Sunday, April 29, 2012

Angry Bird Cake

My son has yet another cake auction for his cub scouts this year.  The boys and adult helpers get so creative with the cakes each year.  It is fun to see what they come up with.  We were running out of time this year and it was kind of an afterthought.  So I pulled out what I had on hand and we threw together this cake.  I did not do as good of a job on the angry birds as I did the cake pops.  We just used jelly beans for the combs and pigs ears.  And starburst for the beaks.  We were using up left over Easter candy.  The cake is just a 9x13 cake with a smaller cake on the end.  Half of the smaller cake was cut up to use for the wood pieces that the pigs are on.  My son wanted a slingshot but I just wanted to be done with the cake and get them to bed.  It still turned out nice and it doesn't matter if he places with it or not.  He will still get to auction it off and have a lot of fun!!

Friday, April 27, 2012

Whole Grain Granola Bars

The normal granola bars that I make taste great and they go together quickly but they use processed cereal and flour in them.  I wanted to try and make a little bit healthier granola bar that I could eat and feel good about giving my kids too.  I found this recipe Here!  It is a great recipe that can easily be adapted to suit your tastes or allergies. 

Whole Grain Granola Bars
1 cup nuts any kind you want (I used soy nuts my kids are allergic to nuts)
2 cups oats  (not the instant or quick oats)
3/4 cup wheat germ
3/4 cup seeds any kind you want (I used sunflower seeds)
2/3 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup honey
4 Tablespoons Butter
2 teaspoons vanilla
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups of dried fruit of your choice

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.  Crush your nuts. This can be done by putting in a gallon size bag and hitting with a mallet. 

Combine your oats, wheat germ, seeds, and nuts in a shallow dish.  Toast in the preheated oven for 10-12 minutes. Stirring frequently so they don't burn.  My soy beans were already toasted so I did not add them to the grains.

While the grains are toasting put together the brown sugar, honey, butter, and salt in a saucepan.  Cook over medium high heat until nice and bubbly.  Take off the heat and then add your vanilla.

Put your grain mixture into a mixing bowl.  Add your dried fruit.  I used blueberries and cranberries that I dehydrated last summer. 

Pour your honey mixture over top the granola and mix well. Pour into a 9x13 in pan lined with wax paper that has been generously sprayed with cooking spray.

Bring the edges up over the granola and press down to make nice firm bars.

Let sit until completely cooled. Then remove the granola from the wax paper.  Place on a cutting board.

Cut into bars.  I cut mine into 24 granola bars.  They are thin.  You can cut them into any size you want.

Wrap each one individually with Saran wrap.  Store in an airtight container! They are so yummy.  The cranberries add a hint of tartness to compliment the sweetness of the honey!!

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Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Hymn Book Angel

I have made these for years.  The only trouble in making them is finding old hymnals that people or churches are willing to get rid of.  They can be made with other types of books, but I think they are extra special made with a hymnal.

Our church is having a Fanny Crosby impersonator come in and do a program for our "All Daughters" banquet.  If you don't know who Fanny Crosby is she wrote over 8000 hymns.  She was blinded at 6 weeks old.  She was an amazing women born in 1820.  Most hymnals contain at least a few of her songs.  Here is a Fanny Crosby link if you want to know more about her and see some of the songs she wrote.

In order to celebrate the night we decided to decorate with music sheets, notes, and these hymn book angels.

To start making one first you need to find some hymnals.  I asked a local church and they gave me some very old hymnals.  The one that I am using for my illustrations was published in 1915.  The pages were very brittle but it still made up nicely.

Start by removing the pages in the front and the back of the hymnal that do not have music on them. You also need to remove one page from the hymnal that will be used for the face of the angel.  I normally use the song "Angels We Have Heard On High"  But for these angels I am using different Fanny Crosby songs.  I am making 12 of these to use as the centerpieces for the tables.  They will then be given away as prizes at the end of the night. So I pulled out 12 different songs of hers so each angel will be different!

Then fold the first page in the hymnal from the bottom right going towards the top left and aligning it in the center of the book.

Use a glue stick and glue this page to the front cover.

Now take the last page of the hymnal and  bring the bottom left going up towards the top right and aligning it in the center of the book.

Using a glue stick glue this page to the back cover of the hymnal.

