work.

But for the last month and a half, he has been grounded. Which means he has been at home. Well, working still (thank goodness), but at least in the same state as the rest of his family. Except when he was on vacation. Then he wasn't working. But really, he was, because there's no rest when you are a member of a family. And believe you me, I took full advantage of that fact.

While PB&J was stuck at home he:

  • did dishes
  • took out garbage
  • woke up kids
  • made breakfast
  • went to the grocery store
  • helped with homework
  • enforced piano practicing
  • made a pinewood derby car
actually, made 2 pinewood derby cars -- 'cause the Littlest Carrotstick just couldn't stand to be left out of the fun.


believe it or not

  • he even helped make the bed.
(on more than one occasion!)

It was awesome.

Except now. Back in December, PB&J inadvertantly planned a trip to Washington D.C. for this week. By inadvertantly, I mean he didn't realize the significance of this week in history until after the trip was planned. Do you know what other somewhat significant event happened this week in The District? Besides a visit with my sister, Farm Girl, and her husband, Mr. Beaver Mountain? (Of which I am insanely jealous.) A little transfer of power? Remember that? Oh yeah. So, PB&J left on Monday, leaving the state of our union in my hands.

(As he drove through The District Monday night, talking to me on the phone, he unrolled the window of his car, and stuck his cell phone outside so I could hear the sounds of all the helicopters flying overhead. It was loud. It sounded like a scene in a movie. Weird.)

I hope things go smoother in DC than they have here where the executive branch of the family is now solely my responsibility (for a couple of days.)

I realize now I didn't appreciate PB&J's presence enough. Since he's been gone:

I haven't been able to sleep at night.

I worry about strange gasoline-like smells in the garage --- and I've even planned our escape route should my car spontaneously combust.

And then, to add insult to injury,

this morning, I pried myself out of my bed and woke the kids up, only to discover:

There was no milk in the fridge!

And no milk in the backup fridge.

The kids are threatening to impeach me.

PB&J, please come home.

We need you.

The kids need you.

The fridge needs you.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

trading treats tuesday

I have Pain.


Not them. They aren't my pain. Usually.

I have other kinds of pain. Sometimes.

But this was my favorite:

Still that is not quite what I'm referring to. When I have pain, real Pain with a capital P, that's when I really I love my Treat for today: my large deep bathtub.

Because sometimes when you have pain, there's nothing like a nice hot tub to soak in. I think it must be kind of like being back in the womb. Warm. Surrounded by liquid. Quiet -- especially when everyone is gone to school and work.

That, and being in that womb-like environment keeps me from acting like a really baby, ie: curling up in a fetal position and sucking my thumb till I feel better.

Hurray for tubs! Hurray for family! Hurray for bread! Boo for pain.

What's your treat today? Come on, you gotta have one that's better than mine.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

family planning

I don't claim to be an expert in this, but I have a few words of advice.

I have thought for quite a while now that 3 years between kids is ideal. We happened into that spacing not by choice, but it has worked out ok.

Until I made this startling realization:

We will be producing Pine Wood Derby Cars for six. years. straight.

The stress.

The design.

The aerodynamics or lack thereof.

The engineering degree or lack thereof.

The anxiety.

Is it overweight?

Or underweight?

The hopes.

The trauma.

The track inspired road rage.

The car that jumps the lane.

The crushed dreams.

For both the cub scout and his dad.

And therefore, for his mom also.

All over a stupid block of wood and black plastic wheels.

Pray for us.
The pine wood derby is tomorrow at 7, so you can be specific in your prayers.

(Thankfully, our scout leaders give everyone a blue ribbon with their name and time on it. That's all. No placing. Thank goodness. But you know that the dads still keep track.)

Please, keep this in mind as you are considering the establishment of your posterity.

Thank you.

Friday, January 9, 2009

black bean soup

How's My Parenting?

A Quiz

Read the short blurbs and answer the questions in essay form. Do not turn in the quiz to the Lunch Lady. Grade it and keep the answers to yourself. Thank you.

The poor Middle Carrotstick contracted a case of Strep Throat before Christmas. Thinking I was on top of my game, I got him into the doctor and on antibiotics. Yay me! And then the holidays hit. And somehow, between PB&J and I, we only managed to give him the approved dosage approximately once a day, instead of the requisite twice a day for 10 days. We did throw in a few extra days, hoping it would do the trick and wipe out that nasty bacteria.

How do you think we did?

I'll tell you. Yesterday, PB&J had to run the poor kid back to the doctor, who verified the Strep had resurged, and prescribed the idiot proof shot in the bum.

How do you think the Middle Carrotstick took that news?

I'll tell you. Badly. But lucky for him, his dad was there, and he told him to buck up and be a man (not in those words, but that was the jist of it) and get the shot. Unwilling to disappoint dear old dad, he did it.

Would he have been so obliging if the Lunch Lady had been the parent in charge?

