Sunday, November 27, 2011

Lazy Bread

I don't do a lot of elaborate cooking especially after my failure with individual Beef Wellingtons last year.  When I do cook these days it tends to center on an Artisan style loaf of white bread.

Yup, that's me at 1:00AM covering a slice of still warm from the oven bread with unsalted butter and honey.

It seems that I can never start my day with fresh baked bread because my lack of time management skills means that these little feasts take place at very odd hours.

I call this Lazy Bread because it takes almost no skill or ability to make an excellent loaf of bread.

Yum, Yum!

Here's how I make my Lazy Bread:

Yield - one nice sized loaf


3 cups of bread flour
1 1/2 cups of warm water
1 1/2 teaspoons of active dry yeast
1 1/2 teaspoons of sea salt


Mix all the ingredients into a cohesive ball in a large bowl.  Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and wait for a couple of hours for the lump to double in size.  Once doubled, put the whole thing into the refrigerator for about 10 hours.

Take the bowl from the refrigerator and scrap the dough onto a floured surface.  Sprinkle more flour over the top of the loaf push and pull the lump into a loaf shape by pulling the edges under the bottom of the loaf.  Remove to a parchment covered cookie sheet.

Cover lightly with a slightly damp towel and let the whole thing come to room temperature.  This can take over an hour so be patient.

Preheat the oven to 450o with a large shallow pan in the oven.

When the loaf has come to room temperature and the oven is ready, put the cookie sheet in the oven, quickly pour a cup of water into the preheated pan and quickly shut the oven door.

Bake for about 25 minutes, until it is a nice color.

Remove the loaf from the oven to a rack and let cool for at least 30 minutes.

Just before you can't stand it anymore, slice and enjoy. 

I store it in the microwave covered in plastic wrap for 3 - 4 days... if possible!

You can make a lot of additions and substitutions like using some whole wheat flour, or adding nuts, herbs and raisins but I usually don't bother.

There are a zillion recipes available on-line that I used to develop my lazy bread like Five minute bread, Artisan Bread Baking website and, the often intimidating, the Best Bread Recipe website.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Blue Jean Shawl

In my quest for accurately counting stitches while knitting lace I picked a very simple pattern from Tanis Fiber Arts called the 'Prism Shawl' for my next lace adventure.  It is available from Ravelry for free here.  It uses about 600 yards of sock weight yarn , hand dyed from the Araucanuia Yarns' Ranco Solid line and i happened to have a lot of it in aownderful blue to go with my blue jeans.. 

What attracted me to this pattern was its simplicity of construction until you get to the border.  With just stockinette, garter and eyelet rows randomly scattered through out the design this is a pattern I thought that even I could not mess up.

And, surprise, surprise I did not mess up the body too often.  Every once in a while  found I had dropped a stitch or not added a stitch when required but due to the lack of complexity I was able to fix these errors quickly and invisibly.

Then I got to the border.  About two rows into the border I accidentally pulled off about 30 stitches and realized that I would need to unravel a few rows to get back on track.  Off came a couple a couple of rows, on went the stitches back onto the needles..with an extra twenty on one side!

I don;t know how I did it but I ended up with more stitches on a row than I had originally.  Instead of more un-stitching I decided to go with what I had and make it work.

Here is how it came out:

What you don't see is that the center back point of the shawl has a large ruffle..which sits just above my tail bone!

Someone told me it is fashionable to have ruffles this year.

I may have messed up the final border but this is a great pattern for using up odds and ends of sock yarn.  Since I have a few hundred (thousand?) yards of leftover sock yarn, I think I will be using this pattern again for a more eclectic version.

PS - Guess who I found wondering around the house with this shawl in his mouth looking for a place to hide it?   

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Bad Quilts That Make Me Smile

Okay, so there aren't any bad quilts.  What can be bad about three layers of coziness put together by loving hands?  

There are badly made quilts and I seem to be an expert in making them.

I just looked over my past quilt postings and each one of them seems to have included words like 'mismatched corners', 'blunted points', 'discarded blocks that didn't fit' or some such confession of piecing disaster.  I have noticed that most of my backings have a wrinkle or three in them and sometimes the quilting looks like a dog's breakfast.

But in each and every case, the final results have made me smile.  Whether it is because I have no idea how it all got done, or the fabrics have disappeared, or the blocks are of many different sizes, or the borders were 'made' to fit or wrinkles were quilted to within an inch of their lives.  They have made happy.

My latest Bad Quilt began in 1998 and I just took it out of the dryer this morning after a marathon quilting session yesterday.  I originally posted about it here.  If you look at that posting you will see that I finished the top this March and it took about another eight months to get it quilted.

Here is how it now looks....

I decided that I could not quilt it in simple straight lines as there were so many mismatched corners.  In the end I did find a few straight lines to anchor it all and then I quilted circles at various points to hold it all together.  I like the way it looks and I had a lot of fun(?) seeing if I could make two circles the same size one right after the other.

I couldn't.

This quilt does make me smile because of all the missteps in getting it made but the best part is that my oldest UFO quilt is now done!!

And isn't that something to smile about?