The Beauty of Mums, Bread, and Dishcloths

Mums.

Yum.

I have two yellow ones on my deck, and they shine bright and lovely every single day.

<exhale.>

My obsession with flowers continues.  But they sure are the happiest things, just sitting on my deck, minding their own beautiful business.  I believe in the power of intentionally surrounding ourselves with beauty.  It comes in all forms, and might just be a clean countertop or in my case – yesterday – an actual, for real, clean microwave.

There is a mulled cider candle on my mantle that is burning, and I lit a candle this morning on our table while we ate breakfast. Last night after cleaning my microwave I got in the notion to make some quick English muffin bread, too.  And ah. Fresh bread with butter for supper was a hit.  It wasn’t hard, didn’t require kneading, and was just amazing.  In the spirit of full disclosure, I shall post the recipe.  You really should go make some.


English Muffins in a Loaf

6 c. Flour

2 T. Yeast

1 T. Sugar

2 tsp salt

1/4 tsp baking soda

2 c. Milk

1/2 c. Water

Cornmeal

Combine 3 cups flour, yeast, sugar, salt, and soda.  Heat milk and water until very warm. (120-130 degrees) {or if you are like me and don’t want to mess with a thermometer, just heat your milk and water til it’s lukewarm, and dump your yeast in and stir it up nicely.}

Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients.  Beat well.  Stir in the rest of your flour to make a stiff batter.  Spoon into two bread pans that have been greased and sprinkled with cornmeal.  Sprinkle tops with cornmeal.  Cover.  Let rise in warm place 45 minutes. Bake at 400 for 25 min.  Remove from pans, slice, and EAT WITH BUTTER. (Well. Or whatever you want.) 


This loaf is all that is left of the two I made last night. The original recipe says to slice and toast, which I did, just now, with the intention of taking a picture of toasted, buttered, English muffin bread yumminess.  However, I ate it before I toasted it. Or took a picture.  Oh well.
And you should really make the soup (Zuppa Toscana copycat – made with cauliflower instead of potatoes) to go with it.  You can feel all carb-free while you eat the soup, and then take a bite of luscious bread and remind yourself why carbs are good for the soul every once in awhile.

I’ve been knitting along on my blanket edging… almost halfway done.  It’s easy, mindless, and continuously beautiful.

Somehow my dishcloth situation has gotten precarious.  I seem to run out of dishcloths regularly, and because I cannot abide dishcloths with that certain aroma about them, I’m pretty much a stickler for changing them out often.  Yet, alas, I check my drawer, and there are none.  I found a few in the garage… I think they got used to clean a weedeater. Or hold a kitten because “Kittens need blankies, Mommy!”…   I broke down and bought a few, and then I thought – hey!  I knit! I crochet! I should be making my very own dishcloths!  So I did.  Just a simple granny square, with scalloped edging around the side, and another more complex (but not very) pattern with the same scalloped edging.  I used this Easy Crochet Dishcloth Pattern for the slightly more complicated one, and this Granny Square Dishcloth for the other one.   They were so quick…  crochet is hands-down so much quicker than knitting. And fun in its own way. After finishing the one and making a whole ‘nother one, my hands were very tired of working with cotton, so it was back to my delicious merino blankie again.

I made a second pot of coffee this morning, and this weather just calls for all the coffee and tea.  Rainy, chilly, sunny, blissful fall. Schoolbooks are strewn across my table.  I sent my children out to play, and they are down in their fort in the woods. The thought crossed my mind about calling them in for math drills and science, and then I just knew.  This weather will not last, and they will not be children forever.  There is, after all, a time for everything, and school is not only bookwork.  School is manners, and getting along, and fort building, and having your siblings as your best friends.

So I shall pour another cup of coffee, and let the children play.  When they are happy and outside and getting along, it is a sweet blessing, and one I do not take lightly.  I just might even take my knitting out to the deck to sit and beside my happy little mums awhile.   (Or until my fort-builders are ravenous for their lunch.) 🙂

Joining in with Nicole from her weekly Crafting On linkup, as well as Unraveled Wednesdays and A Wise Woman Builds Her Home.

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 Knitting + tacos + the last of the ice cream 

Joining Nicole from Frontier Dreams



 

I am now officially knitting shrug #3.  Got started Friday night, then on Saturday my dear husband took care of the kidlets while I went to my local yarn store and had several hours of uninterrupted knitting time.  It was so nice to get a fair amount done, and I’m now feeling a bit more confident about getting finished without a mad rush before the wedding on April 22.  I did figure out I made a mistake on shrug #1, which should be easy to fix, but I literally need to be making every minute count.

A row here, a row there.. during nap time, and sneaking in a few rows sitting on the front porch while the kids played outside riding bikes and carving various wooden utensils with knives.  It felt good to sit outside and enjoy the sunshine and late afternoon breeze.

I’m still reading “The Insanity of God” by Nik Ripken, probably 2/3 through. It’s still gripping me, swirling in my mind and awakening, digging, convicting, and a whole host of other things that are good and hard at the same time.

I can’t wait to continue learning more about crochet… for now I have a sweet little coaster that I look at fondly and think of all the glorious crochet things in my future.

