This bread is easy enough and delicious enough to make and eat every day!! I know you won’t, and I won’t even go there either, but really it’s a great recipe to have on hand to round out a hot meal. It takes just minutes to throw together, about 45 minutes in the oven and a little rest while you are finishing the rest of the meal. Just thinking about it makes my mouth water….homemade bread in all it’s lovely whiteness (more about that later)…
I made this recipe for Irish soda bread for our St. Patrick’s Day meal, fitting, eh? I found the recipe in my rusty trusty Fannie Farmer Baking Book (the one I was going to throw out when somehow it made it’s way into my house, but then I decided to use it to press flowers in, then finally when I actually started cooking and baking, realized that it contained some great recipes and instructions! Now it’s my go-to for baking. Funny how things work out….) Here are the photos, then I’ll add the recipe.
It’s such a gorgeously rustic looking bread! I love the texture, color and the big cross in the center. Oh, and the smell while it bakes, and did I mention that it was easy? And only takes 4 ingredients! F.O.U.R. Having said that, I didn’t actually have all of the ingredients on hand….
I had spent my time working on roasted cabbage and an “Irish” stew variation (made with what I had on hand: sausage, potatoes, onions and carrots…but I guess that that’s fairly authentic anyways). So I go to bake up some Irish soda bread, like I did last year. I measured out the dry ingredients and opened the fridge. I knew that I didn’t have buttermilk, so I would just use milk and vinegar or lime juice….but no milk!!! I dashed to the computer and typed in “substitutions for buttermilk” and found a great link here, so I found out that I could use yogurt as a substitute! Yay, I had lots of greek yogurt!
Here’s a close-up of the texture (I was eating the leftover bread with balsamic vinegar and olive oil as a snack…sooooo good!) Remember, this was made with yogurt, and no extra fat! A very white color and great taste, and it must have a lot of protein with 2 cups of greek yogurt!! Now on to the recipe….
Irish Soda Bread
(an authentic recipe from The Fannie Farmer Baking Book by Marion Cunningham, 1984)
4 cups all purpose flour
1 and 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 cups buttermilk (or 2 tbsp. vinegar in milk to make 2 cups OR 2 cups of plain greek yogurt)
Preheat your oven to 3750 F. Grease a baking sheet or an 8-inch round pan…I used baking parchment on a cookie sheet. Add all the dry ingredients into a large bowl (flour, salt, baking soda) and mix them around. Add buttermilk and stir it up with a fork until it holds together in a rough mass. Since I was using thick yogurt, I actually had to add just a bit of water to the dough to make it mixable. Knead the dough a few times (I did this right in the bowl) then pat into about an 8 inch round mound on the sheet (or in the round pan). Using a sharp knife, slash a large X into the top of the dough, about 1/4 of an inch deep.
Bake for about 45 to 50 minutes, until it is nicely browned and the X has spread open. Transfer to a rack to cool for awhile, then wrap it in a slightly damp tea towel and let it rest, on the rack for about 8 hours. This recipe makes one round loaf, and it should be completely cool when you serve it. The rest time in a damp towel helps the crust to nicely soften up. We didn’t wait 8 hours, obviously, or it wouldn’t be such a quick bread!!
If you can whip this up right before you prepare the meal, bake it, then let it sit in the damp towel while you make the rest of the meal, it should be ready to be served when the meal is ready. Using the towel is a good way to store leftovers. This bread also makes great toast! I love it with balsamic vinegar and olive oil, or just plain with butter. This loaf was enough to go with 2 meals for the six of us! So thankful for our blessings!
(now I am craving some yummy bread….!)
An easy way for toddlers and preschoolers to celebrate Valentine’s Day! Pink dough to play with! Mix up a quick batch of pink colored dough and break out the heart cookie cutters! The recipe I used is at the end of the post. Here’s my nostalgic look back at my babies busy at work on their “Valentines”We’re going to make something!Squish that pinkness!The idea was to get them to make a Valentine on the table, then I would photograph it as their “valentines” for Daddy and Grandma and Grandpa.And that’s what we did.It was a lot of very pink fun! I had to play a bit, too….Here’s the recipe I use for play dough:
2 and 1/2 cups of white all purpose flour (I’ve tried it with whole wheat flour, and let’s just say…No!)
