My New Year's Resolutions!

Yes, I have been missing for a good long while my friends.  So thank you to all of you who have stayed around.

My New Years Resolutions are only two.  The first is to return to my once normal life and resume doing everything I did before I was debilitated by pain,  The second is to get on a program, probably of my own to loose more weight because that cannot but help my situation.

I may have told about a terrible fall I took a year ago the Day after Labor Day.  It was one of those "kick myself, how could I have been so stupid kind of falls!"

As I often do because our house is built into the side of a big hill,  I carried 2 large 30 gal. full trash bags down the full flight of stairs into the family room to the garage door.  Next I went down 3 more concrete steps into the garage floor and proceeded to open the doors and head out to the trash and recycle bins!  Upon heaving my big bags into the proper receptacles I saw one bag had leaked and left a trail across the blacktop of the driveway!

Generally I clean up my messes so I found the paper towels I keep there for just such occasions.  I wiped from the trash bins to the garage and all of the way back to the door to reenter the house. All cleaned up!  I turned to go up the steps into the house and "SLAM BAM THANK YOU MAME!"

I hit like a ton of bricks.

I had turned all of the way around and was now facing out of the garage doors instead of into the house and my legs were behind me instead of in front in a discombobulated and rumpled heap on the steps.  I just sat there.  Stunned and not knowing if I could get up.  After a bit I did slowly try to maneuver myself around and got up! 

Long story short I never got better.  I neglected to consider the soles of my shoes when cleaning up and that is where I went wrong.  As one not to run to the doctor very often I didn't go for maybe 6 months realizing I was not recovering.

Eventually it was discovered I have a major birth defect I had not known of and this fall merged the whole thing become painfully awful!

Recently my Dr. Ross Whitacre found a medication helping me a lot!  Like 80% improvement so I am ready to get back after the business of life!

So watch for me in the next weeks!  I am rejoining the living!


Playing Catch Up: Easter, A Fond Farewell, First Smoke, & Biga

This Christmas I got a double 9"' x 13" size cake pan with a cover that holds a large 3-4 layer cake batter!
Playing catch up will start with a back story today.  We have three wonderful sons and I am humbled to be their Mother.  Our middle son Mike and his family have lived in the same subdivision as we do since our granddaughters were in grade school.  So we have been blessed to be with them as they have grown into beautiful young women.  Our son has taken a new position and his family will be moving to Georgia.  So Easter and the following days have been bitter sweet.

Our youngest son Joel and his wife invited us all to their home in Santa Claus, In. the Sat. before Easter and our oldest son Chris and hid family came from north of Indianapolis.  That is where I took the enormous cake pictured above!  It was my carrot cake recipe and I topped it with cream cheese frosting.  It also makes up in three large layers.

Yes, I still color Easter Eggs, I probably always will.
Easter Sunday we had an Easter egg hunt for our 7 year old twin grandsons.  Of course I made Easter Baskets for all the kids too.  They all are candy lovers!  We had a traditional meal with ham, sweet potatoes, green beans, deviled eggs, and both an Angel Food cake and the remainder of the Carrot cake.  I was over the top and didn't take pictures.  Not that I have found anyway!

Mike's Chocolate Chip Cookies.
I sent a care package with Mike when he went  this last round of some of his favorites:  Chocolate chip cookies and French Dip sandwiches.

After slow roasting a rump roast I wrap in foil and chill.  When cold I slice extra thin for French Dip sandwiches.
He has already ordered Vegetable soup and more cookies for the next trip!  I am happy to make it for them!

Sour cream and vanilla white yeast bread.
Our dog Molly got out of our fence during this time and our neighbors were nice enough to catch and return her one morning before the school bus even had come.  I baked them a loaf of white bread to thank them!

Smoked boneless pork loin roast.
Look at that smoke ring.  Delicious!
The next weekend Brian fired up the smoker and we smoked a boneless pork loin roast and 2 sticks of venison sausage.  We had eaten one and smoked the remaining 2 sausages and they are delicious!  The nice thing about the pork loin is that it will make us 3 different meals.  The first was sliced on Sunday.  Then Tuesday we had as a stir-fry with vegetables.  Next I sliced it very thinly and layered with BBQ sauce yesterday and will heat up tonight for an easy supper.

This is the beginning stage of the Biga.
Today I stirred up a Biga to start Cibatta (Italian Slipper Bread) tomorrow.  It needs to be started then to sit for 24 hours before making the finished loaves.  This is a new recipe I am trying because it makes 4 loaves and I will have 2 to send home with a friend of my husband's Saturday who is coming to help with a repair project.  With a little luck I will remember to take pictures and post the bread and the recipe tomorrow.  I also have set out all of the ingredients for my husband's favorite Oatmeal raisin and walnut cookies and plan to at least get them stirred up yet today.  I will bake them in the morning first thing.  Then in the late morning start the bread,  having given the Biga 24 hours to ripen into a sour deliciousness!


Deliscious Soft Chocolate Chip Cookies Made with HONEY.

Using a scoop and dipping the scoop in sugar in between scooping makes the dough more readily release and for nice uniform cookies!
Lately I have loved using more and more honey in my cooking.  It just adds some little extra somethin' somethin' I really like.  The fact that it never spoils leads me to think it may well act as somewhat of a preservative too.

