Tuesday, December 10

The World's BEST Bread!

So I have a tendency to pin lots of recipes to my Pinterest board and then never actually try making them (something to do with procrastination I'm sure...).  This bread recipe has been pinned to my 'Recipes' board from almost the day I set up my account!

Now I'm sure procrastination played a part in why it took me so long to try the recipe, but I think I also knew it was going to be TROUBLE.  A bread recipe with only 3 ingredients, that I almost always have on hand, and an infinite number of variations.  Plus it looked so delicious that I was afraid I would be disappointed with the end result.

Well, I was right on one front!  The recipe IS trouble, but I was NOT disappointed with the result.  I've probably made (no word of a lie) over 15 loaves of bread now, and each one seems to be more delicious than the last.  I've gone through a 10 pound bag of flour!

The best part about this recipe is that it is soooooo easy.  It takes no more than 10 minutes of your time for the WHOLE recipe.  There is a substantial amount of time though where the dough rests, so it takes a little advanced planning.  I try to convert people to try it whenever I can.  Since I'm off work right now, I've had the freedom to toy with the recipe, so I'd love to share with you some of the tips I've discovered...

So here it goes....

**Again, the link above to the Simply So Good blog has the original recipe/explanation, but hopefully you'll be able to follow along :)**

You'll need to start this recipe a minimum of 14 hours before you want to eat your bread.  What I do is start it the night before at 7 or 8ish after Miss Abby goes to bed and then I cook it sometime the following morning to eat around lunch.  It's very flexible.

In a large-ish bowl, combine:

3 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon dry yeast (I use the quick-rise version, but if you only have traditional on hand, I've read you can use that as well)
1 1/2 teaspoon salt (I use coarse sea salt, but again, whatever you have on hand will work)
+ add-ins if desired (see below)

Stir together the dry ingredients and add to the bowl:

1 1/2 cups water

Sometimes I find that there is still some flour left over after adding the water, so I usually add more water 1 teaspoon at a time, until the flour has been absorbed.  I used to think that the extra flour would just absorb into the dough as it rises, but have found that not to be the case.

Here's the fun part....cover the bowl with plastic wrap, and let it sit on your counter for 12-20 hours.

 This is what the dough looks like after sitting for 12-20 hours.

When you're ready to bake the loaf, put the container in which you're going to bake the bread into the oven and pre-heat the oven to 425ºF.

Note: The original recipe calls for 450ºF, but I found that bread to be too crusty/crunchy.  After some experimenting, I found 425ºF gives a nice crunch, but not too much.

Note: You need an oven-proof container that has a tight fitting lid or something that can be used as a lid.  Personally, I use a pampered chef round baker with a pampered chef baker bowl.  The original poster uses a cast-iron dutch oven.  My aunt even used a pizza stone as the base and her slow cooker 'bowl' as the lid.  Anything goes!  However, you will need something that is at least 5 inches in height and maybe 10 inches in diameter.

This is the covered baker I use...

While the oven is pre-heating, get a some parchment paper, take your bowl with the dough, gently scrape down the sides and drop the dough onto the parchment paper.  I don't know how to be more specific than that, but what you want to end up with is a 'mound' of dough that's roughly circular (but try not to get too picky on the shape, part of the charm of this bread is the 'rustic' look!).  I don't add any extra flour, and in fact, I never touch the dough with my hands (it's VERY sticky).  Cover the dough with the plastic wrap you used to cover the bowl, and let it sit for 30ish minutes.  Sometimes I add a little coarse sea salt to the top at this point as well.

After the dough rests, take off the plastic wrap, and working quickly, open the oven, pick up the parchment paper, put the parchment paper/dough onto/into your base, and put the cover on.  You want to do this step as quickly as possible to retain the heat, as the heat is what makes the steam, which is what makes the crust crunchy and amazing!!

Set the timer for 45 minutes and enjoy the smell that will soon be filling your house!

 This was the first loaf I made when I used flour and no parchment, but I've found the parchment way so much easier and cleaner.

At the 45 minute mark, take everything out of the oven, and put your bread on a cooling rack.  We're lucky if the loaf stays untouched for 15 minutes around here ;)

Now for the variations...

For all the variations, the measurements are just approximate.  I usually don't even measure, and just put in what I think looks 'right' ;)

Cheesy Herb Loaf

To the basic mix, add:
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
3/4 teaspoon Italian seasoning
cheese cut into 1/4" cubes (approx 1 inch of a rectangular block of cheese, cut up into small chunks)

Here are some pics...
Sitting on the counter ready to go into the hot oven.

