Grinding Flour

I’ve used the grain mill attachment a few times now, adding some home ground flour in with store bought for bread baking. Last week, I made bread from flour ground completely at home. I used a combination of Hard White Wheat, Hard Red Wheat and Oats.

grains

I didn’t really have a recipe plan but ended up with about 2 cups white wheat, 1 cup red and 1 cup oat. The oat groats take a very long time to grind, much longer than the wheat. I also think the flour is a different consistency, or else it’s more airy when freshly ground and I need to use more than the recipe calls for. The dough was very wet so I added some rolled oats as well.

The next morning, when I shaped it into a ball, I had to add more flour to make it workable.

wet bread dough

It baked up nicely and, whether it was the combo of flours, or the freshly ground piece, the flavor was awesome.

well baked bread

Hubby got me a book about bread for the holidays, and in it, the author talks about baking the bread longer than you’d think in order to bring out the flavor.

bread book

I did bake it longer, but I think I’ll try even some more time for the next loaf.

As an extra for this post, our dinner the other night was super colorful and super delicious. I love using our home grown produce throughout the winter. Included below are our sweet potatoes and butternut squash.

colorful dinner

 

2016 Running Recap

Up until the middle of October, 2016 was probably my best year of consistent running in a long time. I am proud of my accomplishments. I am not so proud that I have run about 10 miles since the middle of October…but that’s for another day.

I was very dedicated in keeping a tally of my miles. I know a lot of people use a gps watch and then upload data, but I’m low tech and I wrote miles on the wall calendar. I ran 747 miles in 2016, which averages out to about 71 miles/month. I know that there are a lot of runners who log that type of mileage weekly, but it’s an average I’m proud of (in addition to being proud I kept track like I did).

Another positive was finally getting the new Hoka Cliftons and loving them almost as much as the original Cliftons. I was so happy with them I got two pairs, which will last me a while, especially at the rate of 10 miles in 3 months.

clifton 3s

I trained for two events, the first was in April. I used a new training plan for this Half Marathon and I followed it almost exactly. It was a great day and, though it was my fifth time participating, there were unique aspects, support from the hubster and good friends, and a near PR miss. I wrote a real Race Report for the first time as well.

beautiful course

Due to a trip out West to see the eldest, I knew that the Marine Corps Marathon was out of the picture for 2016. It might actually be out of the picture for good, though I would totally run the 10k just to be a part of the fun and to see some amazing people. Instead, I went way far out of my comfort zone and registered for a multi-run weekend. I must admit, I did not stick to a training plan like I should have, but my only goal was to finish.

I wrote a Race Report for this Hat Trick weekend but could never capture how great it was and how much fun I had. If I can get myself back into the swing of things again, I would definitely consider registering again for the Hat Trick, or at least the Half or the 5 & Dime.

rw half finish

And then there was that time I came home from a run with a cabbage (wearing my sparkle skirt and new sneakers).

 

run cabbage

Now it’s time to figure out what this back-of-the-packer needs to do to get moving in 2017!

 

Fresh Pasta

Our youngest spent the Fall semester in Italy, studying art, traveling, and eating fresh pasta. She had a most amazing experience, which made us incredibly proud of her and happy for her (not that we aren’t always incredibly proud of them both) . We can’t provide her with more time in Italy this semester, but hubby had the brilliant idea to get her a pasta maker for the holidays so she can at least recreate part of her experience.

The night before the girls left, hubby and the youngest took the pasta maker for a test drive. I was not directly involved, just the official photographer, so this post is mostly pictures.

It’s not a fancy machine, it’s hand crank, and it can only make fettuccine and spaghetti, but it’s pretty.

pasta maker

Make a well for the eggs. Youngest, “better mix because the eggs are escaping.”

egg well

It’s more time consuming than originally thought with “rest” times for dough.

pasta dough

rolling

Fargo photobomb.

fargo pasta

First roll through (youngest is cranking).

pasta sheet

Team effort.

rolling noodles

The noodles come out in pairs and need to be separated.

double noodles

noodle pile

Recording her first home made pasta!

noodle snap

A little butter and parm…WOWOW!!

plate o pasta

Saying Goodbye is Hard: 2017 Edition

The eldest was home for almost a month. We enjoyed having her best friend for a few days in the beginning of break. The youngest arrived from her semester in Italy about 11 days later. Having them both home, having the four of us together for the first time since May, was wonderful. We are so very proud of the women they have become.

Unfortunately, it makes saying goodbye really, really hard. Still, even in our fourth year of doing it, really hard.

goodbye k

goodbye b

Even Fargo The Terrible hates saying goodbye.

fargo sad

Good luck this semester, kiddos! Work hard, have fun, do great things, stay safe, take care of each other, and know that we love you!!!!!

Monthly Hobby Update

I just decided this morning, as I started typing, that I would include a Monthly Hobby Update this year. I’m hoping to be working on a few hobbies at any given time, though life has definitely gotten in the way the past few weeks. Mostly good derailment, some I could do without.

