Monday, November 30, 2015

Sharpening Tradition

I like the old-school way of sharpening knives. Our kitchen knives needed some TLC, and I always take some time in the holiday season to get them in great shape again. It's getting hard to find the supplies any more to do this type of sharpening. The world wants FAST and NOW. That means power grinding wheels, ground diamond stones and sticks, and other fast-is-better-forget-quality approaches. That's just not how I view things, so I do it the slow and steady way. The proof is in the finished blade seen with a magnifying glass.

When you consider what the routine tasks are for a kitchen knife, any sharpening method will get the job done. If I'm making a sandwich, store bought bread makes a sandwich just as functional as home-made bread. There's more to life than 'functional'.

On a lighter note, I can now sleep soundly knowing our butcher block of knives are all in top working condition. It may seem like such an invisible thing that doesn't mean much, but it does to me. They are the right tool for the job!

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

A Couple Recipes

No sketches today. Just a couple bread machine recipes as requested. My usual bread is a standard recipe with either bread flour or a mix of bread flour with whole wheat flour. I usually throw in some wheat germ and ground flax seed. I think every bread machine comes with a recipe list that includes a basic bread recipe that works fine. Of all four machines I've used, the basic recipe always performs well.

Here are two recipes I make when I want something that's not the standard loaf:

CREAM OF WHEAT BREAD (I don't make it all the time, it's a treat. Makes the best toast with butter and honey! I make this when our grown daughter visits, too. It's her favorite. I cut off the rounded top in a really thick slice that JUST fits in the toaster for her. She's putty in my hands.)

milk   1C
butter   1/4 C
eggs   1
sugar   2 Tbs
salt   2 tsp
bread flour   2 C
cream of wheat (uncooked)   1 C
yeast   1 1/2 tsp

This is a medium size (3 cups flour size). If you want small or large, let me know.

BRANDIED PUMPKIN BREAD (From Gold Medal Bread Machine Recipes book. Just made this last night and I'm in LOVE. Soft. Semi-sweet. Moist. Plus I'm a pumpkin nut.) Use the Sweet or Basic/White cycle.

canned pumpkin    3/4 C  (plain pumpkin, not pumpkin pie can)
water   1/2 C
brandy extract or vanilla   1/2 tsp
butter   2 Tbs
bread flour    3 C
sugar   1/4 C
salt   1 1/4 tsp
pumpkin pie spice   1/2 tsp
yeast   2 1/4 tsp

Spicy Glaze (drizzle over loaf after it cools)
powdered sugar   1/2 C
milk   1 to 2 Tbs milk
pumpkin pie spice   dash

This is a medium size (3 cups flour size). My new machine can handle a larger loaf, so the one I used is large (4 cups flour size):

canned pumpkin    1 C  (plain pumpkin, not pumpkin pie can)
water   1/2 C plus 2 Tbs
brandy extract or vanilla   3/4 tsp
butter   2 Tbs
bread flour    4 C
sugar   1/3 C
salt   1 1/4 tsp
pumpkin pie spice   1/2 tsp
yeast   1 3/4 tsp (yes, it's less than the medium size)

I come from a German bloodline and Wilma's bloodline is even more-so. Breads are a big thing. The carb-free movement is of no interest to me. Those are almost fighting words. Hope you try these recipes and share my joy.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Junk Is Junk

I haven't had much luck buying a bread machine that is built well. I just purchased my fourth one. They wear out if you use them on a regular basis like I do. Two electric knives have worn out, too. They're junk!

My fourth machine is a Panasonic and I can tell the design is better than my prior models. The on-line reviews are great, too. We'll see how it holds up.

I'll be going back to a plain bread knife, too. Nobody makes a more durable electric knife that I can find on-line. I give up. It can't be that hard to make a better knife! The trigger switches have all worn out. I suspect they are not designed for the high vibrations of the reciprocating blades.

I think the problem is that I'm not the statistically average consumer that the designers consider. I use these products on a regular basis. They design for the occasional user, and probably prefer the user that simply stores the gear away and never uses them. It's a sad state of affairs.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

One Season Down

It's that time of year. Need to winterize the travel trailer. We had our last trailer for sixteen years and a windstorm totaled it out. This Spring we bought a replacement, and we just finished our first summer of camping with it. Love that trailer! This is our first time for a slide-out and we're enjoying it.

For the old trailer we could blow the lines out with compressed air and all was fine. This trailer has a more complicated plumbing system, and no drawings to show how anything works and the Owners Manual has a minimal explanation of how to winterize.

So, I had to draw the plumbing out to see how it worked. Then I cruised some YouTube how-to videos. Once I understood how these things are done, the cryptic directions in the Owner's Manual made sense. The rest is history. The winterizing process worked fine. Then, all that was left to do was sketch it.