Japanese Milk Bread

I love baking.  A year ago I was all about the cake, this year I’m more about bread.  It makes sense, bread is slower, there’s less timing involved, and it’s easier for a person with pain and exhaustion issues to plan out a loaf and deal with it ON MY TERMS.

I can move slowly through a bread recipe, feel I’ve made something special for my family, and NOT knock myself out trying to make something special and memorable.

There are SO many excellent bread resources out there that I’m not going to even TRY to list them.

Right now my favorite source of recipes to try for bread items is the King Arthur website.  In full disclosure, I’m a member of their baking club. I pay a certain $ each year to get free shipping on my orders and other little treats.  

It’s a luxury, but when I break down how cheaply I can whip up a loaf of bread for the family, and how much they enjoy it, it actually makes good sense, financially.

Bread + Pain Strategy
So this morning, waking at 2am with intense pain (2 is when my 8-hour Oxycodone wears off, and at this point I could set my clock by the pain) my strategy has become to

  1. Take my 2am pain pills (short lasting Oxycodone for breakthrough pain)
  2. Get up and take care of nature’s call
  3. Try to stay in bed for at LEAST 1/2 hour
  4. Read a bit from my current bedtime book

If all of this leads to me falling back asleep, then I am what’s known as le Happy Camper.

The kids won’t have hot, fresh bread waiting for them in the morning, but they WILL have a well rested, happy, mom, and that’s worth EVEN MORE!

However if, like this morning, pain won’t abate until I move a bit, I get up and wander the ground floor of the house, putting stuff away, emptying the dish washer, trying to do anything that isn’t too noisy.

If I’m still awake at 6am, I can take my entire pain pill regime (three times a day, 6am, 2pm, 10pm.)  To my list this morning I added, “Make Japanese Milk Rolls!”  Because – why not?

Soft Bread
I like soft bread, and I cannot lie.  Recently I like it even more.  When approaching a chewy crust of bread, I tense up a bit as hard chewing can really bother my teeth these days.  I’m such a sensitive flower…

I love this recipe from King Arthur Flour because it uses a warm milk starter, called a

Sometimes I like to bake my Japanese Milk Bread Rolls with an egg wash & sesame seeds.

“Tangzhong Starter” which really does seem to make the bread soft and easy to eat.  When I was a kid my dad used to buy a loaf of bread called, “MIlk Toast.”

I don’t know if this was an Ohio or WV thing, but we’d get this special bread at A&P, in a blue wrapper, sliced VERY THICK.  I remember it was a soft and comforting bread, and my dad would toast it, then cover it in cinnamon and sugar and warm milk and eat it like a pudding.

These Milk Rolls give me the same feeling when I eat them.  There’s a pleasant density and softness to the bread that makes me feel like I’m 5 again.  This is wonder bread, x100 for taste and texture!

Japanese milk bread roll with jam!

Once I’ve created the starter (I do it 30 seconds at a time in the microwave) and mixed together all of the ingredients, I knead it in my mixer, then give a few extra kneads on my table and put it in a buttered, covered bowl to rise.

60-90 minutes later, the dough’s been raised and it’s time to shape it,

Versatility
At this point there are a number of ways to utilize the dough.  One of my favorites is to create the above rolls, which are very easy to make.  If I feel the need to fill them with spices or nuts or chocolate or cheese, it’s easy to do and makes a beautiful change up from plain bread.

Japanese Milk Rolls baked as a loaf

Other times I roll the dough out into a rectangle, fold it up in thirds (like a business letter) then turn under the edges and slip it into a loaf pan.  Once again, when folding the dough I can add fillings to different section of the bread if I feel so moved, and can make a sweet or a savory treat.

I’ve used this recipe as the base for a nice Babka, too.  It’s such a versatile dough!

I think this morning I’m going to make a kind of cinnamon roll using a nice mix of Cinnamon, Cardamom, Nutmeg and a bit of Vanilla. That sounds like it would be great with a cup of coffee (I seldom drink coffee, but this morning I might!)

When the bread’s had a second rise I’ll roll a Cinnamon-Spice mixture into the dough, then do some creative twisting and try to make something pretty.  Once it’s baked up, I may add a bit of icing and there’s Sunday morning, done and dusted!

