Thursday, August 25, 2011

Happy Anniversary to Me, oh and Him too

Part of me is amazed that my sweetie and I have been married 17 years, it seems like so much less, yet I can barely remember a life without him.  These years have been anything but uneventful.  Neither of us like a lot of drama even though my teenage years seemed to be filled with it.  However, drama has found us way too often.  We both were divorced when we got together, he had been married for 4 years and divorced for 8, I had been married 3 months and separated about 3 months.  We had definitely both proven just how great we weren't at the whole marriage thing.  Bottom line is we fell in love and I mean fell hard.  You know the kind of falling that makes you feel like you cannot breath until you see that person.  I think these days being "in love" is underrated.  It doesn't matter how much you have in common, chemistry is crucial.

Throughout the years we have had seasons that we really weren't "in love" we were simply maintaining a marriage because it was the right thing to do, because contrary to popular belief it IS the right thing.  I hear so often of women that are leaving their husbands because they aren't happy, well it's not your husband's job to make you happy.  We need to choose to be happy and then we are much more enjoyable to live with.

Anyway, God definitely blessed our "broken roads" because seventeen years later I am truly in love.  Funny how if you trust God and love out of obedience that love turns into "in love".  I am so very thankful for the man I married!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Man cannot live on bread alone but.......

Just maybe man could live on this one.  Oh wait, gotta have some butter to smear on it.

Making bread is extremely therapeutic to me and my life has been completely out of sorts lately.  I love the whole process of it and should make it daily just to de-stress but that would not help my weight situation.  Stopping at one slice is nearly impossible.  This is the recipe, I hope you will try it.  It does take a little time but much of it is waiting for it to rise, therefore it is a perfect thing to do on a rainy day while hanging at home or while your crafting or something else fun.

Homemade Bread
2 cups warm, not hot, water, maybe 110 degrees or a little less
1/3 cup sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons yeast
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
6 cups bread flour

Mix the water with the sugar and yeast and let it sit until it forms a foam, approximately 5 minutes,  this will assure the yeast is active.  If it doesn't foam your yeast is no good, start over with new yeast.  Add the oil and salt.  Mix in 4 cups or so of the flour and just stir until it is a shaggy dough.  From the other 2 cups of flour add a handful to your counter surface or large cutting board.  Turn the dough out and begin to knead, click here if you have never done this, using your leftover flour continue to add as needed.  If kneading is too much for you feel free to use your Kitchenaid w/ a dough hook.  I personally find kneading the therapy I'm looking for and I promise once you have done it you will find it comes very naturally the next time, like riding a bike.  You do not have to use the entire amount of flour, it's just a guideline.
My shaggy dough, trust me it will turn into a ball.

See... a ball.  This is after kneading.

After the kneading is complete place the dough in a bowl you have oiled, I rub a little oil on top of the ball also to keep the dough's surface from drying out.  Cover with a towel and allow to rise for an hour or until doubled in size.                

Before the first rising.

After.  Funny how that still amazes me.

Next you will take the dough out of the bowl and punch it down.  I know, sad you are deflating what you just waited an hour for!  Knead a couple of times, the dough should not be sticky at all so you shouldn't need more flour.  Cut the dough in half and form it into two oblong shapes that will fit into your pans, you will be using 2 loaf pans for this.  Place in the pans and I like to tent a towel over them.
My fancy tent construction.
I believe tents should be beautiful, thus my wonderful tea towel.

Let them rise for 30 minutes or until they are approximately 1 inch higher that your pan.
It rises again!

Bake for 30 minutes in a 350 degree oven.  I put a bowl of water in the oven with them to keep the crust from getting too hard.  Be prepared for your kitchen to smell like complete and total bread heaven!  When you take them out brush them with a little butter or oil to soften the crust, if you want.  Slice, slather with REAL butter, oh. my. gosh!!!!!!  See therapy and it only cost a couple of bucks.  Who says I don't save my man money.
This is art and love wrapped in a perfect little package!  I know I'm a food nerd and am totally okay with it.
Sorry no pics of it sliced with butter, it disappeared before I could even think of it.  Besides I wouldn't want to get butter all over the camera;)!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Indian Tacos

I have a little park near my house that I love to walk.  This morning, after being a bit frustrated that my Pandora radio was not working on my phone, I enjoyed the quiet solitude hearing only the sounds of birds and a distant lawn mower.  Often when my mind wanders, which IS often, I end up thinking about food.  Recipes, memorable meals that I have had while traveling, conversations I have had over a good meal, wow can you tell how much I love food.  I have gained a few pounds this summer and am trying to lose them which makes me think of food even more.  Not really the best diet plan.

