Thursday, March 25, 2010

Thoughts on Bread

As I munched my breakfast of PB&J this morning I thought about the bread I've been making. So far it's OK, but not excellent, and I still want to improve the texture.

When the loaf rises, it gets easily to a good plump size, and then I bake it. But it's still fairly dense inside. I'm sure there are other things I could do to work towards a lighter loaf, but one thought is that it's possible the recipe could make more than just one loaf. (The recipe actually says to put it on a flat surface to make a round, but I'm the one that is changing it to a loaf shape

So I think I'll try getting a second pan (then I can experiment with metal vs. glass also) and let the dough rise longer, to see if that helps. Perhaps confining it to too small of a space is the problem.

Maybe it's like people: If you put yourself in too small of a box, you limit yourself and can't realize your full potential.

Also, hello 100th post!

Monday, March 22, 2010

English Muffins

This weekend I made sourdough bread and realized that my starter is getting pretty big. I also decided that since it's going to be around awhile, it needs a name. Betty. Thrifty and useful, just like my starter. Betty has a large home, but I don't like to have the starter get out of hand. I didn't bake last week, and I didn't throw any out, so she was getting a little uppity.

I thought I'd be adventurous, and made sourdough English muffins last night/this morning.

There must be a reason this recipe came up #3 on a Google search: YUM

They were easy to make, too. I don't have a biscuit cutter, but a plastic cup (thin edge) worked just fine. I was worried that I rolled mine too thin, but they turned out just fine. I think if they were too thick they wouldn't cook evenly.

Also, the second side cooked much faster than the first. I was going by the timer and almost burned them!

Straight off the griddle they needed no toasting, but when I snacked on one later they only improved with toasting. Definitely going to hang on to that recipe.

They're partially whole wheat, and I've also started feeding Betty whole wheat to mix it up a little bit (also I was out of white flour at the time.) I don't know if that's by-the-sourdough-book, but then it wasn't that way from Betty's Amish-bread beginnings...

Tonight I started something else new: ginger ale! I can't wait to try it =)

Sourdough English Muffins
Makes about 12
  • 1/2 C starter
  • 1 C milk
  • 2-3/4 C flour - adjust as needed for consistency of your starter
  • 1 Tbsp sugar
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • Semolina or cornmeal, for dusting
Combine starter, 2 cups of flour, and milk in a large bowl. Stir to combine, cover with plastic wrap, and leave out for 8 hours or overnight.

After the overnight rest, add remaining flour, sugar, salt and baking soda and mix well. Turn onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 4-5 minutes. Roll out to 3/4" and cut with a biscuit cutter into rounds. You can reroll the scraps, but you may need to let the dough rest before cutting more muffins from them. Place muffins on a piece of parchment dusted with semolina or cornmeal and let rest for 45 minutes.

Spray griddle or skillet lightly with spray oil. Heat to medium and cook muffins for about 6-8 minutes on each side, or until browned on the top and bottom and cooked through. These have great griddle spring and rise quite a bit during the "baking".

Split with a fork and enjoy!

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Bags for Market

I've been focused on making market bags lately. There are a couple color schemes floating around in my head, and eventually I want to get them up on my shop. However, this one I'm keeping for myself.

I seem to be drawn more to bright colors when I'm not feeling well. This one just feels so cheery, like it could be going to the beach just as well as the grocery store... And it's mostly reversible, but I like this little hint of stripes.

On my fabric shelves there is this large (but dwindling) stash of dark denim that I purchased for the lining of the cat bed couch I made a couple years back.

The arms and the "cushion" part each open up and are removable, so the cover is fully washable. I also intend to make a holiday cover for it, with red or green plaid and a hint of shiny, with matching catnip pillows.

But I'm getting off subject.

I bought too much of the denim, and so I've been using it for various projects. I have some of it lining a w.i.p. corset-like bodice with fuchsia satin, and I'll finish it if I ever find my favorite grommet tool...

Wait, I was talking about market bags! So I've been using this denim, since it's nice and heavy, if rather dull. The first time I tried putting designs on it, I laboriously cut out fancy designs from freezer paper, ironed them on, and sprayed bleach around them. Unfortunately the bleach solution wasn't strong enough, and didn't remove enough color.

I'm glad I didn't go with my first impulse to spend hours cutting out Celtic knots!

I grabbed a bleach pen and scribbled around the designs. It has words like Wholesome, Fresh, and Grow, along with hearts, stars and spirals.

That worked, but it came out really bold and slightly childish. I do want to give the freezer paper stencil another try.

Last night I had the brilliant idea to try a tie-dye technique with the bleach...

The jury's still out on this one. Again I had a hard time controlling the bleach strength, and I would've liked more variation.

I have two more ready to sew, as I didn't want to waste the washer space while bleaching them. Also, I'm still figuring out how to get ALL the bleach smell out... tried rinsing in vinegar, but it may just take time.

Meanwhile, the denim's almost gone, so it's time to turn to other fabric anyhow.

And I thought I wouldn't have much to post about today!

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Welcome, Spring

The weather's been so beautiful these past couple days. As someone recently told me, "It's too nice out to be sick!"

I agree, but I still haven't shaken this darned cold. In fact, I'm missing out on a friend's birthday party tonight. To console myself, I made some no-bake cookies.

My batch doesn't look very pretty, that's for sure :)

I found these over at Nutmeg Nanny. They are delicious and very easy. I'd never made this type of cookie before. They taste like peanut butter fudge, and I must say I didn't wait for them to cool before sampling one or two...

In other springtime news, the strawberry plants I thought I'd killed with neglect are loving their new pot. In fact, they started blooming again!

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Sunny Apron

Yesterday was a friend's bridal shower, so I decided to make her a cute little apron.

I used McCalls 5997 Pattern view A, and modified the pockets, added trim to them and eliminated the rick-rack on top. I also extended the ties and attached them just like a waistband.

I think view C on that pattern could also be very cute.