Thursday, February 14, 2008

To My Sweet Valentine

I am so in love with my man. I can hardly believe that this year we will be married for 9 years! I have to admit, today I have the flu. My fingers hurt to even type, so I am not very creative. But I do have a poem I wrote to him on our first anniversary, November 6, 2000:
You are my sunshine on days when life seems cloudy
You are my energy when I'm feeling tired
You are the smile on my face when I feel like frowning
You are my buddy when I need a friend to play with
You are my confidant when I need to share a secret
You are my comfort when I have been hurt
You are my lover when I need romance
You are my handyman when things get broken
You are my reminder of all that is good
But most of all, you are my husband and my best friend
The one I was destined to spend the rest of my life with
Someday when we are old,
And God has blessed us with children and grandchildren,
We will look back to today, and remember our first anniversary
And how it all began.
God has blessed us with three beautiful children since the time I wrote this silly poem! They have only made our love for eachother grow deeper. I am moved to tears on a weekly basis because of the deep, deep love I have for my husband. Too often I take him for granted. He is such a steady man, and I love that SO much! He is constant, and God knew that is the type of husband I needed. I see other men constantly pining for time away with friends, yet my man is constantly pining for more time with us. That will forever be precious to me.
Thank you Owen for your love. Words fail to come to me that fully describe my love for you, but I assure you, it is as deep as can be. I love you honey!

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

100% - No REALLY 100% Whole Wheat Bread

If you make bread, many times Whole Wheat Bread will call for a cup or two or three of white flour, and then a cup of 100% Whole Wheat flour to make the bread look brown.

Because a good healthy loaf of healthy 100% Whole Wheat Bread is generally $3.50-$4.00/loaf (I'm not talking about Walmart's brand of Wheat Bread - you know the kind filled with preservatives, and high fructose corn syrup - that is NOT healthy! I'm talking about the truly good and healthy brands), I decided to venture out to find a way to make 100% Whole Wheat Bread......and I found one, and it is so delicious, but most importantly, it is SO healthy (and so CHEAP - I haven't figured out the cost breakdown, but its definitely no more than $1.25/loaf)! I'm going into my second week of making it, and I nearly have it memorized - its that easy! Here's the ingredients, then I will describe the method:

4ish cups of 100% Whole Wheat flour (4 cups is working now, but in the humid summer months, I may find I need a little more flour)
1/2 teaspoon yeast (do me a favor and go to your health food store to buy this - it is much better quality than the packets you find at your grocery store - I got about a 1/3 of a pound for just over a dollar, whereas those packets at the store are closer to $2.50 and you don't get nearly as much!)
1-3/4 cup warm water
2-1/2 tablespoons canola oil (olive oil would be good too!)
2 tablespoons honey
2 teaspoons kosher salt
2 tablespoons vital wheat gluten

I use my bread machine to do the mixing and kneading for me. Combine 2 cups of your flour (2 cups - not the entire amount!!!!), the yeast and the warm water into the bread machine. Start the "basic" cycle, and mix for 10 minutes. Do not walk away, but look into your machine, take a rubber spatula or wooden spoon and help it combine. Maybe I have a cheapo bread machine, but I can't trust it to mix entirely - it doesn't reach the corners, so it needs my help a little bit :) When it is done mixing for 10 minutes, it should look like pancake batter. Unplug the machine, and let this sit - in the machine - for anywhere from 3 hours to overnight. This mixture is called a SPONGE.

After the sponge has sit for the desired time (generally I have been starting my sponge in the morning, and letting it sit all day), add the remaining ingredients to the bread machine - oil, honey, salt, vital wheat gluten, and remaining 2 cups of flour. Then start the bread machine on the "dough" cycle. Again, don't start it and leave it - make sure it is thoroughly combined. It should form a ball and feel like a chubby baby's cheek (everyone say "awwwwww!") - once it is combined and in the ball, you can walk away ;) Let it finish the entire dough cycle (my machine's dough cycle is 1 hour 30 minutes).

Once the dough cycle is complete, remove the dough (it will collapse), and form it into almost a football shape, and place it into a greased loaf pan and cover with an oiled piece of plastic wrap (or a damp towel would work fine too). I warm my oven for a few seconds and then turn it off. I leave the oven door open and keep checking the temperature until it feels like a nice warm day inside the oven. Then I put my bread in to do its second rise. Once it has doubled in size - I remove the plastic wrap (or towel if you use that) (do this carefully, in the past I've ripped my wrap off and deflated the loaf, which led to me having to let it rise again), and put the oven on 350 degrees (yes I leave the bread in there even while the oven is preheating). I then bake it for 42 minutes.

I'm telling you, this is yummy bread! It has the goodness of homemade bread, but it holds together like store-bought.


Stay, stay at home, my heart, and rest;
Home-keeping hearts are happiest,
For those that wander they know not where
Are full of trouble and full of care;
To stay at home is best.

Weary and homesick and distressed,
They wander east, they wander west,
And are baffled and beaten and blown about
By the winds of the wilderness of doubt;
To stay at home is best.

Then stay at home, my heart, and rest;
The bird is safest in its nest;
O'er all that flutter their wings and fly
A hawk is hovering in the sky;
To stay at home is best.
~Henry Wadsworth Longfellow