Sunday, March 27, 2011

I'm a Pastry Chef

WOW! I am amazed at the donations pouring in! Check it out and donate today! You will be entered to win a quilt!

Also, Katie has updated her blog and you can the read the latest HERE!

Now,I am not a fancy, shmancy cook or baker, BUT I do love to eat so I  have a few great recipes up my sleeves. in my arsenal.
Today I will start with that Bread in 5 Minutes a Day book. I really do love the book, and I am the mom who grinds wheat and bakes that healthy stuff a few times a week. There is something about the ease of the book that makes me want to sing. Don't worry, I won't sing. I really do not sing all that well but I can do the Moon Walk. Ask my kids. They LOVE when I do the Moon Walk for them.:-)

Remember a while back I posted on the Artisan Bread? If not, you can read about the yummy stuff HERE. I am using the same book as the basis for my fancy, schmancy bread today.

This bread is what I picture a French pastry to be, especially if you were in France. Perhaps I should say that it is more like the yummy pasrties I see at Sam's Club and Costcos, but I truly believe that we need high goals to reach for so I am going to keep it fancy and French.
***Disclaimer: I know nothing about French food or culture or even language, except what I have learned while watching "Beauty and the Beast" with my children.***

Let's start with dough, and the dough I am using is the Brioche dough in this book.
Brioche is French and it has tons of butter and eggs in it. What's not to like???

In your bread dough container mix these things:
1 1/2 C warm water
1 1/2 TB yeast
1 1/2 TB kosher salt
8 eggs
1/2 C honey
1 1/2 C butter (use REAL butter!)
7 1/2 C all -purpose flour

OK, remember that you need to mix the dough in and incorporate it but DO NOT knead it. This dough is very sticky  and wet. It might also have some clumps in it, but don't worry about it.
Leave it on your counter about an hour and then stick it in the fridge. I HIGHLY suggest you leave it in the fridge overnight. Sticky dough is easier to work with when it is cold.

Now, pretend it's the next day and you are craving a fancy French pastry. Since you are a cultured person who knows how to bake such fancy and wonderful treats you go get your dough out of the fridge.

Now go and get some parchment paper. Actually this Braided Pastry Bread will make 2 loaves so get 2 pieces of parchment paper and sprinkle some flour on it.

Sprinkle some flour over the top of your dough and grab a grapefruit sized portion  and wrap it into a ball around itself. Place it on a piece of floured parchment paper. Repeat these steps for the second loaf.

Now, roll the dough out into a rectangle that measures about 12 inches by 6 inches. It needs to be about 1/4 inch thick. Don't obsess too much over it. Roll out both dough balls. If you need to lightly sprinkle some flour on the dough, go ahead.

Now, time to make the filling.

There are 2 items to make.
Raspberry Jam Filling:
Combine 1/2 C raspberry jam with 2 TB flour. Mix well.

Cream Cheese Filling:
8 oz cream cheese, softened
2 TB butter, softened
1/4 C sugar
1 tsp vanilla
3 TB flour
1 egg
Mix these well, until creamy.

Now, take the cream cheese filling and spread half on each rolled dough. Keep it in the middle and about 1/2 inch from the top and bottom edge.
Take the Raspberry filling and put half on each section of cream cheese filling. Again stay in the center.

Now fold the top and the bottom over the filling.
Here comes the fancy braided part. Make slices in the dough all the way down the sides so that you have strips to fold over the filling.

Starting at the top, fold one slice over, then the next slice...alternating between sides. This will give it a braided look.

This is seriously easy but the results are fabulous and it will look like someting even Belle would be proud of!

Let's make it extra special by creating a shiny, sugary crust.
Combine an egg with 1 Tb water and brush it all over the top of the dough then sprinkle some sugar on top.

Okay, this might be a little TOO much sugar, but this is what happens when you let your 11 year old sprinkle sugar. By the way, kids are also this generous with glitter while doing craft projects as well as sprinkles on cupcakes and cookies.

Bake these loaves for about 45 minutes in a 350 degree oven. Let the crusts get a nice golden brown.

