Get Krafty with Kreation Krate!

I love to be crafty.

But sometimes the figuring out what you need for your craft and the gathering/purchasing all of the supplies gets in the way of the actually completing a single craft from start to finish.

I can’t be the only one that has half finished projects everywhere…right?

But if you had everything at your fingertips to create a fun craft every month–and the supplies and directions showed up like magic on your doorstep?

Well, that would be Kreation Krate.

Everything you need to make your craft: supplies, directions, and cuteness…it all shows up at your door ready to be created. Start to finish.

Another great thing about Kreation Krate, and maybe my favorite part, is that it also includes a “kind craft”. Something that you make to give to others. Sometimes for a specific charity, or just to pass on to someone that will enjoy it. I love that.

When my package arrived, I couldn’t wait to open it.

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Craft Supplies!

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Oh, the cuteness!

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This kit had everything I needed to make little potted herb pots plus a kind craft of wildflower seeds to share. So fun.

I took my box outside to get started. Anya was so excited to help and I loved that there were a lot of jobs she could do with me.

The kit included detailed, easy instructions and everything in the box was very clear and organized.

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The first step was to take these adorable little pots:

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And spray them with this chalkboard paint:

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I’ve never used chalkboard paint before and I was pretty excited to try it out!

I set up a cardboard box in the yard as my workstation:

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While they dried, Anya helped me get the dirt pellets ready for the seeds.

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Then we made the kindness craft by taking the wildflower seeds and instructions and wrapping them in the burlap. Then we tied them with the twine. Super easy and super cute.

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I’m letting Anya help me decide who we’ll give them to. I think she has some friends in mind. They will love it and she will love handing them out!

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When our pots were dry, we added the clouds with the white paint and stencils.

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And then we added the seeds and labeled the pots with chalk.

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Here are the little pots, finished, and sitting on my kitchen window sill.

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I love them.

And I loved that this craft was ready-to-be made with everything needed. It was a quick, fun, weekend project for me and Anya and we had so much fun with it!

I am going to have to recommend that you go here: www.kreationkrate.com to check it out yourself. You’re probably going to want to sign right up.

You can also check them out on Facebook.

Happy Crafting!

Fixing Forever Broken: a Book Review

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About the book: Abby Stafford, a rookie writer for an architectural magazine, believes she has everything shes ever wanted. When she stops by her parents beautiful Victorian home to tell them of her engagement to Michael Thiesan, she makes a grisly discovery. Her father, Erik Stafford, an esteemed and prominent lawyer, is hanging in the attic. His mysterious suicide and her mothers unexplained absence catapults Abbys life into chaos. The traumatic event not only leaves her temporarily colorblind, a transient condition that haunts her for months to come, but also unlocks devastating childhood memories. All of her personal relationships threaten to crumble after she learns the truth behind her fathers suicide and discovers that shes been betrayed by those she loves most.

My Thoughts: I finished this book in just a few days! It really kept me wanting to know more. I loved the flashbacks and the way the story evolves through the jumps in the main character’s timeline. I thought that was a great way to build the tension with the plot and get to know the characters better. You want to know more from the very beginning and the more you read, the more you want to keep reading to unravel what happened.  I found the characters to be believable and likeable. You care about them and you care about what happens. It was another excellent book by the talented Tamara Lyon and I would definitely recommend it.

Have you read it yet?

You can find Fixing Forever Broken on Amazon HERE

If you’ve read it, leave you thoughts/comments here. I’d love to hear what you thought!

And go to Tamara Lyon’s website, www.tamaralyon.com for more!

 

Artwork: New Paintings

I painted today! Its been a while and wow, did it feel so good to get lost into the canvas for a few hours. Painting is lovely therapy. This is what I came up with:

This orangy swirl…

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became Birds at Sunset:

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Its still so difficult for me to do branches. I know this is still the basics for painters and I am just a beginner. So, I’ll have to keep practicing my trees!

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This painting feels sad to me. Maybe its the black and the soft yellow. Maybe its the bare branches. Not sure. The trees aren’t quite how I imagined them, but I’ll keep trying! The tiny birds make me happy 🙂

Here’s my Midnight Owl:

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Not as whimsical and cartoonish as I’d planned. Its very much my style though. I like the specks around the eyes the best.

Owls are such fun to paint.

