Thursday, January 27, 2011

Bekah's Song

This was WAY more work to show off than I expected. But I think it was worth it!

Go here to see it since Blogger flat-out refused to upload it properly :(

Photo Shoot Time

The girls decided to dress up as princesses this afternoon.

Or, more accurately, Princess and Fairy.

I chose where to stand to get the pictures, but the girls did the rest. I love their continual creativity. They could easily get into jobs in modeling if they wanted!

Monday, January 24, 2011

Turkish bread

I miss Turkish food. If I get to eat it, it's because I make it myself. Which means I don't have it often, because all true Turkish recipes are very time-consuming.
Over the weekend, I made "green beans in olive oil," chicken pilaf and bread. And spent most of the afternoon in the kitchen. None of it was terribly difficult, and it was a warm, healthy dinner, but it took forever!
To go along with the leftovers, I made another loaf of bread this morning.
Italian bread, french bread...they're all fine, but nothing like Turkish. I don't know how it's different. It's the same basic ingredients. But there's something about it that's just impossible to beat!

I promised my friend Cheryl that I'd share my recipe. It's from this cookbook, which is an awesome one for great Turkish recipes with incredible pictures. And since it was written by people who speak English instead of semi-translated like the ones I bought in Istanbul, you can actually follow the recipes! (always a plus)

Gunluk Ekmek (daily bread)
Makes one loaf
1/2 oz/15 g fresh yeast, or 1/4 oz/ 7g dried yeast (one packet)
1/2 teaspoon sugar
4 fl oz/125 ml lukewarm water
1 lb/450g strong white flour (2 or 2 1/2 cups)
1 teaspoon salt
6-8fl oz/175-250ml cold water
scant teaspoon olive or sunflower oil

Preheat oven to 425F/Mark7/220C

Cream the yeast with the sugar in the lukewarm water until frothy.

Sift the flour with the salt into a bowl. Make a well in the center and add the yeast and the cold water. Draw in a little of the flour from the sides to make a smooth batter. Sprinkle a dusting of flour over the surface of the batter, cover the bowl with a damp cloth, and leave the batter to sponge for about 20 minutes. Remove the cloth, draw in the rest of the flour, and knead well. Continue to knead the dough on a lightly floured surface until smooth and elastic.

Pour the oil in the bottom of a bowl, flip the bread dough over in it, cover the bowl with a damp towel, and leave the dough to prove for a few hours until doubled in size.

Punch the dough down, knead it again on a lightly floured surface and mold it into the shape you want. Place it on a floured baking tray and leave to prove again under a damp towel. Once it has doubled in size, you can score it with a sharp knife, glaze it, and sprinkle it with a variety of seeds. For a simple plain loaf just brush a little milk over the surface to harden the crust.

Bake it in the oven for 30-40 minutes, then turn it upside-down and return to the oven for 5 more minutes. It should sound hollow when the bottom is tapped. Leave to cool a little on a wire rack.

Friday, January 21, 2011

An Open Letter to Pioneer Woman

Dear PW,
I know we've never met, and you have no idea who I am, but you've already affected me in more ways than I can count.

First there was the innocent Rosemary Rolls. Never had I used so much melted butter in a recipe. But boy, were they worth it.
Confident that you knew what you were doing, I then tried my hand at a couple of your noodle recipes.

and then your chocolate cake. Oh. My. Goodness.
My trust in your recipes went up after making this, as well as my shock at how quickly I was going through butter.

My awesome husband, realizing he was on the receiving end of a wonderful new pastime, gave me your fabulous cookbook for Christmas.

First thing I made, on Christmas day, was egg-in-a-hole. While seemingly innocent (and very easy), I did something I never dared I'd do.
I included the called-for pepper.
And I liked it.

High on life, or maybe the pepper, I tried the migas recipe next. You should have seen the look on my husband's face when he saw me putting the two peppers, one red and one green, in the fridge. Previously, those ingredients were things I quickly walked past in the produce department. Picked out of my food if the restaurant put them into my food.
And I bought them??
I quickly made that recipe, before I lost my nerve.

And I liked it. (full disclosure: I decided to go back to the "cheating" version from another cookbook because their ingredients list are more pantry-stable, but I actually liked it.)

