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Make It Yourself: Grammy’s Winter Bread

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As the cold of winter sets in in the Pacific Northwest, us Washingtonians are hunkering down for the rain-filled season of gloom and grey. With the weather, comes my inevitable craving for good, old fashioned vittles.  For our cozy crew, this means herb crusted pork roasts and mashed potatoes, Dutch ovens full of piping hot soup, mulled wine by the gallon, and one of my (new) favorites… warm, crusty, buttered bread.

Now, I have to come clean on this one… the majority of the cuisine that comes out of my kitchen has been perfected over the course of many moons, but this crusty little baby is the first loaf of bread that I have ever made… EVER.  I used a recipe that I found in the depths of my grandmother’s kitchen.  It was written on a napkin and was hidden deep inside a recipe box that has been in the “baking cupboard” for decades and let me tell you what… there’s a reason why it was in that box.  Creating this little loaf of pillowey sunshine is nearly as easy as boiling water and the end result is delicious!

To start, gather up your ingredients grab your stand mixer and your dough hook, or a good ol’ fashioned bowl and spoon, and get ready for to partake in the easiest recipe you have ever made!

 

 

In your bowl, add three cups of regular All-Purpose flour (or APF as I like to call it), one teaspoon of salt, one half teaspoon of your active dry yeast and one and a half cups of warm water.

 

 

Now that you have all of your ingredients together, it’s time to get-a-mixin’!

 

 

If you’re using a stand-mixer, start her on low (this will keep the flour in the bowl and not all over your kitchen counters) and gradually increase the speed until all of the ingredients have come together in a nice pillowey ball and the dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl.  Same goes for the old spoon and strength method.  Once the ingredients are combined and the dough pulls away from the sides, you’re ready to go!

 

 

And here’s the hard part… the wait.

After your dough has come together, just leave it in your bowl, cover it with plastic and find a nice cozy spot for it to proof.  The dough needs to rise for eight to twenty hours.  This may seem like an obscene amount of time, (I was shooketh when I read those numbers) but I promise you, the wait is COMPLETELY worth it.

 

 

I decided to make my dough at around 11 PM and let that baby rise until I came home from work the following afternoon around 6PM… so it sat for just under 20 hours.  I did make a few more loaves and proofed (the fancy term for letting your dough rise) them for different amounts of time within the criteria and they all turned out great!

Here’s what it looked like after proofing!

 

 

 

 

 

 

After my dough had proofed, I floured my countertops with a whole crap-ton of APF.  (This dough is extremely sticky and the liberal flouring really helps with cleanup.)  I used a sifter for even distribution, but regular old sprinkling works perfectly!

 

 

Once floured, I rolled and pulled and scraped my dough out of my mixing bowl and onto the floury countertop.

 

 

I de-ringed and dunked my hands in some flour and gave that baby a flip, tuck and roll.

 

 

You don’t want to overwork your dough so once it’s formed into a nice little button, give your hands a rinse and let that baby rise.

 

 

Thirty minutes is all it takes and while your dough is proofing again, you can start to prep your oven.

Crank it up to 450 degrees and get your Dutch oven (D.O), lid and all, in there to get nice and toasty while the oven preheats. If you don’t have a D.O., you can use any baking dish as long as it has high sides and a lid, but the cast iron really helps create that beautiful crust on the bottom of the loaf.

 

 

After the thirty minutes has elapsed and your oven and D.O. baking dish are both nice and hot, carefully slice an “X” into the top of your pillowey ball of dough and transfer it into the D.O. dish.

 

 

Pop that lid back on and get in the oven. Set your timer for 30 minutes and start to plan all of the delicious things you are going to do with your loaf once it’s done!

 

 

After thirty minutes has elapsed, remove the lid and admire your almost-finished product.

 

 

It was at this point in the breading process that I had to freak out a little… I couldn’t believe that I created something that looked so pretty and that smelled so good!  (Seriously, your house is going to smell like a bakery)

After having a quick peek at your loaf, toss that lid into the sink (remember, it’s HOT!) and get that bread back into the oven.  Your loaf needs another ten to fifteen minutes uncovered to brown that crust up and you’re in the home stretch!

 

 

It is now time to remove your D.O. from the oven and transfer your gorgeous loaf of bread onto a wire rack to cool.

 

 

You are going to be tempted to immediately slice and devour the fruits of your patience but the bread slices MUCH easier after it has had the chance to cool for a few minutes.

 

 

This loaf sat on the counter for about half an hour before I grabbed the serrated knife and got to slicing.

 

 

Mr. Pizza Arm approves!

 

 

 

Bon Appetit!

 

 

 

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How to Plan the Perfect Night Before Christmas

 

Well, Broads and Bruts, it’s finally here! Christmas Eve is upon us, which means tomorrow is the big day! Sure, we are all busy with our families right now, but I wanted to pop in to say hello and offer a little Christmas spirit. Do you want to plan the perfect night before Christmas?

