Monday, April 27, 2009

Amish Friendship Bread

A couple slices of the finished product.
I'm no food stylist or photographer, but take my word for it this is good stuff

I'm an average cook, but love to bake, and as far as I know, nobody has ever had to go to the emergency room after consuming any of my baked goods, which in itself, is a victory.

Recently, my brother-in-law, Bruce, gifted me with a "starter" batch of Amish Friendship Bread.

I have known Monica and Bruce for a long time now. I'm pretty sure I've received a "starter" batch of this bread at least once before, which I never saw through to the end....if I'd only known what I was missing.

So, I get this Ziploc bag full of goopy batter, along with instructions to make the bread.
It's a ten day process, which of course I thought was a crazy amount of time, but decided to give it a shot.

I got the batter last Saturday, and the ten days were finally up yesterday.
I waited until eleven o'clock last night to finish the bread (typical me), and since it takes an hour to bake, was up until 1:00 A.M.
I waited for it to cool, and helped myself to a slice.
My word, it was D.E.L.I.C.I.O.U.S.
Not exaggerating, honest.

After ten days, and a ton of steps, I was beginning to think there was no recipe, Amish or not, worth all those shenanigans.

I stand corrected.

Try it, you'll like it...unless you hate cinnamon....then you won't like it (this recipe has lots of cinnamon, though there are other versions of it here).

I found the "starter" recipe here, but am going to re-post it, so you'll have all the instructions, handily in one spot.

Amish Friendship Bread Starter
**Important: Do not use any type of metal bowl or spoon for mixing. Plastic or glass will have to do...a wooden spoon is okay too.**

1 pkg. active dry yeast
1/4 cup warm water (110°F)
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup white sugar
1 cup warm milk (110°F)


1. In a small bowl, dissolve the yeast in warm water for about 10 minutes. Stir well.

2. In a 2 quart glass or plastic container, combine 1 cup sifted flour and 1 cup sugar. Mix thoroughly or the flour will get lumpy when you add the milk.

3. Slowly stir in warm milk and dissolved yeast mixture. Loosely cover the mixture with a lid or plastic wrap. The mixture will get bubbly. Consider this Day 1 of the cycle, or the day you receive the starter.

For the next 10 days handle the starter according to the instructions below for Amish Friendship Bread.

Amish Friendship Bread
Again, no metal bowls or spoons for mixing and do not refrigerate.
It is normal for the batter to rise, bubble and ferment

Day 1: The day you make the "starter"
Day 2: Stir the batter

Day 3: Stir the batter

Day 4: Stir the batter

Day 5: Stir the batter

Day 6: Add 1 cup flour, 1 cup sugar, 1 cup milk to the bowl, stir the batter.
Day 7: Stir the batter
Day 8: Stir the batter

Day9: Stir the batter

Day 10: Follow the instructions below.

1. Add 1 1/2 cups flour, 1 1/2 cups sugar, and 1 1/2 cups milk to the batter, mix well.
2. Measure out four separate batters of 1 cup each into four one gallon Ziploc bags.
Keep a "starter" for yourself (if you want), and give the other three to friends, along with a copy of this recipe. If you don't pass the "starter" batter to friend on the first day, make sure to tell them which day the bag is on when they get it. Mark the bag with a start date, and make a note of the dates and the corresponding action.

3. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.

4. To the remaining batter add:
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup oil (or 1/2 cup oil, 1/2 cup applesauce)
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 large box vanilla pudding
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
5. Grease two large loaf pans, and in a separate bowl mix 1/2 cup sugar and 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon. Dust the loaf pans with half this mixture.

6. Pour the batter into the two pans and sprinkle the remaining sugar mixture over the top.

7. Bake for one hour. Cool until the bread loosens evenly from the pan (about ten minutes).
Turn out onto a cooling rack. Serve warm or cold, and preferably with an icy glass of milk.

If you keep a starter for yourself, you will be baking every ten days.
If not, just enjoy your bread, and hope that some sweet soul will gift you with the batter again someday.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Excuse Me Ma'am, How Old Are You?

