Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Sans oven

My oven died this week, just when I was ramping up my baking! Also, I had just checked out two bread-baking books, and purchased one from amazon.com. I am suffering from home-baked goods withdrawal...fortunately, we're redoing our kitchen pretty soon and I'll have a brand-new oven to use in April!

I had a mental breakdown last Friday. Over the last week, I started getting more and more depressed. I didn't figure it out until I finally gave myself a break by ignoring my family and holing myself up in my room for hours knitting. (Don't worry, John was watching the kids.) Stefan lost his precious second nap, which meant I lost two hours of free time to myself. Time during his first nap was going to cleaning the house. Now, I figured it out -- just let the house get dirty and keep my sanity!

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Down and dirty

One of my favorite photos of Stefan. He's too pretty to be a boy! Taken in October.

Best Belgian waffle recipe

Months ago, I kidnapped my mom's seriously underused Waring Pro Belgian waffle maker and had been on the quest for the perfect waffle -- moist interior, crisp exterior, and a little healthy, too. Recipes from my cookbooks took a lot of work and though sometimes crisp, were quite dry inside if not eaten immediately. I have adapted this recipe from one I found on the internet here. (These waffles make a great snack later in the day, especially when toting children around to museums and zoos.

Makes 4-5 large Belgian waffles (I often double this recipe for leftovers)

Ingredients

DRY
1 cup white, unbleached flour
3/4 cup whole wheat flour
3/4 cup flaxseed meal (if not available, then add 1/4 cup canola oil to wet ingredients)
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon baking powder

WET
2 eggs slightly beaten
1 cup milk (reduced or whole)
3/4 cup plain yogurt
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 stick of butter, melted

Sift together dry ingredients in large bowl with whisk. In another bowl, whisk together wet. Gently mix wet and dry until dry is just incorporated. Use 3/4 cup of batter per waffle in machine. I use the 5 or 5 1/2 setting. Using chopsticks is a great way to safely remove your waffle from the machine without scratching it. Keep warm in a 200 degree oven if not serving immediately. I often put them on a cooling rack so they don't get soggy on a plate. They taste wonderful later in the day after a toasting in the toaster oven. I often serve with maple syrup or blueberry preserves (Trader Joe's Fresh Blueberry Preserves are my favorite now).

My Paris baby growing up

Here's a favorite photo of mine of Maylin taken in October, a couple of weeks before her sixth birthday. This morning as I was about to awaken Maylin for school, I marveled at her size and beauty and lamented (just a little bit) the loss of the baby she once was.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Quick whole wheat bread (no yeast, no kneading)

The price of my favorite daily loaf is forcing me to bake my own. And I've been doing it for three days straight without kneading and without waiting for dough to rise. My entire family loves it, too. Impossible, you say? This is a recipe adapted from Mark Bittman's recipe for quick whole wheat and molasses bread. I found his quick bread delicious, but a little strong flavor-wise (too much molasses). I substituted half of the molasses with honey and it improved quite a bit. If you don't like molasses at all, substitute the entire amount of molasses with honey. Works just fine. If you leave out the cornmeal, it should be just fine, too. This bread is a little on the sweet side. If you want, you can probably cut the honey in half. Here's my version:

Quick, Easy, and Delicious Whole Wheat Bread

Ingredients

DRY:
2 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda

WET:
1/2 cup honey
1 2/3 cups buttermilk or plain yogurt

Directions

1. Heat oven to 325 degrees. Grease an 8x4 inch nonstick loaf pan with oil or butter.
2. Mix together the dry ingredients. Stir the honey into the buttermilk or yogurt in a separate bowl. Combine wet with dry ingredients. Pour into pan. Bake for 45 min. to an hour, or until a chopstick inserted into center comes out clean (when you can smell your bread, it's time to test it). Tastes wonderful with cream cheese.

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

They amaze me everyday

My kids! What wonderful treasures they are! I have been enjoying them so much. Maylin continues to make beautiful artwork and her reading skills seem to have skyrocketed after the winter break. How did she learn so many words??? She read at an average level before, but now...she's just breezing through so many books! Reading isn't frustrating for her anymore. She really enjoys it! We have been continuing the Hooked on Phonics at home, and she says they haven't really done much reading at school, but I think all the writing she's been doing at school and at home have really helped. Also, perhaps all the time I spend reading to her. We're finally done with all of the Captain Underpants chapter books (lots of bathroom humor-type stuff) and we're now starting into the Chronicles of Narnia, to my relief. Maylin looks forward to it every night.

She also requests that I make her worksheets to do -- math, reading, spelling, telling time, sequence of events...and I'm so glad she doesn't get upset or frustrated when I correct her. What a great student she is. One especially fun activity for her has been M&M math where we use M&Ms to learn addition and subtraction. She gets to eat her manipulatives afterwards!

I want to write about Stefan, but I've got to go. Little free time these days!