All in a Day's Work

There was a little of everything yesterday. Even housework got into the mix, which is usually last on the list of priorities. A sunny day is not meant to be wasted in the rainy Pacific Northwest, and it was lovely yesterday. Smitty and I got out and clipped the dead remains of last year's flowers from the hydrangeas. Also, I cut back my one rose. It has been neglected for years, mainly because the deer always eat it. Last year, we had some surprise blossoms, and they were so fragrant and beautiful. Here's an image from last year.

It was given to me by some neighbors for my 50th birthday, and it bloomed for the first few years. Then it was assaulted repeatedly by some hungry deer, and we didn't see any flowers for years. We were threatening to take it out when it started blooming again last year. Now it's cut back to four healthy canes, and we'll hope for another year of blooms.

Smitty and I were out for a little over an hour wandering hither and thither. Every once in a while I'd look up to see where he was. He was never far away. He loves being outside with us, and now, it's pretty much his only opportunity. When it was time to go back inside, I took a seat on one of the concrete steps out front and called him. He came running over and then this guy popped up from one of the evergreens right beside us.

I was surprised he would be so bold with Smitty sitting right there. He's been living in this same spot (assuming it's the same one) for a couple of years, and Smitty has nearly caught him for a nice lunch a couple of times. Yet, year after year, there he is back again in the spring. A little later in the day, I saw him from inside the house sitting on the whiskey barrel with one of the tulips he forgot to eat. I imagine he's contemplating the best approach for making a meal of this one.

Also, speaking of squirrels and bulb flowers, there's a hyacinth coming up in one of the whiskey barrels. I swear I did not plant this. One of the whiskey barrels keeps surprising and delighting us with mystery flowers that seem to come from nowhere. I can't get over my suspicion that the squirrels are planting them as penance for eating the tulip bulbs.

While we were outside, I had bread rising inside. It was a Muesli Toasting Bread. I can't remember who put me onto this recipe. If it was you, thank you. A thousand times, thank you, because this is one tasty bread. It was simple to make too. I've linked to the recipe back there. Look at how beautiful this was coming out of the oven.

There was more muesli than I could use in the bread, and so the extra was sprinkled over the top. It took every bit of restraint I could muster not to cut into it instantly, but I waited about 45 minutes before caving to my basest piggy instincts. Oh, my, my. Isn't that pretty?

It has muesli, of course, and dried apricots, dried cranberries, golden raisins, pistachios, and hazelnuts. Reading the recipe, you see that you start by adding a half cup each of milk and water to nearly a cup of muesli and then you let it sit for 15 minutes. Truth be told, I can't remember if I added the 1/2 cup water at the beginning. I got kind of hung up thinking about how much yeast is contained in a "packet" of yeast, and asked my friend Siri for help with that. In the meantime, I think I forgot to add the water to the muesli. When I mixed it up (using my standing mixer with a dough hook) the dough was very stiff and pulled away from the sides of the bowl right away. When that happened, I was pretty sure I'd forgotten the water, and so I added it after adding the first half of the fruit. Then, I thought the dough might be too wet, and maybe I'd added it after all. And I'm still not sure. By the time it was all mixed up, it was fairly wet and sticky, not dry and stiff. As it went through its rise and progressed, nothing seemed amiss, and so I went ahead and baked it. It's so tasty and nice.

I deviated from the recipe in a couple of ways...water aside. It tells you to dump the dough onto a floured surface and add the fruit, etc. I just did the whole thing in the mixer. Then, after the first rise, I was supposed to put it on a baking sheet, and I've given up on that method. My loaves always come out flat like pancakes, and so I used a glass loaf pan 9 x 5 inches. I sprayed a little oil into the pan to keep it from sticking, and then let it have another 30 minutes to rise before putting it into the oven. It baked at 430°F for 30 minutes, but then started looking a little too brown. I tented it with foil for the last five minutes (35 minutes total) and then put it on a rack for cooling. I let it rest on its side for 10 minutes before taking it out of the pan, but I think it would have been fine to take it out of the pan right away.