What's next, PW? What else will you get me to do? Start trying recipes with the word "spicy" in the title?? Marinating mushrooms in burgundy??

Where will the madness end? How long will it be before Josh doesn't even recognize me??

Concerned and Excited

Wednesday, January 19, 2011


I love it when my worlds coordinate!
This week's theme in my 52-week challenge is "textures." And it also happens to be one of the themes in my year-long contest. So I took the time to get a few pictures. I'm not sure if any will make it to my final cut, but you never know!

And in trying a new camera technique (which means it's once again time to edit my 101 in1001 list!), I got this picture. I'm thinking of turning it into a wall picture or using it on notecards...

What's the technique, you ask? I'm learning how to take the lens off my camera and turn it around, turning my 50mm lens into a macro lens! It confuses the camera to no end, and until these pictures confused me even more. But it suddenly "clicked" (pun intended) and I love how much fun it is!!

Monday, January 10, 2011


I'm a part of a year-long photo challenge for 2011, where we have a theme each week and need to take a new picture that fits the theme. We have a great variety of camera/photography knowledge...from beginners to pros, with most of us somewhere in the middle.
We each choose a theme that will happen at some point during the year. Since I was the second person to join the challenge, this week is my week! I chose "self-portrait," and after I chose it, I realized that's actually on my 101 in 1001 list!!
And even though my creation is four separate pictures, I'm only counting it as one self-portrait. The point of having three on my list is to try to show change in something...hairstyle, or outfits, or background or photo ability.

Thursday, January 06, 2011

Grumpy, but for good reason

Just a warning: this will be the most negative post I've ever written. I usually make sure I'm in a decent mood before I post. But I'm hoping to look back at this someday and laugh.

There is nothing even remotely enjoyable about winter.

~the dry air means we're constantly shocking each other whenever we go to hold hands to pray, or to give someone a hug or a kiss

~it takes 10 minutes to get everyone into clothes and boots to leave the house

~and twice as long to get the kids buckled in around their bulky coats

~the car isn't warm for half the drive to wherever we go

~the roads are dangerous if it's freshly snowing

~and old snow can interfere with people trying to turn onto the road (thus our accident when Jasmine was a baby)


~salt is horrible on our car


~Hudson lost his mitten playing in the snow this morning. Then fell trying to come back inside.

~my skin doesn't handle the dry weather either, so I have to buy "sensitive" body wash.

~and my knuckles are still dry and bleeding. No lotion helps, though some make it worse.

~it's not pretty. maybe it would be if we had occasional glimmers of sun. I'd warrant a guess that we've had about 10 minutes of sun since the new year started

I'm starting to understand why Buffalonians have a reputation for drinking. (as the Big N Rich song says, "man those Yankees drink enough to drown!!") I'm starting to pray more fervently that God has somewhere else for us, and soon.

Monday, January 03, 2011

What a Face

I Heart Faces is having a contest this week for "best faces of 2010." I knew immediately which picture I had to use, though I keep second-guessing myself by looking through the rest of my 2010 folders.
So to keep myself from going crazy, I'm going to close Picasa and do the one I know is my favorite "face" picture of the year.

Crash-Course in Conversions

We got the girls a great cookbook for Christmas, and Jasmine chose the Alphabet Soup recipe as their first meal.
So I added the needed ingredients to the grocery list last week, and got everything we needed.
Except the Onion Soup Mix, which is on Josh's "no" list. Campbell's brand is completely forbidden from this house, because absolutely everything they make has MSG (or autolyzed yeast extract, which acts exactly the same way).
I thought there was a natural alternative, but it's for onion soup dip, and I'm not sure it would convert.
So I googled "homemade onion soup mix" and found a couple. The one I found was easy enough....
But beef bouillon isn't something we have on hand for the same reason as the onion soup mix. We have an alternative, but it says how to convert it to cubes, and the recipe calls for granules.
Did a quick search in the back of my Betty Crocker cookbook for the conversion from granules to cubes, and then my "better than bouillon" to cubes. No problem.
One more ingredient was a problem: seasoned pepper.
No problem: another google gave me a recipe. Of course I don't own white pepper so I made up my own version: black pepper with a tiny bit of nutmeg and cloves.
Hopefully it hasn't been changed so much that it won't work....