...gonna kick the darkness 'till it bleeds daylight... musings of a hungarian in texas

©2003 by Annamaria Kovacs. All contents of this blog are the property of the author. Use with written permission only.

Saturday, January 28, 2006

Raisin Bread for Bread Machine

Since I promised to celogomama to post this, and well, since this is such a good bread, here it is...
For a 1.5 pound loaf, you will need:
1 1/8 cup milk
3 cups bread flour
1 tsp salt
2 tbsp. butter
3 tbsp. brown sugar
1/2 cup raisins
[2 tbsp vanilla extract, optional-I used Penzeys Madagascar Single-Strength--oir 2 tbsp. water]
2 tsp. ground cinnamon (I used Penzeys Ceylon cinnamon)
pinch of nutmeg (again, I used Penzeys)
1 1/2 tsp. active dry yeast (I use Red Star)

1. Soak raisins in the vanilla extract/water for 1 hour, or microwave on HIGH for 1 minute.
2. Place all ingredients in your bread achine in the order specified by the manufacturer. MIne wants all the liquids on the bottom, then salt, sugar, fats, flour, spices/additions, and finally, in a little well on one side, the yeast, taking care not to touch liquids and salt.
3. Select settings: 1.5 pound loaf, Light crust, Standard bread cycle.
4. Press START. Observe dough as it kneads during first and second kneading cycle: what with the weather in TX being so dry, I found my breads always need additional tablespoons of liquid. You can use in this recipe the remaining vanilla if you soaked the rasisins in it, or milk. Last time it required 2 extra tablespoons of milk plus 1/2 tbsp. remaining vanilla by the end of the 2nd cycle to get the smooth, happily kneading dough we all recognize as The Right Thing (tm). This might vary, so keep an eye on it in the first 30 minutes.
5. When your machine beeps at you signaling end of baking, press STOP, unplug machine, and immediately remove bread. Put it to a safe place away from small animals, children or husbands, let it cool for 20 minutes before turning it out of the pan to a cooling rack. Let it cool at least for an extra 20 minutes before attempting to slice; ideally it should rest for 1 hour, but truth to tell, we never maaged to restrain ourselves that long.
This is AWESOME with fresh butter, apricot or orange preserves for breakfast.


Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Hopefully it's Over

Well, a week, a full and one partial sick day, and a secondary infection later I THINK this was beaten. ::sound of The Bunny knocking on wood:: LIke I said before, it's not the illness itself, it's the feeling of 'If I have to take one more step I'll collapse, I think I just sit here and vegetate....' that I loathe so much. You fix a sandwich for lunch (because you need to eat to beat this stuff) and after that you require two hours of sleep because you got so exhauseted by standing in the kitchen, cutting bread, pouring hot water on your tea bag, etc. We HATES it...

However, life continues to be good (or so do I firmly believe) as we received some rain last weekend, and more is predicted for this weekend as well. Yum, rain. I actually woke up in the middle of the night Saturday and thought: "Noi...Noise...WAHZAT NOISE?" and about 10 seconds (and several frantic heartbeats later) I recognized it as the sound of pouring rain...THEN I curled back up, like a good bunny, and fell back asleep.

In other news, my home country (and the entire Central-East Europe for that matter, from Germany to the east) is in the grip of General Frost, and badly so. They have an average of -12 Celsius or lower, and the gas pipelines are used to their full capacity for a week and a half now, so the system is kinda bursting. Spare some thoughts for that corner of the world if you could.

Watched Brothers Grimm last night with The LQ...we don't get why it tanked in the box office...it's so much fun. Best Evil Queen ever, as my brother-in-law says... and Matt Damon is back to that 'annoying pretty' role he does so well...he should never depart from it, or get involved in politics, really. Just shut up and act, actor...but that's another rant for another time or blog, even. The visual effects are really good in this movie too...and oh yes, Peter Stormare is absolutely stunning yet again. The man is a genius.

Pumpernickel bread, in its homemade incarnation, is a stunning hit at my house. So is the raisin bread with raisins soaked in vanilla extract, and a generous helping of Ceylon Cinnamon. Those two should become a staple, as soon as I replenish my rye flour in the pantry. Yay, bread.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

It Finally Caught Me

...in its nasty, nasty snare: I am home sick today. I slept until two pm, in little fits, waking up every hour, registering the cats around me, the weight of blankets and the additional weight of the sickness, enveloping me in a cloud of dizziness and fever. Crawled out of bed after two, took shower, stuffed something in my belly, checked email, typing up this post. Now back to bed again.
AND on top of all this, the heater unit broke in the house: blows cold air when it supposes to blow warm (even though I can hear the furnace kicking in just fine)...repairmen expected tomorrow. Blarg. Good thing it is 70 degrees outside, otherwise this illness would be compounded with some additional freeze damage as well.

Monday, January 16, 2006

Weekend fun...

