Recipes

Peasant Bread

Can bread be beautiful?

Yes, it absolutely can!

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This is a gorgeous loaf that we made yesterday. Hearty and rustic with just the right amount of crust. So, so good…

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My typical “go to” bread recipe is a honey wheat that I make about once a week.

This particular recipe, however, is one I found in an international cookbook.

It is entitled “Slavic Farmer’s Bread.”

Here’s the recipe we used, with a little extra somethin’ somethin’ added in for texture:

*2 Packs active dry yeast

*2 C warm water

*1 tsp salt

*Approximately  5 1/2-6 C bread flour

*1/3 C butter, cut into little pieces

*1/4-1/2 C wheat bran (Shhh…our secret ingredient!)

Dissolve yeast in a bowl with warm water.

In a separate large bowl, mix salt with 4 C of the bread flour and the wheat bran. Cut in butter with a pastry blender until it is a crumbly mixture. Add yeast mixture in and stir by hand or in a stand mixer until flour is nice and moist. Work in 1 more cup of flour to form a stiff dough.

Turn onto a floured surface and knead for about 10 minutes. Add a little more flour to prevent sticking as you go.

Place in a greased bowl and flip to grease the top as well. Cover and allow to rise in a warm location for about an hour to an hour and a half.

Grease a baking sheet. Punch down dough and knead a little longer. Shape into a round or oval loaf and place on the baking sheet. Cover and allow to rise for about another 45 minutes. Loaf should about double in size during this time! Preheat oven to 400 F.

Cut a 1/2″ deep cross into the top of the loaf. Brush loaf with warm water. Bake for 25 minutes at 400, then reduce to 350 F and bake about 15 more minutes. Allow to cool on a wire rack before serving.

The nice crusty underside of the loaf.
The nice crusty underside of the loaf.

Slice and enjoy!

Note: This makes one giant loaf of bread. When I make it again I am going to try dividing it into 2 smaller round loaves and figure out the baking times. Also, what we didn’t eat I stored in a paper bag overnight and it was just as wonderfully crusty this morning.

Craft/DIY Ideas

Handmade Christmas 2014: Personalized Initial Pendants

As of this moment, nearly a week before Thanksgiving, I am proud to say I am well over halfway done my Christmas gift shopping.

I also have a lot of gifts made and at least most of the way ready to go. What a good feeling!

Today’s handmade gift idea is one I just did for my 3 nieces as well as my daughter. All are between the ages of 6 and 9.

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Each pendant has their first initial, along with a little charm that contains a pearl and their birthstone.

Though I have a lot of experience making jewelry, this is one style I have not done yet, so I have a learning curve to go through.

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For starters, I picked up a package of these pendant backs and clear fronts at Michael’s.

I typed out each girl’s initial in a couple different fonts, using a fairly large font size. I had to experiment with several before getting one that I thought looked just right for the round pendants they were to go on.

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I then cut out a margin around each letter and glued the flat side of the clear topper, pressing it down onto the paper so the letter was centered. I used a clear tacky glue that’s supposed to be multi-surface, but I’m not sure what the best kind would be. It looks a little foggy while still wet (like pictured above), but clears up once dry. After it feels pretty dry, trim the paper to the edge of the circle so nothing is sticking out. Then use the same glue to bond the back and front together.

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I added a jumpring to the top of the pendant, then strung it on a necklace cord.

I also beaded a crystal with each girl’s birthstone color along with a faux pearl onto a headpin. Then I used pliers to make a little loop to attach it to the cord or the jumpring as well. One could also do this onto a necklace chain of whatever quality you choose.

Overall I liked how these turned out and would love to experiment more with this style of jewelry.

Made with love and hopefully a hit at Christmas!

Craft/DIY Ideas

Handmade Christmas 2014: Glitter Magnets

If I’ve seemed rather sparkly lately, there’s a clear explanation for it.

(No, for those of you who tell me I need another baby, I am NOT pregnant!!)

I have been testing out a few Christmas projects that involve glitter.

Inevitably, no matter how careful I am, I always sparkle for the rest of the day. Glitter ends up on my face, in my hair, and on my clothes.

This is one of the projects I really have had fun making.

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They are a snap to make and end up looking downright amazing.

The process is such that you could knock out a bunch of these in one sitting.

For starters, you need to purchase the flat backed glass gems that come in mesh bags. I usually get mine at the Dollar Tree.

You also need Mod Podge, a foam brush, and different colors of glitter!

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Lay out the glass gems so that the flat side is up. I like to glitter over pieces of scrap paper so I can salvage unused glitter back into its container (and so my table doesn’t end up looking like a sparkly mess).

Brush the entire flat side with Mod Podge, then sprinkle heavily with glitter while it’s still wet. This is where you can do a bunch of one color at a time. Give it a few minutes, then tap off the excess and lay glass onto another sheet of paper. Funnel the first paper into your glitter jar so all that extra good stuff gets saved for another use.

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Now is the time to fire up your hot glue gun. I buy packs of round magnets at Wal Mart or the craft store to glue on the back.

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When all are dry and ready, flip them over so that the rounded top is up.

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The result? The sparkliness is magnified and looks really cool.

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This is a great project for kids to help with–or at least to shake on the glitter.

I have packaged these in groups of 4-5 stuck to a canning lid, then bagged in a cello bag with ribbon. They would be a cute, easy, and inexpensive little Christmas gift.

Shine on!

Rachel

Craft/DIY Ideas

Birds Nest Jewelry Tutorial

With Christmas just around the corner, these would make a thoughtful handmade gift. Whether made into a pendant, pin, or something else, these little wired birds nests are too sweet.

I know I would love to receive one! However, now I know how to make my own and let me assure you, these cutie pies are super easy to make. Even if you have zero jewelry-making experience, I really think you could pull this off. All you need to make these are the following:

Wire (I used 22 gauge), beads, and pliers. I ended up using several feet of the wire for one nest and utilized glass pearls.

The first step is to string your “eggs” onto the wire. I always do this step first in the configuration that I like. Making a gift for a Mom or Grandma? Coordinate the number of eggs with the number of children or grandchildren that they have. I recently made one of these as a pendant for my Mom with 7 small pearls, one for each of her grandbabies. So, string the eggs on and start to wrap the wire in a circular pattern. The beauty of this project is that you really can’t mess it up! With the gauge of wire I used, I could easily manipulate it without using my pliers often. However, if you use a stiffer gauge, you may need the pliers a bit more. Keep wrapping until the nest looks full. I also try to keep mine flat on the bottom so that it sits nicely. Once I get to the point where it looks full, I also loop the wire around so that it holds all of those layers of wire together. Making little loops, whorls, and curlicues just adds to the charm.

As you can see, you don’t have to limit yourself to white or cream-colored pearls. I’ve also seen ones made of gold wire that look great.

Add a little loop of wire to the top for a pendant, glue a pinback on for a cute brooch, make tiny nests for a pair of earrings, or wrap wire onto the back for a chic ring.