Saturday, December 10, 2011

No Self-Immolation... And Bread Recipes!

Okay... On the off-chance that anybody is actually *reading* this blog, I figured I'd better post a quick ("Yeah, right!") update and let ya'all know I'm still alive!

I successfully baked a loaf of bread *and* completed a bisque-firing. And I didn't burn the house down! (Yay me!).

The Electrician came out on Thursday to check on the Lights/Fan Situation (Yay!).

He wandered out back to the Shack while I ran out to the car to pull-out my new light fixture. I headed out to the Studio and yammered to him about what-happened, what-I-did, and yada-yada.

"I was out here yesterday afternoon and everything was working just fine. Went back in the house, came out 20 minutes later, flipped the switch and the light fixture just died! No warning at all" blah-blah-blah "I figured it was a bum fixture, so I bought this new one - and was gonna have my neighbor install or cannibalize it." yada-yada "But when I noticed the fan wasn't working, and since they're both on the same switch, I figured it was something worse. I flipped all the breakers and they still don't work..."

"Oh, and, by the way - Hubbie-the-Engineer - really wants to know the reason for the failure because, well, he's an Engineer..."

Electrician then points out that the fan is just fine.


He flipped the switch and the fan came on - Just Like That!

"No way!!! I *swear* it wasn't working last night!!!"

"Well, was it below 50*?"

"Ohhhhhh sh*t!"

Turns out, the fan (which is an attic ventilation fan) has an integrated thermostat and it won't kick on in cold weather.

So now I feel like a complete dumb-ass!

He offered to re-wire it to bypass the thermostat and hard-wire it to the switch (which really is better. Although - to be honest - by the time the kiln gets hot enough to burn off any toxic gasses, the room is probably gonna be well over 50* - nevertheless....)

Anyway - My first hypothesis (Bum Light Fixture) turned out to be true and he replaced it for me. The Bad News was: Since I provided the fixture, it really wasn't covered under *his* warranty, so it cost me $95.00 for a Service Call.

Fair 'nuff. It really wasn't his fault the light fixture failed. Besides, it's a small price to pay for Peace of Mind, I think......

Annnnd.... On the Plus Side: While the Electrician was working out in the Shack, our maid was cleaning INSIDE the house, so I took that opportunity to *finally* rip out my 'Mater Plants (filled the ENTIRE green-bin!). I felt bad - especially since I *did* manage to find appx 3 'maters that were desperately trying to ripen (Yes, I brought 'em into the house to let 'em "finish!"). But - since temps are consistently dipping into the 30's at night now - it is definitely "time" to say farewell to the Summer Garden and think about planting my cool-season seedlings (that are *definitely* ready to be planted!)...

* * * * *

The Bisque-firing went well. Only one fatality. Lesson Learned: Don't "stack" LUG bisqueware. LUG = Liquid Underglaze. When it heats up, it can "impart" it's color onto other plain-white pieces and/or it can stick together (when LUG is stacked on top of LUG). So I did lose one Christmas Ornament (really, no big deal)...

Since then, I've done a whole lot of glazing and I'm now doing a Cone 5 firing. I'll do another one immediately after that (since you can't "stack" glaze-ware - at all!). I am totally digging my "Remote Thermometer" Skype Action (Kiln is up to 1735* - even as I type!). Firing should complete in the early evening and, hopefully, I can unload it tomorrow...

And tomorrow, I am going to Bay Area Glass Institute to blow-glass and make a Christmas Ornament. That should be Super-Duper Cool, I hope!

Heck, maybe I'll even post some pictures!

* * * * *
Lastly, I promised you some bread recipes (unfortunately, no pictures).