January Kitchen Creations 2014

I thought it would be fun to share a few of the most recent recipes and fun foods I’ve made lately. Here’s what I’ve been up to in the kitchen:

This first recipe is one that I made a while back, but I need to make it a regular in my fridge. When I make a jar of these pickles, they don’t last long!

The recipe is for pickled kale stalks and can be found HERE. When I make it, I use baby bell peppers instead of spicy peppers to make it kid-friendly. And we all eat up the kale stalks! Who knew kale stalks could be so good?

I’ve also substituted beet stalks for the kale once and they came out great! I’m planning on trying it on the rainbow chard stalks currently in my fridge…

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This Spicy Tomato Kale Soup is fantastic. Food Babe is a great site for recipes and has great information on healthy eating. I used kidney beans and it still came out great! Recipe can be found HERE.

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Yummy with a little hot sauce on top!

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I made my first Cauliflower “Rice”! You take the cauliflower and (in batches) chop in a food processor/blender until its rice-sized before you cook it.  Recipe HERE. Paleo Mom is one of my favorite food blogs!

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Here it is finished. I made it with a Fillet Almondine….recipe from a friend (Thanks, Amy!!) and wow. It was amazing! I used cod and it still came out fantastically. Recipe for the fish HERE.  And roasted carrots are always delicious!

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Oooh, this was a fun one too. Just look at those colors! Shredded carrot and green onions are gorgeous.

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I made Carrot Scallion Latkes from Elana’s Pantry (another great recipe site!) They were so good that I made them 2 days in a row!

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(did you notice the beautiful plate? Keep an eye out for others in future posts! My husband is the sweetest 🙂 )

And here’s a pic of one of the pizzas I made this week. Yes, I made pizza twice this week! I think I’m on a pizza kick. No recipe link for this one.  But I had to share anyway. YUM. Cheesy.

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Aaaand, last but definitely not least, a Rainbow Chard Frittata with Parmesan and Sun Dried Tomatoes. I made this for breakfast yesterday and it was so good, you don’t even notice its vegetarian! It must be the Parmesan that makes it so amazing. My 4 year old even gobbled it up and she doesn’t normally eat eggs. The recipe is from Shay Elliot’s cookbook, From Scratch. You can find it HERE.

The Elliott Homestead is my current favorite blog. Its just so fun!

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I am really recipe obsessed and since I love making new recipes all the time (and taking pictures of them on my new beautiful plates!) I’d like to share them with you here and there.

These recipes are definitely worth making. If you give one of them a try, let me know what you think!

-Jessi

Recipe: No-Knead Bran Bread

Happy 2014!

Over the holiday break I did a little baking from my Mimi’s Notebook, but it’s taken me this long to pull my photos together and finally get it posted!

As I hinted to in my previous recipe post, this new recipe provided a new challenge, as you can see…

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Did you catch the problem?

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There seemed to be a little something missing from this recipe…like some of the instructions. But I knew I could make do and figure it out. It seemed to be pretty straight forward otherwise. Anyway, it was worth a shot!

It seemed like a few of the ingredients just needed to be combined and then left to soak for a couple of minutes. I could do that.  So first I called over my lovely assistant to help me out.

She was very excited. Especially because she got to wear her new (big girl, 4-year-old!) apron that I made her for her birthday! Yes, she’s *officially* old enough to help her mama out in the kitchen. That’s cause for celebration!

So my big girl helper added the ingredients to the bowl, including: the dried milk, the salt, the yeast, the sugar and the cereal (I just used a generic brand of bran cereal). The other ingredients are mentioned later, so I assumed that list was all that was missing from the recipe.

She poured them each into the bowl, making a smiley face of course.

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She also sampled the cereal

and gave it a thumbs up.

The recipe says to use warm water between 105 and 115 degrees. That seemed crazy specific to me, but I microwaved my water and and found my candy thermometer to figure out the exact temperature.

Then I mixed the water into the dry ingredients. This was a challenge because it meant saying goodbye to the smiley face…and someone was less than thrilled about that happening.

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But using the smiley face spoon helped.

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Then we had this:

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Mmmm. Looked like a big ‘ol bowl of cereal.

While we let that sit I worked on softening my butter (because margarine is gross).

Does this kind of off-kilter wrapper bug anyone else??

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Then I reached for my “room temperature egg”. The problem was that I never pulled it out to be room-temperature and all I had was this refrigerator temperature egg. I did my best to warm it up with my hands for a minute. Not the same, but it would have to do because my cereal was good and soggy and waiting.

