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 🙂
Flashes of genius happen at the strangest times. Like when you are shredding documents. And then emptying the shredder. And you think, “this shredded paper is so cool, what could we make out of it??” How about a Piñata? A mini piñata that won’t take much time to make. A recycled earth-friendly piñata. Sounds good to me, I say to myself.
First of all, I collected all the kids’ field trip forms that are always sitting around cluttering up my counter….they are usually printed on brightly colored paper….perfect for a cinco de mayo type piñata. I mentioned that I had already emptied the shredder, so then my daughter had a fun time feeding in all the colored paper that I had decided to recycle. Now empty the shredder again…
I’d be happy to just have the shreds sitting around in a jar to decorate….not everyone’s idea of glamorous decor….Find some little boxes to use, and some tape and something to hang the thing with…like string or ribbon…we found a box from icing colors, so even the box looked colorful….Now would be a good time to fill the box with candy….if you want to!! Then knot a length of string and secure it in the corner of the box, then fold the flaps down to hold the string in place and tape it all closed. Can you see the loop of string coming out of the corner?Cover one side of the box with glue, plain old white school glue…
Grab a small handful of the shredded paper and start sticking it on! Don’t be a perfectionist!Glue paper on another side, doesn’t really matter what order you do the sides in!My 6 year old daughter and I each made one…Seriously, it took about 10 minutes to make one of these little guys!
You just can’t get enough of that cute Kitty, I know! So I thought I’d post just one more party food idea for your next Hello Kitty party. This one turned out great and is super yummy, I promise!
One of our favorite “salads” is more like a dessert, I’m afraid. It’s a marshmallow-fruit-whipped cream salad of yumminess…ahhhh. Very easy, and it adapted itself perfectly to this Hello Kitty idea. This food project needs to be made a day before your party.
Start out with a clean fishbowl. You could call it a salad bowl, but it’s really a fishbowl…but ours has never even seen a fin. (I bought it at Michael’s arts and crafts store). I used one package of mini marshmallows for this recipe. It’s not really a recipe, just kind of a throwing-together of ingredients. I don’t think there’s really anything that you could do to mess this one up!
First whip up some whipping cream…the real stuff!! (with a bit of sugar and vanilla, nice and thickly whipped) Like maybe about two cups. (Or more!) In a very large separate bowl, mix about half a bag of mini marshmallows and about half of the whipped cream. It should be a thick mixture, not runny at all. Now with a big spoon, start spooning this into the fishbowl, and coating the sides of the bowl, like this…This is so that Hello Kitty will have a nice smooth-looking face, instead of grape “beauty marks or warts” on her face! Coating the sides of the bowl with the marshmallow/whipped cream mixture is quite easy. Try to make it as thin as possible, so you have some more mallow for the salad!
Now to finish the salad: mix up the rest of the marshmallows with the whipped cream. There’s a healthy short cut you can do here. I added in plain greek yoghurt and/or plain vanilla yogurt instead of some of the whipped cream. It works great….really, I think this salad could be made with only yogurt and no cream and it would be just great! But I don’t think cutting out the marshmallows is an option!
Now cut up and de-seed some grapes. A big bunch of grapes. We like using the red grapes. Make sure each grape is cut at least in half! Add these to the mix in the big bowl. Add some mandarin orange segments (maybe a can-ful or two). (I didn’t have any, but you can add a can of pineapple chunks, too). You kind of add what you have on hand, fruit wise. Now it’s a fruity marshmallowy salad. To give it a nice nutty crunch, add some toasted almonds now (might be a good idea to have these toasted before you start making the salad).
Almonds: to peel whole almonds, put them in a bowl and pour boiling water over them. Let sit for a few minutes, then start popping the skins off them…that’s the fun part that kids usually like helping with! After they are all peeled, toast them in an oven or in a skillet on top of the stove….just a warm toasty brown, don’t let them burn!! When they are cool, add them to the salad.
That’s about it for the fruit salad! Mix it all gently together and spoon it into the fishbowl. It made just enough to almost fill it. Now cover and refrigerate it. The next day, right before the party, you can add the face and bow. The bow was made from a paper napkin/serviette. Cut a strip off one side, gather the large rectangle up, then use the strip to fasten around the middle and tape together. Use a small piece of tape to stick it to one side of the bowl.
For the face: melt a couple of cocoa candy melts (I use Wilton’s), or a few spoonfuls of chocolate chips. Put into a plastic baggie and snip a tiny piece of the corner off so you can pipe the chocolate out there. The fruit bowl is nice and cold so the chocolate will set up quickly. Pipe the whiskers on first, then the eyes and nose….I think the eyes should have been down a bit….oh well, it took just a minute to do right before the party started. If you mess up, you can just scrape it off and start again. I found that the chocolate stayed on perfectly for a long time….the only problem was that the kids wanted to pick it off and eat it!!
Right before eating time at the party, you can gently mix the salad up, or even just mix it up as you serve it…so that there is fruit throughout the whole salad. Mmmm, love this salad!! And the Kitty, too! I was especially pleased that this was my very own little idea…I didn’t “find it on Pinterest” like most of my ideas, haha!!