nourishing & unapologetic
My hubby tells me a I have a knack for "creating work outta nothin'". He even goes as far as to harp at me about my inability to "relax"... Apparently, he's still learning I'm not too good at being idle. And, as I am not the most gracious recipient of criticism either I typically get irritated and over zealously do more. That'll show him, right? :)
Well, I know he means well. (And if we don't tell him, he might be a little bit right.) I do have a wee issue with the R-word. But if I quickly reflect on my life, I don't have a lot of memories of downtime that I didn't already pre-allocated to my running to do list. I mean weekends are two more days to get stuff done...Amen?
As I get older, I am beginning to understand the value of unscheduled time, recuperation, and not being hyper motivated to just the check boxes off. Additionally, partly because of his insistence, I am truly trying to make an effort to learn to chill and do things for pure enjoyment more regularly. But, in the meantime, let's redefine "loafing." And, it starts in the kitchen!
My dear, now departed, Grandma Jennie first taught me to bake bread when I was probably about age 5. My early memories include standing on a chair, sifting flour in my mom's old metal sifter with the apples painted on the sides and greasing Folgers coffee cans with a lard covered paper towel. (Yes, lard--we were that traditional.) I am confident this is when and where my carb addition began.
One snowy weekend this past winter, on a day I am sure I could have just relaxed, I decided to brush up on my bread making skills. I was set on baking my Grandma's bread. The trouble was we never wrote the recipe down...ever. We baked by memory and instinct. But I guess recipe recall is a little like language fluency, you either use it or lose it.
Google to rescue! I spent a good amount of time searching for a recipe that was similar to what I remembered. I landed on the Curvy Carrot's blog (a old favorite I'd forgotten about) and Rosebud's Butter-Topped White Bread recipe. It was 99% accurate to what I was remembering. It was when I set the towel covered bowl of dough on my running dryer, I knew I was on the right track. A handful of hours and a few butter slathered slices later, my morning of loafing was declared a success!
4 1/2 teaspoons dry active yeast (= 2 packets)
3/4 cup warm water (not hot)
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon salt
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature and cut into small pieces
2 2/3 cups additional warm water
9-10 cups all-purpose flour
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted, for brushing the tops of the loaves
plus more butter for greasing your rising bowl and loaf pans
1. In the bowl of stand mixer, using the paddle attachment, dissolve the yeast in 3/4 cup of warm water, about 5 minutes.
2. Add the sugar, salt, butter, additional 2 2/3 cup warm water, and mix gently just to combine.
3. Slowly add 5 cups of the flour, mixing in a little bit at a time on low speed until smooth.
4. With the mixer on its lowest speed,. slowly add the remaining flour until the dough is smooth.
5. Swap attachments--paddle to dough hook. Knead the dough for 10 minutes via mixer.
OR do it old school (My favorite way) and knead by hand. .
6. After kneading, lightly grease a large bowl with butter or cooking spray, as well as the pans you'll bake the bread in.
7. Once the dough is ready, place the dough in the greased (buttered preferably) bowl and turn over to completely coat the dough with butter/cooking spray. Cover, and set in a warm place to rise for 1 hour. (I use the dryer--don't do this if you have detergent scented laundry actually drying-- haha.)
8. After an hour, punch down the dough (yes, punch!) and divide it into two equal portions.
9. Working with one portion at a time, roll (with a rolling pin--I prefer a French rolling pin) the dough out into roughly 12″ x 12″ squares, making sure that the thickness of the dough is uniform.
10. Slowly and tightly roll up each square, sealing the edges firmly.
11. Tuck the ends of the roll tightly under the bread and place into your prepared loaf pans. Repeat with the second loaf. Cover the loaves, set in a warm place, and let rise until doubled, about another hour.
12. Place one rack on the lowest position in the oven and preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
13. Bake the loaves for 15 minutes initially. After 15 minutes, cover each loaf with aluminum foil to prevent the tops from browning too much.
14. Once covered with foil, bake for an additional 15 minutes.
15. Cool on a wire rack and lightly brush the loaves with the melted butter.
Original recipe courtesy of Curvy Carrot.
Rise to the occasion the next time you have a free morning. Ignore the 90-degree forecast projections on the 10 o'clock news and the calendar creeping towards June; bake some now. Summer sandwiches are calling for quality bread!
