Thursday, February 25, 2016

Pat's Walnut Bread Recipe

Thank you everyone for your kind comments regarding Master Finley and Miss Fiona.  Like many of you, it has been busy around here.  I feel like I'm drowning in paperwork but I will share that scenario with you at another time...

It's been awhile since I posted any recipes.  When I lived in Gig Harbor, Washington, my husband and I used to love to cross over the Narrows Bridge and go to lunch at Metropolitan Market. It is such a unique grocery store with a wonderful deli, wine shop, fresh meats and a very unique bakery.  Every Wednesday they used to get in a fresh supply of Poilane bread flown in from Paris.  And, they also sold such a wonderful walnut bread.  This week I thought about that walnut bread and decided to try and make some myself.  Here's what I came up with...

Pat's Walnut Bread
1 package dry yeast (2 teaspoons)
2 cups lukewarm water
1 teaspoon sugar
1/4 cup oil
1/4 cup honey
2 1/2 teaspoons natural sea salt
1 cup walnuts (small pieces and roasted in oven for a few minutes)
2 cups whole wheat flour
2 1/2 + cups all purpose flour
(cornmeal for baking sheet)

In a large bowl (or mixer bowl) add water and sprinkle yeast on top.  Add the sugar and let sit a couple of minutes for the yeast to dissolve.  Add in oil, honey, salt and whole wheat flour.  Mix together with a spoon.  If you are using your mixer, use the kneading hook and start mixing.  Add in walnuts and gradually start adding the all purpose flour.  Knead (either by hand or with mixer) until mixture starts to hold together and the flour is incorporated.  I used about 2 1/2 cups all purpose flour; you may need to add a little more.  But, don't add too much as you want the dough to be soft.

Shape dough into a ball and put in large bowl, cover with plastic wrap and a towel and let sit in a warm are for about 1 1/2 hours until doubled in size.

Punch down dough and shape into one large loaf or two small loaves.  Place on a parchment covered baking sheet.  Sprinkler some cornmeal on the parchment paper before placing  dough on tray. Cover lightly with a tea towel or plastic wrap and let rise about 1 hour. 

 Just before the hour is up, preheat oven to 450 degrees and put a small loaf pan on the bottom shelf of the oven.   Slash the loaf with a sharp knife across the top a few times.  Drop ice cubes in the loaf pan to make steam in the oven.  Place bread on oven rack and bake in a 450 degree oven for about 20 minutes and then reduce heat to 350 degrees and bake an additional 25 minutes or until loaf (loaves) sound hollow when tapped.  Watch the bread during the baking process and if it becomes too brown, place a piece of foil paper over the loaf.  

Here's my bread just after it has risen and the top has been slashed... 

And, here it is hot out of the oven...

I let it cool a little while before slicing into it as I was excited to see how the texture turned out ...

I was really quite pleased with the texture of this bread.  I didn't add a whole cup of walnuts and next time I will be sure to do so (hence, you don't see that many walnuts).  It's great toasted  the next day, too.  I served it with with some Ukranian butter that was a gift from my son.  Delicious! 

I'll sign off with this photo of Lilly.  She was so cute last night - I think she was dreaming and was sleeping with her tongue sticking out.  Too bad I wasn't fast enough to take a picture of her.

There are so many things I want to share with you but I'm totally occupied with my "paperwork for my dreaded tax return"'s that time of year again.  Soon, I will be freed of this burden.  Wishing you all a wonderful weekend.  And, as always, I love to hear from you my dear friends.

My best to you,

Linking to the following:

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Meet Master Finley and Miss Fiona

It was a warm August morning last year when I was sitting outside by the pool drinking coffee with my husband when I got the idea to make these cute animals.  I had my kindle with me and was reading some blogs.  I don't recall where I first saw these stuffed animals, but as soon as I saw them, I knew I wanted to make them.
Introducing Master Finley and Miss Fiona

I found the pattern on Alicia Paulson's blog Posie gets Cozy. You can purchase the digital PDF pattern directly from Alicia or you can purchase a kit with everything included.  I purchased just the pattern. 

I had so much fun researching all the items needed to make these little creatures.  I found the Liberty Tana Lawn fabric on ebay but I wasn't sure if there was enough fabric for the pattern pieces.  Alicia was kind enough to send me the PDF pattern without any payment to see if the pattern would fit the fabric.  I though this was so kind of her.  It fit, and I immediately paid her for the pattern.  She was most gracious to help me.

The bodies are made from wool felt which I purchased online at Prairie Woolens. The body is made from Smokey Marble Felt PW 1121 which I bought in the 12 x 18 size.  I bought two pieces of this felt; one for Miss Fiona and one for Master Finley. 

For Master Finley's sweater, I used some fingering weight wool I had left over and followed this pattern I found at Purl Soho.  I made his pants from some sports weight wool.  I just made up the pattern myself.  I threaded some leather string around the waistband and hung this charm.

