Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Baby Birds

The "wreath finches" as we have decided to call them are growing fast.  Three of the eggs hatched on April 14th and the fourth the next day.  They are at least three times the size they were then.  Mama Bird doesn't stray too long ; I notice she leaves for short periods of time during the day to get food.
They are ravenous in the above photo:).  When Mama is away the babies often are asleep and look similar to one big dust bunny as they snuggle together.  
We felt pretty accomplished getting these photos!  
We are careful not to disturb the family so wait until Mama is away to take a peek.  We are pretty protective of them--since the nest isn't in a tree, our cement steps are a few feet below the wreath nest.  We placed several bath towels on the cement so if someone falls out, hopefully there will be no injury.
Will update as they grow!

Monday, April 20, 2015

Nothing Like Homemade Bread! No Knead Bread



Some years ago, when I was a stay-at-home mom (SAHM for you up-to-date people), I did a fair amount of baking.  With five growing boys and a husband who worked long hours and played sports and stayed generally busy (well, so did I), I cooked and baked a LOT.  I enjoyed it and still do but we only have our 14 year old daughter home now so not making the mass quantities that I did before.  Five boys often came with a friend or two each so there were always cookies, brownies, taco soup, etc. ready to feed the masses.
Today I want to share a great recipe for no-knead bread.  It was so nice to mix it up in the bowl, let it rise, place in bread pans and it would be ready not too long afterwards.  I would know my bread was "doing it's thing" and I could go on with my day.
Here is the list of ingredients:

2 packages dry yeast 
Add this to large bowl along with 5 cups warm water--allow yeast to dissolve.  If the water is too hot it will kill the yeast!
Add:
 8 tablespoons honey
8 tablespoons shortening
6 teaspoons salt
6 cups flour (all-purpose white or wheat) 
(you will need an additional 6 cups for later step)

Now for the fun part, at least for me:
You can stir it by hand or use a stand mixer.  I recently got a great deal on a Kitchenaid Artisan 5 quart mixer.  I don't know why I didn't do that years ago!  I found my great deal at Kohls.com via bradsdeals.com.  With the great sale price, free shipping, a Kohl's coupon I had, plus Kohl's cash and a rebate I received, I paid less than $200 for my awesome new friend.  If you haven't, check out bradsdeals.com for future deals.  No, I haven't been compensated to lavish such praise--just wanted you to be aware that there are sites out there that can save you money.  Plus, I got to pick from a large variety of colors--I decided on cranberry for my kitchen.
If you don't have a stand mixer, a hand mixer may work just fine or just do as I used to do--a spoon and some elbow grease.  Fire up those muscles!
Beat on high for 3 minutes if using a mixer or until all is mixed in.
Then, mix in another 6 cups of flour.  I actually use 6 cups all-purpose white flour and then 6 cups wheat flour to change things up a bit; you could mix the ratios as you please.  Allow dough to rise--I place it in a warm area of the kitchen and put a dish towel on top of the bowl.
It will look similar to this--just in case you don't know what risen bread dough looks like lol.
Now, grease 2 bread pans and spoon the dough into those.  Again, place the pans in a warm area and cover with a clean dish cloth.  Allow to rise.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Bake bread for approximately 45 minutes if using regular sized bread pans.  Of course, some ovens vary by temperature so just check to see if  the bread is browning and you can also check the middle with a butter knife or wooden skewer.  When done, remove from oven, place pans on cooling rack and brush with melted butter (for that awesome golden glow).  Remove from pans and allow to continue to cool.
Now to enjoy!  Spread with butter, honey, jam, peanut butter, Nutella, etc.  You know what you like so go for it!  Easy and delicious.  This bread is so great to accompany dinner or have as a snack.
Happy baking!

A fun blog hop AND updates and photos of the new puppy:
http://www.clairejustineoxox.com/2015/07/mollie-border-collie-blog-creative.html





Beautiful "Blue Rose" Echeveria Imbricata.
Love succulents!
 
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