Thursday, July 31, 2008


We've been making homemade bread for several years now. We like it so much that we rarely get desperate enough to buy bread at the store. Usually if we're running low, the thought of having to eat even the good store stuff motivates Ryan or I to find the time to make up a batch or two. I thought we'd share a few of our favorite bread recipes.

The first year that we were making bread we just made one recipe. It was 100% whole wheat. We grind our own wheat to make whole wheat flour. It's not because we're crazy. It's just that once you learn about whole grains you realize that even the whole wheat flour that you buy at the grocery store doesn't have the wheat germ in it (the most nutritious part of the grain--loaded with goodness!) So why even bother to make it if it isn't going to be nutritiously superior to that store stuff!

After a year we tried a 1/2 whole wheat: 1/2 white flour recipe and like the variety. Now we make several different kinds and keep them in the freezer. We like rotating what kind we are using. I don't know why but using oats in a bread recipe seems to make the bread softer and more like a classic white bread recipe. The Three Seed recipe is great if you like multi-grain, chunky breads. The Challah bread isn't a whole wheat recipe but makes really great dinner rolls and other "pretty bread" (we have tried it with part whole wheat and it works but isn't as silky). If it doesn't say it in the recipe we like to use dough enhancer and vital wheat gluten to help the bread texture.

100% Whole Wheat Bread

6 c liquid (potato water, plain water, or milk)
1/2 c honey or sugar
1 c powdered milk (dry)
2 Tbl yeast
1/2 c oil
1 Tbl salt
16 c whole wheat flour

Mix as you would any yeast bread recipe. If you have an electric bread mixer add enough flour until it cleans the sides of the bowl and is a soft elastic dough. If kneading by hand, stop adding flour while the dough is still somewhat sticky and knead it with oil on your hands or let it sit for an hour or so and knead it later. It should be very soft, just manageable. Resist the urge to put in too much flour or your bread will be dry and crumbly. After the dough has risen and been punched down 1 or 2 times, shape it into 4 loaves. Let it rise until not quite double in bulk. Bake at 350 for 45 minutes. Cool on wire rack and cover with a damp towel. Freeze or refrigerate. This recipe also makes delicious scones, pizza crust, pull-aparts, or breadsticks. Use whole wheat bread for poultry stuffing, croutons, French toast, sandwiches, etc.

Wheat/White Bread

7 cups wheat flour
5 ½ c hot water
2 ½ Tbl yeast

Mix in:
2/3 c honey
2/3 c oil
1 ½ Tbl salt

5-6 c white flour (until dough)

Divide and place in 5 regular loaf pans.
Raise for 40 minutes
Bake at 350° for 30 minutes
(you don't have to but we usually raise and knead down a couple times. I find it helps with texture and make the bread less crumbly).

Oat-y-licious Wheat Bread

3 Tbl Yeast
1 ½ c Oats
4 ½ c Wheat flour
4 ½ c white flour

1 1/2 Tbl Salt
4 1/2 Tbl Dry milk
6 Tbl Oil
6 Tbl Honey
3 ¾ c Water

Place warm water in a large bowl and sprinkle yeast on top. Let stand for 5 minutes. In a separate bowl, combine flours and salt and mix well. Add melted butter and sugar to yeast mixture, followed by the flour mixture. Stir to combine and place on flat surface for kneading. Knead for 5-8 minutes, until dough is elastic. Place in greased bowl, cover and let rise for 1 hour. Punch down dough and let rest for 5 minutes. Shape dough and place into a loaf pan. Cover and let rise for 1 hour, or until doubled.

Bake at 350 for 40-45 minutes. Allow to cool completely before cutting.

Three Seed Bread

1 ¼ c water
2Tbl Honey
2 Tbl Oil
2 cups White Flour
1 cup Wheat Flour
1 ½ tsp salt
1/3 c flaxseed
2 Tbl sunflower seed kernels
1 Tbl Poppy seeds
2 tsp active dry yeast

Makes 1 loaf

Add honey, yeast and warm water to a bowl and let stand 5 minutes. In a separate bowl, combine flours, salt and seeds. Once yeast mixture has proofed, add oil to liquid, then flour mixture. Mix well and turn out onto flat surface and start kneading, adding flour as needed. Knead for about 5-8 minutes. Place dough in oiled bowl and cover. Allow to rise for 45 minutes, or until double. Punch down loaf and form dough into loaf. Place in an oiled loaf pan. Allow to rise for 30 minutes, or until double. Bake at 375 for 40-45 minutes.

