Summer Is Over….Someone Tell the Tomatoes!

I just came in from our deck. It’s very cold and rainy today. As I looked over the edge of the deck to find our dog, I saw tons of green tomatoes and plants filled with blooms. The plants look as though they are thriving better than ever. I know about six plants are well over 6 ft tall from the ground to the top of the deck railing. They are hanging over and just loaded with fruit. You may be wondering why I am talking about tomatoes like it matters. Well, it does matter!
We have never had a successful garden before. This year was a first! We planted all the easy to grow seeds and lots of herbs. We have had buckets of tomatoes, cucumbers, bell peppers, onions, yellow squash and zucchini. Today, on Oct 16, 2014, we still have buckets of tomatoes, bell peppers and flat leaf parsley growing. Sometimes, we just need to put the seed or seedling into the dirt and trust God to do the rest. He always blesses abundantly.
Tim had his annual tests and results this week. This is always a time for holding your breathe until you get the “all clear” that there are no signs of cancer. Once again, we are fortunate and blessed as “no signs of cancer” is now at the three years mark. Our trust is in God to provide us with that freedom that it is “gone for good”! Two more years to be at that mark….kind of like anticipating those seeds we planted to grow and be fruitful. We just don’t have to worry about it. You put it in the ground in May and here it is Oct and with abundance they are producing and we put our faith in the God that heals. He led us to an amazing doctor who took out the cancer and now we are blessed with the abundance of peace in knowing that healing is present. We don’t have to worry. For all these things, we are thankful.

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Oh Baby, Baby and Bread

Baby Cake Pops!

Baby Cake Pops!

I LOVE making cake pops! Baby cake pops are one of my favorites as well. I was very happy to spend my weekend on a rush order for a baby shower for my friend. She is a party planner and this party needed a fast plan! Luckily, she asked me if I would make cake pops! Yes!
This was my first time putting hair on babies and I really love how they turned out. The little mohawks are my favorite. Do you have a favorite among all the cuteness?

This is my third time baking with the starter.

This is my third time baking with the starter.


Since baking the first free form loaf several weeks ago, I have tried a making the recipe suggested on the starter another time in a loaf pan. The recipe calls for 2 1/2 Cups of the starter. To me, it has a very strong sour taste which my family liked, but I didn’t. So, I decided to try another recipe. This one calls for only 1 Cup of starter. It also is flavored with some softened butter and warm milk put directly into the dough. It rises well, it browns to a deep golden color (crusty) and tastes fantastic! I have a large loaf pan that is stoneware. I made three loaves before I figured out how long to bake it. It takes an hour. I had some doughy middles in the first two loaves.
For those of you who would like to try out this recipe, I will post it below. This photo shows the height on the loaf.
This photo shows the height of the loaf

This photo shows the height of the loaf

San Fransisco Sour Dough Bread
1 C. Sour Dough Starter (Make sure your starter is room temperature and has bubbles. If it doesn’t feed your starter and let sit a few hours or overnight.)
4 1/2 C. All Purpose or Bread Flour
1 Heaping Tablespoon of Salt
3 Heaping Tablespoons of Sugar
1 Pkg. yeast (I only use 1/2 a pkg)
1 C. Warm Milk
2 Tablespoons of softened butter
1 Egg
Combine 1 C. of flour, salt, sugar, yeast, butter and 1 C. of flour in your Kitchenaid mixer with the paddle attached. Allow this mixture to become well combined. Now slowly add flour about 1/2 C at a time until it is all added. Change to your dough hook here or before you add the extra flour. Allow the dough to be kneaded for about 5 minutes. You can do all of this by hand if you do not have a mixer with a dough hook. Once kneaded, form your dough into a nice round and place in a greased large bowl. I used olive oil and turn the dough over once to coat the top. Cover with a towel and allow to rise until doubled in height. Punch dough down in the center and pull edges down into the dough all the way around. (I have this process posted in the first bread post) Form dough into a loaf and place in a well greased bread pan. Allow to rise until doubled in height and volume. Slit the top with a razor blade of sharp knife. Beat the egg with a splash of water and brush the top of the dough. Bake for at least 1 hour at 375 degrees. Be prepared to have your home filled with a very fragrant, heavenly smell. #bakingbreadsmellsfantastic

Expect the Unexpected!

It seems that for us, we always have to “expect the unexpected”.  My daughter was hospitalized on an emergency basis a couple weekends ago.  It was very “unexpected” and we are very glad that she is feeling better now.  While last week was a bit slow as far as bangle designs, I did decide to make several variations of “Hope Anchors the Soul”.  Here is a peek!ImageImageImageImage

I also did not expect for these to be so popular!   That’s a happy statement because I love to make personalized items that people enjoy wearing or using.  I then worked on some custom pieces for a graduating senior and also many, many teacher gifts!  

