We Interrupt Thanksgiving Madness…

for a brief blog post. First, I want to thank everyone who reads here. I’m really grateful for the people who are interested enough in me and my little corner of the world to keep coming back even when I’m not updating nearly enough.

Second, I made a comment on Twitter and Facebook about Julekaga and the fact that it was rising/baking. People wanted to know what it is, and I figured a quick recipe is in order. Not that it is a quick recipe, well it is sort of, depends on whether you’re going to take the short cuts or not (Mom, forgive me for the shortcuts, but I know what I’m doing, I promise). Also, my mother only makes this for Christmas. I think she’s nuts (in the most endearing, heartwarming way, of course). I make it for Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Easter.

First, the disclaimer: the original recipe for this came out of some obscure cookbook on my mother’s cookbook shelf (my personal copy is handwritten on the back of two phone message slips stapled together). I do not know which one and I’ve converted it to a bread machine recipe anyway. Second: I’m going to run through this twice, once for those who have bread machines and then the second, more complex version for those who don’t. You can guess which crowd I’m a part of (you need one that can make 2 lbs of dough, just saying).

Put these ingredients in the bread machine pan in the order listed:

1/2 cup softened butter, cut into pieces
1/2 cup sugar
1 egg
1 1/4 cup scalded milk, cooled to room temp (1min 30sec in the microwave will do it)
5 cups of AP flour (I use unbleached; don’t use whole wheat, it will make a brick)
1 teaspoon salt
1 heaping teaspoon cardamom
2 1/2 teaspoons of bread machine yeast

Set your bread machine for sweet bread, 2 lb loaf, with mix-ins. At the mix-in beep add:

1/4 cup diced, candied citron (I actually use 4 times that much because I like it)
1/4 cup raisins (only if you like that sort of thing, which I totally do not)

When it hits the last knead, stop the machine, pull the dough out, split it into two balls and shape into round loaves. Put them on a baking pan and let rise another 30 minutes (in our house that usually ends up being 60 minutes because it’s cool here with the AC and all). Bake at 325 degrees for about 45 minutes and there it is.

Now, if you’re bread machine challenged a few things change:

1 pkg of yeast
1/4 cup warm water

Soften yeast.

Change the milk to 1 cup, scalded.

Add sugar, salt, cardamom, and milk together, cool to lukewarm. Add two cups of flour to that mixture and beat well. Add the yeast, egg, and fruit to that mixture and stir it all together. Add enough flour to make a soft dough (usually another 2 1/2 to 3 cups). Take it out of the bowl and knead on a floured surface until smooth and elastic. Put it in a greased bowl. Turn once. Let rise until double (2 to 2 1/2 hours). Punch it down. Form two balls. Shape the balls into loaves. Let rise until double again (about 1/2 hour-ish). Bake at 325 degrees for 45 minutes.

This is what it looks like when you’re finished:

Photobucket

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Today is my birthday . . .

My son has a book that he adores The Birthday Box by Leslie Patricelli. It’s a great story about a little baby (gender undetermined) who is all excited about getting a box for his/her birthday. Inside the box is a puppy. It’s a nice, gentle story and makes birthdays, even not super exciting ones, seem good.

Today, however, is my real, actual birthday. Not that you would know this by anything that’s going on, but it is. And not only is it my birthday, it’s a milestone birthday. Today, I am 40. I am not upset by this or distressed or anything. I don’t feel like I’ve just crossed some imaginary line that means I will never be what I was or anything.

I had big plans for my birthday. After years of not taking my birthday very seriously, I decided that this year I was going to do what I wanted to do. What I wanted to do was go out with some of my friends, minus my children, then take the kids to Safari Nights at our zoo, and finally, go out to dinner with my husband — by ourselves.

Unfortunately, none of that is going to happen. The immediate reasons involve a health crisis for my mother-in-law which has put my husband in some very difficult situations in the last few days.

I’m not upset about it and I’m thankful that I didn’t let myself get too excited about the plan, but I’m honestly not sure how much more we can take as a family without cracking a bit.

I don’t really even have much else to say right now. Just that we’re very stressed and no part of this is easy. Every time we think we’re out of the woods, something else happens. It would be unbelievable if I heard someone telling the story of the last five days, and I just cannot believe that I’m living it.

Family routines

One of the things I realized recently is that conventional wisdom doesn’t always work for us.

Bathtime for example doesn’t work at night. There are several reasons for this, but a big one is the fact that I work mostly in the evenings and it sucks down too much time to do kids’ baths, so I’m moving them around to see if we can find a time that does work.

Likewise, we need a regular schedule for routine maintanence for the girls. Both require regular grooming and training, so I need to come up with a routine for that.

I’ve also finally figures out that whatever I do doesn’t have to be viaible to Phil because he follows his own path anyway. Keeping detailed lists for his and my use just wastes me time as I would rather they be electronic and he just doesn’t use them when I write them.

Ben and Katie are still reasonably flexible, so anything I introduce now is fine so long as it stays consistent.