27 January 2012

Friday Bake Day: Homemade Bread

Admittedly, homemade bread is not the easiest recipe ever, but the rewards are worth the time!

And I am not talking about bread machine bread, I mean homemade-in-a-9 x 5 pan-after-kneading-it- for-7-minutes bread. Yum!

Homemade Bread
  • 2 cups warm water (110 degrees F/45 degrees C)
  • 2/3 cup white sugar
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons active dry yeast
  • 1 1/2 Kosher teaspoons salt
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 6 cups bread flour
  1. In a bowl big enough to handle 6 cups of flour (when I first started baking this I did not have such a thing!), dissolve yeast in warm water. If you want to heat the water over the stove, just add water to bowl with yeast already in in. Allow yeast and water to mix until whit foam appears (5-7 minutes).
  2.  Mix Kosher Salt and vegetable oil into yeast mixture. Mix in flour one cup at a time.
  3.  Now the fun part! Knead dough on floured surface until all air pockets are gone (5 or more minutes usually does the trick!). The dough should get smooth and less s"ticky". Add more flour if needed. I have had to add up to a cup more of flour in some dough batches. 
  4. Oil large bowl completely. Coat dough with oil in the large bowl. Cover the dough with a damp cloth and place in a warm place for 1 hour. The dough should double in size while rising. Make sure you bowl is big enough of you will have dough spilling out every where!  
  5. Knead dough one more time, this time making sure to be aggressive! 
  6. Split the dough in half. Try to make loaf shape from kneaded bread and place each in 9x5 bread pans. Let dough in pans rise one more time, for 30 minutes
  7. Bake at 350 degrees F  for 30 minutes or until bread is golden brown on top.
Adapted from Amish White Bread Recipe on Allrecipes.com (seriously, that website hasn't done me wrong yet!)

Although this is not as healthy as some of the wheat bread recipes out there, I really like this one because the bread is moist even days after baking. 
This is a great bread to enjoy with a bowl of soup or oil dip. My husband and I just enjoyed it with homemade soup for dinner. 

What kind of bread do you make? Is there a special flavor you invented? I have heard some crazy ones, like banana split bread!

25 January 2012


Some times it's hard for me to keep an e-mail account sorted and up to date, let alone a blog!

Excuse the lack of entries over the last week. I would like to blame work, but I actually think its everything else in life that clutters it up. 

I'll try for a better second half of the week and writing here.

In the mean time, I have finished 4 books in the last 4 weeks. I have been on a roll, thanks to some good reads.

What's new with you reader? How's life? How's the weather? Politics? Music? Anything?

17 January 2012

Crushing On

Today for some reason I am really crushing on Mumford and Sons. I have their Sign No More album and I just love it. The banjo, the gritty vocals and upbeat songs just make me want to sing. Other than being in a public place, I don't know why I don't. So why don't you sing a long too?

YouTube: Winter Winds

16 January 2012

Cleaning Closet Clutter Too!

Any attempt to clean out part of our apartment is a win-win situation for me. This challenge fits right in with my 2012 goals (win #1) and I get to de-stress after a Monday full of work (win #2). 

I agree, the bathroom cabinet is not exactly a closet, but sometimes getting a little space cleaned up is the best motivation.  I am going to start with our bathroom cabinet as well. I noticed the other day when I grabbed for some extra toothpaste that the wonderful air vent located underneath the cabinet heats up all our extra bathroom supplies. Let's just say the shampoo's were extra watery. Ick. No better time to clean out all the crap!

I first got out all the current supplies, extras and random bathroom items.

I noticed that I seem to keep semi-empty bottles with little to no substance left. I took a handful of these items straight to the dishwasher to get a good clean so I can reuse them when I travel.

A little messy to start...

I then took my travel/cosmetic bags that were not in use and put them all together to make storing easier. I kept one of the larger travel bags out and filled it with some essentials so I can have a travel pack ready to go whenever I need.

I ran into a few products that I don't think will ever get used so those got moved to a throw away pile. 