What About The Gluten, Annie?
And, for those of you keeping score, YES this is filled with gluten.  But I’m using an organic wheat which should guarantee that a Monsanto product wasn’t used in the harvesting of the grain.

I was experimenting with using organic wheat vs gluten free, and felt that I was having some good success, and then the cancer happened.

I’m so full of various pain killers that I wouldn’t even FEEL the side effects that I’d been chalking up to eating gluten.

So I’m giving myself permission to eat a bagel every now and then, and I’m ESPECIALLY giving myself permission to eat a wheat product I bake at home using organic wheat.  So far I haven’t had any terrible side effects from this, the pain I feel tends to line up with the pain from my lymphoma and metastasized tumors.

So, whether you consider yourself a baker or not, I have found this recipe to be a VERY good soft-bread, and not really difficult to make at ALL!

I hope you’ll give it a try, and let me know how it turns out!  From start to finish this generally takes me about an hour’s work and a few hours of rising/waiting.  Perfect for a 2am wakening on a slow pain-filled morning.

SO who wants to come by and have some bread?

A Happy Resolution!

So much sad, sad, sad isn’t good for the soul.  Or good for a blog.  This post will NOT be about pain or fear or cancer. It will be about CONVECTION OVENS!!

Home Sweet Downsize!

The Setup
When Gerry and I purchased our beautiful home in 2016, our goal was to downsize to the point (both in house size and in less desirable location) that we could get close to the ‘paying off the mortgage’ portion of our life plan.

As I’ve mentioned, Gerry and I are frugal bunnies. The priviledge to even BE able to be frugal is something I don’t take lightly, I KNOW exactly how fortunate we are. We live in a messed up country, in a messed up world. Paying attention to blatant unfairness it’s a step in the direction of fixing it.

The kids had SOME say in the house, but mostly we allowed them to go along for the ride. Their home is here for as long as they want, but we couldn’t afford to make it TOO comfortable for them to come and stay.

The Warrantee

You Say Garage, I Say St-St-Studio!

Along with the home, and the magnificent garage, er, dye studio, we acquired a home warrantee on several of the appliances. I hadn’t thought much about warrantees before, but this one has worked out beautifully for our family.

The range was on the warrantee, and it had been baking kind of funny, there was a light bulb out that couldn’t be reached to be replaced, and we were STUNNED when the warrantee fellow came out and said we could get a new range, and gave us a number that they would pay us to go get ourselves something.

We shopped online, we shopped in stores, we knew we wanted a bit of a grill, a bit of a griddle, and —if possible — my dream of a convection oven.

The Range
I know fan, or convection, ovens can be a tricky subject, but I wanted one, damnit. I mean, not enough to turn down a lovely stove that DIDN’T have one, but if one came with our stove, so much the better!

We decided to shop at SEARS online after seeing this item on their website. We ordered it, it was delivered in early January.

I wasn’t at home at the time so Gerry accepted it on his own. We weren’t paying for SEARS to install it, so they pretty much dropped it off and took our old stove away.

The WRONG Range
EXCEPT the oven they dropped off did NOT match the description.  No convection oven.

I immediately started an online chat with the SEARS folks, who seemed as surprised as I was that this range did NOT have a convection oven.

We went back and forth, I could tell the Customer Service Rep was feeling like he was between a rock and a hard place (my god, what an absolutely dismally difficult job CSR is!)

So apparently the range we bought, JGSS66EELSS was NOT the range we’d thought we were buying. And apparently SEARS said it was our fault, or that it wasn’t THEIR fault.

Of course we needed to escalate the situation.  SEARS told us, rather nastily, that the number of the range we’d ordered WAS NOT a model with a ConvectionOven.  They said that they had a typo on their website, and they would NOT honor a typo.

Refusal To Help
Except, even after we’d alerted SEARS to this, they KEPT that damn “typo” up for months.

The emails we were getting from SEARS were getting nastier and nastier.

Essentially they said, in several different ways, “Look, you got a good deal on a range, just shut up and go away.”

They offered us $100 to shut up, and told us that we HAD TO ACCEPT THAT $100 WITHIN 5 DAYS OR THEY WEREN’T PLAYING. Jerks.

Uh, no.

They repeated their offer with $200. Then with $400. Each time we said, “No, we want the range that you advertised. We will NOT let you get away with Bait & Switch.”