I cut out Miss Fiona's dress according to the pattern but the I finished it off a little different.  The neckline has an actual facing which I threaded the elastic thread through it.  I also added the lace trim to the hem and sleeves.

The pattern for the shawl was a simple knitted oblong shape.  I wanted a bit more flair so I crocheted her a shawl out of some leftover Noro sock yarn.  I added the buttons and finished off Miss Fiona's look with a little teddy bear necklace.

 The fabric was purchased from etsy seller  Miss Elany. I bought four diferent Liberty Lawn fabrics and the shipping was very reasonable at $4.50. I used one of the fabrics for the ear linings and Master Finley's tie and one for Miss Fiona's dress. I used Evergreen wool felt PW 146  in a 9 x 12 size for the boots.  One piece of felt this size will make two pairs of boots. 

I gave these to my grandchildren as one of their Christmas gifts.  I packaged them in a clear plastic bag and tied with a bright ribbon.  I found the long, clear pastic bags from the deli at my Persian market (they were nice enough to give me two bags).  The children won't be playing with these toys but instead they will add decor to their rooms. 

I had never made anything like this before and it was really so much fun to see these little animals take shape.  I sat at the kitchen table and stitched each evening.  I enjoy doing the blanket stitch and have it mastered but my other embroidery skills are lacking.

When I placed my order for the fabric and the wool felt, I bought enough of each to make four animals total.  I still have another set of wool felt and fabric to make  Miss Maggie Rabbit.*

To recap, here is what you will need:
1.  Wool felt (one color for body and one color for boots)
2.  Stuffing for the body
3.  Embroidery thread to match body, boots and to embroider face
4.  Liberty Tana Lawn fabric (or fabric of your choice)
5.  Yarn scraps for shawl, sweater and pants

*I purchased the pattern for Miss Maggie Rabbit and followed the directions except for the ears.  I cut out some mice ears free hand to make Master Finley and Miss Fiona

I spent about $40.00 total for the supplies to make four of these little creatures.  The bulk of the money was spent for the beautiful, fine liberty fabric.  I've never seen such fine cotton fabric.  Next time, I am going to get a new needle for my sewing machine when I make the dress.  It took me one whole afternoon to finish this dress!

On Alicia's blog she sells some fancy tongs to use to stuff the arms and legs.  I found that the handle of a small wooden spoon works great to secure the stuffing in the arms and legs.  Next time, I may make a gathered skirt for Miss Maggie topped off with a hand knitted sweater.  The fun part is that you can use your imagination and make up your own ideas on how to dress and embellish these little animals.

I'm linking up with Amy over at Five on Friday. She is having a fabulous give away, so please drop by and see her wonderful blog.  I would love to hear from you if you have a chance.  If you have made these I'd love for you to leave a link in the comment section below.  And, if you haven't made these, please feel free to comment, too.

Wishing you the best,


I'm joining in with the following link parties:

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Valentine Cookies

Thank you to all my readers for your kind get well wishes for my grandchildren.  They seem to have recovered from the flu and are doing well.  Valentine's Day will soon be here.  I originally posted this recipe back on February 7, 2013  but since it's a favorite of mine, I thought you might enjoy seeing it again (or maybe if you're a new reader, you'll see it for the first time).  And, I'm joining in with Amy over at Five on Friday.

Here's how they look when they're decorated.  They make a great sweet gift for your friends.

I have such fond memories of making these cookies for my children.   I bought the cookie cutter from the Hallmark store about 30 years ago.  It's marked 75 cents!  The recipe is great as the dough does not break like many sugar cookies recipes.  I think this is because it's made using powdered sugar.

So, here is the recipe:

1 cup butter (I use margarine or half butter &  half margarine)
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
3 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cream of tartar
1/4 tsp salt

In large mixing bowl blend butter and sugar until creamed.  Add in egg and vanilla and blend well.  Add dry ingredients and mix (with mixer or by hand) until well blended.

Take about 1/4 of the dough and roll out on a floured board.  Cut with cookie cutters of your choice.  Repeat with remaining dough.  I like to gather the used dough and replenish a little at a time with the fresh dough.  That way the dough doesn't get too stiff from the flour added on the board.    Place cookies on a parchment lined cookie sheet and bake at 375 degrees approximately 10 minutes.
Remove from cookie sheet and let cool.

The cookie cutter will produce a large heart and a smaller companion heart...

I came across this recipe years ago from the Dairy Farmers of Washington.  It can be doubled but do not double the soda or cream of tartar.

The solid heart cookies that are a result of this cookie cutter, make a cute little companion when decorated to the larger cookie.  You can wrap these up as a set in a cute goodie bag or just display on your cookie plate.  I make a simple icing with powdered sugar and milk, tint with red and green food color and put in a decorator tube to decorate.

I hope you enjoy this recipe.  And, I'd love to hear from you if you make this recipe!

