one year and still blogging

I've had this blog for a year now - and it's still fun for me to go through the day with my blog in the back of my mind. Ideas for posts jump in and out of my consciousness, and I find it very important to write the idea on some scrap of paper before it's lost. There are definitely more ideas than time to carry them out, but that's part of the creative process and that's what keeps us all going. At work, those girls have ideas that reach to the far-off stars, but being human (and women with families), we can all just do our best in bringing our ideas to reality.

"Keep calm and carry on," I always say. OK I don't always say that, but I was taken with this framed quote that I saw in House Beautiful magazine. It's what we all have to do, every day. I look forward to another year of blogging - I might even kick it up a notch with some tunes and a new design.


when life gives you snow in late March... bake bread!

When I looked out the window Monday and saw the snow, I decided it was a good day to try the No-Knead Bread recipe that I printed off the internet. Today is Wednesday and it's snowing again - maybe even a bit more snow this morning. Everyone is so tired of it! Making bread and having the smell fill the house helped me cope with this tiresome weather.
It took me less than five minutes to mix the bread up, and that included going to the laundry room to look for the white vinegar.
I used my Bosch mixer, though the recipe mixes the dough by hand. I say, anytime you can use the mixer, do it! My Bosch is 32 years old - we got it when we lived in Germany. I use it almost every week - for cookies, not bread. I've not been much of a bread maker, though that may change after trying this recipe.

I took this picture to show you the Red Star Quick-Rise Yeast I used. I recently read a comparison of rapid-rise yeasts and the Red Star brand got the top rating - even over SAF. The recipe only calls for 1/4 teaspoon of yeast - the key to this recipe is the long rising time.
The recipe says that after it is mixed up the dough will be shaggy and sticky. That's true. I moved it from my Bosch mixer to this bowl to rise...at room temperature for at least 8, up to 18 hours. I made the bread at noon and by evening it still didn't look 'risen' enough. So I let it rise overnight and then finished the next morning. That's a long time! If you want bread for dinner you have to start it at 9 p.m. the night before!
I took the bread out of the bowl and placed on my floured counter then kneaded it for only 15 seconds. Then placed it on this parchment paper, covered the top with butter (I hate PAM) and covered it with plastic wrap to rise for two more hours. It really does rise to fill a 10-inch pot. The parchment method is the Cook's Illustrated method. In the recipe below, you rise the loaf on a floured dish cloth and turn it into the (note this: pre-heated pan).

Here is the bread after it came out of the oven. This is my old Club roaster pan - you can use a dutch oven, pyrex, enamel or whatever - it needs to be oven proof and it needs to have a heat-proof lid. This is a big loaf - the picture doesn't show that very well.

The recipe is floating around blogland. I was curious about where it came from, so I went to the original New York Times article link here to get the details. The Sullivan Street Bakery is a NYC artisan bakery that makes bread that delicious with a perfect, crisp crust. As it turns out, the recipe is also featured in Cooks Illustrated Best Recipes of 2009 recipe magazine. Their addition to the recipe is the vinegar and the need to hand-knead the bread for 15 seconds after the first rise, which I did, because, after all, kneading is the best part of breadmaking. This bread is delicious. Now, I know, the recipe seems complicated, but after you do it once, it's simple. I can't wait to try it again. Too bad the butter and jam are so fattening.

Recipe: No-Knead Bread

Adapted from Jim Lahey, Sullivan Street Bakery

Time: About 1½ hours plus 14 to 20 hours rising

3 cups all-purpose or bread flour, more for dusting
¼ teaspoon instant yeast
1¼ teaspoons salt

1 1/2 cups water

scant 1 tablespoon white vinegar

Flour or cornmeal as needed.

1. In a large bowl combine flour, yeast and salt. Add water and vinegar, and stir until blended; dough will be shaggy and sticky. Cover bowl with plastic wrap. Let dough rest at least 12 hours, preferably about 18 hours, at warm room temperature, about 70 degrees.