This week, I have decided to try what I am calling “hashtag design”….while I have not yet used the actual # symbol and run the words all together as in a tweet, I do plan to do that as well.  Here is a peek at those.Image

Then, there is this awesome song by the Eagles called “Fabulous”.  I have loved it since I first heard it.  It’s basically about a woman that doesn’t have time for anything because she is too busy being her “Fabulous” self! haha!  The song is not in a complimentary tone but rather sarcastic but, I couldn’t resist!  I think all women need one of these!  When the mood strikes, throw on the bangle and off you go!  

 

 

Fabuloous!

Bread Quest! Sour Dough Lovers Unite!

The Sour Dough Kit from Williams-Sonoma

The Sour Dough Kit from Williams-Sonoma

Journey to the perfect loaf!

Journey to the perfect loaf!

After learning that those with gluten intolerance may be able to successfully tolerate sour dough bread, I have been on the quest to find and make the perfect loaf of sour dough bread.
I read where the sour dough starter actually cancels out the gluten. My sweet daughter, has an auto-immune disease which greatly benefits from a gluten-free diet. We learned that she does tolerate and digest sour dough bread. Of course, I am certainly going to do my part in helping her find quality foods that are within her diet.
My first attempts at making my own starter were from “scratch”. It took eight days to ferment the starter and begin baking. After six very dense, fair tasting loaves, I was able to make a pretty good loaf. My starter however, was a bit frustrating to me as it seemed to take about two days to proof a loaf. I also thought it needed to have a better taste.
I started searching for the best sour dough bread I could find. Topping the list was San Francisco Sour Dough Bread made in a bakery in San Francisco. I also learned you could purchase a sour dough starter kit from Williams-Sonoma. (I am not associated with Williams-Sonoma. I am just a customer.)
It arrives with a nice little crock to keep your starter preserved in.

I found the detailed instructions a bit difficult to understand but I ended up with a good end product so I suppose I came close to following it correctly. It begins by combining the starter with warm water and all-purpose flour.

[caption id="attachment_437" align="alignnone" width="300"]Combining the starter packet with warm water and flour. Combining the starter packet with warm water and flour.

Next, cover the bowl and allow to rest. Stirring the mixture at regular intervals is
important in the fermentation process.

Note the large bubbles on top of the mixture.  This is ready for division and feeding.

Note the large bubbles on top of the mixture. This is ready for division and feeding.


For the remaining 72 hours, you will be stirring at regular intervals until the mixture reaches it peak (lots of active bubbles), then you will reduce to 1/2 C mixture and add one cup of warm water and one cup of flour. (If it is bedtime, you will increase the flour and water to 2 or 3 cups and cover for the night) Upon rising, divide, reduce to 1/2 C and feed with 1 C warm water and flour.
The is the final division.  Fill your crock with starter and refrigerate.

The is the final division. Fill your crock with starter and refrigerate.

Beautifully Proofed Dough

Beautifully Proofed Dough


Two days later, I had to bake bread to see how the new starter would work. The recipe is easy. The night before baking, put 1/2 C starter in a bowl with 3 Cups warm water and 3 Cups flour. Cover overnight. The next morning, you will have beautiful starter called a sponge. It’s very bubbly! Take 2 1/2 Cups of the sponge and put it in your stand mixer, add 1 1/2 C flour and mix together. Allow it to rest an hour. Next, add one more C of flour, put on the dough hook, add a tablespoon of salt and slowing continue adding flour until you have a moist, non sticky dough. Put your dough into a bowl and allow to rise 8 to 13 hours! Yes, it takes that long! Yes, it will eventually work! Yes, it’s worth the wait!
Then the fun begins.
Shaping the dough into a round.

Shaping the dough into a round.

Creating a smooth loaf

Creating a smooth loaf


Once you have gone all the way around the dough and folded it upon itself. Place the round on a baking sheet sprinkled with corn meal. The dough is ready for a second rise. Allow the round to rise for 3 hours.
Finally, cut tic-tac-toe slits into the dough with a new razor blade. Brush with an egg wash, and place into a hot 400 degree oven for 10 minutes. After 10 minutes, reduce heat to 375 degrees and continue baking an additional 45 minutes.
The dough round is rising for a second time for 3 hours.

The dough round is rising for a second time for 3 hours.

Brush the loaf you just scored with a razor blade with the egg wash.

Brush the loaf you just scored with a razor blade with the egg wash.

This is a huge, crusty loaf of San Francisco Sour Dough Bread.

This is a huge, crusty loaf of San Francisco Sour Dough Bread.


The end product was a very beautiful round of San Francisco Sour Dough Bread. It is a very tasty bread. Next time, I will be making it in loaf pans to see how it holds up for sandwich bread. I am very encouraged by my first loaf. I feel like it can only get better as I get better at making it! Hope you give the San Francisco Starter a try if you enjoy baking bread or want to start.