Wednesday, February 27, 2013

More Bread Making-A Comparison of Two Recipes

I found this recipe yesterday and it was recommended to me by a friend.  I thought I would try it.  You can get it here and I tweaked it just a bit.  This is the recipe I used (with the tweaking):

Amish White Bread

2 cups warm water
1 1/2 TBS Active Dry Yeast
1/4 cup of sugar (the original recipe calls for 2/3 cup sugar)
1/4 cup vegetable oil (I used canola)
1/2 tsp salt
6 cups all purpose flour

Mix the sugar and water together and then mix the yeast in.  Let sit for about 10 minutes until frothy to activate the yeast.  Then mix in the salt and oil into the yeast mixture.  Then add the flour.  Turn out onto a clean, floured surface and knead a few times until the dough is smooth.  Then put in an oiled bowl and let rise for about 2 hours or until double the size.  Turn out onto a floured surface again and knead a few more times.  Divide in half and place into two loaf pans.  Cover and let rise for another 30 minutes.  Bake at 350 for about 35 minutes or until golden brown.

My recipe:

2  to 2 1/2 cups warm water
1 1/2 TBS active dry yeast
1 1/2 TBS salt ( I play with this amount and often only use 1 TBS)
6 1/2 cups flour

Basically I put it together and knead and let rise the same way and times as above.  The difference is that I bake it at 4 for 30 minutes or so.

The verdict.

The Amish bread was a smoother dough.  I tend to not knead much on mine and perhaps if I did it might make a difference.  Rise times were the same.  The Amish bread smelled delicious while baking and the loaves came out a pretty golden brown.
(My recipe on left, Amish recipe on right)

When slicing into the Amish bread the crust wasn't as crusty as my recipe so the Amish bread was a bit easier to slice.

(My recipe on left, Amish recipe on right)

The Amish bread looked and felt more spongy. It seemed very similar to store bought loaf.

(I cut my recipe bread a bit thin which caused it to crack down the center, the Amish recipe was sliced a bit thicker)

Upon tasting the Amish bread had a soft texture, a good slightly sweet flavor and was great for my peanut butter and jelly sandwich. My recipe was slightly saltier and had a more rustic flavor.  The crust was crusty and the center was dense but not crumbly or dry.  My son and I prefer my recipe better than the Amish bread.  My husband prefers the Amish bread mainly because of the texture and similarity to store bought bread.

In the end, I am going to work on my recipe a bit more.  I am wondering if the oil will help with the sponginess.  Tomorrow I am going to use my recipe and add oil and reduce the water to 2 cups.  I will report my findings.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Using Technology in Homeschooling Lessons

While we want to work on the basics with the kids we also want them to continue to be proficient in new technology.  It is the way the world is going and we don't want them to go back in time technologically.  Hopefully over the summer two of the three will work on typing skills.  They are enthralled with watching their father and me type without looking at the keyboard.  They want to be able to do that, so typing lessons will commence!

This year Santa brought them all android tablets.  Santa chose to get them the Motorola Family Edition Tablet.  It is very user friendly, uses an android/Google system.  The kids love it and they use them almost everyday. I decided that with this technology they need to use them in their studies.  We downloaded some great apps on there and also started putting their assignments on a "homeschooling" calendar for them to access.

This has worked out great.  I load their assignments on the calendar and if it is web-based then they click the link on the calendar and it opens right into a browser and directly to the page where they need to be.  Much of their science and social studies is on the calendar.  They can click to watch the video or read the book or website page.  I can individualize for each child and on the calendar they just click on their name to get their assignments.  We use the Google calendar and share it among everyone.  It took about 30 minutes to set it up so they could all see it on their tablets but once it was done then it was super easy.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Why we Homeschool, part II

Our Trip to Daytona Beach, February, 2013

Because we homeschool we are able to take advantage of the offers that come our way.  This trip was given to us by a friend who couldn't use her time share this year. Because our calendar is flexible we were able to go. 

Beautiful beach and skies

Fun in the pool.  Yes, it was a heated pool.

Beautiful scenery.

