Wednesday, February 20, 2013

100% Whole Wheat Bread Adventure

The Adventure Begins

A few days ago, I decided I would dive into the adventure of making 100% whole wheat bread. My mother used to make bread every week. She made three little loaves, one of which she ate, and two which she gave away. Her whole wheat recipe included some white flour and was absolutely delicious. I remember it also labor intensive and time consuming ... and a lot had to do with the handling. However, I'm not too inclined to spend a lot of time, and not too excited about variable success (and expense) while trying to perfect a lovely loaf of bread. I also did not want to use a "starter," as that sometimes triggers an annoying headache.

One of my intentions was to make a 100% whole wheat bread from 100% whole wheat flour (I know that sounds redundant), but apparently according to the "experts" there are many ways of marketing flour that makes you think you have "100% whole wheat." What I wanted was the entire wheat berry, including the germ (which is removed during processing of flour used even in "multi-grain" or "whole wheat bread," etc.). If it says only "whole wheat" and does not say 100%, they have removed the germ and over-processed it. 

My concern was that some of the 100% whole wheat homemade breads I've experienced have had the consistency somewhere between a concoction of dried drywall compound and a brick. What I'd hoped for was a recipe that would be easy and produce a moist and flavorful bread that would not turn to stone in a couple of days, and to which I would not have to add white flour to achieve it.

So ... I looked ... where else, but the internet, and found a recipe quickly. It looked good, although I'm not a big fan of molasses, nor the taste of honey when cooked ... and wondered about the olive oil. But I read the reviews and it had a five star rating with 76 reviews. After reading the comments which said that some people had substituted brown sugar for the other sweeteners, and that some had added oats, other seeds, or substituted white for wheat flour, etc., and it still turned out wonderfully, I decided to try it.

The First Baking

I thought I should make it according to the recipe the first time. I realized though, that I only had enough yeast for 1/2 a recipe. Since I wanted to share one loaf and keep the other, I divided the 1/2 recipe into 2 small loaves. I may have overcooked it for a few minutes due to the smaller loaves, but the result was VERY GOOD and EASY. Yes! Amazingly easy ... quick, hardly any time working with it ... the only time consuming part was just waiting for the dough to rise. I'm going to post the link to the recipe here so that you can read it for yourself. It's kind of a long post because some of you asked for the recipe, and I'm going to make a few observations about the process because it's quite different than any other bread I've ever made.

My two small loaves:



When they say minimal mixing, it really means minimal mixing; and as little flour as possible is a must, according to the reviews. I used my Kitchen Aid mixer with the batter beater (not the bread hook). I put REALLY hot tap water in the mixing bowl, and added the first five ingredients as the recipe said. Next I added 2 cups of flour, and literally mixed for about 5 seconds, followed by adding 1 more cup of flour and the yeast, after which I mixed for maybe another 30 seconds. It looked VERY sticky. I started the mixer on low speed and added perhaps another 1/4 to 1/2 cup (remember I was making 1/2 a batch). It started to pull away from the sides of the bowl but still looked startlingly gooey and sticky. I decided to take them at their word and removed the beater, covered it with a clean towel and let it rise for 45 minutes. I punched it down after rising, spread a bit of flour on a board and removed from the bowl. I swished it around for 2-3 seconds in the flour, made a ball in my hands. Although it didn't call for ANY kneading, I couldn't resist and kneaded it about 5-6 times (LITERALLY 5-6 times!) and divided it half. I formed each loaf by folding and stretching the top around to the under side of the loaf until it was smooth(ish) on top and the ends, and laid it in the pans. I let it rise about another 45-50 minutes and baked it 25 minutes in a 350 oven.

I didn't mind the flavor of the honey and molasses and would do it that way again; it was very mild. I would try baking it 5 minutes less (or look at it, at least) if I make two small loaves again instead of a big one. It was slightly more "dense" in texture by the 3rd day, but then there was also very little left by then. :-)

I would not have believed that something that sticky, that I only mixed for about 1 minute total (if that), and that did not require ANY kneading, would ever turn out to be bread. Everything I have experienced or read about bread required much kneading and TLC. Not this  - it's EASY, EASY EASY!

There may be a better recipe out there, but for the time being, I'm satisfied with this, and the 100% whole wheat seems to agree with me much better than commercial "whole wheat" or white bread. It's not the texture of store bread, but then it also has no artificial ingredients or chemicals, no highly processed flour with part of the wheat berry removed, no high fructose corn syrup, and no preservatives, etc. I'm looking forward to trying a big loaf to see how it does. Hope you find this as easy and successful as I did.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

A Lamp Unto My Feet and A Light Unto My Path – the Wonderful Word of the Lord.