Now find the center of the hymnal.  Fold down the pages to the left starting at top right and fold down going toward bottom left aligning it in the center of book. 

Continue doing this until all the pages on the left side are folded down.

Now fold down all the pages on the right side by starting at the top left and fold down going toward the bottom right aligning it in the center of book. 

Continue folding until all the pages on the right are folded down.

Your body of your angel is now complete.  Stand it up and let the pages settle nicely.  The number of pages in your hymnal will determine the fullness of her dress.

Now start on the face.  Cut the reserved page of the hymnal to a 3" section.  Using Mod Podge glue it to a 3" Styrofoam ball.  Molding it around the ball and applying Mod Podge over top of the paper.  Only do this on one side of the ball.  This will be the face.  Let dry. The picture below is one that is already finished and dry. You can see Fanny Crosby's name on the left above the hymn!

Glue the head to the top of the hymnal using hot glue.

To finish glue some lace around the neck.  Glue on some ribbon and a bow to the middle of the neck.  Glue curly doll hair all around the Styrofoam ball.  Leave the face exposed.  Make sure all the rest of the surfaces of the Styrofoam ball is covered.  Trim straggly hairs if needed.  Glue a beaded string in a circle to top of the head to form a halo.

Your angel is now complete.  These look beautiful on a mantle, shelf, or on top of a piano! I use odd and end things to decorate the angle with.  I normally have enough ribbon, lace, extra bows, and other things so I don't have to go out and buy more.

I am linking to Frugal Days Sustainable Ways

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Spring Cookies

I love to make fancy decorated sugar cookies.  I normally make them around different holidays. I needed to make some cookies for church tomorrow night.  We have a meal every Wednesday night before our different activities.  So I volunteered to make some cookies. I decided to go with a spring theme.  I thought of all the gardens that are being planted and decided to make some carrots, strawberries, and apples!  I added colored sugar to give a fresh and shiny look.  Plus it gives the strawberries and apples a nice bright red color.  I think it is a lot easier to pipe on frosting than to have to spread frosting on with a knife!!

I can't wait to eat these tomorrow night.  Everyone loves to eat a fancy decorated sugar cookie!!

Monday, April 23, 2012

Pumpkin Blossoms

My son's pumpkin plant has continued to grow in our window sill.  My husband thinks it is so neat how the vine grabbed a hold of the spoon to keep itself up.

We looked up on line how to pollinate a pumpkin.  And to our amazement pumpkin plants have separate male and female flowers.  When he was studying in his science book all the flowers showed the pistil and the stamens on one flower.  So we were confused when the first few flowers started opening and we only saw one large stamen in the center.

He has had 6 blossoms so far and they have all been males.  We want to try and pollinate one just to learn more about science.  This is what he is doing right now in his science lessons so it is perfect hands on learning.  So we went back to the computer and looked up about pollination again.  Apparently the male flowers bloom for a week or two before the female flowers even begin to bloom.  And there are several male flowers for every female flower that forms.  So we are still hoping that we will get a female flower in the near future.  So he can see the difference and try his hand at hand pollinating a pumpkin.  I will keep you posted on how his window sill pumpkin science experiment unfolds!!!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Pickled Eggs and Beets

I decided to use up the rest of our Easter eggs and make pickled eggs and beets.  It is quite a simple process.

First peel your hard boiled eggs.  My recipe calls for 6 eggs.  I had a few more so that was fine.

Next open your can or jar of beets.  Either buy a can of beets or use a pint of beets that you have canned.  I used my own canned beets from last summer. Dump the beets over top the eggs.  It is best if you do it in a glass jar.  I did not have one that was big enough so I just used a plastic container.  The plastic containers just have a tendency to stain from the beets juice.

Now I mix up my pickling solution.  It takes 1/2 cup water, 1 1/2 cups vinegar, 1 cup sugar, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon allspice, and 1/4 teaspoon of cloves.  Bring to a boil in a saucepan and cook and stir until the sugar has dissolved.  Take off the heat and let cool slightly.  Pour over the eggs and beets.  Let them come back to room temperature.  Cover the eggs and beets and put them in the fridge.  Let them sit for 24-48 hours.  Enjoy!!

I make sure all the beets are covering the eggs to hold the eggs down in the pickling solution.  It helps the eggs get evenly colored.

