In my Kitchen- February 2014

In February , I seem to drop into a depression that lasts until Spring and even later sometimes.  So I spend a lot of time reading and hiding out in other people’s thoughts and lives.  I used to buy stacks of books in the Autumn so I would be prepared- but since the advent of the Kindle in my life- or should I say that in the plural?- because I need two to keep up with my reading schedule and you have to plug them in to recharge once in a while.

So – in my kitchen and wherever else I go-

is a Kindle.

In my kitchen-

Are many baskets.

I love baskets- I fill them

with all kinds of supplies

and goodies and books.

And candles and napkin holders

and cookies, and stamping pads and

stamps and napkins and presents.


This basket holds pies!  Two full

size pies !  It is so great to use to

carry them to my niece’s house for

Thanksgiving dinner!

The last basket I’m showing is called

a market basket- but I use it for my most

recently used cookbooks.  These baskets

are all handmade here in Ohio at the Longaberger

Basket company.  They are very pricey- but they are solid and make for real

working baskets rather than for lightweight loads.

In my kitchen…

(wait for it…)

Is this great glorious loaf of bread!

Even in the doldrums, in the midst of reading, I make bread.

It is almost as lifting to my spirits as reading!


And ,

In my kitchen…

are tea cozies and pots of tea.

Also very good for the lifting of low spirits.

So- there you have it- books, bread, baskets and tea with cozies to keep it warm.

Take a look at Celia’s blog,  to see other in my kitchen posts.

Have a great February- or just find a good book to read and a great bread to eat!

Bread- texture and crumb- plus a recipe.

Poppyseed rolls using stamp

Poppyseed roll using a stamp- it looks fancier than it tastes!

I have been making lots of bread since the new year started.  And playing around with recipes and methods- because I want the bread to be to my liking.  I don’t really care too much about how it looks- I want it to taste and feel right in my mouth.  I’m looking for a slightly yeasty, stretchy dough similar to those I remember from my youth when we would get a loaf of Vienna bread from the bakery in Akron on the way home from church on Sunday.   That loaf never made it home.  We ripped off pieces and ate them in the car- oblivious to the crumbs on our Sunday dresses- passing the loaf from hand to hand and tearing off a chunk of crust and delectable crumb that stretched as we pulled it off.

I’ve been making bread since I was 18 years old and have only now come close to that


Sourdough lof raised in a banneton

This looks right- but the texture isn’t quite stretchy- although the flavor is wonderful!

I love the bread I make- especially the sourdough- but like I said- the texture isn’t quite right.  And I don’t think it is about the recipe, either-  flour,yeast, salt olive oil and water- in varying amounts is what I’m using- usually with a cup or less of sourdough starter mixed in.

Poppy seeds and slashes make this loaf appealing.
The crumb is acceptable and great for sandwiches and toast.

So if the recipe is good- then it is about the method.  And I’ve been playing about with using old dough ( which is adding a piece of yeasted dough that has been saved in the refrigerator from a previous bread session- this adds to the leavening process and brings a flavor akin to sourdough ) and adding to the raising times.  I’ve been doing two raises- punching the dough down and letting it raise twice before shaping and allowing the final raise before baking and those two have added up to being very close to what I’m looking for in texture.

Knotty Italian rolls- twice raised and twisted into shape.

Finally the stretchy crumb I’ve been looking for!




I’ve been making these for years, but the addition of the old dough has made a significant difference in the crumb!

When pulling them apart there is that stretchy quality and that extra give upon biting into the roll.

Here is the recipe for the Italian rolls-   – you have to scroll down a bit to get to the recipe- I was rather chatty the day I posted this!  🙂





And I also found another recipe I had forgotten about-  I really like these bread sticks- but I had misplaced the recipe and hadn’t made them for a while.  I’m going to post it here so I can find it later even if I misplace the card again!!!

These also have a very nice stretchy quality to them-they are delicious by themselves- great with a dip or pate` and freeze beautifully!

Salted breadsticks!
Topped with sesame seeds, Parmesan cheese, and black salt and poppyseed.


4 1/2 cups flour

2 1/2 sticks butter

2 egg yolks

1 cup sour cream

2-3 tsp salt ( I like salt- you might want to use the smaller measurement)

2 tsp. dry yeast proofed in 1/2 cup warm water.


