Thursday, July 23, 2009

Thursday - Cleaning Day

God has blessed us with an amazing small group. We have seven couples who meet every week at our home, and we pray together, study the Bible, and hang out into the wee hours of the morning. The close friendships we are forming remind me of my college days, where your friends become your family.

Anyway - small group night has turned Thursdays into cleaning day! At first it was overwhelming and stressful for me to have the house company ready each week, but I can't believe how much easier it has gotten with practice. Here I am, with an hour before everyone arrives, and homemade dinner has been served (along with some yummy no-knead bread!), the house is clean, the kids had tons of outdoor water play and a bath, I'm showered, and I'm sitting here blogging. Oh - and ALL the laundry is done, a miracle in its own right!

It feels good to be getting better at my job here in the home. I'm enjoying it more and more, and finding great joy in it. I am someone who struggles when I feel like I'm not really good at what I'm doing. I've learned to let that go and embrace the unpredictability children bring, but still - its nice to feel like I'm not drowning in it all.

I will say that both new recipes tried out today were less than delectable, but were both Needless to say, they won't be making the meal plan again!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

No-Knead Bread

I know I'm late on this bandwagon...but I'm glad I finally jumped on! This no-knead bread is SO easy, and SO delicious. I'm so glad I tried this finally, as it makes making all our bread much more do-able. I've only made my first loaf, so I'll be experimenting with different flours, add ins, etc. Yummy!!

Here's the recipe, from the New York Times:

No-Knead Bread

Adapted from Jim Lahey, Sullivan Street Bakery
Time: About 1½ hours plus 14 to 20 hours’ rising

3 cups all-purpose or bread flour, more for dusting
¼ teaspoon instant yeast
1¼ teaspoons salt
Cornmeal or wheat bran as needed.

1. In a large bowl combine flour, yeast and salt. Add 1 5/8 cups water, and stir until blended; dough will be shaggy and sticky. Cover bowl with plastic wrap. Let dough rest at least 12 hours, preferably about 18, at warm room temperature, about 70 degrees.

2. Dough is ready when its surface is dotted with bubbles. Lightly flour a work surface and place dough on it; sprinkle it with a little more flour and fold it over on itself once or twice. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rest about 15 minutes.

3. Using just enough flour to keep dough from sticking to work surface or to your fingers, gently and quickly shape dough into a ball. Generously coat a cotton towel (not terry cloth) with flour, wheat bran or cornmeal; put dough seam side down on towel and dust with more flour, bran or cornmeal. Cover with another cotton towel and let rise for about 2 hours. When it is ready, dough will be more than double in size and will not readily spring back when poked with a finger.

4. At least a half-hour before dough is ready, heat oven to 450 degrees. Put a 6- to 8-quart heavy covered pot (cast iron, enamel, Pyrex or ceramic) in oven as it heats. When dough is ready, carefully remove pot from oven. Slide your hand under towel and turn dough over into pot, seam side up; it may look like a mess, but that is O.K. Shake pan once or twice if dough is unevenly distributed; it will straighten out as it bakes. Cover with lid and bake 30 minutes, then remove lid and bake another 15 to 30 minutes, until loaf is beautifully browned. Cool on a rack.

Yield: One 1½-pound loaf.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Building Fortunes

One rainy day not too long ago, I tried to get the kids interested in building a fort. They really didn't get into it, and little R kept throwing herself on top and crushing J and I below. The activity certainly didn't inspire the hours of independent play I had envisioned.

Fast forward to the other day - J tells me he's "building fortunes." I had no idea what he could be talking about, so I investigated. He was doing his very best to build his very own fort. I couldn't help but laugh over the funny misspeak on his part, as it seemed so appropriate.

Building Fortunes. That's what I'm doing too. Building fortunes of memories, love, and life lessons for my family.
Raising children and homemaking have at times left me wondering what I'm really accomplishing. I'm busy all day long, but there's not always tangible evidence of that. The food I cooked has been eaten, the cleaning I've done has been messed up, and the faces I've wiped are dirty again. I can only hope that through all that, I've made a small deposit into my family's growing fortune.