I don't think I can rightfully claim these as my own. Sometimes, when I make stuff, I email the recipe to myself and kinda forget to indicate *where* I found the recipe. Obviously, if I know WHO to credit, I post the link here. In this case, these are OLD recipes and I don't know who to credit. Nevertheless, they're good enough to share, so here goes:

Honey Oat & Sunflower Bread
  • 1 C + 2 TBS Water (appx 70-80*)
  • 1/4 C Honey
  • 2 TBS melted butter
  • 1-1/2 tsp Salt
  • 1/2 C Quick-Cook Oats (just plain ol' Quaker Oats work just fine - just not the "Instant Oatmeal")
  • 2-1/2 C Bread Flour
  • 1/2 C Wheat Flour
  • 2 TBS Nonfat Dry Milk
  • 2-1/4 tsp Yeast (make sure it's not expired!!!)
  • 1/2 C Roasted, Salted Sunflower Seeds

Dump the ingredients, in that order, into your Bread Machine. Set it for a "Standard" Loaf, and let 'er rip!

Makes a 1-1/2 lb loaf of "pretty dense" but hearty and tasty bread...

If dense, chewy bread isn't your thing (and - since I was having such lousy luck with the previous recipe - what-with the bread-machine attempting suicide and all...), I offer up a lighter (but still very tasty) alternative:

Potato Bread
  • 3/4 C Milk (I just used 2%)
  • 1/2 C Lukewarm Water (I went a tad warmer than 70-80* because the milk was cold)
  • 2 TBS Melted Butter
  • 1-1/2 tsp Salt
  • 3 C Bread Flour
  • 1/2 C Potato Buds (I used some kinda "Yukon Gold Buttery Flavor" krep - but pretty-much any kinda dried "instant" potato oughtta work. Heck, I might try "Garlic Mashed" at some point, and maybe add some whole garlic cloves to the loaf - just to get all CRAZY)
  • 1 TBS Granulated Sugar
  • 2-1/4 tsp Yeast
Again, dump everything in the bread machine, in that order, and hit the button (I love my bread-machine!!!). This made a very nice, light(er), soft-ish bread that was good for making sandwiches.

This is another 1-1/2 lb loaf...

Oh Gawd - I made a FANTASTIC Chicken Salad that makes a fan-freaking-tastic sandwich. Think that one's worthy of a separate post...

Okay, still on the subject of bread, I decided to Create My Own Recipe today - and it's in the machine now. I kinda "started" with the Honey-Oat-Sunflower recipe, but modified the hell out of it so I can call it My Own!

QT's Cranberry Nut Bread:

  • 1-1/4 C Water
  • 1/4 C Agave Nectar
  • 2 TBS Melted Butter
  • 1-1/2 tsp Salt
  • 1/2 C Quick-Cook (but not "Instant") Oats
  • 2-1/2 C Bread Flour
  • 1/2 C Wheat Flour
  • 2 TBS Nonfat Dry Milk
  • 2-1/4 tsp Yeast
  • 1/2 C Chopped Walnuts
  • 1/2 C Craisins
  • Zest from one Orange
Dump everything in, as described above. Although - I think it might be better to hold-off on adding the Walnuts, Craisins and Orange Zest until your machine gives you the "Add-Extra-Ingredients-Now" Beep. My machine actually does have that feature - but I didn't avail myself of it. Seems like the machine had a very tough time incorporating ALL of the ingredients during the initial knead (in fact, I had to pull the plug on it, do a little hand-kneading, then re-start it).

I suspect this is gonna end up being more like a 2# loaf (and my measurements of Walnuts and Craisin quantities are probably lower than "actual").

It's on it's second "rise" right now. I'll have to report back on the final outcome. But I suspect it's gonna be pretty tasty! (at least it smells DAMN good!)

Okay, I lied. Here is ONE picture - of the loaf as it finished in the Bread Machine!

And I can Officially Confirm that it is "Delicious!" Yes, it is dense, but it definitely is GOOD! Not too sweet. I wouldn't classify it as a "Dessert Bread" - but it's definitely sweeter than sandwich bread. I'll be very interested to try it, as toast, with my fresh (and Super-Tart) Cranberry-Orange Marmalade tomorrow.

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