Bring all ingredients to room temperature, then mix all together in large bowl.  Depending on the flour and the type of day, you may need to use a little extra water- you are looking for a fairly sticky dough- but still dry enough that you can shape into a ball.  When you have a ball with all the ingredients well mixed, place on floured counter and cover with the bowl and let sit for 30 minutes.

Lightly whip egg whites until they are just frothy and set aside.

Roll out dough 1/2 inch thick, brush on half of the egg whites, fold dough and let sit for an additional 30 minutes.

Roll dough out to 1/2 inch thick again and brush on egg white, add salt, cheese or seeds on top.  Cut into sticks , twist and place on baking sheet.Bake at 350 degrees F until golden- about 15 minutes.


Sesame seed breadsticks- so good!






In My Kitchen- January 2014

Not such a lot going on in my kitchen this month, yet.


I had my grandsons for a week while their parents went to


a coffee plantation in Nicaragua for a much needed break.


So – I spent a lot of time playing video games (mostly watching )


working on science observations with microscope and magnifying


glass- reading a large number of books, putting on boots, taking off


boots, keeping track of mittens, making lots of bacon dishes, and


basically trying to keep them happy to be with grandma while


Mommy and Daddy were gone.  Did I mention they were 3 and 5 years


old?    So the first item on my list is outside my kitchen-


on the deck…


These two did a great job cleaning off the deck- and they didn’t stop until it was done- pretty good for a 3 and 5 year old




where these two little sweeties were shoveling the snow off of for Grandpa!



In my kitchen…

MY kitchen chair!


Is this chair that I bought at a thrift store many years ago.  I love it- it is the right height


for a kitchen chair for me- it is perfect to sit at the counter and chop vegetables.  It is also


perfect for little boys to sit at the table.



So I haven’t been able to use it the last week or so.  My youngest grandson thinks this


is HIS chair!


In my kitchen…


A wooden spoon and flat spatula- made of ash and walnut!


is this lovely set of wooden utensils.  I love treen ware- my niece bought these from


a man who makes them in his state of West Virginia.  I love them!



In my kitchen…


is this picture of a bird on a coffee bush and…




a bag of coffee from the plantation where my son and his wife stayed!





And in my kitchen…

Sourdough marbled rye bread with caraway seeds!
















Beef stew- one of my husband’s favorite

winter meals!


That is what is in my kitchen- what is in your kitchen this January 2014?

This is part of an on going series hosted by my friend Celia at Fig jam and lime cordial.   Take a look

at all the posts there this year!

Baking Spree!

I’m going to Long Island tomorrow for a week of little boys and

much fun with my daughter in law, Willow.  Luke is off visiting churches

and going on youth trips- so I get to spend time with his family while

he is gone.

I’ve been getting ready to go – laundering clothes, picking up small items

to take for the boys and making sure I have luggage that hasn’t bad zippers

or sprung wheels and intractable handles-  and by baking up a storm so that

Frank has plenty to eat while I’m gone!


Cardamom/cinnamon buns- these are the best I’ve made in a long time!

I let the dough raise in the cold garage overnight- so the flavor is not just in the spices.

I’d like to give you an exact recipe but I just used the dump and hand measures.

It goes like this:

Pour a largish amount of AP flour in a large bowl- about 4 1/2 cups.

Add about 1 1/2 tsp of sea salt ( Pour into your cupped palm and fill the space that is

deepest- twice). Sprinkle the top with about two tsp cardamom.

Add a goodly cover of dried quick rise yeast on top – about 2 !/2 tsp.

Add about 1 cup dried milk- two  cupped handfulls and stir – making a well in the

center of your bowl.  Beat up an egg with 3 tablespoons of melted butter, and pour into the well,

mixi069ng just a little with the flour .  Then add about 1 1/2 cups of very hot water and stir the

entire mixture up into a moistish dough- if it is too dry add more water- if it is wet add some more

flour and then knead about 5 minutes until it is smooth and pliant.  Butter bowl,  shape dough into a ball

and place in bowl, cover and leave in cool temperature- (45 degrees F or less) overnight.

In the morning, bring in and let warm up to room temp, then roll out dough into a largish rectangle, spread warmish butter

over the top and sprinkle with a cinnamon/sugar  mixture and fold dough over from the long sides and cut into

bars  about1 1/2 inches wide.  Twist the bars then wrap around your fingers and tuck the ends through the  hole that

results from wrapping them around your fingers.  Place on parchment papered baking sheet and bake for

about 12-15 minutes at 375 degrees F.

