Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Daring Bakers' March Challenge - Dutch Crunch Bread (AKA Tiger Bread or Giraffe Bread)

Sara and Erica of Baking JDs were our March 2012 Daring Baker hostesses! Sara & Erica challenged us to make Dutch Crunch bread, a delicious sandwich bread with a unique, crunchy topping. Sara and Erica also challenged us to create a one of a kind sandwich with our bread!

Dutch Crunch bread also goes by the names Tiger Bread and Giraffe Bread, because of the crazy "animal print" pattern created by the crunchy topping. Dutch Crunch bread can be made with any bread recipe, for it is the topping, slathered over top of the unbaked bread, which cracks and browns when baked, rather than the bread dough, that distinguishes it as Dutch Crunch bread. The recipe for the topping is as follows:

2 tablespoons (2 packets) (30 ml) (15 gm/½ oz) active dry yeast
1 cup (240 ml) warm water (105-115ยบ F) (41-46°C)
2 tablespoons (30 ml) (30 gm/1 oz) sugar
2 tablespoons (30 ml) vegetable oil (I used sesame oil)
½ teaspoon (2½ ml) (3 gm) salt
1½ cups (360 ml) (240 gm/8½ oz) rice flour (white or brown; NOT sweet or glutinous rice flour)

Mix all of those ingredients together to make a thick paste, and spread it, rather thickly, onto the unbaked bread. As the bread begins to bake, the cracks will appear and create the pattern.

I chose to use a nice soft white bread for the actual dough recipe. After the six rolls had risen on a baking sheet, I spread a thick layer of the pasty topping over them, using a spoon and my fingers. Almost immediately, as they started to bake, cracks formed in the topping, and, as they continued to brown, the pattern emerged. Mine was more "giraffe" than "tiger."

While the rolls were still hot from the oven, I couldn't resist cutting one in half and spreading a melty layer of butter on each half. Dan and I shared this tasty treat right then and there. The bread texture was perfect - fine-grained and moist.

The next day, for dinner, I used the Giraffe rolls to craft BLT sandwiches. There's nothing very original about a BLT . . . unless it's a BLT on Dutch Crunch bread. BLTs have always been my favorite sandwich, but making it with this bread bumped it up a notch or two!

Monday, March 26, 2012

Now That's What I'm Talking About!

Retirement is getting better and better, especially now that Dan has his grill and we have a relaxing space to enjoy the outdoors.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Knock Knock

Robert is talking non-stop these days . . . such a change from the last time we saw him, when he was just trying out a few words. Now he communicates well, and understands just about everything you talk about. What is really funny is his version of joke-telling. He's into knock-knock jokes . . . sort of. They go like this:

Robert: Knock knock.
Grandma: Who's there?
Robert: Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha! (A great big guffaw for a little boy!)

And that's the end. . . until he tells it again. And again. And again. And again.

I love it!

Trashman is Missing

Some of you, who have been reading my blog for some time, may remember our very own superhero, Trashman, about whom I've blogged before (read HERE).

Whenever Clara came to visit us in Albuquerque, she was a little disturbed by Trashman's appearance. She always insisted he was "really Grandpa," and was perturbed that we claimed he was a superhero.

On Tuesday of this week, garbage day, I told Clara that Trashman hadn't moved from Albuquerque with us, so Grandpa has to collect the trash and move the can to the curb, himself, now.

This time, instead of strongly stating her case, as before, Clara looked at me with real concern in her face, and spoke gently and softly, "Grandma, you know it was really Grandpa, don't you?"

Me: "Really?"

Clara: "You could tell by his face."

Grandma: "But he had a cape and everything."

Clara: "Grandma, it was just a garbage bag. You know that it was Grandpa, don't you?"

She may have convinced me.

Fun at the Playground

Clara and Robert have returned home, and Grandma and Grandpa's house is very quiet again.

We had a great time with the children. On Monday we went to a park with a playground. They both ran and jumped and climbed their hearts out. Robert, who is 28 months old, is fearless and quite physically capable of anything he tries. Six-year-old Clara is very social. She made friends with another six-year-old girl, who was riding a scooter. Off they went, the other girl on her scooter and Clara on foot, around the bike path that circles the park. I think it's about a mile long, and Clara kept up with scooter-girl the whole way around.

It's so nice to be closer to the grands!

Sunday, March 11, 2012

No More Monkeys Jumping on the Bed!

Chris, Kelsey and the kids drove to our house Friday evening. It was a classic dark and stormy night. They didn't get here until almost 10:30 p.m., and were pretty worn out.

Saturday morning, before we left the house to go get breakfast, Clara had an irresistible urge to jump on the bed. What goes up must come down, and in this case HARD onto the floor. For the rest of the day, walking was difficult. At times she had to be carried. So, in the afternoon Kelsey and I took her to the urgent care clinic. After a few x-rays and an assessment by the doctor, we felt better knowing that, though her foot was probably sprained, she had no broken bones. She left the clinic sporting a bandaged foot.

This morning Clara was still limping, and not happy having a sock and shoe put on her foot. But she suffered through church, and then we came home for lunch. Chris and Kelsey left, around 2:30, to go back home. Clara and Robert stayed here with us, and we'll take them home on Wednesday.

Shortly after Chris and Kelsey left, the sun came out. It had been pretty stormy all the while they were here, so the kids couldn't get outside to play. By dinner time it was like a summer day -- blue skies, sunshine, and warm temperatures. The kids wanted to go outside, and Grandpa and I thought a little fresh air would be just the ticket. Amazingly, Clara's foot no longer hurt. "Not at all, Grandma!" Try as we might to uphold the doctor's orders to not run, we failed. When she went to bed later, she still said her foot felt "just fine," so I guess we didn't do any damage.

We also spent a little time in some quieter activities - Clara with her new Light Bright set and both of them playing with my robotic dog, Rocky.

Both children are down for the night now (we hope), and we're calling it a successful day!

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Reuniting with Special Friends - Port Aransas, TX

I first knew Pepper and Cindy back in the mid-sixties, in Juneau, when I was still in high school. Later, after Dan and I were married and living in Alaska, the four of us became very good friends, and that friendship has only grown stronger and dearer over the many years since.

On Monday we drove down to Port Aransas, on Mustang Island (near Corpus Christi) where Cindy and Pepper have a vacation condo, and spent a couple of days with them. What a gift it was to reunite in such a "paradise"! Of course, spending time with them anywhere is a blessing in itself.

This first picture shows the sea view they have from their deck. The arched boardwalk, beyond the swimming pool, leads directly to the beach.


It was early evening when we arrived, and I didn't want to miss out on the sunset. Being accustomed, as I am, to the sun setting over the water, as it does on the Pacific Coast, I was a little disoriented having it set behind me. But, west coast or east, the colors at sunset are awesome.


The next morning, before breakfast, I walked down to the beach again. The clouds had moved in, and there was a pleasant ocean breeze. The beach was deserted except for a few seagulls.


Every morning a flock of pelicans fly over the condo, stretching out in a long, long line. Pepper calls them "the morning patrol."


It was a short visit, but we made the most of it. Maybe we'll make it back down one more time, before Cindy and Pepper return home to Juneau.