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June 26, 2012

Frustrated by my inability to find bread in the store that's soy free, I've turned to making my own.

While meal planning and dealing with meat are not on my list of things I like to do, baking is another story.  I love measuring and kneading and stirring.  I have no qualms at all about foregoing the spoon and mixing dough with my bare (but clean, of course) hands.  It's FUN.

Until it isn't.  I found a no-knead bread recipe on Pinterest and liked the idea.  Fresh baked bread always an hour away?  How useful!  And cheap!  And better than ingesting all the added preservatives and chemicals.  I know EXACTLY what goes into my bread.

Unfortunately, I could not get my bread to turn out.  I invested in a nice big glass jar to store dough in the fridge.  (I couldn't find a plastic one the right size.)  The first batch actually turned out OK, rose beautifully, even, but was just too salty.  The following batches grew steadily worse.  Or at least, not what I expected.  The main problem was the crust being dark brown while the inside was undercooked, even after internal temperatures had reached the recommended amount.  I had to resort to breaking the loaf because I couldn't cut into it.  So I researched.  And researched.  And got big, heavy, complex books out of the library.  And tested.  I bought a jar of yeast.  I tried a glass loaf pan, a metal bakeware one, and the pizza stone.  I tried an aluminum foil tent to prevent the crust from browning too quickly.  I switched from bread flour to all-purpose.  I suddenly realized the all-purpose was bleached, which apparently makes a difference.  I tried changing the baking times and temperatures.  It became a challenge I HAD to win.  And somehow I couldn't.  The recipe was NOT foolproof like it claimed!  We ate most of them anyway.

So I'm giving it one last old fashioned try.  I went back to the basics with this recipe and am currently waiting for it to rise.  The dough is much drier and easier to handle, so I'm hoping it will be adequate to the cause.  Otherwise I'm giving up on the recipe completely and moving on to other ones.

Update:  Dough looks beautiful, but I managed to set the fire alarm off.  So much for using metal cake pans for steam!  I think the temp was a LITTLE too high for them.  The house smells a little bit like the time I managed to melt the Christmas wreath.

Update 2:  House now smells like warm, fresh baked bread.  Bread came out absolutely perfect!  Rose beautifully, nice and squishy, cooked through, crust isn't too hard or thick, and not too salty, which was a concern in the comments section. I think I will leave it in a full 25 minutes next time.

I'm really excited about this.  I was getting SO frustrated trying to produce decent bread with the other recipe!  Now I know it's not me or the stove!
June 18, 2012

Having gotten school and lots and lots of travelling out of the way, I am now attempting to figure out what to do with my days.  I am feeling pretty befuddled and disorganized, which is very frustrating.  I find myself ignoring things like laundry and vacuuming and instead fiddling with little projects like this.

I needed something to hang in the downstairs bathroom now that it's clean and accessible.  Mom had offered me a selection of her and her grandmother's porcelain rose/flower collection, of which she has a large number.  I finally picked out a few with the idea that I could turn it into a wall hanging.  

After failing to find a wall vase or basket or the like, I finally said to myself, hey, baskets can be hung on the wall!  

The best part about this piece is the price.  The flowers were free or were leftovers from other projects.  The basket I found at the Dollar Tree.   The bottles were part of a huge mini-bottle stash I found at the thrift shop some time back for $2.00.  The hanging ribbon was a $2 clearance item.  The lace I had gotten off of Etsy some time back, and was pricy, but oh so pretty.  I considered making a doily to go with it, but first borrowed the lace to see how it worked with the flowers.  It was good enough, and I didn't have any other project in mind for that particular lace.  If I do in the future I shall remake the basket!  Everything is wired to the back to keep it from falling out.  

My problem now?  These colors go perfectly with the upstairs bathroom.  However, I have no available wall space at the right height for viewing.   I must resist, hang it in the bathroom it was made for, and start using that one more!