While still warm spoon a sugar glaze on top.

This makes about 2 dozen buns.


And I made some bread for him to use as toast.  He doesn’t like fresh bread for his sandwiches but for toast- his favorite!


I also made some poppyseed rolls and twists.



So he has lots of sweets and a couple of pizzas that I made last night for supper and then froze the left over

pieces for him to take for lunch.

We had snowfall last night so the view out my windows went from this-


to this-


and this-013

I probably won’t be posting for the next week or so- but rest assured- I’m taking pictures and having a marvelous

time with 2 little boys!

May your next week be one of great joy as well!

In My Kitchen- May 2013


Happy May day!

In my family, flowers play a large part of

every season and holiday.

I grew up in the greenhouse business-

and my mother was a florist ( a floral arranger)

so most of my memories are interlaced with


My sister Robin and I added to the tradition

by including may baskets or bouquets- and

Allyson and her son Aiden carry on the tradition for me

every May 1st.

So… In my kitchen…


are flowers!  Bleeding heart, epimidium , flowering quince, tulips, daffodils,

mint, brunera and grape hyacinth.



violets that Jordan picked for me!

In my kitchen…


are kid sized snacks.

In my kitchen…


are cow embroidered hot pads-  I love cows.

In my kitchen…


is a carrot cake with cream cheese frosting and pecans.

In my kitchen…


is a fig and almond loaf.


and more bread.


In my kitchen…


is this homemade Dilly Ranch Dressing – a gift from a blog

friend for Christmas.  I made a dip for the vegetable plate at

the top of this post with this mixture and it is so yummy!

One of the secret ingredients- or should I say, unexpected ingredients,

in the mix is saltine crackers!  They add thickening to the dip or dressing

and an extra base flavor.  I will find out the proportions and share the

recipe if you are interested.

That is my kitchen this month- join the other IMK posters at Celia’s blog ,

Fig Jam and Lime Cordial!

A preview of Spring- Island style

It is cold and blustery in NE Ohio today.

We left in the midst of a sleet storm on Monday morning.

And we came south and east and stopped on Chincoteague Island, Virginia.

To Spring.

Here are some pictures- I forgot to take pictures of all the pansies and daffodils


But here are:




tea and TimTams!


Ally and Aiden at the park in Pocomoke City, Maryland.



Ladybug on Aiden…


Aiden on ladybug.


Small blue wildflowers blooming in the grass-(Veronica?)


Aiden at the ocean


a new friend…


pictures taken of picture taking.


Boots gone- pants rolled up…


and soaking wet!


and rolling in wet sand!





Almond and fig bread.  There is always BREAD!

Journeys in Bread making

When I was a teenager – growing up in the late “60’s and 70”s”  I had some ideas

of what I wanted my future life to look like.  I wanted to be a hermit- living somewhere

in the mountains with a cabin filled with books and I wanted to be self sufficient-

living off of my own small garden, keeping chickens and baking my own bread.

I decided to start right then and start making bread.

I was not an instant success.

But I was persistent and kept buying cookbooks and trying to make bread.

By the time I reached my 20’s I could bake a decent loaf of yeasted white bread.

And then I started using whole wheat, rye, graham, spelt, and oat flours.

Again- not great at first- but they kept getting better.

Until I reached my 30’s and I started selling my bread.   And then I started

teaching classes and I worked for a bakery.

I never reached the mountains- never became a hermit- my husband doesn’t want

chickens- and although I keep trying the garden is not verdant and prolific-

but I can bake bread.

And that is what I’ve been doing- ever since I got a new sourdough starter from

my friend, Celia – at fig jam and lime cordial , I’ve been baking and baking and baking!

I named my starter Thing Two- because I already had a Thing One- and once they get

into the mix things start popping!

Just this week, I’ve made-


sourdough waffles with maple syrup!




Sourdough rolls for bbq pulled pork!


This lovely loaf- don’t you just love this loaf pan?


The sides disengage from the bottom and leave you with a beautiful rounded loaf!


and a six  pointed star loaf for finger sandwiches!