Before I sign off, I wanted to share with you one more Valentine themed idea; a felt shaped heart ornament...

To make one of the above you will need:
1.  Red felt
2.  Stuffing
3.  White crochet thread
4.  White embroidery floss (or substitute similar thread)
5.  Sharp needle/crochet hook/ beads are optional

I found the pattern for this lovely little crocheted heart at Teresa's blog.  She was gracious to share such a beautiful pattern on her website.  For the felt heart, I just cut out the heart shape free hand and stitched the crocheted heart to one side of the felt heart.  I did a blanket stitch around the outer edge and filled with stuffing (before sewing up the outside).  You can add beads or other embellishments as you wish.  It took me about 45 minutes to make one of these.

To all my dear friends and readers, I hope you have a lovely Valentine's Day.  As for me and my beloved husband, we will be staying home that day.  We'll probably celebrate the day before as I dislike the crowds and hiked up restaurant prices that occur on this holiday.



Thursday, February 4, 2016

Glimpse of Budapest via Five on Friday

Lilly thanks everyone for your kind comments in regard to her blog post last week.  It's been a busy week here with my little grandson staying with us since his parents have the flu.  But, unfortunately, he came down with the flu yesterday after school so now he's back home.  I feel so bad for all of them being ill but hopefully they will recover soon.  It's scary for my little grandson and little baby granddaughter :(

I thought I'd go down memory lane a bit and share some photos from my trip to Budapest, Hungary from 2014.  It's not been quite two years since I visited this amazing country.  Hungary always brought to mind the Gabor sisters; Zsa Zsa and Eva who were quite popular when I was young.   We had the pleasure to stay at an Airbnb apartment which was still furnished in it's mid century style.  The owner's father was a graphic artist who designed the Hungarian coat of arms.  Below is a photo of that design which was in the apartment. 

The graphic artist who designed this modern coat of arms was Piros Tibor. And, here's another pencil drawing of the design.  He originally lived in the apartment we rented and is now owned by his daughter.   

Here's another view of the interior of the apartment.  I found this ceramic tile stove quite fascinating as it is the original one that was used to heat the apartment. 

The apartment had a long, narrow balcony with quite a nice view of the city.  You can see the unique architecture and the beautiful church to the left of this photo. 

This was my first trip to Hungary.  The closest I had gotten to this area was Czech Republic and Slovakia back in 2004.  This photo shows a courtyard with the building on the left housing a public market.  It was quite fascinating going inside and seeing all the fresh fruits, vegetables, baked goods, meats and dairy.  Almost all the attendants wore white outfits with matching hats.  It reminded me of a picture I had seen of soviet Russia from years ago.  The selection of food items was really quite good. 

I might add that Hungarian beer and their world famous goulash made with Hungarian paprika are delicious!

Budapest is quite a large city and encompasses a large area.  My husband found someone to chat with at opera square one afternoon.

The architecture was fascinating although some parts of the city look a bit weary and worn out.  I got a different feel from Budapest; not a happy, lively feeling.  I don't know why. To me it was a bit of a ghost feeling.  The economics of the country is another subject.

But, it is a city filled with lots of history.  Almost at every corner as seen by this special marker.

Budapest like Vienna has a rich history of coffee houses.  And, they are still alive and operating today.  I love this feeling of going back in time.

Here's a better view of the chuch across the street from where we stayed.  Do you see the hill in the background?  That is the Buda side.  We stayed on the Pest side. 

I love trains and wish we had a train culture here in America like they do in Europe.  Here's the interior of the Budapest train station.  Again, the design was amazing!

And, look at these windows from the train station!  If you recall a few months ago, Syrian refugees were stranded at this train station in Budapest trying to get across the border to go to western Europe.

I love looking at old buildings and trying to peek inside and imagine who lived there and what their life was like.  Here's another photo of the street scene across from where we stayed looking down the street from the other side. 

Budapest is a lovely city with a long history.  We left Budapest via train and went to Vienna which to me was totally different in feeling.  Although, at one time they were the Austro-Hungarian Empire.  

Here's some interesting facts:
1.  Buda is built on the hills above the Danube River and Pest is built on the flat plains.  Hence, the name Budapest.
2.  It is a city known for it's Gothic architecture.
3.  There are over 1,750,000 inhabitants in Budapest, as it is the largest city in Hungary
4.  The Hungarian language is not related to any other languages.  It is a Uralic language and is somewhat similar to Finnish and Estonian.  
5.  Hungary is home to the luxury brand Herend Porcelain factory which produced many fine objects for the aristocracy of Europe.  You can buy modern day pieces of Herend Porcelain in Budapest today.    

It's Friday again so you can find me at Amy's Five on Friday.   I always look forward to this link party as I've made so many friends.

Wherever you are, I hope you are well and safe.  Be careful out there as the flu season has started to take hold.  Until next time,

my best to you,