Tuesday, July 28, 2015

ONE EXTREME OR T'OTHER

When the whole gang was here one of our granddaughters was crazy about some white buns I had made.  I asked her if she wanted to learn how to make them and got an enthusiastic YES!  We loaded the ingredients into the breadmaker and set it on the dough cycle.  When it was finished there was a huge disappointment: the dough was not dough. It was cold and poorly mixed.  The breadmaker had failed!

I salvaged the dough by kneading it by hand until it was warm and elastic, set it in a warm oven to rise and then we made the buns.  They turned out just o.k.

Over the past weekend we needed some more bread, so I loaded up the breadmaker with freshly milled whole wheat flour and the rest of the ingredients.  I checked after a few minutes, and, although the display said "Preheat" nothing was warm.  My good breadmaker, an expensive Zojirushi, was NOT working properly!  How sad!

So I kneaded the dough by hand again, greased it, put it in a bowl in a warm oven to rise.

After one hour it seemed pretty good.  I divided it into two parts, one for bread and the other for a few hamburger buns.  I set them to rise.

I like hamburger buns to be quite flat but with a wide diameter.  It makes it easier to get your mouth around the whole hamburg + bun + condiments.  So I took them out after just 20 minutes and baked them.  The loaf of bread rested near the heat, but not in the oven.  When the buns were finished, the loaf went into the cooled oven to finish rising.

ALAS!  It did not rise; it fell!  What to do?  I put it in the oven to bake, hoping (foolishly) for some "oven bounce."  Which, of course, never happened.  This is probably the worst loaf of bread that I ever baked!

When it cooled I put it in plastic and wondered what to do with it.  Could I slice it and fry it in butter and then melt cheese over it?  I tasted a slice.  Forget it!

For dinner yesterday I wanted to use up the leftover salmon salad.  This would be the third time it was served: first on buns to the whole gang, second for Jim and myself on buns for Sunday light lunch.  How to serve it this time?

I mixed in an egg, some McCormick's Vegetable Seasonings (an herb mix I use in quite a few dishes), some dill and some basil.  Then I whirled about half the failed loaf in the food processor and added the crumbs to the salmon mix.  It made an absolutely delicious salmon loaf.  We ate about half and the other half is in the freezer for some future meal.

We're out of bread again, so I tried this morning with the breadmaker.  I preheated all the ingredients myself, loaded them into the breadmaker and started the quick dough cycle.  It worked perfectly!  The Preheat cycle worked, the kneading cycle worked and the dough was beautiful.  Here are the finished loaves:

Perfectly fine!  A mystery which I'm glad to leave behind.

Another mystery: our water heater quite working on Saturday.  I found out by taking a barely lukewarm shower.  We had just had the thermistor (the heat sensor) replaced two weeks ago.  Why would it fail again so soon?

I had an idea: I turned off the power to the unit, left it off for a minute or so, turned it back on, and the whole system went right back to work the way it should.  Kind of like resetting an electronic device.  So glad I thought of it!

PART OF THE FUN

Here are a few pictures of that Saturday evening, the day of all the main events:

This gift giving was not on my schedule for that day and happened in the evening after the catered dinner.  These presents were a complete and delightful surprise.


We had a little fun with the wrapping paper.



The first present we opened was from DD#2 and family--a big, beautiful pottery bowl that will be so fine on the kitchen counter full of fruit.



The second gift was also pottery.  Our kids know what I like!  This particular vase came from DD#1, DS#2 and family.  I think our DDIL picked it out and it looks exactly right on the mantel above the fireplace where it complements the oil painting of a basket of garden produce.


Two gifts that I will cherish and enjoy!

Monday, July 27, 2015

A GREAT, GOOD TIME

We had SUCH a good time with our kids, grandkids and Jim's sister over the weekend of the 17th to 19th! Our big celebration day was Saturday, the 18th.  I will post pictures of our activities soon.  One of the features of the day was a photo session with Tim Arnold. I will be purchasing lots of prints from him, and will share some of them with you, but for now, here's just a sneak peak at one of them, showing the whole gang, minus Jim's sister posed in our front "yard."  The bright sun was a problem--hence some of the "squinty looks."

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

MAKING FREEZER JAM

DD#2 and family arrived for a visit on Saturday.

Yesterday morning DGS#3 accepted an invitation to help me make some raspberry freezer jam.

I had defrosted 4 (fat) cups of raspberries, grown in our garden and kept in the freezer until now, and got out the freezer jam jelling powder.

He did the rest.






The batch turned out very well! We now have 2 1/2 pints of DELICIOUS raspberry freezer jam for our toast and our yogurt smoothies.

Thanks! dear boy!

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

A LITTLE HOLIDAY

We're looking forward to welcoming our children (except DS#1 who has work commitments), their spouses, and four of our grandchildren, plus one of Jim's sisters for a family reunion and a celebration of our 50 years together as husband and wife.

Now, that's a lot of people to feed and accommodate, but we have it all figured out and with the loan of a travel trailer we have space for everyone.  But it does mean I'll be preoccupied for the next two weeks, so I will be absent from blogland for that time.

Have a lovely summer holiday, and don't forget to do some sewing, quilting, or at least planning new projects.  There's never an end to interesting things to make.  I can't imagine ever becoming bored, can you?

