Sourdough Pretzel Rolls

A few years ago my husband found a recipe for pretzel rolls.  It is made with conventional yeast, however, it is a relatively simple recipe.  Tonight, my youngest was raging on how her lunches were always the same things…. and it was making her lunch box smell like hummus, peppers and lunch meat…  She could not articulate what she wanted instead, just something new and different.  (I have to admit that I have a hard time with this as I ate PB & J sandwiches everyday for my entire life… and she only has school 2 days a week.)  However, when you are a sensory, sensitive kid, it gets to you. I had sourdough that was going to be bread.  While brainstorming with my husband and my older daughter, they were missing pretzel rolls.

So I came home and looked at the recipe.  Easy peasy.

Start with fresh starter.  When I get mine ready for bread I use 1 cup of starter, 1 1/2 cup flour and 1 1/2 cup water and let it sit overnight or in this case all day.  Probably about 8-10 hours ish… When its all happy and bubbly, I take out 1 cup of starter to return to the sourdough crock and then proceed with the rest of the starter which is somewhere around 2 cups.

To this 2 cups of starter you add 1 tsp salt and 1tsp sugar and enough flour to make a nice dough.  It was more than 2 cups and less than 3.

Once it is a nice dough.  Elastic and not sticky.  Cut the dough into 8 equal portions and form into balls and flatten slightly and cut an X with a serrated knife in the tops of the rolls and allow to rise. (Make sure you are using a well floured tray or one lined with parchment or a silicon.)   Mine took about an hour or 1 netflix show to rise.

Once risen, bring a pot of water to boil and preheat the oven to 375.  Once water is boiling pour in 1/4 cup baking soda and 2 Tbs sugar.  The water will bubble up and fizz.  Then add several rolls.  My pot will hold 4.  Boil them for 30 sec per side and place back on the tray.  Complete with the remaining rolls.

Brush with an egg wash and sprinkle with coarse salt.  Bake 20-25 min or until golden brown.


Large Format Baking

20161201_201307.jpgWith our swim club’s fundraiser looming, I decided to delve into the world of giant cookies.  Ordinarily, I like a nice normal sized cookie.  You know, one or two, perhaps three bites.  You might have two in a sitting.  Maybe 3, if it’s a 3 cookie day.  It doesn’t feel excessive to eat a small cookie.  However, when plopping down some cash for a cookie and hot cocoa while perusing the wares on our town’s noel night????  Well, then I want to feel like I am getting something for my money.  So when I found out that we may not have gotten a lot of items coming in for our bake sale, I am afraid I went a bit crazy.

Since I normally do not bake in large format, I called my BFF Flarycka.  She does this all the time.  Because she is my BFF and we have known each other for most of our lives, and we practically taught ourselves to bake in one another’s kitchens, she texted me her recipe.  Unfortunately, this is super top secret, so it will NOT be posted here.  Although, I can hint that it is almost a doubling of the normal choc chip recipe.

It started at the grocery store where my favorite flour which is usually 4$ a bag (so I don’t usually buy it) went on sale for $1.99. I may or may not have bought all remaining bags.  Then the butter was on sale for $1.99 a pound….  Like I said, I went a tiny bit insane there.  Then, I could not find any candy canes!!!  Nov 30 and no candy canes???  Which meant that my son and I had to brave Walmart post swim practice this am.  After wandering the store for quite a while, we FINALLY found the peppermint candy canes.  I bought 3 boxes, because if they are this hard to find I might as well stock up.

Back at home I started to bake, I think I found the limit to my mixing bowl.  When the dough started to jump out of the bowl I had to stop adding chips…

I think I have made somewhere around 120 ish cookies,  regular choc chip with M&M’s, and white chocolate chip with candy cane pieces…..20161201_201321.jpg

Tomorrow, I am going to cook some Molasses spice cookies in large format.  The dough is in the fridge waiting.  I am optimistic about them as they are my favorite.  Although dangerous, because I could totally eat a molasses cookie as big as my head.  Without much guilt…..Then I have a couple of batches of rice crispy treats to make.  Hopefully, those shoppers tomorrow night get hungry for some baked goods and cocoa!

Unexpected outcomes…

As some readers may have picked up, I homeschool my 3 children.  My oldest two are HS age.  My oldest is turning 17 next month.  Last year he told me that he needed to be accountable to someone other than myself in order for him to not just while his time away while not getting things finished.  So this year I enrolled both he and his 14year old sister in a local E-School for some shared class.  They are both using it for a foreign language, science and humanities.

Things started off well enough and then my son’s grades just tanked.  It turns out that instead of doing school work, he was watching videos and chatting with friends online.  So I took the power cord from his desktop in his bedroom and now he has to do school work at a laptop with me sitting next to him.  His grades are going up…. my sanity is going down!