PS despite my husband's grumblings about not making tasks for myself, he thoroughly enjoyed this treat for days on end.
Getting married brings lots of changes to one's life. The most obvious, a new last name. For most of my life I was convinced that I would not change my last name. Or at the very least, I would hyphenate. Seriously. Well, enter Nicholas. This crazy fellow turned my world upside down and inside out. He was and is everything I am not. The day after we met I told my best friend A that "my heart was in trouble." Flash forward to 2013, Nicholas proposed and eight short months later we walked the aisle. In preparation for the wedding, we completed the obligatory marriage license documents. Towards the bottom of the form, it asks about the bride's new last name. With no hesitation at all I wrote "Born" in the last name field.
Yes, in the blink of eye I abandoned a long-held conviction with no regret at all. To this day, I don't know that I can explain my change of heart other than it was just right. Perhaps the words of the Avett Brothers will give it a little more context, "...theres was nothing worth sharing like the love that let us share our name." Right on, huh?
I still love and respect the idea of a woman choosing to retain her own family name or hyphenating. I thought I'd be in that club but it turns out I really love being Mrs. Born, plain and simple. Though, just because I now sign another four letter last name doesn't mean I am any less of a Pope. I am the last Pope born into my Grandpa's side of the tree. With or without that name on my driver's license, that's still my place and still my honor.
In observance of Memorial Day, I think it's only fitting I introduce you to the dapper man who gave my family of origin its name. Kermit Pope served in the U.S. Army Air Corps in the 1940's. He'd suffered polio as a boy and was left with one leg shorter than the other...in other words, a ticket right to rejection from the Service. But, my Grandpa had a sense of obligation like no other, coupled with family pride, so he fashioned a wood block to wear in his shoe so that he could qualify. He was a member of "the Greatest Generation" and is still one of the greatest men I've ever known. He owned and operated a pharmacy for over 40 years after his service and was a dedicated community leader before serving your community was cool.
Being a Pope means a lot of things, specifically dedicated involvement to many things and people in the communities we co-exist in. But being a Pope also means you must LOVE potatoes. No questions asked. Period. My Grandpa often said that his girls (he had 1 grandson and the rest granddaughters) would have potatoes coming out of their big ears (inherited trait from him) if someone didn't take away our spoons. This favorite starch was a staple (sometimes in multiple forms) at big family meals. And every time I have a serving, er I mean a heap of, incredible potatoes, it makes me feel a little closer to my family.
On Saturday of this Memorial Day Weekend, I cooked potatoes. Gasp! That's underwhelming, huh?
These were not any just ol' taters... they were crispy salt and vinegar potatoes. Tangy, salty, and utterly swoon-worthy... Do yourself a favor and visit Climbing Grier Mountain's blog for the recipe. I feel like this food blogger and I would hit it off just splendidly. Her family owns restaurants (i.e. Harry's and Bourbon and Baker) in Manhattan, KS (aka The Little Apple; aka one of my most loved cities). It's a total bonus that she makes AWESOME food and shares the details.
Here's a snapshot of our rendition of Lauren's recipe. Gosh, pixels can't even do them justice.
Potato. Patato. Papas. No matter how you say it, they're delicious and they're a food of my family. Reflect some this holiday weekend on what matters most and why we're able to enjoy the things we do. And most of all remember, be who you are and adore what makes you, YOU. If it means a few extra calories, so be it.
People always talk about the life "phases" one experiences with age. You know the milestones: college, first jobs, first home, marriage, babies, etc... As I near the end of the twenties spectrum (two years and holding!), I feel fortunate to have seen and been a part of many of the phases. In fact, I think the latter two phases, marriage and babies, have been the mainstays for the last number of years. And, judging by all the announcements magneted to our fridge, the few years in age between Nicholas and I seem to have extended them. And honestly, I couldn't love that more. These occasions are filled with joy. Plus, they always warrant sweet treats.
Nicholas and I officially "met" at a mutual friend's wedding so we love a good matrimonial ceremony and celebration! And Nicholas is a total baby lover. Now me, eh, not so much. Mostly little ones make me anxious. Despite how "responsible" or nurturing I might be, I generally tend to prefer babes at arm's length. But as of late, many of my nearest and dearest have had or are having children and we were blessed with our much adored niece last March, so I am working on my complex.
