Well Hello there dear friends!
After waiting forever, today is the first day I can say, "Welcome to our new home!" What a crazy time it has been the past several weeks, all the way up to the closing, that didn’t happen yesterday as scheduled, but finally went through late this morning.
I thought you may like to hear a little about the new cottage? I know a visit is way past due, and I’d love to hear how you have been as well! I thought while we visit, I could also share a little story about making bread.
While I’m certain anyone can make bread, I remember years ago, all the effort I put into trying to make bread. It all started with a book given to me by a friend that described making your own yeast starter (no thank you!) I remember all the failed loaves, and finally, the day when I could toss bread together without a recipe or measuring, and actually get a pretty consistent loaf every time. So for those of you who may want to try it and haven’t, oh you really should!
The Cottage at Forest Crest, as I will call it just for now, is perfectly, not perfect, and is waiting for a lot of love. Fortunately, I have lots of love to give, so I think it happens to be a perfect match.
The original chandelier is the first thing I noticed when we bought the home. Its style suits me well. The entire house had been painted with a coat of flat, white paint. I mean everything, from the backsplash, to parts of the hard wood floors, to the back door weather stripping! This afternoon I started to paint the dining room over. I’m painting the bottom half in Barren Plain, and the top half in Calm. Both by Benjamin Moore. I’ll post a picture when it’s finished. Oh I love the colors and can’t wait to show you more!
The first step for making bread is to heat approximately one cup of water and 1/2 a cup of milk. (You’ll find it doesn’t have to be too exact as long as the final dough is the right consistency.) Add one stick of butter. After it gets hot, turn it off and remove from the heat.
In a mixer, place one cup of flour, two packets of yeast, three tablespoons of sugar, and one tablespoon of salt. When bread doesn’t turn out well, it’s usually a problem related to the yeast (the liquid being too hot or too cold for the yeast), or too much flour. When I first started making bread, I bought a thermometer and checked the temperature of my milk mixture all the time. It should be about 125 degrees Fahrenheit. Yeast dies at temperatures near and always at 140 degrees, but the liquid needs to be very warm to work as well. Once the liquid has cooled to the right temperature, add it to the dry mix and beat well.
Our boys have not seen the new house! We will be working on it daily for the next month and really making it feel like home before we “move" there. Our daughter and her husband came by today though, and it was a very joyful time with them...all of us sharing our dreams about the family being there together. I’m so glad Kayla loves it. It’s only a few miles away from where they live.
The other tricky thing about bread is that when too much flour is added, it becomes too stiff to rise. After the initial dough is mixed, slowly add additional flour one half cup at a time and let it mix in, adding more until it is no longer very sticky. It should just barely have a little stickiness to it. Just barely is perfect:) 4-5 cups will likely be the total amount of flour. The dough can also be kneaded by hand if you don’t have a mixer. (It’s quite a workout, but you can do it!) It should not stick to your fingers when done, but it should be very soft and stretchy. The great thing about bread is that if you add too much flour you can always add a bit more very warm water and it will probably be fine.
When I got the call today that the little cottage was really ours, I cooked dinner early, packed up the essentials, and headed out the door. I had planned for this ahead of time, leaving a baked chicken, mashed potatoes, squash, and carrots in the oven for the boys. Then, I went out to the garden and collected the flat stones that have travelled with me from the house where I grew up, to stone cottage, and I put them in a box. Now, they surround the new mailbox, and share the space with sweet, fall pansies.
Next, spray a large bowl and lid if you have one, and add the soft dough.
Cover it and place it on top of a warm oven, in the oven with the light on (omit the towel), or place in a warm room. (Remember yeast doesn’t like things too hot;) Let the dough double in size.
Once the dough rises, punch it down once or twice and you’ll have lovely pliable dough that can be rolled out, put into balls for buns, or shaped into two loaves.
Spray the pan, then cover with a very light cloth or very loosely with sprayed Saran wrap so it can rise again. Now have a cup of tea:) Maybe even knit a while! Life is so sweet when bread is rising.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Bake for 20-25 minutes. It’s finished when you can tap the top pretty hard and it is golden brown. I usually brush it with butter after baking.
Making bread is easy and simply requires a liquid (milk and/or water), butter, sugar, salt, yeast, and flour. If the liquid is very warm (not hot), and the dough is soft and pliable, the bread will always turn out fine. Herbs, room temperature cheese or an egg, oatmeal; lots of things can be added to bread for different flavors.
Oh my, I have missed you! Thank you for sending me little messages. I’ll still be very busy in the coming days, but I hope to visit and share updates including a new blog name soon.
Regarding knitting, I did happen to finish a shawl recently, and once the craziness of my days slows just ever so slightly, I will block it. I’ve missed knitting and sewing, but I will enjoy painting for the time being. I have an idea for painting a chest, and turning it into a sewing cabinet. Hmm, Yes! That would do!
Check out that door! Have a wonderful weekend my friends! My wish is that your home is filled with peace, love, and laughter. xo Jeannine:)
A house is made of walls and beams, a home is made of love and dreams. - unknown