1 cup of salt (fine, not coarse)
2 small packages of Kool Aid (the ones without real sugar) this is optional. if you don’t have Kool Aid, then add food coloring
3 tsp. vegetable oil (canola oil is good)
2 cups of boiling water
Mix all the dry ingredients together, then add the boiling water. Stir it all together very well and turn out onto a surface where you can knead it a bit. It will be hot, so let it cool a bit before kneading. Then knead away until it becomes smooth. When it’s cool enough, the kids can start playing. As soon as it’s cool enough, either play with it or seal it in plastic bags so it doesn’t start drying out. This will last for quite awhile in a sealed bag. Note: the Kool Aid is just for easy color and aroma! We used cherry for Valentine’s day. If the kids love the smell so much that they taste it, it won’t hurt them at all, just a little salty. If there’s worry about the flour, then I’d say don’t add the Kool Aid and then it won’t smell appetizing enough for little ones to put into their mouths!
Fun for the kids to make, and the photos are easy to send to everyone online, no mess, no snail mail! 😉 Just digital cuteness from the kids! Happy ❤ weekend!
Time for a family movie night! We just had to get around to watching the Narnia movies sometime during our Narnian Christmas theme. Yes, it did start out as a November Narnia theme during the C.S. Lewis memorial week, but now it has transformed into a Narnian Christmas! The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe is the second book in the series, but the first movie (Disney version) that has come out in recent years, so we started with that one. I wanted the kids to enter into the land of Narnia to watch the movie. I’ve been thinking about this theme for awhile, and about ideas to do, so have been gathering a few props. But in the end, I had to throw this movie night together quickly because there happened to be a free, non-school-night that would work.
What images pop into your mind when you think of The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe? I guess those three things would be the first obvious ones, the Lion Aslan, the wardrobe full of fur coats which leads into Narnia, and the White Witch who has made it always winter and never Christmas in Narnia. And if you thought of something to eat…would it be the Turkish delight that tempts Edmund into betraying his siblings to the witch? How about that famous symbol, the lighted lamp post, where Lucy first meets the Faun, Mr. Tumnus, in the middle of a wintry wood.
It wasn’t too hard to find some of these things and to quickly decorate my room for movie night. I love the idea of the warm fur coats that the kids push through to get into the back of the wardrobe, and later borrow to wear in the wintry Narnia. Of course I dreamed of making wardrobe doors that would open up and lead into Narnia (I was just going to make them out of large cardboard boxes) but (also of course) I didn’t have time to make all of my ideas. So I passed on the wardrobe and just focused on pushing through the fur coats to get into the land beyond. No fur coats around here, so I used my faux-fur throw (the dark brown color was perfect). Here’s the simple how-to:Get a fur blanket and a tension rod, install the rod in the door frame and drape the blanket over it, that’s all!This is what the inside of the door looked like. The blanket was too heavy to cover the whole door, which would have been cool, but I didn’t have safety pins to pin it, and clothespins didn’t work, so just draped it hanging as long as I could. It gave the right effect, when each kid pushed past the fur “robe” and slipped into Narnia….To create an instant and easy forest did require one purchase. I found this canvas picture of an evergreen tree at IKEA. When I first saw them advertised, I thought that they were kind of strange, especially when I saw that ornaments were pinned on, as if it was a Christmas tree, but now I totally changed my mind and love my canvas tree picture! I scored this one in the As-is section for half-off, but here in Canada the regular price is about $14.50. It looked really big in my room, and only took 5 minutes to tack up on the wall, right along the edge of the ceiling, though it does have a sleeve at the top to run a rope or curtain rod through…It really gives the feel of being in a winter forest, though there isn’t actually snow in the picture. And in the process of setting up movie night, I found out that the tree glows in the dark!! How fun is that? Especially where the lamp post shines on it…Which brings us to the all-important lamp post (lamppost? lamp-post? I don’t know how to spell it…) which I wasn’t going to do without. Another IKEA hack!! I have a small Ikea lamp that cost about $7, it uses smaller round bulbs, so I just pulled off the shade and made a lantern-like top out of black cardstock (heavier than paper, lighter than card). Since I was rushed, I didn’t spend much time on it, and the post at the top is proportionally way too big, but “la idea es esa” you get the idea. I won’t leave the lamp post turned on for long, for fear it will burst into flame. It would probably be great with a night-light bulb in it, but oh well. The top is just a square of cardstock, creased cross-ways and basically just setting on, with 2 dots of glue. There are 4 kinda rectangle shapes glued to a paper circle at the bottom, just to give the illusion that it’s wider and solid at the bottom. And that was it, but kinda cute!It’s not at all sturdy, but fine for just a display. I’m sure there would be ways for making it last longer…oops, I forgot to take a before shot of the lamp….I draped a white sheet over the little bookcase (for snow) and set out a few things…. (hey, right when I typed that sentence out about snow, I remembered that I was going to throw white tissue paper on the floor, so that when you stepped “through the wardrobe” you would “crunch” on the snow!!! What a bummer I forgot!! That would have been super easy but really cool).