2. Dough is ready when its surface is dotted with bubbles. Lightly flour a work surface and place dough on it; sprinkle it with a little more flour and fold it over on itself, kneading for 15 seconds.

3. Using just enough flour to keep dough from sticking to work surface or to your fingers, gently and quickly shape dough into a ball. Generously coat a sheet of parchment or a cotton towel (not terry cloth) with flour, wheat bran or cornmeal; put dough seam side down on parchment or towel. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise for about 2 hours. When it is ready, dough will be more than double in size and will not readily spring back when poked with a finger.

4. At least a half-hour before dough is ready, heat oven to 450 degrees. Put a 6- to 8-quart heavy covered pot (cast iron, enamel, Pyrex or ceramic) in oven as it heats. When dough is ready, carefully remove pot from oven. Slide your hand under towel and turn dough over into pot, seam side up; it may look like a mess, but that is O.K. Shake pan once or twice if dough is unevenly distributed; it will straighten out as it bakes.

5. Cover with lid and bake 30 minutes (reduce oven temp to 425), then remove lid and bake another 15 to 30 minutes, until loaf is beautifully browned. Cool on a rack.

Yield: One 1½-pound loaf.
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menus, recipes and inspiration !

My book-reading time on this trip has been minimal, but has gotten me through three chapters of a [really good] book called Animal, Vegetable, Miracle - A Year of Food Life by Barbara Kingsolver. She's the author of an all-time favorite novel - The Poisonwood Bible. Oh how I loved that book the first time I read it. Then when I went back to college, what a delight I had when I opened the syllabus in a lit. class and it was on the reading list. I studied it with a wonderful teacher for part of a semester.

This new Kingsolver book is not fiction - it's a fascinating non-fiction book about her (and her two daughters') move from Tuscon, Arizona to Southern Appalachia - after her joyful marriage to a man who is a college professor, farmer and gardener. (Starting with the first three pages, the story is happy.) The book focuses on convincing the reader to eat fresh and locally-produced food.

Here's what the book review said: "Part memoir, part journalistic investigation, this book (released May 2007) tells the story of how our family was changed by one year of deliberately eating food produced in the place where we live. Barbara wrote the central narrative; Steven's sidebars dig deeper into various aspects of food-production science and industry; Camille's brief essays offer a nineteen-year-old's perspective on the local-food project, plus nutritional information, meal plans and recipes."

OK, if you know me you know that my diet isn't exactly very nutritious. I have a hard time getting myself to eat five fruits and five vegetables a week, let alone a day. I can't believe I'm admitting this.

This book is making me want to revamp my shopping and cooking - just in the first 100 pages. Wow, it's convincing. I love the format - facts and family story intertwined into a very fascinating read. I love the menus and recipes. Yes, sprinkled through the book are good-sounding weekly menus and recipes to go with them. Like I just read the section on spring greens and here is the menu:

Greens Season Meal Plan
Sunday - Roasted Chicken and potatoes, chard-leaf dolmades with bechamel sauce
Monday - Eggs in a Nest (swiss chard)
Tuesday - Chicken salad (from Sunday's leftover chicken) on a bed of baby greens
Wednesday - Pasta tossed with salmon, sauteed fresh chard, and dried tomatoes
Thursday - Dinner salad with boiled eggs (from the hens in the yard), broccoli, nuts, and feta; fresh bread
Friday - Pizza with chopped sauteed spinach, mushrooms, and cheese
Saturday - Spinach lasagne (recipe in book)

This doesn't sound like my cooking at all, but a girl can change??? When does the Gardeners Market open!


= no place like Southern Utah in March =

When it's 81 degrees outside (65 at night) there's just no time for computers. But I just had to show you these photos of the classic red rock scenery in and around St. George. We took my parents to Snow Canyon (there's no snow) and Scott found a beautiful scene to paint.


