Elizabeth A.S. Brooke

Crafting, traveling and everything in between.


angry chicken: new items in the shop!

angry chicken: new items in the shop!.

Amy Karol over at Angry Chicken has two new organic oils in her shop — treatment oil for eyes and cuticle oil. I’ve been following Amy’s blog for a number of years now and love her posts about sewing, homemade bath and beauty products, baking and homeschooling her kids. I love learning about all the things she creates and discovers in her Oregon-area home.

Interested in following her blog or buying her products? Click on the link above to check ’em out!


Bread baking tips

I’ve already written about Bill Neal’s book here, so you know I’ve started experimenting with bread baking.

For bread baking, Neal gives some tips I’ve found pretty helpful:
1. Don’t use too much flour — you want the dough to be sticky.
2. Slice through the top of the dough with a really sharp knife right before putting it in the oven. This helps gases and moisture to release and keeps the bread from being “doughy” in the middle.
3. Dust flour on top of the dough if you want a softer crust, water if you want a crunchier crust.

A friend of mine also suggested added a tablespoon of gluten per cup of wheat and other hard flours to help it rise and hold together better. (No more than 3 tbsp. per loaf though, she warned.)

I’ve tried all the above suggestions and my breads just keep getting better and better. We can eat a sandwich without the bread following apart, the dough is rising beautifully and I also get a nice crust (I like a harder crust so I don’t dust the dough with flour before baking.)

I’m going to keep experimenting though and, hopefully, I’ll be able to alter the recipe and make all kinds of sandwich breads in no time.

Here’s the recipe I’m using at the moment (I’ve altered a recipe many times, so this is my own creation):

Honey Wheat Bread

2 1/2 cups warm water
1/3 cup honey (or molasses)
1 tbsp. sugar
1/3 cup shortening
2 cups whole wheat flour
2 tbsp. gluten
3 1/4 tsp. yeast
1 tsp. salt
3 cups of bread flour

In a bowl, mix water, honey, sugar and shortening. Mix wheat flour, gluten, salt and yeast and add it to the bowl. Beat with mixer until well blended. Add 3 cups of bread flour and knead for 5 to 8 minutes or until stiff dough forms. Let dough rise until double, usually about 30-45 minutes. Divide dough and place in two greased loaf pans. Let rise until double again, about an hour. Bake at 350 degrees for 35-45 minutes.
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Other breads I’d like to try are bagels, graham crackers, French bread and brioche (a type of French bread).

I also would like to try regular crackers again because I didn’t have much luck in the past. Though I finally got the crackers crisp enough, they became soggy/soft after a week and some even molded. I kept them in an airtight container, but I guess that wasn’t enough.

I’d like to check out Rose Levy Beranbaum’s book, “The Bread Bible,” which I think I heard about over on the angry chicken blog, though I searched the blog and can’t find the book mentioned. I did find the book in a store in Savannah, but I couldn’t bring myself to pay the full $36 for a book I may or may not use.

Some of the recipes called for bread machines or bread mixers, neither of which I own or have space for in my tiny kitchen. If possible, I need to stick to hand mixing. This may limit the types of breads that I can make, but I’m okay with that for now.

So, I’d rather find a used copy so I can test the book out and see if it’ll work for me.

Also, Rose has a blog. Visit her here.


Angry Chicken’s emailorder and flowers

It’s finally here! Amy Karol of Angry Chicken has posted eMailorder #11 — Potions and Concoctions — and it’s ready for downloading.

Amy had asked her blog readers if we wanted a compilation of all her various homemade remedies and goodies. I’ve been looking forward to it for a bit now, especially the lip balm, deodorant and the shampoo recipes.

In Amy’s description, here’s what you can find in this new download: Mullein Oil, Shampoo and Detangler, Facial Oil, Eye Compress, Herbal Toner, Vapor Rub, Facial Cleanser, Bugs Don’t Like Me Balm, Favorite Tea, Hair Spray, Lip Balm, Baby Bottom Spray, Plantain Poultice for Stings, Magic Tooth Cleaning Solution, Deodorant, and Elderflower Cough Syrup

I’ll report back as I give ’em a try.

You can find the eMailorder here. You can buy it using PayPal.
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Also, check out this crocheted magnet Nannie made me. My grandma is one of the crafty ladies that retaught me how to crochet when I picked up the hook again a couple years ago.

Ain’t it cute? Spring’s on the way, folks!

I may make my own copy and post the pattern here for y’all so you can make your own.

Nannie created this cutie using one a friend gave her many years ago as a copy. Her flower magnet has been on her frig for years and she thought she’d copy it and give some away.


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Chocolate bread pudding with butterscotch sauce

Although I didn’t give Chris any Valentine’s Day gifts, I did make him, what I thought was, a delicious meal.

The highlight, I think, was the dessert — chocolate bread pudding with butterscotch sauce.

I found the recipes earlier in the month when checking on one of my favorite blogs — Amy Karol’s angry chicken. You can find the post here.

Reading through the recipes and Karol’s post about her experience with the desserts, I knew then I’d found a way to my hubby’s heart! 🙂

The dessert wasn’t as chocolatey as I would have liked, but it’s still delicious, especially warmed. I used homemade wheat bread, not the cinnamon-raisin suggested in the recipe. And I sprinkled powdered sugar on top.

Since butterscotch is one of Chris’ favorite flavors, I doubled the recipe, making a little more than a pint of gooey sauce. It’s got a nice, rich flavor. I couldn’t find heavy cream at our local Super Dollar grocery store, so I used whipping cream instead, which worked out well.

I never did decide on a main course so I had Chris choose.

He liked the sound of Rachael Ray’s Rosemary Chicken Breasts and Brown Butter and Balsamic Ravioli from her “30 Minute Meals: Get Togethers.”

I used apple cider vinegar in place of balsamic vinegar in both recipes.

Both recipes are keepers. The vinegar gave the chicken an added layer of flavor and mixed well with the rosemary and garlic. (I used dried rosemary since I already had that on hand. I hope to start some rosemary from my parents’ garden later this year.)

I was most surprised about the ravioli. I didn’t know how vinegar would taste with the pasta but it had surprising flavor created by the vinegar, (dried) parsley and parmesan cheese that I added.

I’m certain these recipes will make a return appearance on our plates sometime down the road.