Monday, December 28, 2009

12/28/09 - Nothing really special - Just a photo...

Nothing really happened on this day except Ms. Molly went for a drive with me and I wanted to share the pictures.

Isn't she cute?

Sunday, December 27, 2009

12/27/09 - Final Test Run - Meatloaf

So this was the final test run.

I made meatloaf and had some of that really good bread left over. We had a rented neighbor children, Boyce & Savannah, with us.

Maddie & Boyce set the table this time around.

Here's the photos:

Don't they all look so thrilled in the last photo??? 

~  Jamie

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Roxanne was right - No-Knead Bread = Evil

Ok Roxanne was totally right. I made the recipe that she suggested for No-Knead Bread and I tell you it's so easy and it tastes GREAT!

Here's the recipe link for anyone that missed it.

My gosh the stuff is just evil I tell you....

For you non bakers out there here's how it's done... Just try it, I swear you will LOVE it, and it is super easy to make.

1. Start by taking  3 Cups of All-Purpose flour and put it into a mixing bowl. (I haven't perfected my whole wheat version yet so I"ll let you know when I get the perfect loaf on that.)
2. Add 1/4 tsp rapid rise yeast to the flour. (You can use regular yeast - just use more like 1/2 tsp to 3/4 tsp)
3. Add 1 1/4 tsp salt to the flour.
4. Mix together until blended then make a well in the center and add just a little bit shy of 2 cups water. Mix it all up. You may need to add more water.... What you want to end up with is something that resembles a really thick pancake batter (see photo below).

I did the above steps on Christmas afternoon.

5. Now what you do is cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let it sit for 12 to 18 hours. It is ready to move to the next step when the top is all bubbly (see next two photos since I did two batches).

6. Lightly flour a work surface and place dough on it; sprinkle it with a little more flour and fold it over on itself once or twice.

7. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rest about 15 minutes.

(Now I'm going to honestly tell you that I have omitted the turning it over on itself and cover with plastic wrap step and just moved on to the next one below. It turned out fine and because the dough is so sticky and tacky it's a lot less messier.)

This next step is a deviation from the original recipe. Roxanne found the suggestion online and it's much easier and works great.

8. Line a bowl with parchment paper.

 9. Pick up the dough off the counter and put into lined bowl (or if you are skipping the counter part just dump the dough into the lined bowl)

10. Cover loosely with a cotton towel.

11. Let rise until double in size - About 2 hours.

11. About 30 minutes before baking time put your dutch oven or any other pot (with a lid) that can go up to 500 degrees into your oven and turn it on to 450 degrees f.

12. Once the dough has risen and your pot, lid & oven are 450 degrees F, pick up the parchment paper with the dough inside gently and put it into the hot pot.

13. Put the lid on and bake for 30 minutes.

14. Then remove the lid and bake for another 15 to 30 minutes until the loaf is beautifully browned.

15. Remove from hot pot and cool on wire rack as long as you can stand to not just cut off a piece and eat it.

I don't know about you but I love the smell when making bread...

If you try this please post your comments... tell me how it turns out for you and if you like it as much as we do.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Test run #2 (Christmas Morning) - Breakfast & a Trip to Canada

Our test run number two was Christmas breakfast with Grandma & Grandpa. Dakota & Maddie set the table and got it right this time. We had scrambled eggs, bacon, sausage patties & waffles.

Here's a photo Grandma just posted up on Facebook:

(In photo viewing left to right as seen in the picture- Hunter, Dakota, Jamie, Grandma Jeannie, Madeleine, Papa Earl)

After we ate we opened presents and ate candy from the stockings while two of the three cats were lounging around.

(Miss Molly)

(Kasey Kahne)

And here's more photos that Grandma took with her remote controlled camera:

(Hunter & Dakota)
(Hunter, Dakota & Grandma Jeannie)
(Dakota & Grandma Jeannie)
(Dakota & his Aircraft Carrier)
(Group Shot)
(Another Group Shot)
(Maddie & Grandma Jeannie)
(Another shot of Maddie & Grandma Jeannie)
(Maddie & Papa Earl)

Now my favorite picture... Grandma Jeannie & Papa Earl gave me the Red Lantern lights for my birthday... SO VERY COOL!!! Can you tell I really like them?