{ burnt cookies - yep }

In case you think I named this blog Burnt Cookies just to be cute, I'd like to report that I'm still burning cookies. This is a good good recipe that I made last week and for the last batch I dumped in extra chocolate chips, just to use them up, and then I wandered off to the laundry room and completely forgot that I had cookies in the oven. The smell reminded me before they got black. Now, this picture doesn't do them justice...they really are burned. Or at least too brown for anyone in this house to eat.

Becky told me about this Oatmeal Cookie recipe - it's in a cookbook called, "Favorites - A Collection of Favorite Ivory Family Recipes" published to benefit the Make-a-Wish Foundation. I don't personally know the Ivory family, but after using this cookbook, I can tell they're good cooks. From the Raspberry Macadamia Salad (Dorothy Watts introduced me to the yummy raspberry dressing) to the Roast Pork with Crabapple Jelly Sauce to the Tollhouse Pie, I could cook exclusively from this cookbook for a year and Scott would think he got a new wife. What, no sloppy joes? No dry roast? No strawberry jello with one banana? Where's Debbie? Anyway, here's the cookie recipe. Try it and enjoy.

Favorite Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup margarine
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup white sugar
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 1/4 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
2 cups old-fashioned oats
1 (11 ounce) package milk chocolate chips
Cream together butter, margerine and sugars. Add eggs and vanilla and mix well. Sift or stir together flour, salt, soda, baking powder and mix in just until combined. Stir in oats and chocolate chips. Drop balls onto cookie sheet and bake for 10 to 12 minutes at 350 degrees.

Here are my notes on the recipe. I don't like the taste and texture when I make cookies with both butter and margarine. I prefer butter and shortening. I always use half of each. I think it makes the cookies softer. I always buy good butter like Land o' Lakes or Challenge. And I use Crisco - but never the butter flavor Crisco - ick. I love the pre-measured sticks of Crisco. I think cookies taste better if you use really good vanilla. And it's true that you should beat the butter/egg/sugar mixture really well, but once you put the flour in, barely barely mix it. (I learned this from my Aunt Norma, who is one of the best cooks I know.) I put the oats and chocolate chips right in with the last cup of flour, so I have to mix it even less. (I use a Bosch mixer - and I know when I've added enough flour because the dough barely pulls away from the sides of the bowl.) I prefer semi-sweet chocolate chips, but Mike likes the milk chocolate so I use them too. (When cookies have milk chocolate chips, your mouth has to search around to find the chocolate flavor.) Be careful not to overbake the cookies - take them out before you think they're done. I put a few cookies in the glass cookie jar, then freeze the rest. (My cookie jar is clear so Scott will see the cookies; he would never go looking for a cookie or any food for that matter, so if the cookies are in a clear cookie jar, he might notice them and eat one. I wish I had his non-regard for food.) I almost always double the recipe when I make cookies. Maybe that's why I burn them, because I'm so sick of baking by the time I get to that last batch. My last cookie fact: I love cookie dough. I could eat it for breakfast with Diet Coke every morning. Thinking about it makes me want to go to bed so I can get up and make these cookies.


Go Aggies!

I don't know if we can take any more basketball games like last night. Those Aggies! The fact that the game wasn't on TV made it all the harder. We had to listen to it on the radio like we were transported back to the 1940's - huddled around the radio, trying to envision the play as Al Lewis described it over the airwaves. We were at Ron and Jill's (Scott's sister) house, and Ron kept saying, "I don't want to go to bed angry." The Aggies didn't lead the whole second half until Tyler Newbold hit a 12-foot shot with 3 seconds left. Talk about jumping on the couch, Scott. lol
These photos are from the last home game last week here in Logan. Coach Stew Morrill is a constant source of entertainment - especially when he gets mad. It really is funny to watch. He gets so mad at the refs sometimes that his assistants have to drag him back to the bench. And once he was so furious at Pooh Williams (good player) when Pooh got a technical that the coach's face was red and he was shaking. Being in the audience watching it all gave you that uncomfortable feeling you'd get as a kid when your brother was in trouble with your dad and you had to watch him get yelled at. Only this time there were 10,000 people watching Stew and poor Pooh.