This post is about the unexpected benefit of sitting in a chair for hours a day.  I have almost spun up every bit of the White CVM! imag1509.jpg I can spin and ply one 25 gram skein per day, or thereabouts.  I have been spinning Each skein with the same ratio and the same draft and plying it the same way.  So far, I have been able to maintain a both a consistent TPI and WPI for all of the skeins I have spun this way.

My goal with spinning these small skeins is to use them as colorwork in similar projects or as part of a larger project.  One of the first skeins I spun this way went into a friend’s indigo pot along with several other skeins of my yarn.  imag1513.jpgThe original skein I dyed with Rabbit bush is not quite the same TPI and WPI.  But I have enough of the combed Rabbit bush fiber to spin one at the current TPI.  I have 5 other white skeins now to play with.

In the meantime, I have been trying to wash the dark grey CVM so that I can use it with these white skeins.  I really want to use them in a yoked sweater.  So I have also spun up two skeins of the grey at the same TPI.  imag1514.jpgHowever, I am not ending up with a lot of yards because I am trying for a worsted weight yarn.  I have at least enough of the dark fiber for another 200 yards or so.  However then I have the light grey.  I may just have to get really creative to put them all together in the same sweater.

I have finished about half of my MSP homework, however, I can’t go over during the week to work on it anymore.  So It will probably slow down until the break coming up and Christmas break.

I can not tell you the excitement I felt yesterday when I combed up the last bit of the white.  Which leads me to the other unexpected bit about my two oldest having all of their electronics taken from them….  My 14year old, who is also a super creative child, decided that she needed a dressmaker’s dummy.  So she and my 9 year old made one out of an old t-shirt and some duct tape and all of my comb waste.  I really did not want to throw all of that away, but it had no other practical use.  The girls were thrilled with all the stuffing.  I am amazed by what unchained creativity can do.  My son you ask?  He just remembered that he loves to read.  So he as read 3 novels in the past several days.  And has had time to actually do some SAT prep.  I am not sure that the electronics are coming back soon and when they do, it will be with LOTS of restrictions.


Putting the garden to bed

It was time.  Perhaps a bit past time.  The frost came a couple of weeks ago.  My zinnas had just started blooming.  They bloomed for about a month.  Then from one day to the next zap!  Luckily my mom came and helped me to move my iris to a new bed in the back yard and plant all the new tulip and snowdrops we ordered.  We are trying safron crocus this year.  We planted 50 of them in my garden.  Which makes my veggie bed way smaller for next year.

imag1469.jpgI got all the tomatoes pulled out and the cages stacked.  I need to make a place for them on the side of the house.  I picked up the thousand pear tomatoes that had fallen into the garden in an attempt to keep them from coming up volunteer next spring.  I am pretty sure I am just going to have pear tomatoes everywhere.

I dug up the carrots.  Can I tell you that it takes a VERY long time for them to grow?  A very long time.  This is all my crop this year.  imag1464.jpgI don’t remember sowing the short fat ones… but that’s what we got.  I think between the sunflowers and the tomato plants they just did not get enough sun.  I think I will need to rethink them next year.

I also am trying my hand at harvesting seeds this year.  So when I made soup today I cut some of my last cherokee purple tomatoes and scooped out some seeds. imag1468.jpg

I loved having all the tomato plants this year. But I feel like all I had was tomato plants.  So next year I only want maybe 4-5 plants…. one row by the fence.  Then I will still have room for potatoes and greens and my squash…. I may have to have a container garden.

I dug up the fennel.  It was not a plant that gave me bulbs.  I was growing it for bulbs.  It became larger than the sunflowers… I moved the sage to give both it and the oregano more room.  The chives will probably also move in.  So my herb garden got larger and my veggie bed becomes smaller… Definitely, some pots.

Rabbit Bush

Recently I have gotten the bug to do some natural dyeing.  In the past I have just not really felt the “dyeing” need that many of my fellow fiber artists do.  I LOVE natural colors.  However, I decided that this fall with all the white CVM I have been combing I should look into it.  The first natural dye of choice was a no brainer as it’s blooming EVERYWHERE around me at the moment.  imag1447.jpgRabbit Bush, also know as Chamisa.

I didn’t even have to go very far to find it.  About 100 yards outside my front door it’s growing in the drainage.  It’s also being used in my neighbor’s landscape, but I decided that public domain was better than pruning my neighbor’s shrubbery.

The standard recipe for dyestuffs is an equal weight of dyestuffs to your dry weight of yarn.  I ended up dyeing about 150g of wool.  Both as scoured locks and hand combed top.  Each were placed in mesh bags.  They were put in a bucket to soak.