When it was all said and done, I got rid of a lot of useless things and found three tubes of toothpaste I didn't know we had! Guess I won't need to buy that for a while! I am glad to get a small project done, I always feel more accomplished. 
Much Better!

This cleaning project spurred some new year cleaning bug and I have started a small pile of things I don't need from around the house.  I informed my husband of the de-cluttering just in case things of his go missing. It might happen. Just saying

How about your clutter? What do you do when you find you have too much? Any good methods to keep clutter at bay?

12 January 2012

Update: Marathon Training

Oh my goodness gracious. Just when I thought I could catch up on all the reading, knitting, baking I wanted to do...boom...I feel the need to run more. Great. Why do I have to be so ambitious? 

I thought after the craziness of the holidays, traveling to see family & friends, having friends over for the weekend and endless cleaning afterwards I would have some time to my self. Well, I do, but since signing up for the Glass City Marathon I feel the need to run more. Lots more. Like not taking a day off during the week, adding an additional morning run and adding mileage. Perfect way to relax, huh? I want to do well and that means that I need to keep consistent and keep adding the miles up.  

My week is going well in terms of running. I know I am in good shape, just need more of the endurance.
It's funny, I have a count down on my calendar that lets me know how many weeks until the marathon. This week is 15 weeks to go, and it doesn't seem that far away!! AH!

This is what the week is looking like so far:
Monday: 5 miles at the gym in the evening
Tuesday: 6 miles at the gym in the evening
Wednesday: 3.5 miles at the gym in the morning
Thursday: yet to be determined, 7 perhaps?
Friday: yet to be determined, 6 or 7 again
Saturday: Long Run (hopefully at my favorite run location, which has been closed due to flooding lately!) 10-13 miles
Sunday: Finish whatever is left to make 46 miles or more for the week.
phew. this sounds more difficult than it is. 

I am still on the lookout for a good training partner. I should put out an ad! It would read:

Wanted: Avid Runner for Training Partner. Preferably Female. Ability to run 40 miles or more a week at 7:30-8:30 pace for over 5 miles. Needs to love running and enjoy all the pain involved in running a marathon! Location: Erie, PA but there might be some runs outside the city.  Serious inquiries only.  

Side note: My husband recently had a class discussion about sexual practices and one of the topics was ads of this type for sexual partners. They use some crazy abbreviations which I have no clue how to read but they are fun to try and figure out. Its like a cryptogram! Any way, that made me think of making an ad for a running partner. That is how I got there if you were curious.

Know any takers (for running partners!!)? Hit up that comments box below.

In the mean time, I'll be running around (and around. and around. and around.).

always, EAA

09 January 2012

Friday: Baking Day

In an effort to increase my readership from 3 loyal (and the best) followers I am going to do a Friday cooking segment each week. I have wanted to do this for a while so I am putting this task on the done list this week.

Short of it being past the holiday season, this post about baking seems fitting. I meant this to be a more timely post but the holidays slipped away. What better way to spend those dreary weekend afternoons than baking (knitting is a close second but I'll get to that later!)? 

One of the many wonderful parts about being married is the double amount of recipes and cooking advice you get. In fact, one of my bridal showers included a recipe card in the invitation so friends & family could pass the good eats along to me! I love having new recipes to try and keep both family's traditions alive. For the holidays I made two different types of cookies, one from my family's stash of recipes and one from my husband's.

From my husband's side I made Jello Cookies. I had never made this kind of cookie before, I even had to make a trip to the local cooking store to buy supplies I didn't own. Below is the recipe I used along with the equipment needed (Note: I used the cookie press written in the instructions. Unfortunately I have yet to experiment without the press so I can't vouch for those cookies!) 

Grandma Norma's Jello Cookies

4 cups sifted flour (ah, for the non-baker normal all purpose flour is fine!)
1 cup white sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 3 oz. package of jello
1 1/2 cup Butter, room temperature
1 egg

Sift flour with baking soda. Set aside.
Cream Butter until smooth. Gradually add sugar & jello to butter. Mix well. Add egg & vanilla. Gradually add flour/baking soda mix to all ingredients are mixed well.
Push dough through cookie press with desired shaped at the end.
Press cookies directly onto a ungreased baking sheet.
Decorate as desired (even a little jello on top is good when baked!)
Bake at 400 degree Ferienheit for 7-8 minutes or until gold brown on the edges.