This week, a favorite college friend welcomed her second wee one. R and her husband chose not to find out the gender so it was a great surprise when their baby girl was born on Saturday. Nicholas and I had the privilege of meeting precious Baby E tonight. Yes, I held her. And, we all survived!
During R's pregnancy, she limited her sugar intake and was craving all things lemon. Couple that with my personal struggle with visiting someone and showing up empty-handed. Enter mini lemon cheesecakes. Tart. Sweet. Small. Celebration-worthy. And, easy to make (bonus!).
Mini Lemon Cheesecakes with Gingergraham Crust
2/3 cup gingersnap cookie crumbs
1/2 cup graham cracker crumbs
4 tablespoons brown sugar
2 teaspoons lemon zest
pinch of salt
5 tablespoons butter, melted
16-ounces cream cheese, softened
4 tablespoons sour cream
2/3 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon lemon zest
Whipped cream (homemade, RediWhip, etc.)
Sprinkles or gingersnap crumbs
First things first, preheat oven to 350F and line 14 -16 cups of two muffin pans with your favorite festive paper liners.
Process gingersnap cookies and graham crackers in food processor (or do it old school and crush in a plastic ziptop bag with a rolling pin).
In a medium bowl, make the gingergraham crust. Mix together gingersnap and graham cracker crumbs, brown sugar, lemon zest and salt and stir to combine. . Pour melted butter over mixture and stir with a fork to moisten the crumbs.
Place a tablespoon (give or take) of crumb mixture in each of the prepared muffin cups and pack down into an even layer.
Cream together cream cheese, sour cream and sugar until smooth.
Beat in the eggs, vanilla extract and lemon juice. Stir in lemon zest.
Divide cheesecake mixture evenly into prepared muffin tins. Makes between 14-16 cheesecakes.
Bake for 20-25 minutes, until cheesecakes are set. (I baked mine for about 22 minutes.)
Allow to cool for 10 minutes in the muffin pan, then carefully transfer cheesecakes to a cooling rack. Cool completely before refrigerating.
The cheesecakes can be served at room temperature shortly after cooling, or they can be chilled for up to two or three days (my favorite!). If you're feeling fancy, garnish with whipped cream and a dash of sprinkles.
Recipe slightly adapted from Baking Bites.
Sweets in honor of sweet beautiful Baby E were a success! These are a perfect make-ahead spring or summer dessert to celebrate any phase, occasion, or reason. Make them soon.
Until next time! xo-
PS I promise to work on the quality of my photos...please bear with me as become "Kathy Kodak" :)
Welcome! Gather 'round.
After months of "kicking the tires," as my husband (or father) would say, I decided to finally begin this adventure in blogging.
Why? Well, life has changed a lot in the last few years. Mind you, these changes are the ordinary twenty-something milestones but they're extraordinarily mine. I regularly read blogs and love the authenticity, vitality, and inspiration they lend. As a Millennial and serial communicator, this medium compels me. Plus, I find myself with more time than I've had in the past. My new hubby's hobbies abound so it just seemed right for me to find another too.
Expect to read ramblings about my kitchen pursuits (primarily sweet treats) and a few humble attempts at DIY projects. An occasional reflection on a life event or thought-provoking occurrence will be thrown in for good measure.
Born Daily's cast of characters:
Jessica: impatient and inquisitive recovering perfectionist, newlywed, event planner, marketing novice, auntie, chocoholic, and equal parts optimist and worrywart surrounded by incredible family, friends, and mentors.
Nicholas: handsome, handy hubby, dual-career man: school psychologist and plumber, beginning gardener extraordinaire, naturally healthy eater, bicyclist who has a quick wit and endless curiosity and is either polished up or covered in mud and happens to be the best big brother ever.
Garth: affable, adorable Goldendoodle puppy who gobbles his food, loves squeaky toys, frequently tears up paper products (and the occasional shoe), and suffers from wretched car sickness.
So here goes nothin'..! And, I guess it's only fitting to say this blog is officially "Born." (expect many a pun and corny alliterations in the posts ahead...) Talk to you soon!
(Jessica and Nicholas's pictures used with permission. Photo credit: the fabulous Mike + Julie of J.Si Innovations Photography.