Anyway, I’m working with the youngest on a furniture project. Given that the girls are heading out way too soon, I’m reminded that I need some things from her before she leaves so that I can get moving on it without her.

This leads me to the garage project. Although it’s been slow going, there has been enough progress so that the car once again fits inside.

car garage

I think the next steps on the garage will likely need to wait a few months for Spring, but I am actually really pleased and I owe hubby a huge thank you for the time he has put in.

The main hobby I have been spending time on is cross stitch. I decided to make gifts for both girls and two of their close friends. I finished two, this is the third, in progress.

love is

If I were to do it again, I would do at least one thing differently. I have never before used pre-framed canvas, and, unless it is for a VERY small design, I will not use it again. Stitching, and pulling thread through at the end is incredibly difficult near the edges. I have inadvertently stretched the canvas in a few small areas. It seemed like a great idea when I saw them at the store, but not so much in reality.

I keep looking at the bags full of yarn every time I walk by them, so I think I will attempt a knitting project next after the cross stitches are finished. I ground more flour yesterday for the loaf of bread which is in the oven as I type. I am still enjoying watching the flour fall into the measuring cup.

Still trying to figure out the camera, especially the lighting.

dark pic

light pic

In the meantime, the usual chores are still happening. Fargo continues to be quite helpful, especially when it’s time to make the beds.

fargo helping bed

Also, yay me, I logged a whopping two miles on the treadmill Monday! Hopefully I’m going to get a little more back on track with that. Must I register for an event to keep myself motivated?

Social Media

I am not well versed in social media. I get by with Facebook and I’m still learning Snapchat a year later. Hubby and I only finally agreed to let the girls put Snapchat on our phones because it would mean hearing more frequently from them (though I do admit it’s been fun). Although I understand that the idea of Snapchat is that the pictures disappear and, therefore, don’t take up room on phones…I may or may not screenshot some…or a lot.

As I try to figure out what my goals are for this blog, expanding into more social media platforms seems to be a good step. Having an empty nest is different for everyone and it would be nice to draw in others who are figuring out how to approach their new normal. Creating a space to mutually support each other as we try new hobbies, or second careers, or travel more, or deal with crazy puppies, etc. would be fantastic.

So, with the help of my girls, this blog now has an Instagram:

instagram

And a Twitter:

twitter

Fargo is pretty pumped to be the star of all of my social media pages.

fargo paws

I’m thinking that the next step will be a Facebook page. Oh, and figuring out how to best use it all. Suggestions are more than welcome.

Happy New Year (and Cinnamon Apple Pear Crisp)

Well, time to put 2016 to bed and look ahead to 2017. The years keep flying by! This year, one of the big milestones will be attending college graduation for the eldest. Pretty sure it was yesterday that I was spilling tears about her leaving to attend a school on the other side of the country. Other than that, I will be happy with a year that is healthy for all, a year that is safe for all, and a year that brings positive forward progression for all.

As I mentioned in the last post, I would like to try and do more with this blog. I’m thinking I need to learn how to use the blog platform, WordPress, beyond the very basic way I’m using it now. I certainly wish I was more literate in this area than I am. If anyone has suggestions, feel free to share.

Okay, on to the fun food part! Hubby’s brother and wife gave us a box of about 25 pears during the holidays.

pears

We’ve eaten some, and they are delicious. However, they need to be used rather quickly, and we thought a baked good with pears would be fun. My parents are here visiting, so a good sized audience would be partaking.

After looking at a number of recipes, I deferred to my usual resource, Sally’s Baking Addiction. Because we also had some Honey Crisp apples in the house, her Cinnamon Apple Pear Crisp looked perfect.

hc apples

Also note that I used an actual camera, my eldest’s nice camera, for the pictures. My youngest is trying hard to teach me about the settings, the shutter speed, the F stop, and the light meter, etc, but unfortunately, it is not sinking in as fast as I’d like.

The pears were super juicy, so somewhat challenging to peel and slice without a huge mess and without accidentally sending one flying across the kitchen. Though, once all of the filling ingredients were together, I’m pretty sure that the juicy pears made it look so good.

apple pear

As I knew that both the apples and the pears were super sweet, and I didn’t want to hide the flavors of the fruit too much, I cut back a little bit on the brown sugar in both the filling and the topping. I definitely did NOT cut back on the butter though. I’ve come to see butter as a very good friend. The recipe lists the pecans as optional, and I used them.

The smell of the kitchen as it was baking and after I took it out of the oven, was amazing! It looked pretty amazing too. I especially loved the little pockets of liquid that bubbled up through the topping.

apple pear crisp

I plan to get more apples so I can make this again with the rest of the pears. This recipe is going in the favorites folder! It was delicious warm when we ate it as a mid morning snack, and it was delicious last evening with ice cream.

apple pear crisp II

So, what do you think? Can you tell the difference in picture quality?