NUTRITIONAL INFORMATION:(One loaf yields 13 slices).One slice contains Calories 150, Calories from Fat 45, Total Fat 5g, Saturated Fat 0g, Cholesterol 0mg, Sodium 270mg, Total Carbohydrate 25g, Dietary Fiber 3g, Sugars 3g, Protein 5g.

Classic Challah Egg Bread

2 cups warm water (105 to 115 degrees)
1 1/2 tablespoons (2 packages) active dry yeast
pinch of sugar
8 to 8 1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose or bread flour
1 tablespoon salt
4 eggs
1/2 c honey

2/3 c vegetable, canola or light olive oil
1 egg beaten with 1 Tbl water for glaze
2 Tbl sesame seeds or poppyseeds for sprinkling (optional)

Step 1:Mixing the Dough
Pour 1/2 c of warm water into a small bowl. Sprinkle yeast and sugar over the surface. Stir to dissolve and let stand at room temperature until foamy, about 10 minutes.
To make by hand: place 1 1/2 cups of flour and the salt in a large bowl. Make a well in the center of the flour and add the eggs, honey, oil and remaining 1 1/2 cups water. Using a balloon or dough whisk, beat vigorously for 1 minute. Add the yeast mixture and beat vigorously for 1 minute more, or until the dough comes together. Switch to a wooden spoon when the dough clogs the whisk. Add the remaining flour, 1/2 cup at a time, until a soft, shaggy dough that just pulls away from the sides of the bowl forms.
To make in a mixer: Fit with paddle attachment. Place 1 1/2 cups flour and the salt in the bowl. Add the eggs, honey, oil, and remaining 1 1/2 cups water on low speed. When combined, beat until smooth on med-low speed, about 1 minute. Add the yeast mixture and beat on medium speed for 1 minute more. Switch to low speed and add the remaining flour, 1/3 cup at a time, until a soft shaggy dough that just clears the sides of the bowl is formed. Switch to the dough hood when the dough thickens, about 2/3 through adding the flour, and knead for 4 minutes on medium speed. The dough will make a soft ball and pull away from the sides of the bowl.
Step 2: Kneading
Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Knead until firm yet still springy, 1 minute for a machine-mixed dough and 5 to 7 minutes for a hand-mixed dough, dusting with flour 1 Tbl at a time, just enough to prevent the dough from sticking to your hands and the work surface. This dough will be very smooth, have a soft elastic quality,but never stiff, and will hold its shape.
Step 3: Rising
Place the dough ball in a greased deep container, such as a plastic rising bucket, turn once to grease the top, and cover loosely with plastic wrap. If using a mixer, you can put on the cover to let the dough rise in the bowl. Mark the container to indicate how high the dough will be when risen to double. Let rise at room temperature until double in bulk, 2 to 2 1/2 hours. Do not allow the dough to rise more than double; over risen dough has a tendency to tear, and the baked loaf will not be as fluffy as it has the potential to be. Gently deflate the dough by inserting your fist into its center, re-cover, and let rise again until double in bulk, 1 to 1 1/2 hours. In a pinch, this second rise can be skipped, but the flavor is much nicer if you can give the dough extra time.
Step 4: Shaping the Dough and the Final Rise
Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface; it will naturally deflate as you do. Lightly grease the bottom and sides of three 9 x 5 inch loaf pans or line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper to prevent sticking. Without working the dough further, divide it into 3 equal portions if using the bread pans or 2 equal portions if making free-form loaves. Further divide each portion into 3 equal sections.
Using your palms, roll each section into a fat cylinder, about 10 inches long for the pan about 10 inches long for the pan loaves and about 16 inches for free-form loaves, which are tapered at each end. Be sure these ropes are of equal size and shape. Place 3 ropes parallel to each other. Begin braiding, starting at the center rather than the ends for a more even shape. Take one of the outside ropes and lay it over the center rope, then repeat the movement from the opposite side. continue by alternating the outside ropes over the center rope. When one-half is braided, rotate the half-braid and repeat from the other end. Adjust or press the braid to make it look even. Tuck the ends under and set into a loaf pan or on a baking sheet.
Beat eggs and water glaze with a fork until foamy. Using a pastry brush, brush the tops of the loaves with some of the egg mixture. Do not let the egg glaze drip down into the sides of the pan or it will make the break stick and inhibit the rising in the oven. Refrigerate the extra glaze to use in Step 5. Cover the loaves loosely with plastic wrap and let rise at room temperature until the dough is almost double in bulk and about 1 inch over the rims of the pans, about 45 minutes. Don't over-raise.
Step 5: Baking, Cooling, Storage
About 20 minutes before baking, place the oven rack in the middle of the oven and preheat the oven to 350 (325 if using glass). Brush the surface of the loaves a second time with the egg glaze and sprinkle with the seeds, or leave plain. Bake for 40 to 45 minutes, or until the loaves are deep golden brown, the sides have slightly shrunk away from the plan, and the bread sounds hollow when tapped on the top or bottom with your finger. The larger free-form loaves can bake and additional 5 to 10 minutes. Immediately remove the loaves from the pans and transfer to a cooling rack. Let cool to room temperature before slicing.
Store wrapped in a plastic food storage bag at room temperature for up to 3 days or in the freezer for 2 months.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

