Thursday, August 9, 2012

I've been holding out on you...

So you may remember me sharing during the 31 Days of Cooking at Home how my family makes our own bread.

Well a couple of things happened to change this shortly after my 31 days of blogging insanity.

First, I saw Edie's lovely home tour and noticed a lovely loaf of bread and a cookbook called Artisan Bread in Five Minutes A Day.  I made a mental note to look into that.  And if you haven't seen Edie's gorgeous beyond gorgeous home go check it out.  Like now.

Then, after I'd made my mental note to find the cookbook that gave Edie the perfect loaves of bread, The Nester posted on the same cookbook.  And she mentioned that the authors had a blog with their master recipe posted for the whole world to see.  For free.

So I clicked over, saw that I had all the ingredients, and made a batch.

I have never looked back.  Our bread machine is so sad.  She has sat all alone in a cabinet for the better part of a year.

I did end up buying the book and a nifty dough whisk. My thought was, if this is just the tip of the ice berg, I want to know what else is in that book!  And that master recipe is  It can be used for pizza dough, cinnamon rolls...endless opportunities.

So if you've never tried to make homemade bread, I implore you...try itThis is the one to try.  You will not mess it up.  It will rise without your help.  It will bake with a lovely, crispy crust.  You will eat the entire first loaf in one sitting.  It is so good.

One more photo to drool over...

Now go make some for yourself!

Saturday, August 4, 2012

For Your Weekend

For a good laugh:
Southern Women 101 by Edie @ Life In Grace {an oldie but a goodie}

For the college freshman in your life:
31 Basic Life Skills in 31 Days by Brett @ Art of Manliness

Ever think you have too many clothes with nothing to wear?  Inspiration to pare back:
Project 333: Redefining Normal by Janice @ The Vivienne Files

Because I shamelessly enjoy Olympic Royal Watching:
Kate in Red for Royal Thank You, William Talks About That Hug @ What Kate Wore

Calling all bookworms, those who aspire to be bookworms, and those who think books are dumb:
Read Books and Live Well Part 1 & Part 2 by Edie @ Life In Grace {inspiring as always}

Hope your weekend runneth over with only good things!  :)

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Kitchen Hall of Shame

Meet my cute little oven.  She is quite a workhorse, my little oven.  See her cute Anthro towel?

I love this little oven...I really do.  Even though she does not clean all by herself.  She is vintage, not energy-efficient, and not self-cleaning, but she cooks good food for my loved ones each and every day.

TMI?  I told you she was a workhorse.  I really do use her every. single. day.  If not to make bread, then to make pizza.  If not to make pizza, then to make biscuits.  If not to make biscuits, then to make cornbread.  If not to make cornbread, then to roast veggies.

Most days she does a good cross section of all of the above.

And I have taken advantage of her wonderful working goodness and not cleaned her in....well, to be honest I can't remember the last time I cleaned her.  Shameful.  I know.  Very gross.  Yes, indeed.  I'm aware.

The thing is, she's reeeeallly dirty.  And since she's not self-cleaning, she needs quite a good scrub.  Once upon a time I would run to the grocery store and buy oven cleaner.  A decade {yikes! I'm old} ago, way back in my very first college apartment, my roomies and I always had a clean oven for two reasons: 1} we lived with a very sweet, blonde version of Monica from Friends, and 2} we used toxic, super strong, chemical laden oven cleaner.

Since I cook every day in this oven, and that food is feeding my family, I'm really not into the idea of cleaning said oven with chemicals I can't pronounce.  I don't want any residue to linger and cook into our food.

Yes, I realize the irony.  I'm worried about the chemicals cooking into our food, but not about the gross baked on crap cooking into our food.  Touche.

I've tried cleaning with baking soda in this oven before.  It was pretty disastrous, complete with lingering white streaks of baking soda residue.  Not pretty.  But I thought I'd try it again. 

This time I took an old Mrs. Meyer's bottle and mixed up equal parts white vinegar and water to use along with the baking soda.  I sprayed down the oven thoroughly with the water/vinegar solution, then sprinkled on the baking soda.  And scrub, scrub, scrubbed until my elbows felt like they would fall off.

Early on I was encouraged.  It looked like it just might work!  I couldn't believe it. 

I scrubbed for about 30 minutes.  With my sweet toddler pulling on my legs.  And hanging off the oven door.  And generally getting into things he shouldn't be in while I was scrubbing away.

After 30 minutes I called it good-enough-for-now.

Is it perfect?  No.  Trust me, it's bugging me that I haven't gotten those little spots off the glass.

And that black spot in the left corner?  I'm fairly sure that's baked on cheese from another planet.

But overall, I'm thrilled with how well the baking soda and vinegar worked.  The vinegar nipped any baking soda streaks, and let's be honest, it was so awful before that it looks a million times better now.

So two lessons learned.  You don't have to use the fumy cleaner to get a clean oven.  And wait for nap-time for uninterrupted scrubbing...I really should know better at this point. ;)