Tonight I made these Barbacoa Tacos and I have only one bad thing to say about this recipe.

There are no leftovers.

I mean, we licked the platter clean.  They reminded me so much of Chipotle, and seriously were so easy.  Just throw the meat and sauce in the crockpot, cook for 4 hours on high or 8 hours on low, shred meat, and cook again for a couple hours on low.  I  added chopped lettuce and stir-fried peppers and onions, (–I feel all frugal because these peppers had seriously saggy and wrinkly skin, and I used them anyways. They were just fine.  Yay for cleaning out the fridge!) chopped cilantro and onions, and then whizzed up some sour cream/lime juice/salt/sauce from the can of chipotle peppers in adobo sauce.  Everyone else ate them on tortillas, and I didn’t bother – just ate mine bowl-style.

I don’t usually cook stuff like this very often… even though it was really easy.  My go-to suppers trend towards soups, eggs, pancakes, and spaghetti.  And hot dogs.  Cooking like I did today actually requires forethought.  As in, the meat must be gotten out in the morning, instead of at 4:30 thinking oh phooey, right, I need to fix supper for my family because in an hour or two they are going to want to eat.  Again.  

So …yay for today because. 1.) being frugal and using the peppers instead of throwing them to the chickens and 2.) having forethought. 

And yay for right now, because my dearies are all in bed, (not quiet yet, but in bed, nonetheless) I have a cup of Lady Gray tea beside me, and it’s the time of day when I can relax a bit, knit a few more rows, and enjoy the end of the day.

Oh. And also, there is this.   

I do believe I will, thank you. 

making homemade greek yogurt

I have made yogurt in the past.

And I just have to say, that it’s one of those things that just always makes me feel like I have somehow conquered the domestic world. Thank you very much.

Something like this sounds like it ought to be hard.

But it’s not. You even do it in the microwave.

Basically, you need three things:  milk, plain greek yogurt, and a kitchen thermometer.

It goes like this:

Homemade Greek Yogurt

-Put 8 cups of milk in a microwave safe bowl. (I use my 8 cup pyrex measuring cup)

-Heat for approx. 16-20 min-until it tests at 180-190 degrees F

-Place bowl with milk in a sink with cold water and ice cubes to cool it down to 110-120 degrees F

-Stir in 1-2 Tablespoons of plain greek yogurt. (I glopped a couple spoonfuls in) and stir well.  It’s even better if you take a little milk out and stir in the greek yogurt to that so it’s easier to mix.

-Turn oven on and count to 10 and turn it off to let it get just a smidgen warm, then turn oven light on.  Put suran wrap on your bowl of not-quite-yogurt-yet and place in oven for 8-12 hours. Or until it looks yogurt-ey and not like milk anymore.  As in, you can stick a spoon in it and take out a spoonful.

-If you want runny yogurt, you are done at this point.

-If you want greek-style yogurt, the next step is to line a colander with a paper towel or cheesecloth and set in a larger bowl. Dump in your yogurt and let it strain for anywhere from 15 minutes to an hour. The longer you strain the thicker it will be… and the less yogurt you will end up with.  I like ours thick, so it usually sits for about a half hour and I end up with about 4 cups of yogurt out of my 8 cups of milk.

-Spoon into glass jars and place in fridge. It will even get thicker in the fridge.

-Sweeten to taste with whatever you like… I love to use stevia and maple flavoring, and put fresh or frozen berries on it. My kiddos like honey, stevia, peanut butter, cinnamon sugar, berries, mini chocolate chips, jam, you name it.  I typically sweeten it when I get it out, because I like to use it as an alternative to sour cream sometimes.

**Some people take out some yogurt to use in their next batch.  I do this sometimes, but I find that when I use storebought yogurt for my starter it seems to ensure a better result.

***Also, the whey that strains out of the yogurt can actually be used in place of milk in various recipes.  With no noticeable taste difference.  So far I have used it in egg casseroles, meatballs and meatloaf, and bread. It can be frozen and gotten out whenever you remember that you have it in your freezer. haha!  The times I remember it’s in my freezer is when I am NOT doing all the aforementioned things.  But I will say it’s great if you are one of the types who would, in fact, remember. And I have, just a couple times, done just that. Yet another way to feel that I have single-handedly conquered all things domestic.  Well, that and getting laundry put away.  I had three loads of the girls clothes that actually.got.put.in.drawers.   Tonight. Applause, please?    Ah well, I digress.  (I’ve always wanted to write that. Anyhoo.)

There.  See how easy that was?  Amazing.

Now go do it.

You will feel probably feel like the mouse who was given a cookie and needed a glass of milk… you’ll need to make granola next to go with it.  Aaaaand you just might be inspired to buy a cow for your very own fresh milk.  And before you know it? Cheesemaking, here we come!!   So far I feel really great just with making yogurt.  And if I manage granola too? Well, let’s just say it must have been a super awesome day where all the kids were playing happily for longer than a half hour stretch.  Which if you combine that with granola and yogurt making.. yeah.  That’s just a whole bunch of warm fuzzies all wrapped up in one day.

Have fun!