Wednesday, January 21, 2009

I baked bread yesterday. That sounds like a nice leisurely way to spend my time, but I baked three batches of oatmeal bread (8 large loaves, 3 small loaves), two batches of English muffin bread (was supposed to be 2 large loaves, 6 small loaves, but I managed to knock one of the large loaves off the top of my freezer where it was at the end of the rise and it turned upside down all over my kitchen floor), and maple pecan bread (9 mini loaves).
The maple pecan was a new recipe for me (hence the mini loaves). The recipe is a keeper. It is a subtle flavor combination of whole wheat, maple syrup, and toasted pecans in a yeast bread. I got the recipe from the book Bread from sourdough to rye by Linda Collister and I do thank her heartily for it. And she was right--in the serving suggestions she mentioned ham and cheese. Yes! Thinly sliced ham and provolone cheese was soooo good.
Part of the fun is juggling the schedule so that I can run my oven efficiently and get the difference rising times down and the baking pans washed and reused in the best way. And then there are the days when the dough is slower or faster to rise, throwing everything off. Since I'm doing this with only standard kitchen utensils, I haven't a hope of duplicating many bakery products, but each loaf is weighed so there is some standardization.
And why do I need all this bread you may ask. I take it to my former workplace and sell it to raise money for our Relay for Life team, which goes to the American Cancer Society. The oatmeal bread has been a consistent best seller for me, but I try to include a variety during the course of the month. I try to include a new recipe once or twice a month just to make things more interesting for me.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

I just watched the Presidential Inauguration this morning (Live-streaming on the computer--who'd have thought!) and was so glad I wasn't there in person. I cannot believe that people were taking babies and small children--it's cold, it's crowded, restrooms are few and far between. Yes, it is an historic occasion, but your child's welfare should come first.
But let me step down from that soapbox to step onto another. I loved the relative simplicity of the ceremony. While there were thousands there, and a certain amount of protocol getting everyone up on the platform who needed to be there, the ceremony itself was brief and to the point.
Obama's speech was inspiring and filled with words of conciliation, both for those of us within the country and without. He acknowledged that all is not well with America, but stressed several times the personal responsibility we all share to get it back on track. There were other things, but I thought it was a most impressive speech.
I had some quibbles with 1) Aretha Franklin's version of the song, because if they hadn't told me what she was singing I wouldn't have recognized it from her words (unintelligible) or tune; and 2) the "poem". I know poetry doesn't have to rhyme, I know poetry doesn't have to make linear sense; I know even blank verse should have some kind of meter. The poem today was a garbled collection of words with no cohesion and all the meter of a two-legged horse with a wooden leg and a crutch.
But enough of nitpicking. Let us go on with our historic moment and make life better for everyone.
(Jumping down from all soapboxes now.)

Friday, January 9, 2009

I just read in today's paper that the Post Office will be revising routes, consolidating and tightening up things. Business and revenues are down and they are, of course, expected to show a profit. And to think I was only talking on my last post about the joys of catalogs. I don't know if my route will be affected--it sounds more like in some of the northern parts of Kansas City. I hope that I do keep my same mailman. He's been on the route for a long time and is usually very punctual.
I've been reading like crazy--way too many books checked out from the library. I got hold of two old Nero Wolfe mysteries that I missed in the days of my youth. Our local library must not have owned them, because I devoured all of those books with a passion. I was quite entranced with Archie Goodwin at the time, although I must admit my devotion faltered a little when I found out he didn't like women who didn't close their dresser drawers completely. Right now I have The Golden Spiders and Some Buried Caesar in hand, and I'm finding Archie not quite so entrancing. Sometimes it doesn't pay to grow up, I guess.
Anyway, I just finished reading The Wind in the Willows. I know it's a children's book, but I never read it as a child. I had been taken to see the Disney version when I was about 7 and it made absolutely no sense to me. The only other contact I had was at Disneyland when I did the Mr Toad's Ride. That also made no sense to me. I did find the book quite delightful. The four main characters were so well drawn and the relationships are so life-like. Anyway, I'm glad I got to the book. I'm now in the middle of Mark Twain's Life on the Mississippi for a book group.

Monday, January 5, 2009

The Holidays are officially over

Christmas, the Twelve Days of and all, is officially over.
My sister would have it that you should be able to get all your Christmas stuff packed away in two hours or less. I would have it that it would be better just to have maid service, but that's a dream that I won't see any time soon.
I got the last of the decorations down to the basement and took the wreath off the door. I must admit the house looks a little bare now, but it will soon be February and time for Groundhog's Day and for the Valentine decorations.
Now I have time to file my catalogs and toss the old ones. I love looking through catalogs. It amazes me sometimes at the things people come up with for other people to buy. Of course, I only buy the necessary stuff--clothes, books, Christmas gifts, books, books, and books. So bring on the catalogs, I say. Where would the Post Office be without me!

Friday, January 2, 2009


Just got back from Australia tonight. Unfortunately, not the real Australia, but the reel one.
What a great Western, War, love story. Lovely Nicole Kidman, Lovely Hugh Jackman. Lots of horses running, cattle running, people running. Hugh Jackman running.
I was amazed to discover that the movie ran almost three hours. (I didn't do my homework to read up on this movie--except I knew it starred Hugh Jackman.)
I loved the costumes--the ladies wore their hats and gloves properly. It was a joy to see them. The plot had a few holes, a number of funny lines, and a properly sad interlude.
They credited all kinds of people, place, and things, but no librarians. Even Miss Kidman's luggage got a credit!

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Happy New Year

I've started taking down my Christmas stuff. Usually I wait for the "official" date, January 6, but this year I wanted to finish getting the furniture rearranged. Of course, I've been interrupted. My niece called to see if she could come over to pick up her Christmas gifts. It worked out well. I had her husband help shove furniture around. He also noticed that I hadn't changed the calendar to 2009, so I got that taken care of.

I was fixing lunch for my friend Loire, so I asked the relatives to stay too. I had made up a big pot of leek and potato soup. I looked for the recipe on the internet--big mistake. There are about a gazillion recipes, and the only thing they have in common is at least 1 leek and 1 potato. So I took my 3 leeks and my pound of Yukon Gold potatoes and winged it. Turned out pretty good, if I do say so myself. Had about a cup of 1/2 & 1/2 leftover from Christmas baking so added that when I added the rest of the milk and flavored it with a pinch of rosemary and a smidge of nutmeg.