These "Aggiettes" are cute girls, but honestly their dances are b-o-r-i-n-g. I swear Brookelyn and Bailee could learn their steps. Step, touch, step, touch. They do a little more with their arms, but really, can't they kick it up a notch? The bball team is giving it their all and the dancers are dancing to tasteless music. I guess I just long for the good old days when Dorothy Watts was an Aggiette - or her daughters Angie, Millie and Ginna. Now those were some performances! No one went for popcorn during halftime back then.

I love the Aggie students. They have more team spirit than any studentbody in the whole country. It's worth going to the games just to watch "The Herd" in action - I think there's about a thousand in the club. We especially get a kick out of the group of mostly guys that sits on the East side behind the basket. They have funny (sometimes rude) chants and posters. I think it's cool that every student does the actions to the songs and sings along. Them and my sister-in-law Jill. Now that's school spirit!


tagged by Georgana

Georgana tagged me today and all I can say is that I'm glad I checked my email at 6 tonight and not at 6 this morning - when I had makeup on (not much lipstick though) and hair done. When I opened my email, there was an email blast from Adornit about the March Busy Women Kit. Hey btw, you should check out the new home page - Georgana created some cool stuff on it - when you scroll over the different departments cute little graphics come up. And the photo of the little girl (my friend Robin Karren's darling little Emmy) is taken in my basement - that's our cute little playroom window - the tree and owl are magically photoshopped in. So back to my story...I clicked on the kit to go to Adornit.com and from there I clicked on Georgana's blog where I saw that she had tagged me with this photo tag. I know, I talk too much.

I tag Eileen Workman and Suzie Wagner and Becky Grewe

The rules for the tag are:

  1. Take a picture of your self right now, no primping or preparing. Just snap a picture.
  2. Load onto your blog.
  3. Tag 3 people to play...remember if you are tagged on another blog we will all be heading to yours to see if you played along.Posted by Picasa


yesterday's snowstorm

It was one of those days that would have been charming and exciting in December...but a snowstorm like this in March just made everybody frustrated and impatient! It started snowing in the middle of the night and by morning we had a good six inches. It continued to snow and snow and snow - ALL DAY - dumping about a foot in our neck of the woods - twice that much in the south end of the valley where my brother Doug lives. Standing on the inside looking out, it really was quite pretty. But we all have spring fever, so we just couldn't appreciate the beauty of it all.

The one thing that I did enjoy yesterday was the bird symphony in my backyard - and front yard - and all around me. I went outside to snap some pictures and I couldn't believe the noise. I bet there were a thousand birds in my yard. Well, not quite a thousand, but truly, 30 in every tree, and I have a lot of trees. I looked out front and there were fifty more birds on the road in front of our house. The birds would find a tire track where the road was showing through, and they'd line up on the tire track. I don't know what they liked about it, but it sure was funny to watch. These birds were all big fat robins - notice the red breasts above. I guess they are on their way north for the summer after spending the winter in the south. They came about a week too soon. Supposedly, though, the weather is going to change this weekend. I can't imagine all this snow melting in one weekend, but I'm sure hope it does - I'm ready to get my grass back.


[ love my yahoo bookmarks ]

It's been a good day. Good church meetings...I get to associate with absolutely awesome women. I can't even begin to list the good they do and the good they are. Good dinner...I made a pork loin roast with roasted potatoes that turned out really yummy. Good surprise...Becky came for a quick visit. And now I'm telling you about my good Yahoo Bookmarks.