We stood strong, we were in no rush and — in all honesty — we really loved the range we had purchased. But it WAS NOT what was advertised. What was advertised was the range we ordered PLUS a convection oven.

Reinforcements
About a week into this nonsense we asked for the help of our State Attorney General, Lori Swanson. I hadn’t realized that one of the duties of the SAG is to protect consumers in their state, and BOY did Erin, from Lori’s office, work to protect us!

Our Lovely Stove. Take THAT, Kathleen!

Patiently, slowly, her staff kept after SEARS. She took the case seriously, giving it the amount of time it needed, but also letting it roll on it’s own. I was impressed with their restraint and strength.

Right around that time my business partner, Kathleen, had her kitchen redone after bad ice dam damage from several years ago. Thank you, home insurance company!

It’s ON!
Kathleen GOT OUR STOVE! She ordered and had delivered EXACTLY the stove we wanted, so it was ON! There was no way I was not walking away without my convection oven.

Actually, given the state of my back this Spring, perhaps that is NOT the best way to acquire and bring home the oven… 

Morning Treat for Post Radiation!

Convection Conviction
Well, HUZZAH!  In April we were alerted that we had a “final offer” of $450, and we said, “No. Convection Oven.” And SEARS said to Lori Swanson’s office, “Ok.”

 

And that is why I am up at 5am before my radiation, so I can throw some low-sugar cookie dough in the oven for TEN MINUTES and have a half dozen cookies to snack on after my time on the laser table today.

Thank you, Lori Swanson, you and your office really stood up for us!

And SEARS, you SUCK! 
Even if you DID do the professional installation gratis this time…

Just do the right thing from the start, and you KNEW that honoring your website description (up for at least 4 months) was the RIGHT THING!

Tomorrow I’ll write about how I became so enmeshed in the Fan Oven love, and my journey a year ago to attempt to become a contestant on The Great American Baking Show! (spoiler, I didn’t make it…)

MORE YARN!

We’re ordered, and we’re currently awaiting, MANY more kilos of beautiful undyed ModeSock and ModeLuxe for dyeing and loving!

If all goes well, it should be here mid-next week, and be up and for sale in our store by next weekend! Our first order of business; create the ModeLuxe in the colors of the Slippy Cowl so we can fulfill the wishes of the folks who want to make that same item!

Second order of business; knit a few samples in other colors so folks can easily envision different color combinations!

This downtime is perfect for upgrading the website (now each different yarn will be accessible through drop down menus under “ModeKnit Yarn” – try it!) and soon we’ll have different selectable menus for different colorways.

Right now we only show images of yarns that are immediately available, but we have to think of ways to show all the colors AND whether they’re available in an easy to update way.

I’m using a WordPress plug in called “Catablog” – which has much more power than I’m currently using – so the time is right to figure out how to use all that extra database goodness!

AND it’s a perfect time to get some projects for other books / magazines finished, and to begin sourcing yarn for my boleros & shrugs book! If you know of an indy yarn that you really like, I’m trying to use as many indy dyers in the book, and I’m always on the lookout for great new yarn sources!

IMG_0482I’m hopeful that all of you had a MAGNIFICENT holiday, and will continue on through next week (and BEYOND!) to celebrate the light and warmth that we can create in our own lives when it’s so dark outside!

And in that spirit, I’d love to give you a wonderful Crescent Cookie recipe, gf_crescent_cookies.

I’ve made this gluten free, but it’s incredibly easy to just trade out the GF Baking mix for the flour of your choice!

I’m afraid it’s very nut heavy, but has no eggs! It is rich (buttery) but has little sugar.

This is the cookie that always makes me think it’s Christmas!

The Day Before The Big Day

I love the Wednesday-before-Thanksgiving SO much!

It’s a day of hopes, of dreams, of non-crazed prep and happy anticipation!

The delicious thing about Thanksgiving is that we can choose to prepare as much, or as little, as we want! We can purchase a pre-made dinner, go out for a lovely meal, visit friends (take a dish!) or cook up all the favorites at our own homes.  We usually do the latter – it’s the cheapest, and given my food allergy (gluten) it’s the safest and most comfortable.

The Wednesday-before-Thanksgiving is the day that I dream that EVERYTHING I cook will turn out magnificently, perfectly seasoned and all cooking times will resolve themselves within 15 minutes of each other. A girl can dream!