There is for me a spiritual calling to the baking of bread.  I start praying and meditating

with the very start of putting the dough together- I put together flour, yeast, water and salt and I consider

it an act of creation.  There is a promise of growth and of fulfillment.

I have several philosophies of bread, one from an Irish prayer.

Since we are so close to St. Patrick’s Day, I’ll share it with you.

I’m still baking- the starter is fed- tomorrow may be bagels- or a fruit bread.

The journey continues- because  I have other sayings when it comes to bread-

I love to make it and I love to eat it.  And wherever I am there will be bread!


And more bread.




I made bagels today! Sesame and poppy seed with pretzel salt!

In My Kitchen- March 2013

In my kitchen…


Is  a reconstituted sourdough that traveled all the way from Australia!


Meet Thing Two,Priscilla’s American progeny!

Celia sent me some dried starter with two requests- that I named it and let you know

that Priscilla is the mother – and that I share some if anyone would like some.  So if you

would like some of Thing two, let me know.  In fact, if you want some of Thing one– which

is an all American starter and very sour- you are welcome to have some .

In My Kitchen…


is a beautiful loaf of bread made from Thing Two!

My husband, Frank,  really enjoyed this loaf.  It is so different from Thing One- the sour

taste is very mild, and it isn’t quite as chewy as my first starter.


I know this because I made a loaf out of Thing One– and it has the sour x8 and is very chewy!

They both are delicious – THANK YOU, CELIA!!!  I love the different flavor and texture.

In my kitchen…


are many different flavors of sugar!

I’ve had lot of salts from bacon to truffle, Hawaiian red to French grey, Lava Black to

Himalayan Pink- vanilla salt, hickory salt, all kinds of salt.

But I just noticed all the sugars I have.  Ginger, Lemon, Orange, Lime, Tangerine, Demerra, Vanilla,

coconut, Espresso, Dark Cocoa- I’m going to have to start using these- soon!

In my kitchen…


is a dwindling stash of TimTams.

In my kitchen…


Is a pile of crocheted cotton dishcloths made by my sister.

Thank you, Cynthia!

In my kitchen…


are dried herb wreaths and swags- Lemongrass, sage, bay leaf, and assorted soup herbs.

I’m making a big pot of soup this weekend and using up the herb wreath I made for


In my kitchen…


is a molasses cake with whipped cream.


Notice the little metal tab on the side of the pan?  You swing that all around the cake

once it is baked and it loosens the cake from the pan.  I found this at a thrift shop and

LOVE IT!  (The molasses cake was very good,as well!  Smile    )

In my kitchen…



are dragons,and leprechauns,and cats,and turtles and rabbits!

In my kitchen…


are red tulips- from the florist- everything outside is frozen. Sad smile

In my kitchen…


is a Steak salad with edamame and red onions.  YUM!

Well- that’s all I’m sharing right now- What’s in YOUR kitchen?

Join us at   Celia’s blog, for a list of kitchens around the world.

A rabbit bread tutorial- shaping bread- making fantasies in dough

My friend Celia, from the blog Fig jam and lime cordial, recently made a bear bread using

my last tutorial and she requested some other bread shapes.  Specifically a rabbit.

It is coming up Easter, soon, so I decided to add a couple of more animal shapes for

you to try if you are interested.

First of all, though- Celia was getting a little carried away, and said , “A Dragon!  Can you

make a dragon?”

Now I like dragons myself – and my grandson, Aidan is a little dragon crazy!

So I tried my hand and imagination for a dragon.


What do you think?

OH wait I forgot his flaming tongue!


Not bad for a first try- I’m going to work on this one just a bit!

Now on to the rabbit…

Go here for a recipe for honey whole wheat bread if you are looking for similar results.

There are also instructions for the basics of building a gluten cloak so that your bread will

keep his shape and not become all globby.


Here is a rabbit – all ready for an Easter Basket!

Make your dough and let it raise once.  Then portion out pieces to make the rabbit-


I used to weigh these out when I was selling them- so I knew exactly how many I

could get out of a batch of dough.  Now I dole out the pieces according to proportion.

the body is twice the size of the head-let’s say 3 ounces.  That makes the head  1 1/2 oz.

The legs are 1 ounce each about 1/3 the size of the body.  The arms are half the size of

the legs- 1/2 ounce each-  and the ears  – just a little smaller than the legs-3/4 oz.


