Friday, November 17, 2017

French Bread!

Lately, I've been making loaves of French Bread for our dinner starch.  And it has been wonderful.  The secret? It's butter topped.  And hooray for me!  I figured out how to make just enough for 3 of us, with a little left for toast in the morning, or for Ryan to have a sandwich.

FRENCH BREAD

2/3 cup warm water (about 110F)
1 tbsp yeast
1 tbsp gluten powder
2 cups flour, plus extra if necessary
1-1/5 tsp salt
1 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp honey
1 tbsp butter, melted

Put the water in your bowl or bread maker bucket; sprinkle the yeast over it.  Add the gluten powder and flour, then the salt, olive oil and honey.  Mix according to my directions over there------>
After kneading, let rise for 15 minutes, then punch down on a floured counter, roll out into a flat sheet about 1/2" thick or so, the length of your baking sheet, and roll it up into a cylinder.  Place it on a greased baking sheet (optional: sprinkle corn meal on the sheet before you put the loaf on it), and slice diagonally across the loaf about 1/4" deep, maybe a dozen times.  Then brush your melted butter on top of the bread, making sure to get plenty into the cuts!  Let it rise another 15 to 20 minutes, and then bake at 375F or 350F for a convection oven, for 18 minutes.

Ryan and my dearly beloved only want this bread these days, so that's got to tell you something, right?

Happy Friday, everyone!

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Chairs

So, recently, I threw out a couple of 30 year old, beat-to-crap sofas - hey, decades of kids leaping on a sofa will do that.  They were in my upstairs hall, which is actually about 6 feet wide, with wider spaces at each end.  So I decided to replace them with a pair of chairs and a table at each end of the hall.  I bought all of the chairs secondhand, so I had two pairs.  They were kinda butt ugly and a little beat up, but still very solid.  So I covered the scratches with a liberal application of Old English Furniture Polish (it contains stain), and I got the first pair reupholstered - it was the uglier pair.

After polishing up, but before repadding and recovering the seat:

The finished product:

And these are the chairs that have yet to be reupholstered.  They are much more ornate; this is how they look in their permanent position.  The seats don't exactly match, but they're not as bad as the others.  Can you believe I paid only $100 for the pair?

Happy Thursday, everyone!

Friday, November 10, 2017

Thanksgiving Planning!

Surely you didn't think I would miss posting this, given my terrible track record of posting actual food this year?  I know I've been neglectful, but that doesn't mean there hasn't been food, just that there hasn't been inspiration.

Thanksgiving is always inspirational, of course, if for no other reason than the sheer scale of it.  As it stands now, I will have at least 18 real people plus 3 babies, and possibly as many as 24 real people plus 3 babies.  Yes, I know babies are people, but they're cute, not fussy, and don't care what you feed them.  Line my table with babies, please....

My oldest son and his wife are taking their kids to her mother's house down south, so they're stopping here the weekend before Thanksgiving for 2, 3 or 4 days (see? everything's fluid around here).  And Patrick is leaving Arizona on the redeye Friday night, so he'll be here Saturday morning.  Accordingly, my menu planning starts a week early, and includes an early feast.

 The "week of" is stuffed, too; the number beside the date includes my estimated census.  It could increase by 2 to 7 people, depending upon the day, between Sunday and Wednesday.

Note my little "to do" list at the bottom.  Ambitious, right?  Or maybe just stupid, or stupidly wishful.  I'm not sure.

And, the list I know you all love to laugh at: What Will Marjie's Restaurant Supply House Bring?  Start with 2 jumbo fresh turkeys and let your imagination run wild.

(Preview of the turkey bibs: cut out, but not really there):

Happy Weekending, everyone! Get ready for that turkey!

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Pam's Braised Chicken Thighs

It's been so long, I'll bet you thought I don't even cook any more!  Well, I do, it just isn't....memorable? inspiring? I don't know, it just isn't.

But last week, I found Pam's recipe for braised chicken thighs.  Of course, I had to change it, because I'm not a one-pot kind of girl.  So here's my take:

BRAISED CHICKEN THIGHS WITH GRAPES

8 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
olive oil
salt & pepper to taste
1 onion
2 carrots, sliced thin
2 cups vegetable broth
1/4 cup water whisked with 2 tbsp cornstarch
2 cups red seedless grapes
1 cup rice (I used Royal Rice blend)
1/2 tsp salt
2 cups water

In a large skillet, heat the olive oil, add the onion, and brown the chicken thighs on both sides.  Remove from the pan, add the vegetable broth (or 2 cups water plus 2 tsp vegetable base), and heat to a boil, stirring to loosen the browned chicken and onion bits from the pan.  Add the water/cornstarch mix, and stir together until thickened.  Stir in the carrot, add the chicken back to the pot, and cook until the chicken is done.  Meanwhile cook the rice with salt and water for about the last 20 minutes of the chicken's cooking time; add some butter when it's done if you wish (but that is absolutely not necessary with this chicken sauce).  Add the grapes to the chicken mixture for the last 5 minutes of cooking, just enough time to heat them through.

Pam's way is easier, but mine is good for those of us who don't like our foods to touch.  This was so good that I've actually made it twice, and it's on the schedule for Pre-Thanksgiving week.  Yes, that's a thing.  And, yes, I've begun making the schedule.  And, yes, I will be cooking 2 Thanksgiving dinners.  Updates soon.

Meanwhile, Happy Thursday, everyone!  Stay warm!

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Voting In Snow

So, this fall has been on the warm side: 50s, even some days in the 60s.  Imagine my surprise when I went to vote yesterday, and this was going on:


Of course, we all went to complete our civic duty, Beloved, Ryan and me.  One old lady there told me she misses when my kids were little and would stop during their walk home every day to play with her dog, Bridget.  I miss when my kids were little, too....but it's a great feeling to know that people in town still think well of them.

And, just in case you need a dose of cuteness, how about Nora last weekend, ramming around in our walker?  She's only 7 months old, and can't balance herself well, but she's sure she can walk.  Someone just has to hold her up.  Isn't that why Grandma has a walker?  No, silly, not that kind....

Happy Wednesday, everyone!

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Speaking of Halloween...

The last time each of our grandchildren came to visit, their moms brought their Halloween costumes.  I never dressed up my babies, but I guess things are different these days.  Anyway, they're adorable, aren't they?

Nora as a narwhal:


Maddie and little Five as dragons:

Flowers Shannon picked me from my own yard:

OK, so those aren't even children.  But my dearly beloved and Ryan both howled about her "dead sticks!"  I thought it was pretty funny.  Who knew there were still flowers blooming in the chily northeast during the last weekend of October?

And, speaking of October, Mark's 18th birthday was last Sunday.  Can you believe my baby is 18?  Of course, he was at college on his birthday, but we celebrated when he was home for fall break.  You don't think he would be allowed to NOT celebrate, do you?

 He told me he didn't want a cake, so I told him I'd make him a fish instead.  "As long as it's frosted and decorated, Mom, that's fine."

I wonder if having a frosted Birthday Fish is going to become a trend?

Happy Wednesday, everyone!