I’m not really an expert at anything. I once had a lady tell me that she could do a hundred things with great mediocrity; I know the feeling. But there is one thing that I do believe I have mastered and it is this: how to annoy your husband. It’s very difficult to be aRead more
We are not farmers. We have a barn with some animals in it, a chicken coop, and some pasture. I’m not sure if that qualifies us to be called farmers quite yet. Even hobby farming feels like too generous a term. My husband spent part of his childhood on a dairy farm. First it wasRead more
A while back I talked about what it is like having six kids. Which I feel a little silly writing about in the first place because I know plenty of other families that have the same amount of children, and several that have more. But big picture having more than 3 kids is out ofRead more
I get a lot of questions from friends and family about bread baking, and lately there has been quite an uptick in questions. There must be some bread baking bug in the air? I hope so! Because bread baking is a really beautiful way to connect with food. There is something soul satisfying in partaking in a process that has been practiced around the world for thousands of years.
With the move toward mass food production bread baking is no longer a necessary part of life for many people; which is sad. There have been times where I have sat with a thick cut piece of toasted challah dripping with butter and honey and thought, ” So many people will never know the glory that toast can be.”
Along with losing the experience of great bread, we’ve lost the knowledge of great bread. The average person doesn’t know where to begin with yeast, flour, and water.
What should it look like? Did I do this right? Why did it deflate? It’s sticking! GAH! NOW IT’S FALLING APART!
Gone are the days of knowledgeable minds and skillful hands in everyday kitchens with children alongside of them covered in flour; learning skills they will pass on to their children.
I’m going to walk you through some common bread making mistakes and hopefully help get those interested out of their mediocre bread baking struggles and moved onto better bread.
And for those of you who have no interest: get interested. You may find a new love.
So let’s get into it…
Problem #1 ” My bread is too dense, did I knead it too long?”
You did not knead it too long.
This is something I hear all. The. Time. ” Did I knead it too long?”
Nope, you didn’t. People are afraid of over kneading, but really it is very difficult to over knead bread. It’s not like making pancake batter, biscuits or pie crust where you are trying to keep the gluten as relaxed as possible. With bread you want a strong network of gluten to help your bread hold it’s shape during baking and give the interior the strength it needs to hold in steam. Your bread dough can easily be left to turn in your kitchen aid with a dough hook for 30 minutes or longer without being over worked. If you are kneading by hand it is nearly impossible to over work it.
So take that idea and throw it out. It’s not happening.
The reason your bread is too dense is you are not kneading the dough enough, and you are adding too much flour.
I use to do this, and I’ve seen other people do it. They add flour until their dough comes together and isn’t sticky at all, then they begin kneading.
This is WRONG.
You need to leave the dough pretty sticky before you begin kneading, or mixing with a dough hook in a mixer. It will feel kind of wrong.
A good rule of thumb is to add flour until your dough looks like a very very thick batter and just pulls away from the sides of the bowl, but still pretty loose.
( These video clips were filmed in my home with my cell phone… where 6 children 10 and under live… so the quality is sub-par and there is noise in the background… and clutter. Alright then, moving on…)
Then knead the sticky mass for about 10-15 minutes until the dough starts to come together. You may need to add some extra flour- that’s okay, just add it a little at a time.
Your dough should look like this when it is ready for the first rise :
If you’re using a machine this is much easier because you can set a timer for 15 minutes and walk away, and not have worry about dealing with sticky dough all over your fingers.
At this stage drizzle a little oil over the dough and your hands, then turn the dough out into an oiled bowl, and cover with plastic wrap to let it rise.
If you are doing this by hand turn your wet sticky dough out onto a floured surface and using a bench scraper, scoop up the dough and smack it down hard onto the counter. Do this over and over, adding as little extra flour as possible. Do this until the dough comes together from gluten formation, NOT BECAUSE YOU’VE ADDED FLOUR.
Here is a video I made of my daughter a few years ago demonstrating this kneading technique. I decided to use it here because she is actually doing a really good job- and demonstrates perfectly how it should look.
We celebrated our 11 year anniversary last weekend which is a pretty big deal by today’s standards, but on the grand scale of till death do us part, 11 years is a drop in the bucket.
I wanted to write something about marriage in honor of the occasion; what to write about is difficult because marriage is such an intense complex relationship. But if I were going to throw some important things I’ve learned about marriage into a 10 point blog post- this is it.
#1. Always make them their own food- or bring them their own drink
” Hey baby I’m making a sandwich do you want one?”
” Oh, no thanks, I’m good.”
This is a lie. They aren’t good- they are never good. They will eat yours. Whatever it is that you made to snack on, whatever beverage you have settled down to enjoy, the spouse who passed up the offer will take the snack or drink and consume most of it- because marriage is actually socialist in nature and there will be redistribution of snacks.
Don’t even ask. Just bring one for them right away.
#2. Be specific
Be specific about where you are going, who you will be with, what time you expect to be home, and update when/if plans change.