Anya added the egg:

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(Technically, she poked her finger in the egg, then declared herself done with cooking for the day.)

I continued on.

I added half the flour,

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and beat for 2 minutes.  Then I incorporated the rest of the flour. I did end up adding the 1/2 cup of flour more to get my dough.

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I covered with a towel and let it sit for an hour.

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Then I molded into a loaf-shape inside a sprayed casserole dish (since I didn’t have a big loaf pan).

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It worked.

And I was glad that I didn’t try to squeeze it into a smaller pan. This is a beast of a bread!

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Here it is all sliced up and lovely.

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I don’t know why this photo is so yellow. It’s just the lighting. The bread was regular looking, honest!

So my conclusion? This no-knead bran bread isn’t something I would have normally made. I would have never thought to put cereal into bread for one thing! But in the end, this bread was pretty darn delicious. We all enjoyed eating it up.

And Anya and I really enjoyed baking together.

If you give it a try, let me know how it comes out for you!

Happy New(ish) Year! I’ll have another fun recipe coming soon(ish)!

Cane’s Justice: A Book Review

I recently read “Cane’s Justice” by Tamara Lyon, the sequel to “The Ugly Tree” which I reviewed last month, and wanted to share my thoughts.

canesjusticenewAbout the book: “In this sequel to the award-winning The Ugly Tree, Cane has always known that the handsome and sweet Justice Price, was the one. So, when he pops the question and offers her everything she’s ever wanted and more, she readily accepts. But, when Cane learns a secret about Justice she panics, insists she needs some time to think things through and leaves for the summer, breaking Justice s heart and her own.

Now in Colorado and living with her college roommate, a successful business woman who owns two companies, Cane takes a position for Caprice as both a maid and marketing co-chair with Caprice’s musician cousin, Nikeo. It isn’t long before he and Cane develop an adversarial friendship wrought with sexual tension that leaves them both on edge.

Though her heart still belongs to Justice, Cane can’t deny her attraction to Nikeo. While she’s trapped in a love triangle of her own making, Cane discovers that Justice may be in love with someone else. Will she find her happily ever after with Nikeo or Justice? Or will she lose them both?”

My thoughts: I enjoyed reading about Cane even more so in this book than the first one. It was fun to read about her as an adult and I think that Tamara Lyon did a great job of making Cane’s character stay true to who she was while also adding some maturity to her. It was still Cane, but a few years older.

I really liked the flip side to the romance in this book. In the Ugly Tree, Cane was pursuing Justice despite the age difference between the two and being with him was all that she thought she ever wanted. In Cane’s Justice, the dynamic has shifted and even though she’s given everything she thought she wanted, she’s suddenly questioning everything about her life and her relationship with Justice. I think her fleeing to figure things out was very realistic and I enjoyed the interactions between the new characters–the roommates and especially the tempting new love interest. The maid service clients were fun characters as well. Overall, I thought it was a great sequel to the first book and I’m looking forward to reading the next Tamara Lyon book on my to-read list, “Fixing Forever Broken” soon.

Recipe: Anadama Bread

New Recipe! I have to admit I put off trying this one for a while. Yes, I’ve been busy, but really it’s because this is another bread recipe and the last bread recipe didn’t go so well.

Plus, like that last recipe, this one doesn’t come with a baking temperature or length of cooking time. So I was wary to try it.

While I worked up my courage to tackle this, I did a little research and got some tips from friends and various sites. Mostly, I was told to follow my nose: check and turn the bread, cover it, adjust, rotate, etc.  It was also brought to my attention (thanks to Adam over at Recipe Road Show) that not long ago, people were using wood burning stoves and therefore the temperature varied day by day. And I realized just how spoiled I really am. Modernly spoiled. Because I was so sure I needed an exact temperature and time to cook my bread, but the truth is that the magic of punching in the desired temperature and having the oven become that exact temperature a few minutes later is such a new concept. Not long ago, you had to build a fire to cook your bread and you worked with whatever temperature you ended up with. You used your nose. You checked it and turned it, covered it, adjusted, rotated. You learned to bake bread by practicing.

So there was nothing for me to do but jump right in and it was time for me to try.  I waited until Thanksgiving break when I would have some extra time.

And then I waited until Sunday night.

Not because I flopped the last recipe and I thought this recipe would have to go perfectly because of that….because I know that this is really about the journey and that if this recipe flopped like the last, it would be okay because that doesn’t really mean anything. And it would still be fun. It would still be an adventure in baking.