Here's a better shot of one:

After Grandma & Grandpa left I got a bug up my rear and decided that I wanted to drive to Canada so I could say I was in another country for Christmas. Hunter drove with me on a nice & sunny (but colder) Idaho afternoon. I dropped him off at the Porthill Mercantile to wait for me since he doesn't have a passport.

The Canadian border patrol agent thought it was humorous. When she asked what the purpose of my visit was and how long I would be in Canada, I said "I'll be here for no more than 15 mintues. I want to go up and turn around so I can post on Facebook that I was in another country for Christmas."

The U.S. agent didn't find it as funny coming back. It's not like the border was busy, there was only one car in front of me and no one behind me. They were so slow that she asked me to turn off my motor and pop my hood so the two guys standing outside of the little booth could check under my hood. Isn't it sweet & nice that they check your oil for you? They did the same thing for the car in front of me... but this lady was kinda grumpy. Maybe I was interupting a good book she was reading or do you think they train them not to smile or something?

On the drive up and drive back home we saw some amazing views. Isn't North Idaho just beautiful? Just in case I haven't mentioned it lately... I LOVE IT HERE!

Once we got home I started two batches of the No-Knead Bread recipe below. Here's a photo of the dough mixed up and ready to sit around for 12-18 hours. I'll be actually baking them tomorrow for us to have with dinner.

So far it has been a nice & relaxing Christmas Day which is exactly what I wanted. Tonight's dinner will be Ribs but I'm not sure if we are going to do a sit down dinner or just a free for all... It may, or may not be, test run #3 but if it is I'll post up later.

Here's some shots of Hunter helping me make the ribs.

Merry Christmas everyone. I hope you all have a blessed day.


Thursday, December 24, 2009

Test run #1 (Christmas Eve) - King Crab

So today Hunter and I were at Costco and they had a great deal on Red King Crab. We decided that would be a good thing to eat tonight for dinner and make it our first test run.

We called Madeleine and asked her to set the table. She did a lovely job overall. She had a few errors that I coached her about for next time but she did try hard. I think she did a great job trying to make the table really special and even going as far as getting out the linen napkins & our place cards we had from Thanksgiving.

After we fixed the table and heated up the crab & butter we sat down to eat.

(Hunter, Madeleine & Dakota)

Hunter was with me all day long getting a Christmas gift for his girly friend so I asked Madeleine and Dakota what they did today. Madeleine watched all 3 episodes of Santa Clause...

Now let me tell you it is a dang good thing that TLC was having a whole day full of Deadliest Catch re-runs for Dakota to watch... He proceeded to inform us all about the food we were eating from Dutch Harbor, Alaska. Did you guys know that when King Crabs get too cold they shed all their legs and they look like "hockey pucks"?

After dinner Dakota cleared off the table while the rest of us put lights on our Christmas tree. Grandma Jeannie lent us some lights some of which were these really cool red lantern type... since I can't find all my lights or fireman ornaments at least my tree has something that's "fireman" themed so that makes me really happy.

Aren't the lanterns cute? :-)

Overall test run #1 was a success and it was a nice dinner with just the four of us.

I hope everyone has a blessed Christmas tomorrow.

Take Care,

Sunday, December 20, 2009

No-Knead Bread Recipe

Here's the full recipe that Roxanne gave as a link in the comments here: Background, Why, Goals, & the Rules of the Game

I want to post it just in case the NY Times ever removes the link. We'll be making it soon and post our experience with it when we do:

Recipe: No-Knead Bread

Published: November 8, 2006 in the NY Times
Adapted from Jim Lahey, Sullivan Street Bakery

Time: About 1½ hours plus 14 to 20 hours’ rising

3 cups all-purpose or bread flour, more for dusting
¼ teaspoon instant yeast
1¼ teaspoons salt
Cornmeal or wheat bran as needed.

1. In a large bowl combine flour, yeast and salt. Add 1 5/8 cups water, and stir until blended; dough will be shaggy and sticky. Cover bowl with plastic wrap. Let dough rest at least 12 hours, preferably about 18, at warm room temperature, about 70 degrees.

2. Dough is ready when its surface is dotted with bubbles. Lightly flour a work surface and place dough on it; sprinkle it with a little more flour and fold it over on itself once or twice. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rest about 15 minutes.

