Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Swedish Cardamom Bread

We made this bread for the second time last night. I've been wanting it for a while, but couldn't find the recipe we'd used before. Figured I should post it on here in case the same problem happens again. It's delicious and really easy to make! Cardamom is on the expensive side, but you don't use a lot at a time so it lasts.

  • 1/2 Cup Butter or Margarine
  • 1 Cup Milk
  • 1/2 Cup of Sugar
  • 1 Tsp. Salt
  • 2 Tsp. Ground Cardamom
  • 1 Pkg. of Yeast (2 1/4 tsp.)
  • 2 Eggs
  • 4 Cups of Flour

Dissolve yeast in approximately 3 tablespoons of warm water, cover and let it foam up for 15 minutes. Meantime, put butter and milk in a saucepan and bring to a boil. As soon as it boils, turn off heat and set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, add sugar, salt, and cardamom. Then add simmering milk to dry mix, add eggs, then add the yeast. Mix well. Then add aproximately 4 cups of flour to liquid ingredients until mixture begins to pull away from sides. Cover and let rise in warm area until it doubles.

After it doubles, take dough out, knead it and divide into halves. Then divide each half into 3 parts. Roll each part into balls, then roll balls into even strands. Take one greased cookie sheet and braid strands together on sheet side by side to make two separate loaves. Cover and let rise until loaves double. (After a half hour of waiting my taste buds won out and I just cooked it. Rose fine in the oven.)

Lightly brush on a mixture of egg yolk and 2 tablespoons of water on top of loaves. Bake on 350 for 20 minutes.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Random December-ness

We have a tradition that started last year - checking out a bunch of Christmas books from the library and keeping them under the tree with the Christmas books we own to read throughout the Christmas season. I keep trying to brainwash the kids into how much fun it would be to wake up Christmas morning and just find books as gifts, but I haven't quite sold them on it yet. If they only knew all the wonderful choices Santa has had to choose from for each of them!

(I took a picture but with all the Christmas rush haven't taken it off the camera. So just imagine for now. Maybe someday I'll post it.)

I was pulling out the materials we needed to make more felt ornaments this year and found 3 books in a 4 book set that I bought last year for a certain little girl. She got one for Christmas and I forgot about the rest. Oops. Would be fun to travel in time back a year and find out why they were hiding in there.

Love the whole online shopping thing. How parents did it before, I don't know. So nice to research, read reviews, compare prices, then with a few clicks your order is on its way. One thing has me scratching my head, though. Amazon, or people that sell on amazon, change their prices really frequently. Sometimes a little, sometimes a lot. There is a book sitting in the "buy later" section of my shopping cart that drops by a penny or two every day. One of these days it will be free, and then I will buy it. Something else was $19.99 when I added it to my cart. A few days later it was $39.99. Then it partially dropped down again. It's an addiction now, so I have to pull up my cart just to see how the price has changed. One day it was $85! Supply and demand maybe? Who knows, but wow.

Back to late presents, though. I finished the quilt that I gave to my sister and brother-in-law for Christmas last year - hooray! It turned out just as amazing and beautiful as I knew it would. I thought I had quite a bit done, but it took me sewing while watching most of the first four Harry Potter movies to finish it up.

(Again, I have a picture waiting on the camera.)

Jamie was gone for almost 20 days in a row (came home for one night, not even 24 hours) starting the early morning after Thanksgiving. It was mostly for training back in Massachusetts, but then off working. The song "I'll Be Home For Christmas" became a lot more meaningful because we really missed having him around. Since he got home he's been cooking like crazy, always a bonus.

Anyway, back to finishing up those final few Christmas surprises!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

My Current Reading System

My reading and actually finishing a book has really dropped in the past few months. Dramatically. But I have an interesting new way to read. See, there are so so many interesting books out there, and only so little time to read them all in. When I do park myself to read it's far more studious than it's been before, and I really try to dig out the messages I need to learn from what I'm reading.

Since that takes a lot more effort and concentration, without blocks of unadulterated time it just doesn't happen.

