Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Argh! Pirate Costume

This year my son wanted to be a pirate for halloween and I was feeling particularly ambitious and thought I could actually make the entire costume myself. Let me put it out there that I am a novice sewer. I've never made a jacket or pants or anything similar, but somehow I thought that I was crafty enough to come up with something half decent that didn't cost an arm and a leg. In the end I got a pirate dress up costume for the hat and sword. I was going to get some dress up things for Christmas, so it worked out. Plus they were 50% off. I tried to make a hat, but it didn't come out so good. 

I started with the pants. I got some fabric from a friend's yard sale. I knew they would be a little short, but it's a halloween costume and I wasn't that worried about it. I followed a tutorial for pj pants and they were super easy and done in less than two hours start to finish. I had some elastic from another project laying around that I was able to use.

The jacket proved to be a bit more complicated and a few times I thought I was in way over my head. I started with one of my son's shirts as a pattern and went from there. I learned some things along the way, such as how to do a collar. When you have no idea what you are doing, it can be daunting. Plus I was using some felt that I got on sale, so I wasn't going to line it. I added some trim that I had lying around and some buttons from last years costume. (I needed gold buttons and it was cheaper to buy a men's jacket from a thrift store than to actually buy gold buttons.) Sorry for the bad iphone pics.

Fluffy Homemade Sandwich Bread

This recipe was pretty good, but I still wanted fluffier bread. 

For the last several years I've been eating fairly clean. Very little processed food, lots of veggies and fruits, whole grains and not a whole lot of meat. I've never been much of a meat eater, though. Mostly I use the theory that if it's not an ingredient in my cabinet or readily available, then I probably shouldn't eat it. I cut fast food out of my diet when I was in my 20's and I haven't touched a soda in almost eight years. That being said, I do like to cut loose on desserts now and again.

This is the bread I used in this recipe. So good and it makes your house smell delicious. 

Cutting out processed foods is really hard sometimes. It's really easy to pick up a pre-made item in the frozen section or just grab a loaf of bread, until you read the ingredients. I'm one o f those people that reads the list of ingredients of everything I buy. What ingredients should be in bread? Flour, salt, sugar or honey, yeast, milk or water and that's about it unless you add a few other good for you ingredients.

This is one of the earlier recipes that I tried with oats and sesame seeds on top. 

I've been on a quest to find really good sandwich bread for toast, garlic bread and of course sandwiches. I've made at least 20 loaves in the past few months with lots of different recipes. While they've all tasted good, some have been like bricks. I like the ones with milk or powered milk. I'm no bread expert by any means, but I think I've come up with the perfect recipe for what I'm looking. It's moist, fluffy, perfect for toasting or just slicing and eating.

My mom thought my bread was so good, I should give it as a thank you gift.

It takes about 5 minutes to make, an hour for proofing and 30 minutes to bake. I use rapid rise or bread machine yeast. I'm too impatient for the regular yeast. I like to make two or even three loaves in a day. It freezes really well, but never seems to last very long here.

3  to 3 1/4 c flour (my favorite is King Arthur)
1 -1/4 c milk warmed to about 120 degrees
3 T butter
2 -1/4 tsp yeast or 1 pkg
1 T honey
1 tsp salt
4 T ground flax seeds (optional)

Warm the milk and butter to 120 degrees. (For me I discovered this was two minutes in the microwave.) If you don't have a thermometer, it's like bath water, not to hot, but hotter than lukewarm.
Stir in the honey until dissolved, then stir in the yeast. Cover with a kitchen towel and let it work it's magic for about 5 minutes.

Put your dry ingredients in a bowl or mixer. Add the wet to the dry until combined.

Scoop out the dough and put into a lightly greased bowl. Cover with a towel and let sit for 30 minutes.

Punch down the dough form it into a loaf and put into a lightly greased loaf pan. Let rise for another 30 minutes.

Bake in a 350 degree oven for 27 - 30 minutes.

Remove from oven and let sit about 10 minutes before turning it out on a cookie sheet for further cooling.


Tips and Tricks
So what does it mean 3 to 3 1/4 cups flour? The humidity that day really effects the outcome of your bread. If it's really humid out, you'll need more flour, less humid, less flour. I've made two loaves in one day with different amounts of flour and they both turned out great. The wetter one was just a bit harder to get out of the mixing bowl.

Use well oiled hands and the dough won't stick to you.

Instead of using softened butter, I just put it straight out of the fridge in the milk and put it in the microwave.

Why ground flax seeds? First off you have to grind them to get the oils from the seeds. The oils contain loads of omega 3's and fiber, plus it's believed in the prevention of certain kinds cancer. Originally my eye doctor told me to use flax seed oil as a supplement to help with my dry eyes over four years ago and it helped tremendously. I like to add it to foods when I can...smoothies, granola, spaghetti sauce, etc.

If your bread seems to get too brown on top, tent a piece of foil on top. Do not undercook it! My oven is a little finicky, so 27 minutes is perfect for it.

Wash your dirty stuff right away or at least soak it. Dried bread dough is like super glue.