This year we’re going with the stand alone turkey breast (it’s pretty much all we eat of the big bird) with GF stuffing, gravy, mashed potatoes, brussles sprouts, sweet potatoes and salad. We’ll have apple pie and pumpkin custard for dessert. We intend this meal to last us until D-Day.

I may even try my hand at macarons sometime this weekend to use up the egg whites leftover from the custard – I generally fail pretty miserably at them, though…

But this year we ask the question, “Why is this Wednesday-before-Thanksgiving different from all other Thanksgivings?”

And the answer is – because it’s the start of Hannukah!

I have my own problems with the holiday (I’m not a huge fan of the Maccabees, don’t get me started…), and in reality it’s a pretty minor holiday. But it’s a chance to light some candles and have some fun!

I may attempt latkes again. The last time I made them I almost burnt the kitchen down
(the fact I didn’t was a Hannukah miracle…)

But I think mostly we’ll just enjoy some family time, spin the dreidle, and maybe even play a rousing game of SORRY!

BUT WAIT!

This Wednesday-before-Thanksgiving is even MORE special!

Today I await the first shipment of ModeKnit Yarn! Today I will receive my first two base yarns from which we’ll be dyeing our initial batches. I’m so excited!

I checked the UPS site, and it’s “out for delivery” – yahoo!

Once I get the yarn, I’ll skein off a few sample mini skeins and test my dye formulas and methods. If all works as I hope (and as it has so far with my 100% SW merino sample yarn) I’ll get the rest of the yarn skeined up and ready to dye this Thursday when we’re using a local space for our experimentation!

I’m equal parts excitement, anticipation and fear. Thank heaven turkey and stuffing await me tomorrow!

Cake for my Birthday!

I’m 52 today, and I baked a cake earlier this week.

I can’t eat gluten – I’m not celiac, but I do have fibromyalgia and I’ve noticed my pain increases and my mobility decreases when I eat even a tiny bit of gluten. So I avoid it, and overall it’s been good for me.

My mind’s been on cardamom — heaven knows why — and so I rode my bike down to Penzey’s (near my home, how lucky can a girl get?) and bought some green pods to open, crush, and make into a cake.

After experimenting with one of my favorite GF cake recipes, a variation on Gluten Free Girl’s variation on Joy The Baker’s Vegan Chocolate Cake, I came up with this recipe which I find delicious!

The rose frosting is a nice accompaniment to the sturdy cardamom flavor, they stand up to each other, and also complement each other. I used jasmine tea in my cake, but you can use any tea you like, the flavor isn’t that noticeable.

Slice of Cake

Slice of Cake

Cake Ingredients


  • 350 grams GF Flour
    (made of following flours, or your favorite combination)
    150 gr potato flour
    100 gr sweet rice flour
    100 gr oatmeal flour
  • 1 ¼ Tsp salt
  • 2 ½ Tsp baking soda
  • 1-½ Cup white sugar
  • 12 Green cardamom pods,
    seeds removed & ground into fine powder

  • 1 Tsp vanilla
  • 3 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1-¼ Cup sour cream or yogurt
  • 1-¼ Cup vegetable oil
  • 
1 Cup hot jasmine tea
    (1C water to ⅓ C jasmine tea leaves, strain & use only hot tea in recipe)

Rose Frosting Ingredients


  • 3 Cup Confectioner’s Sugar
  • 1 Cup Butter
  • 1 Tsp Vanilla Extract
  • 2 Tsp Rose Water Flavor
  • 1 Tsp cream

Preparing to Bake

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease a 10″ bundt pan with a neutral-tasting vegetable oil, then flour lightly with GF baking mix of flours used in cake. Pour 1 cup of boiling water over ⅓ C jasmine tea leaves to make a strong tea.

Finished Cake

Finished Cake

Flavoring the Sugar

Stir the cardamom powder and vanilla into the sugar and allow to set for 15 minutes.
Combine dry ingredients
Whisk together the flours, salt and baking soda, set aside.

Make the Batter
Cream sugar and eggs together until well combined. Add the sour cream and oil, stirring well. Whisk the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients. If you’re using a stand mixer here, let it run for a while. Remember — you don’t have to worry about activating the gluten and thus making the cake tough!

