PretzelRolls-7

Baking pretzel rolls for Thanksgiving

I haven’t baked any sort of bread that requires yeast in quite a while. That all changed when I read the pretzel parker house rolls recipe on Smitten Kitchen recently. While I don’t have a clue what a parker house roll is (yes, I could look it up), I did know that the rolls sounded (and looked) delicious. Following her recipe, and using the baking soda wash instead of lye, I now have made two batches of these rolls and froze them for Thanksgiving. I’ve taste tested a roll from each batch and can tell you that not only are they easy to make, they are also delicious. I’m not really a fan of kneading dough by hand, so I used my KitchenAid to take care of that part.

The yeast comes alive:

PretzelRolls-1

 

The dough hook does the hard work:

 

PretzelRolls-2

 

The dough after kneading:

 

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The dough after first rise – I used a pizza cutter to cut up the dough into 16 kinda equal slices, like a pie, as the recipe suggests:

 

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The dough formed into rolls, prior to the second rise:

 

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After second rise, before washing in baking soda / water and egg rinses:

 

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The finished product – so good!

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CauliflowerTabouli-7

A healthy take on Tabouli

I recently came across a recipe for “detox taboulleh” from Oh She Glows which uses cauliflower rice instead of regular grains. I wanted to try something with cauliflower rice again and I decided to try this recipe. It was well worth it. We paired the salad with flatbread and hummus and it was delicious. Because the recipe was so healthy I made very few changes. I used a bit more tomatoes and onion, a bit less cilantro, and sesame seeds instead of hemp seeds. I also used the shredding blade on my food processor to grate the cauliflower and celery. I used:

Salad ingredients

  • 1 large cauliflower, leaves removed
  • 1.5 pints grape or cherry tomatoes, sliced
  • 1 cups fresh parsley, minced
  • 1 & 1/4 cups finely chopped celery
  • 1/2 cup cilantro, minced
  • 2 bunches green onions, thinly sliced
  • Optional sesame seeds to sprinkle on top

Dressing:

  • 1/3 cup red wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons  extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon pure maple syrup
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine grain sea salt

Steps:

  1. Use the grater blade attachment on a food processor and drop cauliflower florets into the machine to grate. Empty out the bowl and use the same blade to grate the celery.
  2. Stir the rest of the vegetables (tomatoes, parsley, cilantro, and green onion) into the bowl.
  3. Whisk together the dressing in a small glass or jar. Pour onto salad and toss to combine, adjusting salt to taste if desired. The flavors are best after the salad has been refrigerated for a while. Sprinkle sesame seeds on of the salad when you’re ready to eat.

The grated cauliflower:

CauliflowerTabouli-1

 

Adding celery and tomatoes:

CauliflowerTabouli-2

 

Dressing and salad prior to mixing:

 

CauliflowerTabouli-4

 

Mixed salad:

 

CauliflowerTabouli-5

 

Delicious salad with olive hummus topped crisp flatbread:

CauliflowerTabouli-6

 

All recipes I’ve made from Oh She Glows have been great, I recommend you check her site out!

Repainting our bedroom

Painting the master bedroom

 

 

 

I finally got around to picking colors for our master bedroom and bathroom so that we could continue updating the bottom half of our house. The master bedroom has the bathroom sink open to the bedroom and the tub and shower are in a room off to the side. I had three basic ideas to test out:

  • Teal accent wall behind the bed, teal bathroom walls with the rest of the walls light blue and white ceiling
  • Teal accent wall behind the bed, teal bathroom walls with the rest of the walls light gray and white ceiling
  • Gray walls in bedroom (same gray as in our living room), teal walls in the bathroom and light blue ceiling

I tested four dark colors in the bathroom, narrowed my options to two, and then tested them on the wall behind the bed. I settled on white ceilings, and selected Valspar Lyndhurst Duchess Blue for the dark color and Valspar Halcyon Blue for the light color. Despite its name, Halcyon Blue is more of a light gray color. In some light, it almost looks white. Even though I decided to stay with white ceilings, I’d still like to try painting a ceiling a non-white color in one of our rooms.

BedroomPaint-1 BedroomPaint-2

 

A great photo of the mess after we started moving the furniture around:

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Testing the light colors on the wall and the ceiling:BedroomPaint-4

 

The after view – we finally hung some things on the walls!

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BedroomPaint-6 BedroomPaint-7 BedroomPaint-9

 

We still have to replace all of the trim in the room and paint it white. You can see the ugly light beige colored trim in most of the photos. It’s peeling and it’s ugly and I can’t wait to get rid of it!

While I was hanging things on the walls, I took an unused picture frame, removed the glass, and glued in a piece of metal screen so that I can use it as an earring holder on the wall near the hooks that I hang my necklaces on.

Earrings-1

Videos from our Alaskan hikes

I’ve finally slightly figured out how to do this GoPro video thing. I’ve been mostly using my GoPro for pictures, but we took it with us in Alaska and took some 360 degree videos from the top of the hikes we went on. I was able to use Adobe Premiere Elements to import those videos and stitch them together, much easier than when I tried to use the GoPro video app. So this first YouTube video is made up of multiple hikes, with the video taken with my GoPro. The hikes were the Savage Alpine Trail and Mt. Healy Overlook in Denali National Park, Flat Top in Anchorage, and the Harding Ice Field trail in Kenai Fjords National Park.

