Thursday, November 24, 2011

Giving Thanks

I have so much to be thankful for. Every night this month I've gone to sleep counting my blessings. It's more effective than counting sheep plus it puts a smile on my face!

I'm grateful for all the Big Things in life, of course, but the other items are like chocolate truffles--they make be small, but they make me feel rich. 

Like your comments; whether you're an old friend or a new visitor, they warm my heart.  Your visits come from sea to shining sea, from our northern neighbor, from eastern Europe, Oceania and beyond.  It's always a delightful surprise.

I'm wishing each and every one of you so many things to be thankful for that you fall asleep before you've reached the end of your list!  And that each of us finds even more things to be grateful for in the coming year.


Saturday, November 12, 2011

Fluffy Whole Wheat Rolls

Putting "Fluffy" and "Whole Wheat" in the same title seemed like false advertising when I grabbed this recipe out of Winco's bulk aisle.

I guess Hope Springs Eternal because I was intrigued enough to try it anyway, and darned if it didn't actually turn out to be a wonderful fluffy-in-spite-of-being-whole-wheat recipe!

Fluffy Whole Wheat Rolls
2 T. dry yeast
1/2 c. warm water
1/2 c. butter, softened
1/4 c. honey
3 eggs (at room temperature)
1-1/2 t. salt
4 c. whole wheat flour

  1. In a small bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water.  
  2. In a large bowl, cream butter and honey (or put it in the microwave and nuke it until the butter melts).  
  3. Add eggs and beat well.  
  4. Add yeast mixture.  
  5. Mix in salt and flour to form a soft dough.  Let rise until double--please notice that it does NOT say to knead, just rise!  
  6. Once it's doubled then knead. 
  7. Let rest for 3 minutes before shaping rolls on a greased pan or cookie sheet. 
  8. Let rise till doubled and bake at 350 degrees for 15 to 20 minutes.  Makes from 12 to 16 rolls, depending on how big or small you make them.

I make bread so frequently that I've developed a shorthand in my recipes that might be less obvious to anyone who's not a baker.  It drives my kids, who do bake, nuts.  I'll spare you that...
  • c=cup.  t=teaspoon. T=tablespoon.
  • Warm water means water that's somewhere between hot and warm--if you can't keep a finger comfortably in it, then it's a bit too hot.  Sometimes I'll put the too-hot water in the bowl and wait a minute while the bowl cools it off.  Too cool though and the yeast will start to shiver.
  • I always proof my yeast before putting it in a recipe. My yeast is almost always fresh since I use it so often but I still proof it just in case.  That means adding yeast to warm water (with a smidge of sugar) and letting it sit there till it starts to get all foamy and bubbly--"proof" that it's active.  
  • I'm fortunate enough to have a fabulous canvas square that I knead my bread on (and roll out my pie crusts), but you can knead on any smooth surface too--table top, counter top, cutting board--just make sure you have enough flour on it so that your dough doesn't stick while you're kneading it.  Your surface should be low enough that you can press down easily with the palm of your hand otherwise you'll get pretty tired.  Kneading is one of my favorite things in the whole world (besides ironing).  Crazy, I know.  I just love the feeling when the dough suddenly tightens up and I know it's ready.
  • Grease your pan with butter, oil, shortening, whatever.  Just don't miss any spots or getting your bread out will be impossible.
  • My rolls doubled enough that they began touching each other.  Unlike siblings in the back seat, they didn't complain.
The rolls didn't last long enough for me to take a photo, alas.  You'll understand when you make them.

Friday, November 11, 2011


Eleven-eleven-eleven makes me think of the hobbits worrying if Strider knows about tiffin, elevenses, supper and dinner. Which is appropriate since LOTR always reminds me of World War II... so in honor of Veterans Day here are excerpts written by my dad (age 20) to his mother at the tail end of WWII:

Amarillo Army Air Field
Amarillo, Texas
24 Oct 45

Dearest Mom,

Our formation this morning was orientation on conversion of our insurance, G.I. Bill of Rights, getting your job back, and things like that...

Only thing I'm worried about are the buses. With the strikes and all I might not get connections and have to hitch hike. Bob did it from Hueneme so guess I could do it from L.A. Will just have to wait and see how it works out...

It won't be long now until I walk in the front door, don't expect too much because I'll probably be a wreck, mentally and physically.

Well, goodnite now, dear,
I'll be seeing you

How many sons have written the same thoughts to their mothers over the years? How many mothers cherished each letter as it came to them and worried about the contents?

Freedom, whether in Middle Earth or in America, always comes with a very human price tag that makes it all the more to be valued.