Apr 28, 2009

All my Free Time...

Has gone here...this is what we are putting up in our backyard right now. Of course we don't have the nice green grass and trees yet, but we wanted the kids to have something fun to do while we work on the rest of the yard. Every time Ammon has a nap I sneak outside and work on this - it has been a fun project! If anyone has tips on where to get a good fill to go under the playset please send them my way!

Apr 19, 2009

Grateful for Inspiration

Last week I got all the kids in bed before I headed to dance class and knew Mark would be so happy to have an evening of free time while I was gone. When I got home I knew by Mark's face that things hadn't gone according to plan. Ammon had cried most of the time and just wouldn't settle down to sleep. A dozen reasons cycled through my mind, and I finally decided that he was sad he hadn't spent any time with his Daddy and wanted to stay up and play. So I fixed a bottle, handed Ammon to Mark, and thought a little one-on-one would do the trick. When the crying continued I knew it was more serious than that...I quickly realized that this was a cry of pain. Something was bothering Ammon. There aren't many things that evoke a more helpless feeling than when your child hurts and you don't know how to help. No sooner did I pray for help in my mind than I knew something was wrong with his foot. I started examining and found that his baby toe had some elastic from his jammies keeping it in a funny position...I'm sure after a few hours of that it was really painful. As soon as I fixed it, Ammon instantly settled down and gave a big sigh of relief. And I gave a big sigh of relief and gratitude for receiving an answer to prayer so quickly. This might not seem like a huge deal to some, but to a mother facing a potentially long night of watching a child suffer, it was a true "tender mercy" from heaven.

Power

This is the "power bread" I made...I cut the dough up into individual servings before baking...so they are more like power bars. Perfect for a snack or pre/post workout replenishment. And yes, they taste scrumptious! More props to Peter Reinhart! Now my challenge is to keep up with the gobblers in my family...at least there will never be such a thing as "day old bread" in our pantry!
And just for kicks here is a picture of the baguettes I just made. I will try not to turn this into a baking blog, I'm just really excited about this new technique & the great bread it delivers!

Apr 17, 2009

My latest obsession


I never thought I would dream (literally) about baking bread...until this week. I started making bread from this cookbook this week and it is seriously the best whole grain bread I have ever tasted!! The author/chef's goal was "to make world-class bread and, let us hope, to make whole grain bread that people will actually want to eat - not just because it is good for them but because it brings them, and us, joy with each bite." Let me tell you, the goal was accomplished! And I've turned into a baking fool!

His cookbook begins with about 80 pages of non-recipe text: Chapter 1, "Following the Flavor: A Bread Baker's Journey Back to whole Grains," Chapter 2, "From Wheat to Eat, a Tutorial," and Chapter 3, "The Theory and Process of Delayed Fermentation." It includes all kinds of helpful (and much of it quite scientific) information. I devoured it and learned a lot...and will continually refer to it.

I have been searching for years for the perfect whole wheat bread recipe. Most I have tried were decent, yummy, but had flaws. And most were not true whole-grain (they all required a bit of white flour). The recipes in this book are truly whole grain and truly flavorful, light, moist, with a great crust & crumb. This excites me even more because it means the wheat in my food storage can be used without supplementing with bread flour - wahoo! There are recipes that also incorporate other grains, such as flaxseed, quinoa, oat bran, amaranth, barley, buckwheat, cassava, corn, millet, rye, etc. I feel healthier already.

This is not a cookbook for someone who likes to whip out a batch of bread from start to finish in one hour. The recipes are not terribly time consuming or hard, but it is a two-day process as you have to let things sit overnight. It might be a little advanced for those who have never made bread before. His method is unconventional, but the results are fantastic. Well let me just say it with pictures:

The first loaves I made (whole wheat sandwich bread & oat bran broom bread baguettes) I didn't take pictures - they got eaten too fast. Here is my most recent loaf, Anadama Bread, made with 100% whole wheat & corn meal & flavored with a bit of molasses. Can't wait to dig in:
This is the wild yeast starter I'm working on...which he teaches you how to do. It uses no commercial yeast, but as you can see on day 4 mine is bubbling away nicely. Can't wait to use it:
Tonight I'm trying his whole wheat pizza crust, and tomorrow I'm making something called "Power Bread" which uses wheat, oat bran, a raisin puree, sunflower seed flour, flaxseeds, and sesame seeds. Sounds dense and heavy, right? Trust me, it won't be...this book is amazing.

Apr 13, 2009

Whew!!

Wow! I had a party at my house five of seven days last week! Along with all my normal responsibilities & other Easter festivities this has been one of my craziest and busiest weeks ever! We had Ella's birthday dinner with grandparents...one day later was a family party although not at my house it still took some preparation...one day later was Josh's birthday dinner with grandparents...two days later was Ella's party with friends...one day later was Josh's party with friends...one day later (Saturday) the Easter bunny came and we went to an Easter egg hunt...one day later I hosted Easter dinner with family. Capital Whew!

Here are a bunch of photos from the various events...I am proud of myself that amidst it all I remembered to pull out the camera most of the time! (no pictures from egg hunts - too many kids around!)

JOSH
I am so excited for Josh to be 8. He has really turned into a little man over the last six months. He is a wonderful helper and is always quick to respond to a request from Mom. He loves his little brother and when the mood is right also plays excellent with his sisters. His passion is bug hunting (we've even run the course of a poisonous spider bite this month) and is a fantastic reader. He has finished reading the full Harry Potter set for the second time and is on to reading "The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe." He's quite the smarty-pants. Josh was pretty much as excited to start Scouts as he was for his birthday.

video

Both Grandpas must have been on the same wave-length...both giving him scouting paraphernalea. Josh now has a pocket knife. I am trying really hard to be OK with that!

A bug vaccuum...(at least he takes care of spiders for me!)

A nice stash!

At his pirate party we had a "cannonball stomp"...they had a great time making a lot of noise!


Josh helping his dad prepping the backyard for a swingset...a great worker!


ELLA
All year I have been asking Ella if she would please stay 3 forever. She agreed most of the time, but as her birthday got closer she would say, "Sorry, Mom, but I can't! I'm going to keep turning numbers!" So cute. I have thoroughly enjoyed Ella as a toddler and little girl. I hope she will still be little even though she is 4 now. She gives me at least 10 hugs & "I love you Mom" every day. Ella is a wonderful singer, picking up on songs very quickly and singing with all her heart. She loves to "babysit" Ammon for a few "monies" when mommy needs help. She is a true fan of movies, anything to do with princesses, and of course dress-ups.

How lucky that this picture turned out so perfect!
Enjoying her princess party
I think she likes it!
Can't go wrong with dress-ups and an umbrella!
Ella's Princess Crown Cake - this was really fun to make (time consuming, but fun!)
Miscellaneous
Some of our first tulips...hooray!
During Easter dinner Josh got in trouble and had to put his nose on the wall. The rest of the kids decided to "take one for the team" too and kept Josh company. Funny!