Make sure the dry ingredients are fully incorporated into the wet ingredients. You shouldn’t see any hint of flour. Add the tea and stir until smooth. Pour the batter into the prepared pan.

Baking the Cake

Bake the cake until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean and the top of the cake has an athletic jiggle to it, about 45 to 60 minutes. Remove the cake pan from the oven and allow it to cool for at least 20 minutes. Carefully invert the bundt pan onto a wire rack and tap the bottom of the pan. The cake should slide out easily. Allow the cake to cool to room temperature, about 30 minutes.

Rose Frosting

In a mixer, cream sugar & butter until well blended then mix another 3 minutes at high speed. Add vanilla, rose water & cream, mix for another minute. Add more cream if necessary for desired consistency.

Spread the frosting over the completely cooled cake.

If desired, you can slice the cake into layers and add frosting between the layers before covering the outside of the cake.

Place in refrigerator to set, this makes it easier to slice evenly.

If you’d like a pdf of this recipe, click here.

Traveling & Caring

Today we pack up to head up to a friend’s lake house for the weekend. Lucky, lucky us!

We’re SO looking forward to it, and it gives Gerry, Max and myself a chance to enjoy some MN ‘wilderness’ while Hannah’s up at Camp Menogyn doing her wild-girl thing!

The thing about traveling these days is that I know I have to be the mom and the dad; I have to make the packing list AND I have to get everything packed up and in the car.  It’s not that Gerry doesn’t, but the amount he can carry, etc., is limited (as it is for me, too!) and I have to admit that today would be easier if Max didn’t have his part time job this morning (we’re picking him up from work and traveling from there…)

So while Gerry gets a couple shipments of books together (he IS my shipping department) I get our clothing and toiletries packed, get the dog crate folded and stowed, police the backyard and put away everything that shouldn’t be left out (cushions, tools, etc.)  I do some gardening that can’t wait (cutting fast-growing sprouts off of trees, do some visible weeding that is getting out of hand…)

I go through the house and empty the garbage, drag the huge backyard container around front and make sure all of the compost stuff is in the composter (not left under the sink for a long, hot weekend – ick!)

Gerry is handling the kitty litter (and for that he deserves a medal!) and while he tackles that odious task I load the car, get the bikes up on the rack, do a house walk through and make sure doors and windows are locked, contact the neighbor kid to look in on the cats (and leave money for him along with the cans of catfood – he’s an old hand at this by now!)

We have this down to a science, the quickest we did it was when, on the spur of the moment, we decided to go to TNNA last month. But it’s friggin’ exhausting.

I am ashamed of how easily I tire, but if I’m honest with myself a lot of that exhaustion comes from the stress of keeping so much on my shoulders. There’s no remedy – I pass along to other folks what I can – but at the end of the day there is a lot that I MUST be in charge of (and I’m actually quite fortunate that I have so much to be responsible for!)

Please don’t read this post as a complaint, rather as a catalog (I am a virgo, I love a list!) – for myself as much as for anyone else – and the love that comes back to me from my tasks is huge and outweighs everything.

But it’s a different kind of life than the one where Gerry did the “dad” stuff, I did the “mom” stuff, and it seemed that both of us had more opportunities to just sit and have a glass of wine together!  I’m hoping we’ll have that chance this weekend!

Myrna's CLASSIC book on lace knitting

Myrna’s CLASSIC book on lace knitting

Our friends, Myrna & Bob, are such gracious and kind hosts, we love to spend time with them. Myrna’s also a knit teacher and designer, as well as an attorney (oh, how I admire that!) and she’s a lovely, funny, down to earth friend.

Gerry doesn’t make friends as freely as I do – I have the grease of knitting/crochet to ease myself into many situations – so spending time with another couple who mesh well with us is a delight!  Husband play date!

Bob was recently diagnosed with Celiac Disease, so I’m making one of my favorite GF cake recipes, a chocolate/coffee bundt cake by Joy The Baker that Gluten Free Girl tweaked on her blog. This cake is moist, crumbly in the best way, and totally does NOT feel like a GF cake.  I’m experimenting with using only honey in the recipe today, no refined sugar – I can’t wait to see how it turns out!

BTW, If you’re gluten sensitive, you MUST put
Gluten Free Girl and The Art of Gluten Free Baking
on your list of recipe sources!