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

MAKING PLANS

Our 50th anniversary celebration is coming up this month.  We're looking forward to having a GREAT time with our kids and grandkids.  The two oldest grandkids and our #1 son are not able to come because of work commitments.  However, we had a phone call yesterday and learned that Jim's next older sister is coming!  That makes 12 guests who will be staying with us for the weekend of July 17 to July 19.  Some are coming earlier, some are staying later, but that weekend everyone will be here.

We have a photographer coming on that Saturday afternoon and that evening we will have a catered dinner here at home.  Thanks to the Dear One, I don't have to prepare all that.

For the other meals, I will prepare menus well ahead of time and do as much pre-preparation as possible: baking cakes, buying cookies, stocking up on cold cereal and granola for simple breakfasts, and making a huge pot of chilli and a gallon of potato salad and a gallon of marinated bean salad.  I have wonderful, delicious recipes for these three items and they all are better if made ahead of time.

We are borrowing two travel trailers and some other mattresses to accommodate everyone. The garage will become a bedroom, as well as Jim's study.

As things became more and more complicated, Jim suggested: Maybe you and I should just book into a motel and let everyone else run things here!  I said, Maybe we should just book motel rooms for everyone of the guests and have a quiet time here by ourselves.  Just joking, of course!

But I'm letting you know that you won't be hearing from me during July.  There's enough going on to keep me occupied full time.  Especially, now that his sister is coming I need to put together one more lap quilt, so she's not left out.  Fortunately I have all the blocks made for the 70's looking "Tradewinds."  Right now I am going to start sewing those blocks together, and hope to have the quilt finished by the end of this week.

HAPPY CANADA DAY! everyone!
Grammilou/Louise

Saturday, June 27, 2015

HAMBURGERS, HAMBURGERS, HAMBURGERS!

I've always loved hamburgers.  When I was in high school I had a little noon hour job at a restaurant across the street from the school.  There was a room downstairs at the restaurant where hamburgers, hot dogs, milkshakes and pop were sold to high school kids during the noon hour.  My aunt was in charge of that room and she hired two or three of us high school girls to help with the cooking and at the cash register.  The pay: a free lunch, limited to two items.  So I had hamburgs for lunch almost every day during high school.  I still loved them, in spite of having eaten so many.

After we were married Saturday evenings became our traditional "Hamburger Night."  We still do hamburgers on Saturdays, although the Dear One has switched to Extra Lean Turkey burgers.

In 1987 DD#1 and I made a trip to Grand Rapids to visit my mom, who was in the hospital after surgery for colon cancer.  When I arrived in Niagara Falls DD said she didn't feel like cooking supper, would I like to go out for hamburgers?  Yes, Of course!  Then we drove to Michigan and stopped on the way for a quick lunch: hamburgers.  DD and I stayed in mom's house and went to the hospital every day for a visit.  Lunchtimes we went next door to a Burger King and had a quick lunch: hamburgers.  We did that for a week.

Then it was time for her to go home to Ontario.  We stopped at a plaza on the 401 for lunch, looked at each other and said, "I'll have a CHICKEN burger."  We felt we could not down another hamburger.

I flew home to B.C. in time for supper.  Jim had prepared hamburgers, knowing they were a favourite of mine.  I looked at it and said, "I'm sorry!  I can't eat that!"  He was flabbergasted, "But you love hamburgers!"  Well, he was so sweet to prepare something that he knows I love, that I did eat hamburger for supper that night.

Fast forward to 2011, and DS#1 and I are in Chile, South America for an adventure hiking/camping trip.  We went into a small cafĂ© in Punta Arenas for a supper and each ordered a hamburger.  We they came DS threw up his hands and laughed: this is how they make hamburgers there:

They were enormous, but---they were flat!  So there was basically the same amount of hamburg in the patty, but it was punched down all flat, and the bun was the same diameter, but not tall.  Well, that was a discovery: they were much easier to handle, to get our mouths around than the traditional puffy patty and bun.  It's also easier to load up the burger with condiments--lots of space to spread onions, ketchup, pickles, etc.

So when I got home I started making big, flat hamburgers and buns.  I'm just a little limited because I grill our hamburgers on a small Proctor/Silex indoor griddle.

This will be my hamburger tonight.  You can see it barely fits, but when it begins to cook it will shrink enough so that two of them can be grilled at once.

I really recommend this little grill.  It's how most of our meat is cooked.  Hamburgers, chicken breast, pork all cook in less than 5 minutes.  The fat runs off into the little drawer beneath the grill.  Clean up is easy--just rub with grill with a damp cloth.  The accumulated crusts (not much) will come right off.

You can buy formed hamburger patties, but they don't taste as good as mine (IMHO).  I buy a family pack of lean ground beef (plus sometimes some lean ground pork as well), and add: some quick oats, some chili powder, a little seasoned salt, some coarse ground pepper, some garlic powder, a little nutmeg, lots of oregano and an egg or two to "stick it all together."

The mixture is then weighed--4 3/8 ounce portions, put into a hamburg press and placed on waxed paper on cookie trays for freezing.  The patties go into a plastic bag for storage in the freezer until needed.

Yesterday I made 16 patties.  That will do for weeks, unless I serve them when the kids and grandkids are visiting in July.  Probably will do that.

But yesterday when I was making patties I ran out of waxed paper, so I substituted parchment paper.  WELL, that was totally better at detaching from the frozen patty than waxed paper!  I will stick with parchment paper from now on!