From my side of the family I whipped up some sugar Christmas cookies that my grandmother makes. Her cookies are always delicious and no matter the season a beautifully frosted cut out cookie reminds me of childhood. These cookies are easy to make and the dough refrigerates easily. I use the same recipe throughout the year so this is one of my essential cookie recipes.

Grandma Nancy's Sugar Cookies

Cookies: 1 cup butter, softened but not melted
1 1/2 powder sugar 
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 1/2 cup flour
1 teaspoon baking sode
1/4 teaspoon salt

Mix all ingredients together until soft dough forms. Refrigerate the dough for 3 hours or until ready to make cookies. The dough should be a tough ball that is not sticky (I recommend letting the dough sit over night to ensure ease of cut outs!)
Roll out dough with floured rolling pin on a floured surface. 
Makes about 2 dozen cookies depending on cut out size.
This dough is great for cut outs!

Frosting: 1 stick margarine, softened
2 lbs. confectioners sugar (you can add as much or as little as you want. This is the base for the frosting so it really depends on how much frosting you need. I start with about 1/2 of the 2 lb. bag to start with.)
1 teaspoon vanilla
milk to texture & taste
food coloring if desired

Mix all ingredients except milk. Add milk to create texture of frosting you desire. Add food coloring if desired. This frosting makes enough for about 24 cookies. The frosting can be frozen for future baking as well!

06 January 2012

Signed Up

I finally did it.

I signed up for a marathon. 

Yes folks, the time has come for me to quit talking about it and just do it. 
I was sweating profusely while typing in all the athlete information and forking over my hard earned money only to find satisfaction in knowing half of a resolution is filled (signing up is half the difficultly in this case).

Nothing like committing to run a 26.2 mile race to get you pumped on a Friday.

Needless to say I am elated! I cannot wait to race. I have even marked it on my Google calendar. No going back now. April 22, 2012 Toledo, Ohio here I come!
Want to sign up too? Click Click
Thought so. Doesn't a marathon sound like a good way to spend a Sunday in April? 

Since signing up my daily runs seem to have a little extra pep. It helps I have a race to look forward to.

On that happy & joyous note I will leave you to think about all the running goals you want to accomplish this year!

03 January 2012


Ah yes. 'Tis the season to resolve. In my (seemingly) never ending quest to improve myself and those around me, I am happy the occasion to resolve is here!  Although 2011 was a wonderful year, starting a new year with fresh goals and an ambitious to do list is what I love about January. 

First, I suppose we should do a summary of 2011 in 30 seconds or less:

January through May: Well, that was a blur. Between working full time and planning our wedding I lost track of time. These months flew by with nothing too spectacular.

May: My husband graduated from undergraduate studies. And the wedding planning really took off!

June: We got hitched! June 17, 2011. Happiest day ever. We also honeymooned...and then 1 week later...

July: We moved to Pennsylvania! We moved into our first home together and I started a new job in a new city. My husband started Medical School (that's when the fun really began!)

August through December: More studying and working. I ran a half-marathon. Visiting family and friends. Traveling back to Michigan a few times and finally spending the new year at our new place.

Phew. It was a busy year but we made it through. I couldn't be happier with 2011.

But, as time is always moving on, so must I. 2012 is shaping up to be a big year too.  

Some times it seems daunting that I want to accomplish so much in one year but I know it can all be done. Like I have been for the last few months, I will be documenting all the new year activities and goals as I achieve them. It will be great to look back and be able to see all that I have done. I love making goals and checking them off the list, not to mention it's fun to write about my failures.

Here is what I have planned:

So what do you have planned? Have you resolved to accomplish things (big or small!)? How about blogging? Or commenting on your favorite blog? Just a suggestion!

Happy New Year and Happy New Goals!