But still. I wanted it to work.

So Sunday night I pulled out my lovely binder–the one that makes my heart glow just by holding it–and I opened it to the next recipe–the one I’ve been eying for a while now. It’s a recipe for Anadama Bread.

I’ve never heard of Anadama bread, have you?

It’s made with cornmeal…and a bit of molasses. Not as much molasses as the Swedish Yeast Bread though, and I hoped that the result would be subtle and not an overpowering molasses taste because we weren’t huge fans of that last time.

The recipe:

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I got to work by pulling out the cornmeal:

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(Found this bag at King Soopers–GMO free!)

And boiling some water:

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This is what it looks like when you add boiling water to cornmeal:

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Fun.

I let that sit for 2 minutes. Then I added the oil, molasses and salt (2 tsp!)

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I measured out my yeast and dissolved into the lukewarm water. Then I had an assistant help me with the egg. Because she loves to do this job. No really… she came RUNNING when I asked her if she wanted to crack the egg 🙂

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As I reached for my flour, I was reminded of my grandmother’s tip for measuring (as I always am when I bake). Never use the measuring cup to scoop flour if you want an accurate measure. You can end up with as much as 1/4 cup more with the way because it compacts the flour. Instead, use a spoon to scoop it into the cup, then use a knife to level the top.

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When I mixed it all together and had this:

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At this point, it says to beat for 1 minute. But….I didn’t think that my hand beaters would be able to handle a job like that. I’m not sure if I have what I’m supposed to have right now, but using my beaters on that dough didn’t seem like a good move.

So I hand kneaded for about a minute and it got STICKY.

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Hmmm…was this what “batter bread” was supposed to look like? Undeterred, I covered it with a dish towel and put it on the counter to rise.

I wasn’t sure how long I was supposed to let it sit there, but my hunch was an hour or so. I made the family dinner, ate, cleaned it up, then uncovered the dough.

It hadn’t risen very much, but I shrugged my shoulders and put it a sprayed casserole dish and turned to preheat the oven.

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I figured I’d set it lower than last time to allow it to cook ALL the way through. I set it for 350 and once it was preheated I popped it in.

I set my timer for 25 minutes as a checking point.

At 25 minutes, I pulled it back out and the bread looked pretty done….at least on the outside.

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But I’d learned my lesson and this time, I diligently checked it with a tooth pick. It came out mostly dry, but mostly is not good enough.

So I put it back in and set the timer for 10 more minutes.

And then I checked it again.

This time the toothpick was clean…but how much can a toothpick really tell you when its only a couple inches tall? The bread was much taller than a couple of inches. So that meant that the middle of the bread wasn’t being checked at all. What do people do in this situation?  I started opening drawers for something else to use…a skewer, perhaps?

A chopstick!

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The chopstick told me the bread was in fact, not done. So back in the oven it went for another 10 minutes.

When that timer went off, this time, the chopstick said the bread was done and I was satisfied.

I may have let it sit for a few minutes in the dish, but I was pretty impatient to get it out of there.

I set it on this oven rack to let it cool for a while.

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Finally, once it was cool, I crossed my fingers and cut it open.

Aaaaaannnnd….it was baked all the way through! Hoooraaaaay!

Taste Verdict: It was dense and kind of sweet….a little like cornbread. Mike and I thought it still tasted like molasses, which is (for us)  a negative. BUT I loved the subtle crunch of the cornmeal. Anya was super excited to try it too. She took one bite and said Mmmmm…..yuck. And her bite went in the trash. I guess even a little molasses flavor isn’t for her either.

I think at some point, I’d love to try to change this recipe up a bit. Maybe add some more whole grains and replace the molasses with honey? Would it still be Anadama Bread? I have no idea. I’m not sure I could pull off big substitutions given my limited bread baking abilities. Still, its tempting to try it. Perhaps a challenge for another day.

In the end, I’m really happy that I took on the challenge of another bread recipe with no baking instructions. It was fun and I feel like I got a little baking experience out of making this bread.

Plus I learned that chopsticks work great for checking done-ness!

I’m still figuring out how this whole bread-baking-without-specific-directions thing works. I don’t know what Mimi’s go-to bread baking process was, but I’m sure she had one.

I didn’t get a chance to find out what worked for her. But it looks like I was able to muddle through and figure it out…at least this time!