Okay, and so then I was ready to do some sewing. (How else could I resist cutting into the bread?) The last two of my five block allotment for Mulligan Stew are finished now. This one had a lot of little pieces, and I had to study it a bit to figure out how to sew it together.

After all that, this one was a breeze.

Today is an egg pick-up day, and I have to drive into downtown Portland to see my dermatologist for a routine visit. Dermatologist visits become routine when you're a fair-skinned person who spent way too much time in the sun as a youngster.

If there's time when I get home today, I'll start working on those eight nine-patch blocks for the Welcome Home small quilt mystery. How else am I going to avoid the Quiltmaker's Garden for yet another day?

12 comments from clever and witty friends:

Vroomans' Quilts said...

The bread looks wonderful - how yummy is that! We get surprise plantings too from the squirrels and chippers. Last year I had a number of sunflowers that came from chipmonk seed stashes - they were a pleasant reminder of my Dad.

claudia said...

The whole time you were typing about the bread I was saying yum! That looks so good! I bet the aroma is delightful too!

We spent a good part of the day outside too. We got the fence up around the garden plot, so dogs and horses won't ruin our vegetables. I'm trying to figure out how to go about keeping the crows out of there now. I do have a scarecrow head, (he's a leftover weird mask from Halloween years ago) I'm sure that will work for an hour, he's more for laughs than keeping birds out. I'll figure out what I'm going to do. The fence is high enough that I could put camo netting over it.

Okay, geez...I've gone on...

WoolenSails said...

My squirrels taunt me, they know I won't hurt them, lol.
I get surprise flowers too, think the birds are leaving new seeds after they eat mine;)
That bread looks delicious, I miss making yeast breads.


Denise :) said...

That squirrel is a chub! He'll make a fine meal for Smitty! Your bread looked absolutely delicious -- really very pretty! It cracks me up how the book makes you work for the "piecing" of the blocks ... you'll have invested some real blood, sweat and tears into that "Mulligan Stew" when it's done. I make regular visits to the derm, too. Same thing. Fairer than fair. Stupid in the sun when young. Erg. Hope it's a good, favorable visit! :)

Brown Family said...

THe bread looks yummy! Glad you got your 5 blocks completed!

Dana Gaffney said...

How nice that the squirrels are planting bulbs for you, I think that's a fair trade. I found peanuts planted in one of my pots along with old iguana eggs, nothing beautiful.

Wendy Tuma said...

I'm surprised Smitty didn't go after that squirrel, being so close! He's a cheeky one, that squirrel. Yikes, that first hobo block looks like it was work, but you did it so perfectly. Glad to know someone else has denial tactics when working on a project that's not so fun. :-)

Dar said...

Your bread looks soooo good. I'm going to have to go back through your posts to find the recipe. I just bought some muesli recently and this would be a great way to use it. I can't believe that squirrel was so friendly and didn't run when he saw Smitty. Maybe he was a baby and didn't know any better. :)

Kate said...

The bread looks very yummy! It's very pretty too, like one of those foody photos you see in the magazines. Sounds like you had a great day, a walk, a bake and a sew.

quiltzyx said...

That squirrel sure has a bunch o' moxey for sure! Maybe he thinks he's a cat too. More pretty flowers. Lots of stuff blooming down here too, all over the place.

The Mulligan Stew blocks came out great. And see how smart you are, figuring out how to sew them up!! Good job Barbara!

I like the looks of your muesli bread even better than where you got the recipe! Not that I would turn down either of them...

Lynette said...

You got some great shots of that little guy. :D That one Mulligan Stew block looks like it'd fit right in with a Dear Jane set! (all those little pieces)

Lyndsey said...

That bread sure looks good, so good in fact I'm going to have a go at making it. Hope it comes out a well as yours has.