One of my greatest blessings ... the Word of God. Any problem, any bump in the road, any question can be answered by God’s word.

I’ve heard people say sometimes, “Well the Lord didn’t talk about ________.”  (You fill in the blank.) Yes He did. We just have to be willing to apply concepts to specific issues. It’s what the parables were all about – concepts presented in story form.

For example, do we look at the story of the Good Samaritan, and think, “Oh, that’s only talking about if I meet a Samaritan  ... that’s only if I meet someone who is lying alongside the road who has been robbed ... He wasn’t talking about reaching out to earthquake or flood victims?” No, we actually do get the meaning of the story. We know it’s helping those in need, those whom we don’t necessarily know, people who are perhaps not able to pay us back, etc. We really ARE able to extrapolate from the parable how we should be reaching out to those around us – well mostly. 

Do we also apply it to being patient and kind to the annoyingly “needy” person who has lots of problems and calls at the least convenient time to talk? The one who seems always to be along the side of the road and wounded? Do we give grace in our hearts towards the woman in the checkout who has at least two dozen (or so it seems) children whining and running amuck? Do we even give her a smile or a softly spoken encouragement?

In general, I think we do the Good Samaritan thing pretty well – especially when it’s something we can throw ourselves into for a specific and planned amount of time and then it’s over. 

There! See? I helped! Good deal, well done! 
Check it off the list, 
I’ve done my thing with the Tsunami victims. 
Now back to my life. 

We look at the story of the Good Samaritan and we could say, “Well, he did that. He saw a problem, and took the guy to the inn and he was done.” No, the man said to the host, “Take care of him; and whatsoever thou spendest more, when I come again, I will repay thee.”  He was involved for the long haul.

Sometimes I think we apply the scripture just as long as it’s convenient to do so – when we have the time, when it doesn’t interfere with our plans, when we’re in the mood or when we’ve deemed the occasion worthy. Harder are the everyday, tedious, needling issues that require longsuffering and patience and continued or repeated action. It requires sacrifice. I heard in a sermon once, “If it doesn’t hurt, it’s not sacrifice.” Brought me up short – look up the definition (biblical from Strong’s – “death”). Maybe not literal death - maybe death to our plans, death to our wants and wishes, death to self.

Sometimes we would rather make excuses.

But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves. For if any be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass: For he beholdeth himself, and goeth his way, and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was. But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed.  James 1:22-23

I love James – he just doesn’t give me any slack.  Wow! Well, not sure where this came from or why the Lord laid this on my heart today . . . it wasn’t what I started out to write. Maybe I needed to hear it.

Friday, April 23, 2010

A Year in the Making - Rogan's Baby Quilt

Well, it's done!  A labor of love for the sweetest little grandson! Benjamin Bunny is happily at the edge of the meadow, holding his carrot and waiting to be loved.

Rogan's Quilt

When I started the quilt, it didn't seem that it should take so long . . . but it has. My hands just don't tolerate much squeezing, pushing and pulling anymore. If I hadn’t decided to do a lot of embroidery, it would have been fine, but that’s how I “tied” the quilt and created the detail at the same time. I’m so glad I was able to finish it. It was sort of one of those things that took on a life of its own after I started planning it.

I knew the theme was going to be Beatrix Potter rabbits and such.  So my creative juices began thinking up all kinds of fun things I could do. My mom had made such beautiful bunnies and bears. She had a gift for creating her animals -- designed her own patterns, and worried them into being.  I have a lot of her fur cloth left, and thought how fun it would be to do something for Rogan like that. But I knew I never could. I watched in awe as she made her fur cloth come to life. What could I do with some of it to make Rogan something fun and memorable?
Ahhh -- a quilt. A quilt with a furry appliquéd rabbit. Fun!
Ahh - a scene around the rabbit. Of course that wouldn’t be too hard . . . .
What I envisioned was a quilt based on the theme. Benjamin Bunny in the midst of a forest path, at the edge of the meadow, with his onions and radishes, looking towards a basket into which I could put stuffed fabric  onions and carrots, etc. The process of designing the quilt and searching for the fabric to duplicate the mood I wanted was great fun. I had a blast finding bargain fabric that fit the scene and a wonderful time putting it all together.

Closeup of the center

The slow part . . .
 Ahh -- I think I’ll use the thickest batting I can find to make it nice and fluffy and comfy.  Oops . . .
That’s what slowed the whole process down. I couldn’t get my hand around the thick batting and bunch it up to do the fine embroidery nor did I have the strength to double the needle back through to make the tiny stitches.

Best laid plans - So I prayed my way through it. And finally, after a year, I have finished what was supposed to be a shower gift. I had the piecing/appliqué done for the shower, but not the rest. Finished it just a few short weeks before the year anniversary of the baby shower.