Hopefully my luck holds out for the next recipe because…yep! Another bread recipe is coming up next. So don’t forget to check back soon because there’s an extra challenge with that one…

Oh, and I also finished reading the sequel to The Ugly Tree so keep an eye out for my book review.

Till then, stay warm!

The Ugly Tree: A Book Review

I’d like to take a pause from cooking for a moment to tell you all about a book I recently read: “The Ugly Tree” by Tamara Lyon.

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About the book: “Considering Cane Kallevik’s rocky start, her life has been normal under the watchful eye of Grandma Betty. When shes not running five miles at a crack, shes riding her bike around the rural farming town of Savage, Illinois and engaging in a secret warfare with her former best friend, Mikayla Atwood. The biggest thorn in her side is Jenny Ryanne Schaeffer, her employer, who Cane has nicknamed Jelly Roll. When Justice Price, Jelly Rolls gorgeous, older nephew rolls into town, Cane is convinced that their age difference is a minor inconvenience. After a disasterous tornado, Cane’s house is destroyed, and Grandma Betty is in a coma. Out of necessity, Cane moves in with the Schaeffer family and spends the summer falling in love with Justice, keeping vigil at Grandma Bettys side, fighting with Jelly Roll, walking a fine line between love and hate with Mikayla, and discovering scandalous secrets about Mikaylas mother, Annette. Cane endures a summer of waiting, loving, and longing. In a dramatic conclusion her world literally goes up in flames, but instead of losing everything, she finds exactly what shes looking for in the most unexpected way.”

My thoughts: I really enjoyed reading this book. I thought that Tamara Lyon did a beautiful job of writing the scenes in a way that makes the reader feel present and part of what was happening. It was entertaining and kept me reading to find out how everything would work out in the end.

I found the main character, Cane, to be spunky and believable. She has a lot of hardships to deal with and is a bit of a loner with an unconventional family life since she lives with just her loveable grandmother. It was entertaining to read about her battles with her ex-best friend and when life got serious I found myself really wanting things to work out well for her and her grandmother. The romantic plot line was especially unique because of the age difference and I’m looking forward to seeing what happens with that in the sequel, Cane’s Justice.

This was a book that didn’t take me much time to read since it was pretty hard to put down and I’m looking forward to starting the sequel soon!

The Recipe Blogging Adventure Begins

I am so excited to share with you my journey as I go through these fun old recipes. First, I want to show you the binder that I am so very excited about. You know the one, Mimi’s binder. It’s just one of many that she put together over the years. But it is very special to me. This one:

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Ok, sure. It may not look like much from the outside. But these pages are filled with recipes from the past. Clipped and hand written with love and care.

I looked through and admired these recipes when Mimi gave me this binder on our last visit to see her, but I haven’t actually made any of the recipes until recently. Why not? I guess because I always get so swept away with all of the millions of recipes out there on the internet, I forget about the recipes I have at my house. I get obsessive sometimes in my search for recipes and with all of the food blogs that I follow on facebook alone, I’m kept busy making new things day after day. There is no way to keep up. I love finding recipes that are healthy, easy, delicious, new and exciting. I get overwhelmed by them all. (If you don’t believe me, check my Pinterest boards!)  I love to find new recipes to make and have a few binders that are overflowing with printed recipes that I come across. (Yes, I have recipe binders of my own, but they’re not nearly as organized as my Mimi’s!)

So this binder was placed on my cookbook shelves along with my many other cookbooks that I have been neglecting. When I recently found myself going through it’s pages once again, I just couldn’t wait to get started.

I’m sure I will skip around here and there, but if you know me, you may know that I can be a little OCD with the way I do things. (Or CDO–alphabetical, as the joke goes) So, I’ll probably go through these mostly front to back, one recipe at at time. Unless something comes up where I need to make something specific. Does that mean that I will be making variations of corn pudding for months on end? Perhaps. But I’ll burn that bridge when I come to it. (By the way, what exactly is corn pudding??)

So the first recipe in the binder is for Swedish Yeast Bread. (Side note…I did make a couple of recipes from the middle before I decided to go on this recipe blogging adventure, and after some deliberation, I decided I’d skip talking about those for now and come back to them later. But just a heads up, when we get to the Heavenly Cake Brownies…its safe to get excited.)

But back to the making of Swedish Yeast Bread.

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Looks great, right? I think it does. It’s one of my favorite kinds of recipes from the binder: handwritten. This was a recipe that looked good enough to Mimi for her to take the time to write it out in order to save it. Where did it come from? Who knows. That’s a mystery I will never solve. All I know is that at some point, it caught Mimi’s eye and she decided to save it.