The craft store (Michaels) had a great plastic lion (used a 40% off coupon!) for Aslan, I really like the expression on his face. We had Susan and her horn from a McDonald’s meal from a long time ago….And of course, a box of Turkish delight! Didn’t have time to try making our own Turkish delight from this recipe from SprinkleBakes that I want to try, and I think (the adults) we were kinda tired of the real stuff anyways, so Henry picked up some of my favorite chocolates….yummy! That went over well! So the rest of the “decorations” were easy, just lots of comfy pillows, and a small white tree with white lights…I had wanted to make chocolate beaver lodges for dessert, but just let it go for another time… We all piled together and got comfy, ate pizza and our Turkish delight for dessert, and enjoyed the Narnia movie! Happy to report that a fun time was had by all. It helps to have heaps of snow outside in the freezing weather and early darkness to make you feel reallllly cozy! Hope this helps with some ideas for a family movie night for your family!
And back to Narnia! We’ve been up to some more DIY (do it yourself) Narnia theme stuff. I’m still here with the Magician’s Nephew. I wanted to include a photo of the book cover from the books that I grew up reading, since they seem a little rare. These ones were published in 1983 and were new when we were given a boxed set of the 7 books. I remember that I wasn’t allowed to read them right away, I had to wait till I was older (10, I think) and I used to gaze in longing at the box…which looked like this:
The illustrations for the covers and box were by Stephen Lavis. Here’s the cover of the first book, and this is how I will always think of it. I loved these illustrations, and like that each book had one of the symbols from that story on the front cover. This one has the apple…And about that apple…..I made some (totally awesome) caramel apples for one of our Narnia treats. For the special apple that Digory picked, I used some edible silver spray paint to make it shine. That caramel was so so very good, I feel like being greedy and not sharing the recipe for it, but that doesn’t seem quite right….so you can find it here. If you really want. But you might not want to because it’s really full of calories and sugar and all that stuff. But just in case you really want to, I will share. Oh wait, I can’t find the link, too bad. If you reallllly want it, beg and I’ll look for the recipe!! 😉Here’s the apple and a quote from the end of the book after he gets the apple and takes it home….And now for some DIY ideas from our display. Start with some empty bottles…This the quote that I wanted to portray in this part of the display in our living room…We had the bottles, now for the candles. All candles now-a-days seem to be dripless. So these ones needed some help. Now, I’ve always been careful about letting my kids play with fire, but I figured they are quite old enough now, and when I remember all the fun stuff Henry and I did playing with fire when we were kids….(we did live in cement houses), it seemed like a good time….Using other candles, we dripped wax down the sides of candles in bottles. Then we melted crayons to add some different colors. Then we lit crayons as torches. I heard that one crayon can burn for 30 minutes. You never know when that fact might come in handy.And then parts of supper (garbanzo beans) were roasted over the candles…It was all fun, and made a great ambiance for our supper, and later, a perfect Narnia display. Oh, here’s something that didn’t make it into the display though I really wanted one…a guinea pig!I came up with another fun display or diorama thing, with Fledge the winged horse and Digory when he’s in the walled garden. If you look closely you can see the witch hiding behind the tree with an apple in her hand, and the sleepy-looking bird in the tree. The cutouts look really cool in the bonsai tree, but the coolness doesn’t show up the in the photos! The lighting is so terrible today, a grey cold winter day…so photographing the tree felt impossible….these are the best photos I could get…
And this is what the gate at the walled garden said:A few more quotes from The Magician’s Nephew. Can you tell I’m having fun with this theme??