Max is always great company, we were discussing today that he hates for anyone to be disappointed or upset, not unusual in a younger child, and it’s probably something that he’ll grow out of (as we all do!)  On the positive side, that makes him a stellar companion, and makes us very proud to take him anywhere with us.

I wish Hannah could join us – she, too, is a great traveler, and is so helpful that she makes herself welcome everywhere.  But it’s been really great for Gerry and I to have so much one-on-one time with Max this past year & Summer while Hannah’s been at school and at camp, it’s good for Max, good for all of us!

So we’ll spend a lovely few days chatting about life, knitting, politics, Minnesota and bicycling around Pelican Lake. We feel immensely fortunate at the friendships we’ve made here in MN, Myrna & Bob are two of the nicest!

The down side is that another new friend (this one a MN native who lives in Florida) will be in town for the weekend and it looks like I’ll miss her.  Dang.

DESIGNING STUFF

I’m sending off three sweaters today, a twin set and a hooded jacket.

Screen Shot 2013-07-03 at 12.11.44 PMThe yarn I’ve used for the jacket is Freia by Tina Whitmore (KnitWhits), and it is astonishingly beautiful to work with!

The colors are crisp and bright, changing beautifully, making the whole project pure delight!

Screen Shot 2013-07-03 at 12.11.37 PM

Freia’s Flux colors are AMAZING! (Could you plotz?!)

Databases for Back Pleat Jacket

The various databases I use in my pattern writing / designing

I can’t post pics of the pieces, but I’ve been making copious notes of the process, step by step, keeping everything well documented in my various databases (yes, I’m a FileMaker ho’!)

When the jacket is published in Interweave Crochet I will run a companion blog post walking through the process of designing, swatching, patterning, crocheting, ripping out, re-crocheting, blocking, measuring, packing and shipping this garment.

SoulMateThe Twin Set’s been worked up in SoulMate by Lorna’s Laces.  I don’t think I’d used this yarn previously, and it’s amazingly resilient!

I’ve ripped out and re-worked both pieces several times, but the yarn looks as if it was just pulled out of the ball this morning, fresh and virginal.  Add to that the lustre and shine of the yarn, the softness, the pure, understated quality of this beautiful blend of  Superwash Merino, Nylon and Outlast (my first time using this last fiber, it feels magnificent!)

It’s good for me to keep track of these things, and my ‘Anatomy of a Design’ posts have been pretty well received.  Look for these in the Winter IK Crochet!

First attempt at a colorwork repeat.

First attempt at the colorwork repeat – I want something that will echo the cable motif.

MORE DESIGN STUFF

I received a big box of lovely Drops yarn for a piece for The Knitter (a UK Mag I feel very fortunate to work with from time to time – it really is a great publication!)  I’m working up a “Men’s Quartet”, scarf, gloves, hat & sweater.  Colorwork AND cables are involved, two of my favorite things in the world. The hat is finished, it only took a few hours, but that doesn’t include the two PREVIOUS hats I knit and ripped out to get to the one that works well.

Designing IS making decisions,
and ripping out.

The colors are woody and natural and understated (lovely tan, brown, white and deep green) rather like our weekend will be!

We’ve Made HISTORY!

Well, it’s FINALLY ready for pre-order from Cooperative Press!

Hmm, which cover will end up on the book?

Please note that this book is available only for PRE-ORDER.

All purchasers will immediately receive a one-page preview PDF, followed by the full digital book download within a couple of weeks.

Printed copies will ship by late December or before.

THANKFUL

I’ve been quiet, but it’s because I’ve been COOKING!

We had an AMAZING Thanksgiving; excellent food, wonderful family time, lots of rest and lots of laughing!  The only thing that could have made it better would have been house guests, but we just weren’t confident of Gerry’s pain levels or my energy levels to open ourselves up to perhaps disappoint friends.

We needn’t have worried – dinner was spectacular (just enough, all tasty, not a ton of leftovers!) and pain/energy levels held pretty steady all weekend.

Pacing, that must be the key!

I will admit, though, it was very nice to know that I could stop and recharge my batteries with a quick nap whenever I wanted to.

Time at home like this can fool me into believing that I have no exhaustion issues; it’s just when I travel and need to accommodate someone else’s schedule that it becomes crystal clear how small my energy reservoir has become.