Allow it to cool. It is really good warm as well as cooled off.
French Pastry. You are now an official pastry chef, at I think so. Don't feel like you must only use raspberry jam, either. This would be good with almost any jam or even lemon curd. I once made it with apple pie filling and omitted the cream cheese filling. It was very good.
5 minutes is all it takes to whip up this yummy and rich Brioche dough. Try it!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Still Working On It

YAY! More money donations are coming in and that makes me VERY happy! Click here to find out about the quilt giveaway that will be helping many orphans in Uganda!

Okay, so I am still working on filling out the papers for DFCS. Ilack getting all of the rabies shot records for the dogs and getting PPD and drug tests for myself and Journee. (Anyone over the age of 15 must get these). Then there is the health letter...a doctor signs and states that you and the kiddos are healthy. that's all I lack to turn in and I have been working on it.

This time of year is super duper busy with gardens, flowerbeds and honey bees. I even felt ambitious enough to pull the sewing machine out work on a few quilts, but I have yet to find the time.

I can tell how busy I have been by the way my van and pantry and freezers look. Translation: they are a mess!
While the two oldest stay at my mom's this week and visit cousins, I am here with the 5 youngest. Today we managed to clean the garage (take the blower to it!) and wash my van. That is a huge accomplishment.
I have also baked bread tonight and made some pancake syrup and some yogurt. These are a few items that have been neglected throughout these very busy days and days when I am not home.
This is the world's most boring post, but here it is anyway. Sometimes life is predictable and boring and often times that is a blessing in itself.
Happy Tuesday, ya'll!

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Homemade Oreos

Just a reminder that I am giving away a quilt I made! Just donate $10 with my Chip In button  on the left side of this blog to enter! ALL money will go to Amazima Ministries and will help the orphans and the poor in Uganda!

My dear grandmother died last May. Well, her house just sold and my mother drove out West to collect some personal items and one of those precious items was my grandmother's cookbook. Last weekend we were browsing through the pages and there were a few recipes handwritten by my grandmother tucked within the pages of this favorite cookbook.
One recipe was for Homemade Oreo Cookies.
I do not believe my grandmother ever made these. I am sure she thought they sounded yummy (who wouldn't?) and wrote the recipe down to try "one day."
Haven't we all done that? How many recipes have you written down and never tried?
Well, I made them today. I made them for my kids and for myself and for my mom and most of all for my grandmother.

Let me warn you now that these are SIMPLE and very, Very, VERY RICH! I can handle quite a bit of sweet but these are over the top sweet!

First get 2 boxes of devil's food cake mixes and pour them into a bowl. Add 4 eggs, 2/3 C oil and mix it up. It will be thick.
The recipe says to roll dough into about 100 balls but I had a baby on my hip so I used a small cookie scooper and scooped uniform sizes onto ungreased baking sheets. I ended up with 80 balls, which will make 40 oreos. Bake these for about 10-12 minutes at 350. Let them cool on a wire rack completely.
...or on the counter. I do not have enough wire racks for this many cookies!
Now to the filling! Mix together 1/2 C buttter, 8 oz cream cheese, 2 tsp vanilla and 2-3 C powder sugar. I used 3 C. Mix it well.
Butter+cream cheese+sugar= YUMMY!

Use this to spread on a cookie and top with another! BTW, the recipe states that these freeze well. That will not be an issue since I am sure they will be gone in a day or two, BUT after much deliberation and some consultation with my mother, I decided these should be stored in the fridge. I wouldn't want that cream cheese center to melt!

Homemade Oreo Cookies
2 pkg. Devils Food cake mix
2/3 C oil
4 eggs
Mix together. Will be stiff. Make into 100 balls and bake on ungreased cookie sheet 10-12 minutes at 350. Allow to cool on cooling rack.

1/2 C butter, softened
8 oz cream cheese, softened
2 tsp vanilla
2-3 C powder sugar

Mix well and use to spread on cookie. Top with another cookie. Make yourself eating said cookies.
These freeze well.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

The Pigs Are Scared of Us!

Remember that I am giving away a quilt to some lucky person who donates to Amazima! Help some orphans in Uganda!

Now to the excitement of the day.

