Monday, November 30, 2015

Brioche Guest post by HB


Every Christmas I make a Challah loaf; it has become an expected tradition. This year I decided I also wanted to make a loaf that was more festive so I searched my Bread Alone book by Daniel Leader and found Candied Orange Brioche. Never having made Brioche but wanting to and the added candied fruit seemed perfect for a festive bread. So I thought I should do a test run before the holidays to ensure I know what I am doing.

I won’t repeat the recipe here as you can find it in the book (which I highly recommend) or look it up on line, but it involves candied orange peel, eggs, butter, sugar, vanilla and organic white flour.

First I candied the orange peel which starts with boiling the strips of peel in 1 inch of water for 4 minutes, draining them and then repeating the 4 minute boiling and draining twice more. This gets the bitterness out of peel. Next ½ cup sugar, ¼ cup water and the peels are simmered until they boil, stirring them occasionally. Once they boil the temperature is reduced to medium low and they simmer for 20 minutes. Never stir the solution during the 20 minutes or the sugar will crystalize. Occasionally swirl the pan in order to prevent any scorching.
  The peel strips should be soft and translucent at the end. It took mine 25 minutes to get there but it depends on your strip size. (Mine were ¼ in by 2 to 3 inches.
Lay the strips on a wire grill with a tray below and let them dry for 12 hours. The final step is to cut them into ¼ in by ¼ in segments.

Now you can make the bread which really needs a mixer with a dough hook as this dough starts out very sticky. I searched for a proper brioche pan but didn’t find one so I just used a regular 8 inch loaf pan and it worked fine.

The result was fantastic. The dough rose magnificently.
When baked it had a beautiful deep golden crust.
Best of all was the taste; sweet, buttery and rich with a hint of vanilla, yet very light. My only improvement would be to dice up the peels even smaller so they were distributed more throughout the bread.

To all the bakers out there; may your dough always rise perfectly!

Saturday, November 28, 2015

santa Claus parade Prep

Today is our town's Santa parade.
It is in the evening and our downtown streets are twinkling with lots of lights and smiling lil faces.
our town employees have been busy for the past month getting lights up and filling the planters that are lining the bridge. Hanging Christmas themed planters....
Here at 44 I like to have my front decorating finished for this day.

We are very lucky in that we only have to walk to the end of our street ---- maybe 2 minutes
The parade goes right by and we are at the very start of it.
People park their cars up and down the street so I feel we should look like part of the festivities.
I almost think we could set up a hot chocolate station on the front yard and do a roaring business.
its chilly standing still for the ole fella
Oh yes and he brings the Mrs too
This year my outdoor theme is white and silver.
Hands up if you adore the Dollar Store ----- especially when it comes to the holidays.

I found a silver tinsel wreath for $3 glued extra silver balls I had from around the house a package of snowflakes for $1,25 and a "W" at Walmart for $2.99 that I painted white (not "W" for Walmart "W" for our last name LOL ). Hung it on my door.      

An old toboggan that has seen lots of sled hills painted it white. Wrapped white lights around it. Hung evergreen boughs from my backyard. A little pair of baby boots I picked up last year from Joe Fresh on sale for $3.99.

Stuck white silk flowers from ... yes ... the Dollar store in my front step urn. A white lantern from Ikea hanging from a mini plant hanger and a silver bow to tie ----- HAHAHA ---- it all together.

HB had already trimmed the house with white lights a couple weeks ago.
I think it looks quite nice.....
I am also thinking of setting up an old CD player to play Christmas music for the Parade duration.

Time to start the inside.

Tree is up so I guess it is started .....
Happy decorating.

Friday, November 27, 2015

Rooting Violets

My father in law grew the most beautiful violets.
I think part of his success was neglect --- pure and simple
They did have a lovely bright window to live in
Unfortunately when he was in the hospital before his death my brother in law did his best to keep them going......
he loved them too much with watering
When my father in law died I grabbed them up.
I really really tried to keep them alive but well maybe they missed his caring for them and they were a wee bit water logged :-(.
I have purchased violets for myself and have had a lot of luck with them.
They reward me with lovely little flowers and when they drop their sweet velvety leaves I root them up.
Right now I have about 7 little leaves that are almost ready to be potted up
I cut the leaves with about an inch stem ---- dip them in rooting hormone

----- plant them in violet soil ---- place the pot in a bowl of water and let them drink some up

---- slip them into their own little baggy greenhouse -----

and wait , checking regulary.

