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Posts Tagged ‘snowy day’

bread1

Yesterday was a beautiful day, a teaser for better days to come, sunny, mild, spring-like. Alas, today we returned to winter with a jolt as another snow storm swept through. The snow began in the morning and continued with determination all day long. *Heavy sigh.* To make the most of being shut in for yet another snowy day, I took a notion to make bread.

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Here’s the yeast proofing in warm water. I’m not a big bread maker, and more often choose to bake focaccia or a braided pull-apart loaf that we enjoy, but today I went with two simple white loaves that I make occasionally for a change. It’s a simple recipe that I’ve had good results with.

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Here’s the dough after the first rise, ready to punch down. Some cookbooks wax eloquent over the joys of kneading bread. So relaxing! So meditative! All I’ve ever got out of it was sore wrists! I only started baking bread with any regularity after I purchased a stand mixer. I bought the mixer after many, many years of doing everything by hand. What a wonder! It takes the drudgery of kneading out of bread making. Having no experience with stand mixers, I bought a low-end model. If I were doing it again, I’d buy the best and largest I could afford. A stand mixer is a very worth-while investment for anyone who bakes regularly.

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Here are the two loaves in their pans, ready for the second rise. Bread making doesn’t really take much active time, but you have to be available to process the dough after a couple of rises and wait while it bakes. I can sit and read a book for the afternoon while my dough rises and still feel virtuous, confident that I am achieving something even as I sip my tea and turn pages.

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Here are the two loaves, fresh from the oven and lifted from their pans to cool. Below you’ll see one of the sliced loaves. I often serve fresh bread with soup, but tonight we had it with pasta. If you’d like to make your own, here’s the recipe.

Two Loaves of White Bread

2 cups warm water (110 degrees)
2/3 cup white sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons yeast
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/4 cup oil
6 cups bread flour (I used all purpose organic flour today)

In a large bowl (mixer bowl), dissolve the sugar in warm water and
then stir in the yeast. Allow to proof until yeast resembles
a creamy foam.

Mix salt and oil into the yeast. Add 5 cups of flour.
Knead with mixer until smooth. Add additional cup of
flour gradually as needed to produce smooth dough.

Place in a well-oiled bowl and turn dough to coat. Cover
with a damp cloth and allow to rise until doubled, about 1 hour.

Punch down dough. Knead a few minutes and then divide in two.
Shape into loaves and place into two well-oiled 9×5 loaf pans.
Allow to rise for 30 minutes or until dough has risen
1 inch above pans. Preheat oven to 350.

Bake at 350 x 30 minutes.

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snowy

Snowy Day

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We’ve been treated to another chorus of winter’s song. A snow storm blustered through on Friday afternoon, leaving about 8 inches of wet, heavy snow in its wake. It does make things tidier, with everything dressed once again in a frosty white coating. The temperature this afternoon is around minus 8 C (about 18 F), so the snow will be around for a little while. Still, we’re just a week away from March now. Winter won’t last much longer.

The storm was still blowing itself out this morning, so I kept the horses in their stalls and gave them their breakfast hay indoors. The horses object to this. They’re all about routine and don’t like changes. They say: “Hey! This isn’t right! We’ve got to go out! We can’t eat hay inside in the morning! Let us out! Open the door! Out! It’s morning!” The donkeys, on the other hand have a much more laid back point of view. The donkeys embrace whatever comes their way with a positive attitude. The two little boys said: “Wow! Breakfast in bed! Fabulous!” They wasted no time fussing and moved right on to chowing down.

By noon, the sun was trying to peak out through the partly cloudy sky and I turned everyone out into their field, where the horses dashed about, kicking up their heels in glee. The donkeys said: “Oh, snow! Nice.”

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snow1

Except for a few little spats, Winter has been gentle so far this year, with many unseasonably mild days and little snow. On Thursday, he decided it was time to get tough, and our first real storm of the season settled in. Freezing rain began to fall in the wee hours of the morning, and by mid-day, everything had a coating of ice.

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Over the course of the afternoon, the freezing rain turned to snow. I kept the feeders filled and the blue jays and chickadees took full advantage of the handout. Birds would just as soon do their own foraging, and with the mild winter weather we’ve had to date, business has been slow at the feeders, but with a storm underway, the birds were anxious to stock up.

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Even Little Red dropped by, once those pesky blue jays cleared out.

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The snow continued through Friday, far exceeding the 4 inches predicted by the weatherman. By Saturday morning, the ground had a blanket of more than a foot of snow. The storm had moved on, and Saturday was sunny and clear. Wow! What a winter wonderland! Everywhere you looked, the world was postcard perfect. It sure felt like winter too, with the temperature plunging. On Sunday, another beautiful day, we woke to the mercury crouching low in the thermometer, -30°. A gardener is grateful for a good blanket of snow when the temperature dips so low.

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When the snow slipped from branches, it exposed the initial layer of ice, sparkling in the sun.

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As the sun set on Saturday evening, it bathed the snowy landscape in a warm glow, a beautiful ending to the day.

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pathtobirdhouse

Yesterday, it snowed and it snowed. The wind blew and blew. But this morning, all that is in the past. We woke to a sparkling, crisp world dressed in white. The sun is shining, brilliant on the new-fallen snow, the sky is intensely blue. I found a spot where the snow hadn’t drifted, but lies smooth and even, and took a measurement.

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Seventeen and a half inches. Railguy and I dug out the paths around the house, out to the birdfeeders and out to the barn, several times during the storm. The ferocious wind kept filling the paths back in with snow. The wind had blown itself out by the evening but the snow kept falling into the night. This morning, I gave the paths one last digging to clear out the last few inches.

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The horses are happy to be back in their field. The town snowplow has been by several times, clearing the roads. It’s business as usual today. But oh, how beautiful the world looks this morning! It’s an Ogden Nash day.

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Winter Morning

Winter is the king of showmen,
Turning tree stumps into snow men
And houses into birthday cakes
And spreading sugar over lakes.
Smooth and clean and frosty white,
The world looks good enough to bite.
That’s the season to be young,
Catching snowflakes on your tongue!

Snow is snowy when it’s snowing.
I’m sorry it’s slushy when it’s going.

~Ogden Nash~

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cornfield

Cornfield

snowyday

Snowy Day, Soybean Field

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Maple Tree

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