The last 2 days we have been busy locking down bee hives from my mom's house so we can bring them here. It is easier for me to take care of them when they are in my yard. My dad took great care of his hives and they are really busting out with bees and honey already! We left a full hive and 2 nucs there for my mom to keep watch over. Yes, she's good at beekeeping. In fact, she's really good at spotting queens.

Anyway, we loaded the bees up and took 2 hives to a nearby farm. If you live here locally, you can buy a CSA subscription and get some great local produce this summer!

I thought it would be great to let the ladies pollinate some farm land and blueberries and the family farm is absolutely fabulous.
Let me mention that they raise pork. Pigs. Berkshire pigs, I believe. These pigs did not like us one bit!
The family was nice enough to show my rowdy crew around. We saw cows, chickens, and cats and dogs and berry bushes.
Then....she offered to take us to the pigs. She had piglets in fact, so we walked to where she had them. We were all excited, I mean, we don't have pigs and how cute to see young ones.
They saw us coming from a long way off and started to spook. The closer we got, the farther they huddled....away from us and towards the fence.
Then one brave lttle pig, a little rebel walked plowed through the fence! Guess what happened next?
Yep, the rest followed suit! So there we are watching ALL of the piglets take off into the woods. Boy were they (the pigs, not the owners!) happy. I think I even heard them cheering. "We're Free! We're Free!!!!"
Oh boy! Needless to say that was the cue to leave so the real farmers could somehow get the piglets back. I don't know yet how that turned out but I am hoping, well, I am hoping that by this evening all is good in pig farming land there. (crossing fingers)
There's nothing like letting the bacon get away...along with hard work and money. Sorry, Burns Family! Next time we will just look at the chickens....

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Craziness and Quilt Giveaway

Don't forget that I am raffling off a quilt! You can help Ugandan Orphans and Amazima by donating just a little! A little goes a long way!

Wow! it has been crazy here! I still lack a few things to turn into DFCS. I tell you they wanted a book!
It is actually frustrating because some of the forms they had us fill out were SUPER silly. Yes, I kow they have to make sure we are not crazy people BUT honestly! I had to interview the kids (including the baby) and ask stuff like how would you resolve conflict with a new sibling or how do you feel about sharing your room, etc. Here was Fletcher while I asked him the questions:
"How do your parents punish you?"

I think he is okay with the whole idea. What do you think?

We also have to get CPR certified and First Aid. I explained Devin had ACLS (Advanced Cardiac Life Support) and they said that MIGHT work. What?????
I asked if Devin had to have First Aid since he went to med school and is an ER provider. They told me "yes"...we BOTH must take First Aid! This is our government at work folks.....they can't think outside the box or on a case by case basis. At any rate....we got CPR and first Aid taken care of. I hope to have everything gathered by early next week and ready to turn in.

Crazy schedule this week...much more to do outside the home than I am used to. I relish staying home and getting school done and house hold stuff done but have dental and orthodontic appointments. we are also moving some bee hives and running a ton of errands. Blah! It's just that time of year......

One more question I had to ask Fletcher. (all the kids, actually)
"How do you feel about sharing your toys and personal things?"
Hmmm....I am pretty sure he's not parting with that pacifier!!!!

Monday, March 14, 2011

Help Ugandan Orphans, Enter to Win a Quilt

There are about 147 million orphans in the world.
2.5 million of those orphans live in Uganda.
1 million of those children in Uganda are orphans due to AIDS. Their parents died.
Who will help them?

Although my family and I would love to adopt a child or two from Uganda, it is not our calling at the moment.

Does that mean we cannot help? ABSOLUTELY NOT!

Over the last year we have followed Katie Davis and her journey in Uganda, helping so many orphans and others.

You can follow her too! You will fall in love!

What I really want to do is send Katie some money so she can continue her ministry. You see Katie has a program called Amazima Ministries International.

She sends orphans to school. In Africa you don't attend school unless you can pay tuition. Nope. No government run school systems like here in the US.

Amazima also feeds children and teaches them about Jesus and helps them feed their families.
Amazima helps women earn a living and become self sufficient.
Amazima helps with medical care for many people. In Africa if you can't pay the doctors, you do not get care. Nope. No medicaid or medicare like we have in the USA.

