recipes: whole wheat bread

Ever since middle school, I've had the ambition to make my own bread. I'm not talking about a single foray into the world of yeast and flour, I mean "make my own bread" as in only have bread I made sitting around the house. I blame my geometry teacher who ground her own flour, made jam from her own berries, and pressed her own apple juice, for first giving me this inkling. Our move to real food eating was the other catalyst that created the perfect opportunity to give weekly bread making a whirl. And now here she is...

Isn't that beautiful?? My first two loaves were abysmal, squashed little bricks, but Joe ate them like a champ and told me to keep trying. My loaf from two weeks ago tasted better, but completely collapsed in the oven. We ate that one too. But this loaf...this one was perfect. So tall and delicious! I couldn't believe it. Joe said he knew all along that I could do it, but secretly I think he was thanking his lucky stars that he wouldn't be having his pb&j on dry, dense brick bread this week.

I've been using the yeast bread tutorial from Naturally Ella and it's worked wonders for me. Being such a visual person can be a real hamper to success with normal recipes that hardly ever tell you what something should look like at a particular stage. But Erin includes a video with her tutorial showing exactly what the bread should look like at the different stages which helped me immensely. In fact, I loved it so much I would like to dedicate that beautiful loaf above to her. :)

I made a few adjustments to her original method to account for using whole wheat flour instead of white, which has more gluten. So far, adding 1/3 cup of flour with 1/3 cup vital wheat gluten and kneading the bread for a full ten minutes in the mixer has seemed to do the trick. I would HIGHLY recommend this tutorial if you're interested in making your own bread. It's a great starter and you can basically adjust it to make anything you want to (cheesy garlic bread? mix in some cheese/garlic, cinnamon raisin bread? toss those babies right in there with everything else). Now, I better go get to work on my loaf for this week. Here's hoping it turns out just as good as my last one!


twelve by 2012: update

Here's an update on my 12 by 2012 goals list:

crossed out = completed
italics = in progress

1. Paint the bedroom...we only purchased all the supplies six months ago

2. Complete our bed, building and finishing

3. Take a Christmas picture as cute as this one and this one and actually SEND IT.

4. Make at least one more batch of pear vanilla bean jam.

5. Celebrate Christmas with handmade gifts and wrappings.

6. Crochet this scarf for myself in that deep blue yarn I've had sitting in the yarn basket for a year.

7. Try at least three new vegetarian recipes. Any suggestions?

8. Make a date with myself for coffee/lunch on a Saturday. Take a journal.

9. Make these rolls the "real food" way for our Thanksgiving meal.

10. Roast and freeze the pumpkins from our garden for pies and cookies. You should try this method, you'll never go back to canned pumpkin again.

11. Find the perfect "quiet" spot in the house for morning devotions.

12. Bake a batch of pumpkin chocolate chip muffins. Enjoy every bite!

I'm feeling pretty good about these. I've accomplished six of them and have two in progress. The only ones I'm not sure will get done are the two biggies: painting the bedroom and finishing our bed. I always get caught up in thinking that I need hubby's help to get the big ones done, but by the end of the day or on weekends he's so busy with upkeep on the house (i.e. raking leaves, winterizing sprinklers, etc.) that there really isn't time to add my to-dos to his list. Just gotta get up the courage and tackle those big projects myself. Here's hoping I manage to do that before January 1, 2021 rolls around.


$10 ledges a la ana white

Well, I finished up another Pinterest-inspired project. I originally came across these plans on Ana White's great website (if you haven't already checked her out, do it!), but I couldn't picture them in my house until I found this inspiration photo:

Cookbook storage! I so needed cookbook storage. As it was, we were wandering over to the living room bookshelf whenever we needed a recipe and half the time I'd forget what I was doing and end up...well... confused as to why I was in the living room. Now those cookbooks are right at hand whenever I need them. Love it!

This project was so easy. The hardest part about it was trying to be patient while Joe did all of the sanding. This is definitely a project where I would recommend sanding your pieces first and then building them. I ended up making seven of these shelves. Two here for cookbooks, three above the imaginary buffet I will one day have (c'mon craigslist!), and two that I used as traditional picture shelves in the living room. Hopefully, I'll get a post up about the changes that have gone on there soon. The weather has been so stormy lately that I haven't been able to get any good photos. We'll see.

All in all, this was a simple, fun project. and I really love the way it turned out. Once again, if you haven't been to Ana's website...go there...now. :)