 

 

Grain Mill Test Run

It worked!! I love my KitchenAid mixer already and now I love it more. You may recall that a few weeks ago, we purchased a Grain Mill Attachment for the mixer.

grain mill

The purchase was made after I did a bunch of research on flour, and storing flour and buying flour in larger quantities than 4-5 lbs, etc. I learned that grains have a longer shelf life than flour. In addition, you can buy different kinds of grains and grind what you want of each to mix and match for baking and bread making. It seemed like a neat way to expand upon the kitchen adventures.

A few days ago we disassembled the mill to wash it up, let it dry, and reassembled for a test run. We filled the mill up just over half way with wheat.

grain in mill

It was really fun to watch the grinding and see the flour falling out. I started the mixer on the slow setting, but then we double checked and it said throw that switch to 10, and we did!

grinding I

grinding II

We chose the setting just shy of finest.

grinding flour

Fargo didn’t like the noise that the pretty kitchen power tool made at first. But now he’s wholly unimpressed.

unimpressed

 

I used 2 cups of freshly ground flour with two cups of store bought for a loaf of bread. Worked great in terms of dough.

bread dough ball

And I could put a picture of the bread, fresh out of the oven, but I wouldn’t want to make you drool. It looked beautiful, like the rest of the bread I’ve made in the dutch oven, and it was delicious! I ground more yesterday for another loaf of bread. Now I need to get brave enough to try mixing flours.

 

 

Blogaversary

It’s hard to believe that just over a year ago I started this blog. I probably don’t have any more readers than I did a year ago, but it’s been a really great personal project. I have gone back to posts about recipes and activities for reference and I’ve used it to reminisce about the past year. A huge thank you to those of you who have read, supported and contributed thoughts, ideas and supplies to this venture!

You may have noticed that there has been no mention of running since the big running weekend in October. There has actually been no running since the big running weekend in October. With hubby’s running ban, I’ve tried to get out walking with him almost daily. Definitely easier on some days than others at this time of year. Maybe the new year will bring back some running mojo…maybe?

It’s been great having the girls walk with us.

family walk

Fargo continues to add “The Terrible” to his name in terms of leash manners. Every time I think we’ve made some solid progress, he does something TERRIBLE in terms of pulling and lunging behavior. I so want him to just walk nicely for us. He also still zoomies, which can be painful/dangerous if you are in the way. Everything we read says most dogs are done with the zoomies by age one. Fargo The Terrible is going on three and he is obviously NOT most dogs.

Then he does this and The Terrible is forgotten:

fargo leg snuggle

fargo b chair

I think my baking skills have progressed pretty well, and the next post will be about the first go with the grain mill. Now that I have different grains, and new bread baking book (thanks hubby!), I am excited to try some different breads.

We are still cleaning the garage (mostly hubby is still cleaning the garage) with the idea of creating work space. I have done more cross stitch lately in the attempt to get back to hobbies and try new ones. I have yarn for a knitting project and will soon be getting wood for a furniture building project. Good indoor winter stuff.

I have used the eldest’s camera to play with photography more than just with a cell phone.

tufted titmouse

dec winter sunrise

The next decision will be what to do with the blog. After a year, am I ready to see if anyone else is interested in empty nest trials, tribulations and adventures? Am I ready to try and attract more readers beyond family and friends? I have purposely avoided common tags, and made up funny and obscure ones, which hubby always points out with a “aren’t tags supposed to help people find you?” Maybe it’s time to be less obscure.

 

 

#mixedfaithfam

We celebrate both Hanukkah and Christmas. Usually, Hanukkah is well underway by the time Christmas rolls around, but this year (as I’m sure most know), Hanukkah started on Christmas Eve. A long time ago, hubby and I made the decision to focus on family/cultural traditions vs structured religion of any sort. For Hanukkah, this means candle lighting and latkes!

Back in the day, we had a PPP (Potato Pancake Party) which meant peeling and grating about 30 lbs of potatoes, 8 lbs of onions, and frying for about 4 hours. Since the girls have mostly been away for Hanukkah the past few years, we really haven’t done anything grand. This year, they were home, but we kept it just us anyway. I thought I was paring down the recipe, but it was still a lot of frying.

latke batter

It’s hard to tell, but that is the largest mixing bowl I own. I used to have 3 frying pans going at once, and maybe I should have had at least two, but I stuck with the new one I got for my birthday.

latkes frying

 

The first ones ALWAYS take forever and I feel like they took even longer in this pan. I probably could have left them all in a few minutes longer, but just didn’t have the patience. Not too bad though.

latkes frying II

Meanwhile, Fargo was not impressed with the latke production and just wanted to play with his new ball. Shocking, I know.

latke

The one amazing thing about latkes with the new pan is that nothing stuck…not a thing! Easy out of the pan and onto the blotting station.

latke towel

We ended up with a pretty good pile to eat. This isn’t actually all of them. Enough for dinner and breakfast!

latke

Then we lit the candles on the Pooh menorah, which was a gift to the girls from long ago. The menorah is in front of the Christmas tree, which is on the table because Fargo zoomies.

pooh menorah

xmas tree

And then the crew watched A Christmas Story, which is tradition. Happy Holidays, no matter which ones you celebrate and let’s hope for the best 2017 possible!