After baking

After slicing

This one I love to make with a pot of chili or homemade soup!

Raisin Cinnamon Loaf

To the basic mix, add:
3/4 cup soaked raisins (soaked in warm water for 30ish minutes, and drained well...I've used golden and sultana, both turned out delicious)
3/4 tablespoon cinnamon
3 tablespoons sugar

After slicing (golden raisins)

Cranberry Almond Orange Loaf

To the basic mix, add:
1/2 cup soaked cranberries (soaked in warm water for 30ish minutes, and drained well)
2 tablespoons sliced or slivered almonds
3 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon grated orange zest

Carrot 'Cake' Loaf (makes a dense flatter loaf, but was very yummy)

To the basic mix add:
1/2 cup grated carrots
1/2 cup soaked raisins (soaked in warm water for 30ish minutes, and drained well)
2 tablespoons grated coconut
1 tablespoon pie spice
3 tablespoons sugar

I'd love to hear some other variations!  If you give this a try, or have any questions, please leave me a message :)

Saturday, September 28

I have a "very hungry caterpillar" on my hands!

This week was 'baby week' over at my place.  I had visits from 2 boys (and their teacher moms) who are just a little bit older than Abby, one of my good friends had a baby girl, we went to 'baby time' at our local library, and I finally, yes FINALLY, finished the nursery.

Abby is now 2 and a half months old.  We got through 2 month vaccination shots without too much difficulty, but my little sweet pea is growing like a weed.  She's over 12 pounds (up from 7.1 pounds the day after she was born) and 24 inches long!  We've been using the bassinet attachment with our Baby Jogger City Select stroller, and today my hubby had to re-assemble the seat, because Abby barely fits inside the bassinet anymore!  She's getting so big because of all she's eating, so I've nicknamed her my 'very hungry caterpillar' :)

We have lots of things on the "go" over here.  We're working on finishing up the final touches to our house renovations (which have been ongoing over the past year).  I've also been trying out lots of Pinterest ideas (especially recipes) lately.  I think I'll do a summary post about those soon.  But my most rewarding part of the week has been finishing up the nursery.  Let me take you on a tour...
 This quilt is the inspiration to the nursery.  It's "The Very Hungry Caterpillar" fabric.  I made this quilt about 4 years ago knowing that when we were ready to start a family, the nursery would be in this theme.  I love the bright colours, and also love that it works for a boy or a girl. 

 This is the view walking into the room.

 This is Abby's most favourite spot in the whole house.  She loves laying on the change table and playing with the blinds.  The change table was MINE when I was a baby!  I repainted it with my mom's help this spring and love how it turned out.

I have also had this clock FOREVER.  Maybe since before I was married.  It was from this cute little shop in Port Dover.  This winter I found the pictures, printed them, and made the frame.

My very comfy rocker and caterpillar plush toy!

This is the shelf above the bookshelf in the previous picture.  For now it just holds some books and....

...Abby's baby journal.  It's a FANTASTIC journal.  I think it'd want it even if I had chosen a different theme.   And it holds...

...Abby's shadow box.  I found this idea on Pinterest (see original post here) and knew I wanted to do something similar.  The hat was actually knitted by my grandma.  She knits many hats for the NICU and childbirth ward at our local hospital.  I'm so pleased Abby got to wear one as her first 'chapeau'.

Here is her crib.  I love it.  IKEA!!!   And a shout out to my mom who sewed all of the bedding for her room.  I am so very blessed to have such a talented 'maman'!

 An Eric Carle sensory toy.

Another Eric Carle Toy.

I was going to get hand-painted letters from Etsy that were 'on theme' but I couldn't justify the price.  So white letters from Michael's it is!

Her mobile!  I love Love LOVE this mobile.  It took me a really long time to find one that wasn't just stuffed animals on string.  This is from Manhattan Toy (love their toys too!!!) and I think this mobile is awesome because:

1. The pictures face down so she can actually see what is hanging, but there are also pictures hanging out so it's nice to look at as you walk in.
2. They are simple black and white (i.e. high contrast) pictures which are perfect for her developing eye-sight.
3. The cards are INTERCHANGEABLE!!  So as she grows, I can switch them out with coloured cards, flip them over, keep it interesting for her.
4. It doesn't clash with my 'theme' ;)

A shelf area beside her crib.
A lovely frame from Chapters.  Her first picture!

 More Eric Carle toys....

 My only real 'splurge' with the nursery.  This rocker I also purchased from Chapters and it has received glowing reviews from the toddlers who have visited her room.  Hopefully she'll love it one day too!