This Rabbit Bush experiment ended up being a bit of a comedy of sorts.  Most of the dye books suggest that you mordant your wool overnight.  Mordants help the dye molecules bond to the fiber.  In this case I used Alum and cream of tartar.  The recipe called for 8% of alum and 7% cream of tartar per dry weight.  I could not seem to remember to get over to the studio and put the fiber into mordant.

Then My parents called me and they were going to be at my house on Wed evening instead of Friday evening…. The studio needed to become guest space.  So I emailed my friend Ric who advised me to do an all in one dye bath.  I just needed to cook the Rabbit Bush and then add the mordant and yarn to that and I would be set.

I did not take into account just how long this big pot of Rabbit bush would take to come to a simmer.  imag1449.jpgWay longer than I had available in fact.  So I had to turn it off and take my daughter to piano and then swim, etc… you get the idea.  Later that evening, I was finally able to get it to simmer for an hour.  The color seemed weak to me.  But I was out of time.  So I added the mordant and fiber and simmered that for an hour.

Again, the fiber did not seem very dark.  It seemed barely yellow.  But it was late and I was out of time.  I decided to pull it and let it dry and revisit it and see if it needed another bath.  20161007_143001.jpg

When I pulled it out of the bags, after it had cooled and dried a bit, I was pleasantly pleased with the color.  It’s not a super strong yellow.  More lemony.  But I kind of like it.

I spun up the combed top.  Other than playing with the CVM at the skills gathering, which does not count, I had not spun it.  I spun it up on my Matchless.  It is soo beautiful.  I can not wait to do some more of it.


I am not a huge yellow fan.  But it is a lovely yellow.  So I have no idea what I am going to do with 160 yard of it.  It might be nice as colorwork in a larger piece.  Or I may experiment with an iron assist with some of the dyed locks to see if I get a nice green.


Peanut Butter Pancakes… and early mornings.

imag1441.jpgMy children, well the older two, now have morning swim practices…. My son has to be at the pool at 5:30 am two days a week.. I live 15 to 20 min away.  So we have to be awake at 4:45 to get him there.. Ok, we could wake up at 5:00 but then he would be swimming without food.  My daughter wants to swim for the High School girls team…  That practice is at 5:00 am M-F so we are now practicing getting up early..  I woke her up at 6:00 am yesterday.  Her response “What time is it and why am I awake?”  She thinks 6:00 is early wait until it’s 4:30.  Did I mention they practice in DIFFERENT pools!

So I have started waking up early… in some ways it’s nice.  I get the whole house to myself.  I can work out early.  Blog, check email, drink coffee, feed the sourdough.  Which is when I realize we need to make some pancakes.  Luckily, this is a day where they are getting up and I don’t actually have to take them anywhere.  We are just getting our bodies used to it.  Anyway, back to sourdough… Also on the counter is Peanut Butter powder….hmmm peanut butter pancakes???

I wake up daughter.  How about Peanut butter pancakes? “Yum she says..” Son stumbles out of his room… “Peanut butter pancakes?” I ask…. “Yum he says on the way to the shower.”  So far, they don’t have enough peanut butter powder… So I am adding more.

Peanut Butter Pancakes

2 cups sourdough starter

2TBS honey or sugar

2TBS oil

1 egg

2 large scoops  approx 4 T (or more of Peanut Butter powder – one scoop was not enough)

1 scoop of plain whey protein (this is optional… I sneak it in where I can)

1tsp salt

1tsp soda

After the second scoop of Peanut Butter powder we got a mild peanut flavor.  It probably needs more.  It will have to experiment with it further…. but it wasn’t a bust.  The older two are scarfing them down…



I have been wanting to make pickles for a while, but cucumbers have not been my friend in my garden and I can never seem to get to the farmer’s market.  Well, this weekend, after finding out for a fact that there were cucumbers to be found, my youngest and I headed to the market after dropping her siblings at swim practice.  Saturday practice is early, not as early as Tuesday and Thursday… but more on my sleep deprivation later.  Anyway, we ended up with imag1434.jpg

15 pounds of cucumbers.  For several years I have been wanting to try the Paleo Mom’s green tea refrigerator pickles from the paleo approach cookbook.  Which are made in a fermentation vat.  wp-1473549126540.jpgSo I decided that several pounds of the cucs would go to that.

After slicing20160910_155503.jpg

And Jarring20160910_163928.jpg

And water bath canning I should have around 16 pints!  Yay!  And that doesn’t include whatever comes out of the fermentation vat which after a few hours is happily bubbling away!


I should note that I just used the standard dill pickle recipe from the Better Homes and Gardens Canning issue.  It’s the same recipe from both the 2014 and 2011 magazine’s.