While you likely have all of your Christmas Day festivities planned out, what about this wonderful day before? It’s screaming to be filled with fun and meaningful activities and traditions, to build anticipation for tomorrow.

Some families have little things they do every Christmas Eve. Why not add a new activity or three to your Christmas Eve this year?

Here are some fun ideas to try out, that just may become your new family tradition for years to come!

 

 

NOTE: This post may contain referral and/or affiliate links, so I make a commission from some of them. However, I promise I will NEVER recommend anything unless I have personally tried it or have done research and would purchase it myself. I will also remove anything from my blog that is unsatisfactory for any reason, so please contact me if you encounter a problem or issue with anything I recommend.

 

 

Read The Night Before Christmas

 

 

 

Are there any better words to begin a story? So classic, so exciting! It’s a short read, and you can have the kids take turns. Even as an adult, you can’t help but get caught up in the magic that is Santa Clause. Especially as you all shout out in unison the last words of the story: “Happy Christmas to all, and to all a goodnight!”

 

 

 

Get the ebook here for only $5.04, and read it on the free app Amazon offers.

 

 

Open a Gift

 

 

In our family, we like to get a nice cozy pair of pajamas for each member, and open the gift the night before Christmas. That way we all go to bed in fresh pajamas, and wake up in the morning feeling crisp, new, and ready to open gifts!

However, if you haven’t planned ahead for that, why not each open one gift from under the tree? It’s a nice preview of what’s to come, and really builds up the anticipation.

 

 

Take a Walk in the Snow

 

 

Do you live in a place where you have the privilege of enjoying a white Christmas? Why not bundle up on Christmas Eve and take a family walk together?

It’s the little things that make life worth it, right? Let those snowflakes land on your tongue, make snow angels, have a snowball fight, or build a snowman. Just enjoy each other! Isn’t that what the spirit of Christmas is all about?

 

 

Make Treats

 

 

This one is kind of obvious, as you need to leave cookies out for Santa anyway. But this year, make it a big affair. Have everyone participate in mixing, baking, and decorating. Try making something besides cookies, like cupcakes or cake pops. Santa (or mom and dad) will appreciate it, too!

 

 

Have a Drink

 

 

Kid free? How about a drink? Have  mom, Aunt Sally, and Grandma Peaches all get cozy in their pajamas, and then crack open a bottle of wine, or make a nice hot buttered rum.

Here’s a yummy recipe!

 

 

Take a Drive to See the Christmas Lights

 

 

Again, bundle everyone up, squeeze in the car (or two), and take a drive to a local neighborhood or area known for having awesome Christmas lights. Every town has that neighborhood that just goes ALL OUT when it comes to putting up lights.

Just don’t forget your camera!

 

 

Keep Tabs on Santa

 

 

Did you know that Google has an amazing Santa Tracker? Get the kids excited by checking in on where Santa is throughout the evening. If you are awake when he flies over your area, run outside to try to catch a glimpse of Rudolph’s nose! Point out a plane flying over head and show them that Santa is coming!

Follow the Santa Tracker here.

 

 

Make Homemade Hot Cocoa

 

 

I truly believe there is nothing in this word better than a homemade cup of warm chocolaty, creamy cocoa on Christmas Eve. Of course, you need marshmallows too. And you may as well leave the bag within reach, because I’m going to need to reload on marshies at least twice!

Try this delish recipe by Martha Stewart!

 

 

Play a Game

 

 

You’ve made the hot cocoa, and the family is all gathered anyway. Why not play a game? Charades is a great one for the whole family. Or if the kids are already in bed, how about Cards Against Humanity?

Just watch out for Monopoly! It sucks you in and never ends!

 

 

Draw Santa a Picture

 

 

This is a great idea to keep the kids busy, and is actually quite fun for adults too. Just set out some washable markers or crayons and paper, and have everyone draw their favorite Christmas memory, or their best portrait of good ol’ Saint Nick.

Plus, you can tuck those pictures away and save them for when the kids get older. They’ll love taking a walk down memory lane, and so will you.

 

 

Give Back

 

 

You know the kiddos will be getting lots of new toys. How about giving them each a bag or box and having them fill it with some of their old toys to donate? Make sure they aren’t broken or ruined. Not only will you be making room for the new toys, but you are teaching the kids to give back.

Have them leave their box or bag of toys near the tree with a letter to Santa asking him to donate them to kids in need. Just don’t forget to drop the donations off at your local community house or domestic violence shelter later this week.

 

 

Sing!

 

 

Buddy Elf had it right. Singing is contagious, and while at first you may feel a bit awkward, pretty soon you’ll be shouting “Deck the Halls” at the top of your lungs.

This is a great way to wrap up your evening. You can all sit together around the fire (or the tree) and sing your favorite carols.

 

My family will be doing some of these today. It will be the perfect night before Christmas! What about you? What are your favorite Christmas Eve traditions? I’d love to hear! Have fun!

 

 

Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good night!

 

 

 

 

**I love to hear from my readers. If you have a thought or opinion about something in this article, please comment! Let’s get a convo started!**

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