Spring Has Sprung

Or has it? I just don’t know.

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Last Wednesday we had some friends over, and Ian grilled hamburgers and hot dogs. It was nice and sunny.

Today I sit here typing on Lappy, surrounded by three balls of cat keeping their noses warm with their tails, my feet stuffed in my fuzzy boots to keep them toasty.

Ian and Abby planted two weeks ago. Ian has tons of new stuff, including a cactus and a rose bush he got from a customer. Abby has her Scooby Doo bucket that she dumped half a box of wildflower seeds in. They had fun, and they both have tons of sprouting.

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Wednesday Ian cut the grass for the first time this year. It was odd to see him after he finished with his shirt the same color, not drenched in sweat. But the yard looks great.

We’d only planned on having his brother and one other friend over, but his brother had company at his house when we called, so they came over as well. This was the first time we’d had more than two people here with Abby–heck, the first time we’ve had more than three in years. Guess who decided to be shy? Ian eventually talked her into giving out high-fives, but she didn’t really warm up to the new guy, although Bruce curled up in his lap like he’d known him since birth. Traitorous cat!

This week we’re going to see the Easter Bunny, and send out a nice packet of photos to my brother, whose sixteenth birthday is tomorrow. We love you, bro! My best friend’s daughter’s birthday is the next day–twelve years old. How time flies!

Last night I attempted to sew a pair of slippers for myself. I only assembled one. It was a dismal failure. I don’t think I even learned anything new from that experiment, other than don’t sew slippers.

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Today, however, I found a new tip on ruffling: increase tension instead of decreasing, and the fabric will ruffle itself! I’ve been having a heck of a time with Catching Our Rainbow’s March crafting challenge until I found that little tidbit. It is hard to pull threads to ruffle four four foot fabric strips. I spent probably half an hour to finish one by hand, and five minutes to do the other three with high tension. Sheesh!

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Let’s see, Abby and I made bacon salt and paprika crackers Tuesday night. We’ll definitely do that again! We both had a blast.

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Last night I made a beer bread with an Abita Strawberry something-or-other beer. I liked it, but Ian’s not a big fan. I guess I’ll be finding something to do with leftover beer bread this week.

And I almost forgot about the raccoon!!

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Ian caught four raccoon raiding our trash Wednesday night. He held the cats up to the window to see. Bruce and Amarillo didn’t care, but Kitten was growling and ready to fight. I don’t think she could take four raccoon, though.

Don’t forget about my giveaway!


Naan for the Sickies

Ian and Abby have been coughing, sniffling, and sneezing for about two weeks now, but I managed to stay out of it.

Until yesterday, when I woke up a little snotty. Today I just feel cruddy, but I know I’ll only feel worse if I stay in bed.

So I decided to make naan. I’d never tried it before, but ever since seeing it here last week, it’s been in the back of my mind.

Man oh man, this stuff is awesome!

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Crusty, fluffy, chewy, buttery, full of good bread flavor.

And it really wasn’t as labor-intensive as I feared it would be, although more than my two square feet of counter space would have been nice for rolling it out.

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Four fit nicely on my griddle. I think this is going to be made a lot more often. Abby will have tons of fun helping me roll them out…then we can devour them with some vegan chili while Ian’s at work.


Potato Bread

I don’t know about you, but I think potatoes, bread, and baking are all pretty darn awesome. See, I remembered that I promised something awesome today!

Tonight we’re having a peppercorn pork roast, and I had some good slightly garlicky mashed potatoes leftover. We haven’t had potato bread in a while, so here we go!

The first time I make something new, I look around until I find a recipe that sounds good. Sometimes I make it that way the first time, sometimes not. The first time I made potato bread, I used this recipe. It’s a pretty easy recipe, and I had good results with it.

I am, however, completely unable to make the same bread recipe twice. I tweak every single time. The only thing that stays the same is that I never add salt to yeast dough. I find I get a better rise without it.

The mashed potatoes I’m using were mashed with cream cheese, butter, cheddar cheese, and a little bit of Papa John’s garlic butter, because that has been lurking in the pantry for months. I love cream cheese in my mashed potatoes instead of milk, because they turn out thicker and creamier.

Now, the recipe!

  • 1 1/3 cups mashed potatoes
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1 Tbsp mayonnaise
  • 1 Tbsp honey
  • 2 Tbsp sugar
  • 2 1/4 tsp or 1 packet yeast
  • 1/2 cup warm water
  • about 5 cups flour
  • When I’m not making a sweet bread, I usually use mayo instead of eggs. Mostly because I love eggs, and we run out a lot. If this sounds absolutely disgusting to you, you can use one large egg instead.

    Combine the warm water and yeast in your measuring cup and set aside.

    In a large mixing bowl, combine the first three ingredients until well blended. Add honey and sugar, then the warm water/yeast mixture. Mix by hand or on low speed until combined.

    20120128-175811.jpgI got some shadows from my beaters, I didn’t drop anything funky in the batter, I swear.

    With your mixer on low speed, beat in about three cups of flour, 1/2 cup at a time, until the dough is barely sticky. Turn it out onto your floured countertop.

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    Knead in 1 1/2 to 2 cups of flour, until the dough is nice and smooth and warmed up by your hands.

    If you have a knead setting on your mixer, of course that’s fine, but I need the exercise since I’m not tossing hundreds of pizzas a day anymore. Gotta keep those arms defined!

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    Grease your large mixing bowl and put the dough back in it, turning it to grease the top. Cover with a towel and put it in a warm place to rise until doubled, about an hour.

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    Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured countertop and knead 4-5 times to get the bubbles out. This amount will fill two loaf pans, but I always bake potato bread in my favorite round casserole dish. If I could only have one dish to bake with, it would be this one. You can also shape it and bake it on a cookie sheet.

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    Cover with a towel and let rise again until doubled, about an hour.

    Preheat your oven to 350°. You can brush the top with melted butter, or you can use a beaten egg white for some shine. Cook for 40 minutes or until the loaf sounds hollow when tapped. Turn it out of the pan to cool, and enjoy!

    20120128-205811.jpgIf you’re like me, and everything has to be just so, leave your bread upside down on the rack. Then you have evenly spaced guidelines for slicing.

    20120128-205859.jpgMy oven cooks terribly unevenly, I have to turn everything around in the middle of cooking.

    20120128-224606.jpgI can’t wait for dinnertime!! And this is going to make awesome grilled cheese sandwiches tomorrow!!