Thursday, November 29, 2012

No-Knead Homemade Crusty Bread

If you're a person who is terrified of making homemade bread, I'm talking to you right now: you CAN make this bread! It's so forgiving, and not messy at all, and it's very simple to do! You have to plan a bit ahead so it has time to rise and such, but it's totally easy other than that! I wish this had been the first bread recipe I tried! I'm serious; you should try this out sometime during the holidays... homemade bread is delicious, it makes the whole house smell lovely, and it's such a fancy addition to a meal!

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Recipe adapted from here.

3 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp instant yeast
1 1/2 cups water (lukewarm)
Parchment Paper

1. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, and yeast (no need to "proof" the yeast first). 
2. Add in water and mix until a shaggy mixture forms.
3. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and set aside for 12-18 hours.
4. Pour dough out of the bowl onto a floured piece of parchment paper, and shape into a ball. Cover the ball with plastic wrap, and sit it on the parchment paper.
5. Place some sort of oven-safe dish with a lid into the oven. This could be a Dutch oven, or a cast iron pot with a lid, stainless steel pot with lid, Pyrex dish with lid, Corningware with lid, etc. I use a 2.5 quart round Corningware dish with a glass lid. It just needs to be somewhere between 2.5 and 7ish quarts. No need to grease or flour the dish at all.
6. Preheat the oven to 450 (letting the empty dish heat up in the oven). While the oven preheats, let the dough just sit on the parchment paper under the plastic wrap.
7. When the oven is preheated, remove the the plastic wrap from the dough. Take the dish out of the oven (be careful and use oven mitts: it will be very, very hot!), and remove the lid. Pick up the parchment paper and drop the dough + parchment paper straight into the dish. Put the lid back on and put it back in the oven.
8. Bake for 30 minutes.
9. Remove the lid and bake for another 15 minutes.
10. Remove bread from the dish (again, it'll be very hot, so be careful!) and cool on a wire rack before slicing.

(dry ingredients)

(whisking the dry ingredients)

(adding in water)

(shaggy dough)

(cover and let it sit for 12-18 hours)

(this is what it looks like after sitting overnight)

(dough on floured parchment paper, covered with plastic wrap)

(into the hot dish)

(covered, and into the oven for 30 minutes)

(this is what it looks like after the first 15 minutes, when you remove the lid)

(all done!)

(pulling the loaf out of the pan)

(cooling on a wire rack)

(mmm, crusty bready goodness!)




Tuesday, November 27, 2012

The Days After Thanksgiving

I have a really large extended family. Both my mom's side and my dad's side are big, so it's a big deal when everyone's in one place for a holiday like Thanksgiving. To take advantage of it, there are always lots of "auxiliary" holiday events in the days surrounding the big day of celebration!

On Friday, we woke up (entirely too early for my sisters and me after a late night of Black Friday shopping!), and my entire extended family on my mom's side went to a Christmas tree farm. We've been doing this since I was a toddler, and we still go even though no one actually cuts down a real tree anymore! 

Christmas trees and fall leaves... lovely!

My sister and my cousin

Fresh wreaths in the store!

Jeff and my sister, Kristen

This Christmas tree farm has plenty of space to play around... like this cutout:

...and this old tractor:

The boys had an epic tetherball game:

The little girls played nicely over by the slide...

... and my dad attempted to play baseball with a football and a giant stick. He's so silly!

Here's a photo with almost all of my cousins on this side of the family (I'm the oldest of 14)!

And here are my parents, aunts, and uncles:

And here are my sweet grandparents!

We had a great time! Friday evening was yet another event - my youngest cousin's third birthday! My Aunt Stephanie made her an absolutely adorable pink cake, and she was so cute when we all sang happy birthday to her! 

On Saturday, we had yet another event! This time it was for my dad's side of the family. It was a sort of combination anniversary/80th birthday event for my grandparents, which we called a "Celebration of Life." Hundreds of people were there, and there was good food, good music, and lots of fun! 

Gran and Grandpa

My immediate family

The event was at the Czech Club in Dallas!

A Table Full of Family Photos

My Grandparents on their Wedding Day

Pretty Centerpiece

More Pretty Centerpieces

So many of my grandparents' friends were there! It was so fun to see them greet everyone.

All of us granddaughters and Jeff and my dad played/sang a polka song to honor Gran & Grandpa:

There was plenty of fun and dancing:

At one point, a bunch of musicians (including Jeff, my dad, and Grandpa) got up on stage to have a "jam session" with the band:

I love this picture. Haha. 

Happy Grandpa! 

It was a fun afternoon/evening, and I think my grandparents had a good time! It was such fun to celebrate them and their life full of blessings and accomplishments!

On Saturday night, we drove back home to Humble, and ever since then I've been burying myself under an ever-growing stack of stuff I need to do for law school. Fun fun fun. If you don't hear from me in the next couple of weeks, it's because I'm trying to study for finals even though I'm a 3L and I already have a job. Motivation isn't as plentiful this time around, but I'm trying.