Sunday, January 31, 2010

Realistic Recipes

This blog isn't meant to be all about cooking, but as a mom, it's a big part of my life. I feel like I'm constantly planning for, shopping for, cleaning up after, or fixing meals. My children are hungry pretty much all of the time, and yes, I do feed them. But they're like little Cookie Monsters, and they're getting bigger all of the time.

And as a mom, homeschooling or not, I bet some of you are like me. Time restricted. So I'm starting a blog with Realistic Recipes at Sugar Tails Recipe Box. Most of the recipes will be super-easy ones that I like to use fairly often. Occasionally, there might be something special that takes a little more time, but for the most part, I'm only including my go-to meals. The ones I "go-to" when I need an easy stand-by that doesn't leave me searching for exotic ingredients that I don't have on hand. I've also included a couple of my favorite food links, and hopefully, as I go along, I'll be able to add some pictures of some of the super-easy, yummy dishes. So here's the link. Enjoy!

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Overcoming: My Battle with Bread

It all started with a bread machine. I had been thinking about wanting one for quite a few years, and my husband decided that it was time to stop being wishy-washy. Or maybe he just wanted homemade bread. But under the Christmas tree this past year was a box full of possibilities.

I'm not a gourmet by any means, but I need to explain that I love to cook and bake. Apple crumb pie and dumplings, cookies of all sorts and dark chocolate cake are just some desserts I bake regularly. I have tried all sorts of recipes for supper: butter chicken, chicken fettuccine Alfredo, roasted turkey and Salisbury steak are just the tip of the iceberg. I've canned my own home-grown green beans and made (and canned) my own salsa using tomatoes from my (ridiculously large) garden. Yet, in the twelve years that I have been married, I have never once attempted to make anything with yeast. Yeast scares me. There's something mysterious about it. This idea of kneading, punching, resting, turning, letting it rise until doubled (how long will that take and how do you know?) and then doing it all over again was intimidating. I had this picture of a Lucille Ball moment with yeast becoming so unmanageable that I would be shoved out of my kitchen by some dough ball gone amok. My hubby would come home at that moment, and with a Cuban accent would say, "You got some 'splainin to do." So a bread machine seemed the perfect solution. Throw some ingredients in a machine, let it decide for you and *Poof*--bread!

With five loaves of bread under my belt since December 25, I stumbled across a recipe for cinnamon rolls using dough . . . made with the bread machine! I had no idea! So last night was The Grand Experiment. I read and reread the recipe until I could just about do it by heart. It seemed easy enough. I checked again just to make sure there weren't any tricks that were lying in wait to make it a train wreck. I gathered the ingredients, carefully measured them into my bread machine, turned the thing on . . . and walked away.

A little while later the beeping let me know it was my turn. I turned the dough over onto a lightly floured surface and covered it to let it (you guessed it) rest. Side note -- if only I could come with some directions like that: *Warning -- you need to rest because soon life is growing to stretch, pull, shove and roll you over.* Ah well, come to find out that while I was mixing the cinnamon and sugar, the lump of dough wasn't really resting at all. It was conspiring. I began to roll the dough out into an oblong shape. It sprang back. I tried again. It refused to budge. A feeling of desperation overcame me, and I realized I had to make this stubborn lump of yeasty dough obey. I WOULD NOT FAIL. (Anyone ever felt that way with their kids?) My 10 year-old son was watching the process, so I kept a calm exterior and a smile plastered on my face. Finally, after much quiet struggling, the thing was in sort of a rectangle. I figured it was good enough for a first try. And the last part -- the sweet part-- was surprisingly easy: buttering and sugaring and rolling and cutting. I placed the rolls in the pan to the tune of, "Mom, you're amazing! You're such an awesome cook! Those look great!" Ah, the innocence of children. But I did feel just a teensy bit amazing.

I wish I could tell you the rolls are good, but I don't know yet. They've been sitting covered in my fridge for the night. I can hardly wait to try them out in an hour or so . . .

If you want to try them out check out this site


Friday, January 29, 2010


I stumbled onto this blogging thing by accident . . . pretty much how many of the good things in my life have come about. Good recipes, two out of my three kids, homeschooling -- none of these things did I plan. And I've stumbled through much of it: missed ingredients, mistakes in parenting, bad curriculum choices. I have the feeling though that regardless of how many things I think have come my way "by accident," God has had His hand in much, if not all, of it. I may not have planned them. But He has a plan.

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