27 March 2012

recipe review - dinner rolls


i have no idea why, but i am the world's worst baker. this cannot be the first time you have heard me say as much. recently i decided i to master bread of some sort. easy for you perhaps, quantum physics for me. actually, quantum physics i do get.

all attempts have been failures. not always salvageable either. i believe, after tasting the last loaf, manylman suggested we buy pizza for dinner.

imagine my surprise tonight, when i successfully made the above pull-apart dinner rolls! feeling a bit dizzy, are you? well sit down my one & only reader, because there is more. that (blurrytakenwiththehobbit'sitouch) photo up there? that. is. mine. i know! it's as if a more together version of me has taken over. it's pod-kat!

they were quite delicious, in case you were wondering. the only thing i changed was the type of flour; i used organic unbleached all-purpose. i don't like whole wheat. i'd like to try them with garlic powder & parsley added to the dough. yum.

these rolls are baked in muffin tins. i want to make tiny ones, in my mini tins, but am not sure of the baking time. for smaller rolls do i bake them less? how much less? i'd love advice from you people who do manage to successfully bake on a regular basis.


26 March 2012

a-b-c spells oops


little ones love stamps, & mine is no exception. this past christmas, santa gave elfling this beautiful alphabet stamp set . he also, like his mama, loves letters, so santa made elfling quite happy with stamping letters.

as you can see from this photo, the wooden handles are covered in ink - proof of his love. what that photo does not show is santa's wee goof. he did not pay attention when affixing the stickers to the tops of the handles. i am sure he meant to, but was probably so busy on christmas eve, that he did not give a second thought to which way the stickers should face. had he done so, words would not look thusly:



23 March 2012

making the mundane pretty since 2012

photo :: property of ormolou
this gorgeous old tray reminded me of something about which i'd been meaning to chat - my trash station. 

after too many years spent complaining that something liquid found its way into the trash, causing a leak that i (of course) stepped in, i did something about it. 

i took an old rectangular tray that had barely any silver-plate left, jumped for joy that it fit the spot where i kept the bags, then jumped even higher for joy that two paper bags fit perfectly on the tray.

the lip of the tray keeps any leaks contained, & is easy to wash/dry. that should be the best part of this, but it isn't. the best part is that it looks ever so pretty.

i would photograph the trash station for you, but that would mean i would have to first clean the kitchen. or that part of it, at the very least. 

how do you make the mundane pretty?

before you yell at me for using paper bags - for most shopping i use cloth bags, however, i re-use the paper bags from one shop to make shipping envelopes. i also use them for collecting trash in the kitchen. i know it's best to use cloth bags for all shopping, but this way i am getting a second use for the bags, replacing the need to buy things that would get only one use to begin with (trash bags, shipping envelopes, doodle pads).

22 March 2012

used book shop - chapter two


& now for the treasures i mentioned yesterday! this first one is a 1965 copy of punch & judy, illustrated by ed emberley. the cover is gloriously faded & tattered, & just look within:

i was telling manlyman how i never much cared for illustrations from the 50s through 70s, until now. there must be a hormone that is released, when one becomes a certain age, that makes us crave the things we saw in our youth. (i am not a child of the 50s or 60s mind you, most of my books were used even then.)

the other treasure was an old copy of the night before christmas, illustrated by leonard weisgard.

the original was done in 1949, but my copy has a print date of 1978. i nearly walked past the book, as i am not in the habit of buying holiday items once a holiday has passed, but something made me take a peek. oh am i glad i did!

the illustrations are beautiful in their simplicity, & (unlike the cover) there is not a smudge or tear to be found within. i think i need to start a holiday book bin. i imagine the books would last longer were they not stuffed in the bins with their respective holiday decorations. anyway...

do vintage books get you all swoony too? what are some of your favorites?

21 March 2012

used book shop - chapter one

my new most favorite place in the world is piccolo's books; a used book shop of gargantuan proportion. it is not just the size of the shop that has me all swoony, it is that they charge only one dollar per book! just writing that last sentence made me a bit dizzy.

i have no intention of admitting how often i shop there, nor how much i spend each time, but i will say that there is talk of naming a wing after me.

that stack pictured above was from my most recent visit. take a close look at the board book teetering at the top of the stack. not just your average book of trucks, this one is in french!

of course to elfling it is just another book of trucks, but one day that won't be the case. & that wasn't the only french book i found for him.

 les dinosaures is ever so cute, as far as dinosaur books go. this one has to be put away; until he's over his love of tearing books; as it is has flaps & fold-outs.

elfling wasn't the only belfry to get new books:

the book of classic board games is going to get a lot of use on lazy summer eves.
flash! bang! pop! fizz! will be thehobbit's science curriculum for summer. we do have a bunch of science experiment books, but this one has pages for recording observations & the like.
botany for all ages is perfect for herbology class.
the roman record will be used in the fall, when we study ancient rome.
the new vegetable & herb expert taunts me each time i walk into the room. (i couldn't find an exact link for you.)

i'm off - a bowl of angel food cake, with strawberries & whipped cream is waiting for me. tomorrow i will share two of the treasures that were found that day.