We’ve started a theme around here….a before-and-during Christmas theme. We don’t usually “do themes” for Christmas, other than Christmas, but I fixated on this idea for awhile and decided to go with it. (I was told that a theme was ok, as long as it’s not too girly!) To introduce the kids to my super idea, I made up a little guessing game. See if you can guess what our theme is…
The items are hidden in the basket and came out one by one….(I did it without the hints, and added those later)
I wanted to use a compass, but someone lost it for me, so I went with the spyglass.next…guessed yet?and the most obvious for last…My last clue was a chocolate bar called Big Turk…chocolate covered Turkish delight, but it was eaten so quickly that I didn’t get a photo of it!! And no, I still don’t really like Turkish delight, though some of the kids do. So did you guess our theme?
I thought my guessing game was a good idea, but of course things don’t usually work as planned….before I even opened the basket one of my dear children blurted out the theme. And didn’t even really give the other kids a chance to guess, just yelled “Narnia” every time something came out of the basket. That’s when I was getting them to explain exactly how each item went with the theme. And yes, the theme is Narnia!! At the end my dear child explained that I had already given away my idea weeks ago….hmmmm….I had forgotten that part! Oh well, it was kinda fun anyways….even with the spoilsport!And then there were cookies….to go with the theme…of course! What’s a theme without baking???!!!Words to get through the winter on…..”When Aslan bares his teeth, Winter meets it’s death”….that’s what is engraved on High King Peter’s sword. So this week we’ll be doing our Narnia theme, I’ve already got a few projects on the go! Can anyone tell me why this week, of all weeks, is the perfect time for a Narnia theme??? Hmmmm??? There’s a good reason 🙂
I love Snoopy and Charlie Brown and the Peanuts gang! I remember looking forward to watching their specials on TV when we were young. (I also love pumpkins) so it was easy to come up with the perfect theme for a fall birthday party for my son. I haven’t watched “It’s the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown!” for years, but I remember how Linus made me laugh, trying to wait all night in a pumpkin patch. So this party started with a little pumpkin patch. I had made some fondant pumpkins for cupcake toppers, and so there were still some just sitting around, waiting to form a pumpkin patch for Linus.Add in a “great pumpkin” and some more chipboard Peanuts characters (from last year’s kids’ Thanksgiving table)…..I had found some little packets of tissues with Snoopy on them, so they were a bit of a favor at each place….There were some other cute and fairly easy pumpkin ideas that were fast enough to put together for this party. My sister told me about using mandarin oranges as little pumpkins….Just peel them and add “stems” from celery, or in this case, stems from spinach leaves! And a bit of cilantro for leaves around the pumpkins. And then a jelly bean favor for each kid, this idea I found here on Parenting.com. I happened to have some red tulle (no orange!), so wrapped the orange jelly beans in it, then added pipe cleaner for a stem (and to hold the bag together) and some green curled ribbon for the tendrils. Didn’t take long to put together.The orange tablecloth and birthday banner I had saved from last year’s Garfield party…My preschool nephews were visiting, so I was trying to think of ideas that they could help out with for this party….baking!! Let’s make some birthday brownies!! (from a box!!)You could always add a pumpkin puree swirl into the chocolate brownies, that would be finger lickin’ good! (or pumpkin and cream cheese!! ahhhh!) Another idea that turned out great to do with the little kids was to make a birthday poster. First I drew a picture of Snoopy with a Sharpee marker on posterboard, then covered it up with white paper and painter’s tape. Then let the kids at it with paint daubers (bingo dabbers?)A fun idea even the youngest can help with!After painting is dry, peel off the tape to reveal….Snoopy!Then an older kid colored the words in with black marker so they’d stand out a bit. Posters, bday banner, favors, centerpiece, check!!….bring on the food and the party!
