Sunday, January 29, 2012

Baking Bread 101

        What a DeLIGHTful day we had yesterday.  Wendy and I went over to my Mom's place to bake bread.  Mom and I used to do this regularly years ago but haven't done it for oh such a long time.  Wendy had never baked bread with us as a grownup.  So off we went.  Mom already had her bread mixed and baked by the time we arrived so as we would all not to be too crowded in the kitchen and oven.  She baked a basic white bread.

Wendy decided to mix up a Peasant Bread recipe
and shape it into "Boules".   Just a  fancy
bread term for round bread loaves.  

And it is rising up so pretty!

         And while those were rising, I mixed up a batch of what I call "Birdseed Bread".  A mixture of whole grain Spelt and white flours with Sunflower, Sesame, Poppy, Flax and whatever other seeds I happen to have on hand.  I formed mine into traditional loaves.  And now we wait while it rises.

Meanwhile, Wendy's bread is baking up
most beautifully in the oven and comes out
round and golden and very tasty!!

Soon to be followed by my Birdseed Loaves.

       Of course we sampled all and decided we liked the Peasant Bread the best.  It's texture and flavor made it a definite recipe to keep.  Mom's white bread was okay but not as good in taste and texture as the Peasant Bread.   The Birdseed Bread was good and just needs a little tweaking.  A little more honey, more spelt flour and less white flour, and dry roasted sunflower seeds as the ones that I used were probably done in oil and seemed to have a strong flavor and tasted a bit old.

       We decided we would do this on a somewhat regular basis and try different recipes each time.  Will let you know and pass on the good ones.  So here goes:

A Peasant Bread
(makes 3 small or 2 medium boules or 1 loaf)

3 to 3 1/2 cups bread flour               
4 tsp. sugar
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1 pkg. or 2 1/4 tsp. dry active yeast 
2 Tbsp. soft butter
1 1/4 cup warm water

In a bowl mix together 1 cup of flour, sugar, salt and yeast.  Blend in the soft butter until well mixed.  Gradually stir in the water mixing well.  Add another cup of flour and continue mixing well.  Stir in the remainder of the flour to form a soft dough.  Cover and let rest for 45 minutes.  With floured hands punch down dough and shape into boules or loaves and put on a greased cookie sheet or into greased loaf pans.  Cover, again, and let raise.  You can make cuts in the tops with a sharp knife if desired.  Bake at 375F for 20-30 minutes depending on the size of the loaves or boules that you make.  Turn out on to a rack and cool.

Friday, January 27, 2012

The Artisans' Guild

       I worked a shift at the Artisans' Guild last Monday.  I have been a member there since the spring of 1991 and it has been in existence for over 40 years.  It is one of the oldest Art Co-ops in the country. 

       There 55 local artists exhibiting there and all within a 25 mile radius of Gainesville.  Everything in the gallery is locally made.  There is so much talent displayed there.

       And so many different mediums.  Paintings, pottery, jewelry, wood turning, leather crafting, quilting, fiber arts, silk painting, just to name a few.

       It is such a lovely space.  If you are ever in Gainesville, Florida, it is a place not to be missed.  It is located in old downtown district with much to see and do around it.

        And then today is a special day as well.  It is my dad's birthday.  He would have been 88 today.  I bid him a happy day and I know he heard me.  Such a lovie.  Here he is with my niece, Jessica, a few years ago.

        And I think that's it for today.  My warm ol' waterbed is calling me on this chilly night.  Tomorrow we bake bread.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Sweetgum Pods and Such

         My Gosh!, it's been ten days since I posted.  It has been a busy ten days I'll tell you.  I've been printing and matting for an order I received from a shop in Saint Augustine.  What a nice surprise after a long dry spell of limited orders.  Also, printing and putting together my books to take into the Artisans' Guild and for sale on Etsy. 

       It rained a couple of days ago and we really needed it.  The woods are wet again with the nice soaking we received.  The rain and wind did knock down all the Sweetgum pods from the big tree in the back yard.  They are killers for bare feet!  But they are so neat that I wish I could find something to do with them.

Do you see all those prickly little pods hiding amid the leaves?

And a pretty red maple leaf amongst the oak, ash
and sweetgum pods and  leaves.

This is what they look like up close. 
Hard, prickly little buggers they are, all right!

But they are really neat.  Any suggestions on a way to use them?  Maybe some craft project will come about.

The "Hunter Extraordinaire" has spied a lizard me thinks. 
She hunts the entire time that we are out for a walk. 
She loves it when something runs away from her 
'cause, ooh, she just wants to chase it so bad!!

       Went down to Wendy's for supper last night and some delish BBQ pork with some broccoli and whole kernel corn.  Went down real easy with a rum drink she mixed up.  She is changing the look of her little place and it sure is cute.  Will have to take some pictures to show you.  So far, she likes her new job even though the training has been a little trying.  But a steady paycheck will be very nice for her after the ups and downs of the cafe.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

A Bag of Many Colors

       I have a favorite blog that I have been following for awhile.  A delightful woman who lives in England.  She has me crocheting again, inspired by her tutorials and colorful hooky treasures.  Beautiful blankets and buntings as well as fabulous pictures of the countryside.  You can check out her  beautiful blog here.   This is a bag she created and was so kind to share a great tutorial with pictures on the makings of it.  You can see the tutorial here.