Get to the point you say, um sorry.  On a trip we went on to South Dakota we enjoyed Indian Tacos, actually we fell in love with them.  We liked Mt. Rushmore too just not as much as the tacos.  They are really simple but sometimes the simplest things are the most enjoyable because you can truly taste each component of the dish.  Fancy talk for simple street food.  Here is the recipe, I hope you will give them a try.  The most difficult part is making the fry bread and that's not difficult just a little messy, but so completely worth it.  

Indian Tacos
Taco Filling
2 lbs ground meat, I use ground turkey thighs but beef would be great too
1 diced onion
2 packages taco seasoning
1 can Rotel, spicy or mild you choose
1 can black beans w/ liquid
1 cup water
Brown your ground meat, add onion and cook until tender.  Add all remaining ingredients and cook with the lid off until much of the liquid is evaporated.  Keep warm until ready to assemble tacos.
This is what it should look like, you don't want soupy.
Next prepare your toppings.  I keep it very simple, cheese, lettuce, tomato.  You could add salsa, sour cream, etc. but I like the simplicity. The stars of this show are the fry bread and meat filling.  I enlisted a little help with the cheese, something about fresh grated just makes me happy!
He grated the whole block without complaining or eating half of it, wow!

Indian Fry Bread aka a little heaven in the mouth.
4 cups all purpose flour
2 tablespoons baking powder
2 teaspoons salt
2 cups milk
Vegetable oil for frying

Mix dry ingredients well, add milk.  Stir until it begins to form a ball, this could be done in a mixer or food processor but I do not like washing those things.  Place a hand full of flour on your counter or cutting board and begin to roll out circles pretty thin, maybe a little less than 1/4 inch.  This is an imperfect thing, I made mine too big around and had to cut the second batch in half to fit them into my pot.  Heat oil to 325ish and begin frying.  Very important key: you do not want to let them brown too much or they will be crisp, you want them to be soft.  Drain on paper towels and keep warm until all are fried and you are ready to assemble.

Spread meat filling on bread and top with desired toppings.  Fold to eat and enjoy!
You will likely have a little dough left over, my plan is to make beignets in the morning.  Simply roll them out approximately 1/4" thick and cut into rectangles, fry and sprinkle with powdered sugar.  Serve with cafe au lait, yum!

Monday, August 8, 2011

Blessings in Disguise

Do you ever just feel like wallowing around in a big mushy pit of self pity?  Ashamed though I may be, that's me lately.  After discovering that my love has to have surgery we decided to pack up and take a trip to Key West, squeezing it in before the kids had to go to school.  We took off on a Monday and drove 17 hours in an RV, stopping at a Walmart parking lot to sleep a few hours, arriving in Key West around 8:30 Tuesday night.  After checking into our condo, unloading bags, and driving to Duvall St. to grab a bite we received a call from Mike's sister that his nephew had passed away.  We immediately left and somewhat like watching a video in reverse, drove home.  So in a matter of 48 hours we drove to Key West and back without the luxury of seeing anything.  As I was laying in the back bed of the RV, replaying the worst summer I can remember, ever so slowly a light bulb began to turn on for me.  There I was, with both of my babies beside me, blessed beyond measure.  My sister in law, whom just lost her husband a little over a year ago after spending 10 years taking care of him, he was paralyzed from falling from an 8' ladder, had lost her baby boy too.  Sure he was 45 years old and gave her plenty of grey hair but he was still her little boy.  I have mine with me, I have my husband, I even have both of my parents and all of my siblings.  I immediately regretted my selfishness and spent the time telling my boys how much I love them.  Life is so short, even if we live to be 100, in comparison to eternity it is simply a whisper.  I am so thankful for all of the blessings in my life, even the difficulties because every single time they turn out to be a blessing, though I may never figure out what the blessing is exactly.