I received this Grobag from a friend.  It's 0-6 months.  She purchased it at Winners.  HELP!!!  If you see a larger size in your travels, PLEASE let me know.  She's almost too big for it, but I love it so much and would adore a larger size.  Google has been of NO help to me!

 A peak into her closet to see some of her wardrobe, which is so much nicer (and plentiful) than mine!!!

 Finally a little "artwork"...which is actually just stretched material over a frame.  Love how they turned out though.

Since I didn't have a classroom to 'decorate' this fall, I've put all my energy into Abby's room.  Thanks for taking the time to tour it with me :)

Sunday, September 8

Back to school...non-back to school style

So this is the first year in I-don't-know-how-long where I have not been in a school for the first day back.  One could argue I was in a better place, at home with my little pudding pop, but I'll admit I was a bit melancholy on Tuesday.

See, the first day of school is one of the most exciting of the WHOLE year, with maybe the exception of the last day of school.  It's a day of...
nervous energy

new beginnings
new friendships
new goals
(usually) a new outfit!

a fresh start
a fresh take on teaching
a fresh group of students
and fresh (and sharp!) pencils

I was missing all of the above on Tuesday.  I even had a few nights of back to school nightmares!  You know the kind where you show up the first day with nothing planned/nothing photocopied/nothing ready.  Or that you show up late and can't find your class.  Or that the principal changes your classroom location the day before school starts (which was my dream this year!).

I know that next year I'll likely be dreading going back, so I'll need to come back and re-read this post to remind myself how great the first day of school truly is!  Until then, I guess I'll just enjoy a bunch of other 'firsts'... and this :)

Thursday, August 22

What have I been up to?

With everyone getting back into the 'swing of things' with school starting up in a little over a week, I feel very odd.  I feel like I should be laminating like crazy.  I feel like I should be making daily visits to Scholar's Choice.  I feel like my days should be spent photocopying, organizing, and preparing.  However, none of that is going to happen for me right now because I have a little something at home keeping me busy...
My little girl arrived into this world mid-July, and the world hasn't been the same ever since.  She's currently taking up almost every spare minute I have, but I'm told this will 'level off' at some point.  I do have hopes though for my year off for maternity leave, and I'm hoping that by recording them, I'll follow through.

1. Prepare and post at least 5 products to my TPT site.
2. Blog fairly regularly about something...maybe teaching related...maybe family related...probably a little of both.
3. Take an AQ course next July.  I'm trying to decide between Reading Part 2 or Math Part 1.

Wish me luck! (both with parenting and my goals)

Monday, June 17

Father's Day Gifts

The end is near...and I know that because Father's Day is over and done with.  I always have a tough time coming up with Father's Day gifts.  In the past, I've done a photo frame, a tie themed card, a key chain, and snack mix.  I haven't really loved any of them.  I saw this pin on Pinterest and thought I could adapt it to make it work.  I picked up some picture frames at Dollarama and set to it.

I wanted to have the kiddos really take a part in the gift...so I thought about having them draw something, and then remembered what June is actually like and thought we needed something a little more 'straight forward'.  I took some clip art that I had and made a collage that they had to colour in.  I demonstrated proper 'colouring in' technique (which you would think we'd have by the end of grade 1), and because of the demonstration, they actually turned out quite well.  Here's one of the finished products that I was pretty thrilled with.

We wrapped them up in bags inspired by this pin, and sent them home.  I still don't know if I'll repeat this again, but it wasn't so bad for this year ;)

Sunday, May 26

How do you organize papers?

For the past 2 years, I have been using a daily duotang system to collect/organize my kiddos papers.  I have found this system has many benefits including:

1. keeping subject specific papers together
2. keeping parents informed of what we're doing in class
3. creating a format for assigning homework (if needed)

Our school board operates on a Day 1-5 schedule (instead of a Monday to Friday schedule), so this year my duotangs look like this...

Day 1: Weekly Newsletter/Reward System Update/WWW (Word Wall Words) Spelling Sheet
Day 2: English Poems and Songs/English WWW Homework
Day 3: Math papers
Day 4: French Poems and Songs/French WWW Homework
Day 5: Misc. (e.g., science, social studies, health)

Students are taught at the beginning of the year how to add papers to their duotangs.  Each day when they come into class, they drop them off in the appropriate bucket, and their new duotangs are laid out on the carpet.  The papers to go in are either at the carpet (if they're a completed sheet with their names on them) or in a pile on their desk spots (if they are blank).

I am super excited to add my first product to purchase onto TPT!  Take a peek to see what I put into my Day 2 duotangs.  Here are a few pics...