       Oh, I just loved all the bright colors so I just had to have a go at one for myself.  I ordered some cotton yarn and I am giving it a try.  The colors I have are not as pretty or as vibrant as the ones she has but they will have to do.  It's all that is available here in the U.S.  There is so much more available colorwise in England.  I have perused their shops online.  Ooodles more colors available.   But shipping is a wee bit more than I fancy to pay.  But here is a peek at mine in progress.  Mine is not quite as big but adequate I think.

        Will show you more as we go along.  (You see my little partner there?  She is always close at hand.)  I took her out for a run and the sky was such a beautiful blue for just a short little while.  We were to have clouds and rain today.  And we did have enough rain to wet everything quite well later on.


        Then it is back to work.  Printing Totem Animal and Spirit Teacher books to be taken to the Artisans' Guild.  Also, received a wonderful order of 27 pieces off my etsy site a couple of days ago.  So I will be busy getting that together to ship to a shop in St. Augustine.  I hope this is a sign of better financial times to come.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

On The Way To Town

       Today Mom and I went into Gainesville.  I needed to order some mat board and we both had some errands to do.  When I went to pick her up I was struck by the color of the Bradford Pear trees lining the streets.  The color will only last a couple of days.  Love it.

       It has been such a delightful fall and winter so far.  Only a couple of nights down in the 20's.  So nice to not have either heat or AC running, having windows open during the days.  Anyway, back to today.  We got our errands done and had some lunch.  We splurged and brought home fresh donuts from the Donut Connection.  The sour cream ones taste like my Grandma Mart's home-made ones from my childhood days.  YummmMEEEE!  (We treat ourselves only about once a month as they could become very addicting.)  I am so grateful to still have my 86 year old mom with me.  We always have a good time together even if it is nothing more that running errands.

       And so then, I was almost back home again when I saw this huge flock of birds fly across the road.  I mean HUGE flock and they lit in this tree and the field behind it.  They would lift and fly and make turns all together as a group.  Amazing!

I have no idea what kind they are as I couldn't get close enough and didn't have any binoculars with me.  The day was very overcast and I couldn't distinguish any colors.  They just appeared black and medium sized. 
Not a big as a robin but bigger than bluebirds.

I have never seen such a big flock of any kind of birds before.  They must have been feeding on seeds or bugs and then they
would fly to the water tank for a drink.

I wonder, are they flying south or since the winter has 
been so warm are they flying back north 
to wherever home is.

 P.S.  I just realized it is my Grandpa Earl's birthday today.  He made his transition to Spirit many, many years ago.  I still miss him.  The most warm and loving man I have ever known. Happy Birthday, Grandpa.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Woods in January

       It has been absoLUTEly beautiful for January here in wonderful Old North Central Florida.  It was up to 70 degrees today!  It's a heat wave for January.  The woods are beautiful even now, with the leaves covering the ground and crunching underfoot.  See!

I like the light in this one, shining through the rusty colored dogwood leaves.

This is the ravine across the road where the deer cross the road and go in and hang out for a spell at eventide.

This is my road.  Do you see my little "road colored" dog?  She is waiting for me to catch up.

Here she is in all her bodacious selfness!  All 18 lbs. of her. (She thinks she is so VERY much bigger)

       We were out a good bit yesterday and today.  Today Wendy and I went to town.  I took some clothing and various bedding to the St. Francis House.  It is a wonderful place that feeds and gives a place for the homeless people to rest.  It is criminal, and this is just my opinion, that in a country as abundant as this one that anyone doesn't have enough to eat or a place to sleep.  Especially since so very many of these poor people have such serious mental problems.  I never thought I would see this country come to this.   Where unabashed greed would ruin an economy and nothing would be done about it but to bail them out so they could put even more in their pockets.  And then there are those that have lost jobs and homes in this economy with now bail out coming for them.  There but for the Grace of God go I ...      I am so very grateful for my surrounding woods and my warm and cozy cabin to come home to.  Thank you, Great Creator of All!!

Friday, January 6, 2012

Another Time of New Beginnings

      And so, today is January 6th also known as the "Three Kings Day" or, from Wikipedia:
"Epiphany, (Koine Greek: ἐπιφάνεια, epiphaneia, "manifestation", "striking appearance"[1]) or Theophany,[2] (Ancient Greek (ἡ) Θεοφάνεια, Τheophaneia) meaning "vision of God",[3]feast day that celebrates the revelation of God the Son as a human being in Jesus Christ. Western Christians commemorate principally (but not solely) the visitation of the Biblical Magi to the Baby Jesus, and thus Jesus' physical manifestation to the Gentiles on January 6."  A time of reflection and Epiphany. 

     A week to settle down from all the holiday festivities and think about what this new year may hold.  I am always curious as to what will be put in front of me.  And then how to respond instead of reacting to that.  With the closing of the cafe I  now have endless days to do and be as I am want to do and I glory in that.  A slower pace of life, I hope, with more time to attend to matters of the Spirit and Heart.