After a couple weeks give the plantling a little tug. If there is resistance they are rooting. I sometimes wait til I see a little tiny secondary leaf popping thru. Then again sometimes I get too impatient and plant up the sprouting leaf....

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Christmas Knitting

I always like to do a few knitted projects for the G Kids for Christmas prezzies.
Altho this year I seem to have lots going on the needles I don't seem to have a lot to show for it.

When my girls were wee I always did the same and they were gifts to them especially made from Mrs Santa Claus.
Now I give them to the G Kids ---- a special gift just from Nona.
Just in case my girls are reading my blog I am not going to post what I am doing this year so here are a few from the past ...


The projects this year may be a January or February gift

Monday, November 23, 2015

Sock Knitting

I want to like knitting socks I really do.
I start them and I start them and I start them.....
I have knit some but it's more of a "Holy shit I have started these effin things now I gotta finish them"
I don't know what it is about socks but I cannot get excited about knitting them..
Give me a hat pattern and off I go or mittens yes yes I can do that.

I love all the sock yarns out there and I have lots of it .....
I am thinking maybe its the heel part that is holding me back ... but I'm not easily discouraged by much
Ask HB --- he has seen me pull out more stitches .... and I have made my fair share of mobias starts for sweaters
I have been thinking of trying heelless socks and see if that really is it.
I am thinking of trying yoga socks too ----- absolutely no heel whatsoever in them

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

A Busy Busy Weekend

Bapa and I had another sleepover with our Miss D
It is becoming almost a weekly or ten dayish thing altho the next couple of weeks may be disrupted by doctor appointments and Santa Claus parades
We landed in Arnprior at our regular 11 ish o'clock on Friday
Had a bit of a visit with Mommy
Packed up Miss D and off to Herriott Street
It is so much fun having her here
She loves to chalk up a storm on her chalkboard table
Colour pictures in her book
Build lots of towers with her Mega Blocks
Read her favourite stories over and over and over
Bapa loves taking her shopping
Our nephew and his kiddlys came Saturday afternoon for a visit
His wife Brandy was doing a show in our town that day
Check out her website
She makes jewellery from vintage pieces
Lots of playing ensued

Darla helped Uncle Iain make pizza dough

She would have loved to stay for pizza and "stay for a sleepover" she told us
It was great having them here and I know Miss D loved the company
This is Marlo -- look at those big baby blues

Siobhan and Will arrived later Saturday and we had pizza
Played a great game of Scrabble ---- closest game yet
More friends dropped by on Sunday to visit us BUT I really think they were here to get a Miss D fix

And then everyone was gone .... HB and I sipped on a glass of red wine and
reflected on how lucky we are

Then I looked at my window this morning

..... just a last little handprint so I wouldn't forget her LOL 

Friday, November 6, 2015

Soups On .......

Now that our weather has turned into definite fall weather it's time to put away my salad recipes
and start delving into the comforting part of the recipe box.
I have been making a lot of soup.
Here are a couple of great recipes that are quick and very daaahlicious.....
One is made with chicken and store bought gnocchi

4 boneless chicken breast
1 TBSP veg oil
1 onion diced
1 orange pepper diced (0r 1 carrot diced---- I am not a fan of cooked carrots)
1 stalk celery diced
4 cloves garlic minced
1 TBSP oregano
pinch of S and P
900 ml chicken broth
500g store bought gnocchi
Cut chicken in cubes --- Saute chicken and veggies in veg oil ---Add broth and 1 cup water --- Bring to boil --- Simmer 10 mins --- Taste and adjust seasoning --- Add gnocchi --- Simmer 5 to 10 mins

Make sure you go the extra step and make this Spinach Remolada.

1 cup chopped spinach
1/2 tsp lemon zest
2 tsp lemon juice
2 tsp olive oil
2 cloves garlic finely minced
Mix together and top each bowl

It for sure is a huge flavor in this soup

And this one with Chorizo, White Beans, and Kale

30 g Spanish smoked chorizo
1 cup chopped onion
6 cloves minced garlic
3 cups chicken broth
2 - 425g cans cannellini (or white kidney) beans
4 cups chopped Kale
Saute sausage with onion and garlic about 5 mins
Add broth --- bring to boil
Add beans
Stir in Kale
As always taste and adjust your seasonining
I added a couple teaspons of organo and a teaspoon of red chili flakes to mine
Cook 5 to 10 mins
Sprinke each bowl with cracked black pepper
Serve with crusty buns

My plan for the first part of fall is to make one new soup recipe a week.

What's for supper at your place tonight?