Gosh I am tried of being on the verge of being sick!
With that said...we had a great weekend with our friend Mike visiting. I evilly introduced him to Firefly and Serenity, he responded beautifully and actually purchased both the series and the feature online. Jaynestown is still be best episode, although I'm curious how he'll like Our Mrs. Reynolds when he sees it...::evil chuckle:: Go me.
Saturday evening we played The Husband's utterly hilarious homegrown After The Apocalypse Everything Sucks Role-Playing Game (only 1 6-sided die needed...) This was the first time any of my characters made it to the end (the goal always is to get to a safe rally point, this time a police station in Baltimore), so I was rejoicing. Mike's stockbroker got vaporized, but my survivalist nutjob garbage truck driver, The Marmot's depressed telemarketer and The Lizard Queen's gumball-loving car detailer persevered, despite the six different apocalypses thrown at us. Go us.
Plus: discovering that I can still sorta remember how to play billiard...that was fun. Sunday we piled into Edward, the gray Jeep and drove to Dave and Busters to play some...since we went just after noon, we had a good table and some fun moments (okay, most of the moments were fun). Might have to go more often; the BBQ lunch following at Dickey's was also very lovely, by definition.
But: I was fighting this thing all last week, and it's still lingering...feeling cold, slight shiver, throat scratchy, sneezing, stomach upset, body aches...argh. At work, a bunch of people are sick around me, boss included, so that does not make it any easier. Time to up my vitamin intake and tuck on some extra yoga positions to the end of my routine to wake up the immune system ever further. On top of all that, I was volunteered to participate in a conference call tomorrow night at 1900 about our internal audit. It's going to be a great week, I can see it already.

Monday, January 09, 2006

Oh, my...she has new obsessions...

Yep. The Bunny has brand new, very weird and totally addictive obsessions, due to SOME people getting her CERTAIN Christmas presents.

I got a Zojirushi CD-DEC50 5-liter electric water dispenser pot from The Lizard Queen and her hubby. Tea 24/7, hot water on demand, I mentioned in the previous post. THEN said Lizard Queen casually took me to the Galleria the last day of vacation because I mentioned that well, I'd never actually BEEN there despite me living in the Metroplex for more than five years now. AND then we found this shop, full of really really really cool teas, including Yerba Mate, real Pi Lo Chan, and (although I was GOOD and did not buy any) Jasmine Dragon Phoenix Pearls...::sobs::

And then, when we visited our cool friend Phelonius and his family, they disappeard into their bedroom saying 'oops, some wrapping duties to do' and LO! I got this breadmachine for Christmas!! And I am making bread...
Well, the first two were kinda bad. The very first one was a total disaster as the dough did not mix...then by the second I started to figure out that I need to watch the dough when it starts kneading and then add extra liquid if needed (thanks to The Marmot who shared this secret with me before I could check it out in my new bread machine cokbook)... so by the third loaf (a cinnamon-raisin bread) I got it down pretty good. Currently there is a rye-buttermilk loaf rising for the final time and I will have bread in an hour. Yay! Handmade gifties for friends...And it even makes jam!!

OK, you are ready for the WORST obsession? The one my husband unleaashed on me?


Scrapbooking supplies.
A ton.

Now most of my five regular readers know that The Bunny is a trained archeologist and medievalist who LIVED in archives for a while. The idea of PRESERVING all those pictures of my life, AND my husband's, PLUS family history, eventually...combined with some really COOL TOYS (turned out a few months back my coworker sells scrapbooking stuff for this company, so The Husband did not have to go far)...After the first review of the stuff, and returning from our Christmas vacation in DC, I decided to make a Christmas album...so I went and got my first album from my favorite store, some extra Christmas stickers, some paper...Then I ventured out to the 'net...Then I got a book from Half-Price Books with even more advice, web links and store listings...so now I am totally overwhelmed...Whee! A Good Thing (tm) that I can multitask, neh? And I have the next 2 projects lined up already: a cat album for all my kitties (of course, mostly dedicated to Saint Marco Polo), and The Wedding Album Project, that gives The Husband the heebie-jeebies because he thinks it is tacky. Heh. Ask the children and their prospective spouses twenty years from now...
But now I need to find Archival Mist to preserve the wedding invitation, as surely it was not printed on acid-free paper...

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Feeling Shupid

Is it just me or everyone else also feels that their brain turned to either mashed potatoes or turkey meat with extra tryptophane in it during the holidays? I find myself asking really stupid clarifying questions from The Husband the second day in a row: now maybe he sped his brain functions up significantly since I got him the organizer for Christmas, and I just cannot keep up?

Anyways, I am slow but happy, I like my new organizer's layout (yes, I changed my refill this time, and this works better for me), I LOVE the breadmaking machine I got from a friend for Christmas, I absolutely feel _empowered_ by the hot water pot I got from The Lizard Queen (can you say, tea by the cup 24/7, whatever I like)... I surprised myself with Serenity and the complete Firefly series using a gift card (yay, gift cards)...
Now if only this unnatural over 70-degrees weather would pass (with a lot of rain preferably), and the trees in our front yard would stop WAKING UP IN JANUARY...I'd be MUCH happier. But life is good, anyway.

Sunday, January 01, 2006

Happy New Year!

Happy 2006 everyone! Finished watching a bunch of bad movies and getting ready to continue in that vein...I raise my sparkling apple cider to the end of a good year and the beginning of an even better one!