A happy pumpkin with a jack-o-lantern face from Papa Murphy’s pizza…..it’s the season for those, and they were just right for our pumpkin theme. We love Papa Murphy’s pick up and bake at home pizzas!Time for pizza!Pumpkins! (oops, that’s from something else!)Linus’s pumpkin patch moves over to the birthday brownies….Make a wish….Happy birthday! Check out some more pumpkin ideas…Here are some more pumpkin food ideas that I’ve worked on in the last few days, and they’d be perfect for a Charlie Brown pumpkin theme. My mom told me about some cute pumpkin cheese-balls that she saw, so I tried them out….How to: mix up softened cream cheese with spices (garlic, onion, paprika, pepper, season salt, or whatever you like) and some grated cheddar or mozzarella cheese. I also added chopped sun dried tomatoes. Let sit for a few moments in the refrigerator to harden a bit, then pull it out, divide into two chunks, cover with plastic wrap and shape into 2 balls. On top of the plastic wrap, mark the lines on the pumpkin with a back of a knife. Return to fridge. Later, before serving, take off the plastic and roll the cheese-balls in crushed nacho cheese tortilla chips (Doritos!) and add the stems from some bell peppers.The stems were easy to cut out….cut out from the pepper, along with the seeds, then cut right at the base of the stem, it kind of just popped off….crushed Doritos…I added paprika, but don’t do that, it dulled the color….When you press in the stem, it helps squash it into a pumpkin shape…I took a knife and re-made some of the indentations on the sides….Such cute, tasty little guys!And one last pumpkin idea….we just loved this one! I found a video on how to make these adorable pumpkin buns, by Hani, from Haniela’s. She has all sorts of great how-to videos for lots of yummy eats! She made these in just an hour. My first time to try took close to an hour and a half, but the next time was faster….and really, 35 minutes of that time is letting the buns rise, so really they’re pretty quick to make! And so adorably pumpkiny!! (Click on the link above for her video and recipe! you can do it!) You can make large ones for hamburger buns, how fun is that??Make the dough and cut….Let rise, add egg wash and sesame seeds, Bake for about 12 minutes…Add a stem and there you go!! I didn’t have the big pretzel sticks, so used several small skinny ones. I’ve also seen photos with pecans as stems!I just love those pumpkins!! All pumpkins, I guess. We had a lovely day out at a pumpkin (and everything else) farm and I had such a great time! Love photographing pumpkins!Hope you got some ideas for your next fall party…oh, I just saw that It’s the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown is on TV tonight….pumpkin memories!! 😉
Along with being the Cinco de Mayo, today is also a fun festival in Japan, Children’s Day! Originally it was called Boy’s Day, celebrated on the 5th day of the 5th month, and Girl’s Day being the 3rd day of the 3rd month, but more recently the 5th of May has been remade as Children’s Day to celebrate all children.
I happened upon this fun and cute craft on Squirrelly Minds that is perfect for today! How to make Japanese flying carp streamers, which is the traditional symbol for this day…a carp for each boy of the house! (Now I assume that it would be a carp for each child!) I have been saving up toilet paper rolls for the last few days so we can try our hand at these cute crafts.
These photos are reposted with the permission of Tan from Squirrelly Minds and here’s the link to her blog with the photo tutorial on how to make these colorful carp! Aren’t they the cutest things? Thank you Tan!!
I had thought we would make these Japanese carp yesterday, but while we were looking at her site, we also found out that there is a Kodomo-no-hi celebration at the Japanese Gardens near where we live, so have decided to check that out! There will be carp and kite making for the kids, stories and other fun stuff! I’ll post a photo of our Japanese inspired creative efforts later!! It is very early spring here, with yesterday being the first really really warm day of the season….there are still patches of snow around and yesterday I saw a pond still mostly covered in ice!! It has been a long long winter this year….and finally it feels like spring!! Nice weather to fly a kite or a carp!!
Yesterday we had a little Cinco de Mayo lunch at our house, though I made Guatemalan food! (of course!) Last year I did a bit more Cinco de Mayo fun stuff, which you can see here: cinco de mayo.
Have a happy Children’s Day and Cinco de Mayo 🙂