No, this isn't a day-care!

What is the world coming to?!?

We just received a letter from our HOA. It stated: "If you are running a daycare center, you need to apply for approval from the board of directors and show proof of licensing."

I have to say that Ryan and I got a great laugh out of that one. I guess that nowadays it's assumed that if you have children in your home between 8am and 5pm you must be running a day care. Who would raise their own kids?!?


Tuesday, July 15, 2008


It's been one of those tough parenting weeks. I feel drained and tired of the constant need to be consistant to help a child learn. I wish I could just let down my guard and say "do what you want"! But I love her to much to do that.

I thought I'd share a story that helps me feel a little better about my role as Mom. Some of you may not be in the mood for a "feel good mom-moment"'s your chance to exit. But for you that may need a pick-me-up like on....

It all began to make sense, the blank stares, the lack of response, the wayone of the kids will walk into the room while I'm on the phone and ask to be taken to the store. Inside I'm thinking, "Can't you see I'm on the phone?"Obviously not. No onecan see if I'm on the phone, or cooking, or sweeping the floor, or even standing on my head in the corner, because no one can see me at all.

I'm invisible.

Some days I am only a pair of hands, nothing more: Can you fix this? Can you tie this? Can you open this? Some days I'm not a pair of hands; I'm not even a human being. I'm a clock to ask, "What time is it?" I'm a satellite guide to answer, "What number is the Disney Channel?" I'm a car to order, "Right around 5:30, please."

I was certain that these were the hands that once held books and the eyes that studied history and the mind that graduated summa cum laude -but now they had disappeared into the peanut butter, never to be seen again.

She's going ... she's going ... she's gone!

One night, a group of us were having dinner, celebrating the return of afriend from England. Janice had just gotten back from a fabulous trip, and she was going on and on about the hotel she stayed in. I was sitting there,looking around at the others all put together so well. It was hard not to compare and feel sorry for myself as I looked down at my out-of-style dress; it was the only thing I could find that was clean. My unwashed hair waspulled up in a banana clip and I was afraid I could actually smell peanutbutter in it.

I was feeling pretty pathetic, when Janice turned to me with a beautifully wrapped package, and said, "I brought you this." It was a book on the great cathedrals of Europe.I wasn't exactly sure why she'd given it to me until I read her inscription:"To Charlotte, with admiration for the greatness of what you are building when no one sees."

In the days ahead I would read - no, devour - the book. And I would discoverwhat would become for me, four life-changing truths, after which I could pattern my work:
  • No one can say who built the great cathedrals - we have no record of their names.
  • These builders gave their whole lives for a work they would never seefinished.
  • They made great sacrifices and expected no credit.
  • The passion of their building was fueled by their faith that the eyes of God saw everything.

A legendary story in the book told of a rich man who came to visit the cathedral while it was being built, and he saw a workman carving a tiny bird on the inside of a beam. He was puzzled and asked the man, "Why are you spending so much time carving that bird into a beam that will be covered bythe roof? No one will ever see it."And the workman replied, "Because God sees."

