Friday, December 31, 2010

It is all in the details

There are moments in life that you would love to freeze and be able to tap into them whenever you want.  Moments that do or might repeat themselves but in different ways or under different circumstances.  I could easily put baking with my child for the first time for Christmas in my top 5 memories of this holiday season.  We shared an activity together and hopefully as he grows he will understand and agree that giving yields more rewards than receiving.  The pride and satisfaction that you get from a job well done builds character and fortitude, which are virtues that I want my son to have.

Carr loved to help, especially if it involved getting dirty!
I have to admit that being a neat freak and having a hard time delegating made this task challenging.  You can say I learned much more than Carr did that week.  I learned that sometimes you just have to let go, that everything has flaws and that you can strive for perfection but that you owe yourself time to have fun.  Instead of a monumental task that I had to do by myself, I enjoyed time with my son and was blessed with the results we achieved.

Any time you can have with your children is time well invested.  Our children grow up so fast, that in a blink of an eye the moment is gone. I also know that when you look back you don't recall the stuff you accumulated over time, what you remember are the moments that impacted your life.  I want to fill my life with memorable moments that will keep me warm and smiling in my old age.  I want to look back and say wow, we did everything we could and not I wish we did this or the other.  Life is too short and time is too precious.
Here are the recipes  and photos of our Christmas baking adventure: 

Gingerbread Cookies

6 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for work surface
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
2 sticks unsalted butter
1 cup packed dark-brown sugar
4 teaspoons ground ginger
4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cloves
1 teaspoon finely ground pepper
1 1/2 teaspoons coarse salt
2 large eggs
1 cup unsulfured molasses

Mix all your dry ingredients and then add your wet ingredients.  Divide flour mixture in 2 batches Shape dough into a disk, and wrap in plastic. Refrigerate until firm, about 2 hours (up to overnight).
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Shape dough into 1/2-inch balls, and space 2 inches apart on baking sheets lined with parchment paper. Refrigerate 20 minutes.

Roll balls in granulated sugar. Bake until surfaces crack slightly, 10 to 12 minutes. Let cool on sheets, 5 minutes. Transfer cookies to wire racks, and let cool completely. Cookies can be stored in an airtight container up to 3 days

Christmas Sugar Cookies

2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
1 cup sugar
1 large egg, lightly beaten
2 tablespoons brandy, or milk
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Sift together flour, baking soda, and baking powder into a large bowl. Set aside. Put butter and brown sugar in the bowl mix on medium speed until fluffy. Mix in spices and salt, then eggs and molasses.  Add flour mixture; mix until just combined. Divide dough into thirds; wrap each in plastic. Refrigerate until cold, about 1 hour.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Bake cookies until crisp but not dark, 12 to 14 minutes. Let cool on sheets on wire racks.
Packaging the cookies made easy!
I bought this kit that Martha Stewart makes for cookies.  The package looked gorgeous.

 Easy Homemade Wheat Bread

3 cups of whole wheat flour
2 1/2 cup of warm water
2 packets of yeast
1 teaspoon of salt
1/2 cup of honey
1/4 cup of milk
1/4 cup of oil
3 to 4 cups of unbleached all purpose white flour
Directions:  Mix water, yeast and a tbsp of honey together in a large bowl.  Pour in the 3 cups of wheat flour and mix well.  cover bowl with a towel and let rest in a dry place for 20 minutes up to a day.
After resting pour the rest of the honey, oil, milk and salt.  Begin adding the white flour a 1/2 cup at a time.  Knead it for 5 to 10 minutes until smooth and elastic.  Divide dough into two loaves and place in bread pans.  Cover pans and let rise for about 1 1/2.  Bake @ 350 degrees for 35 to 40 minutes depending on your oven.
 I would love to give credit to the original recipe maker but I got this recipe from a friend and I cannot find this exact recipe online.  

One of the best things that I learned  this year is making my own bread.  There is something about baking your own bread that makes you feel empowered.  I really cannot explain why baking bread makes me feel all warm and cozy.  I love being able to make two loaves while I am cooking a meal or cleaning .  It is a super easy recipe and it is highly adaptable to your schedule and availability throughout the day.

Hands in dough.

Best helper ever. Christmas 2010
I truly hope you enjoyed the recipes and make some memories of your own.  Have a great start of the New Year!

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