Here's the deal. About six months ago one of our computers got a virus. It was bad and we lost some things...like ALL OF OUR itunes. That was depressing. (Thankfully our photos and Word files were on another computer.) But I was sick about itunes. And we couldn't reclaim them which I think is the biggest ripoff EVER! I had lots of my own tunes that I'd paid 99 cents each for - over a couple of years. When I learned to use itunes a cuple of years ago, I really had fun making CD's for myself of my different playlists. I had CD's titled Debbie's Energy, Debbie's Inspiration, Debbie's Songs to Clean By, Debbie's Oldies etc. I had some good songs that I loved. (All isn't lost, I have been painstakingly downloading the songs off my CD's back to My Music and itunes - but it takes time that I don't want to spend.)

The other thing I lost was all my bookmarks. Arghh. When I first learned to bookmark I went crazy and bookmarked or 'favorited' every blog and good website I came across. Later I learned to organize my bookmarks and had a great library. When I realized they were gone, I was sick. I knew I had to switch to an online bookmark service. I googled and read about a bunch, and ended up deciding to use Yahoo Bookmarks. It's online so I can access it from any computer. It just sits on my My Yahoo homepage and it's quick and easy to add and organize sites. (You can install it on a Yahoo toolbar, but I prefer having it on my My Yahoo page.) I love it! I can find anything on it. I'll never remember or find all my old bookmarks, but I've good some good stuff here.

HERE is kind of what it looks like - I copied and pasted some of it to show you.


My Folders

-Family Blogs
-Friend Blogs
-Charming Blogs
-Good Play Lists
-Church Info Sites
-Eye Candy
-Scrapbook Manufacturers
-Scrapbook Diva Blogs
-Cardmaker Blogs
-Quilt Shops Online
-Fabric Designer Blogs
-Interesting Misc.
-Writing Websites
-Book Recommendations
-Writing Blogs


* patChes of sunLight *

After a couple of hopeful warm-ish days, we woke up to snow this morning - again. The day was dreary and depressing until the sun came out later in the afternoon. It was still c-o-l-d, but at least the world brightened up for a few minutes. When the sun finally shines after days of grayness, I love to walk around the house and look for patches of sunlight on my walls and carpet. It's something that lifts my spirits. And then I think of the wonderul book called Patches of Godlight by Jan Karon. This book is FULL of the favorite scriptures and quotes of Father Tim - the fictional pastor in the Mitford series. Warms my heart.


{ my stuff }

When it's cold and dreary outside ya gotta have good stuff inside to do. Here's what is stacked on my bedside table and around my corner of the sofa. Above is a photo of the books I'm reading or have read in the past month. The bottom book on the stack is called When Wanderers Cease to Roam. It's a journal/sketchbook of a woman who lived all over the world for many years, then settled down in a small town in Maine. It tells of her appreciation for staying put. She includes charming little watercolors of favorite scenes around her town. The top book is my current favorite self-help book - You Can Be Happy No Matter What - SO GOOD that I re-read (skim) it about once a month. I loved the book in the middle called A Heart Like His. Inspiring and thoughtful, Virginia Pearce talks about being aware of the needs of others.

The photo above is my journals. I write in several journals and notebooks. The book on top is the journal where I write brainstorms and ideas - I have a constant flow of ideas, but I don't have the ability to DO all of them (or dang nearly any of them). If I don't get them down on paper, I get all busy in the brain - so thus my idea notebook. Also pictured is my journal where I keep track of the books I read. And my daily journal where I write what's going on - but I do not write daily, more like once every other month. The wire-bound journals are where I write my morning pages. Also not every morning, but at least a couple of times a week. Morning pages are a writing practice suggested by Julia Cameron in the book The Artist's Way. Marty Cannon turned me on to the idea and I love it. I just write what's on my mind when I wake up in the morning. I also have a gratitude journal and a health journal and a journal where I write 'angel nudges' - little bits of inspiration that randomly come to me and I want to remember. Obviously, I like to write.

If you're going to spend any time writing, good pens are a must. These are my favorite pens - they're the best to write with: Triplus Fineliner by Staedtler. I order them from Dick Blick.com. I especially love the brown and green ones. They are so smooth you just want to keep writing. Combine a good marker with high-quality smooth paper, and I'm willing to stay in for another three months and just write!