I tell you No. If I had been there, I think he would have dug in his heels and refused to have the shot. And we would have been on to round two of nasty tasting "Medicillin".

How does the Lunch Lady feel when she sees her son walking around rubbing his still-sore bum?

I'll tell you. Bad. Poor kid. What a burden to have such distracted parents. It's a real pain in the buttocks.

So this Good Food Friday, enjoy some South of the Border goodness with

So Much Better than a Shot in the Bum Black Bean Soup

1 lb (2 cups) dried black beans, rinsed and picked over
4 oz ham steak, trimmed of rind
2 dried bay leaves
5 c water
1/8 tsp baking soda
1 tsp table salt

3 Tblsp olive oil
2 large onions, chopped fine (about 3 c)
1 large carrot, chopped fine (about ½ c)
3 medium celery ribs, chopped fine (about 1 c)
½ tsp table salt
5-6 medium garlic cloves, minced or pressed through garlic press (about 1 ½ Tblsp)
½ tsp red pepper flakes
1 ½ Tblsp ground cumin
6 c low-sodium chicken broth
2 Tblsp cornstarch
2 Tblsp water
2 Tblsp juice from 1 to 2 limes

Lime wedges
Minced fresh cilantro leaves
Finely diced red onion
Diced avocado
Sour cream

Place beans, ham, bay, water, and baking soda in large saucepan with tight-fitting lid. Bring to boil over medium-high heat; using large spoon, skim scum as it rises to surface. Stir in salt, reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer briskly until beans are tender, 1 1/4 to 1 ½ hours (if necessary, add another 1 cup water and continue to simmer until beans are tender); do not drain beans. Discard bay. Remove ham steak (ham steak darkens to color of beans), cut into 1/4" cubes, and set aside.

Heat oil in large pan over medium-high heat until shimmering but not smoking; add onions, carrot, celery, and salt and cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are soft and lightly browned, 12 to 15 minutes. Reduce heat to medium-low and add garlic, pepper flakes, and cumin; cook, stirring constantly until fragrant, about 3 minutes. Stir in beans, beam cooking liquid, and chicken broth. Increase heat to medium-high and bring to boil, then reduce to low and simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally, to blend flavors, about 30 minutes.
Ladle 1 ½ c beans and 2 c liquid into food processor blender, process until smooth, and return to pot. Stir together cornstarch and water in small bowl until combined, then gradually stir about half of cornstarch mixture into soup, bring to boil over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, to fully thicken. If soup is still thinner than desired once boiling, stir remaining cornstarch mixture to recombine and gradually stir mixture into soup; return to boil to fully thicken. Off heat, stir in lime juice and reserved ham; ladle soup into bowls and serve immediately, passing garnishes separately.

This soup is so yummy. How could it be anything but with that list of garnishes? It's all about the garnishes, I tell you. And it comes courtesy of my favorite cooking magazine Cooks Illustrated. Feel free to make and enjoy. And be glad you aren't having a shot of "Medicillin" the same consistency as this soup injected into YOUR South of the Border backcountry.

Happy Friday!

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

one week ago today

One week ago today,

This cousin

got married


This uncle:

had reconstructive surgery after the side of his face got smashed by this:Ok, not this Skidster in particular, but this is what a Skidster is (in case you, like me, didn't know) .

The mom of this friend:
had a birthday. (I know she'll be sad that I couldn't find that great Halloween picture of her as a football player to post.)

And I got a New Year's Eve smooch from this guy:

Not to brag, or anything.

How was your New Year's Eve, and how is your New Year so far?

be afraid, be very afraid

The Oldest Carrotstick is worried that her name just doesn't sound good with any last name other than the one she currently holds.

So worried, in fact, that she and her friends spent good valuable learning time at school today trying out her first and middle names with the last names of various ignorantly obliging boys.

They filled up 5 columns of lined (non-college ruled) notebook paper with options, starring the ones they felt had potential.

Oldest Carrotstick Paxman
Oldest Carrotstick Taylor*
Oldest Carrotstick Karr
Oldest Carrotstick Nelson*

and so forth and so on.

Ahh, the many -- and varied -- benefits of public education.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

trading treats tuesday

Sorry, kids.

No treats from the Lunch Lady today.

I have a cold.

Which you don't want me to share.

It stinks to be sick. Or it would if I could smell anything.
And I just sneezed 6 times in a row.

I think that's a record.

Do you have a treat today?

sneeze picture by Mussels

Friday, January 2, 2009

sweet victory?

My 4 year old nephew just came to tell me the Utes won a silver trophy.

"But BYU won a gold," he rationalized.

He continued:

"We like BYU.

"Cougars can beat Utes. 'Cause Cougars are mountain lions and Utes are Indians.

"We believe in the power of the cougar.

"Utes believe in the power of grass.

"But Jesus has all the power.

"And Man has the priesthood," he concluded.

so there.

Sent from my Verizon Wireless mobile phone