Friday, January 24, 2014

Homemade White Bread

My husband has been hinting, well it was more like coming right out and saying he misses having my homemade bread. When our daughter got married over a year ago, it was one of those things I didn't have time for and just never got back into making it.
I have always made wheat bread, which is my favorite, but decided I would also like to have a basic, easy to make, white bread recipe.
I found this one in my favorite Amish cookbook, Cooking with Love. It seemed easy enough. You don't even have to proof the yeast. I added potato flakes to the recipe because I thought it might produce a softer bread.

Homemade White Bread

1/2 cup white sugar
2 Tbsp. bread flour
2 tsp. salt
3/4 cup boiling water
1/2 cup potato flakes opt.
1/2 cup vegetable/canola oil
1 3/4 cup warm water
1 1/2 Tbsp. yeast
6-7 cups bread flour

Mix the first four ingredients; then add the next four ingredients in the order given. Add flour one cup at a time until dough pulls away from bowl. Remove from bowl and knead on a floured surface a few minutes. Let rise in a warm spot until doubled in size, about 1 hour. Punch down and rise again for about 45 minutes. Form into 3 loaves and rise until doubled. Bake at 350 for 22-25 minutes.
Pan toast is the best!
If you have never had toast, made in a pan, you have to try it. Just butter both sides of your bread and toast both sides in a pan.'s so good.
 We ate this a lot growing up.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Baked Chicken Breasts in Gravy

Let me start by saying, I love this recipe. It is a tried and true recipe I have been making for years, and it is so moist and delicious.
Sometimes I use chicken strips to make this or I cut the regular chicken breasts in half.
Now, I do not like to make gravy, but this one always turns out great.  It may seem a little thin when you make it, but don't worry, it thickens as it bakes.

Chicken Breast in Gravy

3 lb. boneless chicken breasts
1 1/4 cup flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp Lawry's seasoning
1/4 tsp pepper

1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup flour
5 1/2 cups water
1 Tbsp chicken base
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp kitchen bouquet

Instructions for gravy:
Melt butter and add flour; stir to brown a little. Slowly add water; bring to a boil. Add chicken base, salt and kitchen bouquet. Set aside.

Instructions for chicken:
Mix the flour and seasonings. Roll the chicken pieces in the flour mixture. Fry in pan until both sides are browned. I use a combination of oil and butter to fry my chicken. Transfer to baking dish covering each layer with gravy.
Bake at 350 for 1-11/2 hours or juices run clear.
Linking to: Foodie Friday: Country Cook: Chicken Chick: Fluster Buster

Friday, January 10, 2014

Annie Sloan Paint Project

By now most of you have seen and heard all the rage with Annie Sloan Chalk paint. Not to be confused with chalkboard paint. It's a completely different product although it has a chalky, matte finish to it.

 I've been reading on a lot of blogs how amazing this paint is and what really appealed to me was the no priming, pre-sanding or stripping needed. The paint goes on almost any material indoors and out and it's great for furniture you want to give a distressed look to.
The only downside to this paint is it's relatively expensive. It's sold by the quart for 38.95!
I also read that people have made their own chalk paint for a lot less money by mixing some sort of powder, such as plaster of paris, calcium carbonate, or even baking soda, to latex paint and supposedly it resembles chalk paint.
Of course the frugalness in me I had to try to make my own, not once but twice, with disastrous results. Well, actually one of them is useable but I can't say I'm overly impressed with the results.
Still wanting to try the real chalk paint, I decided to splurge and dish out the money for the real stuff and I'm glad I did.
 I love it!
The good thing about this paint is a little goes a long way. You can paint several pieces of furniture with one quart of paint.
So this is my first project. My husband made this little table 30+ years ago and it just didn't go with the d├ęcor in my house but I didn't want to part with it. It's been sitting in the basement for years and I decided this will be my experimental piece. I figured it can't possibly look worse than it does now after many years of neglect.
 The only prep I did was to wipe it off with a damp rag and then I started painting.

After one coat. Chalk paint is very thick so I added a little water before starting the second coat. This paint dries very fast so as soon as I finished the first coat I started the second.

Another technique I want to try sometime is using two colors. After applying the first coat, lightly brush a second color on top, or distress it to let some of the bottom color show through, creating a layered look. 

Annie Sloan paint is available in 30 colors or you can mix colors together to customize your own. I knew I wanted white to start with and Annie Sloan comes in Old White, which is their best seller and Pure White.  I would say Old White is more vintage and Pure White more modern. I had a hard time deciding but ended up going with Pure White, but I'm sure I would have loved the other one as well. I was really tempted to get the Duck Egg Blue color as well, but decided to wait and see if I like the paint.