At any rate I came across this recipe in my March issue of my King Arthur Catalog and have been meaning to try them.  I did adapt them a bit but I am sure they are delicious either way!

Ingredients for Soft Chocolate Chip Cookies with Honey:

6 T. soft butter
1/3 C. sugar
1/2 C. packed dark brown sugar
3 T. honey
2 t. vanilla bean paste (just use vanilla if you don't have)
1/2 t. Espresso powder (use instant coffee powder if you do not have)
3/4 t. salt
1 T. cider vinegar
1 large egg
1/2 t. baking soda
1/2 t. baking powder
2 C. King Arthur White Whole Wheat Flour
3 C. semi-sweet chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.  Prepare the baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.

Using a large bowl beat together the butter, sugars, honey, vanilla, Espresso powder, and salt.  Beat in vinegar, egg, baking soda, and baking powder until smooth.  Stir in the flour then the chocolate chips until just blended.

I scoop the cookie dough out onto a paper plate before chilling the batter as it makes it easier for me to get to it!
Refrigerate the dough for 20 or 30 minutes.  Use a 1 tablespoon cookie scoop, about 1 1/2" across to dip each cookie.  Keep a coffee cup with about 1/2 cup of sugar handy and swish the dipper well in the sugar before taking each scoop.

My helpful hint is to use a coffe cup with sugar in the bottom to swirl your cookie scoop into between dips of the cookie dough!
This really speeds things along as the cookie dough does not stick in the scoop and comes out much more readily!  Really speeds thing up for me!

They look very uniform all lined up and ready to go into my oven!
Bake for 10-11 minutes until just set.  DO NOT OVER BAKE.  Let the cookies cool in the pan for 10 minutes before removing.  I yielded 3 and 1/3 dozen cookies.  I gave some to a friend to taste test and she texted me,  "OMG these are perfect!"  I agree!  They are great!

I also baked 2 pies today I had promised to folks, a raisin and a cherry so it was a nice day for baking!

Homemade cherry pie!  Brian is off delivering the raisin pie already this morning. I will deliver this one.
They turned out fine too.  I was happy and tired.


Hello it has been a tough winter!

Friends we have had a tough winter and I haven't been posting because of it!  Hope we are on a SPRING upswing and I can get back to some of my projects!  In a nutshell I fell the day after Labor Day and due to further injury to an existing condition  have been in a real mess.  My husband was injured the first week of Dec. while moving a milling machine when a 300+ pound motor atop it crashed down on him when the bolts attaching it broke.  We are both on the mend and feel blessed none of it was any worse than it was.

So thank you so much to all of you who missed me and this blog and especially to those who asked about us!  God Bless  you one and all.  Diane and Brian


No-Knead Crusty White Bread Recipe from King Arthur Flour a BIG Winner with Me!

Delicious toasted and slathered with butter and homemade strawberry jam!
This is a recipe from the King Arthur website.  I came across it and though it sounded promising.  I was not disappointed!  It has the simplest of ingredients and directions.  It appeals to me because you store it in a 5-6 qt. container in the refrigerator for up to a week.  Also it makes 2-4 loaves of bread!  You just pull off the amount of dough you need and let it rise and bake.  Wonderful flavor and crusty and chewy too.  Yum sums it up!

Ingredients for No-Knead Crusty White Bread:

3 C. lukewarm water (about 105 degrees F)
6 1/2 -7 1/5 C. or most accurate of all 32 ounces unbleached all purpose flour
1 tablespoon salt
1 1/2 tablespoons Instant Yeast

The liquid/flour ratio is important in this recipe.  If you measure flour by sprinkling it in a cup and leveling it off, use 7 1/2 cups.  However if you measure flour by scooping the cup into the flour then leveling it off, use 6 1/2 cups.  The most accurate measure is by weight and 32 ounces is the perfect amount of flour!  I got the chance to use my new kitchen scale for the first time and it work out perfectly!

Combine all of the ingredients in a large mixing bowl or large plastic container with a tight fitting lid.  I used a big ice cream bucket!  Perfect! Just stir everything together with a big wooden spoon until combined.  It will make a very sticky rough dough.

Bread dough in an ice cream bucket! 
Note:  If you choose to dirty up your big mixer use the beater blade and medium speed for only 30 to 60 seconds.

Cover the dough in the bucket or 5-6 quart container and let rise for 2 hours at room temperature.  Next leave covered and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or up to 7 days.  The longer you leave the tangier it will get.

When you are ready to bake sprinkle the top of the dough with flour.  Grease your hands and pull off 1/4, 1/3, or 1/2 of the dough.  Round into a ball and place on a piece of parchment paper.  Sprinkle with a bit more flour and cover with saran or a kitchen towel for the rise.  Let the loaf warm to room temperature and rise until doubled.  One to several hours depending on the temperature of your kitchen.

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.  Place the pizza stone or pan you plan to bake on into the oven.  Place a cast iron skillet on the bottom rack of the oven also.

Just before baking slash the top of the bread.  Slide the bread on the parchment onto the hot pan or stone.  Quickly pour at least 1 cup of water into the hot cast iron skillet and quickly close the oven door.  Bake 25-35 minutes until deep golden brown in color.

This would make 4 nice bread boules for soup I am thinking!
When done remove and cool on a rack,  When cold store in an airtight bag.