OFF AGAIN

I’m heading off for NYC/NJ to teach a few classes.  I’m anxious to see how family and friends have fared in the aftermath of Sandy, and to touch base with the place that was my home for 30 years.

If you’ll be in the area on Dec 1 or 2, you can catch a class with me  on New Directions In Knitting With Color (including creating the groovy plaid shown at right):

Knitty City
208 West 79th St,  NYC 10024
(212) 787-5896
Sat, Dec 1 at 5pm
Knit-A-Bit
66 Elm St # 2  Westfield, NJ 07090
(908) 301-0053
Sun, Dec 2 at 1pm

I hear the classes are filling well, so if you want a space I’d call right away if I were you.

My Morning Ritual

I talked about my morning ritual of Oatmeal while I was teaching in Santa Clara, and the response was so positive I thought I’d do a brief tutorial on how I create my weekly breakfasts.

1. I cook up a big ‘ol pot of oatmeal (6 cups) on Saturday or Sunday morning.  Usually I like steel cut oats, but I enjoy a good rolled oat, too!

2. I eat a bowl (YUM!) and pour the rest into a loaf pan.

3. I let the oatmeal set up until it’s firm (sometimes in the fridge)

4. I slice it into big, thick pieces and wrap each in press n’seal (this works much better than plastic wrap, which can stick in the little nooks and tear)

5. I freeze it.

Each morning I take a piece out of the freezer, microwave it for 2 minutes, add sugar, nuts & craisins and microwave 30 seconds more.  A bit of milk and voilà!  Breakfast!

If I have oatmeal and a cup of tea, my whole DAY is good.  The days I miss my oatmeal are never as good as they could be.

Oatmeal, I love you.  I hope to go to the World Porridge Festival in Scotland some day…

A  girl can dream.

 

Happy New Year!

Today is the eve of Rosh Hashana, the Jewish New Year, and the start of the period when we reflect on what we may have said or done that impacted others (and the world) in a negative way.

Ideally we identify these things, we atone, we ask forgiveness, we make amends and we move on.  Next week is Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement.

I like to think of it as the day when, if we’ve examined our past year and have addressed outstanding issues with folks we’ve affected, we are finally at peace with the world around us.  We stand in unity with the world.  We are one.

It’s the Day of At-one-ment.  I can just hear the Rabbi at our temple slapping his forehead at that…

I’m privately addressing the various activities that haven’t been my proudest moments this past year, trying to honestly assess how my actions may have impacted on others (even when I wasn’t aware of the impact!) and figuring how to take on the coming year so that I have fewer regrets.

I’d like to say, “Je ne regrette rien!”  However, being human, I do have regrets.

One thing I’m NOT regretting, though, is the delicious gluten free Apple/Honey/Pecan cake I’m baking up right now!  We’re having dinner with friends and we’re supposed to bring the dessert (and I think that jelly-fail-apple-syrup I made will be delicious on this cake, too!)

The recipe is below, and if you want to gluten it up just remove one of the eggs and substitute wheat flour for the gf baking mix.  Enjoy!

Apple Honey Bundt Cake

Original recipe from allrecipes.com, adjusted for gluten free by Annie Modesitt

image from allrecipes.com

Tools

  • 9” Bundt cake pan
  • Large mixing bowl
  • measuring cups & spoons
  • chopping tool for apples & nuts

Ingredients

  • ½ cup light brown sugar
  • ¾  cup vegetable oil
  • 3 eggs
  • ¾ cup honey
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 ½ cups gluten free baking mixture
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • ¼ teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
  • 3-4 apples – peeled, cored and finely chopped
  • ¾ cup chopped pecans

Optional

  • 3 tablespoons Ground almond flour
  • ¼ cup honey, warmed (extra)

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F (165 degrees C).
  2. Grease and coat a 9 inch Bundt pan with gluten free baking mix or ground almond flour (optional)
  3. In a large bowl, stir together the sugar and oil.
  4. Beat in the eggs until light,
  5. Stir in the honey and vanilla.
  6. Combine the dry ingredients & spices into the batter just until moistened.
  7. Fold in the apples and nuts.
  8. Bake for 50 to 65 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the crown comes out clean.
  9. Let cool for 10 to 15 minutes before inverting onto a plate and tapping out of the pan.
  10. Optional: Drizzle with warm honey before serving