Start off with the body and shape it into a long circle with a smaller top than bottom’


Pinch the bottom together between each shaping and tightening of the dough.


It should be oblong- wider at the bottom than the top- place on your sheet.

Now do the head the same way- only it can be round rather than oblong.

Place it on the sheet on top of the smaller part of the oblong.


Now start on the feet and think “Thumper” making the foot shaped like an exclamation point,

but flat on the edges so you can slide it just a little behind the hip part of the bunny.


Do it on both sides.


Now do the same thing with the arms and place them between the head and the body.



The ears come next- and you want to roll them into a small snakey little shape.


leave a little lip on the base of each ear so that you can place them slightly under

the head for support.

016Make his puffy cheeks – roll the balls as tightly as you can-


021place in the middle of the face and then using a bamboo skewer

start to tighten up and attach all the pieces.  Push the dough together at the edges and then into the

larger mass.  Do this with all the pieces, ears, legs, and arms and also between the head and body.


Now when working on the ears, shape the tips to be cute- and add definition.


Poke a hole for his bellybutton, and add dried currants for nose and eyes.



Bake at 350 to 375 degrees F for about 20 minutes- until golden brown.

Add a bow, a paper cut out carrot and a marshmallow or white chocolate tooth-

AND you have a bread rabbit.

I also made a few other animals while I was at it-


a dinner roll bunny, a ST. Patty’s guy,  a turtle


And a cat.

A little chicken soup with your bread?

I’ve been so sick- I haven’t been out of the house in over a week.

I had a flu shot- but those germs really don’t care- if they are out to get

you- then they do!

Any way- I was home- feeling quite sorry for myself and also just feeling

really bad.  Headache, muscle aches, coughing, congested- miserable.

And I started thinking about chicken soup.

I was able to make it to my computer and keep up with reading my emails and

blog posts- and my friend, Jane put up a recipe for Chicken bread soup on her newsletter,

See Jane Cook.   She put up a recipe from Joyce Goldstein that I had to try – so I made it

for myself

Soo good- it was bread pudding with chicken soup.  Velvetty and delicious- every bite

a comfort.  I almost felt well for the 20 minutes I took to eat a portion.

Here’s the recipe and a few pictures if you’d like to try it.




  • 4 tbsp. unsalted butter
  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1/2 cup sliced mushrooms (optional)
  • 1 medium onion, cut into small dice
  • 2 ribs celery, cut into small dice
  • 2 small carrots, peeled and diced
  • 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 12 to 16 oz. total), cubed
  • 1/3 cup dry white wine
  • 4 cups chicken broth
  • Salt, pepper
  • 1/8 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 4 or 5 thick (1-inch) slices of sturdy bread
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese or half Parmesan and half Fontina

In a wide saucepan melt 1 tablespoon butter with 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium-high heat. Cook mushrooms  until the edges begin to brown.

Add 1 tablespoon butter and remaining 1 tablespoon oil and reduce heat to medium. Add onion, celery and carrots and cook until softened, about 10 minutes. Add chicken and stir fry until golden, about 5 minutes. Add wine and boil until it evaporates. Add chicken stock, salt and pepper to taste and the cinnamon. Cover and simmer gently until the chicken is tender, 20 to 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, melt remaining 2 tablespoons butter in a large skillet. Toast bread slices on both sides, adding more butter if necessary, until golden.

In a 6-quart, deep-sided casserole such as a souffle dish, arrange 2 to 2 1/2 slices of the bread in a single layer.  Sprinkle some of the cheese on top, then the chicken and vegetables. Top with remaining bread slices. Soup may be made and refrigerated up to 8 hours at this point.

Ladle broth over the top and sprinkle with the remaining cheese. Cover loosely with foil. Place on a baking sheet and bake at 300 degrees for 45 to 60 minutes, depending on the depth of the casserole. The bread on the top should be chewy and the bread on the bottom, custardy. Makes 3 to 4 servings.

I left out the mushrooms- didn’t have any- and substituted 1 tablespoon of brandy for the wine.

I used my spelt bread because it is very sturdy and I had half a loaf sitting out.


This is the highlight of my week.

I’m making this one again- but when I feel well so that I can savor it and taste all the flavors.

This soup make have saved my life this week.


Or maybe just made it worthwhile to keep on living!