Green Grass and Rainbows

It's going to be a busy day today. There's a little housework to do, but mainly, I'll be cooking for our camping trip this weekend. There's steak marinade to make, and I'll be adding a crust to some pot pies I took out of the freezer. Also, I'm trying a new recipe for some giant stuffed pasta shells. They're stuffed with spinach and ricotta cheese...a sort of vegetarian variety of the stuffed pasta shells I've made before. Usually I make a lasagna when we go camping, but we just had that last time out, and so something different seemed like a good idea. It's a good dish for camping because I can make it ahead and then just heat it up. Heat and eat is always appreciated...on the other hand, Hubby BBQ dishes also work well...thus, the marinade for the steaks.

So I promised I'd report back on the bread. Here's how it looks on the inside.

Because it's intended to be a sandwich bread, it has a fairly dense crumb in comparison to other artisan sourdough breads. It's made with a whole wheat starter, white whole wheat flour, regular bread flour, and pumpernickel flour. There's a bitterness associated with the pumpernickel flour that I can taste, and I'm not a big fan of that. Nevertheless, it was delicious toasted with jam and butta this morning.

Even with getting a haircut and making bagel dough yesterday, I had several hours for sewing. The hand is finished now.

From there, I finished up the bottom portion of the snake. I'll be giving him an eye eventually.

And here's where I left it for the day. 

If you look at that image above, you can see the largest sections that extend diagonally from lower left to upper right. There is one above the hand that is all background fabrics. I've finished the next one down, and now I'm working my way across the one below that. When all the sections are finished, I'll sew them together on the longest seams.

The little OshKosh overalls I purchased for their labels and hardware arrived in yesterday's mail. Let me tell you...overalls on the floor are every bit as enticing as a quilt on the floor.

Whoa, Smitty. What is this? It's diffurent from those other beds Mom lays down fur us.

 I'm not sure, Sadie. I've heard about these...but I've never seen one in purrson. A furriend of mine told me they sometimes come with tiny humans in them, and that is never a good thing fur cats. Appurroach with extreme purrudence.

Okay, Sadie...I think it's safe. I purrsume Mom put this here fur us to nap on.

The sun is shining today, and we haven't seen the sun for quite some time...unless there was snow on the ground simultaneously. Seeing green grass and sunshine is quite a spectacle. As the storm moved off yesterday, the skies were dramatic.

We had one of the first rainbows of the season, and it was a full-sky arch.

This morning I baked off the bagels. These are all plain. Mike can't tolerate things like poppy seeds or sesame seeds, and so I've been topping them with onion. The topping tends to fall off into the workings of the toaster, however, and it makes a big mess. Plain seems the best way to go. 

You can see that the ones in the upper left corner are browned and they've risen nicely. The others deflated when they were boiled. I'm trying to figure out what causes this, and no explanation I've read really suffices since they were all handled exactly the same. It doesn't affect the taste one iota, and so I'm only curious in a baking self-improvement sort of way. One idea I have is that there is a chemical reaction going on in the water. I'm using an aluminum pot and there is a tablespoon of baking soda in the water (aids in browning). The first ones into the water deflated more than the latter ones. As they are boiled, the water becomes foamier and foamier. (I can only fit three at a time.) I'm assuming it's something that comes off the bagel and into the water that prevents the deflating. Next time, I'm going to try boiling them in my enameled Dutch oven to see if it makes any difference.

The one in the lower right stuck to the side of the boiling pot before hitting the water, and it got stretched out of shape as I pulled it away. I ate that one right away to hide the evidence. No one will ever know, assuming you don't tell anyone. (Zips lips tightly shut.)

Also yesterday, I made some progress on Millicent. She's been pretty much neglected for the past week or so. I'm hoping to get her finished within the next couple of days.

When she's finished, I can get back to the Hocuspocusville block I was working on.

We're taking off on our camping trip tomorrow, and I'll leave it as I did last time. My laptop is tagging along, and if there's anything to tell you, I'll get on and write a blog post. If not, then I'll be right back here next Tuesday morning. In between we're hoping for at least one good day of weather on our three-day trip. The rest of the time we'll relax, eat, sleep, stitch, and I'm going to take along my scrub jay photograph and try to draw out a pattern a la the Ruth McDowell method. 

Sewing these while traveling isn't a good plan since they require a bit of room to spread out. On the other hand, drawing the pattern is an excellent camping project. Ann Shaw gave me a good place to start when I was at her class last week, and so I think I can take it from here. I'm kind of excited to give this a try while the technique is still fresh in my feeble mind.

11 comments from clever and witty friends:

DeeDee said...

First, now I want toast with jam and butter. But only if it's yummy home made bread. Second, the piecing on the picture quilt is really coming along. You have a great eye. Third, I hope there is something for you to blog about while you're camping. I love reading your blog!

sfnutcase said...

Hi Barbra. I'm a long time fan and lurker at your blog. I love watching the development of all your projects. I don't know if you noticed but the hand holding the snake seems to have 5 fingers and no thumb or maybe I'm seeing it wrong. Anyway, have fun on your trip and stay warm. Mary Jane

Lynette said...

Have fun camping! That is weird about the bagels. Love the progress on your brother. The hand in the pocket! Such a casual spot in the project, but something about it just turned out superb.

claudia said...

Your brother quilt is really coming to life. It looks great!
Isn't the sun delicious? We had cloudy grey skies all day yesterday, today the sun has been out so far. I'm loving it. (It's still pretty chilly though)
It will be great to watch the progression of the bird photograph too!

Brown Family said...

THe bread looks good as so the bagels. After working at the quilt show four days last weekend and 2to days at the Bernina shop sewing off school machines, I have not done any hand work and only sewn on the Mini Blocks. They were fun, but I am not happy with how they came out. I will have to make them again, later on.

Dana Gaffney said...

The bread looks beautiful and the overalls look like they could be a perfect fit for Smitty is there was a tail hole and you were willing to get torn up, he'd be adorable. I always eat the evidence when baking goes bad, we have our reputations.

Kate said...

Love the quilt of your brother, it's coming together very nicely. I asked the resident bread baker about your deflated bagels. All he could think of was maybe your yeast wasn't active enough. The boiling in water is supposed to further expand the CO2 created by the yeast, if you didn't have enough CO2 in the bagel to start with, then they wouldn't expand very much. They still look very pretty. Love the rainbow shot. Enjoy your camping trip this weekend.

Wendy Tuma said...

I think I'd like to work alongside you while you do your quilt project, so I could learn the method. You are getting more confident as you go along; so fun to see! I'm not sure what happened with the bagels, but your theory makes sense to me. If you can't use seeds but would like a savory topping, how about Penzey's Sandwich Sprinkle (which also makes delicious croutons btw) or Penzey's Roasted Garlic? Just a thought. Enjoy your camping weekend!

Ioleen Kimmel said...

Your picture is looking amazing.

Dar said...

Your bread is beautiful and sounds very healthy to boot. You are doing such a fantastic job on your picture with snake. I'm amazed at how patient one must be. To get those angles just right after all the prep work and sewing them together is a labor of love. It is really neat how it's coming to life. I admire your skills at learning from class and being able to apply it so well. Your scrub jay will be a piece of cake now. Have fun on your camping trip.

quiltzyx said...

I think Smitty may just want his own pair of overalls now....

The sky shots are incredible! I think I have one photo somewhere, of a rainbow going down into the Grand Canyon. The one of the clearing clouds is spectacular!!