The second video was taken with a point and shoot camera, since somehow my GoPro battery was dead, despite charging it the night before. This one is probably my favorite though, because it’s video of a hand tram in the Kachemak Bay State Park near Homer, Alaska!

 

FigBread-8

Delicious fresh fig bread

In an effort to use more figs during this never-ending fig season, I tried a new recipe. Since I love banana bread, I looked for bread recipes that use fresh figs. I found a fig bread recipe on Renee’s Kitchen Adventures. It used almonds so I adapted it to remove the almonds, since I’m not a fan of nuts in baked goods. I also added lemon zest because in the fig crumble cake I like to make, lemon zest makes it awesome.
FigBread-8
The fig bread came out delicious, so I’m sharing the recipe of course.
To make 2 loaves, I used:
  • 3 cups all purpose flour + 1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 2 heaping tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1.5 cups unsweetened applesauce
  • 1/2 cup canola oil
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2/3 cup reduced fat sour cream
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 3 cups coarsely chopped brown turkey figs from my tree
  • Zest of 1 small lemon (next time, I will increase this to 1 small lemon per loaf)
  • 2 additional figs cut into 4 vertical slices to place on top of each loaf before baking, if desired

Preheat the oven to 350. Prepare 2 loaf pans with your favorite method. Combine the dry ingredients in a bowl (flour through salt). Beat together eggs, applesauce, oil, vanilla, sour cream, and sugar. Add the dry ingredients in approximately 3 parts and mix just until combined, don’t over mix. Fold in the figs and lemon zest by hand. Divide the batter between the two loaf pans, and place four fig slices on each loaf. Bake for about 50 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Figs and zest:

FigBread-1

Batter:

FigBread-4

Ready to bake:

FigBread-5

Yum!

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Deliciously full of figs:

FigBread-9

 

DogBedCushion-8

Making a dog bed cushion

I think I finally completed the last of my tasks to make my dining and sitting room renovations complete! That task was to make a new cushion for my dog’s awesome window bed (which I made myself). Since I made the bed, she (and the cats) have been sleeping on an old dog bed that I made in our other house. It is a fleece cover with two bed pillows inside, covered by a layer of eggshell foam. It does the job, but the cover is the wrong color now and it has a large indent in the center from use. I bought new gray fleece and nice thick green foam from Joann Fabrics quite some time ago. I kinda can’t believe I waited this long, as it took me less than an hour to make her the new cushion. What a bad dog parent I am.

I bought one section of green foam that was the thickest they had, when it was on sale for 50% off. To make the bed thicker, I also bought two chair cushions that were about the right size. The thick foam wasn’t the right size to fit in the dog bed, so I had to cut it to size. It was so thick I had to cut the top half first and then the bottom half with my scissors.

Measuring the foam to fit:

DogBedCushion-1 DogBedCushion-3

 

Molly lays on her old cushion watching me:

DogBedCushion-2

After cutting the foam to size, I basically sewed a large pillow case. I wasn’t too concerned with dimensions, just that it needed to be large enough to fit.

DogBedCushion-4 DogBedCushion-5

After sewing the fleece, I wrestled it over the foam and installed it in the dog bed. Here you can see the nice new cushion next to the old sad one:

DogBedCushion-6

And Molly agreed to model for me. She’s the cutest!

DogBedCushion-9 DogBedCushion-8 DogBedCushion-7

DCIM100GOPRO

Checking out the new Southern Walnut Creek Trail

I don’t typically post about biking when I’m not training for a Bike MS event, but I still ride multiple times a week. This weekend I decided to incorporate the new Southern Walnut Creek Trail into my route, which just opened. It’s a paved 7 mile long hike and bike trail, one of a few such projects the city is working on right now, which includes the Northern Walnut Creek Trail very close to my house. I think the grand vision is for these two trail systems to connect, but it’s not funded or designed yet. 

I rode to the southern end of the trail, which begins in Govalle park, to get on the trail. It was strange – the trail head wasn’t marked at all and you couldn’t even see it from the street. It was marked by one small green bicycle sign once you were in the small park.

DCIM100GOPRO

 

The trail is unfortunately paved like a sidewalk – cracks and all – and that doesn’t make for very smooth riding on a road bike. Kathunk, kathunk, kathunk… It was worse in some places than others.

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The trail has many bridges and you ride along the creek in a number of places.

DCIM100GOPRO

And you go under some bridges, including this railroad bridge:

DCIM100GOPRO

 

 

The trail is nice and shaded in some parts, more so on the southern section of the trail. The northern end gets quite sunny.

DCIM100GOPRO

 

The trail was quite overgrown by vegetation in parts, leaving only about half of the path actually rideable. A number of places had lots of dirt and sand on the concrete, making for a slippery ride. I assume the city will soon clean those places up and maintain the trail for maximum use. Construction has only recently ended.

DCIM100GOPRO

The trail goes into Walter E Long park, but I turned off before then because I wasn’t sure where it went after that. Looking closer at the Walnut Creek Trail system page, I see that the Manor trail actually is partially constructed, so I could have ridden that trail instead of riding along the busy Decker lane. Next time!