Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Cottage Cheese Bread From The Czarina

Something about fall brings out my inner baker.   I've made this bread dozens of times, starting when my kids were little, and it's always been a favorite.

I got this recipe from an old Russian nurse I worked with years ago.   Actually I was friends with her daughter- in -law who was not a fan of her mother -in- law at all.  She called her "The  Czarina";  oddly enough, it wasn't a term of endearment.  For some reason, The Czarina and I hit it off, even thought she was old enough to be my grandmother.   One day she brought in a loaf of bread made from her "secret recipe" that she refused to share with her family.  I begged her for the recipe.  My rationale, which she bought, was that since I wasn't family, her status as baker of the family's favorite bread was safe.   

The problem was that there really wasn't a recipe.  She told me about handfuls of flour, bits of sugar, a nub of butter  - none of which helped a novice baker.  I tried a few versions based on her directions, brought them in for her to try, but she kept saying they weren't quite right.   Then I finally got it .  She gave me a smothering bear hug and pronounced my bread perfect.

Since I'm assuming The Czarina has gone on to her reward,  it's probably safe to share the recipe.

Cottage Cheese Bread

Makes 1 loaf - recipe can easily be doubled

Warm on low temperature in microwave just to melt butter, then let cool to room temperature:
1 cup cottage cheese ( can use full fat or even fat free)
2 Tblsp  butter

Combine and let rise till bubbly:
1 package dry yeast
2 Tblsp warm water
1 tsp sugar

Mix cottage cheese and yeast mixtures, then add and mix well.:
1 tsp salt
2 Tblsp sugar
1 egg , beaten (room temperature)

3 1/2 cups flour (approximately)

Knead by hand or mixer with bread hook for several minutes.  Dough should be soft but not sticky.
Place in greased bowl, cover with towel or plastic wrap and let rise until doubled.  Then punch down, and shape into loaf (or round) and let rise again (covered as before) in greased loaf pan (or round casserole dish) until doubled.

Bake in preheated 350 degree oven for 30-40 minutes until loaf sounds hollow when tapped.   
Let rest in pan a few minutes, then cold on baking rack.

I've made all kinds of variations to this basic recipe - substituted whole wheat flour or white wheat flour  , added cinnamon, nuts and raisins - all good.

The bread has a nice soft crumb and toasts beautifully.  The cottage cheese adds a good hit of protein to a toast and jam breakfast.

Приятного аппетита!   

Google says that means "Bon appetit" in Russian.   Hope it does!

Monday, November 16, 2015

I May Have a Christmas Tag Problem

I love making tags, obviously!   I think there are a few reasons - the small size is easy, I get to use lots of stamps, and the results are always fun.   I feel like The Count from Sesame Street, "Once I start in counting  making tags, it's werrry hard to stop"!

These large tags are chalk board tags from the clearance aisle at Michaels.  I made a background spray by mixing gold liquid acrylic with a little water and topped it with a nice shimmer from Tattered Angels Glimmer Mist that doesn't show well in photos.   The bird with text stamp is one of my favorites.   I used red Stickles to make the berries pop. 

And here they are in blue.  This background is Distress Ink Peacock Feathers , then topped  again with glimmer mist.

I also used some  inexpensive tags from Ikea .   There is a mix of sizes and shapes that make for interesting tags.  There is a downside - the shiny side has a plastic coating and can make embossing tricky.  My advice is to emboss only long enough to melt the powder and aim the heat gun straight down - heating at an angle caused the plastic to melt and lift away.   Most of the time I used the uncoated side as it takes ink and embossing better.

I love white on Kraft paper.  The Kraft says shabby and the white brings on the chic!   All of these are embossed with matte white embossing powder.  It's fun to use parts of stamps on these little tags - the one on the lower right is stamped with part of a paisley stamp.

Distress Ink Iced Spruce and red Smooch Ink berries.  I've never used this stamp before and now it's one of my favorites.