Wearing shorts in the winter.

Learning about chocolate in a chocolate factory.

Getting up early to see the sun rise over the ocean.

Practicing handwriting.

Reading with the sound of the waves.

Putting our feet in the water and contemplating our big seas.

Learning about giant sloths that roamed this area many years ago.

Finding our own secret gardens.

Learning from our environment.  We went to the farmers market and learned that the produce was grown locally and that the growing season is just about year round here.  Loving the huge strawberries we bought.  Enjoying the big beefsteak tomatoes that have so much flavor. Walking the beach daily looking at what ever came our way.


Portuguese Man-o-War.

We chased seagulls, searched for seashells, and did a bit of metal detecting. 

The last night we were there we went to a local college and joined their astronomy club in looking through the large telescopes into the night sky.  We saw Jupiter and three of its moons, Orion's Nebula, the Seven Sisters, and more.  We learned so much about our night sky.

This IS why we homeschool.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Do you ever????

Do you ever see a pattern and fall in love with it?

Do you ever know that this pattern is EXACTLY what will look awesome on you????

Do you ever choose a yarn that you love, but feel like you spend too much money on it, but realize it is worth it and you will LOVE the finished product and use/wear it all the time??????

Do you ever realize about half way through that you HATE this for you????

Do you ever just set it aside because it is no longer worth working on?????

This exact thing happens to me ALL. THE. TIME!

I love the yarn, I love the pattern, but when I am working on something, I begin to hate it, for me.  If I am making something for someone else I will continue to love it.  But if it is for me. Nope. HATE. IT!

Here are two of the many unfinished projects in my house right now.  I know I have at least three more but can't seem to find them right now. They are packed away somewhere.

This (above) is a pretty pattern, pretty hand dyed yarns that I paid $20 a skein for and bought 5 of them.  I loved the sample in the shop. It is a shawl. It looks so pretty on the mannequin. I am about 40% done and I don't like it anymore. I haven't worked on it in a month. I am thinking I should unravel it out and make a sweater or something for my daughter instead. Hmmmm......

This was going to be another shawl.  More of a wrap that would go over my shoulders on cold days.  Honestly, I end up wearing a sweater and I don't use wraps too much.  It is made with fun chunky yarn in a pretty blue and lime green pattern. I now HATE it. It is sitting on the floor in my closet and will probably sit there a while longer.  It is about half done and I have no intention of finishing it. I am thinking about ripping it out and making an afghan out of it. I will give it away or sell it if I can.

The only things I love and wear are socks.  I love my socks that I knit and I do wear them all the time in the winter. Other than that, I really hate the things I make. Maybe I need to make a sweater for me instead.

So tell me what do you do with your unfinished projects that you no longer love???

Selling our House

In January we spent a lot of time on the Outer Banks of North Carolina.  We love the beach, walking everyday, the ocean waves, the calmness.  Now this is a vacation to us and we are well aware that when you talk about moving to a "vacation" area the vacation feel goes away.  But the beach is still there, the calmness when you walk on the sand and hear the ocean waves are still there.

In February we were given a great gift from a friend of ours.  She couldn't use her time share in Daytona Beach and offered it to us.  While we were there we fell in love with the area, the beach, the people, the architecture, and the fact that it is so inexpensive to live there compared to living where we do.  We knew we needed to move anyway and sell our house so when we returned we wasted no time and put our house on the market.

Our house is for sale. Notice I didn't say our HOME is for sale.  It isn't our home anymore, it is someone else's home.  Right now it is just our house and we live here for a bit longer. Our HOME is wherever we are, it isn't a place or a building.

We have been madly decluttering and working to get the house packed up and tidied up for people to come see it.  We have had 3 showings so far and no offers but it is early yet and we are hopeful. It will sell. I know it will.

I mean, who doesn't want a bedroom this big???

Yes, that is a KING size bed in there flanked by two three drawer dressers for night stands! There is one on each side.

Selling our house means that we are trying to eat down our food storage, organize our belongings and work to pack up only the items we LOVE.  I will be posting more on the sale and packing and moving in future posts.