The eggs will get darker purple the longer you leave them in the pickling solution.  The flavor also get stronger the longer you keep them in!

Friday, April 13, 2012

Wild Yeast Sourdough Bread

I love old cook books and I am a sucker for those little cook books with all the old fashioned recipes.  My mom gave me one last year for Christmas that has a bunch of pioneer recipes along with food lore!! 
This recipe for wild yeast sourdough bread is wonderful.  I made it once before and it was so good.  My husband and I ate one entire loaf ourselves while it was still warm.  I was hungry for a loaf again so I began to make my starter.  The only thing is it takes a few days to get it going before you can taste that yummy bread. 
The pioneers made and shared their own starters.  They did not add yeast to their bread.  You don't have to add yeast either if you wait long enough and have a real good starter. This bread takes all day to make properly without adding yeast.

To start the sour dough:
4 cups flour
4 cups warm water (don not use chlorinated water)
3 Tablespoons of sugar. 
Combine and beat with a wooden spoon until smooth.  Place in crockery bowl and cover, let stand in a warm place about 48 hours until sour and bubbly. (I just used a glass bowl that I had)

After 24 hours.  You can see some bubbles starting to form.

Here is a side view of the pan.  You can see the water start to
separate out  from the flour as it begins to ferment.

After 48 hours the starter is nice and bubbly.  When you take off the Saran wrap
it smells nice and sour.

You can see the water mixed back in as it fermented and created more gas bubbles.

1 cup starer
1 cup warm water
1 Tablespoon sugar
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon of yeast (optional)
Stir batter until no lumps remain.  Let sit for about 4 hours or overnight.

I mixed up my sponge in this container.  I did add 1 teaspoon of yeast because I had wanted to make bread that day.  But after I got it mixed up and realized how late it was I decided to just let it sit overnight.  So I really didn't need to add the yeast to it.

I put the rest of the starter in a plastic container and covered it and put it in the fridge.
I decided not to replenish it.  I can get 3 more batches of bread just out of this starter mix.

Here is my sponge.  I let it sit overnight. 

Add to sponge 1 cup warm water, 1 teaspoon yeast (optional), 3 teaspoon salt and enough flour to make a soft dough.  Knead 10 minutes or until it's elastic.  Let rise until double in bulk at room temperature.  Shape into 2 or 3 oblong or round loaves and let rise until double in bulk on a bread board sprinkled with cornmeal.  (Dust top with flour and cover with two kitchen towels) When ready to bake, preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit and place a shallow pan of water on the bottom shelf.   Slash bread 1/4 inch deep, however you like, to allow for expansion.  Bake until brown on a greased cookie sheet, or ideally on a bread stone.  If you use a baking stone, put it on the bottom shelf in the oven and your pan of water on the top shelf.  Allow bread to cool before you slice it, if you can stand to wait that long!!

Here is my bread dough made up.  It took about 4 cups of additional flour to get a nice soft dough.
I did not add yeast to it.  I mixed it up around 8:30 in the morning.  I had to go away so I left it rise.

I got back home around 2:00pm and found a nicely raised bread dough!!

I shaped into two oblong loaves of bread.  I just put mine directly on the cookie sheets.
I dusted the tops with flour and covered with a towel and let rise.  I had to go away.

I got back home at 6:30pm and found my loaves beautifully risen!!

I made diagonal slashes in them and got my oven ready.
I put water in a cake pan on the bottom. And put my bread in the
middle of the oven.

It took about 30 minutes for them to bake to a nice golden brown.
They sound hollow when tapped on.

We waited as long as we could before we sliced into a loaf.
Look at the wonderful spongy texture.  Oh it tastes so yummy.
One loaf is already gone and I just took it out of the oven an hour ago!!

Like the recipe states.  If you have the time to let it rise you really don't need to add any yeast.  It works out great if you are going to be home all day doing other things.  To make it without the yeast it truly does take all day to make but it is worth it.  Yum!!!
To replenish starter after each use:
1 cup of flour
1 cup warm water
1 teaspoon sugar
Shake well and let it stay at room temperature for 6 hours.  Then refrigerate and use within 2 weeks.

Food Lore from 1883
To make a good bread, always be up in the morning early, just at the peep of day.

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