So. Now when I hear about a really interesting book I check it out from the library and it sits next to the couch with all our other library books. When my card is (again/always) getting full and I have more holds waiting, I look through the books I actually checked out for myself, see if they are some I really want to look into more and return those I don't. I will usually at least look through the table of contents and maybe flip to a chapter or two, read a little, and either put it back in the pile or add it to my library bag to be returned. Fiction usually gets the first chapter read. Very few books actually get read all the way through. Except all the fun children's books. If I checked them out I read them to myself and decide whether it's good enough for me to read with everyone else or not. (Sidenote: We have some new favorite children's books, the Dragon books by Dav Pilkey. We read and giggled over the first two again and again and again, and had to track down all the others at the library.)

I usually make 2 trips a week to pick up holds, because twice a week I'm right in the same neighborhood. There are always things waiting for me.

I started this new system without realizing it. I try to narrow myself down and decide on a book (or three - currently "Power of Positive Parenting," "Song of the Lark," and "Leadership Education") to read and finish, but there are so many others out there that compel me to at least take a look. I have to wonder if I'm transitioning towards something else. Maybe one of these days I will wake up and realize I don't want to read everything, and I only want to read certain things. Or maybe it's a pregnant thing, and after this baby is born I'll have some focus again.

Only time will tell. I'll let you know if I notice it's happened.

Books I recently checked out:
"I am Murdered: George Wythe, Thomas Jefferson, and the Killing that Shocked a New Nation"
"The Element: How Finding Your Passion Changes Everything"
"The Pioneer Woman Cooks" by Ree Drummond
"The Boy in the Striped Pajamas"
"Arming Your Children with the Gospel"
"Hiking and Backpacking"
"John Adams" by David McCullough
"The Jackrabbit Factor"
"The Power of Positive Parenting"
"Thou Shall Prosper" (was going to take this back today but the table of contents kept it here)
"Usborne Book of Peoples of the World"

For even more fun, some of the books currently on my hold list at the library:
"Bridge at Andau"
"The Blind Side: Evolution of a Game"
"Christlike Parenting"
"The Christmas Sweater"
"The Duggars: 20 and Counting!"
"The Help"
"My First Summer in the Sierra"

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

December Craftiness

One of our family traditions on my mom's side of the family is to exchange ornaments with all the cousins and now our kids. My grandma has 40 grandkids I believe, ranging in age from 38 to 5. Adding the great-grandkids in creates even more variety.

I was being called the family scrooge for a couple of years when I started saying that we should do away with this one for a variety of reasons that I will not go into here, but when I thought of a fun way to do the ornaments we would be exchanging that the kids could be involved with as well, I decided I could still handle it.

These are our ornaments from last year - a doughnut, a black penguin, a pink penguin, a cupcake, a gingerbread man, and a licorice ice cream cone (my favorite flavor, by the way, thank you Farr's Ice Cream).

The fried egg is an ornament on a lot of Christmas trees in our family, a symbol of my grandparent's farm, the chickens they had, and the Barker eggs they sold back in the good ol' days. The others were all just for fun.

Felt ornaments are really easy to make! When I was first looking for ideas I did a search in Google images and on flikr for felt ornaments to get some ideas of things we could do. Then I would either sketch out a design on paper, or being the non-artist I am, if it was something more involved I copy/pasted the picture into Word, size the picture to about how big I wanted the ornament to be, and have a template. I didn't feel bad borrowing their ideas - ours are not nearly as high tech as many of the others out there, and I'm not planning to sell them. Ideas for ornaments can come from anywhere, though - coloring books, clip art, the person's interests, etc. These amazing ones even say the ideas came from a Little Golden Book.

After you have a template, use it to cut out the felt pieces. In some cases you might want multiple copies of the template to cut up for the different pieces.

Then you can either sew the pieces together by machine or by hand. We did all our stitching by hand.

When stitching the back to the front, leave an opening for a bit of stuffing if you'd like, sew up the hole, and voila! You're done! Be creative and enjoy. They really are a lot of fun to make.

To show off my amazing sewing skills (cough cough), here's a picture of the quilt I finished the end of November 2008 that was supposed to be given to my brother's family Christmas 2007. I'm a slacker, what can I say. But it was worth the wait, no?

Right now I'm trying to finish up the quilt I gave to my sister and her husband for Christmas 2008 (it's amazingly cute, I'll have to post pictures after I give it to them), so I can get working on the quilt I'm supposed to make for my sister for Christmas 2009. If you want to come visit, feel free! Just know the house will be a disaster.