More Distress ink sprayed backgrounds .  I spray, then roll over a roll of paper towels to soak up some of the excess ink - added bonus is a faint pattern left by the paper toweling, giving a hint of texture.

The snowflake tag background is a red ink spray.  

The larger tree is one of Tim Holtz architectural stamps stamped onto Christmas carol sheet music.   I love the added white gel pen snow on the twiggy tree.

Aren't these fun little guys?   Colored the snowmen's accessories with Smooch Inks and added some glitter embossed snow.

A bucket of tags - and now I need to move on to the other 72 projects on my list!

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

A Weekend at the Captain Lord Mansion in Kennebunkport, Maine

We just spent a great weekend at this historic bed and breakfast in Kennebunkport, Maine.  It was a great time to visit - weather still nice and most of the tourists have fled.   The house was built in 1815 for shipbuilder Captain Lord.  Sadly, Captain Lord didn't get to enjoy his mansion very long as he died the year after moving in.  The house stayed in the Lord  family for four generations until it was sold in 1978 to the current innkeepers, Bev Davis and Rich Litchfield.  The Inn has a  AAA  4 Diamond rating for thirty - five consecutive years.

The list of the weekend guests included how many times the guests have visited - note that one couple has been there twenty-nine times !   

The house is gorgeous - full of antiques, fireplaces, flowers and art.  There are fourteen rooms, plus a garden house with additional rooms.    The Captain thought moving into our room - the Harvest Room -  was a reasonable option - so lovely, so peaceful, so relaxing, and romantic.

There are  all the modern conveniences -Jacuzzi tubs,  WiFi, TV (although we never turned it on), individual room heat controls and AC.  Oh, and a full spa.  And a huge gift shop.  You really could never leave!

Our in-room, in front of the fireplace picnic.

The common areas :

Breakfast ( fruit, yogurt, granola , some baked treat and waffles or eggs) is served in this kitchen, with more seating in an adjacent dining room.  Love the farmer's tables and the huge old wood - burning stove.    Hope my little snow-covered pumpkin isn't seen in the wild for a long time.

And there is this well-stocked coffee (and tea and cocoa) station with a double Vertuoline Nespresso machine.

So we reluctantly did leave to do some wandering around Kennebunkport .  We don't live far from Kennebunkport and have been there many times, but this time we spent more time exploring and less time shopping.  Although being weirdos, we probably made  Inn history by being the only people to stay at the fancy inn AND check out a local tag sale.

Kennebunkport's version of Paris' Pont des Arts.

 Beautiful water and boats around every corner.

Wedding Cake House built in the mid 1800s by another shipbuilder, George Bourne.   The house was restored in the 80s, but is in need of some TLC.  All that trim has taken a beating in this Northern New England coastal town.  But from a distance, it's lovely.

We didn't know that there was a monastery in Kennebunkport- St. Anthony's Franciscan Monastery . There are great walking trails along the river, complete with  icons and statues in the woods.  Check out this amazing outdoor chapel.

We're booking another stay!

Friday, October 16, 2015

Making Art in the Kitchen and the Studio


I haven't been making much art lately, but I have  been busy in a fall-frenzy of Suzy Homemaker domesticity.  Actually think there's art in this - making something beautiful is art, right?

Tomato sauce - frozen because I'm not a big fan of canning.  Recipe from A Way to Garden.

And apple butter from here.

The Captain has a grape arbor and this year was our first (small)  harvest.  Jelly recipe straight from the pectin box:

Then there was some play time with the Texas daughter and the grand boys - so much fun! Being a Yaya is the best gig ever.

Back to art -  I have been making a planner for next year (more on that later), and then there's this quick stitched card.   I used the tapestry ribbon as a base for sewing on the other scraps, then glued it to the text paper that was glued to the card front so no stitching shows through the back side.

I found the butterfly fabric label in those value bins at Michael's.   I love all the vintage-y goodness so I  bought them out.

Art is where you find it - kitchen goodies or mixed media fun.


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