Okay, okay. I know it has been a while. About 3 months you say? Wow. I have gotten lazy. What can I say? I thought about making a New Years resolution to keep up my blogging, but we all know resolutions are just made to be broken. So here I am, back again. Hopefully the start of some momentum that will keep me up with the writing. I guess only time will tell…
Now that the holidays are over, I always go through the emotional dilemma about what to do with all of the Christmas cards we received. Nowadays most of them are picture cards, so easily throwing them in the recycling bin does not happen without a great deal of deliberation. I feel like I could really hurt some one’s feelings if they saw their family picture in the garbage, but I truly don’t know where to put it. I have a pile of my own pictures starting from last summer that I have yet to place in a picture album.
How about the family update that comes with some of those letters? I love hearing about the family and all of the things every person has been up to the last year, but sometimes they make me feel pretty useless and really, really lazy. One update we received recently started about the couple’s work for Habitat for Humanity, then went on to talk about how they have been in the works for 3 years to adopt a child from Africa, and finished by casually mentioning that the husband had donated a kidney for a friend in need. I swear, this is a true holiday letter we received! These saints are friends of my husbands and have every right to brag about what they have been up to the last year. However, as I listened to my husband read the letter out loud I felt myself shrinking into a thumb-sized person wearing a tent sign reading “DID NOTHING FOR HUMAN KIND THIS YEAR!”
I don’t send Christmas cards because I feel I am doing something good for the environment. No, let’s be honest. I have never sent them because I am pretty lazy. BUT IF I DID, this is how my family update letter would read:
My life is great. I have so much to be thankful for. My family is happy and healthy, my daughter is growing and talking up a storm. She goes to school twice a week where she has learned her shapes, colors, and how to talk back to her mommy. We are so proud.
The great husband is just that, a great husband. Working hard, spreading his time out wisely, and giving me a foot massage almost every night. (No joke!)
I am happy to be here in Cincinnati. I miss my sister and friends like crazy, but they are special enough to me that when we talk, it is like no time has passed. And last but not least, I have conquered my arch nemesis and culinary school…PARISIAN CROISSANTS!!! I have finally mastered the art of laminated doughs…3 years later! I couldn’t be more proud of myself. These moist and flaky bundles of heaven are worth the 3 years of trying at home. Sold at around $3 a piece in a bakery, you save yourself some major buckage by making these yourself.
This recipe was taken from the notes I took from chef Heidi Hedecker’s Intro to Baking and Pastry at Kendall College.
1 lb Water
8 oz. Milk
2 oz Compressed Yeast (or % oz. instant yeast)
4 1/2 oz. Sugar
3/4 oz. Salt
2 lb. 12oz. Bread Flour
1 lb. 8 oz. Cold Butter for Roll in
Add dry ingredients together in a mixer bowl fitted with a dough hook. Warm the milk to approximately 90°F (32°C). Stir in the yeast.
Add the milk-and-yeast mixture to the dry ingredients. Stir until combined, then knead on medium speed for 10 minutes.
Place the dough in a large floured bowl, cover and let rise until doubled in size, approximately 1 hour.
Prepare the butter while the dough is rising. Place the butter in an even layer between two large pieces of plastic wrap and roll into a flat rectangle, approximately 8 inches x 11 inches (20 centimeters x 27.5 centimeters) and chill.
After the dough has risen, punch it down. Roll out the dough into a large rectangle, approximately 1/2 inch (1.2 centimeters) thick and large enough to enclose the rectangle of butter.
Place the unwrapped butter in the center of the dough and fold the dough around the butter, enclosing it completely.
Roll out the block of dough into a long rectangle, approximately 1 inch (2.5 centimeters) thick. Fold the dough in thirds, a single book fold. This completes the first turn.
Wrap the dough in plastic and chill for approximately 20 to 30 minutes.
Repeat the rolling and folding process two more times, chilling the dough between each turn. When finished, wrap the dough well and chill.
To shape the dough into croissant rolls, divide dough in 3 lb pieces. Roll out 8 ” wide, 1/4″ thick.
Cut the dough into uniform 3 oz triangles making sure to cut a divot into the middle of the large end. Starting with
the large end, roll each triangle into a crescent and place on a paper-lined sheet pan.
Brush lightly with egg. Leg rise until doubled, but do not allow the dough to become so warm that the butter melts.
Bake at 375°F (190°C) until golden brown, approximately 12 to 15 minutes.
There was one family though that had no junk food at all. It was never a ton of fun babysitting there. They had all natural foods like nuts, berries, Muslix, and granola…and no cable TV! I always called them the hippy family. Looking back I realize they weren’t hippies, just healthy and outdoorsy. Not too much of a rare thing to see in families these days, but back then I had never seen it before.
Now I have a family of my own and I think I would truly disappoint a babysitter looking for goodies. As an adult, I love things like nuts, berries, Meuslix, and granola. Especially homemade granola. It’s not just for hippies anymore. My sister Colleen and I decided to wing it and try to make our own. It turned out pretty great if you ask me. This version turned out chewy, not really crunchy so it can also be made into bars.
4 c Oats (not instant)
1 stick butter
1/2 c dried cherries
1/4 c almond slivers
1/4 c pistachios
1 1/2 c honey
In a large pan, melt butter. Add oats and continuously move around over medium-high heat. You will do this until they begin to toast and turn a light brown color, about 15 minutes.
Pour toasted oats into a bowl, add nuts and cherries and stir well. Slowly pour in honey while stirring. Continue to stir until honey is evenly distributed.
Spread granola out on wax paper and refridgerate for 2 hours. Store in zip lock bags.
To Make Bars:
Pack granola into a small baking dish that is sprayed with cooking spray. Cover and refrigerate for 2 hours.
Cut into bars and serve. You can also individually wrap bars and keep for later.
1 c sugar
1/2 c brown sugar
1/2 c butter or margarine, softened
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 1/2 cup canned pumpkin
Preheat oven to 350F. In a large bowl, sift dry ingredients. In a mixing bowl, beat sugar and butter until creamy. Add eggs one by one while still mixing. Add vanilla. Slowly add dry ingredients. By hand, mix in pumpkin. Pour into a greased and floured loaf pan. Bake at 350F for 45 minutes. Cool for at least 15 minutes before removing from pan. Serve warm with butter