Welcome to our 1864 farmhouse…life is good!

Monday, November 24

polar vortex-nado?

Yep, that's actually what I heard a week ago when we woke up to this...

a snowstorm that brought the first day off from school!
You know the drill...

movie marathon
homemade cocoa
jammies all day...ahhh, this is the life.

And quite honestly, I'm pretty tickled to see the summer chores put to rest for a few months.

Let it snow!

Saturday, November 15

clay pot home-baked bread...yum!

I love homemade bread...I could make a meal of it (come to think of it, I probably have!)

the heavenly aroma while it's baking...
cutting that first, still warm slice...
spreading on real butter...or spoonfuls of homemade jam or apple butter.

Yes, James Beard was right when he said;

"“Good bread is the most fundamentally satisfying of all foods;
and good bread with fresh butter, the greatest of feasts.”

And so, for some unknown reason, I pulled out a clay baker we received as a wedding present...ages ago.  I truly think I used it only a couple times, then tucked it away in the back of the cupboard.

I began thinking...would it be useful for baking bread? I pulled it out, dusted it off, and began looking for bread recipes. In no time at all, this was the result...

It was terrific! The recipe was oh-so simple, the crust baked up crispy and golden, the inside was soft...just waiting for a pat of butter!

Ta-da...new life given to an old wedding present. Now how often does that happen?
Hmmm, and now I'm wondering just what else can I prepare in it!

This bread recipe is a keeper if you happen to have a clay baker...and if not, you just may want to consider getting one! Here's a link filled with lots of tips and how-to's...like the importance of soaking the clay pot in water before baking.  Romertopf calls it The Perfect Loaf, and I couldn't agree more.

The Perfect Loaf

1 cup warm water (105-115 degrees F)
1 package active dry yeast ( 2 1/4 tsp)
1 tsp. sugar
1/4 TBL. salt
1 TBL. vegetable oil
3 cups all-purpose flour (approximately) 
Stir warm water, yeast and sugar in large mixer bowl.  
Let stand 5-10 minutes or until foamy.  Add 2 cups flour, salt, and oil.  With mixer fitted with dough hook, mix on low until blended, then mix on medium speed for 5 minutes until dough pulls away from sides of bowl. Turn dough onto floured surface and knead, adding more flour as needed. 
Knead about 15-20 minutes until dough is smooth and springy and small bubbles form just under the surface. Place dough in greased bowl, turn to coat top.  Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in warm place until doubled, about 1 hour.
Soak bottom of Romertopf Clay Baker 111 in water for about 20 minutes.  Drain and pat dry.  Generously grease sides and bottom of clay baker.
When dough has doubled, punch down and shape into a loaf, place in clay baker. Let stand, covered with plastic wrap or wax paper, for 30-45 minutes or until dough nearly reaches the top of the cooker.
Soak top of clay baker for 15 minutes while dough rises the second time.  When dough has risen, use a sharp razor blade or knife to cut 2-3 diagonal slashes across the top of dough (about 1/2" deep).  Drain lid of baker, pat dry and grease.  Place covered clay baker in cold oven, set oven temperature to 475 degrees Fahrenheit and bake 45 minutes.  Remove lid and continue to bake until top is brown, about 3-5 minutes.  Remove from oven and cool on wire rack.
*adapted from Clay Cookery by The Editors of Consumer Guide

Saturday, November 8

a newspaper Christmas tree?

Now, I'm an old-fashioned gal when it comes to Christmas decorating.  I love the fragrance of a real fir tree, the sentimental way handed-down ornaments bring back sweet memories, and the primitive look of cranberry garlands.

I will wade through the snow and wander back and forth in an effort to find the "perfect tree" (which usually ends up being the first one we looked at...you know, the one way down at the bottom of the hill...the one my husband is "guarding" until I come to realize what he already knows.)

However; as I was leaving our local craft supply store, this tree caught my eye...

How clever!

It's made of rolled newspaper that's been tucked into a cone of chicken wire, then given a bit of color with a spritz of spray paint, and finished off with glittering poinsettias tucked here and there...wow!

Thanks to those creative folks at Pat Catan's for their inspiration!

Okay, who's up for a weekend project?!

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