But it’s DONE!!

Benjamin Bunny

The wall and the gate - closeup

Closeup of the moth and one of the bees

 The four corners

Closeup of the basket

Removable carrot and onion.
Fun to put in the basket and take it back out again.

Happy Dreams Little Boy

Saturday, April 10, 2010

April 1 - The Happiest of Birthdays

April - New Beginnings

April has been a glorious month. It begins a new year for me in various ways.

-- April 1 -- The Day of my Birth. 
As a child, I shared this day with Brother Maynard Case. While poking my foot gently with his cane, he'd always say, "So how's my little April Fool?"  We'd stand together for the "Birthday Song" after Sunday School.  It's good to remember.

Now I share my birthday with another good brother in Christ, brother Bruce Haines.  

This year, April 1st fell on the Thursday before Conference. Although I enjoy celebrating quietly with my brothers and sisters at church, I must admit that it was fun to just spend the day with my family at home. And it was a joyful day indeed!

Dan and I spent some time outside digging in the dirt and cleaning up around the outside. It was such a beautiful day I couldn't resist taking a few pictures of the forsythia, which was in full bloom for the first time this year, the daffodils and the newly emerging plants - just barely above ground and being very brave to peek out so early - with the chance of cold still a possibility.

Daffodils with their heads bowed in the strong south wind.  
A little clean-up needed to drag the dead wood from 
around the plants.

 The daffodils on the other side of the house - all perky and 
upright. No wind to buffet them there.

  Chives and sage - just coming back from their long winter's sleep.

Part of my birthday fun was going with the family to the nursery and picking out some new things to add to the flower garden areas around the house. It was so much fun! Rogan seemed to enjoy just wheeling around in his stroller and soaking up the lovely air and looking at the colors.

 Alyssum, tabasco peppers, lemon thyme, regular thyme, a rose plant named 
"Teddy Bear." How appropriate!

Very funny -- the lady at the nursery was wanting to know if these plants were going to be cared for, or if we were talking about choosing something here that would have "severe neglect."  Ha ha. She looked at me with that knowing look and a raised eyebrow.  The term "severe neglect" will now be a permanent part of the Lawrence family "fun vocabulary with special significance" to be used and abused as the situation indicates.  :)

In the evening, my dear daughter-in-law fixed a lovely meal with a homemade cherry pie (my favorite) and Jesse grilled.

 Fun waiting for dinner.
 "The Big Red Barn" by Margaret Wise Brown  
Same author as "Goodnight Moon." 
I love it - maybe even better than GM . . . maybe.
Dinner Time
 Rogan LOVED grilled/smoked mushrooms. I can't believe how many he ate! 
Mama, can I have some more, PLEASE?

Plants and a beautiful box containing some very fun scrapbooking supplies, some much needed kitchen utensils and a precious card from Rogan, were the thoughtful and lovely gifts. The fun was to be extended later in the week with a wonderful shopping trip with Cynthia at Joann's. Scrapbooking paper is such a weakness of mine, and she knows it!

Rogan's little hand print. What a perfect card - gift!

 So pretty. I love pretty boxes.

I couldn't have had a more wonderful birthday.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Quiet Book - A Second Generation

Yesterday would have been my mother's 93rd birthday. She was such a dear, and I miss her so much. We talked every day and did so many fun things together. She was truly a special friend. She was especially talented with her hands, and created so many beautiful things. But above everything else, I remember her patience with me, and her gentle and loving ways. She was thoughtful and considerate . . .  and she was my wonderful mother.

The other day I ran across the "Quiet Book" that she made for Jesse. I know she had a pattern of sorts for this, but like everything else she did, I know too, that she couldn't leave anything alone. She always added special touches, or redesigned it . . . sometimes so much that the original was lost in the process. By the time it was finished, I'm sure this little project had many added "grandma" touches.

I thought I'd post some pictures just for fun.  Jesse loved the book and for a very long time it went to church with us every Sunday.

Alligator - learning to zip  . . .
and unzip . . . 
you could spend a great deal time helping him eat his ice cream!

Giraffe . . . learning to tie a bow . . . or three

Pelican . . . learning to hook . . .
and . . . unhook . . .
tasty fish for dinner. Yum yum.

Elephant . . . little button high-top skates

Turtle . . . snapping (snapping turtle?)
and . . . unsnapping
finding Grandma's love inside

Bear . . . lacing his catcher's mitt

 Hippo bus driver . . . buttons
What a big mouth you have!