So there it is. But there were two very significant problems with this recipe when I got ready to tackle it.  There is no temperature listed for me to preheat the oven. No baking temperature at all. Plus, no baking time. What does it mean? Is this common knowledge somehow? I haven’t done enough bread baking to know if there is a “default” temperature or baking time for bread. (Does anyone know?) Am I missing something? Because it seems like baking times/temps would vary a lot depending on what you’re making.

I tried to flip the recipe over (many of Mimi’s recipes are glued in such a way that you can see the back for the rest of the recipe. But this is not one of those flip-able recipes. The other side of this recipe is glued solid to the paper. So what to do?

Well, I probably should have stopped right there and taken a second to look it up. But I thought…eh, I’ll guess. Maybe not the wisest move…but hindsight is 20/20, right?

The recipe itself (aside from the missing baking info) was easy to follow. Another reason I love this recipe is because it follows the classic Mimi structure with brackets for groups of ingredients. This is a smart way of writing the ingredients and what needs to be done with those ingredients without having to write them out twice (as appose to writing the ingredient list at the top, then listing them again with what to do… having to later say “combine the flour, sugar, salt and baking soda. Then cream together brown sugar, butter, and eggs”) Much more efficient if you’re writing something out long hand. Plus it takes up less space.

BUT, this way is not always as clear up front about what you need. You have to read the entire recipe beforehand to make sure you have all the ingredients before you get started. Okay, so that’s a good rule of thumb anyway. You should always read through the whole recipe before you start cooking, right? Right? Of coooourse I always do that. (Ahem.) So then I never get caught mid-recipe and realize that I don’t have all the ingredients…because that would be ridiculous.

Anyway, back to the task at hand. First, yeast. I had to look up how much yeast is actually in a package of yeast because this is what I usually use.

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That’s a big ol’ bag of yeast I keep in the freezer to portion out as needed. Works great (you can find a lb of yeast on Amazon and it will last you forever. It will last even longer if you barely use it.)

So, okay, yeast in warm water….check. And then buttermilk…except I don’t have buttermilk. But not a problem. Did you know you can make buttermilk yourself at home with just two easy ingredients?

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1 Tbs of vinegar per cup of milk (minus a Tbs) So put in the Tbs of vinegar then fill the rest of the cup with milk. Warm and stir and you have buttermilk. Tada! There’s your nifty cooking tip of the day. It does come in handy.

So okay, buttermilk, check. Then you have something like this….mmmm. Delicious-looking, am I right? Be patient! It gets better, I promise.

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I used my high-powered blender to make some wheat flour.  I know. Stop right there and call me crazy. But I love it! I’m a from-scratch girl at heart. It just feels good to me to cook this way. Even though its NUTS sometimes. I don’t always cook from scratch and I don’t always make my own flour. But in this case, I was out. So, there you go.

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So I did that a few times…one cup of wheat berries plus one minute in the blender = a little over a cup of flour.

And combine, combine, mix well…

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then….hold on. Knead? for 5 to 8 minutes? By hand?

Luckily it wasn’t as bad as it sounded because I kneaded that dough right there in that big bowl, but I’m sure it was just barely 5 minutes when I gave up. But look! It’s beautiful! It looks like bread dough! This was definitely going to work.

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I shaped it onto a bread loaf and I let it rise. And then it looked like this:

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I thought I had this bread baking thing down no problem. All I had to do was bake it.

I preheated the oven to, I don’t remember, maybe 400? And I think I set the timer for 25 min.

Except when I checked on it around 15 min, it looked completely beautifully done. Crisp and crusty and perfectly baked. So I took it out and brushed it with butter.

It was gorgeous. No, really. Look at this bread!

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And the house smelled soooo good.

I was feeling pretty pleased with myself about right now. Who needs baking instructions? There was no need to look up that magic “default” temp and time up after all! Why bother when you can just guess and have it work out?

Except.

Sloooowly that perfectly baked bread of mine began to sink. And so did my confidence about the thing.

The more it sat. The more deflated it got.

And then, when I did cut into it…

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Yep. Sad, sad day. That thing was FLAT. But not only flat, it was RAW in the middle. Not a beautifully successful bread baking day after all.