Last year, I started this project of creating Word Wall review pages that I could send home in my weekly duotangs.  The focus was on making the activities predictable so that students could complete them without parental assistance.   I have found that the students love doing these pages and have actually cheered when I gave them time in class to work on them.  I am so happy to have the chance to share this work with other people. 

Click on the image above or below to visit my TPT store to download this Word Wall Word Pack.

What are your thoughts on homework?  Do you have a system for keeping track/sending home all the goodies your kiddos work on in class?

Friday, May 10

Oh Canada!

Thanks to Heidi over at Secondgradealicious for introducing me to my first blog link up!

As a French teacher, it's so nice to connect with other Canadian teachers with Canadian ideas!

A bientôt mes amis!

Thursday, May 9

Mother's Day Cookbook

So I can't be the only grade 1 teacher who dreads Mother's Day just a 'little' bit (and same for Father's Day and Christmas)...you need to come up with the perfect gift.  It needs to be easy enough for the kiddos to complete, but still be something that is has that 'wow' factor when you open it up.  For the past couple years, I have done the same project, and it always turns out super cute, so I thought I'd share ;)

We make a cookbook of our favourite thing our mom makes us, and it ties into our procedural writing unit.  The best thing about this project is that the kids really don't need to know AT ALL how their mom makes it.  In fact, the ones that have no clue how it's made and need to 'make it up' completely are usually the ones that turn out the cutest.

The first step is for the kids to decide on a recipe and make an ingredient list.  Next, they write down the steps needed to make the dish.  Finally, they record why they like it the best.  This year, I added in a page for them to add a picture of them helping their mom to make the dish.  In the past, I have typed out their answers, had them type out their answers, and them write their answers for me to input (which is what I did this year).  Really, it's up to you!

Here's the final product!

 The front cover.

 One of the pages.  I love that when I asked "Why do you need to wait until 3 o'clock?" his answer was, "I don't know how she makes it, but that's when we eat it."  Makes sense, EXCEPT consider our bell doesn't ring till 3:25 pm...things that make you go 'hummmm....'

Another one of the book pages.

All wrapped up and ready to go.  Of course we needed a card.  I downloaded this card from Cassie on Teachers Pay Teachers for FREE!!

I added in a little poem to the inside, and now the presents will be ready to go home tomorrow.

If you want to pick up a copy of the printables, I'm including them below!  I'd love to hear what you think of the idea and please let me know if the download worked (this is my first attempt at using Google Docs) :)

 Click here to download the recipe template.

Click here to download the picture frame page

The frames are courtesy of Creative Clips by Krista Wallden.  Click here to visit her TPT store.  The food clip art is courtesy of The 3 AM Teacher.  Click here to visit here TPT store.

A bientôt!

Tuesday, May 7

Is there a "wrong time" to start something???

I think there might be...

Maybe it's the spring weather...maybe it's impending motherhood...maybe it's the thought of report cards just around the corner...maybe it's a student leaving for the year in 2 weeks and thinking 'oh crap - I still need to do this and this and this with him'...

Maybe it was the wrong time to start my blogging/TPT adventure.  I'm not sure...

James Cameron said "If you wait for the right time to have a child, you'll die childless"...so if I waited for the right time to start a blog, I'd die blogless, right??  Maybe that wouldn't be such a bad thing ;)

Anywho, long winded way of saying that I've been behind in blog posting, and I'm not going to remedy that tonight, but I'll leave you with a few pictures (cause that's what I like looking at when I read blogs).

In the class:

Here's a girl after my own heart.  Sorting everything by colours!!

This boy even had admirers from another class looking at his structure.  It reminded me of Jenga...

Here's an attempt at more purposeful play..."make a plan before you build your structure"...well I'm pretty sure they drew theirs after making the structure...not exactly the point...hummmmmm

Hopefully the focus for my next post...classroom tour: version 1.0

At home:

Thanks to my hub (...and dad...and father-in-law), the pool is getting clearer by the day...won't be long now till I can relax with a floaty and a cool beverage (probably just a Pepsi, until I'm cleared for more exciting beverages this summer).

My 3 baskets FULL of laundry to be put away...

At least I'm done the quilt and clock for the nursery, however still need to paint that bassinet (fyi - I've had the paint since August...even BEFORE I was expecting).

Lastly, the thing that is helping me to sleep at night...although I'm almost out!  Oh no....

Back to working on Mother's Day presents, and procrastinating working on the Mother's Day presents by making my first 'sellable' item for TPT.  Who am I kidding though...I'll be in bed within the hour :)