Sunday, October 30, 2011

Brioche and Bread Pudding

I love love love bread. Especially in autumn. I normally use the dough setting on my bread maker to do the needing and the first rise, but I don't bake in it because I prefer a thinner crust than the machine delivers. It saves so much on time and clean-up. 
My youngest son doesn't trust me to not sneak in some healthy ingredients. He considers everything that's not white to be whole wheat and he'd rather go without - forever - than eat whole wheat!  He prefers store bought, white sandwich bread. I think any sandwich tastes better with home baked peasant style bread. I walk by the bakery at the grocery store and swoon over all the artisan bread you can find now, but I'm too cheap  frugal to buy it when it's so simple to bake your own. So when I stumbled across the  Artisan Bread in Five minutes a Day website I was pretty thrilled. They use a technique that doesn't involve kneading. When I saw the book at Chapters, I couldn't not buy it even though I swore I could find any recipe I needed online, and that I would never buy another cookbook. 
This week I made Brioche. 
You can find the recipe and the technique here.   

You can see that I didn't use a brioche pan and I didn't add the little "tete" on top either.
It didn't matter.
Yum, yum, yum. 
We ate it smeared with butter along with a bowl of turkey soup, toasted with home made grape jelly, toasted and dripping with honey and I used it to make the most amazing bread pudding. 
You should try it.

Apple Cinnamon Bread Pudding with Maple Sauce.

In an 8" square pan, lay out evenly :

4 cups cubed Brioche 
2 smallish apples, chopped ( I used empire ) 

Combine and sprinkle over the bread and apples:

1/3 cup sugar
1 tsp cinnamon

Wisk together and pour over the bread:

3 large eggs
1 cup milk
1 cup cream 
( or you could substitute 2 cups milk ) 
2 tsp vanilla

Bake at 350 for 45 minutes or until set.
Serve warm drizzled with Maple Sauce.

Maple Sauce

Combine in a small saucepan and simmer until the sugar melts:

1/3 cup maple sugar
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup butter 

Sprinkling the sugar and cinnamon on top rather than mixing with the eggs and milk makes the bread and apples all crispy on the top. 

mmm - that's just it. 

<3 Karen 

Thursday, October 27, 2011

The Chicken Saga

What a long and winding road it's been since I last talked to you all.
It started on my birthday.
I was out of town on a business trip for a few days. I returned to discover some strangers in the coop. 
Where Minnie, Macadoo and Ruby should have been, there were 3 buff rocks and 2 brown leghorns.
There had been a MASSACRE!
Poor Minnie, Macadoo and Ruby had fallen victim to an evil raccoon. And poor Mike! He was horrified! Well, he couldn't let me come home to a coop with 1 chicken! (we've changed her name to Lucky Martha).  So he got on the phone to a "chicken friend " to see if he had any chickens and low and behold,   there was a chicken auction being held in town that very evening. Who knew? He went. He came home with Ginger, Lucy, Gidget, Sophie, Edna and poor bald little Plucky. 
This is our new family.

For a while, anyway. 
We were undecided about what to do for our feather challenged friend.  Banish her from the coop? Take a $1 pullet to the vet?  Euthanize her? I'm sure I can make her better; she's likely suffering from overcrowding and malnutrition. She is granted a stay of execution. 
she gets healthy, happy and grows feathers. 
They're growing up! We should have eggs in about 6 or 8 weeks! Yay! 
And we all live happily ever after. NOT! 
It took a couple of more weeks, but we started to get suspiscious....
Wattles and combs start to get big, feathers start to get showy, tails are just down right elaborate. 
And then - they crow. We can't have roosters; it's against the by-law. Sophie, Edna and Ginger have signed their own death warrant. 
Mike can clean a fish - surely he can clean a chicken. Don't worry. We can do this. It's part of life on the farm, after all.  We do some research ( who knew there are videos on utube ).  Mike does the dirty work.  I can't watch. 
Now we have 4 chickens. With any luck ( ple-e-ase, we've suffered enough tragedy ) we should have eggs in a couple of weeks. 

We went away for the weekend and our great neighbours looked after our chickens. Their chickens are laying beautify brown eggs already. Ours should lay any day. So, our other "chicken friend stopped by for a visit with them while we're away. He pops into our backyard to check on our progress. " those two chickens will never lay eggs" he says. Adam doesn't waste any time, he calls right away. 
Well! I never! The nerve! He's not as smart as he thinks! 
If they're roosters, then why aren't they crowing?
We arrive home Sunday evening and reassure our chickens that all is well. They'll lay eggs when the time is right.
Monday morning there's crowing in the backyard. 
Heavy sigh. I don't have it in me to "take care of this".  The chicken auction is tomorrow. We'll take them there and find them a new home.

Our friend feels bad and he brings over a little jet black chicken. She has a poof on her head. Kinda like Elvis. We're thinking of calling her Elvira. Mike bought an older brown hen too.  She was hard to resist. She's going to live out her retirement with us. We named her Gladys. 
Bye Lucy and Ginger. We'll miss you. 
All this tragedy and then ...

A happy ending 

Our new little Elvira lays her tiny snow white eggs any old place - just never in the nesting box.  I changed her name to Butterfly after Butterfly McQueen in gone with the wind. "Really Miss Scarlett! I don't know nuthin' 'bout birthin' no babies!" I hope she figures it out soon, but really, I'm just happy that she's laying somewhere.

<3 Karen