But I’d put a lot of effort into this bread and I was determined to salvage some of it. I cut out the raw bits. Or, since the raw part was practically the majority, I cut the done parts off. The outers. It didn’t have an egg or anything in it, so I figured it couldn’t be that bad.  Soon I had two piles. Sigh.

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This is what I was left with in the end:

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I would have tried this recipe again, no question. I would have looked up the best temperature to try. I would have done a better job of making sure it was really, really done. Except, the thing was, we didn’t think it tasted that great. I mean, it was okaaaaay, but I don’t think I particularly love the taste of molasses to be honest. I think that’s the problem.

So…

I think we’ll call this recipe done.

A flop? Perhaps.

Okay, yes, it was a flop. But that’s okay with me. That’s not the point. Not every recipe has to be the best recipe ever.  After all, Mimi may not have even made this one. All I know was that she’d saved it to try one day. Maybe she meant to and didn’t have a chance. (I’m pretty sure she had WAAAAY too many recipes to make them all. I kind of know what that’s like.)  So if she didn’t ever get a chance to make it? Well, I got to make it for her. I got a chance to try it out. And, yeah, maybe this wasn’t the best bread recipe ever (although if I’d figured out the secret to baking time and temp, that probably would had a better result.)

But that’s okay. Its not the food, its not even the recipes. It’s the adventure.

I’m happy I got a chance to make this. In the end, I learned a few things, had a few laughs and tried something new. What more can you ask for?

By the way, though, the next recipe is also for bread and doesn’t have a baking temp or length of time to bake it either. So if any experienced bakers out there have any tips….it might make the next recipe venture just a little bit easier!

Till next time! Thanks for reading and happy baking 🙂

Meet Mimi

I want to tell you all about my love for recipes. But first things first, I have to tell you about where that passion for cooking and love of recipes came from. And so, I would like you all to meet my amazing, sweet, inspirational and all around wonderful grandmother, Mimi.

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I wish you could have met her. She was truly was amazing.

Here’s the background. Unfortunately, I didn’t get to know my grandmother very much growing up, but I did get to know her as an adult. I took a road trip across the country with my husband to visit her and my Pepere while I was  7 weeks pregnant with my daughter. They still lived together in the house my mother grew up in–a charming New England home that I will always love.

Mimi was always so caring and thoughtful. I’m tearing up as I fumble for the words to explain and coming up short. The things she collected in her basement “Mimi Mart”–clothing, craft items, odds and ends from her years of garage sale perusing–she took a great pride in finding something that had a small thing wrong that could easily be fixed–a tiny stain, a wash and good as new. There was nothing you couldn’t find in her Mimi Mart.

But the thing that Mimi never could get enough of was recipes. I think she must have been collecting recipes her whole life. Her house was full of them. recipes cut out from magazines.  Handwritten recipes. Binders and binders of recipes that she lovingly glued onto pages. And cookbooks galore.

I was able to visit with my Mimi twice more since Anya was born. My greatest comfort comes in knowing that they were able to meet. That Mimi held Anya. That I have a few pictures of the two of them that I can share with Anya when she’s older.

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Mimi is gone. Its hard for me to grasp. I used to call her and we’d talk about Anya and being a Mom. About how much fun it is to sit and play with a baby. To hear stories about when her children were young (she raised 5 on her own until she met my Pepere) I cherished those calls. those conversations. I still have trouble understanding that I can’t just pick up the phone and talk with her again whenever I’d like.

But enough of the sad. Because that’s not why I’m telling you this story of my Mimi. I’m telling you about her because I have a lot of things that I cherish from when she was here. On one of our visits, Mimi gave me her precious rolling pin. The one her mother used. The one that would get too close to the fire and has the scorch marks to prove it. I have the memories of cooking with her in her kitchen. Of having her teach me how to make my very first pie. Of how to make her specialty pie crust (that I’ve made again and again with her rolling pin!)

I have memories to hold onto. And Mimi gave me something else that I will always be grateful for. A love of cooking and a passion for recipe collecting!

On my last visit to Mimi’s house, she gave me one of her many notebooks filled with recipes glued onto pages with love. Some are cut from magazines, some are handwritten. All were chosen and saved by my Mimi,

After she was gone I came across this notebook filled with love. And I wanted nothing more than to make each and every recipe inside.

That’s what I plan to do. I don’t know how long it will take me. I don’t know if it can be done! But that’s what I’m setting out to do.

And I want to share this with you. Because its too wonderful not to.

I hope you enjoy the ride.

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