It’s hard to believe that two and a half weeks ago, we were in the midst of a May snowstorm.
Five days ago, the temperatures reached 96 degrees.
I think Mother Nature is still a bit confused.
But I do believe spring is finally here in north central Iowa. The grass is green, my iris and tulips
are blooming, our crabapple tree is a beautiful pinky purple color
and the farmers are out in full force in the field (provided it hasn’t rained and the fields are dry).
The hub had some spring tillage to do before he could break out the planter, but that’s mostly finished and he’s only got about a day left of corn to put in.
It also means he’s been putting in long hours in the field. Some days he goes out there sometime before dinner (he puts in a few hours in his other job in the morning) and doesn’t get done until well after the kids are in bed.
I don’t mind too much, and the kids and I get to take dinner (also known as lunch for the non-farm folks) and supper out to him in the fields. Last week we got to see a spectacular sunset over the farm where I grew up (and my parents still live) while we waited for the hub to finish out a round before I could give him his food.
We had a big storm roll through last night, though, which means it’ll be a few days before the fields dry out and he can get back out and finish his planting (provided there’s no more rain – unfortunately, the forecast calls for a chance of precip the next three days). There’s plenty of work to do, however, like fixing the blower fan in the big tractor, getting the bean drill ready, and making sure the planter is set to do the last field of corn. There’s always something that can be done.
This is what we woke up to this morning:
Six inches of wet, heavy snow and no school for the kiddos. On May 2!
It was 80 degrees out two days ago. Nice enough that the kiddlet and kid3 and I walked to pick up the kiddo from school, and then stayed and played for a bit (and got a little warm. In fact, the kidlet got a little sunburn because I totally did not think about putting on sunscreen – we haven’t had to worry about it for six months!)
The hub even did a little planting of 110-day corn because it was either get it in the ground or risk it not maturing before harvest.
So it’s a little odd to wake up two days later to the school alert on your phone saying school’s been canceled due to inclement weather. The kiddo was happy until we reminded him that meant he’s now going to school until June 4.
The kids weren’t phased at all by the snow, they went out after lunch and had a grand time playing and building a snow castle.
He promptly demolished it 30 seconds later
I spent the snow day inside with kid3 (he doesn’t have a snowsuit in his size) and trying my hand at yeast bread again. I had some buttermilk that needed to be used up and it was either make bread or pancakes.
I used my trusty KitchenAid mixer to mix the dough this time, which was much faster and easier than doing it by hand. Maybe once I have more practice, I’ll do it by hand, but for now this works.
It rose! I have the hardest time with getting my dough to proof well. I’ve tried a couple different methods, but what seemed to work this time was turning on the oven, letting it preheat to 350, and then turning it off immediately. I let it cool 10 minutes or so while the dough kneaded in my mixer with the dough hook, then put the dough (covered with a damp towel) in the still-warm oven with a small bowl of water on the lower rack. I’ll have to try this again with my pizza dough and see if I have the same success.
The bread baked nicely, despite the fact the loaf pans I had were a little large. I really need the 8×4 size for these loaves.
I also probably could have let them bake just a touch longer. They’re a little doughy in the middle. Not bad, but a few more minutes probably would have made the difference.
It’s got a nice crumb, though (from what my inexperienced eye can tell, anyway) and one loaf is already two-thirds gone. A nice baking experiment on a crazy snow day.
The weather is supposed to warm up again by early next week, and I really hope this is the last we see snow until November or December. I’m glad I didn’t wash and put away the kids’ snow things when I thought about it last week!
It’s been a while since I’ve posted anything (sorry, mom & dad). I just haven’t had the motivation, or anything interesting to post about. Our life has been pretty mundane, especially with the winter that didn’t seem to want to end lingering on (and on, and on).
But it finally feels like spring, and there’s even proof that things are growing again.
I’ve done a lot of baking (seriously, I may have a problem) the past few months, too. Here’s a sampling:
Bird’s nests (for Easter). Verdict: tasty, but rich. A little went a long way (and this is coming from someone who loves chocolate, peanut butter and Cadbury mini eggs).
Quick (no yeast) cinnamon rolls. These were our Good Friday breakfast (I had planned on making hot cross buns, but that didn’t quite work out). I’ve made these before, and they’re very good, and easy to make. They’re very similar to the ones you buy in the cans at the grocery store (you know, the ones that practically give you a heart attack when you open them).
Dark chocolate blueberry oatmeal cookies. I love these cookies. I’ve made them quite a few times before, and they never last long.
Whole wheat lemon bread. This was a Pinterest recipe that was just okay. It was partially my fault (I realized after I’d already poured the batter in the pan that I’d forgotten to add the eggs, so the dough was overworked once I finally got it in the oven. I also used whole wheat flour, which made the bread very dense and a little dry). But it got eaten. I think with a few tweaks (I altered the glaze slightly, and added some sour cream to the dough) it could be really good.
Buttermilk brownies (also known as Texas Sheet Cake). I think the longest a pan has lasted in our house has been 36 hours. They’re just so good!
Lemon cookies with lemon glaze. This was another Pinterest recipe, but it turned out so much better than the bread. These cookies were amazing! Soft and chewy with a great lemon flavor. It would be extremely easy to alter the recipe to make them orange or lime cookies, too. Definitely a make-again recipe, and not that much more difficult than the cake mix lemon cookies I’ve done before.