Ladies- if you are going grocery shopping but “may” also “swing by” Target, or Kohls, or TJ-Maxx, or all three – LET HIM KNOW. Just tell him, ” I’m going out to shop- I may not return until tomorrow- I’ll keep you posted” Get over your guilty feelings and be honest with yourself and him about what you’re doing and how long it will take.
Guys…. same. Be realistic about when you will be home. If you realize it’s going to be later- call-text-facebook-snapchat-carrier pigeon or falcon your lady a message so that they know you haven’t ran off with another woman, or been abducted by aliens.
It is always ALWAYS better to know what to expect from your spouse. Being mentally prepared for how long they will be absent is far better than leaving them counting down the minutes until you return.
#3. Get over stuff
When we first got married my husband would throw his wet towel on the bed after taking a shower in the morning. This use to irritate me to no end. After asking, nagging, and internally complaining about this- I gave up. I stopped ragging about it and just started hanging up the towel.
In turn I prop my feet up on the dashboard when I sit in the passenger seat and absent mindedly press my toes up onto the windshield. This leaves little toe prints on the glass. My husband doesn’t think this is cute or endearing. He’s asked me on several occasions not to do it, but I inevitably do it anyway- not out of spite- but out of laziness. And while I doubt he has become endeared to my cute lil toe prints smudged onto the bottom right side of the windshield- he doesn’t say anything about it anymore.
Because it’s dumb. It’s just dumb to let yourself be upset about the little mindless things that your spouse does! They’re not trying to annoy you, they’re not engaging in their little quirky behaviors out of spite- they’re just things they do without thinking.
That is what I mean by stuff. The small things they do that get under your skin sometimes- that stuff
– get over it.
You are just as irritating, I promise. And the more grace you give to your spouse ( assuming they are not a jerk) the more grace they will give to you.
#4. Listen to that inner voice that tells you when you’re being a jerk
This may be just me, but I definitely have an inner voice that lets me know when I’m being a jerk. In the middle of an intense discussion, borderline argument, or a moment when my temper flares I can feel it – the gentle reminder that I’m the one at fault, I am over reacting, I need to shut down the sarcasm, or stop talking and just listen.
Heed that voice! Be honest enough with yourself to admit in those moments that either you are the problem, or you are contributing to it, and be willing to step back.
My husband thankfully has a lot of emotional control and rarely says or does things he regrets in the heat of a moment. I on the other hand need to listen to the ” don’t be a jerk voice” and when I do, I’m always thankful for it.
#5. Don’t shut down
This is the opposite side of don’t be a jerk. I suppose you could call this the ” Don’t shut down” voice. Communicating emotion doesn’t come easily for everyone, and if you are one of those people- know that your silence or lack of participation in the conversation is hurting your spouse. You are sharing your life with them and need to trust them enough with your heart to share what you think and feel. Your effort to connect in this way and work through difficult issues will help your emotionally driven spouse to feel close to you, and it may even help them be better listeners- as they won’t feel the compulsion to fill the silence during times you tend to shut down.
#6. Be honest about money
Be real about your spending habits. Be willing to take responsibility for the ways you help or hinder your finances. If you feel like you have to hide anything in this department- something is wrong. Your spouse should know and have access to every penny that comes in and every penny that goes out. Be unified in this area.
#7. Be honest about sex
Be honest about what you need. Be honest about what you don’t like. Be honest about what you do like. Be honest about how you feel. Be honest about your struggles. Be honest. Be honest. Be honest. If you feel like you can’t communicate openly with your spouse about this part of your marriage- seek counseling.
#8. Be someone you’d want to be around
I had a moment a few weeks ago where I was irritated about my husband being late at the end of the day. I was burned out and ready to have another adult in the house. As the minutes ticked by and I waited for him to get home, I got more and more un-likable.
He got home, I was unpleasant, we bickered a little bit and then had to stop and say to ourselves, ” What are we doing? I’ve been missing you all day and this is how we’re going to spend the time we have together?”
It struck me- why am I acting this way? Would I want to come home to me?
Nope. Not at all.
This is not to say people should perpetually be happy even in the face of real stress or heartache; but ask yourself, ” Am I an enjoyable person to be with?” ” Would I want to spend time with me?”
Or am I just a complaining nagging ornery spouse? On any given day, am I sucking the life out of the people around me?
I’ve known some life suckers; they are miserable themselves and make those around them equally miserable.
#9. Don’t think you are better
You are not a better person than your spouse.
If you think that you are working harder, you probably aren’t.
Think you care more about your children? You probably don’t.
Think your spouse is less humble and giving than you? Wrong.
It’s easy to be self focused. I can’t always see what my husband does to keep us going. And he can’t always see everything I do. It’s not as easy to tune into the life of someone else and all the burdens they carry.
Unfortunately it is all too easy to tune into their faults. I can see where my husband fails, and while I could easily make a list of my shortcomings- mine are understandable. I have justifications for them and plenty of reasons why I do what I do. I am easily convinced of my superiority as a partner.