I closed the book, feeling the missing piece fall into place. It was almostas if I heard God whispering to me, "I see you, Charlotte. I see the sacrifices you make every day, even when no one around you does. No act of kindness you've done, no sequin you've sewn on, no cupcake you've baked, is too small for me to notice and smile over. You are building a great cathedral, but you can't see right now what it will become."

At times, my invisibility feels like an affliction. But it is not a disease that is erasing my life. It is the cure for the disease of my ownself-centeredness. It is the antidote to my strong, stubborn pride. I keep the right perspective when I see myself as a great builder. As one of the people who show up at a job that they will never see finished, to work on something that their name will never be on.

The writer of the book went so far as to say that no cathedrals could ever be built in our lifetime because there are so few people willing to sacrifice to that degree. When I really think about it, I don't want my son to tell the friend he's bringing home from college for Thanksgiving, "My mom gets up at 4 in the morning and bakes homemade pies, and then she handbastes a turkey for three hours and presses all the linens for the table."That would mean I'd built a shrine or a monument to myself. I just want himto want to come home. And then, if there is anything more to say to his friend, to add,"You're gonna love it there."

As mothers, we are building great cathedrals. We cannot be seen if we're doing it right. And one day, it is very possible that the world will marvel, not only at what we have built, but at the beauty that has been added to the world by the sacrifices of invisible women.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008


Getting older is funny...I find interest in things I never thought possible!

Besides the mini-van, wheat grinder and bosch mixer excitement, I must confess that sometime in the past year or so I've become much more fascinated with the news.

We don't have cable. (I do we survive?!?!) The main reason I dream about cable right now, is so I can have good news channels whenever I want. I'm super excited to run on the treadmill in the morning and try to time it so that it's not too early so I can catch the morning headlines at 7am on the Today Show at the end of my workout (but still get done before I have a bunch of little helpers).

So the majority of my news intake comes from the internet. I got into this kind of haphazardly so I really haven't compared the different news sites. I started going to ABC news because Ryan would leave it up.

My question to you: what internet news sites do you like? Why? Is there a better site I should have bookmarked?

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Work Team BBQ

Last weekend we had a BBQ with the people on Ryan's team at work. It was so fun for a "work party"! There's been some turn-over in the past months and it's not someplace that I just drop by, so I hadn't met everyone that Ryan works with. I was so impressed with what a fun group it was. I'm surprised they get anything done at work!

I must say it was one of the first work events that I have felt comfortable at in a long time. Usually, as the only stay-at-home mom, I feel like the fuddy-duddy idiot with no brain that changes moms know what I mean! So any of you at work that check this...thanks for being cool and making Ryan's job so pleasant! The food was yummy too!

Hayley was in heaven with the dogs that showed up. I have to admit that one of them was so cute that Ryan and I started thinking maybe we could do the dog thing someday...but don't tell Hayley!

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Easter Egg Hunt in June

We like easter egg hunts all year round. I never really put the plastic eggs and baskets clear away.

Last week when Daddy had to go on a Scout camp for a couple days, I promised the girls we could have a "real" easter egg hunt. Usually we just hide the eggs empty and they have fun finding them then taking turns hiding them over and over again. A "real" hunt means there's loot inside the eggs. Hayley spent most of a quiet time filling the eggs with fun cereal and m&ms (yes...I got a nap, thanks!) Then we had fun hiding, finding and eating.

So, next time you're bored...pull out those easter egg baskets and make a day of it! So what if it's June, July, August...

Big smiles!

It's amazing to me that I have to actually conciously make sure I take pictures of Alice once in a while. I think that we averaged something like 200 pictures per hour when Hayley was a baby! (j/k..but close!) I guess there's a few more things competing for my time now.

I finally grabbed the camera and caught some of Alice's wonderfully contagious BIG smiles! Gotta love this girl!

Just have to document every little body part.
I just love those little chubby fingers and toes and can't forget about those loveable rolls!

Of course, a photo shoot of Alice isn't complete without her sisters getting jealous of the attention...

They were busy jumping onto a pile of pillows while I was taking pictures. They begged me to take pictures of them but it true girl-style their jumps somehow started landing in poses when I pointed the camera at them. So cute!


I think daisies are my new favorite flower!

Ryan planted daisy plants in our yard last year. They are perennials so they magically came back and had doubled in size this year. Now I have fresh cut flowers in two vases all summer long! I love it! Whenever they start to wilt I go cut more and they just keep growing more.