After the second coat dries you can start distressing.
I was a little scared of this part. I have never repurposed furniture of any kind ever in my life. Like I said earlier this paint distresses very easily and knew I could repaint it if I messed it up. Besides, this was just practice and I wasn't expecting perfection. It was a lot easier than I thought. It was almost fun.
 I use a combination of a fine grit sanding block and a damp rag to achieve the look I wanted. Unless you have a huge piece of furniture I don't think you will ever need an electric sander with this paint.

Now I really should have done this outside but it's winter and I didn't want to leave my warm house so I spread out newspaper and distressed in my living room. The paint comes off in a fine powder and it does make a mess. After I did this I read where some people recommend waxing the piece first and then distressing. There's a lot less dust that way.  I'll try that the next time....or take it outside like I should have in the first place!
With chalk paint, the look is meant to be distressed, so if you mess up it's easily fixed. Drips, like above.... just sand them off and repaint.

You can distress as much or as little as you like. Once you get the look you want it's time to wax.

Chalk paint feels chalky so you will need to wax it. The wax will give it a soft finished look and it will also protect your pieces.
 Annie Sloan has a clear wax and a dark wax. I only used the clear but if you are going for the aged and worn look you will want to use the dark wax.
Again, like the paint a little goes a long way. I just used a soft rag to apply and buff. If your piece has a lot of detail in it you will probably need a brush to apply your wax. It's recommended that you apply two or three coats of wax especially on heavily used pieces.
If at any time you wish you would have given your piece another coat of paint or distressed  more, you can go ahead and do it as long as it's 24 hours after the wax was applied. Just always end with wax. You would not believe how soft and velvety the wax makes it feels.

 The finished table. I love it and it has found a spot in my dining room.

I can honestly say that my first Annie Sloan project will not be my last. I have a lot to learn but I think I might have found a new hobby.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

West Trip....Day Ten.

I hope everyone had a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! My New Years resolution is to finish this trip blog before the next trip....LOL.
 I wasn't planning on dragging it out this long but I have been so busy with the holidays and work I just didn't have time to finish it.

The Three Sisters are a trio of peaks near Canmore, Alberta, Canada. They are known individually as Big Sister (Faith), Middle Sister (Charity), Little Sister (Hope).
This is day ten of our trip west as we leave the Canadian Rockies and begin the long trip home.
Leaving Canmore we shortly passed the Three Sisters Mountains, the last mountains we'll see.
One minute I took a picture of these mountains, looked down for a few minutes.......
and when I looked up we were in the prairies. I had no idea. I always imagined Canada to be fairly mountainous, especially the Calgary area. Not so. West-Central Canada is mostly prairie, consisting of large grain farms.
Nearing Calgary we passed a colorful building in the Olympic colors which I assume was part of the 1988 Winter Olympics. Goodness could that possibly be 25 years ago?
 Ski Jumps
The Calgary Tower
Standing on the glass floor on the observation deck. Carolyn....why aren't you looking down?
Calgary with the Rocky Mountains in the distance.
Calgary Skyline
Remember the Bow River in Banff. Here it is flowing through Calgary.
You wouldn't know two month prior, this area had catastrophic flooding when the Bow River and others overflowed after heavy rains in the area. The dome below had water up to the first ten rows of seats.
Calgary Saddledome hosted figure skating and ice hockey in the 88 Olympics and is home to the Calgary Flames. The famous Calgary Stampede is also held here in July, which would have been on our itinerary had we been here at the right time. 
We also stopped at Heritage Park, a historical village in Calgary. The park features four distinct villages or areas reflecting time periods in Western Canadian history. The time periods are circa 1864, 1880, 1910, and Heritage Town Square depicting the 1930s to 1950s.

A scaled down version of a Hudson Bay Fur Trading Fort.
The building's inside the fort contain furnishing's or replica's of that period.
Adjacent to the Hudson Bay Company Fort is the Aboriginal Encampment.
Sod House
This area of the park depicts a 1910 Railroad Town.
But the place we spent most of our time was the Gasoline Alley Museum, devoted to all kinds of automobiles, trucks, and gas pumps etc.
Would LOVE to have this! I have memories of going on a trip years ago with my family in one of these.
A few of the what seemed like hundreds of gas pumps.
I could post a hundred photos of old cars and trucks but this post is getting way too long.

Back on the bus we passed a prairie fire.
We saw a lot of grain elevators and trains transporting the grain in the prairies.
 We stayed in Medicine Hat, Alberta.