Saturday, April 12, 2014

It's 10 O'Clock...Do you know where your milk is?

We have done pretty well with keeping our groceries stocked so far, keeping whatever we can't fit in the house, outside in a cooler. I would say that milk is our biggest issue. We just don't have enough space to keep it inside in the small propane fridge and with the freezers filled with moose and deer meat. With temperatures heating up during the day, we knew we needed to figure out something to keep the cooler consistently cold.

I thought it sounded like a good idea when my husband decided to bury it under the snow on the deck. That is, until I was the one to have to dig it out this morning for a thirsty toddler.

I walked outside and assumed that the shovel marked the exact spot where the cooler was. We still have a LOT of snow on our deck! The daily temperatures have softened the snow and then re-frozen
them at night, giving the top layer a lovely hard crust.

photo 1 (1)After digging for a few minutes...I finally saw the cooler! When I cleared enough away to open it....I grabbed the shovel again to clear out the inside.

photo 2

People have suggested that we stock up on dry and condensed milk. I'm not going there....and have come to the conclusion that we should probably get a goat.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Lazy Lady Bread

During the winter months we have seen ample amounts of blue jays, Cananda jays, crows, and ravens. Today, it was refreshing to see a couple of different feathered friends. The red winged black bird and common grackle stopped by for some bird seed. I tried my best to get a picture. I even hid in the blazer with the window rolled down like a crazy bird lady...waiting for them to land again. They didn't. It may have had something to do with the fact that I am as stealthy as an elephant with tap shoes on. It's truly a miracle that I've been able to get any pictures of wildlife so far! I'm not sure, maybe I get too excited and give off a little electric energy. Or maybe I'm just loud and careless. Most likely the latter.

Before I knew it, it was two o'clock and I had wasted all my free time bird watching. Dinner time creeps up on me every day and today was no different. I am a full time cook and baker to my three guys. We're quite limited when it comes to options for takeout or restaurant dinners or even a store to grab a frozen pizza. Question of the day...what's for dinner?

Luckily, last night at ten o'clock I decided to mix up a batch of lazy lady bread, more commonly known as no knead bread. If you are afraid of yeast....this is the bread for you. And if you are afraid of yeast, please don't be!

I remember my first couple of times working with yeast. I was so intimidated and got frustrated easily. Instant, active-dry, and rapid rise??? Yeast has a language all in it's own. I dove in...probably killing the yeast with too hot water, and nothing would rise. The next time I managed to conquer a flawless first rise only to be devastated by a collapsing second rise. I had no idea what was going wrong. Yeast is so fickle. Fickle and magical! It's a science, and I feel that there is no other thing that happens in my kitchen that is equally rewarding as fresh bread.

Get your hands dirty or your dough hook dirty, and start experimenting. I purposefully try to skip the bread isle when I'm shopping for Clayton Lake because I know that I will be forced to make it.

IMG_9421The reason I call this a lazy lady's bread is because you mix three ingredients, add some water, stir with a fork, and then let it work it's own magic in your kitchen for 12-18 hours. It ferments and stretches and rises and bubbles like a creepy creature on your counter. If you're busy, other bread recipes can get annoying with their time restraints. I love the hourly windows with no knead bread. You have to wait the twelve hours but after that, you have a six hour window in which you decide when to make that next step. It's all on your schedule!
After the second rise, it's dropped into a piping hot cast iron Dutch oven. You might feel panicky because nothing will feel right about how you get it into the pot. It will look sloppy and disastrous...but trust me. It will straighten out.
After 40 or so minutes......your masterpiece is finished!!!!

IMG_9448 IMG_9447 IMG_9446 IMG_9443 IMG_9454

Cracked and bubbled and holey in all the right places. And you know what those cracks and crevices are made for?
Little helper hands

After slow roasting in the oven for 45 minutes.....and mixed with creamy butter, the heavenly combination will sink into every nook and cranny. The perfect piece of bread that went along nicely with our fresh and hearty minestrone soup.

IMG_9462When this bread comes out of the oven, people might gasp. They'll think you spent all day in the kitchen kneading like a bread goddess. Not the case, but go ahead and let them think it! It's a classic that will stay in your recipe book.