3. Using just enough flour to keep dough from sticking to work surface or to your fingers, gently and quickly shape dough into a ball. Generously coat a cotton towel (not terry cloth) with flour, wheat bran or cornmeal; put dough seam side down on towel and dust with more flour, bran or cornmeal. Cover with another cotton towel and let rise for about 2 hours. When it is ready, dough will be more than double in size and will not readily spring back when poked with a finger.

4. At least a half-hour before dough is ready, heat oven to 450 degrees. Put a 6- to 8-quart heavy covered pot (cast iron, enamel, Pyrex or ceramic) in oven as it heats. When dough is ready, carefully remove pot from oven. Slide your hand under towel and turn dough over into pot, seam side up; it may look like a mess, but that is O.K. Shake pan once or twice if dough is unevenly distributed; it will straighten out as it bakes. Cover with lid and bake 30 minutes, then remove lid and bake another 15 to 30 minutes, until loaf is beautifully browned. Cool on a rack.

Yield: One 1½-pound loaf.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Background, Why, Goals, & the Rules of the Game

I really have to admire my mom & dad because when growing up we always sat down together for dinner. It's these memories I remember the most when I think back... The walnut wood table and the formal matching buffet. The European style salt & pepper holder with the little spoon that frustrated my dad to no end because he would end up over-salting his food but my mom really liked it. Most of all I remember being with my family, dad at one end of the table & mom at the other with us girls between them. It was like being surrounded by love.

Although this is something I said I would do with my children it seems like "life" has always gotten in the way for one reason or another. It's been something that has been getting shoved to the back burner as a "When _____ calms down" or "When _____ happens then we'll start sitting together" except ____ never seems to calm down or happen. Nowadays it seems like we only eat together for special occasions or when eating out and we are all at one table.

It has me wondering what memories will my children have of our life together when they grow up? I bet if I were to poll the kids today it would probably have something to do with my laptop or my Internet enabled cell phone, one or the other is always attached to my person at all times like a breathing apparatus or something.

Will my kids have a memory of some dish I make for them that ties into some happy memory of being together? Right now I hear about Grandpa (Papa) John's steak or stew, Auntie Kelly's various awesome dishes like her London Broil or Grandma Jeannie's Porcupine Meatballs, but I really don't get a request from them to make anything special except for Stuffed Grapevine leaves on Holiday's. The kid's pull to these dishes goes as far as one of them mentioning that Papa John can Fed Ex his stew to us and I should ask him to. (Sorry Roxanne, the only thing the kids remember about your cooking is me sending them downstairs when you made toast to ensure you weren't setting the kitchen on fire.)

GOAL - To sit down at the table with the kids for one meal each day. Also, to minimize eating out and to use our packed pantry more.

I guess I got the inspiration for this goal by seeing a friend of mine who gets off of work, drives over an hour home, then cooks dinner & sits down with the kids for dinner. I am not so unrealistic to think that I am going to single handily cook each meal nor do I want to because I think it's good for the kids to learn how to cook for self-reliance later in life, but I do think I can manage to sit down with them for 30 minutes each day without any outside distractions from the phone or email etc.

In addition, I want to use up a lot of the food I already have stocked up that is over-taking the limited storage I have at the new house. I'd like to be able to use the cabinets in the downstairs kitchen for storing seldom used small kitchen appliances... like the mixer etc.


1. It can be any meal of the day... Breakfast, Lunch or Dinner but preferably Dinner.
2. If on a weekend we manage to get in two meals in the same day then we are allowed a credit for one day's grace in the future.
3. Eating out will be minimized as much as possible. Also, shopping for new food will be minimized to use up more of what we already have on hand.
4. The table must be set for each meal.
5. If one or more kids are not home due to a sports/school event or spending the night at a friend's house then the meal will be with whomever is home on that day/time. If all three are gone then the day is "graced" by default.
6. If mom is out of town for work the day is "graced" and does not need to be made up.
7. If mom is running errands or at another friend's house for any reason then the days meal will be made up on a future date by adding breakfast or lunch.
6. In the event that mom gets asked out on a date that day's sit down meal is automatically "graced" as sort of a celebration of a miracle in itself. (Clarification: it has to be a date not just at a friend's house for dinner etc)

We'll be sharing photos, recipes, and experiences etc throughout the year. At the end of the year it will be interesting to see if it really makes a difference in our life together as a family or if it's just some hyped up memory from my childhood or my "Jamie's world should look like this" list that is always around in my head.

I hope you stay tuned for more... however it turns out, it will be an exciting adventure into uncharted territory :-)