Lion . . . braiding his tail

Kangaroo . . . buckling . . .
 and . . . unbuckling 
cute little Joey inside

Now there's a second generation to enjoy the book.  Rogan thinks it's fun to look at and feel. One of these days, he'll be able to tie as well as untie the ribbons on the giraffe.  For now it's great fun to see him untie them - one little step at a time.  My mom would have been so thrilled that it's still in pretty good shape and being enjoyed. Thanks Mom.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

I No Longer Remember How to Make Coffee ;)

I’ve suddenly forgotten how to make coffee ;)

Dan’s back from Mexico. Yay!  So yes, I officially no longer remember how to make coffee.

It’s a convenient memory problem. That way, we can be assured that the coffee will always be superb  . . . and strong.  You see, Dan has always made the coffee & he’s very good at it.  I’ve tried in the past to equal his coffee making expertise (I haven’t tried too hard) but alas, I’ve failed.  Mostly, I think it’s my “scrimp and save” nature and I try to make it go a little further than it should. Too much water, not enough coffee.  Dan’s coffee, on the other hand, can stand alone.

We started making coffee years ago by grinding our own beans and using a Melita drip funnel. It’s not a machine; it’s just a 6 cup funnel which you hold by hand while you pour hot water through it. It avoids having the coffee maker on the counter taking up space, and it makes superior coffee.

He’s tried to teach me to do it right ;) and in his absence I limp along and try my best . . . but he has his method down to a fine art and I’d hate for him to get too out of practice. 

Now that he’s back, I just can’t remember . . .
“Honey, is that one or two scoops?  Oh yes, 5!  Well dear, maybe you should just go ahead and make it, and then it will be just PERFECT!"   ;)

Saturday, February 20, 2010


Communication:  I’ve been thinking a lot about that lately. Dan’s been in Mexico for about three weeks. After spending 24 hours a day with him for 365 days a year for 34 years, not having him around to chat with is a little odd. He’s been away like this before but just in the last few years, and just a couple of times.  I never realized before he started traveling, how much we talk - how much I depend on his listening . . . and responding.

I’ve been thinking too, about our culture and how much it’s changed in recent years. We live in a world of connectivity - plugs and wires and cables and “wireless” connections - everywhere we look. At home, at the restaurant, in the parks in Mexico (and I suspect every other nation), at church, in grocery store parking lots, driving down the road !! :O Yikes! 

I remember “back in the day” when we gathered around the kitchen table on a winter evening and talked the evening away, telling stories, laughing and enjoying one another’s company. On summer evenings, people sat on the front porch visiting with friends and neighbors; exchanging ideas of importance . . . or just trivial chatter, watching the children play. There was real connection.

But these days, we have limited time - limited space, and our real communication seems to be slipping away a bit. “Hi”,  “c u tnite”, “lol”. 

I was talking to one of my students the other day about texting Dan in Mexico. Due to the cost of international texts, I was lamenting the fact that one text message only allowed 160 characters.  He looked at me like I was crazy and said, “Well that ought to be more than enough.” And then he kind of chuckled and said, “Hmm, I guess I don’t have that much to say.”

Now DON’T get me wrong. :)  I’m actually VERY thankful for our abilities to send emails, texts, and IM. I otherwise would have no contact with my dear sweet husband at all, as phone calls are much too expensive. And I’m spending this evening on my laptop, sitting on the couch with my two dear kids (each with a laptop) each of us doing “our own thing”. But we’re together and we’re sharing ideas and information about what we’re up to.  YAY. But I have an observation     . . .

Observation . . . for being so “connected,” seems to me that folks are getting a little more disconnected in general. I read an article not too long ago about how elementary age kids will have few communication skills by the time they’re adults. Raised in a world full of computers, cell phones, iPods, gameboys, the wii, etc. we’re growing somehow more separate, more isolated, more drawn within ourselves and somehow losing a great many of our skills for meaningful communication. We find solace in our isolated, self-made worlds. But it’s communication that partly helps us develop healthy emotions - and healthy emotions help form stable relationships.

Hearing a person’s voice, experiencing the free exchange of meaningful ideas, knowing someone is really listening and responding, laughing together - it means so much. I’m grateful for a family who likes to get together and talk and laugh and share thoughts, “happenings,” plans, ideas . . . it’s part of what weaves the fabric of a family and a society together. I received a phone call this week from someone who just felt like sharing a funny little story with me, I suspect, because she knows that Dan is gone. A kindness, a simple thing, the sound of a friendly voice - didn't take a lot of time - we only spoke for a couple of minutes. But it was a spirit lifting experience.

For those not so fortunate, I plan to step outside my comfort zone from now on and go out of my way to talk to someone who perhaps is not so blessed with "communication opportunities" as I am.  Even if it means . . . yes . . . using facebook, emails, texts, this blog . . . or some "connectivity device" . . . it's better than saying nothing at all :)