Good old Monster cookies, but with mini M’n'Ms and mini chocolate chips. I love my monster cookie recipe because it’s a reasonable sized recipe to make. Instead of using a pound of butter and a dozen eggs like most recipes I’ve seen, it just uses 1/2 c. of butter and 3 eggs (and 1 1/2 c of peanut butter instead of an entire jar). My only problem is I like eating the cookie dough almost more than I like baking the cookies.
Now that it’s warmer out, the hub can finally get in the field. We’ll start planning and planting our garden, and will soon have tee ball games every Saturday. And hopefully, I’ll have more to write about, even if it’s just what baking I’ve done (I’d like to tackle more recipes involving yeast) or how the garden is coming along.
The hub is working a track meet this weekend, which is a good excuse for me to unload some of the excess from my baking binges (or a good excuse for me to go on a baking binge).
I’d had a few bags of the Reese’s mini peanut butter cups (the unwrapped, mini mini kind) in my baking cupboard for quite a while and wanted to use them in something before I decided to open one up and eat them all at once.
I did a search on Pinterest to see if any recipes looked good, or spark some inspiration. I also looked through some of my small-town cookbooks to see if there were any good looking recipes in one of those.
I ended up combining a recipe I found on Pinterest with one from a cookbook. It turned out magically, if I do say so myself.
Doesn’t that look good? I probably could have sat down on the couch and eaten the entire bowl of dough without baking it. It was that amazing.
But I didn’t and baked them like the good cook that I am. And you know what, they were even more amazing after I pulled them out of the oven and let them sit for a bit.
Peanut Butter Marshmallow Blondies
(adapted from this recipe from twopeasandtheirpod)
1/2 c. butter
2 c. light brown sugar
1/2 c. peanut butter
2 large eggs, beaten
1 t. vanilla
2 1/2 c. flour
1 t. baking powder
1/4 t. baking soda
1/2 t. salt
1 c. mini marshmallows
1 bag Reese’s unwrapped mini peanut butter cups
1 7 oz.container marshmallow creme
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease a 9-inch by 13-inch pan and set aside. In a saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter and brown sugar, stirring constantly until smooth. Remove from the heat, and stir in the peanut butter, until creamy and combined. Set mixture aside to cool. (sidebar: I actually did this step in the microwave as I was using my stovetop to cook supper the same time I was making these brownies. I put the butter and brown sugar in a microwave-safe glass bowl and heated the butter/sugar mix for 1-minute segments, watching to make sure it was getting hot and bubbling, but not boiling over. That ended up being about 3 1-minute segments.)
In a large bowl, stir together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
Add the beaten eggs to the peanut butter mixture, mixing well. Add the vanilla extract and stir to combine. Pour the mixture into the prepared dry ingredients, and stir until batter is smooth. Stir in the peanut butter cups and marshmallows.
Pour/spoon the batter to the prepared pan, spreading the batter evenly to the edges of the pan. Top with the container of marshmallow creme and spread over the entire top as best as possible. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until the top is golden and the edges are slightly browned. Remove from oven and place them on a wire rack to cool.
I didn’t let them cool long enough before I cut into them (seriously, patience is not a virtue I possess, especially when it comes to baked goods). At first gooey bite I thought they were good, but not OMG good. Then, I had another taste after the kids were in bed and the brownies had more time to cool and set. Now they were OMG good. It took a whole lotta willpower to keep myself from eating half the pan.
I cut up the rest of the brownies and put them in a container for the hub to take tomorrow, but not before I put aside a few for us to eat. I would be surprised if they lasted through the weekend.
It was my birthday 11 days ago. I turned 34, which isn’t so horrible. I’ve never been one of those people who wants to perpetually stay 29; I don’t mind getting older. I don’t ever feel as old as I am, and my family would probably say I don’t act my age either.
At 34 I have three wonderful, funny, smart, goofy kids. I have a loving, caring husband who spoils me (too much, though I’ll only pretend to complain a little). I have my health, a warm house, the means to provide for our family and loved ones nearby who are more than generous with time and money should we need it.
So turning 34 isn’t really all that bad.
We did the traditional birthday donuts for breakfast from the great little bakery in town. I had a nice day of shopping with kid3. The kidlet made me a lovely birthday card replete with birthday bee (it’s her signature drawing) and Cinderella stickers. I had a so-so supper (total Pinterest fail on my part) topped off with a viewing of Bridesmaids with the hub after the kiddos went to bed (I think we were probably some of the few people left who hadn’t seen it by now.).
But the biggest birthday present came about a week later. My good, old five-year-old Mac mini was starting to show its age. It was slow and finicky at times, and running out of memory. Plus, it was stuck in the utility room at the back of the house, and I could really only use it after the kids were in bed (and it’s Cold back there in the winter!). So the hub decided I needed a nice, new MacBook Pro. It will serve as the family computer, along with being the farm computer. Hopefully, the portability of it being a laptop will also mean I can be more frequent with my blog updates.
Here she is, isn’t she pretty?
I haven’t named her yet. Most of our electronics have been named after Muppets characters. We’ve had Kermit, Gonzo, Fozzy, Scooter and Sweetums iPods, the iPad is Miss Piggy and our WiFi connection is Beaker. I’ll have to think of a fitting name for the MacBook.
I’ll still need to use my Mac mini – it has all the graphic design programs I use for editing photos and creating cards and other design items. But I’m already enjoying the ability to sit at the dining room table with a cup of coffee and check on emails while kid3 attempts to destroy the house at my feet.