Sabrina, the tween.

I have a birthday coming up in a couple of weeks.

I used to really love my birthday. I'd look forward to it, relish it.

I'm not sure when the warm and fuzzy feelings toward the day of my birth, turned cold and un-fuzzy, but I would imagine it was after I turned t-h-i-r-t-y.

"Gimme a break," you may be thinking.
"Thirty is young, it's the new twenty."
Sadly though, I am inching closer to the big 4-0, rather than 3-0, which is slightly terrifying.

Drama aside, I don't really feel too much different than I did in my twenties.
I still think of myself as young, youthful, hip, even.

A couple of nights ago, Oscar, Sabrina, Chloe and I were watching Dancing with the Stars, Sabrina's favorite show (she's almost ten, what you would call a tween).

I am particularly hooked on Gilles Marini, the super hot Frenchman that is paired with Cheryl Burke.

I was watching him, uh, I mean them intently, and when they were finished dancing said,

"Wow, they rocked."

To which Sabrina replied, with a somewhat pitying look,

"Mom, no one says "rocked" anymore."

"Really?" I said, "No one says that anymore, since when?"

"Um, since like, forever," she said, just a little too smugly for my taste.

"Oh, well," I said "I still say that."

To which her response was an exaggerated eye roll.

"Oh my goodness," I thought to myself. "Maybe I am old, or worse, un-hip."
A familiar feeling of dread came over me, you know the one.
It's the one you get when some well meaning young lad bagging your groceries, calls you "Ma'am."

I guess I could just embrace my impending birthday, with grace and class.
Let my hair go gray, without a care in the world.
Say words like "Rock" and "Cool" and "Radical" with wild abandon, while my daughter cringes inwardly at her "old" mother.

I have to admit, though, that I secretly enjoy watching Sabrina get riled up, when I sing too loud, or say something she thinks is kooky and old lady-ish.
I am also too vain to not cover up my gray hair, which thanks to genetics (and probably some stress ie:kids) happens to be way more than I deserve for my age.

So for now, I will continue making appointments at the hair salon for my dye jobs, and try not to go ballistic when the perky cashier at Trader Joes, asks if I need help out with my groceries.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Chick Flicks

I don't really know why I have them on the brain, but I've been watching alot of movies lately that I suppose, could be considered "Chick Flicks."

Now, I've never been one for horror movies, and I usually don't find myself watching many action films, unless, I've dragged Oscar to something like, um let's say Twilight, and I owe him a turn.

My favorites, have always been the ones that make me cry, make me swoon, make me laugh, and/or all of the above.

At the risk of seeming like a complete sap, I do enjoy the occasional psychological thriller, but only if I am not watching it alone, as I have an overactive imagination, and will be looking over my shoulder for days afterward.

So, I thought I would share my Top Five "girly" movie go-to's, guaranteed to chase away even the crabbiest of may even share my enthusiasm.

1. Dirty Dancing (1987).
Okay, you may be thinking, how totally cheesy this one is (if you are, stop it, that's crazy talk.), but you gotta love it. I mean, dancing, shirtless dance teacher, all that bumping and grinding...good girl falls for bad boy....It's a classic, really.
I just saw it again recently, and it still does it for me, just like it did back in 1987, when it was first released. Patrick Swayze, shirtless equals H.O.T.

2. Pretty Woman (1990)
I hadn't seen this one in years, and it was on Showtime last week.
So you can imagine my delight, when I discovered Oscar had TIVO-ed it for me.
I loved Julia Roberts in that movie, and Richard Gere, was of course, nice eye candy. I also got a huge kick out of seeing the giant cell phone he toted around during parts of the movie.
My favorite character has to be Vivian's friend Kit. One of my favorite movie moments occurs while Kit is waiting for Vivian in the "Reg-Bev-Wil" hotel lobby, and spots a conservative looking couple eyeing her curiously. "Fifty bucks Grandpa, for seventy-five, the wife can watch."
I laugh my ass off every time.