08 March 2012

through the eyes of a hobbit

photo :: property of thehobbit
it has been some time since my last installment of through the eyes of a hobbit. it was not for a lack of photos from which to choose, that is for sure. since getting his itouch in december, thehobbit has been a photo-taking machine. i have just been busy & overwhelmed. are you tired of that old song & dance yet?

scrolling through the photos he took on a recent trip to lacma i came across the above. there are so many things i love about it: the lines, the lamps themselves, the angle, the sunlight peeking through, the shadow - this photo simply rocks. if i had to say what my favorite thing was? well, it was taken by my very own son.

i think it's time to get him a real camera, & see what he can do.


if you are interested in the story behind the lamp posts, read this.

07 March 2012

recipe review - the first!

photo :: property of chow vegan

for more years than i care to admit, i have been collecting recipes. collecting, but not attempting. oh sure, there were a handful of attempts over those many years, but not enough to warrant keeping the gigantic dust-magnet of a folder in my kitchen.

this week i decided to change my wicked ways, & begin attempting new recipes, at least once a week. i also decided that it would be fun to share those attempts with you. if i use a recipe as-is, or tweak it little, i shall link to the original, & list my tweaks. if i alter it significantly however, i shall link, & share my version. perhaps i shall also remember to photograph my attempts, so i do not have to use their photos.

i kicked things off by making bbq pulled jackfruit. as you can see from the recipe, it was just a matter of tossing a few things into the crockpot, & walking away. 

i did not saute anything before tossing in the crockpot.
i put the crockpot on 'high', & left it cooking for a few hours.
i left it in the fridge until the next night, then reheated it with a bit more sauce.
we ate it on hot panini, with mayo, tabasco, & lettuce. (sans tabasco for elfling.)

i had to make sure there was a protein side dish, which elfling did not end up eating. i think i need to find a way to add protein in a way that won't mess with the flavor, or the texture.

it was a hit with the entire belfry clan; i shall definitely make this one again.


06 March 2012

bread instead


eleventy million years ago i babbled about this bag. it worked wonderfully for holding & toting my knitting projects that used the giant needles. unfortunately, i am not knitting at all much these days, so have had no need for the knitting bag.

in fact, the other day i packed away my needles, & donated the unused skeins. my goal this year is to de-clutter & simplify (yes, i know i've said as much in the past. be quiet, you.), so could see no reason to have a basket of supplies out. just before i tossed my lovely bag into the donation sack, i came up with another use for it.

a baguette bag!

i'm going to hang it in the kitchen, to hold baguettes. i buy them regularly, but have never had a place to keep them. most spots in the kitchen are too sunny, so they ended up on a shady counter, forever getting in the way. all i need now is a vintage hook!

hoorah for repurposing :)


05 March 2012

hello from the middle ages - the oops


i meant to post this last week, then promptly let life get in the way of things. our last medieval studies class did not go as well at the previous had. what happened? i forgot that i am the world's most dreadful baker, so attempted to make bread dough. but i am getting ahead of myself. here is what we did:

the kids watched the documentary clarissa & the king's cookbook, to which i linked here. they then gathered in the kitchen, excited that they would get to bake rose petal bread. imagine their surprise to find that they could not, because the dough had not risen even a smidge. sigh.

tinker saved the day, by suggesting they deep-fry little bits of the dough. excitement returned, & the kids spent the next hour rolling little balls of dough in sugar, & cooking them in hot oil. they were not the most delicious things i have tasted, but they were not bad. when you bit into one, you encountered a faint rose aroma, then tasted a sugary fried bread. 

the recipe came from knights & castles. in case your library does not carry the book:

rose petal bread
1 package of active dry yeast
1.5 cups lukewarm rose water (i bought mine at an indian grocery)
1 tablespoon sugar
2 teaspoons salt
3-4 cups flour
cornmeal and butter
food dye
1 egg white

to begin, make the rose water by simmering rose petals in a small amount of water. remove the petals.

in a large bowl, dissolve the yeast in the rose water. stir sugar, salt and some flour into the yeast. with clean hands, knead the dough. add more and more flour until it won't take anymore.

push the dough around on a floured board. when the dough becomes smooth and elastic, cover the bowl with a clean cloth and go play for an hour!

when you return, the dough will be bigger. punch down the dough, and divide in half. form each half into a circle, oval, heart or long loaf. place the loaves on separate buttered baking sheets that are sprinkled with cornmeal. 

next comes the art part. mix a food color with a little bit of egg white to make "paint." paint vines, leaves, flowers or any other art on the top of the loaves. 

bake in a preheated oven for 40 minutes at 400ยบf.

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