There are lots of recipes for no knead bread but this is the one I have always used. http://www.williams-sonoma.com/recipe/rosemary-lemon-no-knead-bread.html I didn't have fresh rosemary so I went without additions today...but play around with them!
While bread may be beautiful to me, and I might get a little carried away in whimsical, dramatic tones. Bread means something completely different to my children.
To Jackson.........
IMG_9430 IMG_9427
And to Andrew.........

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Improvise: Beautiful things happen when you are lacking

It's raining in the woods. A light mist and gray skies have brought a peaceful calm to the day. I've always been a lover of rain and have missed it this winter! I'm used to messy Downeast Maine winters where rain seems to frequent more than snow. Even though I've missed it, after my first winter in northern Maine I have come to appreciate the consistency of cold temperatures with very little to no mixes of precipitation.

Napping, snacking, snuggling, reading, baking, and EATING.....rainy days are made of these and they are a few of my favorite things! Jackson on the other hand, thinks of one thing and that is his play time outside. At 45 degrees, things are a little too warm for snow pants so we are thankful for his big cousin's hand-me-down rain suit. :)

Foodgawking is another favorite rainy day activity (or any day activity) of mine. If you've never been to foodgawker.com then you are MISSING OUT. Gorgeous professional pictures of every food you could ever imagine will take over your computer screen teasing you with each scroll of the mouse. They say to never go grocery shopping when you are hungry. I say the same about Foodgawker.  Never browse when you are hungry...it's just torture. If you're trying to be good...there is a "No Desserts" button. But honestly, don't click on it. You will miss out on some of the most mouth watering looking treats. So beautiful that sometimes it makes me want to cry. I believe that food is an art, and Foodgawker combines that art with the art of photography. In the words of Martha Stewart, "It's a really really good thing". :)

When the weather is yucky, I want to cook and bake and I want to eat. When I logged onto Foodgawker earlier today, I had every intention of focusing on a dinner plan. But out of no where.....BAM.....this picture of perfection caught my eye. A coconut shortbread cookie with a little crater of CARAMEL in the middle. Saints behold!!! The search for dinner was going to have to wait.

Now, in my baking opinion, more butter usually means that it will probably taste better. When I clicked on the picture and it took me to the recipe....the first thing line of ingredients read: 3 sticks of unsalted butter. Sold.
The recipe went smoothly until I ran out of caramel. I knew I was going to run out because I only had part of a bag. I could have made some more the homemade way...but I didn't feel like it. I started thinking about something else I could put in the crater of a coconut cookie. I felt like the father on the movie The Croods.....IIIIIII HAVE AN IDEAAAAA!!! Really it's not that much of a revelation. It's more of a given.....it pairs well with most everything....chocolate! Not just any chocolate....chocolate ganache....and not just chocolate ganache.....chocolate ganache with COCONUT RUM!!!
Perfection if I do say so myself.

 Similar to a Samoa....but homemade and ten times better.

 If dinner doesn't get made....at least we know we have these to fall back on!
Hop on over to The Sweets Life for the recipe. Enjoy!  

Drip Drop: Winter is breaking in the North Woods

The woods came alive today with sun and warmth. Birds were noisier than they've been in months and their songs paired perfectly with the steady drips of melting snow.

With temperatures in the low 60's, I grabbed my lawn chair and sat in shorts and a t-shirt and soaked up every ounce of sunshine that I could. The dirty dishes, piles of laundry, and dog hair would have to wait.

IMG_9319 IMG_9324 IMG_9327 IMG_9340 IMG_9351

Both boys played hard in the wet snow while Trigger laid down to cool off.

We came back to the woods yesterday after a visit Downeast. The Realty Road looked nothing like it did the day I left. For some reason I've never been mudding. That is, before yesterday. The boys giggled in the back seat, loving the pulling of the mud and the giant puddles that jumped up on their windows. It was pretty smooth riding once we reached Pratt Lake, where all other vehicle tracks ended and ours were the only ones going in the rest of the way.

Maybe winter is really on it's way out? A sign at the beginning of the Realty Road yesterday said it will now be closed from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Logging trucks will run primarily at night, taking advantage of every bit of hard road left.

I've had lots of people tell me that I should take the boys and stay Downeast for the spring thaw, because it will be much harder to get out once everything is melted, running, and flooding. I can't help but keep going back to the stubborn part of my brain that reminds me that not many people have been able to or ever will see a spring thaw at Clayton Lake. I will stay, simply because I can!