3. You've Got Mail (1998)
I really loved Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan in Sleepless in Seattle, but this one remains at the top of my list, mostly because I love the contrast between their internet relationship, and their real-life one. There's also something to be said about a man who is so devoted to his dog, though I guess that could be good and bad. Another plus is the chuckle it gives me, to watch it now, because of the whole internet dial-up thing. Crazy how fast things become yesterday's news.

4. 13 Going on 30 (2004)
I know that this storyline is somewhat of a stretch (wishing dust), but come on, it's not a documentary, and who couldn't use a little wishing dust from time to time?
I was almost thirty when this movie was released, and I could totally relate to all of the eighties throwbacks, uh, since that was also when my formative years took place.
Mark Rufalo is a cutie-pie and has that sexy-smart vibe going on (which I like), and I thought Jennifer Garner was really endearing. My favorite scene is where they all do the Thriller dance, while at the big Poise magazine party. Thriller was the bomb, and I may have engaged in those very moves, a time or two.

5. Twilight (2008)
Okay, this one is a no brainer. I started reading this series right before the movie was released, and was instantly addicted. I'm not obsessed or anything though....really. I can stop anytime I want. I know these books are geared toward teens, and all, but I really loved them. I can't explain, without sounding incredibly lame, but if you've read them, you know what I mean.
The movie, though not as good as the book, is still worth a look (maybe more than once).
And Edward, well don't get me started, but let's just say, I wouldn't kick him out of bed for eating crackers....(although, technically he doesn't eat, but oh well, you get the point).

I know I said this was a Top Five list, but an Honorable Mention goes to another one of my favorites, Music and Lyrics (2007). Drew Barrymore and Hugh Grant, are adorable together, though he is a tad older than she, which seems a little creepy, but Hugh is boyishly charming, and a little charm goes a long way in my book. I really love the movie's premise too, and that POP! music video has me rolling, every time I see it.

I have way more of these in my Chick Flick movie arsenal, but will quit while I'm ahead.
I suggest you grab some microwave popcorn, heavy on the butter, some Red Vines, and your remote, and enjoy several hours camped out in front of your television....exercise, schmexercise.

If anyone gives you any lip, just crank up the volume, and threaten to start reciting lines from one of the above mentioned flicks. Guaranteed to clear the room, fast.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Where the Heart is

A sweet vignette.

I've always loved houses, homes. I thoroughly enjoy visiting peoples homes, because there is usually so much of them in there.
The decor, the things that people surround themselves with, it all speaks volumes about who they are.

Lots of cookboks.

The front porch...a sleepy gnome.

I live in a small suburb in Southern California. My neighborhood and I have a unique relationship. I wasn't too keen on living here at first. When we moved here a few years ago, it was a move inspired more by necessity than choice.

Our home has undergone quite a transformation over the years, and still could use more, you know, always room for improvement, and all.

Home sweet home.

However, I have come to the realization that I really love my home.
There are many reasons why.

Our bougainvillea tree

The house is small.
It doesn't have any architectural details, or anything grand about it to speak of.
The neighborhood is not fancy, and the neighbors are not high-falutin' types.
The lawns are not perfectly manicured, and you don't see high end strollers, being pushed by moms in matchy tracksuits.

The backyard

What is it then?

The best way to describe my feelings about the house is simply a feeling of being Home, of knowing that this is where we were meant to be.


I hear the roosters crowing, and I think of Grandpa.
All the quirks of this place are what I have come to love about it.

Grandpa's milkbottles.

Sometimes, when I'm outside, and looking at the large expanse of our backyard,
I can't help but hope that if Grandpa and Grandma were still with us, they'd be proud.

A little piece of paradise.

All of these beautiful pictures were taken by the lovely Monica. Thanks sis.

Monday, April 13, 2009

What's in a Name?

Me and Osc

If you know me, in real life, or even online, you probably know, I am a fairly modest person.

In all aspects (mostly).

I came across this website today, maybe you've seen it, maybe you even check it out on a regular basis. I guess I'm behind the times or something, because it's a first for me.

Urban Dictionary.

I have to say though this is my favorite definition.
For obvious reasons, because well, you know, my modesty and all.