Katie and Amazima are doing great things and I want to help. I want to encourage others to help.
My goal is $1000 by April 13th. An Easter gift to Katie and Amazima.

I need your help.
The orphans in Uganda need your help.

I made a quilt. I pieced it together and had a friend professionally quilt it.

It's full of purples and yellows. 20 different fabrics that I bought from a quilt store here in town.

I want to give it away, to help the orphans. To help Katie and Amazima.

Please Chip In! On the left side of my blog is a Chip In button. $10 gets you one entry to win this quilt. $20 gets you 2 entries. $30 gets you 3 entries, etc.

Plus you will be helping out in a BIG way! You will be helping the least of these, the orphans. I'm ready to give, are you?
Let's reach the goal!!!! $1000 in 30 days!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

So It Begins

Time for my spiritual armor!
The paperwork has started and I must say that it takes A TON of papers and procedures to adopt through DFCS. Whew! I have been told that satan will throw many obstacles your way once you start the adoption process including but not limited to major car or appliance issues (things that cost a bunch of cash), doubting family members who offer their unsolicited discouragement, and your current children will turn into unruly monkeys who make you question why anyone would even want kids and why would they want YOU to have them since it is clear you cannot handle them!

On the upside I met a wonderful lady today at the DFCS office who is taking this same leap of faith! We are kindred spirits and I was excited to have met her...we have mutual friends too which is even cooler.

Meanwhile, i have a ton of sewing projects staring at me in pure disgust over my neglectful attitude towards them. I have 4 quilts that need binding, 3 quilt tops that need finishing and my skirts? Well, I have not even cut patterns out yet! In good time, dear projects.
Right now I have to write a book about our lives and obtain all but a DNA sample for the folks at DFCS.

I will part with a picture of some beautiful chicks my daughter hatched in her incubator!

Saturday, March 5, 2011

17 Years!

Today is our 17th wedding anniversary! WOW!
I made a picture video for Devin and of course added awesome music! Enjoy and have a great weekend ya'll!

Thursday, March 3, 2011

The Bees Are Out!

What a glorious day for bees today! It has been warm the last week or so and today was a beautiful sunny and 68!
That means it is time to open the hives and see which are still alive and kicking and which need boxes swapped.
I am very happy to say that my dad's hives were fantastic looking and I even made two nucs (small splits) from 2 of his hives. The bees were completely filled out in 2 hive bodies and they all had some drone brood capped, so I am confident that my nucs will raise a queen successfully. I am crossing my fingers that we do not get a late freeze and also that most of the nuc bees do not fly out and back to their original hives. *sigh*

I have 2 hives still here that mad it through winter and although one looked great, the other was weak. It had a queen and brood and eggs but only a cluster of about 100 or so bees. I put them all in a nuc so they would have less area to keep warm, etc. I am sure they will make it if the weather stays warm and we keep some nectar flow going.

Today I finished spring cleaning minus my porches and the yard. rain is moving in so it will not be finished until next week some time.

Today the young ones helped me make yogurt, actually it is making as I type. I bought a 2 qt yogurt maker with some swag bucks and am so excited to see how it turns out. We also decided to make granola, although I am not sure how it turned out. I only had quick oats and the granola is kind of soft. It baked for 20 minutes. Any suggestions?

It smells like french toast and tastes yummy!...just softer than I would like.

Now, on to other news. Tomorrow Devin and I are attending an orientation at the Human Resource Department here in our county. We are hoping to foster adopt. I will keep you all posted on how that goes. We originally looked into an African adoption and that is not totally ruled out, but Devin has his heart into domestic so we are checking it all out. The social worker we are dealing with is very nice and was quite happy when I told her we have 7 children already. I was shocked to see her excitement. Most people gawk in amazement and think we are crazy. Well, Devin is a little crazy but I am sure I am perfectly sane...most days:-)

Adoption is something we have had on our hearts for at least a couple of years now and tomorrow we will take some steps in that direction, God willing.

I have NO pictures to post........ is a glorious sunrise Journee snapped a picture of this morning! Spring is almost here to stay.
I couldn't post without a picture and that Georgia sunrise is a beauty!

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